Disclaimer: Mass Effect is the property of EA and Bioware. I do not own it, or any other movie, video game, song, book, or any other form of media I may reference in this story, and I make no money off of it's publication. This work is entirely fictional. Any characters that may bear resemblance to any persons alive or dead is purely coincidental. Any opinions or beliefs expressed in this story are purely those of the character and not necessarily those of the author.
A Job is a Job
The Citadel, 2185
The woman walked down the street to her apartment, her hands in her pockets. She was a tall woman with shoulder length blond hair, tan skin, and hazel eyes. Her black short sleeve shirt and grey pants had more than a few holes in them, and she looked as if she could really use a decent sized meal. She had her head down and wasn't paying much attention to what was happening around her. This may not have been the most secure area of the Citadel, but the woman wasn't worried about being attacked or robbed.
You have to have something valuable to be robbed Leslie.
Leslie Blake...wasn't in the best of spirits right now. The last few days, or rather, the last two years, had really taken their toll on her. Two years ago, she couldn't have been happier. She had a son that was a few months old, a loving husband, and a good job teaching human literature at a local school. Then Sovereign attacked the station. Leslie was visiting her mother, who also lived on the station, when the attack began. Her husband had been killed by Geth when he was in the Presidium attempting to help C-Sec retake the Citadel Tower. When the Alliance fleet destroyed the giant warship, fate again seemed to toy with her.
The damn robot just had to crash onto my home.
The debris from Sovereign landed right on top of not only Leslie's home, but also the school she taught at. Most of her possessions were gone, only some of her favorite books and a few pairs of clothes remained intact. With no place to live she was forced to move in with her mother, who thankfully was able to help her with her son while she got back on her feet.
Only...she was still looking for work.
The galactic economy, already shaky before the attack, had gone into complete recession. The station was still repairing itself from the battle two years after it was fought but despite the vast amount of labor that needed to be done, the Citadel authorities only accepted volunteers. That is, the kind that work for free. Apparently the Council only had the money to pay the workers cleaning up the Presidium. The rest of the station would just have to make do on their own. The surviving schools had no openings available; too many bodies not enough openings and all that. Leslie would have been happy just wiping off tables and cleaning the floors, but that didn't happen either.
What was it? 500 people applied for the one available janitor's job?
Leslie just shook her head and turned the corner. Her mom would be back soon with her son after taking him out for a few hours to give Leslie another chance to again look for work. They both knew it probably wouldn't accomplish anything, but they had to try. They didn't have the option of just sitting on their asses and hoping the answer to all their problems would come walking in the front door.
As Leslie walked through the door to her apartment, she saw she had a guest. The apartment was small. At the front there was a little living space with a small couch that Leslie slept on and not much else other than a table that had a few data pads on it. Further back there was a kitchen with a stove and a microwave. There was a single bedroom that her mother and son slept in.
In the center of the small dwelling stood a man in black pants and a matching shirt. On the center of his shirt was a white circle that had lines emanating out of it giving the impression that it was a star. In the circle were three lines running parallel from each other and going from one end of the circle to the other, forming what seemed to be the letter 'E.' The man was an inch or two taller than Leslie, had blond hair and a slight bit of facial hair. He was looking down at the data pads when Leslie came in the room.
Leslie greeted curtly, "Sam."
Alex "Sam" Samuels nodded, "Leslie."
The woman asked accusingly, "And just what exactly are you doing here?"
The man shrugged, "I was nearby and thought I'd see how you were."
Leslie narrowed her eyes, "Is that right Sam?"
Sam returned her glare, "Actually yes, it is. What? I can't visit my friends wife every now and again?"
"Well thanks for stopping by, now get out. I've got some work to do before my kid gets home."
Sam looked down at the table and picked up a data pad, "Yeah, how is work anyway?"
Leslie went over and grabbed the pad out of his hand. She moved so her face was inches from his, "Work's fine Sam. Thanks for asking. Now. Get. Out."
The man crossed his arms over his chest, "Really, your work is going well? Because from what I saw you're a bit behind on the rent there."
Leslie put the pad down, "That was last month. We made it through just fine. Thanks for caring."
The man looked at Leslie closely, "Nice outfit. You didn't have something better to wear? Something without tears and holes?"
The blond woman looked down at her shirt, "It's not that bad. Most people probably don't even notice."
The man continued to analyze her, "When was the last time you ate something? Or took a bath? You smell horrible."
The woman gave him a glare but said, "I ate something a couple days ago. Showered the same day. The bills keep going up, so I need to save money any way I can."
Sam shook his head, "Still can't find a job huh? Two years and you still haven't-"
Leslie put a finger right in front of his face and shouted, "Do you have any idea what it's like here? Business are closing left and right, that means more and more people looking for work. None of the schools can hire anymore people. I can't get a job cleaning rubble here, I have no way to get work! What's it to you anyway?"
Sam sighed and waited a few seconds before answering, "Look, your husband was a good man. He stood up for me when it counted. I owe him." Sam pushed a few buttons on his omni-tool and Leslie's lit up as well. "I think I can get you a job with the company I'm with. Let me know what you think."
"What company do you work for?"
Sam's face bunched up, he looked down, and let out a long sigh before answering in a quiet voice, "Eclipse."
Leslie was a solid as a statue before she grabbed Sam by the collar and pulled his face to hers, "Eclipse? As in the gang that sells Red Sand to kids, smuggles guns into the hands of terrorists in the Traverse, and goes around raiding merchant vessels For FUN? That Eclipse?"
Sam nodded and evenly said, "We do some pretty bad things, but not all of us are like that."
Leslie let him go and he continued, "Look, I won't deny what we do, but what every unit is different. Some just smuggle weapons, some are pretty much just pirates. The unit I'm in just does the usual merc bit of standing around guarding stuff. It's actually not that bad."
Leslie just let out a laugh and went to the kitchen and Sam followed her, "Think about it OK? I made over 60,000 credits last year, after all the taxes Bekenstein takes out of my pay, just standing around all day guarding some rich guy's private art gallery."
Setting a skillet on the stove Leslie replied, "Fine, I'll think about it. Now get out before I smash your head in on the wall!"
"What?!" a voice rang out.
Leslie and Sam turned to see two people had just entered the apartment. One was a blond woman who had a few streaks of grey on her head, had on a brown shirt and pants, and was slightly shorter and more heavy then Leslie. In her arms she had a two year old boy that had on a grey shirt and blue jeans. Both looked very surprised at the sight before them, though only one knew just what might be going on.
Leslie's tone became much more respectful as she spoke, "Oh hi...mom. This is um...Sam. He was a friend of Jeff's."
She turned to look at the Eclipse member, "And he was just leaving. Isn't that right Sam?"
The man nodded once to Leslie and left without saying another word. Leslie's mom then went over to her daughter, "What was that?"
Leslie said nothing as she began to fry some meat in the skillet. She looked over at her mother Marji, composed herself, and eventually said, "Sam offered to get me a job."
Marji's face lit up like a christmas tree, "Oh honey, that's excellent news! When can you start? How much does it pay?"
The younger woman answered, "It's complicated. Can we talk about it after dinner please?"
Her mom nodded and took her grandson to the living room to play until dinner was ready. Leslie couldn't think about what had just happened, not now. Her day had been a fruitless effort to find a job. As had been the last several months before that. She needed money. Now. Otherwise...
Leslie didn't think about it. She just made dinner, ate some of it, and played with her son after until it was time for him to go to bed. Once he was asleep, she sat down next to Marji on the couch and told her about the offer.
Her mom asked, "Just what exactly does Eclipse do?"
Leslie sighed and explained, "You obviously don't pay much attention to the news mom. They're a mercenary army, mostly out in the Terminus. They do some pretty shady things but nobody ever does anything about it."
Her mother just nodded and asked, "Just who was that man earlier? Why is he even doing this?"
Leslie shrugged and told her, "He was with Jeff when he was in the marines. Jeff may have just been a paralegal, but he was assigned to this marine battalion that was deployed out in the Traverse during his tour. Sam was apparently brought up on charges for insubordination. You see his company commander almost got a lot of people killed for no good reason and Sam was overheard 'talking' about it.
"Anyway, Jeff managed to get his charges dropped and even managed to get the officer in question removed from his command. Jeff left the service soon after that. I'm guessing Sam did too. They kept in touch a little after that, but it wasn't like they were friends or something. It doesn't make sense for him to show up here now."
Marji asked in a slightly desperate voice, "Do you think he was serious about getting you that job?"
Her daughter nodded, "Yeah, I am. As little reason as he has for showing up here, it makes even less sense to play some kind of joke with me. His offer was real and...I think I'm going to take it."
Her mother looked very scared and put her hand on Leslie's shoulder, "Honey, you don't have to do that! You could-"
Leslie turned and faced her mom, "Could what? We don't have enough money to last us another month! Even if I could find another job soon, it would be too late. It's Eclipse or nothing." She sighed and looked down. Leslie was tired. Tired of being hungry. Tired of being jobless and having to live in this shitty apartment. She was done being tired, and sad, and helpless. For better or worse, she was going to do this...whatever the cost to her. She had no choice.
The young woman again looked at her mother, "I'll go call him. Do you mind taking care of Leo till I can work someplace close to home?"
Her mom nodded, "Of course honey. Just please...try to get posted somewhere close."
Leslie nodded, "I'll try mom." She brought up her omni-tool and called Sam.
Bekenstein, the next day
Leslie Blake sat in the sky car next to Sam as they flew to the main Eclipse office in the region. Leslie was dressed in a black suit and had her hair in a bun on the back of her head. She made sure that at least today she would be presentable. Sam road next to her in his black and white Eclipse armor. He told Leslie his boss made all the troops under her wear their armor whenever they were on duty. Leslie looked out in the distance and saw a large grey building. It had an arched top in the front, with many shining windows in the morning sun, and was at least a few stories tall and many meters wide.
Leslie turned to Sam and asked, "So, exactly why am I here? This a sort of job interview or what?"
Her driver told her, "Chief Roe wants to see all new hires before assigning them to a spot she thinks they can't handle. Word of advice: Don't piss off Chief. She kind of...well, there's no easy way to say this. She's the scariest bitch I've ever met. The look she gives when she's pissed makes me just want to jump off a bridge somewhere. Make a decent enough impression, and you'll be fine. Don't and...well, let's not think about that."
Sam parked the sky car in front of the building and the two stepped inside. In front was a reception area with several desks and a few secretaries. Sam lead Leslie through a door near one of the desks and lead him through the hallways of the building. There were no decorations, only a sterile shining floor and dull grey walls. Eventually they stopped in front of a door with just three letters on a piece of metal that hanged on the door: Roe.
Sam pointed to the door, "Good luck."
Leslie nodded and entered. In the room was a woman in black armor. She had brown hair and green eyes and already had a scowl on her face. "Good, you're here. Sit down and let's get this over with," the woman ordered as soon as Leslie walked in the door.
The blond woman did as she was told and Roe began to talk in a very condescending tone, "Look, I'm very busy so I'll make this quick. You're here because I need bodies. Eclipse is really low on people right now, so we started a little recruitment drive. The only reason I'm telling you that is that so you know you are not special. You're a body, one who probably won't last too long anyway. So tell me, why I should hire you?"
Leslie was a bit shocked at the woman's attitude but answered, "Well...um...I have a son and my-"
Roe cut her off, "Yeah yeah. I've heard it a million times. My mom's sick and she needs this operation. My son is going to have this great education, but I have no way to pay for it. My God, what is it with you people? First off your son, if you even have one, isn't my problem, so don't use him as an excuse. Second, I'm still not convinced why I shouldn't just send you packing to wherever you're from." Roe narrowed her eyes at Leslie, "So give me just one reason I should bother with you."
Leslie couldn't believe this bitch! She was the meanest, most condescending person she had met in her life.
Fuck manners, I'll show this bitch!
Leslie Got right in Chief Roe's face, "Why? I'll tell you why: I'll do anything, kill anybody, protect anybody, for a decent paycheck. I'm sick of the galaxy treating me like shit, and I think it's time I got mine. I am willing to do anything I have to to get by. People like me aren't easy to find. Some might say they'll do anything to please their boss, but how many actually mean it?"
"And how do I know you are as good as you say you are?"
Leslie smirked, "Well I guess you'll just have to see me in action to find out." Blake sat back down, still smiling.
Roe seemed to ponder her response before nodding, "Alright Blake, you got the job." Roe pulled out a data pad handed it to Leslie, "Here's your contract. Read it or don't, I don't care. Just know for the next few years your ass belongs to us. Any questions?"
The blond woman took the pad and started reading, "When do I get paid?"
Roe smirked, "I like you already. You get a small salary which pays the 1st and 15th of every month. Any missions you are a part of also pay a pretty generous amount. If you live of course. Anyway, you'll get your first paycheck as soon as you arrive on Omega."
"Omega? What...I thought..."
Roe sat back in her chair with a smile on her face, "You thought what? That you would actually be stationed here? No Blake, I've got enough idiots to manage here, I don't need another one. Besides, Archangel has been causing a lot of havoc on the station recently, so that is where most of our new people are headed anyway. Don't worry, you'll be fine. Maybe."
Leslie was, for lack of a better term, simply destroyed right now. She was furious at Sam for getting here here, angry at herself for even doing this, and she was about ready to jump out of this seat and strangle this condescending bitch for her attitude! The only reason she was here was because she had no other choice. She was taking this job because she had no other choice. She was putting up with this woman because she had no other choice. She sighed and looked down at the contract. She signed it...because she had no other choice. It was either Eclipse or her family would starve.
She handed the pad back to Roe. The Eclipse soldier smiled, "Good. Now, get your ass to Omega in two days. Here's where you need to be at exactly." Roe pushed a few buttons on her omni-tool and Blake's soon lit up.
"Now, get the hell out of my office!"
The Citadel, the next day
Leslie stood at the entrance to the ship that would take her to Omega, her mother stood nearby holding Leo, Leslie's two year old son. The younger woman was dressed in a dark blue shirt and a pair of blue jeans while her mother had a light pink shirt and tan pants. Leslie had in her hand a small suitcase containing what few decent clothes she had, her favorite William Shakespeare works and Tom Clancy novels, and a small picture or herself, her late husband, and their son together on the Presidium just before the attack.
The spaceport was fairly busy, with a small crowd starting to form near the docks. Most were from areas like where Leslie was from; poor communities with no job opportunities here on the station. Those here would take any job they could if it meant decent pay. Leslie was no outlier in terms of what she was willing to do to get by compared to the rest of those boarding the shuttle bound for the crime capital of the galaxy.
The mercenary breathed heavily and walked over to her mother. She took her son from her mother and held him close. Her son, not sure what was happening, simply laid up against his mom. After a few moments Leslie spoke to her child.
"Mommy's got to go away now, OK? That means I need you to be the man of the house and take care of grandma. Do you think you can do that honey?"
Leo just looked at him mom with a curious look, as if he wasn't sure who she was talking too. He even looked back and forth between Leslie and his grandmother a few times, as if looking for some clue as to what was happening. Leslie's mom just smiled and took her grandson into her arms.
"I think Leo and I can manage by ourselves. Isn't that right kiddo?"
Leo just kept looking around the spaceport at all the people walking around him. Some gave him a glance, but most just ignored him.
Eventually Leslie gave them both one last hug and told her mom, "I love you mom. You should get my first paycheck soon. If any of those bill collectors give you any shit, just tell them to wait." She looked at her son one last time, "Be good now Leo. OK?"
When her son stared at her with the same aimless expression, she took that as an answer. Tears in her eyes, Leslie Blake turned around, and boarded the shuttle. She knew her life would not likely ever be easy again, but if it meant her family would be OK, Leslie could do this. She could be a mercenary, she could be anything, just as long as her family was doing alright
A/N: Hello again. Yes universe, I am still alive. I thought it would be good to get back into the habit of writing by expanding a bit on this story and on Leslie Blake, an OC of mine from another story I wrote whom I always wanted to develop but never got the chance to. It will not be a long story for various reasons I wont get into, but it is one I am feeling confident about. I will try to keep updates to this story around once a week or so, but I have a very busy life and that may not always be possible.
Thank you all for reading. Please leave a review or PM me with constructive criticism, praise, rants on how horrible I am, etc.
And to LogicalPremise: Challenge accepted. The story of Leslie Blake will continue.