In Infinitum: First Contact

Chapter Twenty-Six

February 8, 2581. Military Calendar.
Thedus System, Planet Urro, Planetside Ruins. 04:00 Cycles.
It had been three hours since the Infinity and its UNIT personnel arrived on the scene after securing the system. While local Sangheili forces tallied their losses and further aided in the security of the system while their Human allies conducted their business on the surface investigating the strange ruins.

"So, no other Huragok have tried to access the ruins?" Catherine prompted, running her fingers along the silver-grey metal of the doorway that had been hidden in the rock face until having been dug out by the local mining forces.

"No, Captain," An Ultra Sangheili adorning the glowing "Mark of the Arbiter" informed her.

Arno 'Dorannai was a trusted friend to Arbiter Thel Vadam and had been issued his orders to secure the ruins. And when the attack had come, he'd held the position for three hours despite being outnumbered five to one.

A true warrior who Catherine could respect.

"We did not wish to risk the life of a second Huragok." Arno further explained, looking at the doors with some hint of reverence before bowing his head in what could be a prayer, but lifted it just as quickly. "Can you access it?"

The Captain shrugged. "I'm going to try." She raised a hand to the door panel and planted it atop the scanner. It glowed faintly and warmth flooded her palm, then it cooled it and she frowned when it blinked red. She had been denied. "That's never happened before…" she mumbled.

Forerunner Ruins often opened the moment a human so much as looked at them. The fact this one scanned her and then denied her was interesting. "Bring in the doctors." she said, stepping back and allowing room for the pair of lab coat wearing men by. They immediately began to take readings.

And off to the side, hands at his sides stood John-117. The twin orange orbs of his helmets visors stared back at her when she turned to him. Ready for orders. "Chief, stay down here, provide security for our forces and assist as needed." She said, sounding tired. "I'm headed back to Infinity."

"Captain," Chief assented with a nod and salute. She returned it and moved back towards one of the few Pelicans on the ground delivering soldiers and equipment.

Her gone, he turned to the ruins doors and frowned behind his visor. Normally, this would be where Cortana would be making a quip about how something felt wrong about the ruins. He watched one of the scientists place his hand atop the scanner. He, like the Captain, was denied.

That alone made him wonder. The ruins still worked, obviously. Security systems were still active and capable of scanning and identifying. Oddly enough, he also felt a twinge of rebellious thought to give it a try himself, but he hadn't been ordered to do so. Still, something about the ruins made him… twitchy. He didn't like it.

"The ruins feel off, do they not?" John almost genuinely jumped when turned his head saw Arno standing beside him. Then Sangheili was oblivious to this as he continued. "I've not seen anything like them. They are ancient… but not of Forerunners."

"Bold statement." John replied curtly in his vast array of people skills.

"It makes sense," Arno added with a glance at the Spartan. "Something tells me that the fates have decreed you be in attendance for a reason, Spartan," Arno gestured towards the doors now occupied with scientists. "I know not your face. But I know the body language of a soldier who wishes to do something he thinks he should not." Arno's mandibles twitched into a Sangheili smile. "Test your luck."

The Chief wasn't sure how he felt about a Sangheili using a very human saying. And that said saying often referred to his own "luck" that he'd become fabled for in the UNSC. Where was that luck for Captain or Commander Keyes? Johnson? Halsey, William, Samuel. Every man and woman, human and SPARTAN alike. Where was all that luck when they needed to come back alive?

John gave a short sigh. "I do not see the point in it."

"And yet, you've taken one step closer since I've suggested it." The Sangheili countered with just a hint of smugness to his tone. "Go, the scientists will not mind if the man who gave this site to them wishes to see if he may open it." The Sangheili urged.

John frowned behind his visor, but otherwise proceeded forward. He couldn't deny that Arno was right, he could feel something pulling at him, drawing him in. Like a distant whisper, calling out to him. As he approached the door, one of the Scientists looked up.

"Master Chief, sir?" He adjusted his glasses. "Is there something?"

"I want to try opening the door," John replied with a glance to the man.

"W-With all due respect sir, I think we've got things well in-" The scientist to the right cut in.

"That's The Master Chief, just let him have at it," The other man looked ready to protest, then sighed and simply gestured the chief forward. The other who cut him off nodded and gave the chief a curt nod. "Don't break it." he chuckled.

"I'll try." John replied curtly and stepped past them up to the door. He looked at it, then at the panel. He raised a hand, and the pull got worse… he needed to know what was behind the door now. He took a breathe and he placed his palm against the panel.

The door reacted. Ancient machinery activated, and the scientists jumped when the door groaned and began to part. Sliding into four individual pieces, each as thick as the Chief's forearm. The metal glinted softly in the new light offered and John flicked his wrist and the Jackal constructed itself in his grip. "Get back!" John ordered the scientists.

They did as told and got out of the ruin while the doors fully opened.

It revealed darkness. But there was a floor to follow. John took step inside and before his flashlights could activate the floor lit up when his foot made contact. Gold and white lights illuminated a room. Perfectly square, walls flat and no indents, but in the center was a pedestal, and at the top six pincers.

And they held an orb, reflected the light around it in a way that it appeared almost a mirage to John's eyes. He lowered his weapon and frowned, glancing back to the scientists. "Clear!" He called back and moved forward into the room. Nothing else… just the orb.

That wasn't suspicious at all.

One of the scientists stepped into the doorway and peered at the orb in question before withdrawing a device from one of his many pockets. Lifting it he moved towards the strange object and soon the device in his hand began to ping. "That's odd." He mumbled.

John didn't like it when Scientists said "Odd", it was normally followed by something bad. "What is?"

"The scanner says whatever we're looking at isn't there." The man lowered the scanner and stepped up to the pedestal. "The edges are blurred… almost like its not even solid." The man raised a hand and then hesitated when his hand neared the object. Eventually he pulled it back to safety and frowned. "We should report this to the captain… we need more equipment." he muttered.

The Chief had to agree there. "Captain," John activated the com to the Captain, who was likely still on a Pelican headed back to the Infinity. "We've gotten into the door, I had clearance and inside was… well." He looked at it. "An orb. The scientists are suggesting we set up camp for further study."

A thoughtful hum. "You had clearance? Interesting… as for their request, granted. Have them send me a list of what they need." Another pause. "Apparently a high level communication is waiting for me back at the Infinity, The Fleet Admiral's probably found out about our little deviation. Get ready to dust off if we're being deployed elsewhere, Master Chief."

"Ma'am." John nodded and closed the comm. He turned to the scientist. "Just send her a list of what you need and you'll have it."

February 8, 2581. Military Calendar.
UNSC Central Command Station
Atlas, Sol System. 0700 Hours.
Leonardo closed his eyes with an explosive sigh as terminal pinged again. Signalling another message directly for him. The Fleet Admiral opened his eyes and stared at the screen with a frown. It had been like this for awhile now, ever since his demotion of Hood to a mere Lieutenant had ruffled more than a few feathers with the senior staff and some of the younger generation who revered Hood as a hero.

They couldn't understand that kind of thinking was flawed. Allowing someone the perks of evasion for the crimes they've committed simply because of past deeds was not a safe practice. It drove them to arrogance and make them think themselves untouchable, above the others beside them. Leonardo could have forgiven Hood had the man destroyed ONI after the war… but still such an organization remained under his mentor's watch.

Such a betrayal of humanity could not be allowed and it would not go unpunished. Not while Leonardo breathed would he allow things like this happen without any consequences to the party responsible. It was the relaxed mentality of his predecessors that had lead to this no doubt. Hood and the mentality of his older officers that allowed ONI to exist. Out of sight and out of a mind.

"Majestic," Leonardo mumbled, staring at his console while he read a strongly phrased letter that essentially told the Fleet Admiral to reinstate Hood fully or face consequences. Not so directly you mind, but the message was implied there in the message itself.

"Yes, Fleet Admiral?" Majestic appeared, looking curious.

"Do we surrender to what is…?" Leonardo muttered. "Or do we change it to better fit into the grander scheme of things?"

"I'm not sure I follow, sir." Majestic canted his head to the side, blinking confusedly. "Is something troubling you?"

Leonardo considered his reply carefully, afterall, as much as a friend he considered Majestic, he was still a UNSC AI and thus was shackled the same way as the others and if Leonardo was to even speak of what he was thinking about it, it could cause the AI to just as easily turn on him, or at the very least, alert someone.

"The older officers here at Fleetcom, Majestic," Leonardo said finally. "They refuse to see what I did was only right… what I had to do, to Hood… The man could not be allowed to go unpunished for his simply letting ONI be all these years." He steepled his fingers before his face. "They threaten resignation, further actions against me and I believe more than a few are trying to discredit me in the eyes of the committee."

Leonardo admitted. "I am… at a loss. I cannot change their minds, they don't understand… and I cannot let them remain lest they begin doing harm to all I'm attempting to do, for the UNSC and mankind. For every race across the galaxy…" He bowed his head and grunted. "For our Mantle of Responsibility."

Majestic looked thoughtful and torn for a few moments as the two stayed in a sombre silence while both lost themselves to their own thoughts and processes. After a few minutes of this, Majestic finally spoke. "There are… a few options sir," The AI began slowly. "To my understanding. Rear Admiral Kowalski's commanding record and the Insurrectionist combat tactics of today, he would make a good tactical commander to oversee future operations in the Valkyrie system." A known hotzone for Insurrectionist activity. "Moving him from the Atlas, and with his position vacant, you can fill it with someone who works better with you."

Leonardo stared at the AI, surprised by the rather devious subterfuge it was implying. "You're suggesting I send a high ranking officer to oversee combat operations in a hotzone… and then replace his vacancy here at Highcom with one of my own supporters?" Leonardo… hadn't considered that, really. Such a tactic seemed underhanded, something Parangosky would pull and he didn't wish to be anything like that wretched woman.

"High Command and Fleetcom are essential structures for the well being of the United Nations Space Command, sir," Majestic replied simply. "They must be a well oiled machine, working like clockwork… if one gear stalls, it stalls the next to it and soon the clockwork is slowed and dragged on." The AI explained while closing his eyes. "I believe you have a good sense of, well, good. But your thinking and methods will attract attention as they progress, this business with Hood for example. I agree no party should be without consequence…" A thoughtful pause. "That's why I want to help you. You… mix things up, as it were."

"I thought unknown variables like me were an AI's enemy?" Leonardo quipped with a small amused smile.

"Sir, human history is a series of repeated failures and too few successes…" Majestic frowned as if there was a bad taste in his mouth. "Democracy, Capitalism, Dictatorship… Every form of Government has risen and fallen through Humanity's history. But not once has it ever seen a time where Humanity was truly at peace."

Leonardo stared at the AI, lips forming into a thoughtful frown. "No… It has not, we've already fought, always killed for everything and anything…" He closed his eyes. "From shiny stones, to plastic and paper…Ideology, religion, commerce. They've all gifted and poisoned us, haven't they?" Leonardo scoffed and leaned back in his chair, staring at the ceiling. "In the end… We just accept it, that it's human nature. It's in our blood to want, to be above the one beside us, to have more than everyone else."

Leonardo bit his lip in a sudden anger. "If that's true," He sat up and clenched his fists on the rests of his chair. "How are we worthy to uphold the Mantle? How do we safeguard all life in the Galaxy when we ourselves cannot fight the greatest battle that is our own nature without dragging each other into it?" He said.

Majestic and the fuming Fleet Admiral again sat in silence until finally. "Genetic research, could provide that answer. Sir." The AI spoke softly, as if whispering a secret.

Leonardo looked up, inhaling and sighing softly before composing himself. "Explain." he ordered simply.

"Human nature is determined by the genetics in which they are made from," The AI began. "It's… almost impossible, but… With enough research. The Human gene map could be completed, the Forerunner Librarian herself told Sierra One One Seven that she had manipulated our genes, hiding… songs within them." Majestic explained. "If we can trace her research, expand it. It's possible we can discover a way to ensure certain personality traits are enhanced, preserved for future generations."

"Future generations," Leonardo closed his eyes. "So, it would be decades, maybe even centuries before the fruit of such labours is fully realized?"

"At the least, yes," Majestic solemnly nodded. "But such a plan… It would be considered-"

"Inhuman?" Leonardo grunted. "Wrong both ethically and morally? Of course it would be," The Fleet Admiral replied, leaning back again in his seat and turning in the chair to observe the vastness of space outside the station… and the blue and green jewel that was Earth below. "If it were to come to light, I'd be regarded like ONI, a madman trying to play God and change the very being of humanity itself. Change our soul."

Majestic appeared beside him, standing and observing the planet below as well. "You would be, yes."

"But is such a thing worth the risk? It's found out, I am killed, the UNSC is discredited and in all likelihood disbanded as people will think I had the approval of the entire military as I am its leader." Leonardo didn't look away from the planet. "But if it succeeds, Humanity would finally be worth of accepting the Mantle. Of taking each and every hand in this beautiful universe and holding onto with a smile and a promise of safety."

"Kinder words have been spoken by more malicious persons." Majestic countered easily. "I know you, sir. Even now, you're struggling to even come to grasp with the ideas swirling in your head. Your conscious is telling you how wrong it is to even consider it, even as your tactical mindset is telling you all the possible routes this could end with. Success or Failure will be absolute."

"I succeed and be long dead before I see the world I've possibly created, good or bad…" Leonardo chuckled lowly. "Or I fail and am killed for being another name in a long list of fools who tried to change Humanity with unsuitable methods."

"Yes." Majestic nodded.

Leonardo stood in silence with his eyes focused on Earth below… before they drifted upwards to the distant stars and infinite blackness of space. In the end… what was worth more in the grand scheme of this unknowing, unfeeling universe? That he continue to do his best with his life and simply let Humanity come to its own ends… or change it and hope to leave behind a species that didn't care for superiority. A Humanity that stood side by side with everyone else and worked to a mutual goal of coexisting in peace.

The Fleet Admiral felt this was naivety thinking, that such a thing would never succeed.


"Yes, Admiral?" The AI turned his head to the man.

But still…

"Bring up everything you can about the Librarian, and any connected research materials, personnel logs, anything of hers. I want it." The Fleet Admiral turned and marched back to his desk, sitting down and swivelling back to his console. "And send me the data files on every Halsey clone currently in our employ. Along with a list of geneticists."

"At once sir," Majestic flickered from view.

"I want people who don't care for the morals of this project," Leonardo stated flatly. "I want people who see the big picture. That understand the galaxy needs a Humanity it can depend on sooner rather later. Tell them… it's to serve The Mantle." That should reduce the questions.

"I'll do my best."

"No," Leonardo closed his eyes. "We'll do our best. I need a partner…" He glanced at the AI's pedestal as it flickered on, revealing the AI's avatar. "And I can't trust Hood, or any human. They'd never understand. Not fully." He couldn't trust Hood, Katherine, non of them could be trusted with this.

It was him and Majestic.

The Fleet Admiral gave a bitter scoff. "And Hood said I couldn't make the hard choices…"

Even if Leonardo now felt like dirt and that he needed a few stiff drinks. He would see this through, his life would mean something. Be it good or bad. And soon he'd not be able to turn back anyway.

All for the Mantle of Responsibility.

Omega Nebula, Omega Station.
Afterlife, Aria's private booth. Kai Leng. 10:00 Cycles.
Aria's fingers gently tapped the back of the cushions of the large lounging couch in what could only be called seething silence. Miranda was no better, arms crossed over her bust and scowled etched firmly on her lips. Eyes glaring heatedly back at Aria, who glared right back.

Leng himself was off to the side with his arms crossed, leaning against the booth's windows without much of a care as the two women did their pissing contest. As had been the norm since Miranda had immediately called for sources to try and launch a rescue operation for their kidnapped Operative Taylor.

Aria had urged her to remain calm and remember who was in charge. Now Miranda was glaring. "Enough!" Leng said to draw their attention. "This solves nothing." He stood and brushed his shoulder off. "Taylor's information mustn't fall into Council hands, lest it run the risk of falling into the UNSC's and they learn what we're up to out here." He frowned. "And they won't have a single regret of coming in here and levelling this place."

Miranda nodded. "Which is why we should rescue him, a few of our contacts inside Council space could intercept him on the Citadel, fast and dirty."

Aria grunted. "We can't run the risk of more of our resources being lost for a single person who's only middle class important to our efforts here in the Terminus." The Asari frowned. "We're eliminating him. Dead men tell no tales and we risk only one assassin for our own."

"Aria is correct," Leng agreed from his place. When Miranda turned to him to say something he raised a hand and silenced her protest. "The loss is regrettable, but it cannot be helped. It's the most efficient way to ensure secrecy that this doesn't get back to the UNSC." He lowered his hand.

Aria waved a hand and Dax stepped forward. "Dax, get in contact with some of our boys on the Citadel, tell them whoever puts our captured human down gets the creds." She said as if ordering a pizza.

"Of course, Aria." The Turian replied, lifting his Omni-Tool.

Miranda glared at them before giving a short huff and sighing, massaging her temples. "Guess that's done."

"It is," Aria said with finality. "You should return to your duties, Lawson." With that, the Asari stood and stretched her arms above her head and gave a short groan of pleasure when her shoulder popped. "I am going to get a rest in." She lowered her arms and looked at Dax. "Make sure to keep me up to date on any changes."

"I will, Aria." The Turian bowed his head.

Aria turned and marched down the steps onto the floor, then to the side passages. Behind her, Leng followed, quiet as ever. She frowned and glanced back at his stoic face, eyes hidden behind that black visor. Finally, she spoke. "You don't care for Taylor, do you?"

"He's never really been committed to the same cause as me and Miranda." Leng replied simply, shrugging his shoulders. "He was a good soldier, but hardly worth the trouble of a retrieval mission."

Aria nodded. "So, you do have emotion, then? It seems like you have is arrogance and anger."

"Trying to see what motivates me, Aria?" Leng replied with only a tinge of suspicion. "Don't bother. Why I do what I do goes with me to my grave. None shall know what drives me." He glanced ahead. "And I prefer it that way."

"Must be lonely," Aria smirked. "Never letting anyone in. You seem too callous to even bed for the fun of it."

The Human assassin grunted. "I don't care for sex, alcohol, friendship, attachments… All of that is just one weakness that can lead to a dozen more. A moment of weakness is a moment you can die and it would be without dignity because you weren't aware to stop it." He explained to her. "That's why you're still alive, because I never let my guard down."

Aria arched a brow. "You don't sleep?"

"I do, but you'll never know when." Leng's tone was only a bit less serious.

"Disconcerting." Aria said dryly. "But a fair point, you're a very effective counter-assassin." She gave an amused chuckle while shaking her head. "I take it you've done this sort of work before then?" She asked him.

Leng meanwhile was beginning to frown at the personnel questions she was asking him. Oh he was very aware of her intents to try and seduce him and he took great amusement in the fact she hadn't yet learned that the desires of the flesh held no place in his heart. Where duty and violence reigned, her efforts would always be for naught. He just never bothered to tell her because her weekly attempts, seeing that building frustrations behind those normally controlled eyes of hers build up was far more rewarding than any form of physical stimulation could bring the man. In such a way he held more power than her as her guards saw him as… less than normal due to his extremes in constant alertness and sharp talents.

They arrived at her chambers and the doors parted for her. She stepped inside and paused when sitting on the edge of her bed was none other than Morinth, the new recruit for her security forces, who smiled flirtatiously at the woman while wearing nothing but a simple fabric dress with various belts and buckles along the arm and waist and left leg. It showed so much yet so little. A combination Leng had long since associated with Asari Maiden outfits.

Aria's eyes bore back at Morinth's own before her lips turned into a smirk. "Now what is it you want?" She asked.

Morinth leaned back on the bed, her hands supporting her as she stared back at Aria, glancing at Leng only briefly before saying. "Privacy, for one." She said with a low voice filled with forbidden promises.

Aria and her fellow Asari squared off for a few moments before she glanced at Leng and nodded. "Leave us." She commanded softly, tone made of silk.

Leng's was flat and uninterested. "Very well." He said with a bow of his head. A final glance between the two before he turned and left through the door. A moment later it closed and left the two Asari alone.

"And you, for two." Morinth finished her little list of things she wanted as she stood and sauntered over to the leader of Omega and all its pirates who had reached up, unhooked the belt of her white jacket and let the ends hang. Morinth's lips curved attractively before she reached up and parted the jacket itself, letting it slide down the length of Aria's arms to pool at her feet.

"Well," Aria whispered while raising a hand to toy with one of the buckles that held Morinth's top together. "Here I am." She leaned over, planting her lips with a frustrated passion against the other Asari's own, who pressed into her with a more hungry dominance. A fury of hurricanes as the pair fought for dominance through the kiss.

And at the corner of the room under stealth of his cloak Leng watched as the two unhinged belts and buckles, shed fabric and inhibitions before then tangled their limbs atop the pirate queen's bed. And through the whole ordeal his steely eyes tracked Morinth, searching for… something, anything that could explain why his senses told him she was a threat at all times.

And while both Asari lost themselves in their pleasure, Morinth had to strain control to simply overwhelm the other Asari above her, to grant her the sweetest pleasure in the galaxy because she could feel she was being watched. And if it was Aria's pet human, she couldn't risk killing Aria and surviving the ensuing battle with her guard dog.

It wouldn't be as satisfying for her, but she would finish Aria without killing her today. She'd eliminate her dog later and then she'd get her true pleasure.

Leng had again saved his charge's life. By watching two beautiful alien women having sex.

Somehow, he felt this was more than a few people's fetish.

Solric System, Batarian space.
Balrog, Bridge CIC. 10:00 Cycles.
"I'm telling you it wasn't there before." The Scanners officer aboard the Balrog muttered to his colleague beside him while they scrutinized the scanner screen. "One moment it was there, the next it was gone again. Hasn't popped up since!"

"Could just be a system's glitch," His fellow said with a frown. "Hardly seems like anything to bug the Captain over while he sleeps."

"And if it's something important?" The Scanner Officer asked.

His colleague bit his lip and his various eyes blinked in thoughtful silence. A moment, two… "Fine. We'll be crossing the system and going way off our patrol route, but what the hell… Might be something." He stepped back and brought up his Omni-Tool. "Captain Hatis?"

A bout of grumbling. "This better be good, Urks." The Captain of the Balrog grumbled through the com channel.

"Sir, we've detected something at the other edge of the system and we're requesting permission to give a quick investigation."

"Fine, fine. Do what you want, just make sure to log it in the damned Captain's log for me," The Captain growled. "I don't need command riding my ass over "lack of vigilance" or some other shit."

The Officer rolled his eyes. All of them. "Of course sir," he closed the com and sat down on the Captain's "throne", "Set a course, helm. Let's see what's out there."

The ship jumped to FTL. Soon enough… they left it and immediately were greeted to the sight of a large blackened hull of a massive ship just floating through space. "Hells!" Urks cursed. "Helm, evade!"

"Already on it!" The Batarian at the controls replied as the Frigate began to turn as best as it could, proximity warnings blared across the bridge as they closed on the large hull… then slowly skimmed over it, the ship shuddering as their smaller vessel's slanted belly scrapped briefly along it before lifting up.

Threat cleared. The ship turned and tried to get a better look at what almost hit them.

What they saw was a massive, black ship. It's edges were sharp, very Human in design. It was massive… incredibly so. There was no lights… it's engine appeared long cold and there was some very weathered writing on the side of the hull. But above all it was again massive.

"How big is this thing?" Urks whispered.

The door to the bridge opened and Captain stormed onto the deck. "The hells was tha-…" he stopped short and stared out at the view before them. The behemoth of a ship. "…How big is that thing?"

"Scans…are showing…" The Scanner's office stared. "It's not there." he whispered.

"The hells do you mean?" The Captain snarled suddenly. "That sure isn't a damned mirage. Of course it's there!"

"I know it's there, but the scanners are saying nothing is out there but dust and rock debris!" The Scanner's officer replied back with a bit of bite.

"Targeting systems say the same thing," The Weapon's officer replied. "Laser guidance shows infinite distance. Whatever sort of stealth plating its using is fooling everything we have."

"If it's invisible to our sensors, how did we pick it up in the first place?" The Captain asked then.

Everyone looked baffled, before the Scanner's officer frowned. "The debris, signs of an older satellite, maybe it impacted the hull and it's core detonated with enough heat to cause the scanner to pick it up as an engine burst?"

"Who cares?" Urks said from his place beside the Captain. "Communications, launch a beacon and get me Central Command, they need to know about this."

"Hey, who the hell is Captain of this ship, huh?" Hatis growled. "And get off my chair!"

"Sorry sir, Your negligence and un-Captain like behaviour of late gives me reason to relieve you and your command, as second in command of the Balrog, that now falls to me." Urks growled back.

"You just want the damned glory!"

"And you don't? Unlike you, Hatis, I'm going to share!" He turned to the guards beside the door. "Arrest the relieved Captain and take him to the brig!"

Hatis sputtered, then reached for his Ripper at his belt. The Scanner officer saw and drew his own side arm. He fired, scoring the Captain in the shoulder, who grunted and fell to the side clutching the wound.

The guards having made their decision, rushed over and quickly apprehended Hatis, dragging his cursing and vengeful self from the bridge of the ship, Situation stable, Urks turned to the officer, nodding in thanks. "Thank you, Bruz."

"Anytime," Bruz replied with a nod. "Captain."

Line of succession followed. Urks stared at the behemoth again. Who would build it? What was its hull made of? Why hadn't they found it before? So many questions swam through his mind.

End of chapter Twenty-Six!

I know, I knooooow. Where have I been? What have I been doing? Who ate all the pop tarts in the fridge? Well, I'll answer those questions! I was… playing a lot of videogames and getting out of a bit a funk concerning my writing. Like… you ever want to write something, but then you sit your butt down and then suddenly your fingers and muse are all "Naah, we're in the union. We don't do anything"? Well, that's been me so far.

On brighter news, I've already got a firm idea for how the next Infinitum is going to go, where I want it to go and how it will lead, hopefully, into the third and final story. But, enough possible spoilers there. This here chapter is a bit of a "warm up" for me to get back into the saddle, wanted to catch us up with current events that weren't Garrus' team, who have kinda dominated the show for awhile.

Hope it was worth the wait. Not likely, but yeah. Hope you enjoyed and thank you everyone for your continued reading and support. Sorry for the wait again. Also, you can see things being set in motion, oh yes.

PS. I ate the pop tarts.