This guy is still staring, as if I just told him a terrible joke that left a bad taste in his mouth.
"Um, pardon?" I ask, a little offended. I don't know exactly what the problem is. Maybe it's because of my poor attire with the blood stain. The young age of being seventeen and according to society "naive". It can be the small, kind of vulnerable demeanour I have right now because of where I am. Hell, it can even be my stunning good looks, but I sincerely doubt that. He stands there, clad in a dark brown vest, the top under it black and long sleeved, matching the black trousers he has. The man's arms are crossing over his chest, fingerless gloved hands clenching in annoyance. A thin, severe line is decorating across his squarish face. Pale green eyes narrowing down at me at his 5'7 height. His dark brown hair goes past his ears, looking a little tousled from hard work.
"I'll be right back." He sharply turns, storming to the back of his shop. I stand back, leaning awkwardly on the counter as I wait for him. I stand there for a while, as he hisses quietly to someone on the com. I look around, then just listen to news from a terminal at his counter while I wait.
"… no one has yet to claim responsibility to the tragic attack on the human luxury liner that occurred five days ago.
The attack occurred just as the liner was completing its load in of 1200 passengers on a chartered tour departing for Elysium, the attack occurred.
At first it was assumed that the shuttles were carrying late-arriving passengers. When they failed to comply with the captain's docking commands, the ship initiated evasive manoeuvres, trying to deflect what is thought to be minor impacts. Unfortunately, due to the amount of explosives packed into the shuttles and in the ensuring explosion, the Atlantis was torn into half and burning away the hull paint of every other ship in a two kilometre radius.
Alliance officials swore that they spare no effort in hunting down the people behind it, as the leaders of the Asari Republics sent their deepest condolences to the families of those who perished in the attack.
In other news, in response to rumours of a new disease cropping up in the Terminus Systems, officials from the Citadel Health Department are advising all citizens to..."
Curiosity bugs me, so I finally give in to it and walk around the counter, closer to the man as I eavesdrop. "… an assistant. You promised me an assistant. Care to explain?" I lean in a little closer. "You can't be serious." A frown plays on my features. "So that's your idea of compensation? I should throw you out of the airlock the next time you ask for a ride."
Silas and this guy obviously have problems to sort out. I think anyone that associates with the turian is just inevitably doomed.
"Or, I end up with the whole place going up in flames."
There's a silent pause and I'm a little nervous, so I back up a little in fear he's coming back.
"Fine, I'll give her a chance."
To be fair, he has a point. I've never salvaged anything in my life, chances are, I fuck up, the shop will explode. I hope he can teach me though. I really need this job.
I move back when I hear footsteps, he walks out, looking pissed off.
"Vi, watch the shop. You, get inside." Not complaining, I follow him in the shop. We go over to the workbench, I stand besides him, rubbing the back of my neck uncertainly as he slides over an assault rifle in front of me.
"Alright, show me what you know."
I look down at it, bewildered. My cheeks heat up in embarrassment and I avoid his eyes. "I... don't know anything about salvaging."
He stares at me in irritated disbelief. "God damn that turian."
At least we have one thing in common, an immense frustration at Silas.
"I'm not asking you to salvage a perfectly good gun, only idiots do that. I'm asking you to strip it, clean it, check its microchip, block, mass effect... you have no bloody idea on what the hell I'm saying, don't you?"
"Not a clue." I admit, looking down at the gun with uncertainty.
"Fantastic, he sent me a dumbass. Do I need to teach you how to use toilet paper as well?"
I purse my lips, frowning. There's no need to insult me. Silas is the one that screwed us over, not me. Damn turian. "I'm pretty sure I learned that when I was having potty tutorial 101 as a toddler."
"And a smartass. Wonderful. Guess we'll start from square one."
He holds up the rifle. "This is a rifle. This here, is the barrel, and this is the trigger. You point the barrel at whoever you don't like and pull the trigger. Simple?"
I don't need to be talked to like I'm five years old, but I don't wanna piss him off. And I guess I do need to learn from scratch anyway. I just nod, crossing my arms over my chest. "Point at an arsehole, pull trigger, equals dead arsehole, got it."
"Good. Since I'm obliged, thanks to a certain asshole we both know, to give you a crash course..."
Begin stripping gun and explaining parts of it.
"... sure it doesn't get wet, damaged unless you want it to go off in your face. This tiny little chip here, is its internal micro computer. It calculates the mass needed to reach the target based on distance, gravity and atmospheric pressure. The more advanced ones have a target assist which allows for better accuracy. Every time you strip to maintain and clean a gun, check this chip first. I'll send you the program you need to check the chip later on but for now..."
He reassembles the gun slowly.
"...there. Your turn."
He slides the gun over to me.
Okay. Okay, this is easy. Come on. I can do this. I look down at it. Not confident as I carefully pick it up a little uncertainly and examine it in the light. My head hurts from the information overload. Underneath the pressure of his analysing eyes, I fumbled with a part and nearly drop it but catch the piece before it could hit the ground.
"No, the core first then the block damn it, or the gun wouldn't even fire."
I obey, dissembling and resembling the parts slowly. I fumble with certain pieces, not knowing where they go until he points it out. When I finally finish, I sigh with relief.
"Okay, do it again."
I blink at him, then nod and do as he says. But he stops me halfway. "No, the chip is misplaced. Disassemble and try again." Oh come on.
"Alright." I suppress a scowl, following his instructions.
A frown plays on my features. But I do it.
The next one, he isn't happy. "Too slow. Again."
As time goes on, I become slower and clumsier the more I do it, my eyes are getting heavy, my hands a little shaky.
"How many times do I have to do this?" I ask a little out of frustration.
"Until you can do it in your sleep. Now do it again."
I do it again. A bit more quicker since I know where most of the parts go. I'm a fast learner. But I'm still a lot slower than when he did it. When he does it, it's like Sonic the Hedgehog running a marathon. On fast forward. On coffee.
Hours later, after repeating the same action over and over. He finally decides he's bored watching me. And correcting my mistakes, over and over.
"Vi, makes sure she keeps doing it. I'll be outside."
He walks away and I take a short break as my stomach growls. I haven't eaten in a while. All day, in fact. I groan with a scowl. I need food to compute. I feel weak in my limbs and dehydrated.
From outside, he asks. "How the hell did you know Silas anyway? Last I checked, he's still one for shooting little children in the foot, eating kittens for breakfast on Tuesdays and kicking puppies on Wednesdays."
I swallow, licking my dry lips as I get back to work. "He... saved my life."
"So he's not kicking puppies for a living any more? I find that hard to believe."
"I was shot by a drell who was mugging me." I tell him, placing a part on the workbench. "He carried me to the clinic and saved my life. If it wasn't for the bastard, my corpse would be sold in the black market for my organs or something."
"Let me guess, he complained about his suit and asked for a return favour."
"Pretty much. Though, I considered us even when I went around and helped him hack terminals in return." My stomach growls furiously and loudly, damn, I can hear it.
"And he gave you a job. When the hell did he grow angel wings?" Doubt is clouding his voice.
"I guess he was just bored?" I shrug. "I don't know. He just helped me."
"Sure. I'll believe it when I see it."
"If you want, I'll show you my gun shot wound."
"Nah, could be a bug bite for all I care. And work faster, you're an assistant in training, not a load damn it."
"Sorry." I sigh, scowling. My legs and arms feel weaker by the minute. I haven't eaten all day. The last thing I ate was that soup and it only filled me up for an hour. If this was earth, it would most likely be night time by now.
"Hey, you still alive? Sound like a god damn zombie back there."
"Just tired." I lie. Then as I reach for a part, an intense dizziness washes over me. My body collapses onto the floor, landing on my hands and knees. My hands barely hold me up and I feel ready to pass out. My vision darkening by the second. I try to stay awake but a sudden black slowly takes over.
As I wake up, I'm too weak to open my eyes at first, but when I can, everything is a blur. A figure is standing over me, his features unclear. A groan escapes me and I close my eyes again, my eyes hurting from the brightness. I also notice that I'm lying down on a hard surface, the workbench.
"Urgh... what the hell happened?" I ask the mysterious figure. My throat is hoarse and dry. I clench my eyes shut and move my head away, stupid lights.
"You died. Welcome to purgatory."
A deep frown instantly forms on my features and my heart skips a beat. Hold the damn phone. "Wha- What?"
A female automatic computerized voice suddenly interrupts us. "Correction. Subject's cause of unconsciousness is caused by low blood sugar levels, dehydration and exhaustion. Subject is also..."
"Goddamnit Vi, shut up."
I recognize the voice as my new boss in the salvage and all my memories slam back into my mind. I'm relieved that I'm not dead, but also disappointed that this whole thing isn't a dream after all. "Oh..." I realise, then groan. "Can you answer a question for me?"
"No. Anyway, you are not dead, but you look like a corpse." He hands over a can that looks like an energy drink. "Drink."
I lift my head a little, then my hand as I shakily reach for the drink. I'm very thirsty. I don't actually remember when I have last satisfied my thirst. I grab the energy drink, but it seems a tad heavy. I manage to sip a bit, but then I spill a bit down my top and tense up a little. Whoa. That's cold.
"When was the last time you ate?"
"Um..." I squint in concentration, then rub my eyes. "I... don't know."
The last time I ate was Mordin's soup, but I don't remember what time that was. It almost seems like a day away, considering I was looking for jobs in Omega what seemed to be an entire day. Then I bumped into Silas. Then we hacked terminals for hours. The travelling distance to each one definitely had some part in the time. But in all honesty, I can't say. Keeping track of time is confusing in the world of Omega. There's no night, there's no morning, it's hard to tell.
"Fantastic. And you kept quiet about it. Anorexic? "
"Hell no." I tell him, my eye brows furrowing. I love food, I was the one who argued over the last slice of pizza and ate a whole cake freshly baked. I absolutely LOVE food. I would buy a house made of food and eat the whole thing if I can. "It's not that."
"Then what?" He passes over an energy bar. It looks bland but smells nice. "Until you can't even tell what you are doing and mess up? Do you have any idea how close you were to blowing your own god damn arm off?"
"What do you mean?" I ask before taking a healthy sized bite into the energy bar. Practically half of it. Then I greedily consume the rest of it and look at him as I chew, making sure my mouth is closed. I may be starving, but I still have manners... or I try to.
"Well lets see here. One, your ammo block is totally misplaced out out of alignment, which is not so bad except that the weapon wouldn't fire. Two, for the love of god, what did I tell you about the eezo? Don't screw it up. You not only placed it by the firing pin, you did not secure it. When the weapon fire, the mass effect fields will expand uncontrollably and cause the whole freaking gun to blow up. That's how close you were to losing your damn arm."
I gulp down the food nervously and smile at him sheepishly. I nearly lost my arm AGAIN? The universe just doesn't want my arm to stay attached, does it? Considering all I've done so far is panic, stress out and worry, I choose to take another path to reacting this time. I'm too tired to have a heart attack. "Oh... whoops?"
"A whoops wouldn't help if you lose your arm, not that that's bad since I can dump you back to Silas. But a pissed off customer with a missing arm is what that would worry me, especially if he's a krogan."
"I see your point," I grunt as I sit up on the workbench and deeply sigh. "Sorry. I didn't mean to screw things up... I'm just not used to the process yet, I'm new at this." I look at him, fiddling with the hem of my sleeve, my shoulder slouch as I cringe. "Please don't fire me."
He's crossing his arms, continuing to look at me with a stoic, almost stern expression. "Tempting. Very tempting since the odds of this place going up in flames with me in it just went up. Food's on the stove, eat and rest. Last thing I want is for you to assemble the rifle into a bomb and blow everything up."
I eagerly nod. "Thank you."
"Yeah, sure, whatever." He leaves.
I get off the workbench, rubbing my eyes and stretching. My back aches from the hardness of the bench but I try to ignore it as I move over towards the stove. I quietly chuckle at the sight of instant noodles. It feels so long since I've actually had them. I love noodles in general. I'm so hungry I can probably eat a horse.
When they're done, I lean against the workbench, eagerly devouring the noodles from the bowl. After eating and drinking, I feel a lot better. But I still feel tired, so I walk over towards the front of the shop to ask Miller where to rest. This place is like a triangle. At the front is the shop. The left is another room I haven't explored, but I think it's the storeroom. Towards the right I notice is the washroom and bedroom. And towards the back is the workshop.
"Um, so where should I-uh, sleep?" I sheepishly ask Miller at the front. He's kneeling down, tweaking with the VI. It looks a combat drone, with two rings that are constantly spinning and flipping around it. It reminds me a bit of Saturn.
"On the stove, it's comfy."
"Uh..." I can't tell if he's actually joking. Great, it's like dealing with Silas again. I wonder how they met. They're probably both psychopathic and decided to have lunch or something. I almost feel like the kid in the middle of a divorce. Being switched from one to the other.
"Grab a mattress and sleep on the neck idiot." He curtly tells me, sending me a look of annoyance.
"Oh, um, right." I start to leave but turn around again, scratching the side of my head. "Uh... from where?"
He stops again with a sharp sigh, snapping his narrowing eyes towards me. Obviously, I'm a burden in his eyes. He doesn't need to treat me like a moron, how am I supposed to know where everything is? Granted, I'm glad and grateful he's taking me in. But still... "The room on the right, behind the kitchen."
"Right, thanks." I quickly leave, sort out the bed and collapse on it. After so much stress on Omega, having to put up my guard everywhere I go, I can finally let myself relax. For the first time on this stupid haven for arseholes, terrorists and criminals in general, I have a job, I'm fed, had a wash and I can finally sleep.
A comforting black surrounds me and I allow myself to go to drift off.