In the Darkest Night

Disclaimer: The Mass Effect universe is the property of Bioware/Electronic Arts. No infringement of these copyrights is intended as this is a not for profit fan fiction work.

Warning: Violence

Authors Note: Alternate Universe in which the Protheans won a Phyrric victory over the Reapers, destroying both their Empire and nearly destroying the Mass Relay system. Mass Effect Universe with no Reapers, no Citadel, and no Citadel Council or Citadel race alliance. Many thanks to PMC65 for letting me use the Asari culture and characters from her "Thessian Whisper" and "The Shepardess and the Questing Beast" in this story. The timeline is in both Earth time in Anno Domini (AD) years and in Asari Republics Republic Era (RE) years which is marked from the beginning of the League of Republics upon Thessia, the first unified Thessian government. The story begins in 4714 RE/2190 AD.

Race Notes: Accurate weights and heights will be used as per the game information and not the visual depiction in the game. Thus the Krogan are well over 7 foot tall, Turians and Hanar are next at just over 6.5', Asari range from 6.5' to 6' as that is how PMC65 described them in her stories, Salarians, Batarians, Quarians and Humans average at just under 6' in height while Volus and Vorcha are among the shortest races at 5 feet and under.

Rating: Mature

Feedback: Always welcome, feedback is what encourages me to keep writing. Please let me know what you like and what you dislike about the story.

Revision History: 10/4/2013

Chapter One – A Slave Under the Master's Boot

Slave 28907's rifle rose, the barrel's sight centering upon the forehead of the tall, blue-skinned alien female. Her finger tightened on the trigger before the blue-white energy wreathing the asari's form could either be unleashed against her or used to protect the alien from her shot. In the next instant the tentacled head jerked back, an ugly hole blossoming in the slightly-scaled blue skin of the forehead while the metal wall behind the alien was splattered with whitish bits of bone, brain and purplish colored blood. The young asari huddled in the corner behind the adult began screaming in mingled horror and fear as she was splattered with her protector's blood. In the next moment, punctuated by an even louder cry from the asari youth, the body collapsed onto cream colored tiles; that which had animated it in life slipping away into whatever awaited it once life ended.

Blank grey eyes focused upon the still form of the asari's body, and then stared into the now empty blue eyes. The Masters said that animals weren't fit to go to the same place they did after death. Masters went to a place where they had grand homes and food while animals went to an empty place until they were reborn as slaves to the Masters. Many of the asari had been sent to the empty place along with many of her fellow slaves, perhaps it would be some time before they were reborn to serve.

Sudden motion tore 28907 abruptly from her morbid thoughts. Refocusing her attention upon her surroundings, the slave jerked her weapon back up as she went on guard. The younger asari that had been huddled in the corner was now latched onto the dead body of the adult asari. To the slave's unfamiliar eye, judging by her own race's standard, the younger asari appeared to still be a child, but one just beginning to grow into an adult. The young asari's earlier screams changed into deep sobbing cries as she began repeating a word over and over in her alien tongue and wasting water from her eyes. The slave soldier hesitated for a moment, an emotion that almost looked like regret flickering briefly in her pale eyes as she observed the scene before her.

In the next moment the guttural, harsh voice of one of the Masters snarled over the speakers embedded in the slave's helmet and the brief flash of emotion was buried once again as blankness filled her grey eyes and stilled her features. "Drag those still living into the open areas between the buildings. Kill any that resist you. It's time these animals were properly collared and taught to serve their masters."

Over two decades as a batarian slave had taught 28907 well what happened to those that failed to promptly follow a Master's command…and it was never pleasant for the slave. As for outright disobedience - the Masters took great pleasure in prolonging a rebellious slave's punishment before allowing them to finally die. That thought had the slave immediately moving to obey the command. Striding swiftly toward the young asari still clinging and crying over the body of the adult, she grabbed a handful of the warm looking green dress covering the child's back and forcefully tore the alien youth away from the dead body.

To her surprise the child twisted, the slender body turning and sliding out of the thick but fine material and leaving the slave with the empty piece of clothing as the young asari darted back toward the body lying on the tile floor. The slave soldier's grey eyes narrowed and the barrel of her weapon rose and pointed toward the naked back of the kneeling child as she considered whether to kill the child now and send her to the empty place along with the adult or take her to the Masters to be taught to serve them. Memories rose within the slave's mind of the heavy boots of the Masters stamping and stamping and stamping. The thin, high-pitched screams that rose shrieking and then grew thin and faded before being drown out by the Masters laughter. Heavy gauntleted hands that stuck and split her skin, leaving the scars that marred her face across her lips and cheeks. The screams she couldn't stop herself from making when the Masters activated the pain giving device they had put in her head. The slave's finger tightened on the trigger while the young asari, unaware of how close death hovered near her, continued making distressed noises and weeping over the dead body.

Seconds passed as the slave stared unblinkingly at the asari child while one brutal memory after another played out within her mind. 'The Masters are waiting,' the sharp, warning thought within her mind broke 28907 out of her dark reverie. Drawing in a sharp breath as her features hardened the slave moved forward once again, drew back her hand and struck the child sharply across the back of her crested head. The blow sent the child sprawling forward across the dead body as the young asari's cries shifted from grieving to shocked and pained at the sudden attack. Not giving the child time to recover the slave moved forward again this time wrapping her hand around the youngster's neck and physically lifting the young alien until the child attempted to stand on her own. As soon as the slave soldier released the youngster, the young asari whirled around, an expression of mingled fear and anger at the harsh handling upon her face, only to be met with the force of a gauntleted hand. The young asari stumbled backward with a pain filled shriek her blue hued hands going to her face. Shocked blue eyes stared up fearfully at the slave for a moment before the child began rapidly speaking in a high, fear-filled tone.

'Animals do not speak, only the Masters speak.' Without conscious thought guiding it, the slave's gauntleted hand struck the child across the face once again, the second blow splitting the young asari's lip and sending the youth sprawling upon the tiled floor from its force. Frightened vivid blue eyes met impassive grey ones for a moment through the clear faceplate of the slave's helmet and then the child was scrambling wildly away in an effort to escape. 28907's weapon rose once again and the young asari froze as she stared at the muzzle pointed at her chest. Jaw clenched hard enough that her teeth ground together the slave considered the child lying on the floor with narrowed eyes. The Master's orders had been clear, kill any that resisted. Her finger curled, bringing it into contact with the trigger of her rifle. Frozen with fear the young asari remained still and blessedly silent as she stared up at the alien soldier, a trail of purple blood flowing down her chin and onto her neck and chest from her split lip.

After what seemed like forever but was in reality only a few seconds, the slave eased her finger away from the trigger of her rifle and instead threw the dress she was still holding in her other hand at the child. Silently she gestured for the child to put it on. 28907 knew that the young asari's behavior would draw the Master's attention to her soon enough and that she might not survive their punishments. Bringing the youth to them almost naked would immediately make the Master's notice her; depending on the Master that noticed bad things might happen to the young asari with skin the color of a midday sky…very bad and hurtful things. It was never good to draw a Master's notice in that manner. Better that the child be delivered to the Masters covered, learning how to behave as the Masters wanted in the next few days would be difficult enough without learning what else the Masters liked from their female slaves and from some of the male slaves.

28907 watched as the young asari glanced down at the green dress which had landed upon her chest. The asari's breasts were just beginning to swell in a sign of beginning adulthood, indicating that the slave had been right in her approximation of the alien youth's age. The blue-skinned child looked back up and her mouth opened as if she were about to speak once again. The slave soldier lunged forward, thrusting the muzzle of her weapon close to the child's face, causing the young asari to make a sharp, thin sound of fear as she jerked away from it. 28907 held her threatening stance for a moment longer before backing away to her former position. Once there she gestured sharply for the child to dress. Too much time had passed; soon one of the Masters would come looking for her. Then both of them would be punished or perhaps even killed; her for her disobedience, the young asari for resisting. Finally the child seemed to understand that she should not speak and should instead put on her dress in silence. As the youth pulled her dress on over her crested head, the slave allowed herself a small sigh of relief. Perhaps this one would live through the Masters training. Perhaps.

Once the young asari was dressed, 28907 motioned with her rifle, indicating that the youngster should stand. Her blue eyes fixed upon the slave soldier with wary fear the entire time and holding one hand to her mouth to staunch the bleeding, the child rose as ordered. The slave was surprised at the youngster's height, even though the asari was not full grown the youngster was already nearly as tall as she, though much slimmer in build than 28907. The slave's grey eyes dropped momentarily to the body of the adult, perhaps she shouldn't be surprised given the fact that the Asari as a race were tall…taller even than most of the Masters. 28907's skin pricked as a chill of fear washed over her at her thought as if one of the Masters might reach into her mind and see it – the Asari were animals just as she, tallness did not matter.

The young asari flinched and stepped back as 28907 approached her, but the slave ignored the reaction as she reached around to seize a handful green dress at the child's back. This time the asari youth did not attempt to escape the slave soldier's grip as 28907 pushed her into movement, doubtless sensing that any further resistance would result in her death. Though the child did not resist, she did slow and turn her head to stare back at the body of the adult asari, water running down her cheeks from her eyes. The Masters would beat her if they saw it, but 28907 ignored it as she pushed the youth in front of her through the doorway of the room and the dead body was no longer visible.

The metal building they were in looked somewhat similar to a lower caste Master home, though with more curving lines than those buildings made by the Masters. The building was not as big as most those Masters lived in, but it was still not a place for animals unless they were ordered there by the Masters to serve them. This was where the asari miners and their families had been living; which made the Masters angry because the Asari were not superior like the Masters, not even the lower caste Masters. The Asari were just animals like 28907 and were not supposed to live in buildings like these. Animals, if they were obedient and served the Masters well, were allowed to live in slave buildings where they ate, bathed and rested with the other slaves under the watch of the Masters who were slave overseers. Animals, if they were not obedient and the Masters didn't chose to kill them, were often punished by being put outside in wire cages where they barely had room to move around and the overseer Masters sprayed them with cold water when they began to stink.

The slave and young asari emerged from the building to stand upon a concrete path that joined with a wider walkway which ran between one row of metal buildings and the next. The entire area was lit by bright lights suspended from the cavern roof many meters above them. 28907 had heard the Masters call this planet Zesmeni and the asari here lived and worked in sealed caverns such as this below the surface of the planet because one could not breathe its methane-ammonia atmosphere. Other than its name however, the slave knew very little about the cold, dimly-lit planet besides the fact that it had many mineral and metal deposits. That was why they were here, the Masters desired this planet for the Hegemony and they were taking it by force from the Asari animals that lived upon it now. The asari that survived the attack would be collared and taught to know their proper place – to serve the Masters. Then they would be put back to work in the same mines they were working in now, only they would be mining metals and minerals for the Masters.

"Slave," a commanding voice growled from the slave soldier's left a few seconds after they stepped outside.

28907 recognized the voice immediately. It belonged to one of the overseer Master's, one the slave feared for how hard he hit for even the slightest failure. Several of the scars upon 28907's face had come from his gauntleted hands. Anxious to not offend, the slave soldier immediately tightened her hold upon the young asari's dress and using her weight and strength pushed the slender form down to her hands and knees upon the pavement. The child's bare hands slammed down on the pavement, only just stopping her face from meeting the rough surface as well. The young alien cried out in fear and pain, but a quick open handed cuff alongside the tentacled head persuaded her to be silent after one additional pained yelp. 28907 waited only a bare second longer to ensure the child remained silent before literally dropping to her knees, ignoring the momentary flash of pain that ran up her shins at the impact, and bowed her head as she awaited the Master's command.

The sound of armored footsteps grew louder as the tall, thick, brown-skinned batarian male in heavy black and brown armor approached and then stopped in front of the kneeling slave soldier and asari child. Slave 28907 remained still, her head bowed and already tilted to the left in a show of submission and acknowledgement of the Master's superiority. The long healed scar on her cheek which ran along her right cheekbone just below her eye had been from one of the fitting buckles on the back of the Master's armored gauntlet after he felt that she had not properly displayed her respect for him when she was much younger…in fact almost the same relative age as the young asari kneeling next to her.

"So few," the Master sounded displeased, sending a chill of absolute fear through 28907. Her instructions had been clear, kill all those that resisted and yet the Master was not pleased. The slave cowered, bowing her head further and lowering herself closer to the ground as her apprehension of punishment grew. "You killed only the ones that resisted their subjugation?" the Master's voice demanded a response to his question.

Slave 28907 made an affirmative barking sound, its nervous underlying tone betraying her sharp anxiety, and put as much earnestness into the noise as possible. Animals were not allowed to speak, but they were allowed to make a few sounds when the Masters asked questions as long as they remembered the rule – animals never disagreed with the Masters. One either made an affirmative sound or remained silent. Any noise resembling dissent or disagreement with a Master brought swift and brutal punishment, punishment which usually ended with the offending slave's eventual death.

"Hmm," the Master rumbled, still sounding displeased. Slave 28907 remained as still and quiet as possible, barely even breathing as she silently hoped that the overseer Master would not take out his displeasure at the lack of living asari upon her. The slave did not pray as she had no concept of there being anything out there that would listen to her, certainly the Masters rarely listened to any pleading sounds made by the slaves. If anything, such noises usually made them angrier and more violent rather than less.

Dark brown armor clad feet shifted as the Master turned his attention toward the asari by the slave soldier's side. "Young," he observed, sounding disgusted, "it will take decades before this animal is able to do any decent amount of work in the mines. After a brief pause he added condescendingly, "At least once its collared and trained to know its proper place as a slave it will serve the Hegemony for several centuries."

28907 was confused by the Master's behavior, though the lessening of anger in his tone at least gave her hope that she wasn't about to be punished. Master's didn't usually talk to the slaves except to give them orders or ask specific questions, but the overseer Master had done neither so she remained still and silent rather than risk angering him. Out of the corner of her eye the slave soldier saw the asari youth look up and then open her dark blue lips. 28907's grey eyes widened in dismay as she watched the child made the mistake of speaking to the Master.

"Animals do not speak!" the overseer Master growled at the young asari before she even got out her first word and then struck the child across the side of her head with enough force that the blue-skinned youngster was knocked sideways into the slave soldier.

Kneeling as she was upon her knees with one hand gripping the asari's dress and the other holding her assault rifle the slave soldier wasn't prepared for the impact of the youngster against her. Thrown off balance, she used the butt of her rifle against the ground to brace herself while tightening her grip upon the young asari's clothing to make sure the alien didn't attempt to rise and escape. Despite the Master's desire for living asari, such an act would surely cause the Master to decide to kill the blue-skinned youngster.

Instead of attempting to escape however, the young asari flung her arms up around her head and shouted a word at the Master. Dread rose inside 28907 and she had to resist an impulse to push the young alien away from her. She did not want to share the other animal's punishment. Such an act however, would draw the angry overseer Master's attention to her and for now he seemed solely focused on the young asari. She would remain still and hope that the Master saw her obedience and did not take out his anger upon her. In response to the show of disobedience the Master clenched his hand and slammed down his armored fist upon the young asari's head, causing the youngster to cry out in pain as she collapsed upon the hard surface of the walkway with her arms still wrapped around her head.

The Master bent down and seized the asari child by the neck with one large hand dragging her upward as she thrashed against his grip. The overseer Master drew back his hand once more and then stopped before striking the alien youngster, an unpleasant smile twisting his lips. "I'll have a better way of punishing you in a moment," he commented as he lifted the blue-skinned child closer before declaring in a menacing tone, "In fact, I'll put it in myself." He released the young asari, letting her collapse upon the ground. Turning his attention to 28907 he directed, "Bring this animal to the gathering point," he stared down at the young asari for a moment longer, a sneer curling his lips and showing off his pointed teeth before turning and setting off toward the gathering point himself.

28907 remained still and kneeling until the overseer Master was a distance away before risking a glance over at the asari youth. The alien was lying curled up on the ground, her arms still wrapped around her head. Deep sobs shook the young asari's slender body. The slave soldier's grey eyes flickered briefly back toward the Master, verifying that he was still walking away from them before she dared straighten and turn her full attention to the asari.

She knew full well what was about to happen to the young alien, the overseer Master would take a knife and cut into the young asari's scalp down to the bone. Then he would attach the device that created pain which would then cut through the bone and into the asari's brain. Finally they would use a glue to seal the skin back over the device and stop the bleeding. The entire process would hurt terribly and then overseer Master had already promised to use the pain giving device to punish the alien child. The slave stared down at the youngster, her lips curved downward as the thought crossed her mind that she should have killed the child earlier, now though the Master wanted this one to remain alive and 28907 would not disobey him.

Rising to her feet, the slave contemplated how to get the asari child to move as the other animal showed no sign of getting up from where she was curled up on the ground. Out of the corner of her eye something moved, 28907 whipped her head around, tensing in anticipation of either finding cover or kneeling if there was another Master approaching. She let out her breath and relaxed as soon as she recognized the distinctive grayish-brown armor of another slave soldier, 28934 a slightly taller male.

There were more male animals than females in her slave unit and that was true for all the other slave units she had seen as well. Why she didn't know for certain, but she suspected it was because male animals were stronger than female animals and did not tire as quickly when wearing armor and weapons. However, male animals seemed be punished more than female animals by the Masters who seemed to be more watchful for any sign of disobedience from them. Some of the male animals and a few of her fellow female animals had eyes that were as hard as any Master's when they looked at you. Often those that had hard eyes were almost as likely to hit their fellow slaves for anything they became angry over as the Masters. 28907 tried to stay away from those slaves that had hard eyes. It was difficult enough to not anger the Masters; she didn't like having to be as careful around the other slave soldiers.

Slave 28934 did not have hard eyes, his eyes were a slightly darker brown than her own and often seemed to warm whenever he saw her. 28907 liked being around the other male animal, she liked the slight smile that curved his lips when he saw her and there wasn't a Master near them. She liked the broadness of his shoulders and the muscles which bunched underneath his dark skin.

28934 made a questioning sound as he drew near, looking curiously toward the asari child upon the ground.

In response, 28907 pointed toward the child and then toward the designated gathering point as she barked once in a firm tone. The tone she had used was one the slaves used with one another when they were obeying a Master's orders. This was as complex a communication as the Master's would allow between the slaves, anything more creative would draw their attention and their anger. The overseer Masters always closely watched the slaves and punished those they felt were trying to behave as if they were Masters and not animals.

28934's brown eyes widened in surprise, but he voiced only a quiet acknowledging bark as he stopped beside her.

The two of them stared down at the asari youth whose sobs had quieted somewhat even though she was still wasting water. 28907 frowned; the punishment that the Master had given the child had been mild compared to what would happen to the young asari in the near future. All of this – this lying down on the ground, the sobbing and wasting of water – would only make the Master's angrier with the child and they would punish her even more for it. The female slave soldier had a bad feeling that the Master's might make this young asari their example to the other new slaves if the child kept up her rebellious behavior.

28934 made a motion with his hand and arm toward the child, mimicking an action of picking up the asari by lifting her by her arms. The grey-eyed female slave nodded after a moment, it did seem the best way of getting the child to the designated gathering site since she showed no sign of getting up on her own. Certainly the overseer Master's anger would not be lessened by waiting; instead he was certain to become angrier with the young asari.

28907 took a few steps so that she was on the other side of the child from the brown eyed male, then the two of them knelt and grabbed the young asari's arms so that they could lift her to her feet between them. As soon as the child realized what they were doing she began to struggle between them and even worse…shouting something at them…speaking. The two slave soldiers looked at one another, their expressions mirroring each other's fear. This asari animal would be killed by the Master's for her rebelliousness and disobedience and since they were the one's bringing her to the Masters' they were likely to be punished as well.

Almost as one, their gazes shifted back to the young asari between them as the two slave soldiers considered how to get the child to stop speaking, stop struggling, and stop crying before they took her to the Masters. Just as 28934 turned his head, the two slaves heard the distinctive sound of sniper round propelled at supersonic speeds. The male slave soldier's entire body snapped back as his faceplate and part of his standard slave issue helmet shattered from the force of the round, the sharp shards slicing into his face. Only the fact that his head had been turning when the sniper round struck saved the slave soldiers life; it should have been both his helmet and skull that shattered and not just his helmet.

28907 uttered a short, shocked sound as she took one step toward her fellow slave soldier, her grey eyes fearful at the sight of his blood, before her combat training snapped her out of her surprise at the unexpected attack. Stepping forward she wrapped one arm around the young asari and forcibly dragged the child with her as she retreated back to the same building from which she had earlier taken the young blue-skinned alien. It was the nearest source of cover and judging from the way the sniper round had struck 28934 the attacking asari were on a rooftop, or either in or on the ventilation ducts suspended from the cavern ceiling far above them. One thing the slave soldier was certain of after being in several battles with Asari forces, where there was one asari sniper there were always more asari snipers. Focusing on the one firing at you usually left you in the line of sight of another, which was why she was taking cover inside the building instead of outside the building despite the fact that her visibility would be severely reduced.

As soon as 28907 stepped through the door, she released the young asari and shoved the child further into the room. Whirling, she returned to the doorway and looked out just in time to witness 28934, who had managed to follow them despite the wounds to his face, being shot a second time in the shoulder. The dark skinned slave soldier's body twisted around from the shot and he fell to his knees and one hand, dropping his assault rifle. 28907 didn't hesitate, darting back out of the building she stopped by the other slave's good side and hauled him upward to his feet. As soon as he was standing, she shifted her position so that his arm was slung across her shoulders and then helped him toward the building. 28907's kinetic shields flickered several times and then depleted with a snapping noise just before they reached the door, indicating that they had just stopped several weapon rounds from hitting the female slave soldier's armor. In the next moment the two slaves slipped through the doorway of the building and into the shelter of its walls.

Knowing by the way that 28934 was slumping against her and making her have to support an increasing amount of his weight that he was severely injured, 28907 dragged her fellow slave toward the nearest inside wall. Once there she pushed him up against the wall and used it as a support to lower him to the floor. The first thing the female slave soldier noticed as she eased out from under his arm was that he was losing a lot of blood from his wounded shoulder. A steady stream of bright red flowed freely from the injury and down his armor. The amount of blood loss along with his glassy looking eyes and ashen skin was enough to tell her that he would likely die from his wound unless she could soon stop the bleeding. A sharp pain seemed to slice into 28907's chest at the realization and without conscious thought she gave voice to her pain, making a wordless keening sound of distress as she pressed her hands against the wound. She glanced anxiously over at the male slave's face and was disappointed to see that his eyes were closed. He looked as if he were unconscious.

Out of the corner of her eye, the slave soldier noticed that the asari child was still nearby though the alien had moved into the hallway which lead to the room where she had earlier killed the adult asari. Glancing over she met the resentment-filled blue eyes of the youngster for a brief moment before the young asari's gaze shifted to the wounded male slave and the red blood flowing down his armor. The female slave soldier returned her attention to the male, besides the wound in his shoulder; he was also bleeding from several deep lacerations on his face. Thankfully none of the shards from his helmet had struck his eyes, even though one had come close, slicing into his cheek beneath his right eye.

28907 knew that she should leave 28934 and focus her attention on the asari animals who were opposing the Masters. If a Master were present they would punish her for trying to stop male slave soldier's bleeding instead of fighting against the attacking asari. She did not leave the male slave soldier however, there was no Master here, no Master to see what she was doing and order her to leave the other slave with his warm brown eyes to bleed and die. As the sounds of the battle continued outside, 28907 continued pressing her hand hard against gaping wound in the male slave's shoulder, finally managing to slow the bleeding.

28934 lifted his uninsured arm and shakily placed his hand over hers where they were pressed against his wound. The female slave soldier turned her head slightly so that she could see his face. His brown eyes were open once again and showed more awareness than they had earlier. A tentative smile curved her lips and then she looked back at the wound. Despite him being more responsive, it was still a bad injury and if she wasn't pressing on it as she was she knew it would start bleeding again. Her smile, slight as it had been, vanished, as a cold, sick feeling grew in her chest. The Masters killed slaves who were badly wounded, in the past she had watched the Masters kill slaves who had been less wounded than 28934. The male slave soldier's brown eyes shifted away from her gaze, looking off to her left, toward the doorway and then widened with alarm.

Before 28907 could react a female sounding voice shouted in Batarian, "Do not move, do not reach for your weapons or you will be killed."

The female slave soldier froze her grey eyes meeting the brown ones of the male as her thoughts raced. The asari soldiers would kill them if she moved, she did not doubt that, but if she did not resist then the Masters would kill them once they dealt with the asari animal's attack. She heard the asari speak with one another in their own language for a few seconds while she glanced over at her hands still pressing against 28934's wounded shoulder.

"Continue cooperating and we will call in a medic to tend to your male friend," a different asari spoke this time, one with a slightly lower toned voice than the first.

The offer confused 28907, the asari had shot him, they were the enemy, why offer to help them? She did not know what to do, and was only certain of one thing...either the asari would kill them if she attempted to resist now or the Masters would kill them later for not resisting. There seemed to be no way for she and 28934 to escape death.

The asari began speaking in their own language again only this time Slave 28907 heard the young asari respond to them. Curious as to how many asari soldiers were present, the slave soldier risked a quick glance over her shoulder toward where she could hear their voices. There were three tall asari soldiers dressed in their distinctive brown layered armor and backswept black helmets. She only studied them for a few seconds before turning back to the male slave, long enough to tell that two of the asari had almost the same color of blue skin while the third asari had slightly darker blue skin. Her action hadn't gone unnoticed; all three of the asari had been looking directly at her. Only two of them had their weapons pointed at her. The third asari, one of the two lighter skinned ones, had a mask-like dark blue coloring around her eyes as well as black markings above them which looked strangely like her own species eyebrows. That asari had an omni-tool opened upon her wrist and appeared to be scanning the two slaves. The asari didn't do anything in response besides stare back at her, but it was enough to let 28907 know that there was no chance of surprising them.

28907 focused her attention on the male slave once again, leaning forward slightly as she took a look at his wound. Blood still seeped out from around her hands where they pressed against the wounded flesh, but it was a slow bleed and not a quick one. It was also obvious to the female slave that if she stopped pressing her hands against the wound that the male slave would quickly bleed out, to attack the asari she would have to let him die. She looked back to his face, met his brown eyes, eyes that were focused upon her with the warm expression she had seen in them before, the one that caused strange feelings in her. She did not want to let him die to attack the asari, unfortunately that still left the Masters and their anger at them for not attacking and their punishment would be worse than letting him die from his wound. 28907 frowned, her thoughts chasing each other around at a frenetic pace, before she could decide upon an action however; the choice was taken out of her hands.

Behind her the asari began speaking in agitated tones and then a moment later the slave collars around her and 28934's necks started making a beeping noise. Such a simple sound but for the two slaves it meant death. Slave collars acted as deterrents to any escape attempts, not only because they were location transmitters, but also because they contained enough explosives to kill the slave when they detonated. The beeping sound meant that the Masters had just activated the explosives in the collars.

Grey eyes met brown and 28907 let out a sad, resigned noise as she saw the acceptance of what was about to happen in his eyes. They were slaves of the Masters and sooner or later the Masters always killed them, the only question was when and how. The asari behind them were making agitated sounds and she saw one of them go to the young asari and pull her further down the hallway and out of sight. She ignored them however as she removed her hands from the male slaves wound, it did not matter now if he bled. Her gaze lowered to her armored hands which were covered with his blood.

She clenched them and then focused upon his face again...he was wasting water from his eyes…. The female slave raised one hand and laid her fingertips gently against the dark brown skin of his face, avoiding the lacerations caused by the shattering of his helmet. Water rose within her own eyes but did not fall. Maybe things could be different in the empty place where there were no Masters. Maybe they would be together there, her and the male slave. Maybe they would not be born again for a long time.

The sound from their collars became one shrill continuous noise...