I apologize for the long wait. I've been busy with college, doing my assignments for my classes spending time with my family, and being distracted by everyday life. Now, to get things out of the way...
I would like to thank Sarge 1995 of and 4Ferelden of the Mass Effect Wiki for looking over this chapter. I appreciate it! I also would like to thank mizdirected of the Mass Effect Fanfic Proboards and Leareth of the PPC (Protectors of Plot Continuum) for helping me polish this chapter.
For anyone new to either setting, I would recommend you go to their respective links for information. Be wary of spoilers, though.
Fallout: fallout . gamepedia . com or fallout . wikia. com
Mass Effect: masseffect. wikia . com
Mass Foundations: Redemption in the Stars
Chapter One: A Stranger in a Strange Land
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Especially after one too many near-death experiences.
Ethan Sunderland, the Courier, decided to upgrade his Transportalponder. Through many calculations and tests made, he got the essential parts down. In theory, it should increase the device's range, allowing him to teleport to Big Mountain from anyplace, anytime.
He set it up at X-84, the facility in Big Mountain that manufactured his Transportalponder. There was the device itself in the testing room with a robot, a Mister Handy, as the test subject, and an alarm system. Not long after the New California Republic snatched victory again at Hoover Dam, the facility had popped out of the ground like a mole rat during mating season.
Looking through the thoroughly-cleaned window, the Courier observed the Mister Handy using one of its claws to pick up the Transportalponder. With a press of a button at the console, the Mister Handy obeyed his command and squeezed the trigger.
The result was a complete disaster. Instead of the robot blinking out, the device shot out sparks. Ethan watched in a mix of wonder and horror at a miasma that appeared in the room and expanded, stars from a distant world trailing in the deep black. He read about wormholes in science textbooks and what they could look like, and this was it.
He should have known that anything could go wrong. Especially at Big Mountain.
In a swift motion, he switched on the testing room's force fields to contain the wormhole as the alarms blared out.
"Oh, honestly!" the Mister Handy complained. The wormhole pulled it in along with the Transportalponder.
The rift ripped through the field like a hot knife through butter and tore everything around it.
A piece of debris missed his head by mere inches. "Ah, shit!" he exclaimed. He held on a desk drilled on the floor as much as he could, but the wormhole managed to drag him in. He slammed headfirst into the now flying furniture, and consciousness failed him.
He woke up in an alleyway to a foul smell assaulting his nostrils. It reminded him of Brahmin shit mixed with gunpowder and rotten fish.
At first, he assumed he was somewhere in Freeside. Freeside was not known for its cleanliness. He expected to find a starry night sky when he gazed up. Instead, there was a ceiling high above.
One thing for sure was that he was neither in the Sierra Madre nor somewhere in the Divide. He never liked either of those places.
He stood up, kicking off whatever particular pieces of garbage that clung to his black boots. Dusting off his armored Vault 21 jumpsuit, the Courier took a thorough, good look at himself.
He placed his hands all over a chiseled face that went well with his tall, lean, and athletic body. His face. His brown, rectangular eyes and his olive skin tone came from a mixed heritage in Vault 15, common among citizens of the NCR. His dark-brown hair was cut and combed neatly weeks ago while his anchor beard had been trimmed.
So his body was in one piece. Hands, arms, legs, feet… everything was left intact. He let out a relieved sigh, taking in the comfort he was still himself, and he was still alive.
He checked his Pip-Boy 3000 strapped on his left wrist. With a whir and a beep, Ethan's scratched face was bathed in its familiar green light. So that wristwatch was intact as well. The Lone Wanderer told him an old friend of hers always said he could drop a bomb on the Pip-Boy, and it would still work with hardly a scratch. Even submerging it in water wouldn't short-circuit it. If he could get back, he would tell her to add a trip through a fucked-up wormhole to the list of disasters the Pip-Boy could withstand.
The screen showed an incomplete map. It seemed he was out of the Pre-War satellites' range. Much to his annoyance, he would have to wait for the Pip-Boy's GPS to adjust to whatever new coordinates it would get. The date and time read 5:38 PM 10/19/2286. That meant he wasn't out for too long—unless he traveled through time, he thought with a wry laugh.
He stopped and looked around, puzzled. "Wait a minute. Where is that Mister Handy and the Transportalponder?"
As if to answer his question, the Transportalponder was across from where he was. He picked it up and inspected it. The plastic container that contained the energy had cracked open. The vacuum tube at the front of the pistol-like device was burnt out from using enough power to create the wormhole. Without the materials to create the Transportalponder, he would be as good as stuck here.
He hoped the wormhole had only destroyed the X-84 facility. That wouldn't go well with his conscience if it expanded beyond its parameters.
"At least I could play with it," he muttered and put the now-broken device in his bag.
He checked his surroundings and spotted a small security camera mounted on a wall. The sight of a stranger appearing in a dark, dank alley all a sudden would be suspicious. That would prompt someone to check what the hell was going on.
Stepping out of the alleyway, he stood there dumbfounded, his mouth half-open.
The architecture was dull, brown, and monolithic as if the buildings were interconnected. The dimly-lit storefronts and aging neon signs reminded him of the Strip.
The image of people—if he could call them that—moving about became clear. Some of them were birdlike, each having a pair of mandibles over their mouths.
Others were thin with large, horned heads and black, beady eyes. Some women looked human at first, but the range of skin colors from blue to purple refuted that, and they possessed scalped crests in place of hair.
Passing by a nightclub with giant white letters above the entrance, he saw a giant, slouching creature with thick arms and vertical slits for a mouth as the sole guard. There were two long lines of people in front of the creature. As he stumbled by, he bumped into a large, reptilian creature with a crest on its head.
The guns the guards carried far outclassed his. Their suits of armor were sleek, their weapons looked either blocky or curvy. One gunman with a pair of mandibles on their face had was an orange holographic light on their wrist. He wondered how that light worked, but he couldn't shake off the feeling the creature looked at him, so he kept moving.
Without warning, someone dragged him to the alleyway. A thug preying on their next victim taking him away so there wouldn't be any witnesses, he thought. Obvious and predictable. This should be easy enough to counteract.
Swaying left and right, the Courier broke his would-be attacker's hold. The Courier reached over his shoulder and grabbed the attacker by the back of his shirt. In a quick motion, the Courier slammed his enemy to the ground like a wrecking ball.
The attacker stumbled to his feet, no worse for wear. The Courier whipped out his Bowie knife and lunged, giving the mugger a long gash across his chest. His attacker yelped in pain and stumbled a few steps backward, clutching his chest in a frantic but futile attempt to close the wound.
The Courier was taken back. His attacker was a four-eyed, well-built humanoid covered with a thin layer of brown fur with a pig-like nose. At least he had some coveralls.
Enraged, the four-eyed alien got out a strange-looking pistol. But the Courier, thanks to his implants, had the quicker hand. In the span of a few seconds, he shrugged, gave a smug grin to his attacker, and fired his M1911 pistol, in that order. The two shots hit the thug's chest made him tumble down backward, dead before hitting the ground.
"At least it's not like those three old ladies with rolling pins," Ethan muttered with a sigh. He reloaded his pistol and holstered it.
He dug through the alien's pockets found an earpiece. It wouldn't fit him, but it looked like it might be worth something. Further findings gave him a thin card with a single word in many unrecognizable languages. One of them read 'credits,' and he guessed a sum of currency. With that in mind, he pocketed the card and the earpiece.
He picked up the pistol. From its shape, it was a semi-automatic without a hammer at the back. Inside the pistol was cylinder-shaped blocks that were as thick and big as his thumb. He could find a better use with this than the four-eyed freak.
Taking the pistol after putting the magazine back in, he left the alleyway with haste. He already had enough attention as it is, as people gathered around the body.
After walking around for an hour straight, the Courier found himself in a marketplace humming with activity. The dimly lit storefronts and aging neon signs resembled the places he been to in the Mojave Wasteland, especially the Strip.
Ethan approached the kiosk. A red-haired man wearing coveralls crouched down and tinkered with a pile of scrap metal on a bench, welding two flat surfaces together with a ring around it. The clerk's mask covered his face with sparks and the welder's intense light, not to mention the smell of metal and wire.
He knocked on the table, and the man placed his tool on the floor and turned as he lifted his mask. He was pale with green, baggy eyes and a soul patch on his thin chin. He looked like he was in his early twenties.
"Hey there. How's it going?"
"It's been wonderful, really," Ethan replied. Finally, someone I could understand. "The sights are gorgeous, and the people here are friendly." He shrugged. "What's not to like?"
The clerk paused for a moment. "Well, this is the shittiest place in the galaxy. First time on Omega?"
"Yeah, you could say that. I want to buy something."
"What are you looking for?"
The clerk blinked in confusion. He raised his finger before speaking. "You don't have one? You got here without one?"
Ethan realized if he told the truth, the clerk wouldn't believe him. "I got mugged. Bastards took my stuff and gave me this nasty concussion." He rubbed his forehead, pretending he had a headache. "I… forgot a few things."
The clerk seemed to be surprised "Oh, okay. Happens to everyone on this station. Except for that 'amnesia caused by massive head trauma' thing. But you look like you can handle yourself."
"Nobody's perfect, believe me."
"Anyways, you can use the terminal to buy what you need. Security reasons. You can see 'em everywhere at the Citadel." The clerk tilted his head to an orange screen at the Courier's right.
"What's the Citadel?" the Courier asked.
The clerk shook his head and pinched his nose. "You're a fucking idiot." He sighed, now realizing. "Oh, right. Concussion."
"I had worse. Mind giving me a refresher?"
The clerk rolled his eyes, going along. "The Citadel is the capital of galactic civilization. It's like the opposite of this shithole. I'm sure you can figure out the rest. It had its own fair share of problems, sure. Pretty mundane, from what I hear."
"So why can't you just leave?" Ethan asked.
"I would love to, but travel costs are high," the clerk answered. "Plus, I'm on a contract. Hopefully, it'll expire before I die, or some asshole kills me. Omega's a pretty dangerous place."
"Yeah. I get the picture." The Courier gazed at the terminal and tentatively touched the screen. After discovering it responded, he browsed the selection. He found a translator of high quality and an orange light that fitted over his wrist. The same light from before.
"Hey, what's up with that wristband?" He pointed at the picture of the object on the terminal.
The clerk turned away from the shelf. "Huh? Oh, that's an omni-tool. They're multipurpose handheld computers. Everyone has one these days."
"So why would I need one?" Ethan had his Pip-Boy, so buying one of these things would be redundant to him.
"The omni-tool will also give you a kinetic barrier," the clerk answered. "It's weak, but it's better than nothing. It won't work against radiation and laser, temperature, slow-moving objects, like knives and sticks, and poison."
"Like this pistol here?" The Courier showed the clerk his new pistol.
The clerk brought his hand up to his chin and investigated the gun. "That's an M-3 Predator pistol. Heavy pistols like that pack a real punch against anyone with armor. They're mass accelerators, so they use metallic slugs, not bullets. They're accelerated by electromagnetic fields and enhanced by mass effect fields."
"What are mass effect fields?" the Courier asked.
"They are fields used by element zero, which releases dark energy when exposed to an electrical current. It can increase or decrease the object's mass, with a positive charge increasing mass while a negative charge decreases mass. But when a ship's moving faster than light, these fields can create static electricity charge. If you don't discharge that onto a planet's surface or its magnetic field, depending on the size of a ship, it'll go into the hull of a ship or a car instead and cause a lot of damage. Fusing bulkheads, destroying electronics, you name it."
"So it'll fry everything inside."
The clerk shrugged. "Basically, yeah. Anyways, you can't fire your gun like crazy. It'll overheat. The new models use thermal clips instead so you won't have to wait for the gun to vent out heat." He took a deep breath. "Maybe I should've been a teacher. You follow?"
Ethan nodded, showing he listened. He turned to the terminal and picked the items he wanted. His eyes widen in shock when he found out they cost about 7,500. It would've greatly depleted his stolen funds from the money slip if he hadn't sold the four-eyed alien's earpiece. He expected something like a rare weapon or a suit of power armor to be expensive, not something like this omni-tool.
"All right, here is your stuff." The clerk handed Ethan an eyepiece and a small, plain bracelet. "One Logic Arrest omni-tool and a Rosetta translator. Enjoy."
The Courier took the translator and the bracelet, fitting the translator over his eyes. A holographic display appeared with shapes and lines flying when he turned it on. He looked at the bracelet now on his right wrist with a confused look on his face.
"You'll have to turn it on," the clerk reminded him. "Button's at the side. It's easy to find."
The Courier did so, and an orange light appeared, reaching up to his elbow. "Nice!" Ethan's smile widened in elation as he messed around with the omni-tool, bringing up a paper-thin screen above the device. "I should go. Bye." He turned it off.
"Okay, see ya. Try not to die," the clerk called out.
The Courier left the marketplace. He remembered passing by the nightclub called Afterlife earlier. It would be a great place to gather some intel.
Unfortunately, all he got were dirty glares from the locals, as if he passed wind in a small, crowded space. The stranger-looking ones took his approach the worst.
"You don't know the station you're standing in, human?" the raptor-like creature, calling himself a turian, retorted while standing in line. "This is Omega! If you wanna know the one rule, here's this: don't fuck with Aria T'Loak. She runs the place. That's the advice I'm gonna give ya. And if you value your life, don't ask stupid questions. Now push off!"
"Duly noted," the Courier retorted. What fine company this place had, he mused to himself. Obviously, he was not welcomed here. At least his translator worked like a charm.
"You've never seen an asari before, have you?" the woman with scalp for hair, an incredulous look on her face. "Look, it's best if you look it up. I don't have time to tell you everything under the roof."
"I think I can do that. Good idea." As he looked up information on his omni-tool, a hooded man bumped into him. The stranger muttered a quick apology and went straight to the club. The Courier wanted to cut past the line but thought better of it when the line went nowhere.
He walked away from the place, his head throbbing in pain. He could find a place to recharge and clear his head, preferably with fewer distractions.
"Annoyed: No, I haven't seen anyone like that here. Nor have I been looking. Joking: Who do you think I am, the bar's informer?"
This is going nowhere. The blue-skinned asari with freckles on her cheeks pinched the bridge of her nose. Liara T'Soni's patience with the rather sarcastic elcor was wearing thin. All she wanted were some answers regarding Shepard's whereabouts.
"I didn't mean to offend," she sighed. "I just thought—"
"Miffed: You thought because I was an elcor. Otherwise, I wouldn't be watching them dancing all day," the elcor spoke, his voice lacking any emotion. "Pitifully: Elcors are good dancers, but nobody here gives us a chance."
She looked at the display past the counter, amid the loud noises of the nightclub and its bright, colorful lights. The screen across the counter showed news of the repairs the Citadel took in the wake of the attack by Sovereign, a Reaper, and the geth. Last month, Shepard disappeared when the Normandy was destroyed. But it was so long ago. Deep down, she missed Shepard.
"Mockingly: More than they could afford." The elcor was also watching the news. "Mournful: If it weren't for that station, living on Omega would be downright depressing."
Liara would agree with that sentiment.
"You have to love the elcor," someone spoke nearby. "They got all the expressiveness of a tree. If they didn't explain the nuance of what they're saying, it'd be like talking to one."
Liara looked away from the elcor. "Oh, I don't know. I—" She looked at the hooded figure sitting by the elcor. Upon a closer look, she recognized he was her contact. Her one shot at finding Shepard. "Wait. You have something to tell me about the Commander—"
"No, not here." The hooded man shook his head and looked up, his dark eyes meeting hers. Under the lighting, his scaly skin had a warm set of colors of orange and green. He was a drell, a reptilian race rescued from a dying homeworld by the hanar. "Outside."
"I… of course. If it's for the best." Liara and the hooded man stood up and walked out of Afterlife.
The Courier leaned forward and sighed, resting his arms on a rail. Across from the balcony, down where the crates piled, there was a humongous window where distant stars blinking in and out in outer space.
He looked through one of the windows, seeing the distant stars blinking in and out in space. A giant asteroid field circled the station. He saw the traffic there, ships of various shapes and sizes traveling all over the station.
Every joint in his body ached as he parted. His head still throbbed, the veins pulsing. He wanted to go home. But how? He couldn't wander around wallowing in his feelings.
The sound of gunfire snapped the Courier out of his thoughts, and he drew out his Predator pistol. Metal slugs flew by in a twist of a circular hallway, and he stumbled behind a wall.
A shower of bullets and something shattered like glass. Another stray bullet grazed the wall and hit his arm. He grunted in pain, his vision blurring for a moment. Clutching his arm, blood leaked between his fingers, like cracks forming in dried dirt. A moment later, the wound stitched back together. The caps he spent on that Monocyte Breeder implant from Dr. Usanagi were well spent.
A blue blur surrounded his body confused him for a moment. Putting two and two together, he realized the omni-tool's shields had recharged.
He peeked, hoping not to get shot again. Ahead was a large group of humans, turians, and the four-eyed batarians. They wore blue-and-white suits of armor, carrying guns like the guards at the nightclub. Some of them wore helmets, concealing their faces.
Behind him was a hooded man in a suit of tan-green armor, taking cover behind similar crates as he fired his Predator pistol. He blinked, recognizing the man—he was the one who bumped into him at the nightclub. By the man was a young asari with freckles on her cheekbones. Her light purple armor appeared to be skin-tight, having less padding on her chest and limbs compared to her companion.
The asari stood up, frowning, and balled her hand into a fist. A dark-blue aura surrounded her as if some power welled up within her. She unclenched her hand and raised it above her head in a quick succession.
A yelp brought the Courier's attention to a batarian that floated mid-air, his four eyes wide with terror, as a blue hue appeared underneath him and pushed him up to the ceiling. His allies opened fire on the asari as she extended her arm, and the batarian flew backward. She ducked back behind the crate, unscathed.
Ethan blinked and stared at the asari on her ability to manipulate some strange energy. Before he could read what happened, one armored shooter saw him and turned toward a helmeted woman. She carried a flamethrower, with a large tank full of gas on her back. "We didn't get it. Finish the damn job! We don't anyone snitching on us!"
The Courier sighed and brought his chin up. Great. Another bunch of idiots to deal with.
The woman nodded and moved towards the Courier. Taking advantage of the tank's exposure to gunfire, the Courier used his Pip-Boy. It activated VATS—Vault-Tec Assisted Targeting System. Peaking from cover, he aimed down the sight of his pistol. According to its calculations, he had a decent chance of hitting the tank. For every shot, the chances go up slightly.
Time slowed down around him. Adrenaline rushed through Ethan's body as he fired three times at a rapid pace. Before the flamer realized what happened, it was too late for her to react as the last shot hit the tank. The tank exploded in a fiery blast, engulfing her and two of the shooters nearby.
"Holy shit!" one shooter, another woman, barked. "Someone needs to take him out! Now!"
"On it," said a turian with white tattoos on his face and blue lights appeared on his chest and his head. He approached the Courier with a bulky shotgun.
The Courier drew his Bowie knife and waited. When the turian was around the corner, he threw him against the adjacent wall. A struggle ensued as he thrust his knife into the turian. The turian attempted to push the knife away from his neck and dropped his gun. Ethan dazed the turian with a head-butt and stabbed him in the neck, dropping him.
More gunshots went off behind him. He turned to the hooded man shooting back at their attackers. "Hey!" the hooded man shouted. "Get over here unless you want to get shot!"
Ethan nodded, hearing the man loud and clear. As he looked around for another weapon, he found a rifle attached to the turian's back. He yanked it off it immediately adjusted its size in his hands. As he inspected it, he found it was blocky, its barrel triangular. He smirked, finding it convenient somehow.
The Courier dashed out and fired at another shooter, a batarian, in three-round bursts, taking out his shields, and slid behind a crate. The asari and the hooded man stared at him like he showed up out of nowhere.
"What are you doing here?" the man demanded.
"Oh, you know, seeing the sights, killing people. The usual. You?" Ethan smiled, nonchalant. He stood up when his shields refreshed and activated VATS again, shooting down more of the attackers in his direction.
The asari blinked after ducking back behind the crate. "I'll be quick: we're looking for a body of a friend. Feron's my contact here." She tilted her head to the hooded man.
The hooded man frowned. "Liara, you sure that's a good idea? We just met him!"
"He killed one of the Blue Suns and he didn't attack us, so it's a good time as any." Liara, the asari, looked back at Ethan. "We're looking for Commander Shepard. Feron had some information on her whereabouts."
"Commander Shepard?" the Courier asked loudly over the sound of slugs banging against the crate. He popped out of cover and grabbed an attacker that ran up to them, tossed him and slammed him onto the ground. Ethan pulled his knife out and cut the armored man's throat, ending his life in an instant.
When he looked back at the two, he realized he wasted his breath as the two gave him incredulous looks. "You…" Feron said.
"How did you not know who Shepard is?" Liara asked.
"You think you'd know her by her reputation, being human and all," said Feron.
"I'm new around here." Ethan poked his head out and found more of these Blue Suns soldiers coming in.
"Aren't we all?" Feron had shot another attacker.
"Yeah, yeah," Ethan retorted. "We can play Q&A after this if you like."
A metal slug flew by, missing them by inches. "A wise idea, I might add," Feron replied.
"At least we agreed on something." Ethan put his knife away and continued firing at the shooters.
No matter how many they killed, two more entered the fray. Liara gathered the blue energy and formed it into a sphere in her hands. In a second, she launched the ball at the group in question. It suspended in the air, pulling those nearby toward it and flew around the object as if they were like a string attached to a ceiling.
This gave Ethan and Feron the advantage. They focused their fire on the floating shooters as the Courier used VATS whenever he could. He ducked as one of them flew above him. He continued firing, with Liara firing her pistol at another new attacker running in on the scene.
One of the turians entered the fray with a large, bulky rifle in hand. Liara leaned out of cover and pulled off a new trick. A blue barrier appeared on the turian, preventing him from moving.
Without warning, one shooter dropped dead with a bloody hole in his head. "Sniper! Look out!" one other shooter, a dark-haired man with tanned skin, cried with fear in his eyes. Another shot pierced through his head.
Several of the attackers got shot down. Capitalizing on this, Feron ran first, dashing away. Liara came next, tossing away another one of the Blue Suns with her powers and grabbed Ethan's arm, following the hooded man. None of them looked back as they ran.
"Which way?" Liara wondered.
"Somewhere safe, obviously," Ethan answered. "Maybe I can find one on my Pip-Boy."
Turning another corner, the three came to a halt at the sight of three humans. Two hulking men in white armor, carrying smoothly-shaped rifles, flanked a fair-skinned woman with dark hair and a white uniform. With her fine, almost perfect facial features and a well-endowed body, it was hard for Ethan to tell if she was attractive or off-putting.
"Or maybe not," Feron remarked.
"Relax, drell. We're working toward the same goal: Finding Commander Shepard," the woman stated.
"Shepard is dead," Liara pointed out.
"That's what they say," the woman retorted, her hand on her hip. "But Shepard's beaten the odds before."
"Who are you?" The Courier stepped toward the woman. "And what makes this Shepard so special?"
The opposite three gave him confused looks. "I'm Miranda Lawson. Shepard's a hero, a bloody icon. And yet you have never heard of her?"
Liara sighed. "I'll explain to him. He has helped us so far." She turned to Ethan. "Shepard is…" She curled her lips. "None of us would be here if she hadn't stopped an invasion at the Citadel."
"Oh, okay," Ethan nodded as he rubbed the back of his neck, getting his act together. "I heard that she was killed in action not long ago. Terrible loss, if you ask me."
"Yes, that sounds about right," the black-haired woman said. "This was... not what we expected."
"What do you want?" Liara asked.
"I'm here to take you to someone who's interested. He wants to meet with you. Work with us, and we might be able to resurrect Shepard."
The Courier scoffed. He wanted to say resurrecting the dead was impossible, but he bit his tongue instead. If he can go from one universe to another, then resurrection could be possible.
Feron glanced at Liara, frowning as he folded his arms. "I don't trust this set-up."
Ethan looked at Feron as the drell removed his hood. He saw Feron looked like a lizardman. At least Feron doesn't look like a Mirelurk. "What are you talking about?"
"Cerberus is pro-human," Feron pointed out. "They're only interested in Shepard because she was human. I doubt they'd mourn her if she was a hanar or a krogan."
"A bunch of racists," Ethan scoffed. "Good to know. These Blue Suns… Who are they?"
"Mercenary group. I think they were hired…"
"Why does that matter? Hate group or not, we have similar goals as Cerberus do," the asari butted in. "Let's meet up with them."
"Very well. Come with me." Miranda brushed strands of hair from her face. "And you can bring your friends, too. We're not being choosy today."
The woman and her bodyguards headed off. Liara followed along, with Feron hanging back slightly.
"I have a bad feeling about this," the lizardman commented as the Courier caught up with him shortly after.
"Well, let's see. I got myself into a gunfight with you guys, and now we're working with a human supremacist group to find a corpse of a war hero." Ethan couldn't help but smile, holding back his laughter. "Of course you have a bad feeling about this!"