Mass Effect: On the Edge

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Sat Oct 01, 2011 11:43 pm

The room was slightly awkward after Poitvin's and Horn's slight little banter back and forth. Horn didn't show it, and Poitvin sure as hell didn't show it, but the air around them was claustrophobic with the feeling. His two subordinates didn't seem to share his discipline as they shifted and wandered around the room to keep loosened up. His casual stance almost let him fall asleep, the place about as exciting as an Hanar picnic. Horn had, in fact, nearly fallen asleep when the doors opened and revealed the final Commander and his team. Commander Titus if he was correct, followed by a woman that was easy enough on the eyes, and a small child. That got his attention over the woman as he sat up slowly and stared at the kid. If it wasn't for the fact that Titus was a ranking officer of his own ship, with his own rules, Jason would have asked what the hell he was aiming to accomplish with the kid.

The woman introduced herself first as one Operative Buchan. The one thing that irritated Jason about Cerberus was the fact that outside of your own ship, you had no real idea who the hell anyone else in the entire military structure was. She looked fit more for behind the lines work rather than full on firefight, so he had to take it that she was an infiltrator or assassin. Either one would be a definite asset to this job. Horn returned the salute with a lazy one of his own, usually not requiring saluting on his own ship. "Pleased to meet ya babe." Jason said, returning his attention to Liara as she stood up ever so elegantly to address all of them.

His posture returned to it's relaxed position, one arm hanging off the back of the chair and one leg over the other. If they hadn't known better, they could have placed Horn as a rookie mercenary looking for a big score. Despite this though, he never spoke and his eyes never left the doctor. He was soaking up every word, and formulating ideas and strategies in his mind. The inclusion of Eclipse mercs was always a problem, but he had known about that before hand. If everything went well, he could get away without firing a shot. If not, well, then he always had plan B.

He was amazed at the amount of information she was simply able to bring up on a moment's notice, but he ended up taking out his combat knife and picking at his nails in a bad habit that had stuck with him since basic. As she finished up, and Titus started listing a plan, he knew this was where things would get a little iffy. They were all Commanders in this room, capable of leading their own ships, their own people, and often given the responsibility of fighting against innumerable odds. They also had no rank over each other. Orders were more suggestions, and suggestions were simply forfeit if the Commander was an asshole and didn't want to follow them. Horn spared a glance at Poitvin before looking back at Titus.

When he asked about questions, Jason was going to ask a couple before Liara cut in first. He wasn't expecting that, but what hit him worse was the mention of the Ardat-Yakshi. Interesting Horn thought to himself as he remained silent for the simple fact of not really knowing what to say. When Titus said things just got a little bit harder, Jason had to grudgingly agree. When Poitvin asked how the hell to kill something like that, Jason gave a hearty laugh as he stood up, twirling the combat knife before replacing it back into it's holster.

"I thought we were a room full of seasoned Commanders, not sissy little school girls trying to hold down our skirts over an air vent." Jason looked around at them, then to Poitvin directly. "Last time I checked, bullets worked fine. So do explosives, hand to hand combat, biotics, and peanuts if they have powerful allergies." Jason took it upon himself, despite them all being the same rank to get the message through to them. "Yes, she has stronger biotics, yes she will be a harder target. That doesn't mean she's invincible! I just took on a Collector hive ship on foot just a few short hours ago, and if you expect me to bat an eyelash at an AY, then you have another thing coming." Horn looked over at Titus. "We stick to the plan. We split up, I'll tail Santiago, and you guys eliminate those snipers before they mess up my oh so pretty face. When that sterile mistress of a bitch shows her face, we pump her so full of lead that she could be made into the first Asari pencil. We clear?" Jason looked around, noticing there were no objections.

"Good. Dr. T'soni." Jason turned back towards Liara. "I'm going to need a bit more intel, and possible a driver in case he decides to hitch a lift between destinations. Maybe an escort, make me look a little less conspicuous when I'm trying to tail this guy."

"Cecil Adams, an associate of mine will be positioned near Eternity. I will inform him to contact you before you begin the tail to fill you in on any information that the Eclipse sisters might have let slip about the deal. Also, I can have Nerita T'Lar meet you outside and escort you for as long as you need."

"Can I trust these people?" Jason asked, wanting to make damn sure there was no possibility of a screw up.

"I would bet my life on it Commander." Horn gave a nod, and tapped his hip to make sure his Carnifex Hand Cannon was still there. With that reassurance, he looked back at the other Commanders.

"Well, we got a line of Asari that need to be fucked up, and not in the dirty way. Come on, let's get going." Jason made to walk past Titus, who grabbed him slightly.

"Have you ever faced one of these creatures before?" He asked in a hushed tone, not giving away whether or not he had. Jason shrugged.

"Hell no, but I heard they're a heartstopper in the sack." Jason smiled, and exited the room.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:55 am

Titus smiled to himself as the round from his Anti-Material Widow sniper rifle dropped the Eclipse Sister counter sniper with a perfect head shot. Her kinetic barriers never stood a chance; neither did the barriers of the last five targets scattered across the balconies and rooftops overlooking a closed off section of the Nos Astra spaceport. Getting to their current sniper's nest was the easy part. A quick taxi ride through the city had been as eventful as any of them, passing tower after tower while listening to an alien talk show and trying to hold down his lunch. Titus could have sworn that the pilot had to be slightly drunk, hardly able to keep the shuttle at a safe speed. Fortunately, he landed the craft in one piece. Titus paid the man and quickly ushered Vala and Braden out before he took off again with them still in the cab.

Now the three of them were sitting atop one of the many towers overlooking the spaceport with a perfect view of the planned exchange point. Titus had eyes on Horn, busy sticking to the crowds to avoid being spotted in the open; Poitvin, who was also racking up points of his own against the counter snipers; and, of course, their two primary objectives. Santiago was waiting around, somewhat impatiently, at the rendezvous point. An asari whoring around a skin-tight, black polyester outfit (or so Titus happened to carefully observe through the scope of his Widow) made her way into the scene, flanked on either side by two Eclipse Sisters. So far, the wind covered the hissing trail of their sniper rounds, and the distance from the exchange ensured that the deafening sounds of their fire were kept to a barely audible minimum.

"Thirty seconds 'til exchange," Titus muttered into his comm so the rest of the team had a good idea of what was happening. "So far so good. No suspicion from the remaining Sisters."

As Titus took down another counter sniper across the way, he raised his visor and disabled the comm link in his helmet so he could talk to Vala without being heard over the radio. The high speed winds stung his cheeks, but it also felt good to get some fresh air. "So," he said rather loudly over the gusts, "about what happened earlier... with our boss. You called me to the carpet there...," Vala proceeded to say something, probably to defend her reasons, but Titus raised a finger over the barrel of his rifle before replacing his hand and taking another shot. He ejected the thermal clip, speaking again when he reached to his side to grab a replacement. "You were right, Miss Buchan. For what it's worth, I'm sorry. Regardless of my emotions, however...," the crack of another round burst through the air, but it was carried away behind them by the wind, "...I'm fiercely loyal to the Illusive Man... to Cerberus."

Vala sighed, although the feint sound was promptly swept away in the racing winds around their nest. Part of her just wanted to ignore his words, let the whole thing lay low until the mission had been dealt with, but she doubted he was willing to simply let it slide like that. She trailed the asari below for a moment longer, and then lowered her binoculars to her side. "I know what I did, and I don't regret it." He silenced her with a finger, and the operative obliged for a moment, idly tapping a few keys on her Omni-tool as she waited.

"With all due respect, Commander, if I believed every statement I heard, I'd have died a long time ago." There was no hostility or hesitation in her voice, as if it was the most casual thing to say in the world. A loud crack sounded, and she released a slow breath, brushing her hair back from her eyes, only for the wind to blow it back the second she stopped.

Titus replaced another thermal clip and sent the bolt forward, preparing another round. Instead of lining up a shot, however, he simply lowered the butt of the Widow to his feet, allowing the barrel to lean against the half wall of the roof. There were no more targets to take out. Him and Poitvin had picked the rooftops and balconies clean. He had to admit to himself that even though the two shared different morals, they worked well together.

"I don’t expect you to believe me, Vala," he said as he passed by the agent and looked out over the distance between them and the rendezvous.

"Good." She let the conversation drop at that, turning back to watch the meeting, which was underway. Lifting the binocs back to her eyes, Vala watched the two exchange whatever measure of pleasantries such sorts of meetings required, likely passing back and forth identification hidden in casual small talk. The Shadow Broker's agents were tricky and cautious to a fault, and the small exchange looked like it was thankfully going to take a little while.

Titus took advantage of the lagging exchange and began to assess the situation. If Mirian was what Liara had said she was, an Ardak Yakshi, then Vala would need cover and help getting down there. That was the only part of the plan that Titus had looked over. They were over a half of a klick from the rendezvous. Vala was the one with the binocs, but Titus’ trained eye as an experienced sniper estimated they were seven hundred meters away at a twenty degree decline from their elevation. This presented the problem of getting Vala down there in time to intercept Mirian before they lost sight of her.

Titus scanned the area for anything of use and found something that sparked excitement in his eyes. A moment later he heard Braden ask, "You’re not really thinking what I think you’re thinking… are you?"

Braden's concern brought Vala from her thoughts, and she looked to the boy curiously, before following his gaze to the source of his slight disbelief. A brief frown of displeasure flickered beneath her breather, before she crossed the nest and gazed down at the streets below. Shuttles and cargo carriers raced past, the streets a barely visible blur hidden partially by the clouds. Well...at least it'd be painless.

What Braden thought Titus was thinking was one-hundred percent true. Only a few meters away sat several transport hooks that carried cargo from their location on the roof – which served as a staging point for loading pallets – to docked ships down below in the space port. The cranes would carry the cargo directly overhead of the route that Mirian would take after the exchange. Titus glanced back to double check the progress of the meeting and, sure enough, Mirian had taken a data pad from Santiago and was proceeding to turn away from him.

Titus flicked his visor back down and reactivated his comm link. "Horn, stay on Mirian. Poitvin take care of Santiago when he’s no longer in sight of the Ardak Yakshi. Here we go, people." Switching off the frequency again, Titus turned to Vala. "I hope you don’t have a sense of vertigo."

She chuckled half heartily, topaz eyes flicking up to the slate back visor with a tint of amusement sparking in their depths. "Not a bit, Commander." The cargo hooks went exactly where she needed to go, and in the time frame they needed. No reason to argue. The operative took a slow breath, feeling an unnecessary pat on her back from the man.

"C'mon. It'll be fun." Part of her wanted to hit him. The rest focused on the mission.

"Of course." She hopped onto one of the pallets as the crane took hold, quickly taking hold of the metal frame, steadying herself when it lurched to life, and departed from the roof without a sound. The winds grew worse without the surrounding buildings, rocking the crane lightly but the sturdy device kept true to its path. She clenched her fist tighter to keep herself steady, constantly reminding herself not to look down. Quickly tapping the activation key into her Omni-tool for the cloak in between bouts of wind, she glanced back at the others in her squad, just beginning their own descent. "Hold on tight, Commander. I'd hate to see you fall."

Titus and Braden followed behind on another pallet, but only by two hundred meters. He wanted to be there in case Vala’s encounter with an Ardak Yakshi didn’t go so well. He had almost considered leaving Braden behind for the young man’s safety, but he had brought him on this mission for a reason. He wanted to see what Braden’s biotics could really do in a combat situation and how the teenager could handle pressure under fire. Titus and the kid would keep Mirian’s body guards distracted and out of Vala’s way while she proceeded to subdue the target.

"Don’t worry about me, honey," he replied over the radio, knowing full well that his remark, along with Horn’s earlier "babe" comment, would definitely provide the necessary fuel to get her pumped for the fight. "I can handle a little rollercoaster ride."

Titus looked back to Braden, who was holding on tight to one of the hooks. His back was held against the bulk of the claw-like arch, both arms wrapped around behind it, and hands clasped tightly together. Though his face didn’t show it, Titus could tell he was nervous. Whether it was a slight fear from riding so high, or it was just pre-battle nerves, the commander wasn’t sure. Nonetheless, he carefully made his way over to him across the cargo pallet and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Hey… relax. Just stick to my side and everything’ll be fine."

Braden glanced up at him, a determined glare replaced the innocence Titus had been seeing in his eyes. There was a small spark the length of his neck and the commander could feel the biotic power in Braden charging up. "I’m ready," the teen said with a scowl befitting of a soldier.

As the pallet came over their target alley, Titus and Braden kicked off the back together and landed at the same time on the ground below. The jump wasn’t too far down; perhaps only twenty feet. As soon as they landed, however, Mirian’s mercs instantly turned their weapons toward them, ignoring Vala, who was already engaged with the Ardak Yakshi. Titus pushed the teen into the nearest hard cover, a stack of cargo crates, and he dodged in the other direction, pulling his M-7 over his shoulder. As the Sisters’ rounds ricocheted around him, he dodged behind another set of crates, and prepared his armor-piercing rounds.

"Braden! Knock that top crate above you towards them!”

The boy nodded and stood up behind the crates, but still remained in enough cover to protect himself from the oncoming fire. With a raging yell, he thrust his hands forward as his body lit up with an electrifying blue tone. The uppermost crate of his cover began to tilt slightly and, at first, Titus thought it was going to be too heavy for the kid to push. To his surprise, though, the heavy bulk of metal rocketed forward and slammed into one of the Sisters. The asari didn’t even have time to yell before she was crushed by the weight and velocity of the biotic propelled mass.

"Freaking awesome, kid!" Titus yelled before leaning out to unleash a spray of rounds from his rifle at the remaining Sister, who was too shocked at what just happened to retreat to cover. The first five rounds penetrated her kinetic barriers. The second five tore through her armor and put her down on the ground.



Collaborative post between The Ghost Writer and Guilty Carrion.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Tue Oct 04, 2011 3:56 am

Soundtrack: "First Strike" by Erik Ekholm (2:10):

The distance dwindled, and Vala pulled her Phalanx to the ready, eyes narrowing on the confident Asari as she moved ever closer to her freedom. The operative grit her teeth, body tensing, light ripples of her biotics racing across her frame. Ardat Yakshi were not easy prey. Not something to take lightly. But if it bled, she could kill it, and nothing was prepared against that which it could not see.

A slow breath rolled, and she leapt from the lift, dropping with feline grace to the ground below. Landing in a roll, she rose fluidly in front of the Asari, snapping the pistol forward for a quick clean kill. Her wrist met with the solid palm of the alien, and Vala visibly paled. “A cloak? Really? That’s all?”

Shit.

A powerful blast of energy threw her from her feet, skidding painfully across the ground, but she rose with a quick push with her arm, cloak flickering on and off from the sudden force. Her eyes flicked to her Phalanx, resting on the ground a few feet from the AY, resigning that the gun was currently out of reach. Speaking of guns…Mirian seemed to be lacking them. Bitch was confident.

“Cerberus. The Broker was right when he said we should be cautious.”

A flash of dark energy rippled, and she tossed herself behind a cargo crate to avoid the attack, feeling the metal groan and strain under the force, barely holding it’s frame. Vala coughed roughly into her hand, body groaning from the unexpected blast, but she forced it from her mind. The crate slowly started to shift forward, and the eerie light blue of its glow told her that the cover wasn’t going to be there much longer.

Shit.

They really didn’t hype up the Ardat Yakshi, did they? Readying her Tempest SMG, Vala took comfort in the restored status of her cloak, and rose swiftly from her makeshift cover, peppering the Ardat Yakshi as she retreated deeper into the alley behind her. Mobility would be her best ally here, and if the bitch thought it wise to wander into battle unarmed, then who was she to ignore the woman’s obvious arrogance?

Mirian advanced quickly, powerful kinetic barriers flashing as they absorbed the hail of bullets, eyes pulsing with the power barely contained in her lithe body. A flick of her arm sent the crate rocketing after the operative, who managed to back pedal out of its path at the last second, splitting the air as the improvised projectile shattered against the wall. Ejecting an already spent thermal clip from her Tempest, Vala slipped unseen into cover, and took a moment to assess the situation.

The alley which served as the battleground was decent-sized, maybe 20 feet across, but littered with cargo crates and storage units, providing a decent amount of cover from the immense power of the Ardat-Yakshi’s biotics. They did however restrict her movement, forcing to choose between distance and safe cover. Not pleasant, nor ideal. Two buildings dominated the sides; dashing any hopes of lobbing the alien to death via free fall, but the long shadow’s they provided would be helpful in remaining undetected.

She spun out from her cover, buffeting the biotic’s shields before slipping back into the cover adjacent from her original, dodging another blast of the dark energy in the process but losing another thermal clip to the greedy Tempest. It didn’t help that she was already carrying less clips for the SMG than average. It was meant for a fall back weapon in the worst case scenario, but this seemed to be one of those scenarios beyond the worst case.

Disarmed of her most powerful weapon, and, whilst the scattered effect of the SMG was good against most conventional shields, its weak power couldn’t pierce the powerful kinetic barriers the woman was producing. She’d need to bypass those, and as much as it pained her to admit it, her own biotics wouldn‘t cut it here. Which left…

Another crate soared overhead, crashing violently somewhere further down the alleyway, indicating the Ardat was getting close. Vala waited silently, ears straining for the feint sound of the approaching Asari’s footsteps. Timing was everything. Too soon, she’d be smeared, too late, the window would have closed.

Three…two…one…

She rose from her cover, cloaked form snapping up beside the approaching Asari, whom had no time to react before Vala drove a knuckle fist hard into her stomach. A palm strike to the chin snapped the Asari’s head back, staggering her back for a step, Vala quickly snapping up a rapid side kick to the stomach. “Bitch!” The operative rushed forward, hoping to press her advantage in the melee, only to crash back into the firm steel of the cargo crate, blasted away by a throw from the furious biotic. “You ever fought an Asari before, human? I’ve been training to fight since before you were born!”

Well, she had at least struck a nerve. She fired a burst from the Tempest, ducking between the gaps in the crates to avoid a shockwave, her own kinetic barriers rippling to dissolve the force from the strike. Tapping her Omni-tool, Vala swore vibrantly when a warning flashed up over damage to her cloaking systems. The cooling had suffered some damage in the attack, limiting any cloak fields to brief bursts; anything else would risk a critical system failure. God damn Geth and their finicky machines.

Gripping the edges, Vala hoisted herself up to the top of the crates, activating the cloak to give her the surprise she’d need, knowing full well her target was watching for ambushes now. The moment her feet hit the metal, she was running, sprinting forward and launching herself from the top with a powerful push. The veil dropped, Mirian spotting the rapidly approaching human and back stepping to dodge the attack, Vala landing in a hard crouch mere inches in front of her. Lashing out with her elbow as she rose, she grimaced as the Asari expertly gripped the joint, spinning it around behind her to force the operative into a submission hold.

“I was Huntress for a long time, human. You’re outclassed.” The Asari’s voice feathered her ear, sickeningly close and sending unpleasant shivers racing down her spine.

“If you’re going to kill me, I suggest you stop talking about it.” Driving her heel down into the soft tissue of the foot, Vala pitched forward, hurling herself, and subsequently her assailant to the ground, pitching the shocked alien over her back and almost head first into the concrete. Recovering with an elegant handspring, Vala tried to strike a blow to the spine, only for the target to roll to the side and push herself up with a light blast of her biotics. “Or are you such a pathetic huntress that you can’t grasp the concept of not playing with your prey?”

Perhaps baiting the freakishly powerful being wasn’t the best strategy, but if her own biotics were any example, rampant emotions would only make it more difficult for her to control them. With the unfortunate side effect of a large increase in power, but it was a gamble she needed to make. Mirian, unfortunately, seemed to be enjoying herself. A little too much. “Don’t know much about me, do you? It’s always better to play with your prey…” She licked her lips, and Vala found herself flushing at the hidden intent of the women’s words.

The two launched forward, trading jabs, parries, counters and strikes, the Asari’s faster jabs hitting far more often than Vala’s own, but the human’s stronger blows proved to be effective when they managed to land on the elusive target. The deadlock lasted for minutes, but Vala knew full well she wouldn’t last in an attrition battle against an Ardat-Yakshi. It needed to end and the sooner the better. The Asari, as if sensing her slight hesitation, gripped her striking arm by the wrist, only for Vala to promptly counter by pitching herself over the ensnared limb, and lashing out with a kick. The Asari sacrificed her grapple to defend herself with her forearm, and the two settled a few steps from each other for a brief second’s rest.

Mirian seemed delighted to have found someone to fight, a light pant the only sign that Vala had had any really effect on the woman. She, on the other hand, was breathing heavily, and her lip had swollen quite painfully after the Asari had snuck a vicious strike past her guard. She’d be feeling it for a few days, at least. A visible ripple of dark energy swelled along the Asari’s body, and her eyes narrowed into a harsh glare, watching for any sign of attack. “What can’t take me without your biotics?”

The laugh was harsh and grating, a dangerously seductive grin spreading on the Ardat Yakshi’s face. “I’m a busy woman. Can’t play with you all day, now can I?” Her eyes flashed black, and a feral scream tore itself from her lungs, energy flaring across her body before streaking forward in a blur of light. The operative didn’t even have time to scream, the charge crashing straight into her and driving her back across the alley, smashing into a crate with all the force of a freight train.

The hit knocked the air from her lungs, collapsing from the half crushed crate without a sound. The Asari stood above her, still grinning that same damn grin, biotics still flaring around her elegant form. A split second glance to the small HUD told her that her shields were all but destroyed, and from the blazing pain inside her chest, one or two ribs were cracked, if not fractured completely. Her armour, damaged as it was, quickly made to remedy the situation, pumping a heavy dose of pain killers into her system, whilst the HUD flashed the warning to seek immediate medical attention.

Fuck that. This bitch needs a lesson.

“Stay down, Cerberus, and I’ll make this quick.” A foot connected roughly with her side, rolling Vala onto her back, promptly pinned to the ground by a strong stomp to the chest. Energy flashed around the Ardat’s hand, and Vala forced the hardest glare she could muster to her face.

“You want to fight dirty?” She gripped the foot of the Asari, twisting it painfully to the side, before thrusting her arm up and unleashing a biotic throw into the unsuspecting foe’s chest, tossing her back a few feet. Placing her palms behind her, Vala pushed with her biotics, lifting herself up into the air for a brief second, landing in a half crouch. Tearing the breather mask from her face, the operative tossed it casually to the side, wiping a dribble of blood from her mouth as she did. “Fine. Let’s fight dirty.”

Mirian growled low, eyes still that un-natural shade of black that sent cold chills down her spine. She burst forward once more, intent on grinding Vala into pulp with another biotic charge. Her target saw it coming though, reaching out with her own dark energy and flipping one of the crates behind her up into the air. An aura of the energy surrounded her, and she leapt backwards into the air, only to rise well out of the furious Asari’s path, spinning about and pressing the soles of her feet against the floating crate above her. Mirian staggered to a stop, furious eyes darting up to the sky, only to catch Vala’s topaz gaze zeroed in on her from directly above.

The field around her dropped, and she plummeted down to earth, fist slamming across the stunned Ardat’s face, and throwing them both to the ground, although Vala managed to quickly roll to her feet, Mirian staggering up not long after. Smirking arrogantly, the human held out her hand in front of her, raising two fingers from her fist, and motioning for the asari to ‘bring it’. The Asari hissed, leaping across the distance between them and delivering a swift kick to Vala’s chest, who managed to catch the brunt of the attack on her forearms, sliding back a few steps at the strength of the hit. The combatants launched back into the fight, rapidly striking and parrying in a bitter struggle to gain dominance, although now their biotics were in play, each blow elevated to a dangerous degree of force, something Mirian obviously excelled in.

Ducking her head to the side, Vala narrowly missed having her head caved in, the sheer power of the blow rippling off the Asari’s hand. The follow up strike was quickly countered, spinning it round her arm and ensnaring the limb against her side, the weakened strike still stinging the wounds in her chest. Mirian lashed out with her free hand, only to find it caught in the same manner. Before she could act, Vala’s head reared back, smashing into her face with the brunt of her forehead, a painful crack sounding in the sudden still of the alley.

Releasing one of the arms, Vala drove her elbow into the Asari’s gut, slamming the back of her hand up and striking against the fragile windpipe. It didn’t collapse, but Mirian buckled over in pain, giving Vala the opportunity to drive her knee upwards, cracking against Mirian’s chin. Drawing her Tempest, the operative wasted no time pressing it against the Ardat’s head, and squeezed the trigger.

A flash of blue flared, and her entire body paled. There was no way the barrier could withstand a point blank round, not after the beating she’d just taken. Her concentration would have to be immense for her to…

A flare of pain snapped Vala back to her senses, doubling over the blue fist that had driven into her gut. The Ardat gripped the back of her ponytail, ripping her head back, forcing the Cerberus agent to look her in cold black eyes. A small hint of pride swelled in her chest at the trickle of blood running down the furious creature’s face. “Funny, I though an Ardat Yakshi would be stronger.” With that, she promptly spat in Mirian‘s face, much to the shock and fury of the Shadow Broker agent. Vala grinned like a madwoman, uncaring of the massive swell of dark energy glowing on her hand, although she felt an unwelcome scream of pain leave her when it connected violently with her chest, throwing her across the alleyway and rolling to a slow stop on the bridge.

She lay there for a moment, body screaming in pain from the unknown number of fractured bones in her chest cavity. If she breathed harder, it certainly felt like all of them. Footsteps, fast and frantic approached, and her pride forced her to sit, ignoring the protests of her mortal limits, and stand on shaky knees.

Coughing a spat of blood onto the polished floor, she looked to the worried face of Braden, and then to the ominous slate black visor of Commander Titus. A light smirk graced her face. “Softened her up for you, Titus.”
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Wed Oct 05, 2011 10:52 am

The ice cracked under the warmer temperature of the scotch as a woman refilled the Illusive Man's glass. When the liquid reached to about half way up the short cylinder, she stopped and returned to the darkness from whence she came. All in all, only the most devoted followers to the cause served him at this one key space station. It was the heart of his empire; the most vital resource he had. Only those that thought of him as a god could set foot on the station, and when they did, it was moved to another remote location of the galaxy. It was also moved in the case of betrayal...

A cigarette found its way into the ash tray on the arm of his chair and the final traces of the last puff of smoke floated away into oblivion before him. The Illusive Man's cyan glowing eyes found themselves contradicted by the orange glow of the new star outside his massive viewing port. He was now faced with a tough decision - but he always had such moments and, more recently, he came to like them. He was a chess player, a master strategist. Yet his last move across the board nearly cost him a commander. Prado's last mission after Anhur was accomplished, but he lost his entire ground team and nearly lost his own life. It was to be a simple task, but even the Illusive Man wasn't expecting an ambush on the collector vessel that he though had been rendered immobile from the GARDIAN defense turrets in New Thebes. He would make sure that he is better prepared for that if the collectors decide to try the same tactic in the future. Perhaps he would even use it to his advantage; but there are always alternatives.

Prado made it off the vessel and back to his own ship alive, but severely injured. At least, however, he had managed to collect vital data on collector beam technology. Commander Shepard's ship was torn to shreds after his encounter with them nearly a year ago. After Prado's EDI unit analyzed the data, she managed to come up with a formidable counter method, devising a way to increase the durability of a ship's kinetic barriers for hard, fast strikes. Prado paid a heavy sacrifice, but it would not go unappreciated, that was for sure.

Now there was the issue of picking up the slack. You cannot simply replace a commander - they're icons, symbols. And a symbol cannot simply reconstructed. Yet if the three remaining commanders of Omni are to have a fighting chance, Cerberus would have to call in another individual to provide them with enough support until Prado can get back in the fight. At first, the Illusive Man wanted to call in Kai Leng; but Leng was a ruthless assassin that preferred to work alone. Not to mention, he was currently tasked with tracking down the defected Paul Grayson. His expert hunting led him to Omega, where he's patiently waiting for an opportunity to capture Grayson alive.

Vala Buchan's influence would only go so far. Even though Prado is currently out of commission, she still has three commanders to pull together, and her primary objective is just that. She can't be expected to become a spearhead for any combat operations while doing so. Her goal should be to jump from ship to ship, forging alliances and friendships amongst the commanders and doing so without distracting their attention from the mission. She would need her full focus on that task as diplomacy isn't always as easy as violence. This leaves only one option...

To the tune of the beep and hum of his quantum entanglement communicator, the Illusive Man slowly spun his chair around to face the projection pad on the black tiled floor. "Accept call," he said aloud in the dark of his office. Upon his command, the projection pad's blue lights flickered brighter and the hologram of a beautiful, young-looking woman with brown hair and matching eyes materialized in the center. Always ready for combat, she was wearing her customized light armor, and the butt of a collapsed M-8 Avenger assault rifle, along with that of an HMW shotgun, could be seen attached to a magnetic clip over her shoulder. Her M-3 Predator heavy pistol was attached to her hip as a reliable sidearm. The Illusive Man picked up his still-lit cigarette from its resting place in the ash tray and placed it between his lips.

"Tia St. Jean..." he said by way of welcome before exhaling a long stream of smoke.



Braden stuck close to Titus like white on rice; making sure he was never more than arm's reach from the commander as they made their way through the alley, always keeping sight of Vala and Mirian. Just as they had expecting, there were more Eclipse Sisters hiding in the shadows and crevices of the alley, attempting to cut them off from providing Vala with support by laying down heavy ambushes. Braden had never touched the trigger of a firearm before, but today he used it like he knew everything there was to know about the weapon in his hands. The heavy pistol's recoil eventually became too much for him to handle, so he switched to using biotic pushes and pulls, allowing his firing arm to rest.

After Titus laid down a ruthless barrage covering fire, he shouted "Go!", and Braden took off in a stumbling sprint toward an advanced position up ahead. He used his shoulder to slam himself hard into a crate and unholstered the heavy pistol at his side, leaning around just enough to provide semi-blind cover fire for Titus.

"Keep it up, kid!" he heard the commander say as he flanked left and pushed up through the alley, gaining twice as much ground as what Braden had.

While he wasn't for certain, Braden recalled that this sort of maneuver was called 'bounding' in military lingo. He had heard several Talon mercenaries during his time on Omega talking about it among several other tactics. One fire team would push forward about five or ten meters while the other fire teams laid down covering fire. After, the team that gained ground would reverse their roll and provide cover for the next team to advanced twice as much as they did; bounding ahead of them. This constant leap frogging would continue until they reached the enemy line, at which point one of the fire teams would bound up and then come across in a lateral maneuver to sweep up any remaining targets.

When Titus reached his position and crouched down behind cover to laid down more suppressive fire, Braden made his move and ducked out to flank right. As soon as he rounded the corner of his cover, however, an Eclipse Sister came barreling out of the shadows. She was in a state of shock and panic and wasn't expecting to see Braden coming up on her. She either hesitated at the surprise of a close-quarters target, or at the simple fact that Braden was so young. Whatever the case, she wasn't quick enough to raise her assault rifle and Braden found himself punching several holes through her kinetic barriers at the close range with his heavy pistol. The shots instantly penetrated the asari's armor and brought her to the ground.

He hesitated only for a brief second, shocked at the sight of the merc's body before him and knowing that he was the one that killed her. But the reality of the fight pulled his senses back and he took off to bound ahead of Titus.

"Hey, stay focused," Titus said over the radio. "I don't need you getting killed because some bitch surprised you. Mind those blind spots when you move and don't get shot! You're not wearing any body armor, remember?"

"It was your idea to bring me into this fight!" Braden reminded him as he dived and slid into his next position of cover behind a large cargo unit nearly three times his height. He laid down another spray of blind fire around the corner as Titus headed up.

"And I'm counting on you to not make it a bad idea. Got me?"

The two continued to work as an unstoppable team until they reached Vala and Mirian. With no Sisters remaining, it was just the four of them; but neither Braden nor Titus liked what they saw. Vala was down for the count, barely able to support herself on her knees, and Mirian was rapidly making her way over to finish off the fight. But that was only problem number one. They were no longer in the alley between the main transport hubs of the spaceport. The entire complex was raised high in the air like every other major metropolitan structure in Nos Astra. It was a long way down to the surface. Vala and Mirian had managed to take their cat fight to the middle of a long bridge, about one hundred meters in length, that connected the two main areas of the spaceport. High winds impeded everyone's balance and threated to take them over the edge if they weren't careful.



Before Titus could stop him, Braden darted forward in a fit of rage. The scream that bellowed forth from this lungs cracked under his youth. "Stay away from her!"

A massive surge of dark energy erupted from his flying fist, only to miss Mirian by inches as she dodged in the nick of time. To her, Braden was a simple ant about to be crushed. With a flick of her wrist, her biotics knocked the kid off balance, and then another finishing burst of energy energy took him of his feet completely, leaving the wind do the rest and carry him over the edge of the bridge.

"Braden!" Titus tried to catch him before it was too late, but he wasn't fast enough to reach him. He watched in shock as the teenager was blown off the bridge and sent hurtling downward to the surface.

In a fit of fury that narrowed his vision to a lock on Mirian, placing Vala completely out of the picture, he unholstered his pistol and laid down a ruthless siege, delivering a nonstop barrage of hits against the Ardat Yakshi's biotic barrier.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:02 pm

Everyone left the meeting and went their separate ways. They knew where they were going, so there was no need to draw attention by walking in a pack acting as if they were the Cerberus Mafia out to collect some kind of protection money. As he walked down the stairs, he saw an Asari in nice looking attire greeted him at the bottom of the stairs. She wore a black coat that fell to back of her knees, a standard grey shirt, and very slimming black jeans that looked more like they were chosen for the mobility they provided rather than the looks. Sneakers, not heels adorned her shoes which immediately proved to Horn that he was going to like this woman. As he completed his decent, she pulled off the black shades and slipped them into her pocket as she walked up to meet him.

"Commander." She started, her voice a bit more blunt, lacking the usual smooth fluidity of the average Asari in Nos Astra. "My name is Nerita T'Lar. I've been instructed by Liara to be your liaison for as long as the mission requires me to." Horn gave a small smile.

"Well, I must say, you certainly got here fast, I only asked for you just a couple minutes ago." Horn replied.

"I've been waiting here for over twenty minutes Commander." Horn raised an eyebrow at that comment, and she clarified. "When they say Liara is good, they understate it. She had me positioned here, predicting your request."

"Oh." Jason said, not sure if he liked the whole insinuation that he was predictable. "Well, anyways, a pleasure to have a fine Asari like yourself accompanying me on my...harrowing mission."

"Don't try to make it more dangerous than it is Commander, I might just get disappointed." Jason gave a laugh as he put on arm around her back.

"Babe, one thing I never do, is disappoint."

"Don't call me 'Babe'" She stated quite bluntly as she replaced her sunglasses and brushed off his arm.

"You got it Beauty." She turned her head slowly towards Horn, a slight flare of blue bolts jumping up and down her arms. Horn shivered. "I got chills...and they multiplyin!"



A little walk and a lot of cold shoulder later, Jason and Nerita came upon the entrance to Eternity bar. Before they could enter, a man wearing a sharp Fedora style hat and showing off some nice, but not out of place, casual clothes approached them. Nerita gave a smile and a nod. "Cecil, it's nice to see you again." Cecil gave a small bow towards her, and a million dollar smile that Jason could see simply plastered on every single ad vid pertaining to selling some item that was too pricey for even the high and mighty to afford.

"It's always a pleasure to see you Nerita. How did your 'research' go on the outer planets?" His voice matched his smile as it simply seemed to flow, much like the other Asari in Nos Astra, except with believability.

"Wonderful. We managed to find a ruin, not of Prothean nature, but it had a natural fissure that we spent the better half of a month examining and daring to try and get to the bottom."

"Always in it for the fun, either way around." His smile was infectious, yet Jason kept on just a slight smirk through it.

"So it must just be me you don't like. And here I thought I was Mr. Do-right." Jason interrupted, to which Nerita just looked at him, and gave a smirk with a slight 'hmmph'. Cecil turned towards Horn, and extended his hand.

"I'm sorry Commander. I'm Cecil Adams, an associate of someone you know."

"Ooooh, cloak and dagger, expensive wine style. Hit me with the bourbon please Cecil." Jason said as he shook the man's hand. He had to give him credit, he didn't even blink.

"Your man, a Mr. Carlos Santiago, is still inside enjoying a drink with a lovely Asari host that may or may not be planted there to simply keep him in one spot long enough for our lovely co-conspirators..." Cecil waved towards Jason. "A chance to get into place. If you're ready, I'll have her withdraw, and we'll get this show on the road." Jason gave a nod, already seriousness starting to seep into his features. Cecil walked inside, and Horn turned to Nerita.

"Alright, so how trained are you with firearms?" Nerita swept her coat back to reveal twin Karpov X pistols on either side of her hip. Jason gave a nod. "I'll say slightly." She huffed, but otherwise said nothing. "I'm going to assume that Liara told you what we would be doing, but I'm going to restate it anyways. You, me, and Cecil will be forming our own little crowd. We will be tailing this guy, through thick and thin. Eclipse sisters are supposed to be helping him out, but we already have others in place to deal with them. We only engage if necessary, do not start a fight. Cecil will be our cover if we have to talk our way out of anything, you and I will be the muscle should anyone try to stop us another way. Deal?"

"At least you're serious when it comes to a fight Commander." Jason paused for a second, before lowering his voice.

"Serious enough that if you disobey my orders, I will not hesitate to leave you behind in a firefight Ms. T'Lar." She paused for a second, before staring him down through her sunglasses.

"Did you just threaten me Commander?" Her fists were coiled up, and she was half an inch away from having blue bolts of biotic energy course over her entire body.

"I don't threaten Nerita, I make clear cut cases of good and bad decisions. I also make sure to make people regret judging me before they even know me." Nerita flinched visibly, and backed down slightly.

"You read my file, I'm certain of it." Horn continued, keeping an eye on the entrance. "Same with Liara, and Cecil. Now, I don't know about you, but I always know that papers are never a good indication to what a person is actually like. Mine is filled with infractions, disobeyed orders, and some other unsavoury things. Between us though, this is a clean slate, and I'm not liking the way distaste fills your voice every time you speak to me, nor the utter lack of respect behind those shades of yours." Horn had been stepping up to her, actually backing her into the wall of Eternity before he stopped pressing forwards. "I am not demanding respect Nerita, but I am demanding a fair chance. You will do that, or I will leave you in the dust of the lesser minds like yourself who would rather have bliss in ignorance over the painful love of truth." Nerita didn't say anything, and Jason backed off slightly. Cecil came out almost as soon as he did so.

"Target's moving out the back." He said, and Horn gave a nod before pressing a finger to his ear, broadcasting to both Titus and Poitvin.

"This is Horn, Target is on the move and we are following. Update progress on an as needed basis. Out." He nodded to Nerita and Cecil. "Alright, let's go."



It was a lengthy journey to tail the man that had stolen their data. Not too long as to get tiring, but just the perfect length that if they fell too far behind, they would lose him. By the time Santiago reached the meeting area, they had had to stop and blend at least four times for fear of being seen. Soon though, it would be time to move. Another Asari, one that looked like she didn't have self-image problems at all, came wandering in. Horn wasn't close enough to hear the conversation, staying a safe distance away to avoid suspicion. Once the deal had finished, he heard Titus's order to continue to trail Miran. Seeing as Santiago was heading the opposite direction, it wouldn't be a problem although every instinct screamed at him to shoot the man in the back of the head. He clicked his comm. once to confirm he had heard, and he tapped on his leg loudly enough to get Cecil and Nerita's attention to follow.

It wasn't long before they trailed the Ardat Yakshi and her group of feminine killers to an alley. Where are you Titus...she's going to be out of reach soon... Jason thought to himself as the group continued through the constricted space. He heard the moving of a crane, and looked up to see a pallet moving through the air. On it, Titus and his kid were clinging onto it. Not bad, but try ten thousand feet of nothing but freefall Jason thought to himself again as they dropped from the pallet into the alley.

"Cover!" Jason yelled as both he and Nerita whipped out their pistols and opened fire on the group of Eclipse sisters. They turned backwards, their kinetic barriers taking the brunt of fire before they returned with their own automatic weapons. Jason and Nerita both ran from their spot, slamming down behind some crates for cover. Cecil was already there, simply cowering behind the protective shell of the crate and hoping to avoid getting shot. "Don't you have a weapon Cecil?" Jason asked as a couple rounds nicked the side of the cover. Cecil dug into his pocket, and pulled out a small switchblade, no longer than 2 inches in length. Horn stared at him in disbelief. "Are you serious?!" Cecil nodded, adding a gulp in with it. It was painfully obvious this man had never been in a firefight before. Horn grabbed the switchblade, and threw it at the closest Sister, who simply swatted it aside.

"Just stay down, and try not to get shot." Nerita put in. She went to fire, but Horn pulled her back down.

"We aren't here to fight. We're here to prevent their escape! We don't fire unless it looks like they are going to try and make a break for it." There was a scream, and a Sister went flying over top of them. As she landed, Horn shot her in the head, making sure she was dead. Horn gave a small chuckle. "Look, a flying nun." He looked around, the other two obviously not getting it. "Nun...sister...nevermind." He said as they stared at him blankly. He shook it off and peered around the corner to get a bead on the status of the fight. Titus and the kid were doing a good enough job of holding everyone else back while Vala attempted to fight the AY on her own. She's going to get herself killed. Jason thought to himself as he contemplated calling in the Demons. No, they are a last resort only.

As everyone started getting pushed back out onto the bridge, Jason and his impromptu team kept behind them at a safe pace, making sure to stay out of the direct line of fire. They would add a couple shots now and then when it looked like one of the Sisters was breaking through, but otherwise remained non-combatants. It looked like Nerita was about ready to swat Horn. "Why are we just sitting here?! Are you really that much of a coward that you would let your fellow Commander do all the work for you?!" Horn looked at her wide eyed for a second, mocking fake innocence.

"Oh my gosh, you are so right! I mean, I should charge in there guns ablazing, drawing the fire away from those with shields and armour made to administer medical aid when injured. Oh, and when that fire is drawn towards me, I will let them have it with my one lonely pistol and combat knife. On top of that, should they use Biotics on me, I will simply yell into the wind and curse back those waves of pure energy." Nerita slumped back down.

"Point taken."

"Yeah, I would think so. Now think before you go calling someone a fucking coward. Cecil!"

"Yes Commander?" His voice, although a little shaky, was still smooth.

"You stay here and watch for backup." Jason handed him his combat blade, which Cecil grabbed with a grip that told he at least knew how to use the weapon. "Better than your pencil dick of a knife you had before. Don't engage, just warn us." Jason rounded the corner, Nerita on his heels as they made their way to the beginning of the bridge.

It wasn't a moment too soon as he saw Braden head over the lip of the bridge. Anger flooded his system for watching the child drop, but it wasn't directed at the Yakshi, but at Titus. He saw the Commander start to go after the Broker agent, and knew that if someone trained in hand to hand combat with biotics couldn't take her on single handily, then neither could Titus. He watched as he unholstered his pistol, and unleashed a barrage on the agent, only to be refused by a biotic shield she put up. "Target!" Jason yelled as both he and Nerita fired round after round towards the agent, who was now showing strain from having so much fire pour down on her. Instead of backing up though, she pushed forward. In something akin to a tsunami, she sent a pulse of energy along the bridge towards them, but Nerita seemed too focused on firing. Jason stopped firing long enough to grab her arm, and throw her to the ground behind him as the wave hit him at a diminished force and sent him half flying and half skidding into the alley behind him.

He lay there for a moment, waiting for the painkillers to kick in, and realizing that they wouldn't. It wasn't the worst he had received, but the rashes and cuts from travelling like that across the distance was harsh. He managed to get to all fours, and spat blood out of his mouth as T'Lar came back, grabbed him, and rushed him back to cover. "Ow." Was all that came out of his mouth as Nerita looked him over. "Can you at least put on the Nurse's outfit? It would make me feel a lot better."

"Maybe next time." Her voice was devoid of humour, but it was better than the grunts of disapproval he had been getting previously. He wasn't too rocked up. Nothing felt broken, maybe a couple cracked here or there, but overall, the damage was superficial.

"Alright, round two." Jason got up to go again when weapons fire sounded from behind them. Cecil came running down the alley, followed by several rounds as he slid into where they were taking cover.

"Lot...lo...lots of Sisters!" He said, stammering over his words.

"How many Cecil?!" Jason demanded.

"Lots!" He yelled again.

"I need a number Adams!"

"I was too busy getting shot at to count Commander." Adam's voice had calmed down by this point, and the slight tone to the man's voice caught him off guard. Jason shoved him back into cover, and peered around the corner. Almost as soon as he did, pockets of assault rifle rounds peppered near his head, and he pulled back.

"How many?" Nerita asked.

"Lots." Jason said, getting a look from both of them before Cecil spoke up again.

"Either the agent of one of the Sisters must have called for some backup. There wasn't supposed to be this many!" Jason was placing his finger to his ear.

"Yeah, but we're dealing with the Shadow Broker. Nothing is ever easy. Just fire back!" He started talking into comm. as Nerita started firing back mainly blindly. "Kodiak shuttle, you are a go. I want everything that ain't Cerberus associated near me turned to nothing but bloody chunks."

"Consider it done."
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Thu Oct 06, 2011 10:39 pm

50 years. She'd been fighting and watching her squad mates die for nothing for 50 long years. She was tired of it. Most of the people she'd served with were retired. Or dead. She didn't agree with the policies of the Alliance. She didn't think the supposed concessions were in any way fair to Humans. They were shunted to the back of things by the Alien Races as if they were no more than recalcitrant children. Even now the battle at Shanxi leaped to mind. Whenever it did, her right hand rubbed at her left arm absently. She'd lost that arm in that long siege. On the arrival of the second fleet and the quick thinking of her Commander had saved her life.

A year later and she had a new arm along with a new assignment. But, an unfortunate side-affect of the process that allowed the installation of her synthetic replacement was that she didn't age. Experimental anti-rejection drugs allowed her body to accept the artificial materials implanted from her shoulder. But it did so much more than the Doctors had expected. Now, not only did she have the same dexterity as a normal hand or arm would have had, but she could also lift up to 1000 pounds with the enhanced tissued.

In reality she was 71 years old. And yet, she looked in her late 20's. It was wearing to have been a soldier for so long. She tired of assignment after assignment for the interest of the other Races. Most especially the Turians. They had attacked, unprovoked, at Shanxi and bombarded the surface mercilessly killing thousands until the second fleet had arrived. Worse, they'd gotten away with it! The Council had brokered a peace that still grated on an already raw wound in Tia where it had festered ever since.

Now she was with Cerbrus, having left the Alliance almost 20 years ago. And still she fought. Would she ever see Humans in their rightful place at the head of the table? She no longer knew. She lay on her bunk in a Cerebrus station considering if it was all worth it. Tia St. Jean's reverie was interrupted by a young man with a message. "A what?" She asked sitting up suddenly.

"A call, Ma'am. He said it was urgent." The boy replied, "In room 12." Saluting smartly, the youth headed out into the hall before she could disabuse him of the idea that she needed saluting. Instead, she was left to make her own way to the communications relay room assigned for the call.

Tia frowned heavily. She had no family left alive. Her squad was here with her, so any orders would go through her commander rather than it's Tech Engineer. Still puzzling it over, she levered herself off the foot of her bunk to exit the dull gray room she shared with 3 others. Curiosity, rather than the comment that the call was 'urgent', quickened Tia's steps to room 12. Slipping inside the dimmed room, she approached the console to open the link.

Almost immediately, an older man appeared before her in an impeccably tailored suit steepled his fingers in front of his chin and greeted her, "Tia St. Jean."

Tia tucked a strand of dark hair behind an ear and peered at a face that looked vaguely familiar to her. Trying to puzzle it out, she queried, "Do I know..." She started suddenly and her right hand jerked reflexively in an aborted salute. "Comm...Jack...?"
The Illusive man sat in his chair, his fingers connected at the tips as he stared at Tia through the screen. "That is a name that hasn't been used in a long time Ms. St. Jean. I believe that person is dead by now, don't you think?" He let his hands drop to the arms of the chair, and crossed his leg over the other. "Good to see you. How is your arm, still holding up?"

A pause followed the halogram image's words. "Yes. He must be by now." Her tone was cautious and the light in her eyes was slightly suspicious. At his question, Tia lifted her left hand and flexed the fingers as if to prove she had full use of it. "Fine. It's almost like I never lost it...except for the enhancements." Pausing once more, she pursed her lips. "So. Mind telling me what's so important that you decided to play Ghost?"

A slight smirk played on his face as tapped his hands on the arm of the chair. "I have something else for you. Can I safely assume that you are itching to get back to work?"

This time her expressive face showed a raised right brow. "I might be...in the right capacity. Things have been..." She paused, unsure just how to answer the question while still covering her ass. "Disappointing in the last few years. I'd be up for something more rewarding."

"Enthusiasm not withstanding, I'm glad to hear it." TIM said, his voice completely neutral as he pressed a button on his holographic display over the arm of his chair. A screen popped up in front of Tia, showing a cruiser class warship. Specs laid out the weapons and defensive systems, and the name glowed above it as the SIC Titan. "I'm assigning you to one of our cells designed specifically to deal with the growing collector threat. This ship here, is under the command of Jason Horn." Another screen popped up with his face. A few details about his type of character and partial battle records. But for the most part, the history behind the face remained blank. "A man with a knack of pulling off what needs to be done. Softer than I would like him to be, but he proves to be an incredible asset. You will join him on his ship, which is currently in orbit above Illium." TIM pulled out a smoke, and lit it. Letting a small silence fall between them. "You will assist in the deterence of the Collector menace, and buy us enough time to get a true battle plan in place. Questions?"

Tia looked the ship over, turning it in 3-D space and reading the specs on it. The largest thing that captured her attention was the word 'collectors'. It sent an unpleasantly cool shiver down her spine. Out of long habit, Tia took in the salient facts as he finished outlining her new assignment and she frowned once more. "Yes, Sir. Just who are you? I like to know what I'm in for...maybe you remember that part?" She had to know if her suspicions were correct. How was he related to Cerebrus and why was he playing dead after all these years.

Taking a long drag of his cigarette, the Illusive Man offered the slightest of smirks at Tia's question. "An illusive man, Ms. St. Jean." Rubbing out the red cherry at the end of his cigarette, he raised a hand to the haptic interface, finger hovering over the controls for a moment. "I'll have a shuttle pick you up in an hour." With that, he pressed the button, and promptly vanished from sight.

Tia blinked when the communication was cut off abruptly. She growled softly at the lack of answers. Old ghosts. It wasn't a good sign.

Back in her quarters, she threw her few things into the duffle that was never truly unpacked. You never had a home, never knew when you were going to be sent off without a moment's notice. Like now. In less than 40 minutes, Tia was completely packed, geared up and standing at the loading platform while the shuttle went through pre-launch checks. She had a couple days to spend considering what had just happened. Another 5 minutes had her strapped into her seat and her gear stowed. Tia pushed the seat back and promptly got comfortable to sleep. She'd been through this so many times, she wondered if she could pilot one of these things herself sometimes.


Last edited by Digital Muse on Sat Oct 08, 2011 10:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Fri Oct 07, 2011 6:41 am

“Braden! Stay back!” Her voice didn’t have the strength to carry, and she watched wide-eyed as the boy was tossed over the bridge like a rag doll, vanishing from sight without even a scream. “No!” Red hot adrenaline flooded her body as she rose, wounds forgotten, aches ignored and sprinted forward.

But she didn’t run at Mirian, nor did she head for safety to heal. Setting her lips into a grim line, Vala sprinted to the edge…and jumped. The sudden drop sucked the air from her lungs, eyes widening at the vast, seemingly empty space below, hair billowing out behind her as gravity accelerated her descent back to the earth. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, topaz eyes staring down at the racing cars, glistening billboards, and, if she truly looked, the miniature specks of people below. For but a moment, she was stunned, drifting in painless freefall towards the ground.

It was suicide. What would she do, sprout wings and fly off into the sunset? Fear swelled in her breast, ignoring her best efforts to stave off the cursed emotion, and her breath, already short, came in even tighter, as if someone had taken hold of her throat.

A blur of motion caught her gaze, and realization struck. Braden. “Braden!” The fear was swallowed down, resolve igniting as the young biotic drifted further from view. Eyes locking onto the boy, she spun about, pulling her arms in tight to accelerate her descent. The distance closed, the operative stretching her body out to reach for the unconscious boy, eyes burning from the rushing wind but she ignored the pain as she inched ever closer.

Her fingers found his shoulder, and with a swift tug, she pulled the boy close, hugging him tight against her body. A slow, shaky breath escaped her, and the operative reigned her panicking mind into check. Any error at this point could, no, would be fatal, for them both. And she refused to let the boy die.

Not when she could do something about it. Tapping her Omni-tool, Vala brought up the shield controls for her armour, rapidly over-ridding the limits, and cranking the output to maximum, ignoring the advisories and warnings of the damage to the shield generator. What good were shields when she was a pancake? The sound of racing cars filled her ears, and she flinched as they raced by, missing the pair by mere inches. The flickering bodies vanished for a moment, and with a quick check, she was they were headed straight for more.

We can’t make it… It was a sickening thought, and it sapped her resolve. We…

What was meant to be would be. Bowing her head silently, she pulled the boy closer, and rolled forward, placing her battered body between Braden and the speeding blurs beneath. Drawing on every bit of energy she could muster, her eyes pulsed with blue light, skin crawling as the kinetic barrier crawled off her own and enveloped her charge in a protective shield.

“Be strong for me.”

She hit the roof of the car with the speed of a freight train, an airless scream ripping from her lips as the pain enveloped her senses. Hot tears streaked her face, will power alone forcing her to keep the barrier up and her vice grip on the boy secure. They rolled quickly off the back of the speeding vehicle, crashing into the domed windshield of the following vehicle. She felt them slipping, and raised a shaking hand above her head, biotics flaring before the hand shattered through the protective shield, gripping the edge with bleeding fingers. The driver, a bluish salarian likely on his way home from a long day at the office, panicked, his car swerving quickly out of traffic. His eyes widened as the strange human who crashed onto his car drug herself closer to the windshield, desperately mouthing the word ‘land’ at him through the tinted glass.

Thin rivulets of blood ran down her arm, the broken glass carving through the weak fabric of her uniform with ease. She held Braden firmly by the arm, feeling the boy sliding closer and closer to the edge of the car. Every muscle was screaming at her, burning with pain that no amount of pain killers seemed to solve, begging for her to let him drop. Just…let go, and the pain would lessen.

She gave an inch, feeling her hand slip to his wrist, before reaffirming her hold. The drop pulled her further down, more of the glass carving into her bleeding body, but she fought it best she could. Vala’s eyes watched the boy’s face quietly, tears of pain streaking down her face as she struggled to maintain her grip. He wouldn’t even know. It’d be painless…just…let go.

Braden slipped further, and she lunged to catch his hand, barely hoisting the boy back, clenching so hard her knuckles turned white and threatened to split open. The car was drawing closer to a small landing pad…another minute, a few seconds, and they’d be safe. The distance seemed as vast as the great black of space, seemingly infinite in it’s simplicity.

A pained cry escaped her, her own grip on the windshield slipping slightly, the glass slicing along her arm as she slipped down the front of the car. Her grip faltered, and Braden’s hand vanished from her own. “No!” It was instinct, releasing the craft to slide off the edge, desperate to save the boy from his fate. She landed on her back without a sound, eyes wavering as she hesitantly felt the ground round her body. “The landing pad..?” The whisper was unheard by the growing crowd, the damaged car landing off in the background. The operative rolled to her side, eyes softening when she found Braden’s form a few feet away. Half crawling, half dragging herself, Vala made it to the young boy’s side, and pressed her fingers to his neck.

The steady beat against her fingers brought a gentle smile to her face, as she collapsed backwards onto the unforgiving cement. A violent cough tore through her body, and Vala stared out at the sky for a quiet moment, unaware of the black creeping in her eyes until it swallowed her into it’s peaceful depths.

She stirred only once, to watch a Kodiak descend to the landing zone, the emblem of Cerberus shining brightly in the sun. Under any other circumstance, she would have risen to her feet and greeted them herself. Today, Vala simply fell back into the welcoming dark.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Fri Oct 07, 2011 12:40 pm

Commander Horn's timely arrival worked to Titus' advantage. After Jason was violently thrown back by one of Mirian's biotic blows, Titus made his move. The rage burning inside of him only doubled the effects of the adrenaline flowing through his body. Before Mirian could realize just how close her enemy had come up on her, the commander's fist delivered a punishing blow to her abdomen. The strength enhanced artificial muscle fibers in the Kestrel armor's limbs increased the efficiency of Titus' already-honed melee skills. But he didn't care about efficiency this time, nor mission accomplishment. To him, Mirian was no longer an objective. She was a target of his own vendetta. This whole assignment had just become personal.

Before the asari could look up at her attacker, Titus delivered another blow to her jaw with a fast, powerful left hook. The punch knocked her to the ground and a spray of blood dotted the surface below her. Without giving his opponent a chance to recover, Titus rapidly unholstered his pistol and placed a round in each of her legs; crippling her, rendering his prey immobile. She tried to lift a hand and power her biotics, but the commander's heavy boot crush her digits back to the surface, contorting them in more than a dozen ways. Her cry of agony fell on deaf ears.

Titus grabbed Mirian by her collar and dragged her to the edge of the bridge. It took a lot of muscle, even with the enhanced fibers in his suit, but he managed to suspend her just over the edge. Her feet dangled in the air. "Maybe I should just end this right here... right now - give you the same fate that you just gave that kid."

A twisted smile formed on Mirian lips. It was a conniving smile, one that invited Titus' curiosity. "Go ahead, commander. Do it. But you'll lose your precious data." Her unbroken hand reached behind her and revealed the datapad that the spy had handed her earlier at the exchange. She let it dangle between her thumb and index finger, threatening to drop it.

Titus held out an open palm. "Go ahead, Mirian. It's the only copy. It's not like if you drop it, someone will be able to recover it. The hard drive in that pad will be damaged beyond repair if you let it go right now. Whatever is on it will be lost. Cerberus can recover without it." He paused to let his words, ironically, hang for a minute. "But if you hand it to me right now, I just might spare your life."

The Ardat-Yakshi surrendered, reluctantly handing over the datapad. Titus carefully retrieved it with his free hand and tossed it behind him on the bridge's surface. But he didn't bring Mirian back over with it. Her eye's grew wide and her expression quickly became hysterical. "I thought we had a deal, commander?!"

"Deal? I said I 'might' let you live. I never said I would. Besides... I have orders to eliminate you."

Mirian smiled and her eye lids clasped close for a quick second before opening again to reveal the dark orbs of all Ardat-Yakshi. "You're not really like that, commander Titus. I know who you are. You're a crusader, not a murderer. You believe in what is right. You fight for what is..."

Her voice trailed off when that of EDI's came over Titus' radio. "Commander, I've managed to obtain a positive lock on Miss Buchan's and Mr. Reynolds' location. You'll be please to know that their vital signs are stable; though Miss Buchan is need of immediate medical attention. Operator Taylor has taken a team in the Kodiak shuttle to retrieve them, including Dr. Porter to render medical care in-flight back to the Vindicator."

"Thank you, EDI," Titus said after a long sigh of relief. He felt the throbbing of his heart begin to decrease in both intensity and frequency. A cooling calm swept over him and every muscle in his body began to relax, save for the arm that was continuing to hold up Mirian. When he looked back at the asari, she had a confused look on her face and realized that she hadn't heard the report from EDI, only Titus' own response. The commander smiled at her. "You're right Mirian. I'm not that kind of person, I don't kill out of hatred. That just corrupts people; it turns them into monsters."

"I'm glad you came to your senses comma-"

"-But I don't just disobey orders, either." Before Mirian had a chance to gasp for air, Titus released his grip on her collar and the asari plummeted below the edge of the bridge. It was several seconds later that he finally heard the faint sound of a scream, growing more distant and weak until, suddenly, it just stopped.

John shook Mirian's words about being a "crusader" form his mind. He found it suddenly difficult to concentrate on what was still going on. According to EDI, Vala and Braden were still alive, by the grace of God, and now there was the rapid succession of gun fire coming from the alley again. Titus glanced over past the bridge and saw that Commander Horn and his team were suddenly pinned down by a fresh arrival of mercs. Without a second thought, he grabbed the datapad by his feet, secured it on his person, and then took off to provide Horn with some much needed backup.

As he drew his rifle from over his shoulder he saw a Cerberus-marked Kodiak hover shortly above the alley. Two figures dropped down from the open side door and began assisting Horn. He was smart to call for backup and Titus guessed that the commander probably had the fire team on standby in case the situation became this FUBAR.

"Horn!" he called as he braced his shoulder for impact against the cover of a large cargo container. "Have your team bound up, I can give them cover fire from here." Titus switched from his armor piercing ammunition to his inferno and began laying down the promised covering fire. He needn't bother to accurately align any shots. His only goal was to keep the mercs' heads down from the flaming pellets threatening to shish kabob them.

"Oh, they can do better then that. Linda, Daniel, Leapfrog that bitch."

Horn watched in utter amazement as what he thought to be heavily equipped supply packs jettisoned their bodies forward, rapidly propelling them through the air and over the heads of the Eclipse Sisters. They landed with efficiency and grace atop a stopped hover crane. He heard Horn cry out, "They got fucking jetpacks!"

Within seconds, the ambush team of Sisters had been gunned down by fire from above. There was no cover in the world that could have saved them from the team's incredible surprise. Titus ejected his spent thermal clip and slung his rifle around to the magnetic clip on his back. Crossing his arms he said, "Huh... that was impressive."

With the fire fight over with in less than a minute, Titus had to give a lot of credit to this commander. He may be one of the most relaxed Cerberus operators he has ever met, but he knows how to command and control any situation. That was evidently clear after seeing the impressive display of how devastating superior technology can be - especially if used in such an effective manner.

Titus approached Horn behind his cover and extended a steady, open hand. "Nice toys."

"Thanks," Horn said, taking Titus' hand with a firm shake, "but I wouldn't call those toys...more...instruments of angelic death. You can quote that if you like." His grin was large, almost joking, but it was genuine and Titus got the feeling the man was always this way. He sort of wondered what he was like if one crossed him.

The jetpack-totting fire team, Daniel and Linda, if Titus remembered their names correctly, checked for survivors amongst the dead. A few stragglers remained in the darker corners of the alley and, when they attempted to fire at them, Daniel and Linda cut them down with sharp accuracy.

Titus realized that he still didn't know the status of Commander Poitvin's team and the spy. He tapped his radio comm to open the frequency again. "Commander Poitvin? Titus. Is your target eliminated?"

A curt "Done." was all that came back over the transmission and John didn't bother having him flush out the details. By the tone in Poitvin's voice, it was clear they still weren't on the same ground with each other. Regardless, Titus bit his lip and pushed all thoughts of starting an argument about the man's tone out of his mind and returned his attention to Commander Horn.

"It was a pleasure, Commander, but I've got some wounded crew mates I need to attend to. We should do this again sometime."

"If by next time you mean killing more mercs, enjoying a nice hard bottle of something not called Ryncol, and watching the splendors of some asari..." Horn looks over at the asari in his company, who is glaring at him through sunglasses and having blue bolts run up and down her limbs. "Some card games with asari dealers I was going to say...Yeah. That's what I was going to say. Till next time Commander."

The two exchanged a final handshake and Titus moved back to the bridge, preparing enough clearance for his own Kodiak to return to pick him up.



It was an hour later after the wrap up on Illium that Titus was finally able to get out of his Kestrel armor and step back into the CIC in his officer's uniform. Everyone standing around the haptic adaptive interface terminals surrounding the galaxy map turned to salute him and offer a congratulations as he passed by. He returned each of their salutes with a genuine smile. It was always comforting to know that you had the appreciation and support of your crew after an enduring mission. He showed his thanks for this by returning the formality, and giving them a courteous nod. On many occasions he would stop to chat with them, building their morale on a personal level and gaining knowledge of their perspectives. Johnathan Titus' style of leadership worked off of three basic rules.

The first of these rules was that you never turn your back one person of your crew. You listen to everyone of their concerns, and if one person disagreed with a plan, you would find an alternative. Titus believed in building a consensus; not forcing one upon others. Democracy was great when it worked, but that was the problem: it never worked. Look out for the little guys, and they'll have your back, no matter what.

Rule number two was similar: have the backs of your crew mates. Support them at every turn and always remain attentive of not just their needs, but their wants. If you can't provide them a particular want, then you find a way to appease them. If a crew member is distracted, they can't perform their duties at optimum efficiency. On a starship, that can become a critical concern. It's not like anyone can be simply replaced, or swapped out. No one gets a vacation or "time off" (other than days of rest, of course); and Cerberus isn't the Alliance. Their resources may be vast, but their manpower is limited. Thus, a good ship commander of a Cerberus vessel knows that each member should receive not only an equal level of attention, but a level of personal attention.

The final rule of the three is, perhaps, the most important of them all, though they each work as an unbreakable unison. Never leave someone hanging. Not in a conversation, not in a relationship, and not in combat. In Titus' eyes, leaving a man behind is worse than cold blooded murder. And Vala Buchan deserves the commander's top commendation for demonstrating the power of this third rule: that impossible time off.

Commander Johnathan Titus followed these three rules of leadership, and no one on the Vindicator questioned the decisions he made. Any order he gave someone on his team would be followed and executed down to the letter.

Titus stepped up into his favorite part of the Vindicator. The irresistible magnificence of the helm. It was nearly forty meters in length, capped by a long, arching view port. Many commanders and engineers would consider this a tremendous structural weakness. Conventional weapons could easily penetrate it. But, just as the observation decks and the briefing room on deck one, during combat, ablative plates extended down to protect the helm from fire. The upgraded kinetic shielding would protect against quick, brutal attacks, and the ablative plate armor would be sustain fire at attrition. When someone makes their way down the slightly raised walkway of the helm, they might as well consider themselves walking down one of the many gallery corridors of the Louvre Museum in France. The view port is raised so high that one could practically take nice, legitimate whack at a golf ball - so long as at the swing doesn't it the full forty meters and strike Darcy, the helmsman, in the back of the head.

When Titus approached his helmsman, Darcy spun his chair around to face him, as if he hadn't expecting the commander to see him the whole time.

"So, boss," he began in the same uplifting attitude he always had, "now that Vala's been pretty much rendered out of the game, can I expect some peace and quiet for a few days?"

John gave him a serious glare and said, "Should I let her know how bummed out you are because of that?"

Darcy rolled his eyes and spun his chair back around to attend to the expansive, blue interface in front of him. While his helmsman was busy working, Titus enjoyed the view of space for several minutes before turning back to return to the CIC. After he passed by the galaxy map once again, he adjusted his course and stepped into the open elevator; pressing thumb against the control pad to go down to deck three.



Braden's eyes shot open and he sat up straight in his chair. It took his eyes a moment to adjust to the bright lights of the medical bay after had been asleep for god knows how long. When he fully recovered his senses, he glanced immediately over to Vala, who was still passed out in the recovery bed next to him. How long had he been there, waiting for her to wake up? Braden glanced around the room, but couldn't spot a clock anywhere on the walls. He had been meaning to ask Commander Titus about getting his own Omni-tool, but never mustered the courage to begin asking the man for anything yet. He was still a new member of the Vindicator, and often felt that he needed to prove something to the others before...

There was a hiss at the other end of the bay and Braden leaned over in his chair to see Lance stepping passed the blast door. He hurried past Dr. Porter's desk with an incredibly large bouquet of flowers in one hand, and an elegant red box with a tied bow in the other. Lance gave the teenager a quick, emotionless glance before stepping across his legs, in between Braden's chair and Vala's recovery bed, to place his get-well gifts on the table beside her.

Lance stepped back quickly, almost as if he had expected Vala to wake up and angrily snap his neck. He looked from her back to Braden. Surprisingly, he regained his composure rather quickly and the muscular man looked relatively calm now that he had some distance between him and the sleeping woman he obviously had affections for. Braden wasn't sure how he should feel about Lance right now. Part of him wanted to start a competition for Vala's love right there and now, but something else was suppressing his hormonal desire to be an alpha-male and just appreciate the fact that he wasn't the only one of the ship that liked Vala for who she is.

"Dr. Porter said she's going to make a full recovery," Braden said, almost unaware that the words came out of his mouth. He spoke low so as to not disturb the operative next to him.

Lance gave a quick, stiff nod of his head and grinned at the boy. "Thanks."

There was an awkward silence between the two. Only the tapping of Dr. Porter's fingers against her computer's haptic keyboard could be heard in the medical bay. It wasn't long before the good doctor stopped typing and looking over in hesitant impatience at the eerily silent young men crowding her workspace. "What a couple of Casanovas you two are," she suddenly blurted out loud, rocking Braden and Lance from their trances. "Men... I swear..."

"Can you do me a favor, kid?" Lance asked a moment later.

Braden looked at him; slightly honored that he was being asked to do a favor by someone from Titus' crew. He instantly set aside any romance-induced grudge he held against Lance and said, "Sure!"

"Don't tell her the flowers and chocolates are from me, okay?"

The teen wasn't sure how to respond to the odd request. He was sure that Lance would want to take the credit for his gifts. The man's sudden humility took Braden by surprise. "What do I tell her, then?"

"Tell her... they're from you."

Before giving Braden a chance to respond, the Forward Battery Officer turned on heel with the grace and efficiency of a soldier, almost performing a stiff facing movement, and left the medical bay.


Last edited by The Ghost Writer on Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Oct 09, 2011 1:32 am

Sleep eluded Tia for the first day of her flight toward Illium. Her mind chased question after question in endless circles with no resolution in sight. Jack Harper was dead. Someone else had taken his path toward an unexpected position in Cerebrus. How did she feel about that? She wondered. In the end, it didn't matter. She had her mission and she'd carry it out. It's what she did. She always had and always would. That affirmation in place, the Tech Engineer settled more comfortably into the stiff seat and promptly drifted to sleep.

58 hours later the shuttle that Ja...the Illusive Man had sent for her docked with the Titan in orbit above Ilium. Like any other passengers that would have traveled that far, she stretched muscles cramped from having remained seated for such a long flight. For her, however, it was more reflex than anything else. The drugs she'd been given all those years ago somehow kept her muscles supple and more or less cramp-free. She waited for the shuttle to dock with the Titan's deck 1 and power down before stepping out into the aisle and hoisting her duffle over her shoulder to disembark.

She wondered what sort of man her new Commander was. From the description the Illusive man gave, he was a seat-of-the-pants sort. Not always the best sort for her to work under. She still preferred a more orderly and predictable environment to work in. As she disembarked and looked about the ship, she was glad to see it was maintained so well. The Shuttle bay is quite large, having to house two Kodiak shuttles and a Mako anti-infantry tank. A tidy ship still didn't mean she could trust anyone aboard. Nor they trust her, for that matter. She'd just have to play it by ear.

Tia's booted feet rang hollowly as she stepped down the gangway to the deck floor. A few paces away from her a woman in a perfect uniform and her hair tied back in a neat bun awaited her with her hands clasped behind her and a slight smile. Tia transferred her duffel to her synthetic left hand and snapped a sharp salute. "Tech Engineer Tia St. Jean, reporting."

Titan's Second in Command, Kelly Invaru's smiled broadened and she returned Tia's salute. "Welcome aboard. How're your legs? Numb from sitting so long?" Her eyes twinkled with a bit of humor.

Tia grinned, "A little, yes Ma'am. I'm glad to be moving more than a few feet."

Invaru turned, indicating Tia should follow, "Kelly Invaru. Come on, we'll get you some quarters and a little tour. The Commander's planet-side. But should be returning before too long. We're just wrapping up down there." She didn't feel the need to reveal the details of the mission, nor did Tia ask. The commander would tell her if she needed to know. As they walked along, Invaru described the layout of the Titan and the specializations she came equipped with.

Walking side by side, Tia glanced at the Second in Command's profile, then asked. "Might I ask for your assessment of the people I'll be dealing with?"

Once again, Invaru's smile bloomed. "No need to be so formal, Ms. St. Jean. The Commander is not as hard-nosed as others might be." The paused at a door that hissed open to reveal a spartan room. "You can stow your gear here for the moment and we'll keep going." Once Tia had dumped her bag on the bed, the two women continued on their way. "Let's see. The main players; well, first me. I'm the Second in Command and generally make sure things gets done around here."

"Our pilot is Jack Nathan. You'll know him by his long ponytail. Decent guy, but kind of private. Now, our armourer would be TJ Keller. 6'4" of pure balls. You want her at your back, but she's hard. I would suggest you arm yourself before going to meet her though." Her grin made Tia wonder if she was joking or not. Then Invaru continued, "Lara Teesar is our Yeoman and seems to be 'on' all the time. Good woman to talk to if you need to."

They rounded another corner where Invaru pointed out a direction, "Through that hatchway is Engineering. Kevin Jaconis is our head Engineer. He mostly keeps to himself and has seen a lot of action. He'll be the one with the bandanas and goggles. Despite that lack of uniform, he's damned good at his job." Winding their way through the corridors, Invaru keeps up her education of the latest addition to the Titan's crew.

"Our chief medical officer is a bit of an oddity. His name is Lincoln Grass; slight man with glasses." When Tia looked a question at her, she explains. "Even though he's in the military and knows that casualties are inevitable, he takes it as a personal failure if someone dares to die on him." Tia laughed softly. "I think I love him."

Invaru chuckled as well and then continued. "Main Battery Officer is Jessie McKrain. Very hands on and usually has some dirt smudged on her face rather than being in a proper uniform. She's a decent sort, likes her drink outside her job and doesn't pull punches when she is working."

The pair ended their tour at the CIC, pausing outside the doors, Tia stopped her guide. "I noticed you left out telling me anything about the Commander. I'd like to know what to expect."

"Commander Horn? Well, one thing is for sure, he's a hard man to hate. His military standards are relaxed. Even saluting is optional. He's vulgar, crude, sarcastic, and a smartass. He's also brave, strong, and able to do what is necessary to get the job done. I've seen him take on a geth Destroyer in close quarters combat." The Second in Command, looked into the middle distance as if reliving something in the past. "During a more troubled time, I assure you. You follow his orders, don't let his verbal remarks get to you, and I guarantee you that Commander Horn will do all that is within his power to get the job done."

Tia considered all the information that Invaru had provided to her. "Well, you've got quite a group of experts. I look forward to meeting them." She said quite seriously.

Invaru laughed at her diplomatic comment. "Get some food I'll get you assigned on the duty roster when we know more."
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Dax on Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:17 pm

Poitvin rolled his eyes at Horn and the incoherent, arrogant mucus he spit from his mouth. Just as those thoughts and hate rolled into the Black Hornet Commander’s head, he kicked them out. Such hate and explicit anger was not only detrimental to the mission or his mental health, but it could possibly evolve. Poitvin was not one to lose his temper too much, but he knew that if he had to work with this Horn much longer, he would end up killing him in his sleep. Those two Commanders had about as similar personalities as a hanar resembles vorcha. Basically, what Poitvin had to gather about this Ardat Yakshi was that he shouldn’t worry about it since all he had to do was deal with the traitor scum, Carlos Santiago. This was good. If there was one thing he liked to do was to put traitors back in line with a firm kick, or, in this case, gunshot.

A few minutes of taxi riding and stair and elevator climbing later, Poitvin was taking out some anti-snipers one by one. However it did not take long for the Commander to grow tired of this rather cowardly way of killing his enemy. He soon switched his focus towards some people of rather important interest: his targets. The Commander ignored those who surrounded Santiago and simply kept his crosshairs and eyes on that one traitor. His one target. ‘Speak as much as you want, run as fast as you can, worm, but I’m going to get you. Then I am going to kill you. Slowly.’ Poitvin whispered this to himself as he laid there, motionless, eyes glued to the scope of his sniper. Soon, it would be time and he would descend and take out the fleabag.

After a few moments, Santiago finished his little chit chat and moved along. Poitvin, once more, ignored where the Ardat Yakshi, his accomplice, was heading or what his fellow Commanders were doing. He was solely focused on his prey and how he was going to gut him. Soon, it was time. Poitvin glanced over to Kathy, where he motioned her to move towards the ledge. She understood immediately and proceeded to bringing out 3 miniature grappling sticks and cords. She continued to applying the adhesive side of the grappling device to the side of the building and gave it a nice tug. She then nodded to her Commander and Eliza who then followed suit.

The simplicity yet strength of these devices were awe-inspiring. The way they worked was beyond simple: small cubes with activating magnets able to hold 1000 pounds, which were the size of a human’s fist, contained a small wheel where a very flexible material obtained from hybridizing titanium alloy with Earthern spider silk was attached to another titanium grapple. This made for a safe, stable and above all portable way to move up and down large buildings. Within a few moments, Poitvin found himself on the streets of Nos Astra, stalking his prey who was walking eagerly away from his meeting to who-knows-where. Within the shadows, Poitvin stalked Santiago, and his two crew members kept a healthy distance from their Commander, acting only as back up if necessary.

As Poitvin followed Santiago through the streets, he asked himself a couple questions. Most notably where he was following this man to. He knew it couldn’t be as simple as following the guy somewhere where there were not to many people, bringing him into a dark alley and pumping a few bullets in his head. That was only in Poitvin’s dreams. Instead, as the Commander trekked on, the blatantly obvious it became to him. Not only was Santiago protected, but he was leading them to a trap. Just as that thought crossed the Commander’s mind, an explosion rang in the air.

Goddammit.

A couple vehicles that were flying in the air has crashed into the streets, neatly cutting Poitvin off from Santiago and from his teammates. Poitvin himself had been sent flying into a random holo advertiser, smashing it to pieces in the process. As the Commander got up, he saw exactly what he expected to see: hordes of Eclipse were flying in on fucking jet packs and were about to land not too far away from the Commander. Poitvin knew they wouldn’t need to be begged to open fire on a Cerberus agent, so he quickly launched himself behind a pile of rubble and unholstered his assault rifle. As he calibrated it, he hoped in his mind that his crewmates were setting themselves up, somewhere, to be able to provide some sort of cover to their Commander.

Bullets soon zoomed by Poitvin’s ears, prompting a duck from the man. Poitvin immediately responded with a spray of bullets of his own before calling Kathy and Eliza on his comm.

“You two, where the hell are you?” He yelled as his voice barely carried over the sounds of gun fire and explosions.

“Were presently climbing some stairs, an-“ A loud shot was heard, instantly followed by a loud cracking noise. No screams. Someone had just sniped one of the Eclipse sisters. A chuckle was heard through the comm. link. “That was Eliza, sir, she’s got your back,” boomed back Kathy.

Then, Poitvin heard from Eliza. “Damn straight I do,” was all she said before another loud shot rang in the air, killing another Sister. Poitvin smiled to himself. Choosing this woman was a great decision.

“Alright ladies, listen up. I want you two to get visual contact with our target and tell me what direction he is heading. I want one of you to then head up to the roof and follow him with your sniper. If he gets too far or risks getting away, finish him. Otherwise, keep him for me. I will deal with the remaining Eclipse down here with me in the meanwhile.” A strong “Affirmative” came back from both of the women’s comm’s.

With a grunt, Poitvin punched a button in his rifle using the incendiary app he always wanted to use. He armed a few grenades before throwing them over one by one. The second one of them went off, Poitvin jumped over the rubble, guns blazing. The Eclipse sisters were slightly dazed, slightly confused and slightly demoralized. Not only did they think there was more than one person behind that rubble, but they felt pressed down by the snipers that had taken out already a couple of their mates. This led to almost completely stationary targets, dazed and stun by those mix of factors, giving Poitvin some easy kills.

Once the couple enemies were dealt with, Poitvin immediately switched over to climbing over the wreckage and back on the streets to get to Santiago. It was at that moment where Eliza spoke over the comms. “Commander, we located Santiago. He seemed to had been waiting on your death before continuing, to be sure of his security. Fortunately for us, you lived. He just now started to run. You should be able to catch up to the slimy bastard. He is due north west of your position. You should be getting a visual just about… now.”

True to her word thanks to eagle’s nest positioning, Poitvin indeed had Santiago in his sights. Poitvin broke into a sprint, holstering his assault rifle and bringing out his compact pistol. The Commander zoomed by civilians, crashing into a couple and sending them spiraling to the floor, leaving them only to shake their fist and swear as Poitvin got out of range. The Commander was starting to zone in range of his target. His vague silhouette getting more distinct by the second. He was almost there.

“Fuck you, Santiago,” yelled Poitvin, not in rage, but by pure habit of yelling obscenities. The Commander shot a couple shots to try and bring his target down, but the fact that they were both running and that made it extremely hard for him to aim kept him from getting a clean shot. Instead, he holstered, again, his weapon and used both of his arms propel him faster, getting as much out of his suit enhanced speed and strength as he could. The gap closed considerably.

Once they were close enough, Poitvin leapt, crashing onto Santiago’s back, sending them both rolling out of control and into a group of on-lookers. The Commander didn’t even look if any of the civilian spectators were hurt. All he did was punch Santiago senseless, just to make sure he wouldn’t get any ideas of running away again. With that, Poitvin stood up and dragged a barely conscious Carlos Santiago into a dark alley where Poitvin was about to have tons of fun, especially since his two female crewmembers would put in a few minutes until arriving on scene.

Poitvin propped his target onto a wall still sitting down. Just for good measure, he broke both of his legs. He then pulled him by the hair and put his masked face an inch away from his. “Hey there sunshine,” started Poitvin, sarcasm dripping from his words like thick honey. “You gave me quite the work out there. It was fun, wasn’t it?”

Santiago’s eyes focused on him painfully slow, then he formed a couple of words with his fat lip. “Fuck you.” The scum bag then spit in the Commander’s face.

This prompted an immediate punch in the face, breaking a few teeth and his nose, followed by two kicks on both sides of his rib cage, probably breaking a few as well. Poitvin then wiped the pink saliva from his helm. “Lovely,” was all he said. “Well, you know, I was going to let you live, ass hole. I was going to bring you back for questioning. That could have probably have bought a few weeks, probably even months or years. But no. Instead I am going to kill you right here, right now…”

Santiago painfully brought his head up again to look Poitvin in the face. He was about to form more words, probably insults, with his mouth before Poitvin savagely slapped him in the face. “Nuh ah! I don’t think so.” The Commander bent down and took out his pistol. “This is going to hurt you a lot more than it’s going to hurt me, princess.” He placed his gun on his chest, masterfully pointing it so that no major organs would be pierced, thus letting him alive for a couple more minutes, and then fired. Santiago couldn’t yell because his mouth was too swollen, but his eyes told the whole story.

Poitvin simply stared at him and was about to say something when Kathy and Eliza showed up. “Commander, what the…” started Kathy. Poitvin shot a furtive glance over to his crewmembers before unloading a bullet right between Santiago’s eyes. The Commander scrambled for words to explain what he had just done. “The bastard was wounded by the blast. I brought him here, but he then tried to run away. I showed him what happens when you try to flee from Cerberus. We’re done here.”

Poitvin wasn’t sure how this was going to go down with his crew, but he decided it could wait. He and Kathy started to make their way back towards the docking station, their mission accomplished. What they didn’t see, was Eliza who stared at Santiago’s corpse… before finally returning to her Commander.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:29 pm

The fight from the remaining sisters didn't take too long, once Titus, Linda, and Daniel all started pouring fire into the alley. Soon there was nothing left, Titus and Jason shook hands, and Titus stepped aboard his own Kodiak shuttle to take him to his ship. Jason's Kodiak touched down on the bridge a few feet away, and Horn nodded towards it, signalling Linda and Daniel to climb in. They complied, and Jason turned back towards his two on-loan companions. Nerita stood with her arms crossed and enough attitude in her posture to make up for the whole lot of nothing she was saying. Cecil had a big smile on his face, and was currently dusting off his hat.

"Well, I can genuinely say the records may have been wrong about you." Nerita started. Jason gave a small laugh.

"Babe, they ain't wrong, just dated." She snarled for a second, before returning to her cool headed posture.

"Maybe." Was all she said in response. She turned to Cecil.

"That was quite exhilarating, wasn't it Commander?" Cecil added, replacing his hat on his head.

"This, and I can think of several other things. In fact, it could always be this exciting if you were to stay with me." Nerita and Cecil looked at each other, wary of what Horn was asking. Nerita spoke up first.

"Ok, I know I'm going to regret asking this, but why would we join up with you? We work for Liara T'soni, one of the most powerful information brokers this side of the galaxy. She pays us well, and treats us as though we matter, not just as objects." Horn knew that last jab was directed at him, and he feinted being shot in the heart.

"You wound me my lovely, but let me put things into perspective here. You don't strike me as someone who likes playing escort service for an Information Broker. You want something more. You want excitement, action, and cash to do other exciting things when not doing the previous ones with me. I can provide you with all of that, along with top of the line equipment to make sure you don't die while doing it." Jason walked up to her, and pulled the sunglasses from her face. Much to Cecil's surprise, she didn't instantly cauterize him. "Now I know you're an adrenaline junkie, and I appreciate those people more than you know. I, however, would be in charge. My order is golden, and you would follow it to the letter. Other than that, you would have a room on one of the most technologically advanced warships in the galaxy, fighting alongside men and women trying to stop an invasion of dastardly wrong doers." Nerita still didn't say anything, but she didn't immediately back down either.

"And Cecil." Horn added. "I'm afraid I haven't seen much of what you can do yet, but I can always use a smooth talker. I need someone that can help me do things without having to shoot people. You would be given all the same perks, and restrictions, as Nerita should she choose to accept. With you on board, I'm fairly certain we could get a discount on parts for the Titan, and that is someone who is very valuable indeed. What do you two say." Neither of them said anything, looking at each other, and thinking hard.

"Tell you what. You go talk to Liara, tell her what I told you, and you guys figure it out for yourselves. I'll give you a few hours to make up your mind, and will be waiting on the SIC Titan for your arrival. If you don't make it, I'll assume that you declined my offer, and will leave the system. We have a deal?"

"Yes Commander." Cecil said as Nerita simply started to walk away. He didn't think she would take him up on his offer, but he yelled after her.

"Nerita!" She stopped and turned around, only to catch her glasses barely. "Thought you would need that to keep the ice cold bitch appearance." This time she gave a small smirk instead of a sneer, and walked away. Cecil gave a tip of the hat, and jogged to catch up to Nerita. Jason looked over the alley at all the bodies, took a big breath, and turned to walk to the Kodiak.

"Yep, two more for the cause of Jason Horn, saviour of babies, killer of bugs, and bane of women with biotics everywhere."




A few minutes later, and Horn was stepping from the Kodiak, Linda and Daniel disembarking with him. No one was there to greet him, not that he expected it. Linda and Daniel both gave him a firm nod before removing their masks and leaving for separate areas of the ship. Despite fighting together for so long, and saving each other's lives so many times, the two really didn't talk to each other outside of combat or missions. If it kept their professional relationship intact, then he encouraged it. he walked with a slight limp before correcting himself and adjusting for the slight pain from his legs.

"Welcome back Commander." The synthesized voice of Serah came over the speakers as Horn stepped into the elevator.

"Thanks Babe, the ship all spic and span, opposite of how I left it?"

"Always Commander."

"Good to hear." The elevator arrived on the CIC and Horn stepped out and was greeted by Kelly Invaru...and a totally new face who was standing at attention.

"Sir!" The new arrival said before snapping a smart salute and remaining in that position for him to return it. He didn't, and instead looked to Invaru.

"Who is this, and what is she doing on my ship." Normally he was more welcoming than this, but the dull pain throbbing over his body, and the fact that he hated surprise recruits made him slightly grumpier than usual.

"A transfer sir, straight from the illusive man himself; Tia St. Jean. I've assigned quarters and a work schedule for her. She comes as a recommended field engineer, so it might be wise to have her suited up for combat armour that fits with you and the Demon's configurations."

Horn shook his head for a second. "I can't just go around giving je-"Horn looked over at Tia, who was still standing with her arm raised in a salute. Horn gave a sigh, grabbed her arm, and shoved it back down to her side, noticing she didn't give any resistance. "As I was saying, I can't go around giving anyone and their momma's a jetpack. Next thing you know, we have people dieing due to mechanical failure over gunshots. That, and our entry jumps require a certain type of person to perform."

"Sir, if you would like to state the risks, I believe the person you need to talk to, is standing beside you." Kelly stated. Horn looked over at Tia, then back to Kelly, and gave a quick sigh. He turned his full attention to her

"Tia, right? Alright, let's get one thing straight. I don't care for saluting, and more military standards are relaxed on my ship. You will, however, follow my orders and work to the best of your abilities. Failure to do so results in a situation where I decide whether or not to open the airlock with you still inside it, we clear?"

"You'll find nothing lacking in my orders sir." Tia responded. "I am infiltration capable sir. I've been at this a very, very long time. I'm sure I can keep up." Horn just stared at her for a second, before giving out a 'huh' sound.

"You're sure you can keep up?" Horn said, rubbing his chin for a second. "I will determine that, not you. Tell me, how would you feel about dropping from a Kodiak dropship from over 10,000 feet with nothing but a jetpack that must be fired in a specific order and length in order to live through the free fall?"

Tia blinked softly at the question. "I've never seen it done, Sir. If I have to, I will do it. But...frankly it would scare the shit out of me." She seemed to stop and pause, looking over at Kelly with a questioning look on her face. Horn gave a small laugh, and Kelly gave a small smile and shrugged.

"I would advise against the whole 'scaring the shit' out of you. No one wants to see that at 10,000 feet while you're in free fall. We'll give you a chance. Maybe break you, definitely test you. In the mean time, get adjusted, and start training. I don't tolerate people slacking off on the duties that could be life or death situations. Which is everyone on this boat. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go get a band aid or something." Horn gave a two finger salute, and wandered backwards into the elevator, watching as the doors slid closed on the two women.

"So?" Kelly asked Tia with a huge smile on her face.

Tia just shook her head. "He's certifiable, isn't he?" Her tone was more bemused than accusing. "What were you told about me by the way? I'm not sure what gaps I need to fill in." Kelly just gave a smile.

"We were told that we had another crew member coming aboard. Told that she was a combat engineer and highly trained. And told that you can do your job under extreme circumstances." Kelly placed a hand on Tia's shoulder. "Other than that, everything is up to you on whether or not you want to fill in. I don't need to know, and the Commander won't care to know unless it interferes with your duty." She removed her hand, and gave a slight nod to Tia.

"Welcome to the SIC Titan."




Horn stepped out of the medical office after a gruelling five minutes of listening to Dr. Know-it-all about how he should learn to duck once in a while. "Commander, incoming hail from a commercial ship owned by Liara T'soni. They are requesting permission to dock." Horn gave a smile as he walked to the elevator.

"Let them plant their asses in our shuttle bay Serah. I'm on my way to meet them."

Horn made his way there, entering the shuttle bay once the bay doors had closed and the atmosphere depressurized. The shuttle door opened to reveal Cecil walking out, his hat still planted on his head. As he looked up, he smiled at Jason. "Commander Horn. As you can see, I've decided to take you up on your offer. Illium was nice, but I think I need to see other places for the time being."

"I had a feeling you would come Cecil, a man with a silver tongue. What I didn't expect was Nerita to show up." Nerita calmly walked the small distance from the shuttle to Commander Horn, and stared him down through her reflective sunglasses.

"I'm an adrenaline junkie." Was all she said, and Cecil simply shrugged his shoulders and smiled at the comment. Horn clasped his hands together, giving them a bit of a rub.

"Alright, so since you've decided to join me and my band of soldiers, lets lay a few ground rules, hmm?" Jason placed his hands behind his back.

"Cecil. I realize you're not a soldier, and I can respect that. You will have to understand, however, that you may come under fire, an example being today. You will be trained in at least minor firearms, and you will follow my orders to the letter." Horn turned his attention to the Asari. "Nerita, same goes for you, although your firearms training will be a bit more expansive. Make a note, as well. This is a Cerberus vessel, and as such my people are not used to dealing with aliens of any kind. As your commanding officer, I give you the right to show those narrow minded dumb fucks just how useful an Asari can possibly be to us. Understood?" Nerita gave a smile, one that was more sinister than happy. Horn gave a closer step, until he was right in her face.

"Same goes for the other way around Nerita. If you cause problems, I get to fix them. Get me?"

"Yes Commander." Her smile disappeared, and she resumed her bored looking stance. The elevator doors opened and revealed Kelly standing inside.

"Operative Kelly Invaru will get your quarters, training, and duty logs set up for you. Welcome to the Titan." Horn let them pass, watching as they grabbed whatever gear they brought with them into the elevator. His crew was growing, and as the doors closed to the elevator, he gave a smile. Pretty soon, nothing was going to be able to stop him.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:55 pm

Blurred illusions of light danced in her vision, eyes slowly opening, as if she hadn’t used them in an age. The simple action seemed straining, and for a moment, Vala simply stared at the ceiling, letting her eyes adjust to the powerfully bright lights. Every breath felt strained, a notable tinge of pain sparking every time she dared to take a small breath. After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, she summoned the willpower to lift herself up, straightening up with a wince and placing her feet lightly on the polished floor, sitting slightly on the edge of the recovery bed.

Eyes still a half blur of weariness and sleep, she gazed over the medical bay, one of the few rooms she had yet to have seen. Out of every room on the ship, it was the one you wanted to avoid the most, but when you needed it, damn did you hope it was a nice one. Without surprise, she noted that it, standing par for the course, was a magnificent medical facility. All the luxury was making her question the Vindicator’s status as a warship. Perhaps it was safer to call it a pleasure cruise with heavy weapons strapped on.

Fed up with the half-blind state, the operative blinked rapidly to try and adjust her eyes, quickly dilating and settling to the lights of the chamber. The first thing she noticed was Braden at her bedside, smiling wide at her awakening. The operative gave the biotic a small smile, pride and relief swelling in her chest at his seemingly uninjured state. “How long was I out?” Her voice was weak, she noted with a tinge of annoyance, and she cleared her throat to strengthen her shaky voice. “What about the mission? Was it a success?”

Braden opened his mouth to respond, but a hearty laugh from the doctor’s desk made them both turn their heads to the source, Dr. Porter’s face alight with amusement. “You really are all business, aren’t you, Miss Buchan? Three fractured ribs, severe lacerations to your right arm, a concussion, and some heavy bruising, but the first thing on your mind is the mission.”

Vala offered a half-hearted smile in return, not really feeling up to the task of showing enthusiasm (the very thought of it was making her tired already!) and she extended a tentative hand towards the doctor. “I’m a serious woman, what can I say? I don’t believe we’ve properly met before, Dr. Porter. Operative Buchan. It’s a pleasure.”

The brunette laughed again, taking the hand lightly and returning the shake. “I’ve heard of your reputation, Miss Buchan. The Battery Officer showed me your…handiwork.” The slightest hint of disapproval crept into Veronica’s tone, but she gave little other signs to her displeasure with that little fiasco. “Still, not the best way to meet, now is it? You’ve been through hell, Miss Buchan.”

“I’ve been through worse.” She coughed roughly into her hand, spasms of pain throbbing in her chest. “Although this certainly classifies as a close second.” Before the doctor could stop her, Vala rose from the bed fully, standing firm despite her slightly shaking knees.

Dr. Porter simply shook her head with a knowing smile, returning to her laptop for the time being. The operative experimentally flexed the various muscles of her body; all in various states of wear and tear from the arduous mission they had just under-taken. She looked back to Braden, who seemed to be mulling something over in his head to say. Waiting patiently for a moment, she gave him a gentle smile. “Yes?”

He started, before quickly tucking his chin down and hiding his reddening face from the older woman. “I just…wanted to thank you. For saving me, I mean.” The words were half-mumbled, but the sincerity was impossible to miss. Crouching down before the biotic, she managed to catch his eye with her own.

“Think nothing of it, Mister Reynolds. You’re a part of Cerberus now; I only did what needed to be done.” She thought back to what Titus had said on Illium, and with a tentative pause, she placed her half bandaged hand atop his own. “After all, the Commander said I had to catch you, didn’t he? I’m not one to fail an assignment, Mister Reynolds.”

Her eyes drifted past him, distracted by the vibrant bouquet on the side table beside her recovery bed. The small box of chocolates piqued her brow, and Braden took a moment to realize what she was looking at. “Oh! The flowers! They’re from…” He paused, the Forward Battery Officer’s words echoing in his mind, before he continued without a hitch. “…a secret admirer.”

“A secret admirer..?” She’d been on the ship for practically no time at all, and she already had an admirer? Her mind quickly moved to attempt to decipher the riddle, pulling up all the crew members she had met during her stay on the Vindicator, and promptly began organizing them into lists based around the likely hood. She stroked one of the vibrant petals absentmindedly, a ghost smile spread across her lips. “Well, I suppose there’s no harm in it…although if you see them, you should tell them I prefer orchids.”

“Funny, you never struck me as a flower kind of woman, Miss Buchan.” Vala glanced towards the new voice, rising to salute as Titus strode into the medical bay. He raised a hand to stop her, a proud smile stretched across his face. “No need, Miss Buchan. It’s good to see you back on your feet so soon.”

“I was never one for extensive recovery times, Commander.” She finished the salute quickly, perfect and poised despite the limits on her battered frame. “Judging by your good mood, the mission was a success?”

“Cerberus is short a traitor, and the Shadow Broker is short an Ardat Yakshi.”

“Excellent. The data was recovered?” Titus nodded, entering the room proper and giving a short wave to the other two occupants, before Vala spoke again. “Perfect. Then it was indeed a success on all accounts.”

“I would be hesitant to call your condition a victory, Miss Buchan.” The doctor smiled lightly at the operative, who spared the woman a brief glance before refocusing on the Commander.

“Every victory has a cost. I‘d much rather pay with a few injuries than my life.” Vala motioned to the bouquet and chocolates by her bedside. “Be a gentleman and carry these to my office, Commander?” Despite her light tone, it was rather clear she sought to speak with him separately, and the Vindicator’s commander quickly obliged, scooping up her gifts and following on the Operative’s heels as they left the med-bay. For a few seconds, they simply walked in silence, soundless steps carrying them towards Vala’s office, before he broke the silence.

“Thank you.”

She paused, looking back at him hesitantly for a moment, before shaking her head. Having just realized her hair was loose; she ran a hand through it in quiet thought, before replying. “There’s no need, Commander.” She started forward again, Titus now walking beside her instead of behind. “I did what was necessary in the moment to save a life. It‘s standard operational parameters.”

“Doesn’t that deserve praise?”

“If he hadn‘t been worth the risk, I wouldn‘t have tried.” Her door slide open, and she quickly round the desk, noting with some pleasure her armour had been repaired and returned to its small stand inside her room. Titus set the presents down on the desk, as Vala sunk into her chair with a low sigh of comfort. Whatever painkillers the doctor had given her were working, and seemed to be doing their job magnificently. Her topaz eyes locked with Titus’s questioning gaze, and she sighed once more. “I am a practical woman, Commander. I believe in taking risks, based off the potential pay-off and how it might effect my operation, team and Cerberus as a whole. Braden’s potential as a biotic is, if what I’ve been told and what little I’ve seen are accurate, immense, and he could easily become an incredible biotic if given the time to grow and learn.

“Had it been another crew member…I would not have taken the chance.” She averted her gaze to the bouquet, taking in the scents and colours as her words hung in the air, before she continued. “Perhaps it’s cruel, but I choose that which will save more, and if to live today will save a thousand lives tomorrow, then a hundred souls may perish today.”

“You’d just let innocent people die?” To his credit, Titus kept composed, but she felt some of her words had at least had an impact. “I’d rather try to save as many as I could rather than abandon them.”

“It’s a noble trait, I don’t deny that, but sometimes we have to make the difficult decisions, Commander. You’re no stranger to conflict, or command. I won’t lecture you on the hard choices in life, but we are expected to accept your desire to save, then you must be willing to accept that we all have choices to make. None of them easy.”

Vala sighed, placing a hand against her temple, feeling a small headache forming. Perhaps having in-depth conversation shortly after recovering from head injuries was a bit of a foolish idea. “Just something I’d like you to think about, Titus, that’s all.” The operative rose from her chair, snapping a crisp salute. “I do believe the Illusive Man will be waiting for your report, Commander. Don’t let me keep you from it any longer.”

Shortly after he left, she sunk back into the chair, rubbing at her throbbing temples gently, trying to sooth the spasms away with little success. This operation wasn’t going to be easy, in any sense of the word. Diplomacy had never been her strong point, but she was loathe to admit any such hindrances to the Illusive Man when he had selected her for the mission himself. Bringing up the terminal, flinching once when the overly bright screen flashed to life, Vala quietly drafted up a report, and sent it off without hesitation. Nothing special. Basic information, initial impressions of the crew…trivial things. But, if years of stealth operation had taught her anything, sometimes the trivial can make the most vital of differences.

With that complete, she took a look around the room, eyes drifting over every inch as the chair slowly spun full circle. She’d barely anytime to get used to the Vindicator. A light ping from her Omni tool drew her attention, and Vala quickly perused the lightning fast response from her employer. The SIC Titan was next, under the command of Jason Horn. Largest of all the Omni Cell craft, and likely the most heavily armed, Vala chuckled to herself, although it was a half mix between a groan and a chortle. This one looked a bit more the part of a warship.

“Well…there goes sleeping in a comfortable bed…” The humour was lost on her. Falling back into the comfortable routine of her life, her belongs were promptly folded, and then stuffed into the duffle bag which she had fished from the closet. Perhaps it said too much that she was done so quickly, but Vala dismissed the thought, focusing on the immediate task of encrypting her terminals for her eventual return. After all, becoming too attached to a single crew would likely be more detrimental to her mission than helpful, so the ability to be ready in just a few moments was useful.

Tapping into the comms, she quickly soloed out the Helmsman. “Helmsman Mansfield, I need you to bring us in close to the SIC Titan and commence an airlock connection.”

“Ma’am?”

“I have business with the other ships, Helmsman.”

“Shame. I thought we were just starting to get along. You know, I make a hilarious joke…you threaten to kill me…I cry a little…we had a good thing going there. Won’t be the same without you.”

If sarcasm was a weapon, she’d have sworn Mansfield was the most lethal man to ever pilot a space ship. Not bothering with a response, she promptly donned her armour and slung the duffle bag roughly over her shoulder, making sure to tuck the small box of chocolates into one of the pockets should the mood strike her. Crossing the threshold of the room, she spared a single glance backwards, eyes lingering on the curious flowers. “EDI, lock my room. Commander Titus access only.”

“Yes, Miss Buchan.”

She turned on her heel and didn’t look back.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:50 am

John briskly walked into the briefing room on deck one in the same way he had done over and over for the entirety of the last year aboard the Vindicator. Walking in to speak to the enigmatic leader of Cerberus was like walking in for a job interview, and it never changed; at least for Commander Titus. The only difference this time was the he needn’t say a single word to EDI whenever he walked in. The ablative armor plates were nearly half down over the half dome of the ship’s tower when the door whooshed open.

That was the incredible thing about the EDI units that were now installed on every high-grade Cerberus military vessel in Omni. They were artificial intelligences that had their own, unique personalities that adapted to suit their commanding Cerberus operators. Unlike the geth, which are a networked race of AI, the Enhanced Defense Intelligence units were far more personal than one would expect. The EDIs regarded the crew of their ships as shipmates, rather than just sentient life forms they were programed to monitor and protect. The more you interacted with them the more personal they would become, until, eventually they were practically a living, breathing crew member all on their own accord.

Whenever an artificial intelligence program was downloaded from one hub and uploaded to another, its personality would be altered somehow, someway. This was due to the most minor, minuscule differences in run times upon the transfer and reactivation of the program. Therefore, no one EDI in Cerberus was the same. They were each independent of each other, and that was the most significant difference between them and the geth. Rather than relying on building a consensus with other programs – hounded by a thousand different “voices” – they formulated and executed decisions independently, much like any other sapient being would. Titus never understood how exactly the EDI units were constructed or programmed, but he did know that they were based off of recovered technology from Sovereign’s wreckage at the citadel before all the pieces were quarantined and disposed of by the Alliance and C-Sec.

“Thank you, EDI,” John said with a truly sincere appreciation in his voice for the AI’s initiative.

Moments later he found himself surrounded by the familiar, mysterious office of the Illusive Man. His boss was sitting, as always, in his comfortable chair, legs crossed, and cigarette suspended elegantly between the fingers of his right hand. This time, however, it was Titus that initiated the conversation.

“Did you receive the data I sent you over the secure FTL channel you appointed?”

The Illusive Man nodded and took a quick drag of his cigarette, skillfully switching which hand controlled it after placing it between his lips. “I did. You and the other commanders have my thanks and utmost appreciation.”

“Am I aloud to know what we just risked out lives for? I nearly lost two good people today. No disrespect, sir, but I sure hope whatever the hell was on that datapad was damn well worth the risk.”

The Illusive Man allowed himself a prideful, though subtle, smile; a rarity to witness in his presence. “Rest assured, Commander Titus, the stolen data you recovered was well worth the risk. It’s a long story, but I will be glad to tell you that with that data now back in our possession Cerberus can continue to press through on a special project that, instead of taking another two years to complete, will only take one.”

“Special project? Like what? Some advanced mass accelerator weapons development, or cloning an army of super soldiers?” Titus obviously hoped that whatever the data was supposed to contribute to was something significant and huge. After his time with Cerberus so far, he had quickly learned that whatever projects the Illusive Man was overseeing – and he always had personal oversight over all of his projects – were always jaw-dropping or even prodigious.

“In time, Commander… in time.”

Titus knew from experience that he wouldn’t get anything else out of the man. If his boss assured him that he would eventually learn for himself, then that was enough to convince Titus that the leader of Cerberus trusted him enough to eventually let him in on whatever little secret he had brewing. “Fair enough,” he replied, officially moving on. “So… how is this all going to effect the Shadow Broker? Surely all we did was just piss him off and make him a bigger threat than he was to us before.”

“The Shadow Broker will attempt to get his revenge, you can bet on that, Titus,” relied the Man, taking another drag of his cigarette before continuing. “But you killed one of his top lieutenants. He won’t be so foolish to rush after us out of petty revenge just yet. The Shadow Broker is smart. In a sense, he’s like me. If he’s dealt a powerful blow he’ll take the time to assess his mistakes, recalculate his agenda and begin devising a new, less predictable strategy.”

“About that lieutenant of his…” Titus began. Suddenly, however, the back of his conscience told him to shut up and not bring to light what he had been thinking about while standing at the helm behind Darcy earlier during his ominous gaze into space. Something about what Mirian had said to him on the bridge kept eating at the back of his mind and he was tempted to ask the Illusive Man about it. Then again, he was probably just exhausted from the mission and wasn’t thinking straight. Someone like the Illusive Man could probably care less about his personal convictions and interactions with his enemies. “Never mind,” he said after a moment.

As if the old man had read his thoughts, the Illusive Man said, “Commander… you and I may have our difference of opinions in regards the actions that Cerberus takes and the sacrifices that must be made for humanity. But I actually enjoy the contradictions we have with each other in these conversations. If someone always agreed with you... would you ever know who they really are, or would you just be staring into a mirror?” He let the rhetorical question hang or a moment before continuing. “Try me, Commander. I might just surprise you.”

John considered his words carefully before speaking. “Mirian, the Ardat-Yakshi we faced at the Nos Astra spaceport – that particular lieutenant – said… said something to me that sort of caught me off guard. It wasn’t the fact that she knew who we were that surprised me – all of us knew there was the potential she had suspected Cerberus would be tailing her. What surprised me was what she said about me. She called me a ‘crusader’. I’m not really sure how I should take that. I was inches away from killing her out of revenge for what nearly happened to Reynolds. But… I didn’t. I know I didn’t. So… I guess she was right.” After an awkward moment of silence between the two men, Titus shook his head and paced in a circle around the holographic projection pad. The image became slightly distorted from his constant movements and stammering about, but he eventually stopped, stabilizing the projection once again, and said, “Forget about it, boss. I don’t even know what I’m saying. I’m just overreacting, sir.”

The Illusive Man placed the cigarette between his lips again. But before he inhaled the toxic fumes and nicotine, he just let it rest there. He was pondering his response. Finally, he took in the long awaited drag and let the cigarette rest in the ash tray on the arm of his chair. He pushed himself forward, stood straight up, and walked with his calm, confident swagger to Titus’ projection. The commander had never seen the Illusive come this close to him before. Even though he was talking to his employer through a hologram, he could make some of the smaller details of the man’s face that he normally never saw from the distance he usually kept himself at in his chair. The wrinkles on the man’s face were clear evidence that he had seen his own years of the harsh realities of the galaxy. This time, it was wisdom that seemed to dominate the man over arrogance and wit.

“Commander, have you stopped to think about embracing that virtue?”

Titus looked at him with a puzzled, almost taken-aback expression. “…I'm sorry...?”

“Mirian was right, Titus,” he continued. “You are a crusader. It was that very quality about you that interested me from the beginning. A crusader during the Christian pilgrim expeditions to Jerusalem during the middle ages was an icon; a symbol. They were the sole protectors of their countrymen and represented their faith with unwavering loyalty to their code. The sword of a crusader voiced his honor. The dark history of the Christian church may have tainted that honor, but it was the impression they personally left on the people that admired them, that looked up to them, that eventually vindicated them. Crusaders like the Knights Templar became admired symbols. And nothing can be more powerful, more motivating, or more driving than becoming just that.

“So long as Cerberus is viewed as a terrorist organization by the Alliance and the Council we must operate in the shadows... But that doesn’t mean we can’t be the leader that humanity needs us to be. This organization doesn’t need people like you Titus… humanity does. That’s why I chose you. That’s also why I chose Commander Poitvin, Commander Horn, and Commander Prado. Each of you possess a unique quality that defines the human race.”

The Illusive Man gradually returned to his seat and picked up his cigarette, again placing it between his lips and gracefully drawing on it. When he exhaled the long stream of smoke he said, “I’ve chosen you because of those qualities, but it’s up to you four to use them for the sake of humanity. I can’t do it for you.”



The meeting ended shortly after that surprising conversation, one that left John completely awestruck. This whole time he had thought his employer to be a ruthless son of a bitch that only cared to place mankind on top of every other species. Even though this view hadn’t exactly changed after that conversation, he did learn that there was more to the Illusive Man than he originally thought. There was a human being behind that mask after all.

John took a moment in his private quarters on deck one to consider where to take the Vindicator next. The Illusive Man instructed him that as soon as Vala Buchan made a respectable recovery, she was to report to Commander Horn and swap vessels. Clearly, after his conversation and walk through the ship with Vala, she was in stable condition to leave. After checking his personal terminal on the desk he noticed that Darcy had already plugged in the coordinates for Horn's ship.

His boss had explained that this was necessary in order for her to continue to bring the four – or three, now that he learned of Prado’s unfortunate injuries and inability to continue with the mission, for now – commanders together. EDI had already received the proper Cerberus FTL communication protocols to hail Horn’s ship, the SIC Titan. Other than that simple task, the Illusive Man had nothing else for him. There was a file from Cerberus Command that contained information about a mission involving the infiltration of the quarians’ Migrant Fleet, but if his employer didn’t say anything specifically to him regarding it, then it wasn’t that important for the time being.

After a short nap, the commander showered, changed his uniform to a freshly-pressed set, ensured his shoes were properly polished to look like black glass, and fixed his short-cut brown hair in the mirror of his private latrine. He liked looking sharp at all times in front of his crew. It instilled a sort of confidence among them when their commander looked his best, as if to ready to take on any challenge with grace and style. When he was satisfied with the reflection of his appearance in the mirror, he exited his quarters and returned to deck three.

He had caught up with Vala last time, but regretted not having a chance to make sure Braden was doing okay after his thrilling free fall on Illium before having to debrief with the Illusive Man. It was time to go back to rule number two: support your crewmates.

A quick three raps on the door to Braden’s quarters brought no immediate response, but he was sure he heard something clatter on the inside. Suspicious as to what the kid was up to, Titus started punching in the override code to his door, but hesitated before pressing the ENTER key to confirm it. He instantly remembered that Braden was a teenager and wondered if he was about to embarrassingly intrude on him during a most… private moment. Thankfully, he never had to carry on with the intrapersonal debate as the door whooshed open and Braden stood before him. A bead of sweat raced down from the young man's forehead and over rose-red cheeks.

“Am I… interrupting something?” John asked carefully.

Braden’s eye widened and he instantly shook his head in denial of what the commander was suggesting. “No! No! I was just… ah…”

“What you do in here is your own business, kid, so long as it’s not endangering my crew.”

Braden let out a faint, but all-too-noticeable sigh of relief upon understanding that Titus wasn’t going to press for an answer. The teenager stepped aside, letting John pass through the threshold and into the room.

Surprisingly, everything was kept as clean and organized as it had been when Titus first assigned the boy the room. The only thing out of place was a roughly overturned laptop on the floor next to the bed. Braden quickly moved over to pick it up and gently set it on the desk. Titus assumed that was the source of the clattering noise he heard beyond the door, but, again, didn’t bother to ask questions. As far as Titus was concerned, indulging in natural curiosities that plagued all young men his age was only illegal in Council space, and the Vindicator was well outside those borders.

“I just came to see if you were okay after… well, you know.” Titus’ voice was reassuring and sincere. To any soldier the way he asked the question would have been almost too personal, but the teen was no soldier. He was hardly a legal combatant.

Braden nodded and sat down in the chair at the desk. He was wearing only the polyester black t-shirt of the Cerberus uniform he had on earlier and a pair of his own civilian khaki shorts. His feet were bare of socks and shoes, and because of that, Titus noticed something that sparked his interest. A barely noticeable ring circled just above the boy’s right ankle. While it wasn’t so extreme to be considered a scar, it was obvious that it was caused by the wearing of an aesthetic bracelet. Being Cerberus, Commander Titus was all-too familiar with hunting down and eliminating alien slavers that enjoying buying, selling, and abusing humans. He wasn’t as prejudice against other species like the rest of his colleagues in the organization, but when it came to slavers, mostly batarians, he just straight-up hated their guts. He knew the mark of a tracking bracelet when he saw one, and Braden’s was unmistakable.

“You were a slave?” he asked suddenly, nodding toward the kid’s ankle.

Braden hadn't bothered to look down at his foot in admission to his commander’s keen observation. He merely glared back at him, an expression that was almost threatening if it weren’t for the hint of fear behind the poker face.

“I’m fine,” he said curtly, attempting to return to the original focus on Titus’ visit.

But John didn’t waver. He knew he was crossing into uncertain territory, probably walking a very thin line between personal and professional. But what he saw in Braden’s eyes was all too familiar and he knew that he and the boy immediately shared the same animosity and repulsion towards slavers.

Carefully considering his words, he asked, “May I take a look?”

It took a moment, but the boy finally, though hesitantly, extended his leg from where he had defensively retracted it beneath the seat when Titus first asked about the mark. With the utmost respect for Braden’s personal space, John kept a safe distance from him as he leaned in to better examine the mark. After tracking down slavers under both his former brass superiors in the Alliance and his current employer, Cerberus, he had learned the distinct brands that many known slavers uses on their tracking bracelets. It was useful knowledge for hunting them down. Sure enough, he recognized the unique marking around Braden’s ankle. The upward crescent moon-like indentation in the flesh with a tiny, isolated puncture of the same depth within the mouth of the crescent shape, was the brand of a particular and infamous batarian slaver and pirate.

A scowl formed on Titus’ face and he immediately stood up, placing his hands in his pockets. When his eyes met Braden’s, the expression was replaced by an inviting smirk. “How would you like a chance for some sweet revenge?”
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:07 am

Duffle bag slung over her shoulder, Vala quietly started across the air lock bridge, footsteps echoing loudly in the empty passage. Her armour was still slightly damaged, but she had insisted on wearing it over, knowing full well she would have to drop it off in the armoury the first chance she got.

With nothing to distract it, her mind wandered to the Commander of the Titan, attempting to piece him together from their short time together during the last operation. A laid back sort, if his posture had indicated anything, although the reports had shown him capable of handling command with a seasoned grace. The babe comment sparked her ire, but the operative forced it down, knowing the man likely had a humour similar to the Helmsman and the Battery Officer of the Vindicator. She’d have to deal with it, since hitting him and breaking his bones wasn’t going to help anyone in the long run.

No problem. She was made of tough stuff, a few comments couldn’t break her. Coming to a stop before the Titan’s airlock, she waited calmly as the decontamination process began. Humming quietly to herself as the airlock worked it’s magic, she shifted her weight casually from foot to foot, ignoring the various bursts of pain the action caused. A low hiss signalled the completion, and she strode through the opened door with purpose.

First impressions.

Another woman greeted her, uniform in pristine condition as she gave a light smile to welcome Vala aboard. “Welcome aboard the Titan, Ms. Buchan.” There was no salute, and the operative chose to refrain from her own, a sinking feeling in her gut telling her that the Titan would be devoid of the familiar sign much like the Vindicator.

“Thank you, Miss..?”

“Kelly Invaru, I’m Commander Horn’s second in command.”

Vala extended her free hand, a casual smile on her face. “Pleasure to meet you, Ms. Invaru.” Her eyes flicked about, taking note of the distinct lack of the commanding officer. “I take it Commander Horn is occupied else where.”

Kelly chuckled. “Something like that. We can get you settled into one of the cabins, if you’ll come with me.” The SiC turned and started towards the lift, Vala following just behind her. This woman seemed much more human than Taylor, and the operative found herself already liking Kelly for that simple fact alone. Sparing a glance over the CIC, the differences between the Vindicator and the Titan became more and more clear. Whilst the Hornet and Vindicator where frigates, the Titan classed in as a Cruiser, and the much larger CIC, filled to the brim with personnel and their various stations. It was difficult to find anyone standing still for even a moment, and any who were stationary were hard at work.

The lift opened, and revealed the commander of the ship himself, Jason Horn. She noted his uniform, which had been visibly shot to absolute shit then sown back together out of either pride or some strange attachment to the piece of cloth. Her arm moved to salute, and he grimaced. “No. Just get on the damn lift.”

Kelly shook her head in amusement, whilst Vala simply blinked before inclining her head. The two boarded the lift on opposite sides of the Commander, and he quickly thumbed the key for the second deck. As the lift rumbled to life, he cleared his throat, and Vala glanced up at the slightly taller man with a raised brow.

“Yes, Commander?”

“I’ve given this speech enough today, so let’s get it out of the way. As long as you’re on my ship, you’re to follow my orders, down to the letter.” The casual figure she remembered was nowhere to be seen, his eyes sharp and narrowed on her. “And if I find out you’re spying on my ship using the funny looking cloak thingy, I'm going to tell TJ you called her fat, and send for a mop afterwards. We clear?"

Vala’s topaz eyes narrowed to slits, and the choker round her neck beeped once in quiet warning. “I had every intention of following orders, Commander. Understand, however, that I’m operating on my own orders as well, from the Illusive Man. They will take priority in the event of conflicting orders.” She heard a low sigh from Kelly on the opposite side of the elevator, and Horn’s own gaze seemed to only harden. The door slide open, the commander and his SiC stepping off before she did, guiding the operative down the passage towards the room they had assigned to her. The silence was heavy, and she almost felt as if she had said something wrong. But had he expected her to cave under his stern face? What use would she be if she was some weak-kneed girl?

“These will be your quarters, Ms. Buchan.” Snapping out of her thoughts, Vala glanced inside the room curiously. It was defiantly smaller than the one aboard the Vindicator, obviously with a more military design in mind. Not that that was a bad thing. It put her in mind of her times serving in the more standard Cerberus forces. A small desk dominated the center of the room, a basic terminal occupying the majority of it’s small surface. A small sign indicated the armour locker just inside the surface of the wall, but she noted that there was a painful absence of any pre-built music system. The bed sat a few feet back behind the desk, pressed tight to the wall, and easily a few sizes smaller than the monstrous one she had on the Vindicator. She already missed it, and she’d only gotten to use it once…

Beggars couldn’t be choosers though. Tossing her duffle bag unceremoniously into the room before her, Vala looked back to the two. “Thank you. If there’s nothing else to go over, I need to drop off my armour for some repairs. Which floor has the armoury?” Any comment Horn had been about to make was cut short, and something akin to a grin spread on his face.

“The fourth.”

She gave him a curious look over his sudden enthusiasm, but nodded in thanks before turning on her heel and heading back towards the lift. Kelly’s voice sounded after her. “Ms. Buchan..” Commander Horn glanced at his SiC, and the two seemed to have an entire conversation with just their eyes. “…watch yourself around TJ.”

“Thank you, Ms. Invaru, but unless she’s a krogan Ardat Yakshi, I’m not worried.” Vala reached up to her head, rubbing at her throbbing temples. Stepping back into the lift, she groaned silently to herself. Every time she used her biotics, she’d pay for it the rest of the day, hell, week.. No matter what she’d tried, it always bit her in the ass. Hard. Splitting headaches, nerve pain, the whole nine yards. It was a bit of a sick joke, she figured, giving someone the ability to do something so amazing, and make them feel like they’d been hit by a freight train every single time they used it.

She wearily glanced about the CIC for a sign of the Armoury, stepping out into the room proper for a good view. Time to see if this TJ lived up to the hype.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Sat Oct 15, 2011 11:55 am

John, Lance, and Braden all watched in eager anticipation at the helm as the Vindicator came out of FTL speeds in the Sahrabarik system. The all-too familiar jolt of the drive core’s disengagement of it’s faster-than-light travel rippled through the ship; subtle vibrations beneath your feet, and only enough intensity to feel like you took an unexpected drop off of that last step on a staircase. Their destination was obvious: the only place that anyone entering the system really aimed to travel to… Omega.

No one is really sure when Omega was constructed. Many modern scientists and architects believe that it had been built by the Protheans, but amidst all of the architecture and construction that turned the space station in the mined-out asteroid into what it is today – a sprawling mass of a metal from all across the galaxy – there are still tell-tale signs of pieces that aren’t ofany known origin. Prothean architecture had become easy to recognize after years of study and research into the relics and ruins that the extinct race had left behind. The oldest parts of the Omega station didn’t match anything of Prothean design, nor that of other known species. It pre-dated them.

Regardless of the melting pot of cultural influences that made up Omega’s appearance from the outside, on the inside it wreaked of crime, pollution, poverty, and nearly total anarchy. Since there was really no government in the lawless Terminus systems, every pirate, spacer, slaver, and exile came to Omega eventually. And anyone crazy enough to seek a profit on the station was typically a hired gun. Even though there are no police on Omega, the station is divided into territories controlled by mercenary gangs that keep the peace within their own borders. A very powerful and influential asari named Aria T’Loak , the Pirate Queen, was seen as the de facto ruler of the station, and few dared to oppose her. She always made sure that the lawlessness never reached an overwhelming extreme; though any sane person would question the definition of “extreme” upon visiting Omega.

Darcy begin tapping in the proper docking protocols on the haptic interface in front of him. “We’ll I got good news and bad news. The good news is that I can get us docked without raising suspicions from hostile mercs; but the bad news is that it’s a port controlled by the Talons and they’re… well… pretty much an all-turian gang.” John heard Lance let out a cynical grunt after hearing Darcy explain that they were about to make port as customers of humanity’s all-time rival species.

“Take us in, Darcy,” Titus said as he turned away from his helmsman to face Braden. The teen was suited in his new combat armor, recently moved onto the ship when the Vindicator had last docked to refuel on their Helium-3 reserves. The thin-plated armor was more of a tactical envirosuit than a fully-armored hard suit. There was minimal plating to protect against weapons fire, but Titus knew that Braden wouldn’t be able to move effectively in standard combat gear. Besides, Braden’s biotic potential was more than sufficient for making up in the lack of armor. A biotic barrier, combined with the suit’s own kinetic barriers, would ensure his safety against quick shots. Firefights of attrition, however, would require that he remain in cover as long as possible until his biotics could be used again.

“You ready for this?” Titus asked. “We don’t have to do this, you know.”

Braden never looked up his commander. Instead, an intense, almost stone-cold gaze remained focused on the station as the ship came closer to Darcy’s designated port. “I’m ready,” was all he said, and Titus knew that the young man had no intention of turning back.

John let Braden lead him and Lance past the airlock and into the Talon-controlled docking bay. It was one of the few locations outside of Aria T'Loak's control. The Talons were an all-turian mercenary gang vying for territory and influence on the lawless space station. Subjecting the Vindicator to docking fees set by aliens didn't settle well Titus, but he had no other choice. There were no human-run docks that Aria didn't have under her thumb, and he'd be damned before relinquishing Cerberus credits to the Pirate Queen of Omega.

He let the boy take point for two reasons: one, he wanted to see the looks on the turians' boney, avian faces when they saw the human child leading an armed posse off the ship; and, two, this was Braden's ordeal. Omega had left a scar on the boy, one that would probably never heal. If he was to stand against his past and show he was no longer afraid of it, then he had to be the one to call the shots.

John chose Lance to tag along for added muscle. His Forward Battery Officer had a bravado that would attract attention, but Lance could easily walk his talk. Anyone that dared to challenge him typically ended up with a few less teeth in their mouth and in an ICU for weeks. Unless, of course, their name was Vala Buchan; in which case the result was a complete, almost-humorous reversal.

Titus handed the mildly surprised Talon merc, staring at them beyond the airlock, his credit chit when the three of them stepped onto the station. The chit was colored black to show that it was a business chit. His “employer”, Cord-Hislop Aerospace, would be covering the docking fees. The well-known, highly respected organization was actually one of Cerberus’ many fronts, based on Earth, that supplied the Illusive Man with much of the needed resources and credits to fund Cerberus operations. Many of the employees for Cord-Hislop were regular civilians that had absolutely no clue they were really helping to support a renowned terrorist organization.

The turian examined the credit chit, a look of suspicion in his eyes, but Titus was never sure of the facial expressions of the merc’s species. When he spoke, however, his speculation was confirmed. “Since when does CHA send armed soldiers – not to mention a human child – to Omega?” He spoke with the same flanging in his voice that all turians had, a low, almost ominous sound. In humans, such a voice was usually a part of growing old; but all turians, no matter age, had it.

“Does it really matter as long as you’re getting paid?” Titus asked with a cold calm.

The turian eyed him for several seconds before completing the transaction with his Omni-tool. Handing the chit back, he said, “I guess not. But this is Talon territory, so be sure to keep your weapons holstered, and don’t try anything you’ll regret.”



It was nearly a thirty-minute walk before Braden finally said something. The entire time, Lance and John had simply been following the teen in a painfully awkward, but respectable silence. Titus knew the signs of intense contemplation, and he also picked up on the hint that he wasn’t in a talking mood back aboard the Vindicator.

“We’re almost there,” he said.

“And where exactly is there?” Lance asked, stealing the words from John’s mouth before he could ask the same question.

Titus knew who they were looking for from recognizing the distinct marking on the teen’s ankle left from wearing the slave bracelet for so long. He was a batarian slaver known only as Gavin, notorious for conducting brutal slave trafficking through multiple systems. He was also a profitable drug runner, dealing mostly in the exchange of red sand. Gavin considered Omega his base of operations, and used a particular warehouse to showcase his slave, drugs, and – sometimes – weapons. However, Braden was not leading them to that warehouse. They had been travelling in the complete opposite direction for the last half-hour, and he had begun to suspect that either the boy couldn’t recall where it was – as he surely had been there before during his years of captivity, or if he knew something that Titus didn’t.

Braden’s reply actually took John by complete surprise. “His home,” he said.

“You know where Gavin lives?”

“I’ve always known,” Braden said. “That’s where he kept me and the rest of his prized human trophies.”

Trophies. The word seemed to puncture a tiny hole in a pressure tank of steam in the back of Titus’ mind. From the look on Lance’s face, the word had provoked a similar reaction. The very idea of humans being endured servants to alien masters shook John’s inner self to its very core. Suddenly, that whole idea of being a crusader didn’t seem to match him at all. But he had to control his emotions… for Braden’s sake.

This is his mission, he told himself, not yours. Out loud he said, “So… what are you planning to do when you see him?”

Braden kept pressing and, at first, Titus half-expected the group to fall back into an uncomfortable silence, but the teen answered a few seconds later. “It depends.”

“On what?” The question had come from Lance.

“On how I feel when I see him.”

Five minutes later, the trio turned down a dark, urine-stanched alley. They had passed by several vorcha scavenging for salvageable parts through piles of trash that had probably been in the same place for weeks, maybe months at a time. Braden stopped just outside of a rust-covered door and slammed a clinched fist, unnecessarily hard, against the dimly-lit, grime-covered access panel. With a grinding screech the door jerked to the side and allowed them entry.

The hallway beyond the dim threshold stretched for about thirty meters into the building. On either side of the corridor, Titus noticed several tight spaces resembling cramped bunks. All of them had stained, torn mattresses, void of any covers and accompanying pillows. It took him a moment to realize that he was looking at living pods; small spaces that were supposed to provide a comfortable, though small living space for inhabitants of a cheap hotel, or crowded dormitory. Usually, the pods would have a sliding door that offered privacy to its occupant, but John noticed that the doors had been removed.

H felt his gut sink and a heavy, uneasy feeling crept over him. “Was this…,” he started, but had to force himself to finish asking the question. “Was this where you… lived?” He regretted being unable to find a more suitable word. Living here just didn’t make sense to him. John found it incredibly difficult to fathom, unable still, how someone – of any species, besides the vorcha – could stand to bear such an environment as a habitat.

The young man leading them down the hallway never answered the question. His silence, coupled by the suddenly slow, almost hesitant pace onward, was the response that Titus needed.

“Where are the slaves now?” Lance asked.

“It’s about noon on Omega,” Braden replied. “If they’re still alive, they’re working.”

When Braden reached the door at the end of the hall, he waved his hand over the access panel. John could see the trembling in his fingers when he did so. Eventually, the boy would have to make the tough decision. Tonight was going to be one that Gavin would either remember… or not have a chance to. And that moment was about to happen in the next few seconds. The door had opened, at a surprisingly quicker, less noisy way than the previous one on the outside of the building. In the large common room beyond, Gavin was seated on a couch, speaking with several other batarians. The surprised look on his face as his four eyes passed over the three uninvited guests stepping into his domain quickly ended whatever conversation was taking place.

“Who the hell are you?!” he demanded.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:07 am

As Vala disappeared into the lift, Kelly turned back towards Commander Horn, who was attempting to walk away. "Commander, permission to speak freely."

"You know you don't have to ask Ms. Invaru." Horn replied, his tone a little less sharp then it was a moment ago.

"Alright. What the hell was that?" Jason looked back with wide eyes, but quickly regained his composure.

"If by me getting a little edgy by people inviting themselves on my ship, regardless of who sent them, then you know the answer as to 'what the hell was that?'." Horn replied, taking a few steps towards his second in command.

"Sir, that was over a year ago, and you were promised by the Illusive man himself that it wouldn't happen again."

"Oh really? I don't know about you, but I was promised it wouldn't happen in the first place. Now if you don't mind Ms. Invaru, I've got work to do, and so do you." Horn replied curtly before turning his back on his second and wandering through the halls to make an inspection of the crew.

"Yes sir." Kelly replied, not wanting to poke the hornet's nest any further. She would have to explain, at least to Ms. Buchan, as to why Horn was acting this way. Hopefully she would understand, and if she didn't, then she didn't deserve to understand. Invaru called the lift back down, and once it opened, stepped inside. She wondered if she was too late to watch the showdown that was inevitably going to happen in the armoury. Part of her wished she was, and the other part didn't look forward to explaining how casualties were mounting on their ship during down time.




The armoury on the SIC Titan was understandably larger than those on frigates, having to house and repair the armaments of a few squads of soldiers. One wall along the side of the entrance was entirely dedicated to weapons. Rifles, pistols, snipers, shotguns, and heavy class weapons all sat in their respective places. The far wall contained a workbench, along with a couple suits currently undergoing repairs. There seemed to be a booth of some sort near the back, no doubt for any sort of welding or mechanical repairs that would be needed. Aside from that, the Armoury was spic and span. Everything was in it's proper place, and you could swear the place had its own maid. Vala Buchan walked in, and was met with nothing.

"Hello?" She asked, looking for anyone that might be able to help her. Nothing answered her. "Perfect...just getting better as the day goes on."

"I'd say, I have put up with a barbie?!" A gruff voice, but unmistakeably female sounded from the back. The sheet flew backwards, and revealed a large and overly muscular woman. She was wearing a tan muscle shirt, and black cargo pants along with a holster holding various tools and a combat knife. Her hands were black with soot or some other material, and she had a welding mask donned on her face. She lifted it up to reveal a slightly scarred and bald head. Her blue eyes pierced through Vala, and she gave a sneer. "I don't know you, and people I don't know always end up rubbing me the wrong way. What do you want." She took a few steps forward, until she was only a few feet away from Vala. She grabbed a cloth and wiped her hands with it, placing the welding mask on the counter.

Vala looked up at the massive woman, her lips pressed into a tight line. "Cute. Armour repairs." TJ just raised her eyebrow a bit, and walked around Vala, checking her armour.

"Funny. You look like one of those Operatives that are supposed to kill yourself if your captured sort of deal." TJ stopped once she was in front of Vala again. "You must not be very good at your job if you have to ask for repairs."

"Well, when you step out of your armoury and fist fight an Ardat Yakshi, maybe I'll give half a rat's ass about what you think of my job skills. Can you fix it, or do I need to get someone halfway to competent?" Vala's collar seemed to start beeping, but both women ignored. TJ put her hand up to her mouth, and made a fake gasp.

"It seems I've struck a nerve. Yeah, I can fix it, but it requires you to get out of it." An evil smile planted itself on her face. "And given the look of that armour, I bet you do that a lot." Everything was quiet. Vala's body stiffened, and her eyes grew wide as the choker on her armed started blaring a warning. A surge of dark energy sprung up and hit TJ directly in the chest.

"FUCK. YOU!" Vala yelled as TJ simply got knocked back from a blow that should have put her off her feet. Instead, she gave a feral yell and charged Vala as if she was a natural born Krogan. Vala made to parry, but the simple brute force of TJ shoved her arm aside, and her massive hand closed around Vala's throat. With an incredible feat of strength, she whipped her to the side, and held her up against the wall with one hand on her neck. TJ whipped the knife from her belt, and held it against the soft part of Vala's throat. She seemed to lick her lips as she did so, but Vala had other plans.

With a quick biotic pull, she yanked one of the missile launchers off the wall directly behind TJ, and rammed it into the back of TJ's head. The sudden pain made TJ drop Vala, who quickly followed up by a punch to TJ's groin. TJ bent over slightly, noticing the strain on Vala's face from the use of her biotics. A definite and obvious weak point. Vala attempted to pull an uppercut before TJ had a chance to recover, but TJ anticipated this and grabbed her arm with a tough grip. She quickly slid her knife back into it's holster, and using her other hand, grabbed the inside of Vala's leg.

She lifted the operative above her, before slamming her back down on the floor with a loud crash. Vala bit back a scream, and attempted to right herself, but TJ quickly climbed on top of her, and held the knife once again to her throat. "I got you Barbie! Where's your Ken coming to save you?"

"I'm not Ken, but my name does start with K." TJ looked up in time to see Kelly biotically pull the knife out of her hands. TJ gave a snarl, but before she could do anything else, she was being lifted into the air. Invaru's eyes were glowing blue, and she breathed heavily at the effort it cost her to lift the giant woman into the air.

"Hey, what are you-" She was cut off when Kelly gave enough push for TJ to soar slightly backwards, and roll on the ground slightly. Invaru let her arms drop, and her eyes returned to their normal blue. She gave a slight smile to Vala, who was attempting to get up. TJ was already up and threatening to move in again by the time Kelly had helped Vala to her feet. "She deserved it!"

"Oh I'm sure she did TJ, mistaking you for a man and all. She probably just came on a little strong." Kelly was amazing in the way that she managed to insult and condescend someone while sounding as if she was trying to reassure them. TJ gave a growl, and threw her hand up at both of them.

"Whatever. I ain't about to be kicked out of my post for assaulting the Commander's stripper." Kelly gave a soft smile, but otherwise did nothing.

"Are you alright Miss Buchan? I did warn you about TJ." Invaru asked as she gave her a quick once over. Vala doubled over and coughed into her hand, ignoring the red specks that flowed from her mouth. She glared daggers over at TJ.

"You'll be kicked out of the airlock in a fucking casket once I break your ne-" She doubled over in pain once more, shoving off the hands of Invaru as she tried to help. "I'm fine, just a little roughed up from earlier." Before Kelly could say anything, the armoury door shot open with Commander Horn running in with excitement on his face. As soon as he saw Kelly standing there, it immediately went to dissapointment.

"I missed it! I fucking missed it! Serah!" Horn yelled at the top of the ship.

"Yes Commander?"

"Next time...tell me before hand whether you think there will be a fight, instead of telling me when it's actually happening."

"Noted Commander."

"Commander Horn." Kelly said, her voice level despite the look on her face that was berating his actions. "I believe that Operative Buchan needs to get to the medical ward."

"Of course she does. Which is why I brought Lincoln." Dr. Grass walked in, a couple of men with a stretcher behind him.

"Is it just me, or is it sad when he knows he's going to be needing my services." Lincoln said in a condescending tone as he assessed Vala, and then had her lay down on the stretcher. "Don't worry Miss Buchan. Nothing a few little bits of work can't fix." Lincoln quickly had Vala brought out of the Armoury, and Horn, Kelly, and TJ were left in the room. There was silence for a moment, before Horn spoke up.

"You know the term 'breaking someone in'...I'm pretty sure that's metaphorical." Jason said, looking over at TJ, who simply gave a grunt.

"She's a bitch, and she can stay the fuck out of my Armoury."

"Who's Armoury?" Jason asked, his tone almost dangerous. TJ looked over at him, tempted to say it again, but backed down almost as soon as the look came into her eyes.

"Your Armoury sir." She stated, resignation in her voice. It was almost comical to see this huge woman bowing down to Horn.

"Damn rights. Now, if I hear of you starting another fight with Operative Buchan, I will come down here personally and teach you the fucking reason they call us the Demons. Are we clear Ms. Keller?"

"I'm not scared of you Co-" It was a split second movement, but before TJ could even move, a Carnifex Hand Cannon was staring her down. Horn was quick when he wanted to be.

"I don't need you to be scared of me Ms. Keller, only the gun I'm holding. Are. We. Clear?"

"Crystal." TJ answered, and watched as the pistol lowered back into it's holster.

"Good. Once Operative Buchan is able, you will repair her armour as a top priority and give it back to her without further incident. I don't want to hear of anymore fights, regardless of who is trying to start them. Now get back to work." Jason walked past Kelly. "Walk with me." He said with a smile. She complied without a word.

They both walked out onto the CIC deck, looking over the many screens and surfaces that made up the brain of the SIC Titan. "You know, I think you look downright sexy when you use Biotics. Couldn't you have waited for me to come watch?"

"Considering you set up that fight sir, I didn't think you deserved it." Jason stiffened slightly, but let it go.

"I did not set it up, we both know TJ is like that."

"Yes, but you could have walked with her." Kelly stated, stopping the Commander for a moment and looking into his eyes. "You need to let go of these petty little anger issues. Just because they were under orders and you were not notified does not make them bad people."

"Funny. There used to be a time when I believed that." Horn stated. He knew she knew exactly what he was talking about, and she looked down slightly. "I don't have...'petty' anger issues. I have valid reasons for being angry about certain situations. Now, let's stop being mad at each other, and continue on like we always do."

"Yes sir." Kelly stated, her tone completely back to her regular neutral state.

"Are we sure we can't add a portion of you in a bikini into the regular routine though?" Horn asked, placing his hands together in a mock begging posture. Kelly just gave a smirk, and walked away.

"That's not a 'No' Operative Invaru!"
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Mon Oct 17, 2011 9:20 am

John looked around the common room to gather his surroundings. A wrap-around balcony dominated the background, with several doors leading to adjacent rooms up top on the second story, overlooking the lower part of the common room they were now in. Three batarians, other than Gavin, were standing, while their host remained seated on the long sofa. All of them armed with heavy pistols, but none of them had drawn them when Titus’ team entered Gavin’s domain.

The lack of security made sense; the location was secluded from the crowded streets that ran through Omega, and the darkened, filthy alley – where a lot of vorcha did their digging – was enough of a deterrence to anyone that wondered too close out of mild curiosity.

Gavin had not expected extra company tonight, and neither did his invited guests. Luckily, since Titus didn’t enter the room with guns drawn, they apparently didn’t feel the urgency to draw their own. That was typically how encounters on Omega worked as far as whether or not one should jump on the defensive, or remain calm.

“Who the hell are you?!” the batarian slaver demanded.

Titus shook his head. “Names aren’t important right now. But I’ve got a friend here that has a score to settle.”

At first, the batarian thought John was speaking about Lance, being the only tough-looking guy of the three. But when Lance caught the scowling gazes of the four batarians in the room focused on him, he let out a silent chuckle and nodded his head toward Braden. “Not me, you idiots. Him.”

It took several seconds for the slaver and his companions to examine the boy with their four eyes up and down before looking to each other to break out in howling laughter. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” one of the batarians said. His voice was noticeably deeper, but just as scratchy and flanging as Gavin’s; and where his host’s skin tone was a dark brown, his was more maroon. The batarian stepped closer to the trio, placing himself between them and Gavin.

Folding his arms, he said, “I suggest you three leave this place. You wouldn’t enjoy being hunted by my employer.”

“Funny,” Titus said, “I thought Gavin was above hiring punks to do his dirty work. He’s a merchant, not a mercenary.”

The batarian returned a wicked smile to John and shook his head. The top pair of eyes blinked, but the bottom remained focused intently on the armor-clad commander before him. “Not Gavin, human,” he replied, the word ‘human’ slipping off his tongue as if it left a disgusting taste in his mouth. “My employer is Aria T’Loak. So unless you want to make an enemy out of the Pirate Queen… leave.”

“I thought this was Talon territory,” Lance chimed in. “Why does Aria have some of her goons operating down here.”

“You think anyone’s going to oppose her? Even those Blood Pack imbeciles know not to cross Aria. Besides, I’m Sanak; Aria T’Loak’s top lieutenant. That means defying me is defying her. So I’m not going to tell you again to get lost before I blast your sorry human asses out of-”

“-Shut up.” Braden’s sudden interrupted stunned everyone in the room, including Titus and Lance. No one expected the boy to speak so suddenly, let alone stop Sanak midway through his threat.

This time, it was Gavin that finally spoke up again; all four of his eyes focused on Braden. “You have a ‘score to settle’ with me, human?”

Sanak stepped to the side, allowing his friend to let the conversation carry on without him in the way. The mercenary kept to a far corner of the room, leaning against a wall in the shadows with an intimidating glare on both Titus and Lance; each threatening enough to him to deserve their own pair of eyes watching them like a mutated hawk.

“You don’t recognize me, do you, Gavin?” Braden asked, taking a step closer to him so the batarian could see him in the full light of the room.

Gavin took a moment to look the young human over again. When all four of his eyes widened, he leaned forward and said, “Well, well… chikolah.”

Titus couldn’t see Braden’s facial expression from behind, but when the boy clinched both of his fists; he guessed that he winced at whatever the batarian had just called him. “Chikolah?” he asked aloud. Gavin started laughing, along with the rest of the batarians in the room. Even Sanak let out a subtle chuckle.

“It’s the batarian equivalent of bitch,” Braden replied, an intense hatred in his voice.

Gavin nodded and stood up from his seat. “Every one of my slaves have numbers instead of names, now. They’re no longer apart of the society that had forgotten them. But this human,” he pointed to Braden, “was something of a rarity, you could say. Too young to be efficient in hard labor, and too young for anyone to want to purchase; I made him my chikolah. If I wanted food, he fetched it. If I wanted my clothes cleaned and pressed, he made sure of it. If I wanted my temples massaged, he would do so. And if I needed something to take my anger out on…”

Lance stepped up to Braden’s side at a pace that was too quick for the batarians to accept. Each of them, except for Gavin, unclipped the heavy pistols from their belts and aimed the barrels at the new threat. “You’re sick,” Lance spat out. “It’s bullshit like this that makes Cerberus look holy.”

“Cerberus?” Sanak asked aloud, stepping back into the lighting from the common room’s ceiling. His pistol remained steadily aimed at Lance. “You work for Cerberus?”

“Where are the slaves that bunk out in the hall behind us, Gavin?” Titus demanded, ignoring Sanak’s own question and cutting Lance off before he can say anything else.

“Why?” Gavin fired back. “So you can free them? Be their savior?”

“You can answer the question or I can let the kid that you tortured beat the answer out of you.”

Gavin laughed again, this time a taunting, challenging laugh. “What’s he going to do?! Drown me in his tears?”

“No.” Braden said.

Titus hadn’t noticed before, but now he did – as well as everyone else in the room. The entire time that they had been talking, Braden had been subtly building up his biotic energy. The heat waves that Titus had seen just a second ago after Braden gave his sharp answer, erupted into a blue pulses of electricity around his entire body. Before anyone had time to react, Gavin was blown back an invisible wave of biotic energy, and set hurtling over the sofa and high up in the air. The batarian was blown back with such a tremendous force that he crashed through the banister of the second floor balcony. His feet tangled over the edge, unresponsive.

After everyone had time to realize what just happened, the firefight started. Lance pushed Braden out of the way of a barrage of rounds that shot out from the closest batarian merc, and Titus ducked and charged for the one closest to him.

A quick uppercut to the merc’s chin, coupled by a simultaneous stomp on his unarmored foot, instantly dazed him, forcing him back with a painful screech when John lifted off of his boot. With a finishing blow, the commander lashed out in a well-placed roundhouse kick to the abdominals, sending the batarian crashing backward into an end table.

Two doors on either side of the common room opened up and three batarians each stormed into the area with weapons draw. “Lance!” Titus hollered to his friend as he dove for the closest batch of new enemies. “First one to beat his share in hand-to-hand wins!”

“Alright!” Lance replied as he dodged several rounds of gunfire and dived behind cover. “But if I win, I get that cheesecake I know you keep in your quarters’ mini-fridge!”

“Deal!” Before Titus lashed out, he glanced towards Braden, who was surprisingly doing just fine on his own with the mercenary that had nearly gunned him down seconds ago. An impressive display of biotics was at work, pulverizing the helpless batarian; and the kid’s eyes had a furious, blue glow to them.

John lashed out for the nearest mercenary in his new group of foes. With an upper knee jab, he forced the breath of the batarian’s lungs, and then ducked low and spun around beneath the flying fist of another. He used the momentum of his dodge to slam his own fist into the gut of the one that tried to jab at him; and then hooked his arms in the armpit of the merc. Using his own body weight and the muscle enhancements of the Kestrel armor, he heaved the batarian up and over; slamming him on the ground.

The third merc tried nearly punched a sharp blade through his armor, which would have effectively pierced had it not been for Titus’ superior reflexes, saving him by merely centimeters. With the batarian’s wrist exposed, John wrapped a strong grasp around it, and brought up his free arm to slam a crashing elbow into his trapped opponent’s limb; temporarily severing the nerves in his hand and forcing him to drop the knife.

The commander shoved the batarian back and ducked low again to avoid another strike from the first merc, now fully recovered from the breath-taking blow Titus dealt him before. John grabbed the knife from the floor and rose with a furious speed that allowed the blade the pierce upward into the skull of the second merc, who had moved in too close. The commander retracted the blade, hearing the cold steel grind against the jawbone, and quickly flipped the handle around. With the blade now in a reverse-grip technique, John made for his final enemy. The batarian tried to swing high with his still-numb arm, but the stupid move cost him defensive posture; allowing enough of a gap for Titus to come up from down low and swipe the blade across the merc’s throat.

As fate would have it, Lance and John had finished at the exact same time. Neither of them could easily who won, and Titus only shook his head with a cheesy smile at the fact. “Draw then. You get half.”

Satisfied, Lance nodded and grinned. The two then looked around for Braden, only realizing that young man was nowhere in sight… at least not on the ground floor. Titus looked up and saw Braden standing on the balcony, towering above Gavin, who was on his knees. The electrical blue output of the boy’s biotics was still flaring.

“You have a choice here, Braden,” Titus said in as calm of a manner as he could. “Killing Gavin won’t undue all of the things that he’s done to you.”

The boy simply stood where he was; unflinching, unwavering. A short moral speech wouldn’t get through him, not like this. His commander would have try harder to make sure that whatever decision the boy was about to make, he understood the consequences of that decision.

“Listen kid,” Lance said. “I know you’re angr-”

”You don’t know anything!” Braden cried out. His eyes never left Gavin; who was now trembling in utter terror.

“Yes, Braden,” Lance shot back. “I do. I know exactly what it’s like to be in a dark place; to be without hope or dreams. I know exactly what it’s like to want revenge, and to make others pay for their transgressions. But killing isn’t the answer that will quell that hatred. It’s not going to make things better… it’ll only make things worse. Braden… you’re fourteen years old. You’ve struggled your entire life to gain freedom, to gain a sense of security and purpose. But if you do this… if you kill that being before you – and I don’t care how repulsive, disgusting, vial, and immoral that bastard is – that decision will haunt you for the rest of your life. You’ll never be free. The guilt, the hatred: it will hang over you like a cloud until it consumes you completely.”

There was a lot more than Lance than just a womanizing battery officer on a ship. Underneath that arrogant, strong-man bravado (and sometimes thick headedness), was man with his own dark past… like everyone aboard the Vindicator. Every crew member on his ship, even Titus himself, had skeletons in their closets that needed to be taken care of at some point. His three rules as commander of that vessel ensured that they were all cleaned out. He had helped Lance personally with his own history. Now… Lance was returning the favor by helping another do the same thing: to make the right choice.

“What you choose to do next, kid,” he continued, “will define you for the rest of your life. But I can’t make the decision for you.”

The young man’s biotic output began to degenerate around him. Large arcs of static soon became small, minuscule sparks. The intense blue glow that pulsed around him like an aura of terrifying power, significantly dimmed to more than a faint glimmer.

Braden opened his mouth to speak, but couldn’t quite find the words within him. “I..I-.” His clenched fists loosened, and Braden finally stepped back from Gavin; collapsing against the banister. One armed stretched out to support his weight, but he let the rest of his body simply go limp from exhaustion – a typical side effect of all biotics after their displays.

Within seconds, Lance and Titus were on the second floor balcony. Lance had grabbed Braden from behind and embraced him to let him know that he was going to be just fine. The tired teen let his head fall back against the front plate of the man’s armor and he let out of a sigh of relief.

John was busy standing over Gavin. There was no need to threaten him with a pistol, not when he was in a state of complete surrender – let alone, the aftershock from flying through the banister after a biotic push with the force of a monorail train. “Your slaving days are over, Gavin.”

The batarian, sobbing and whimpering from both pain and fear, raised his hands to show his compliance. “Okay! Okay! Please,” he begged. “I- I’ll let all of them go. They’re all working in the lower levels right now. I’ll stop an- and never trade anything ever again!”

“Damn straight, you won’t,” Titus replied, folding his arms in front his chest. “Any twisted, evil alien that enslaves humans is not only an enemy of our race, but an enemy of Cerberus. Fortunately for you I’m under not orders to kill you. But I’m also not under orders to let you live.”

“You’re going to kill me?!”

Titus shook his head. “Unlike you, Gavin, I’m not that kind of guy. But you’ve got ten seconds to vacate this building before I send a message to Cerberus to hunt you down.”

The former slaver didn’t need any more of an explanation or reason to hightail it out of there. He struggled to get up on his feet, but eventually managed to stagger his way across the balcony, sparing only a second of a fearful glance to Braden, still embraced in Lance’s arms, and half-descend/half-fall down the staircase to the common room’s ground floor. Titus watched him leave out the door that they had come through earlier, but as he did so, he noticed something was wrong about the room.

When the three of them had first entered, Titus had counted three batarians, plus Gavin. During the fight, six more batarians had flooded into the room to back up their fellow mercenaries. All in all, there should be nine dead - or completely incapacitated - batarians on the floor; but Titus only counted eight. He then realized who was missing. Sanak.

“Where’s Aria’s little helper?”
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:36 pm

After a rather brusque brush off by a slightly battered and bruised Commander, Tia returned to the elevator with Invaru, but exited on the deck where her quarters were and the SIC continued on toward deck one for another new arrival. She stalked along the hallway to her quarters and entered so she could shower and change into a regular uniform. As always, however, she was waylaid by her incessant need to check on her gear, tools and armor. It had to be in perfect working order, stowed just so and accessible on a moment's notice. Second to that was the same treatment for her weapons and ammo. Finally, 2 hours later, she headed into the shower to wash of the imaginary grime that comes with long days of travel. The hat water soothed the weariness from her bones, even if it was almost as illusionary as the grime of the scrubber-pure air of the ship. Drying off and dressing, Tia then checked her look in the mirror. She didn't know why she bothered. It never changed unless she took a wound and unless that was quite serious it healed rather quickly.

Heading out the door, she braided her long dark hair casually and aimed herself toward the Mess. She was starving and the food aboard the shuttle had been...underwhelming to say the least. Tia figured with a ship the size of the Titan, and Cerebrus' funds, they would almost have to have a damned good cook aboard. Grinning that her mouth was already watering in anticipation, Tia entered the spacious Mess and glanced around. More than a few pairs of eyes looked her over and she had to shake her head with a bemused expression. Typical. News always travels at the speed of light aboard ship.

Heading through the chow line, Tia noted that the food smelled good, but wasn't prissy. In fact, it was perfect. Loading her plate to a height of a small mountain, Tia headed to a table with a few other of the crew already seated. She didn't need to ask permission to sit when 2 of the men on one side slide down to make room for her to join them. The3 men and 2 women each introduced themselves and Tia shook their hands in order. "Tia St. Jean, good to meet you."

The man with a balding red head across from her blinked in surprise. "The Saint? You're shitting me." His compatriots looked between Tia and the Corporal curiously. "Why? What's the deal?" They asked almost in chorus.

The Corporal, named Dillon, glanced quickly toward Tia, worried he'd spoken out of turn. But, she was used to this. Giving a shrug as she ate her dinner, she listened to the most recent 'version' of her supposed background. Dillion regaled his table mates with exploits of the 'immortal' Tia St. Jean and her being Commander Shepherd's right hand during the battle of Shanxi. How she saved his life by taking on a squad of Turians alone to take out a base's security when the Turians had him pinned down. The Corporal was quite a story-teller, even if completely inaccurate.

Some of his friends seemed to see the gaping holes in the telling. "Shut up, Dillon. Shepherd's not that old and she sure as hell isn't. Christ. Give us a break."

Tia just grinned when Dillon appealed to her to back him up. "OK. The part he got right? I was at the battle of Shanxi and my TEAM and I took out the security on a Turian base." She rose to go get another cup of coffee with a parting shot and a wink. "The rest is complete horse shit."

The sudden silence followed by a soft uproar of questions, hushed arguing and cries of 'foul' always amused her. As she returned to the table to sit once more, a tall short-haired blonde woman entered the mess. She had the unconscious grace of a natural athlete as she walked. She paused looking the area over much as Tia had, including the straight back of one used to a more strict Military protocol.

The woman poured herself a cup of coffee and headed right for their table. She paused and offered a smile, "Hi. I'm Linda Goran, Tia St. Jean? I heard you'd come aboard We'll be working together along with the Commander. I'll be helping with your training."

Tia offered the woman her right hand. "A pleasure." She'd noted that the bright and loose atmosphere of the table had been toned down slightly, though certainly not completely doused out. She noted it for now.

The irrepressible Dillion laughed. "You're going to work with the Demons? Damn, Saint." A sharp look of warning made the Corporal amend his comment quickly. "It's...tough stuff. Not many can get through it."

_____________________________________________________________________

A half hour later found Tia in need of a stretch. Her ass felt like it had become a rock filled with Novocaine. Maybe some time on the treadmill and some yoga would help work the feeling back into things. She took her leave of the people that had come and gone from the table noting a new excitement when someone had come in to relay the story of the mysterious TJ having nearly broken the new kid in half. Walking down the hallways, Tia reasoned that since said new kid hadn't been her, then it must have been the person that Invaru had gone to meet earlier. She turned toward the fitness area and shook her head. It was a hell of a welcome. Entering the fitness area showed only one other occupant; a blonde with her hair in a ponytail seated on the floor mats stretching carefully.


Last edited by Digital Muse on Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:13 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:14 am

“Miss Buchan, I insist you stay on the stretcher. Moving around with your injuries will only make it worse.” The glare she gave could have killed a man, but the doctor remained calm, placing a hand on the stubborn woman’s shoulder and gently pushing her back down to the stretcher. The two men stuck carrying the thing exchanged nervous glances, wary off the dark energy rippling across the wounded operative’s frame. The constant flash of warning from her choker wasn’t doing anything to help their concerns. The doctor was lucky in the fact that he didn’t actually have to handle her, but they held firm, doing their best to keep the stretcher level against her protests.

“I walked onto this ship, and I can damn well walk myself to the Med-bay!” Despite the statement, she remained where she was, burning a hole in the back of Lincoln’s with her eyes. A few tense minutes of silence later and she was in the Med-bay, sitting atop one of the recovery tables, as the doctor tapped a few quick commands into his medical terminal. Turning to her, he gave a small smile.

“Well, Miss Buchan, it’s lovely to make your acquaintance, although I wish the circumstances were a bit better.” Vala huffed roughly, wincing at the pain it caused.

“The last doctor said the same thing.”

“Well, might I make the recommendation to stop introducing yourself through injuries?”

She didn‘t really enjoy the condescending tone, but she forced herself not to hit him. “I’ll pass that along next time I’m in a fist fight, Doctor.”

Pushing the glasses up his nose, Lincoln pulled up a chair in front of her, and sat down. Tapping a few options on the data pad in front of him, Dr. Grass cleared his throat. “Now then…you have multiple fractures on your ribs, primarily on the right side, with the seventh, eighth and tenth ribs each being fractured in two separate places. The ninth, fortunately for you, held together with only a minor crack.”

“What‘s another broken rib at this point?” She half-muttered under her breath, earning a bemused look from the thin man.

“If it had broken, you would have had flail chest, Miss Buchan.” He chuckled at her blank expression. “Flail chest is when part of the rib cage breaks, and begins to move separately from the rest of the skeletal wall. It’s life threatening, and under the best of circumstances, would require breathing assists, chest tubes, possible surgery and an extensive stay on that table.” She paled, quietly swallowing as he explained what had almost been.

“Oh. That is fortunate.”

“Exactly. Now, you have a minor fracture in the eleventh rib on your left side, and I need to get a quick x-ray to make sure you don’t have a diaphragmatic hernia.” Lincoln paused, looking up from the data pad at his patient. “A hole in your diaphragm. If you would lay down?”

She nodded, lowering herself gently to the table, staring up at the ceiling quietly. She found it mildly amusing that this was how she had started her day, and here she was again. Closing her eyes, Vala released a slow breath. So far…so far this hadn’t gone well.

“Alright, that’ll do.” His footsteps echoed loudly in the silent med-bay, the gentle thrum of the ship flooding her senses. “Well, you’re a lucky woman, Miss Buchan. The fracture didn’t even come close to puncturing the diaphragm.” She nodded, unmoving from her position on the table, enjoying the strange melody that echoed in her ears. “So, I’m going to apply a heavy dose of medi-gel, and prescribe a painkiller. You’ll be back up to speed in no time.”

“Good.” A cold needle pressed to her neck, and she shivered at the sudden contact, cracking an eye at Lincoln. “Any recommendations to speed the recovery?” Sitting up with a wince, she watched Dr. Grass shuffle off to one of the storage units, perusing his supplies with a finger.

“Well, for starters, avoid getting rammed by TJ or anything roughly the size of a Krogan. That alone will go a long way.” She grunted roughly, standing from the table and taking a moment to find her footing. “I’ll make a note for the Commander that you shouldn’t be taken on any sorties anytime soon.”

“That won’t be necessary.”

He paused, raising a skeptical brow. “Miss Buchan, with your injuries, I honestly can’t let you go into the field.”

“Lincoln, was it?” She continued when he nodded. “I’m not asking. I can move; I can fight. Any other pieces of advice?”

With a sigh, the doctor pushed his glasses up his nose slightly. “Very well. Avoid melee combat, as well as any hits to the chest. Standard, I know, but extra important in your case. High pressure areas should also be avoided without extensive adaptation before and after, even then they should be brief exposures. I’ll send a package of the painkillers,” He held out a small bottle for the operative, “up to TJ to install into your armour so you’re not mixing dosages on missions. Other than that, just take it easy. Nothing too exerting, alright?”

She nodded, taking the bottle from his hand and giving it a quick once over. “Thank you, Doctor.”

“Please, call me Dr. Grass. Now, if there’s nothing else, I need to update my logs and get you into the system.” Vala shook her head, and the thin man returned to his desk without another word. She pondered for a moment, before sparing him a sideways glance.

“Does the Titan have a training area, Dr. Grass?” He shot her an annoyed glanced, and she raised a hand to placate the man. “For stretching and light exercise. I’m not that eager to be back on the table.”

Sighing, he motioned down the hill towards the lift. “On the second deck. The Observation area has been converted into one.”

“Thanks.” The door hissed open, and she quietly departed the Med-bay. Fumbling with the lid to the painkillers as she walked, Vala groaned the thought of having to drop off her armour, but knew she really couldn’t post pone it if she wanted to be combat ready. The lid seemingly took pity on her, popping off and she eagerly palmed one of the pills into her mouth. Hopefully it’d help with the headache as well.

After a brief visit to her room for a tank top, she passed quickly through the galley, ignoring the numerous glances and hushed whispers. Of course, ships had to have gossips. Just the image she wanted to project. Today was official terrible. Boarding the lift, she hit the key for the second deck, and leaned back onto the railing. Ships needed to invest in stairs. The constant use of the lift was starting to lose its novelty.

It slid open a moment later, and she looked over the CIC for a moment. Did she really have to go back to the armoury? Bring up the armour status on her Omni-tool, the operative groaned. Yes, yes she did. Hand on her pistol; she pressed the access panel, eyes wearily watching the room for any sign of TJ. Surprisingly, the large woman was in plain view, working quietly on one of the missile launchers. She blinked, recognizing the model. Oh, it was that missile launcher. Lovely.

There was a moment of silence, before she released the Phalanx from her grip, and crossed the threshold. TJ’s eyes snapped over to her like an animal whose den had just been defiled, and Vala froze where she stood. “I’m just dropping off my armour. Round 2 can wait.” She held up her arm, and slowly began to unbuckle the gauntlet.

The large woman simply grunted, motioning to an empty table with a nod of her head, before focusing back on the missile launcher. A few minutes later, and Vala was free of her armour, thankful that the breakdown hadn‘t put any strain on her healing body. Setting her pistol down on the table as well, she glanced at TJ, who was still making it a point to ignore her. Part of wanted to make a comment, but the doctor’s words of ‘Flail Chest’ echoed in her head, and she bit her tongue, leaving without a sound.

A short walk down the corridor brought her to the Observation deck, and she quickly tugged off the top of her marine uniform, wasting no time in pulling on the black tank top as she quietly entered the room. It was rather devoid of personnel, save for two men, one of whom was busy on the treadmill, whilst the other sat leisurely by the observation window, gazing out into the inky black of space, at least from what she could tell from the back of his head.

She settled quietly onto one of the yoga mats, gently stretching out the weary muscles. For a few minutes, she simply enjoyed the peace and quiet, letting the painkillers work their magic as she attended to the various aches and pains of her body. Gentle footsteps, ones trying purposefully not to interrupt her, approached, and she flicked her head to the side to gaze back at the man. It was the one from the treadmill, covered in a light shine from his work out. Her eyes immediately darted to his face, and she relaxed at his casual smile. Okay, so he wasn’t going to spear her into a wall.

“Hey.” The man spoke coolly, and she felt her tensed body slip into ease. “You must be one of the new recruits we got.” He extended a hand to her in greeting, and she took it without hesitation. “Daniel Harrens. It‘s a pleasure.”

Vala gave a firm shake. “Vala Buchan. Like wise.” She retracted her hand, placing it quietly on her hip as she examined the man. “I’m not so much a new recruit as a transfer. I was serving on the Vindicator previously.” Daniel nodded, keeping that same aura of friendliness about him.

“My mistake. How are you finding the Titan?”

“It’s more…military, than the Vindicator. In general design and feel. I could do without the re-broken ribs, but I suppose that’ll teach me to pick fights with half-krogan…” Daniel laughed lightly at the comment.

“You met TJ, I take it? I had heard there was a bit of a scuffle, but no one really seemed to know what was up.” He seemed concerned for a moment, glancing down at her sides. “Broken ribs though? Should you really be up and walking about with it?”

Did everyone think she was a porcelain doll, or did she just have a giant bull’s eye strapped to her back and no one wanted to tell her. “I’m fine. As long as I avoid getting hit, the doctor says I’ll be back up to 100% in no time.” Eager to change the subject, she motioned to the tattoo on his arm. “Demons?”

Daniel grinned, turning slightly so she could get a better look. “It’s my squad. Commander Horn calls us ‘The Demons’.” She raised a skeptical brow. “Hey, when the Commander says he wants to name the squad, you listen. Especially when he’s the one in-charge of it.”

“Part of the Commander’s personal squad? Impressive.”

“Thanks. See, the big thing about the Demons…” He trailed off, glancing up to the clock behind her. “Ah dammit. I need to get to my duties. We’ll have to pick this up another time, Vala.”

“Oh. Of course.” Drat. She’d been hoping to learn a bit about the Commander from the man.

“It was a pleasure to meet you! We’ll hit the mess sometime and swap some stories!” He moved quickly, although she noticed that he had a slight limp as he went. She returned to her stretches, eager to get some training in before the pain killers started to fade. It wasn’t long before the other man departed too, offering only a quiet wave as he went, which she returned, only half aware of his presence anyway.

The quiet let her mull over the events of the day, and nurse the stinging wound on her pride. Two losses, one after the other. She could try to blame it on circumstance, but in the end, the fact remained. She had lost. It was only cause of Titus she had even managed to make it off Illium, and if it hadn’t been for Kelly, she might have had her throat slit like a pig in the armoury.

She’d been trained better than that. She’d killed krogan with nothing but a knife and her training, and some flimsy asari beat the living shit out of her? Regardless of injury, she should have been able to take the armourer, for Christ’s sake! Was she just sloppy from the painkillers?

The audible hiss of the door opening brought Vala from her thoughts, and she glanced back at the newcomer with a weary look on her face. Relieved to find it wasn't TJ, Vala briefly examined the woman, eyes immediately catching the large scar on her left shoulder. It made her own look like petty paper cuts. She inclined her head in greeting. “Vala Buchan.”

Tia continued on into the room, trying to remember where she'd heard the name before. She smiled, "I'm not intruding I hope? I've been parked on my backside for 3 days."

Vala chuckled. “Not at all.” She motioned to the spot in front of her. It was rather nice to have someone to talk to, it‘d keep her mind off her…lacklustre performance lately. “Please.” She motioned to the spot in front of her.

She joined Vala on the floor for some stretches of her own, while she dredged through her memory for the elusive reference. "Tia St. Jean. She introduced and extended her right hand in greeting. "Just transferred here."

“Pleasure to meet you.”

It was while looking into Vala's eyes that it suddenly hit her. "Oh! Of course! I worked with Ben Slatton for a couple missions. He spoke of you." Tia was glad to meet the woman Ben was so taken with. He'd been a good man to work with. "How is he?""

Vala visibly stiffened, eyes widening at the name. “B-Ben..?” Emotion surged up from the dark corners of her mind, and she fought the sudden feeling of bile down. Memories rushed back to her mind unbidden, the accusations and countless cross examinations. The cold look across the Illusive Man’s face when…

Her hand froze in the air, before it retracted quickly, clutching the small chain dangling around her neck so tight her knuckles turned white. The tiny ring dug into her palm, but she ignored it, forcing a shaking breath out her lungs. “We…lost him.” The lie stung. If she knew him, she deserved to know. “Got ambushed. Blood Pack…took half the ship just to…to…” Her head dropped, bangs falling in front of her face, a thousand pin pricks burning at her already reddening eyes.

Tia's face went ashen. "Oh god. I'm so sorry. I had no idea." She watched the blonde try to get control of herself for a few moments, unsure what to say. She knew from painful experiences that words were completely useless. "It was an honour to serve with him." In the end, it was the only thing she could offer.

Vala nodded quickly, biting the corner of her mouth to try and bring herself back under control. She lifted her head, a half smile on her face. “It’s…fine. There was no way you could have known.” Swallowing quietly, she took a slow breath, feeling the burning in her eyes slowly subside. “Just caught me off guard.”

Tia smiled gently. "Yeah, I bet so." She bent forward to stretch her hamstrings and to consider where to go next with the awkward silence. When she looked up again, she noted the many cuts, bruises and scrapes evident on Vala's body. "Wow. Rough mission?" She inquired.

The operative half chuckled, mimicking the other woman’s stretches, although she kept it light to stop herself from having yet another visit to the Med-bay. The topic change was welcome, and she glanced down at her scarred arm. “Something like that. Close quarters combat with an Ardat Yakshi, followed by free fall into traffic. I’m lucky I didn’t come out of it a human pancake...”

Her mind wandered briefly back to Braden, curious to how the boy was doing after the incident. She regretted not having taken the time to check up on him. “Of course, then I got tackled by the krogan we call an armourer…” Her choker beeped once, and she took a deep breath as if on cue. “I’ve had a rough 24 hours. What about you?” She nodded towards the shoulder scar. “That makes mine look like a butter knife fight.”

Tia's brow crawled upwards at Vala's telling of her exploits. The encounter with TJ made her nod suddenly, "Ahhh. So you're the new kid that this mysterious TJ tried to break in half." Tia shrugged by way of explanation. "Word travels fast aboard ship." She grins. "I think I'll take Invaru's advice to go in there armed to heart, after all." Climbing to her feet, she climbed aboard a treadmill and started it up to a steady pace. She didn't even glance down at the scar at her own left shoulder. "Lost my arm at Shanxi. It's synthetic." She jogged along easily. "Still feels freaky as hell. Even after all this time."

Vala shook her head quietly. “She isn’t that tough. I was half-dead going in there and I still almost had her. I’m sure…wait.” The blonde paused on the treadmill beside Tia, hand inches from the controls. “You were in the battle of Shanxi? That was almost thirty years ago…got hit when you were a kid?” That sent a shiver down her spine. Losing your arm so young…although she hadn’t any idea that Tia had even lost the arm until the woman mentioned it.

Tia just smiled when Vala assured her that she could have taken TJ. She'd reserve judgement until after she'd met the armourer. Vala's next question about when she'd lost her arm told her a great deal about what Ben had or hadn't shared with Vala. She shook her head, not having slowed in her leisurely jog at all. "No. I'm 71 years old. When the 2nd Fleet came in, my Commander bankrolled my surgery." She lifted the left arm, flexing slightly. "There was something experimental in the anti rejection drugs has a very odd side effect." Tia then shrugged, she'd told this story so many times. "They should bottle whatever it is. They'd never want for money again."

“You’re…” Vala’s eyes widened slightly, as she tapped a few commands into the treadmill, which started at a slow pace, allowing her to walk quietly beside Tia. “Seriously? Who the hell made it, and where can I get my hands on it? I’d love to look like you at 71.” She shook her head slightly, one hand gently clutching her right side.

Tia chuckled. "Wish I knew. I was out of it for nearly a month. I knew I'd lost my arm before things went black and woke up with a synthetic one. I don't remember anything else. Really." Tia glanced over at Vala, with a grin. "Maybe you should take it easy? If you had half the day you said you did, you should be flat on your back and medicated rather than here."

“It’s a point of pride that I’m moving, I’ll admit.” Vala stopped the treadmill, offering a weak smile. “I remember my old painkillers being stronger.” Stepping down, Vala stood quiet for a moment, before glancing back at the older woman. “I suppose a nap couldn’t hurt." An idea sparked behind her eyes. "Hey, Daniel was…” She trailed off for a moment, questioning if she should extended the offer. “…well, he was going to share some stories about being a ‘Demon’. If you’re interested, you’re welcome to join us.”

Tia smiled back, not even faltering in her jog. “If we can get the time for it, sure. Could be fun.” Vala grinned back.

“Alright. Well, enjoy your workout.”

“Enjoy your nap.”

“I plan on it.” Vala gave a wave over her shoulder, and left the Observation deck without another word. Her footsteps quickened, and she half walked, half jogged to the lift, paging it with an impatient stab at the button. Her chest tightened, and she felt it slowly starting to creep up on her. The lift opened, and she embarked without a word, ignoring the few other occupants as she hit the button for the second deck. If they tried to talk with her, Vala didn’t notice, silently willing the lift to move faster, urging it upwards. Dammit, why couldn’t this tub have fucking stairs?! The operative was out the door before it was even half open, practically breaking into a dead run as she made for her quarters. The galley passed in a blur, and she rapidly punched the access code for her quarters, eyes squeezed shut as she slipped inside and felt the door seal behind her.

With a shuddering breath, Vala moved to the meagre shower, tossing her clothes carelessly into a heap. The cold water crashed against her skin, and the emotions cracked through. Her eyes, already burning red, slowly opened, staring quietly into the showerhead as the memories she’d worked so hard to keep out came rushing back. The blonde slumped against the side of the shower, framing shaking from half-restrained sobs.

Her pride lay forgotten, for all the good it would have done her. No one would hear her cry, and any who came looking would hesitate to come in while the shower was running. It was a blessing. For the timing being, she was alone.

Blissfully, and painfully, alone.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:19 am

As Titus continued to search the rooms for remaining hostiles, while also making his way to the lower levels to free Gavin's slaves, Lance remained on the second floor balcony with Braden. His body was awkwardly, but not too uncomfortably, leaning against the banister with Braden resting back against him. The teen's head was back against his shoulder, and Lance kept one arm wrapped over the boy for assurance. The soldier had no doubt that the young man had grown ten times stronger merely seconds ago; but he needed to rest and recover, and he also needed to feel that he made the right choice sparing Gavin's life. As the boy rested and recovered from the biotic attacks, he felt Braden's chest steadily rise and lower from his breathing. He felt the subtle beat of his still-innocent heart beneath the light armor suit.

The feeling brought back a swirl of distant memories; a past life where he wasn't too different from the small human being that now lay against his chest. Lance had been a spacer kid, growing up on mostly Alliance vessels. His parents had both been high ranking officers, but neither of them had ever gotten along. When the man had entered his early teens, he began making the fatal mistake of blaming himself for his parents' arguing. Two years later, a sixteen-year long marriage ended in a desperate divorce and the officers went their separate ways. Lance had chosen to stay with his father, but only because he eventually wanted to pursue a military career, and the man (other than his mother) wanted to help him succeed in that goal. He loved both of his parents equally, but the decision to choose one over the other nearly tore him in half.

When the time came for him to be able to volunteer for the Alliance military, Lance had become so distant from both of parents that he no longer wanted anything to do with them; which meant that he cut off all ties to his family's military background and left to work with the establishment projects of new human colonies. During that time, one of the colonies he was stationed at fell under attack by a band of mercenaries. He learned very quickly that on the edge of Alliance space one would need to learn how to survive against such odds. Lance left the visionary work of advancing the human frontier, for the grueling, but profitable life of a hired gun. As a merc, he had come across many different species: salarian, asari, turian, batarian, elcor, volus, and even the hanar. Normally, one would be able to develop an acceptance for all of the species, especially as a mercenary where racism was only a quick way to let emotions get you killed. But the man's rough life with oblivious parents, and time spend in a post-Conflict War Alliance, had hardened him to a certain degree that prevented him from being able to see the perspectives of other species.

It wasn't jealousy, or plane hatred that was the root of his discrimination. It was just annoyance. He was annoyed that they all looked down on humans as inferior, as the "new kids". The events of tonight only reinforced that annoyance, especially towards the batarians. The idea of humans as slaves disgusted him, shook him to his very core. But he was getting better...

It was only a year ago that Commander Johnathan Titus had taken command of the Vindicator. Lance had been working with Cerberus a year before that. At first, he saw nothing but another dog of the Alliance in Titus; but he was quickly proven wrong when the noble man came through and helped Lance with his own struggles.

The soldier was pulled from his reminiscing when Braden suddenly gasped underneath his arm. Lance swiftly lifted his limb from the boy's chest as he sat up and wildly looked around.

"You okay?" Lance asked.

Braden darted his head around to stare at the man while Lance took advantage of the free moment to adjust how he was seated against the banister. A numbness shot through his right thigh, but a small massage quickly got the blood flowing again.

"Yeah I-" Braden started but then continued looking around the room. "What happened? Did I pass out?"

Lance nodded with a casual smile before reaching back to gently grab the teen's shoulder and pull him back against him. "Relax, kid," he said softly. "It's over with. The commander's checking the rest of the place out now, and is going to down to release Gavin's 'trophies'." Braden aloud his body to carefully collapse back to the position he was in before he woke up. His head lay back against Lance's shoulder, but the rubbing of his hands meant that he was restless. "You made the right choice," Lance assured him.

There was a long moment of silence between the two and only the air cycling through the building's vents could be heard. Finally, it was Braden that spoke next. "You said that you knew how I was feeling. How?"

The question was innocent, curious. Lance knew the question would come eventually, but he was expecting it to be challenging; not in the way that Braden just asked it. It took him by a mild, but relieving surprise and he took a few seconds to consider his words.

"About ten months ago," he began in the kind of voice a father would use to tell his son a bedtime story, and he definitely felt like the next few minutes would sound very similar to that, "the commander confronted me at the battery controls on the Vindicator. He said that he noticed my attitude had been... well, a little far from pleasant. It was true, though; him and I never got along when he first took control of the ship. I thought he was just another kiss-ass former Alliance officer that didn't know what he was getting into by joining Cerberus. As things turned out... he's an okay guy."

Braden glanced up to catch glimpse of the grin on the man's face. Lance was teasing, of course. What he meant to say was that Titus was the best damned leader the Vindicator team would ever have. "Johnathan James Titus," he continued. "That's his full name. He helped me atone for many of my sins. At first, though, he was only supposed to help me track down a guy as vial and malicious as Gavin; only this alien - a turian - was just a psychotic lune that had aided in the scuttling of a human frigate attempting to bring in supplies to a far human colony in the Skyllian Verge. It wasn't him that planned it go. The batarians were the ones solely responsible for the attack, but they were no where around when it all happened. The turian, Argos was his name, had sabotaged the navigation presets and controls; sending it on a crash course for the nearest planet in the system. He managed to escape in a pod right before it was too late, ensuring that he jettisoned all the other ones before hand so that he would be the only survivor.

"I tracked him down and asked Titus for his help in dealing with him. The turian had been a former member of a mercenary gang I was with before joining Cerberus; that's how I knew him. The commander was unsure at first - tried to talk me out of it. He said I was too overcome by my hatred of aliens to think straight. But I fought him, and - as usual - I won. Him and I had Argos cornered in his own apartment. But the time I had him at gun point, his mind had been reduced to nothingness; the result of years of post-traumatic stress disorder. You see, he had been a soldier for the turians in the First Contact War. Like many soldiers of both sides of a battle, he came out a little loony. The batarians had manipulated that turian loyalty within him, mixed with his unstable mind, to try and get back at the humans that had harmed him.

"Titus had convinced me - when I had my damn finger wrapped around the trigger - that executing Argos wasn't going to change a thing. And he was right. During my time as a merc, I always wondered what it be like to kill someone at point blank like that; just execute them in cold blood. I never had the chance, and now... I'm glad I never did. Sure, I've shot and killed before. Those are transgressions I have to live with. But the commander stopped me from committing what would have been the worst act of my entire life."

"You let him live?" Braden asked.

"I did. Just like you let Gavin live."

Braden remained lying against Lance in silence for a few seconds; allowing that piece of Lance's past - one that very few on the Vindicator are privy to know - to settle on his thoughts. Finally, he asked, "Where is Argos now?"

"Titus told Argos the same thing he told Gavin: that he was going to send Cerberus chasing him. But that never happened. He'll use that to scare his enemies into running, never turning back to carry on with their misdeeds for fear of such a powerful organization hunting them down. You gotta admit; even though it's merciful, it's effective. But the commander isn't a fool, either. If he has the slightest suspicion upon letting them go that they'll try and return to their habits and crimes, he'll send out a message to some of his contacts in the Alliance."

"Why not Cerberus?"

Lance looked down at him, but no smile was present this time on his face. "Because Cerberus' ways don't always line up with Titus' morals. He may be loyal to the cause, but he has his differences with the Illusive Man."

There was another moment of silence between the two; eventually broken by the boy once more. "Thanks, Lance," he said.

"Anytime, kid."

The heavy footsteps of Titus came thumping around the corner on the balcony. He had lifted the slate-black visor back over the top of his helmet, revealing the man who had saved Lance from making a terrible mistake not so long ago and, after listening to what the soldier had to say of his past, also had a hand in Braden's own choice.

"I found the slaves," he said, casting a thumb over his shoulder. "They were in the lower levels, just like Gavin said. I hacked the locks on the rear exits of the building and gave them directions to a nearby humanitarian aid building that can get them safely off-station. I also broke off their ankle bracelets so none of Gavin's goons can track them down." Titus looked to Braden and Lance for a moment as if expecting one of them to reply or say something along the lines of a celebratory remark, but after several seconds had heard nothing from them. All he received were two blank stares and a the slightest hint of a smirk from Lance.

"Huh... You two ready to get off this station, or what?"

"What about Sanak?" Lance asked.

"He's long gone by now. Besides, the last thing I want to do is cross paths with Aria T'Loak. No freaking way I'm getting Cerberus involved in a war with the Pirate Queen."

Lance nodded and gently helped Braden recover to his feet, pulling himself up afterwards with the help of the banister. He almost regretted sitting down in the same spot for so long without moving much. Every muscle in his body ached from the rapid physical exertion from the hand-to-hand fight with multiple mercenaries. Suddenly stopping to sit down and not giving the body's muscles time to cool down with stretches and flexing was a surefire way feel sore immediately afterwards.

"I guess we better get going," Lance commented.

Suddenly, all three of the humans turned at the sound of racing boots against the ground floor of the common room below, and saw that the area had been instantly filled with several mercenaries. All of them had their guns drawn and pointed at the three Cerberus operatives. Lance glanced to Titus, hoping for the order to draw his weapon, but he saw his commander's hand shaking hastily below his waste, giving a no-go signal. The battery officer reluctantly obeyed the order to stand down.

The familiar face of Sanak weaved through the crowd of mercenaries on the ground floor and stepped out into plain view before them all. Apparently he felt secure enough with all the firepower on his side to not feel the need to draw his own weapon. All four eyes shot up the commander and he spoke with a sly grin and arrogant voice. "I gave you the chance to leave, human. But you were foolish enough to stay. Now, Aria would like a word with you."
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:34 pm

Horn watched as Kelly Invaru walked away, and turned towards the cockpit where Jack Nathan was navigating them towards the Mass Relay. The man gave a backwards glance, but otherwise didn't move. "How's life Commander?" He asked in his casual tone that indicated nothing other than a greeting.

"Oh you know, killing things, making ourselves huge targets by everyone around us, and watching our own crew destroy each other in hand to hand combat."

"So...everyday stuff?" Jack asked as he checked a few systems.

"Aye, about that."

Jack let the sentence hang for a second before he spoke up again. "So I heard someone got taken down from TJ."

"Man gossip travels fast on this ship." Horn stated as he looked at the man.

"All due respect sir, they're right down the hall and Krogan mating season is quieter than whatever they were doing."

"Makes me wonder how you know what Krogan mating sounds like Nathan." Horn asked, raising an eyebrow at the man. Jack gave a shrug and smiled.

"I'll leave that up to your imagination, it's far dirtier than mine."

"Just a tad I would believe." Horn stated as the view of the Mass Relay came up. Jack pressed a few more buttons, and took the helm seriously for a moment.

"Stand fast for a moment Commander, we're going through." Horn grabbed the pilot's seat a little harder, but otherwise did nothing. He loved watching as the electricity from the relay's sparked over his ship. A bright blue surrounded the view screen before the ship propelled forward and sent them instantly to a different relay light years away from their original one. "Alright, and setting course for a patrol. We have some down time I take it then?" Jack asked as he pushed back the chair and got out.

"Yep. Don't need life threatening missions every day, do we?" Jason asked with a smile. Jack gave a small smile, and stretched himself.

"Well, I'm heading down to the mess for some food. You up for some?" Jack asked as he made sure all controls were set.

"Can't I'm afraid, I have a bit of walking around to do. If you feel like sparring though, I'll be up in the gym later." Jack gave a hearty laugh this time.

"Thanks, but I like being able to walk. Talk to you later sir." Horn gave him a nod and let him go. The ship was on autopilot, and Serah was scanning the system for anything noteworthy. They had some time to kick back and relax, train, and just enjoy the quiet. Horn made his way past the CIC, but stopped when he looked over and noticed something.

Yeoman Lara Teesar was sitting at her station, but rather than typing on her console, she was tapping away at her omnitool. Horn walked up quietly behind her, and watched as she was playing a game called 'Alliance Corsair'. He sat there for a moment, completely silent until there came a moment where she seemed to be struggling. "Go left and hit that Turian cruiser." Horn whispered to her. She frowned for a second, but complied and won the mission. She smiled, then stopped. She quickly turned around, her omnitool disappearing from her hand.

"Ummm...Hello Commander. Didn't see you there." She blushed a bit before gaining her usual demeanour. She was noticeably smaller than the Commander, standing at a small 5'7. He black bangs came across her forehead and partially covered her left eye. She swept it out of the way quickly, before clearing her throat and standing with her hands behind her back. "Is there something I can do for you Commander?" She asked, already her eyes looking for any trace or clue as to the inner workings of Horn's mind. Jason gave a smirk, shrugging.

"Oh, not really. I don't want to be blamed for having the brilliant tactician pulled away from her game of defeating the Turian Fleet because I would prefer her to do her job as a Yeoman." Lara blushed slightly as she dropped her gaze to the floor for a moment.

"Sorry sir. Won't happen again sir." Lara said as reassurance, and Jason gave a small laugh.

"How many times have you said that, and how many times have you gone back on that word."

"Far too many to admit sir." She gazed over at Horn for a second, and raised an eyebrow. "So I take it the new arrivals are rubbing you the wrong way?" Horn simply stared at her for a second.

"You don't need to be a shrink to know I don't like unscheduled arrivals. How about this, you get back to your job and stop asking mind questions around me, K?'

"If I did that, I would be doing the opposite of what you just asked me to do." Lara countered.

"But my wish is your command, therefore making it your purpose and job to do what I tell you to do, which is stop playing mind games."

"Again this is counter productive since my job entails I analyze the personalities and behaviours of those around me, would the Commander prefer I stop all action immediately?"

"You know." Jason started. "If you weren't so cute I would be angry right now. Go back to playing your game." Jason stated. Lara gave a small smile, almost always winning in a battle of reasoning with him. Horn walked off, muttering underneath his breath as he entered the elevator. "I hate shrinks."




The Commander exited the elevator after having gone to his quarters to change into his sparring gear. Bandages wrapped around his hands to look like makeshift gloves, a grey muscle shirt and long black shorts along with some black sneakers. He stretched out his fingers in front of him as he walked, cracking his neck left and right and rolling his shoulders as he made his way towards the Observation area. He entered with a cocky swagger that identified him, nodding to a few people that were inside. He quickly made his way over to the sparring area, which was outfitted with a punching bag, a small ring, and other areas to increase someone's fighting prowess.

He started with some light stretching, making sure he wouldn't pull anything during his workout, and immediately hit the punching bag. Despite his appearance as a bull-headed bravado psycho man, Horn had the ability to back it up. Among all of his abilities, his top two ranked with hand to hand combat, and doing things no sane man would try. Every hit on the bag sent it flying slightly backwards. He kept switching up his style as he continued. One moment would be brawler heavy hitters, next would be mixed martial arts chops, kicks and palms. An unorthodox style that always caught whoever he was fighting off guard. He moved from several exercise routines until he was finally ready for a fight. He quickly started looking around the room for a potential candidate, and noticed that most of the eyes were trying to avoid him.

"Aw c'mon! You can't all be sissies! Someone has to try and spar with me!"
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:41 pm

Afterlife. A fitting name for a club full of nothing but dead souls. It was the most popular club on Omega, but it wasn't exactly the best. The music, flashing lights, deafening beats, and intoxicating drinks were only average compared to some of the other, more high-end, clubs. But what made Afterlife so popular, and so hard to get in, was Aria T'Loak. She had chosen the club as her place of business, relaxation, and all-around palace. The de facto ruler of Omega, challenged by only the crazy and psychotic, made the VIP booth overlooking the main dance floor below it her throne.
At least up in the VIP section the music was bearable. Titus' ear drums had nearly split from the loud trance and four-on-the-floor beats below. There were also a lot less sweaty bodies brushing up against him. The only occupants of Aria's booth were the Queen herself, two asari consorts on either side of her, Titus and his team - Braden and Lance, Sanak, two krogan body guards behind the group, and a mysterious human shrouding his face under the hood of long trench coat. Titus had no problem with the two krogan behind him. It would be foolish to get in a fight with the over-sized reptiles, that was for sure, but the commander had no intention of dealing with them tonight. Sanak was his only concern, however. The arrogant batarian slouched against the bulkhead of a pillar at one corner of the booth. His arms were crossed and all four eyes on Lance. Titus assumed that the alien thought his battery officer would be the first to try something foolish. Regardless, if there was going to be a problem tonight in front of Aria, it was going to be because of Sanak.

The violet-hued asari sitting before them all in the middle of a long u-shaped sofa, dressed in a fashionable white jacket, and black leather pants and boots, was the unchallenged leader of the space station. Omega may not have a government, but Aria was still its "queen", or even "godess". She was Omega; and the first rule of conducting business on Omega: don't cross Aria.

She nodded to the two asari consorts sitting on either side of her with a face that told them she had to get back to work. They obliged and left quietly, slipping past the three humans. One of them batted her eyes at Lance, while the other gently dragged her fingers through Braden's messy hair. Lance was a strong-enough soldier to care less about the whore, but Braden's head turned full circle to watch the flirting consort gracefully descend the set of stairs leading to Aria's booth. She twiddled her fingers in a teasing goodbye, slipped between the two krogan on the second landing, and then turned to descend the other set of stairs that led down to the dance floor below. Titus gave the hormonal teen a slight nudge with his elbow, returning his attention to the matter at hand.

"Why is Cerberus on my station?" Aria asked suddenly. That was how she conducted business in her private booth. Everyone on Omega wanted something; and they went to Aria for permission to get it. If she found what they were looking for to be potentially profitable for her as well, they would have to strike up a deal before she gave them her assistance. The most expensive requests dealt with information broking. Aria took the human connotation information is power quite literally.

Before Titus could respond, Sanak stepped away from his comfortable spot against the pillar and pointed a boney, maroon finger in his direction. "This human tried to murder a colleague of mine! He broke into his-"

Aria raised a hand to instantly silence her lieutenant, but kept her purple irises fixated on Titus. Her face was bare of any emotion, a brick wall. There were no subtle hints to her feelings in the way she sat, either. Her other hand remained relaxed over her lower stomach, and her legs crossed. She was slouched against the back of her sofa, but her face was cold. Titus was unable to tell if she was really relaxed, or if this was how she sat when she was anxious or interested to learn something. The asari reminded Titus all too much of the Illusive Man. He knew that she spun the truth to her advantage, and he knew that she would leak tiny bits of information to keep you interested in knowing more about something, but always at a loss. She also played with your mind.

"I want to hear our guest speak for himself," she insisted. Sanak stepped back, clearly frustrated, though he did his best to hide it from his boss.

"We were here so I could help a friend," Titus said bluntly.

Aria's eyes narrowed, but the commander didn't flinch. "Cerberus isn't known to 'help friends'," she replied coldly. "What exactly were you doing? My lieutenant said that you nearly killed his colleague in cold blood. Is this true?"

"We never came to kill anybody," the commander said.

"Then why are there dead mercs on the floor of his home?!" Sanak demanded, who recused himself when Aria actually looked over to him for the first time since the humans arrived in her booth. The batarian ducked his head and slithered back to his pillar.

Titus continued to speak only to Aria, ignoring that Sanak was even there. "His friend gave us no choice. When the mercs attacked, we defended ourselves. No firearms were even used. When we had Gavin on his knees, we spared his life and let him go."

"That was quite merciful of you," the Queen acknowledge, but no emotion presented itself in her words. "I also understand you freed his slaves?"

"Cerberus will never allow humans to become slaves."

"To aliens," she said as a matter of fact.

Titus crossed his arms and slightly raised his chin. "Would you allow asari to become slaves of another race?"

Sanak stepped in again. "How dare you talk to Aria that way!"

"Sanak!" Aria finally showed a flicker of annoyance on her face. "If you interrupt again, I'll have you thrown face first over the edge of this booth. Understand?"

The batarian nodded apologetically and krept away. Titus hoped that was the last of his outbursts.

"What is your name, human?" Aria asked.

"Johnathan Titus, Commander of the Vindicator."

"Well Commander Titus," she said, "you're a very noble human. But you're also a patriot of your race."

Titus let his arms drop to his sides and asked, "And is being a patriot a bad thing?"

"'Patriotism deliberately subordinates the interests of a whole to the interests of a part.' One of your own authors said that once. I satirist, I believe; if that's what you call your cynical writers. As humorous as he was trying to be, though... he was correct. Normally, if Cerberus is on my station, I don't care how Sanak deals with them. I prefer them dead, anyway. But when I heard that you spared Gavin's life... well, I had to meet your for myself."

Titus was still unable to read Aria, but he could tell by her words that this was now his chance to get off Omega without any further complications. She was giving him a chance, and his next words, if chosen very carefully, would determine whether or not they would leave peacefully or in body bags.

"Gavin had enslaved my friend, here," Titus began, motioning his hand to Braden, who slightly nodded in solemn confirmation, "and I wanted to help him settle a score. I won't lie, Aria, I'm no fan of aliens; but I'm not as racist against them as the rest of my colleagues in Cerberus. My partner and I talked the kid out of executing him. We spared Gavin's life because we saw that killing him was no means to an end; and nothing would ever justify a choice like that."

Aria took a moment to think about what Titus had said. He recognized her gaze as being awfully familiar to the Illusive Man's whenever he tried to read your body language and expressions for signs of pretense. But the commander had nothing to hide, and if Aria was as observant as his employer, she would see that he was telling the truth.

Finally, she said, "Noble. Honest. But also foolish. I'm curious, Commander Titus - and I'm sure some of your other colleagues are, as well - what sense is there in bringing a child into combat?"

John knew this question was going to be asked by someone eventually; whether it be by the other commanders, Vala Buchan, or even the Illusive Man himself. But he had been prepared for the question. "Braden is the most advanced biotic I have ever seen. The events of tonight proved that he can handle himself just fine in combat situations. The kid also deserves a chance to prove his potential, and I try to give that to him at every turn. He hasn't let me down yet."

Aria nodded, accepting his explanation. "Fine," she said. "You can leave Omega. But if you come back... leave the patriotism behind. There's no room for it here."

Sanak tried to stepped forward again and say something defiant, but Titus noticed he had been thrown back against his pillar by a large arm. The limb belonged a large krogan, but he wasn't one of the body guards on the lower stair landing. This one wasn't wearing body armor, but Titus didn't take him for a patron of the club, either.

"That's enough out of you, Sanak," he growled in a low, aged voice as the batarian struggled to free himself from the arm pinning him by the chest.

"Ugh! Let go of me, Patriarch!" Sanak demanded.



The three humans walked out of the club together, all of the weapons returned to them by Aria's orders. Lance was in the middle of clipping his heavy pistol back to his belt as they walked down the steps leading up to Afterlife when he said, "Damn! That was fun!"

Titus smiled, but didn't bother to comment. He wanted to wait until they were well out of the Terminus systems before saying anything. He had a feeling that they were being watched, even though Aria had trusted them to walk themselves out of the club, and she even ordered her guards to stand down and let them pass outside without delay. He may have won over the Queen's trust, but he still felt uneasy. As a former N7 marine and trained Cerberus operative, John knew when they were being followed. Who the tail was, however, he didn't know. It could be any of Aria's assets, someone working for Gavin, or perhaps another on Omega that was interested in the three heavily armed humans.

Together, they kept up a brisk pace as they passed by the long line of patrons waiting to get inside Afterlife. Aria had a strict population policy for her club. She never allowed it to become too crowded, so when the capacity was reached - and it was always full - anyone wanting to get in would have to wait until someone left. People would end up waiting sometimes for five to fifty minutes at a time before the line even moved. Several krogan bouncers stood up at the stop of the club's stairs to ensure no one got out of control; and a large elcor was always at the head of the line to determine when the next patron could go in.

"Come on!" an impatient human yelled as Titus and his team walked past. "I've been out here for hours! Aria wants to see me!"

The large elcor simply replied in the same, painfully monotone voice they all spoke in, "Increasingly annoyed: No she does not. You may either wait or leave."

John pressed on past the long line, but he was suddenly stopped when a human from somewhere near the back, reached out and grabbed his arm. The commander whirled around and defensively yanked his arm free, stepped back to ready himself for a fight. But when he saw that the human who had grabbed was no threat, he simply stared, waiting for an explanation.

The Asian-looking human, with bleached-blond hair, wearing a dark jacket and pants, looked familiar to Titus, yet he was unable to place his finger on who the man was. When the stranger spoke, his voice was low, and as if he meant for the conversation to remain secretive. "Is he still in there?"

"Is who still in where?" Titus demanded, completely confused.

The man looked from left to right, attempting to identify anyone who may have been listening in on them. "Grayson."

Suddenly, Titus realized now who the man was, who he worked for, and why he was here. But he had not seen Paul Grayson, the traitor that Cerberus was looking for all over the galaxy, in Afterlife. Even if he did, there was nothing he could have done at that moment. Omni was not focused on hunting down traitors. They were focused on the eliminating or stalling the Collector threat. The Illusive Man had other assets assigned to tracking down rogue Cerberus operatives.

"Sorry," the commander replied, "but I haven't seen...," his voice trailed off as another realization hit him square in the chest. There was another human in Aria's booth tonight; the one wearing the trench coat and covering his face with the hood. He was two feet from you, you idiot! "Yes," Titus corrected himself. "He's wearing a trench coat. In Aria's booth."

"Thanks," the man replied, and then stepped back into the line to conceal himself again.

Knowing that meant the end of the conversation and that the man had collected the information he needed, John and his team pressed on, only stopping to hail a cab to take them back to the Vindicator. As they flew through the busy causeways of Omega, Titus wondered about the mysterious human in Aria's booth. He knew the man that had stopped him so suddenly outside the club was a Cerberus assassin named Kei Leng. He was ruthless, cunning, creative, and smart. He was the one, Titus figured, that he had felt watching them when they left the club. How long he had been stalking Grayson on Omega, Titus had no clue. But he wondered if the hooded man in the club was even Grayson to begin with. It was impossible to tell with the shadows distorting his features; but if Kei Leng believed him to be in there, then Titus had no reason to doubt him.

The commander took a long look out the window of the cab, watching as the many pillars hanging down from the mushroom-like canopy of the asteroid, making up the various districts of Omega, passed by. The site was spectacular to behold when you weren't down on the crime-filled streets. For a moment, John took his mind off of the night's events and simply wondered about the station itself. Whoever had built it - be them the Protheans, or some other long-extinct race - would no doubt be disgusted at what this place had become. Its original purpose will forever be lost in the chaos and anarchy that made up, somehow, the unofficial capital of the Terminus systems.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Oct 23, 2011 8:55 pm

After Vala had left for a much needed rest. Tia blew out a breath. "Way to put boot in mouth, St. Jean." She shook her head at herself. She grieved Ben's loss. He'd been a good man, if a little idealistic at times. She wondered if she was growing too calloused sometimes when she didn't dwell on the loss of her compatriots. It happened far too often. Perhaps it was simply a defensive mechanism. It was hard to say.

While she was still on the tread mill, Horn entered the work out area as well. Tia had to wonder if it was the norm on this ship for people that should be in bed resting to come and abuse themselves even more. She watched the Commander stretch and then attack the heavy bag. His style was nothing of the sort. He hit hard and brawled, then he kicked and used elbows like Muy Thai, in fact, he was all over the map. Analyzing it, his non-style might work, against an opponent that is trained. It would definitely keep someone off-guard. She'd rather just shoot them. The thought made her chuckle.

Once done warming up, Horn bounced on the balls of his feet, challenging anyone to a few rounds of sparring. Tia looked at the others and noted those that knew Horn wisely bowing out. He'd obviously beaten the more foolish that had tried. It was something she knew she'd probably regret, but it was also a good way to get a read on the man who'd have her life in his hands.

Tia stepped off the machine and moved to the center of the mat-covered floor. "Call me stupid, but I'll go a round or two with you Commander."

The Commander's eyes lit up like a kid that had just been handed a chocolate bar. "Alright newbie!" He crowed with delight. "Let's do it!" She followed Horn into the small ring noting that others in the gym area stopped to watch the spectacle. Oh this is not going to be good. She thought to herself. Tia faced Horn from an opposite corner, watching him jump up and down to loosen up.

"Whenever you're ready, Commander." She smiled, "And take it easy on an old woman, would you?" Tia stepped out toward the middle of the ring, left side turned slightly toward Horn with her arms hung loosely at her sides waiting for him to make the first move. Tia suddenly wondered if Invaru had brought up her synthetic arm to Horn or if the SIC had even had the chance to yet.

Horn's face held a certain mischievous grin as he stepped forward and held up his hand ticking off points as he set the rules. "Alright Tia. Rule 1. If your opponent is knocked down, you step away and allow them back up. Rule 2: Below the belt shots are allowed. Rule 3: No breaking of any bones, muscle tissue, etc on purpose. Rule 4: Don't cry when I kick your ass."

Tia smiled at the rules as they were set and made note that groin shots were allowed. In her mind that meant he had a strategy to counter or he really had the brass balls his reputation said he did.

He stepped forward testing her. He shot out a few crisp jabs to test the range and to see how fast she'd counter. Tia merely stepped back or took the shots on her left arm. She kept her elbows in to protect her ribs, but mostly just bobbed out of range at first. She had a feeling he would jump to the bait sooner rather than later.

Horn didn't disappoint. In a sudden lunge, he swung a powerful right uppercut that caught Tia under her armpit when she dodged barely in time. Even with the glancing blow, she was thrown back several feet and onto her back. She thanked the gods that he'd caught her left side. Even with the synthetic muscle fiber that had hurt like hell.

He didn't give her any time to recover, he charged quickly to send a kick to her ribs. Tia rolled to her back and grabbed his foot twisting it with such force that Horn had to spin in the air to avoid having his ankle broken. They separated and both scrambled to their feet in a blur.

Tia shook out her left arm hoping to make the Commander believe he'd numbed it to the point of being unusable. "Hell of a shot, Comm..."

Horn didn't let her finish. He stepped in with a dangerous smile on his face and drove her back with a series of hard, powerful shots. Tia caught as many as she was able on her left arm, but the man was unrelenting. He got through to her ribs far more than he should have and she could barely breathe. She needed to get him off of her. At this range her options were limited, but when he threw another right hook at her head, Tia ducked it and took the opening. Hooking her left arm under his shoulder, Tia threw him over her back to the padded surface of the ring. Tia backed up trying to grab some air. Damn it, he hit hard.

After scrambling to his feet, Horn once again pressed his advantage, a series of elbows, round house kicks even a leg sweep had Tia nearly running for her life. This was more her style however and she managed a hard right elbow on the top of his left shoulder when he went for a knee to the gut. She was slow, however and his knee drove into her. Tia had to back away coughing again. He backed away too, nursing a right arm buzzing with pins and needles, but he shook it off. He began circling Tia again looking for an opening.

Tia kept turning to keep her left side to the Commander. Sensing a weakness, Horn stepped forward, once again a brawler, slamming hard punches into Tia's left arm and inside her guard to her ribs and twice to her jaw that nearly made her black out. She grabbed him to tie him up, but he simply hurled her over his shoulder onto the mat with a heavy crash.

True to his word, he stepped back and gave her time to stand up, if she wanted to. "It's alright if you need a nap, there, Newbie. You wouldn't be the first."

That only spurred Tia on. She got to her feet, shaking her head and wiping the blood from the corner of her mouth. "I'm alright, Commander. But, thanks." This time, Tia went on the offensive. He'd sort of pissed her off. So, commanding officer or not. He was going to get hit. A lot. And if he gave her a true beat down? Fine. She'd take it. Tia stalked forward, getting within the range of his powerful punches. He began peppering her with strong rights and hard left, battering her ribs mercilessly. She let him until he tried for that roundhouse again. Throwing her hip into it, she slammed her left fist into his ribs and then nailed him in the sternum with a palm strike in less than a blink of an eye. She didn't use all of her power, she'd have killed him if she had. But she heard the satisfying grown as he staggered back coughing and breathing hard.

By now his blood was up too so he waded right back in to her. They traded some vicious shots, he getting the better of her until Tia finally grabbed his left wrist, jerked the man toward her and clothes-lined him with a stiff left arm hard enough to make his body somersault completely in the air before crashing to the mat on his stomach. Tia backed away, staggering. She was battered and bloody. She hadn't had a fight like that in years. She was going to hurt for days, even with her healing factor.

Looking up, she noticed how the gym area had filled to overflowing with onlookers. When Horn got to his feet and looked ready to go for more, she held up her hands. "No...no more. Christ...you trying to kill me?" She took the sting from the words with a grin and had to take a knee. "Med bay is which way?" She joked through her pain.

Horn bent over at the waist, resting his hands on his knees, his breathing shallow from his damaged ribs. "Oh? K, I win..." He gasped. Taking a moment to recover, he then backed toward the ropes to crawl out of the ring. His limbs refused to obey, however and catching his foot on the bottom rope, he tumbled to the ground outside the ring onto his ass. He sat there a moment, reassuring everyone. "I'm Okay."
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Mon Oct 24, 2011 1:27 am

She didn’t know how long she’d been there, and if she was being completely honest, she didn’t frankly care much. Rubbing at her still stinging eyes, Vala slowly climbed back to her feet, ending the shower with a quiet tap of the panel. If she stayed any longer, her skin would prune, and then she’d look like an idiot. At least, that’s what she told herself.

Pushing off the bitter memories, the woman slowly towelled herself down, not in any real rush to leave her quarters. With luck, she’d be able to lose a few hours in the dark before something forced her out. Emerging from the small shower, she glanced curiously at the freshly pressed uniform laying on her bed. Someone must have done a clothing sweep early for a clean. It was nice to have the clean set, but the thought of someone entering her room whilst she was away sent warning signals blaring in her mind.

Changing quickly into the fresh clothes and tugging her hair into it‘s usual ponytail, Vala wasted no time in starting the process she should have taken the moment she had a spare minute. She was sloppy today, there was no doubt about that. Thankfully, the small size of the room limited her sweep to a simple hour, yielding very few bugs, although those she did find were rather creatively hidden. Her terminal took a few minutes itself, and the operative was surprised to find an e-mail waiting for her in her inbox.

“Dear Vala,

It’s been quite sometime since your last call, so I’m just checking up on you. I know that you’re always busy on some contract or another in the Terminus Systems, but that’s no excuse not to tell us how you’re doing. You know how your mom gets when she thinks something has happened to her little “Bubu”. I told her you’re a grown woman but she insisted I send this immediately. Give her a call when you have the chance, alright? It makes her day when she hears from you.

I won’t keep you from your work. I have some shore leave soon, so we might try and do a family dinner. I’ll let you know when I get some more concrete dates. Keep safe sweetheart, and we’ll see you soon.

Love, Dad.”

A gentle smile touched her features at the email, and she read it once more before closing it. A few seconds later, and the terminal was encrypted. Maybe she could snag the communication room for a short call to her mother…

A soft growl from her stomach silenced that plan, and she chuckled to herself in resignation. “Food first, then mom.” Rising from her seat, the operative was pleased to find her shower seemed to have relaxed her injuries quite well. The soreness was ever present, but that was easily ignored. The door to her room hissed open, and, after snatching up her tin of tea from her desk, Vala walked briskly down the hall to the mess. If she was lucky, they’d have found a something better to talk about instead of her…encounter with TJ earlier.

Rounding the corner a moment after she had the thought, the blonde was happy to find she only received a few glances before the few crew scattered about simply returned to their conversations. Finally, something was going right! Her luck seemed to be on the upswing, as even the food line was empty, and she quickly staked up a large plate of food whilst the water warmed for her tea. Meal in hand, the operative crossed to one of the empty tables, and claimed it for her own, not really feeling up to socializing with the rank and file troops at the moment.

Maybe not the best mentality to have, but her head was pounding again(stupid biotics) and the risk of running into another person like TJ made any encounter with those she didn’t know unsavoury. Glancing about the room, she took a bite of her food whilst examining her surroundings proper. The mess was much bigger than the one on the Vindicator, but then again, she wouldn’t be surprised if the Titan was carrying double the personnel than the frigate. She’d need to learn when the main serving time was and avoid it. The room would be absolutely crammed if the majority of the soldiers turned up, she was sure of it.

Still, so far, the Titan seemed like it had a capable(if mildly unstable) crew, but if Horn was half as wild as his talk suggested(or any of the other talk she’d heard, for that matter), it made plenty of sense. At least she thought so. Her fork scraped against the plate, and she blinked once in surprise. “Hungrier than I thought.” The downside to being a biotic, she had long ago learned, was that she needed to consume far more calories than the average person to maintain herself and ensured she would have enough energy to use her abilities when the need arose. At least it went to use though. Rising to fetch herself another plate, Vala paused when she caught sight of Kelly approaching. “Oh, Ms Invaru.” Blinking quickly to get rid of any residual redness in her eyes from earlier, she offered the other woman a smile.

The 2iC smiled back, and nodded her head in greeting. "Ms. Buchan, I didn't expect Dr. Grass to let you out of the infirmary so soon. I'm guessing you simply used yoru skills to escape his clutches?"

Vala chuckled, placing a small helping of food on her plate. “I’m afraid nothing quite as dramatic. He’s let me roam with orders not to get shot or tackled for the time being.” She lifted up a small tea bag. “Can I interest you in a cup? It’s peppermint.” Kelly smiled a bit more, but shook her head slightly at the offer.

"No thank you, I prefer not to drink that stuff while I'm technically on the clock. I was actually meaning to come talk to you when...well when TJ decided to introduce herself." The blonde winced, remembering the feeling all to well.

“Well, luckily she didn’t put me in a coma.” She motioned to the table and took a seat across from the 2iC, sipping quickly at her tea. “I’m all ears, Ms. Invaru.” Kelly took the offered seat, and replied.

"Yeah, she can be that way. Well, actually, I don't think she even has another way to introduce herself." A quiet moment passed, and Vala found herself cocking a brow at the silence. "I feel like I should explain the Commander's behaviour when you first met him. You see, he hates finding about unscheduled arrivals due to an incident that happened a little less than a year ago.” Another pause, much longer than the first. "An agent was brought aboard, orders from the Illusive man, or so we thought, saying that the passenger was to assist us in our current mission at the time. Sooner rather than later we found out the hard way that the passenger was a Shadow Broker agent." Kelly stopped again for another moment, and Vala found herself averting her gaze from her fellow Cerberus operative. "I'll spare you most of the details, but he killed a few crew members, and nearly destroyed the SIC Titan by flying it into the sun. For obvious reasons, you can see why he hates new arrivals."

For a few minutes, Vala didn’t say anything, hands laced in front of her on the table. “I…see. Then I should make amends. I had no right to…” She trailed off, taking a slow drink of her now cooled tea. “I’m no stranger to betrayal myself.” The whisper had escaped her before she even realized it was there.

Kelly gave a small smile but shook her head. "I think it would be best if he thought you still didn't know. He's a bit private when it comes to things with his past. My advice? Just keep that in mind if he snaps at you for no apparent reason." She rose, and Vala looked up from her drink. "It's been a pleasure, and this conversation never happened. Clear?"

“Of course.”

Kelly smiled, and left without another word. A double agent from the Shadow Broker. Her eyes flicked wearily over the crew around her, swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat. It was one thing to expect betrayal, and another to be paranoid. The logic didn’t really help any, and her appetite vanished about as quickly as her small sense of security. Placing what remained of her meal in the disposal, the operative mentally sighed. Forgot to ask Kelly about the Comms Room. The 2iC had looked busy with her rounds, so maybe Horn was a better bet right now. Of course, she had to find him first.

Glancing to one of the tables, she quickly approached, tapping Daniel’s shoulder. He turned to face her, and smiled. “Vala! Come for some story telling?” She offered a half smile.

“Not this time. I was wondering if you knew where the Commander is.”

The demon glanced casually at the time. “He’s probably down in the Observation room right about now. Needs to keep his figure, you know.” She thanked him quickly, heading for(what had to be the hundredth time today) the lift. A quick ride later, and she was walking down the hall to the Observation room. Halfway to her destination, the door hissed open, and a slightly ragged Commander Horn emerged, sporting a few bruises for what must have been quite the training session.

“Commander Horn.” The large man wiped his face with a towel, glancing up to see who was addressing him.

“Hm?” Their eyes met, and the commander smile wide. “Hey, it’s TJ’s best friend! Whatcha need?” No one was going to let that go, evidentially. Couldn’t have a conversation with anyone without the armourer’s name coming up. This needed fixed. Immediately.

“I was wondering if I could make use of the communication room for a call, Commander.” She watched him wearily, Invaru’s revealation still ringing in her head. He seemed…chipper for a man who’d suffered a betrayal so severe. He stopped, cocking an eyebrow at her in curiosity, and for a moment she worried her face had given away her thoughts.

“For what?”

“A personal call to my mother. She’s apparently been worrying about me as of late…” She averted her gaze, feeling slightly awkward talking about her family to the man. “I won’t be long. Just letting her know I’m alive and well.” There was a pause. “Maybe well isn’t the best word, but I’m alright.”

“And you would know this how? Mail? Phone call? Some kind of messenger?” She could practically feel the disbelief in his voice, but found herself growing frustrated at how the simple request was getting it’s own inquisition.

“My father sent an email to my personal account, Commander.”

“Let me see it.”

She blinked once. “What?”

"I said...let me see it. I'm not being clear enough for you Operative?" Her eyes narrowed slightly, but she quickly tapped her Omni-tool, accessing the message with a few key strokes, and holding her arm up to the man.

“There, Commander.” He took his time reading it, as if committing every word to memory. She retracted her arm when he was done, watching him with hardened eyes.

"Alright...you can use the comm. room. Make note though, your conversation will be recorded." Horn paused for a second before continuing. "For security reasons of course."

“I’m sure you’ll enjoy every second of my mother‘s worrying, Commander Horn.”

"I better, might want to add some crying to make it realistic." She bit her tongue as the Commander left, focusing her blazing gaze on the wall beside her. Once the sound of his footsteps faded from the hall, Vala promptly spun on her heel, and made her way to the Communication room. She tapped on the console, quickly typing in the necessary information and starting the call. The line was silent for a few moments, before a light orange hologram flickered into life before her.

“Hi, Mom.” It wasn’t difficult to see where Vala had gotten her looks. Mrs. Buchan had the same blonde hair, loose behind her and framing her slightly aged face. The older woman’s topaz eyes shined with a warmth that Vala’s own lacked, but one was a soldier, and the other was a homemaker. They couldn’t be identical.

“Vala! I wasn’t expecting a call from you, sweetie! How are you?” A worried look settled onto Mrs. Buchan’s features. “Did something happen? Are you alright?”

Vala chuckled softly. “Nothing happened, Mom. I can call just to see you sometimes, can’t I?” Her mother rolled her eyes, a joking grin upturning her lips.

“With the number of times you’ve called this year, forgive me for doubting.”

“Point taken. I’ll try and call more. I’ve just been busy with work lately, and-”

“Don’t use that excuse on me. Your father does the exact same, and I know he’s just playing cards with his friends.”

“Mom, I am working. Trust me.” She winked quickly. “Can’t vouch for Dad though. He’s the reason I called. He said you’ve been worried about me lately.”

“I should have guessed. You two only call when I nag you. Too busy gallivanting about the galaxy, saving the day.” She shook her head, the smile betraying her real thoughts. “I’m glad you’re safe, sweetheart. How’ve you been?”

“Busy. Always work in the Terminus systems. Someone always needs something taken or guarded. You keeping busy? I know how bored you get when I’m not around to pester.”

The hologram laughed, feigning insult. “Me? Pester? Never. It’s called doting.” She sighed. “But I’ve run out of things to do, really. With your father in the fleet, and you on your mercenary work, I rarely have company. The only excitement around here recently was that whole fiasco with X57.”

“Don’t remind me about that. I almost had a heart attack when I found out about that.” She shivered at the memory, at how close she’d come to losing her mother. “Well, maybe you should find a new hobby? Take up yoga, or a martial art or something. They keep you busy and in shape.”

Her mother offered a knowing smile. “Maybe. Will you be visiting soon?”

“Dad said he should have some leave soon. When he gets the dates, let me know, and I’ll do my best to come by for at least a day, alright?”

“Alright. I’m going to hold you to that.”

“I’d expect nothing less, Mom.” She glanced over her shoulder towards the door, before looking back to the hologram. “I should go. New contract, want to make a good impression on the new boss.”

“Okay. Don’t leave me waiting for another call for half a year, alright? It does me good to know you’re safe and sound.” Her mother kissed her fingers and the hologram reached out and ‘tapped’ the fingers against Vala’s nose. “I love you. Stay safe, sweetheart.”

“I will, Mom. I love you too. Bye.” She tapped the console, and the hologram vanished, leaving her alone in the empty room. Heaving a sigh, the operative left the comms room, heading for her room and hopefully, a few hours of sleep.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Mon Oct 24, 2011 12:38 pm

Propulsion engineering was a demanding job aboard the Vindicator. Even though the Cerberus-designed frigate had one of the most advanced cold engine propulsion systems, it took the motherly care of Dianna Foster to keep the mechanics and systems functioning at optimal performance. The job was twenty-fours, as she shared much of the same
responsibilities as Chief Engineer Tony Sullivan, and supervised the rest of the engineering team. If something went wrong, she was the first to know about it, no matter where she was or what she was doing. Luckily, any dog fights that the Vindicator found itself in were typically short-lived. Pirates were the main threat in non-council space, but Cerberus spared no expense for the high-grade weapons technology that made quick work of anyone daring enough to challenge helmsman Mansfield’s piloting and officer William’s mastery of the gun systems. So far, Dianna has very little problems with the Vindicator. The organization she worked for knew how to build a ship, and it was mostly thanks to Cerberus’ heavy investment in their main front company, Cord-Hislop Aerospace.

Engineer Foster stood adjacent to her colleague, Sullivan, at the main control board for the massive eezo-powered drive core. The sphere before them, at the lower center of the Vindicator, was about ten meters in diameter. Sustained FTL travel with the Vindicator was possible for up two standard earth days before a discharge would be required. Foster had been reviewing recent data concerning the shifting methods Darcy was using between the FTL drive core to the main propulsion thrusters, and vice versa. She would have to make it very clear to him sometime soon that his flip-the-switch-and-punch-it method was starting to take a toll on the cold fusion reactors. A helmsman that followed proper protocol would know that he should always wait for the reactors to finish transferring the core’s “borrowed” energy; otherwise it was like attempting to go from sitting in a chair to a dead sprint without first standing up and gaining a good balance. The standard transfer time minimum was only around five seconds, but Foster understood that emergencies called for rapid FTL acceleration. However, the Vindicator wasn’t always responding to emergencies, and Darcy’s love to put the pedal to the metal was beginning to get on her nerves.

“How are those calibrations turning out with the cold fusion reactors?” Sullivan asked in his mild, cute British. He had to be one of the very few Brits that retained his native accent. Most of Earth’s cultures had become so blended, that there was no longer such a thing as a “language barrier” on the planet. Accents had disappeared, replaced with adopted tongues and speaking styles that are the norm in most vids or songs.

Dianna glanced over at the last reading on the closest screen to her left, sparing only a few seconds to confirm what she had remembered reading merely a minute ago. “Calibrations are fine, so long as Darcy can keep from getting too jumpy with the Vindicator for at least another few hours.”

Tony smirked and replied, “You know that’s not going to be possible for him. If Titus wants him to go to the Citadel for a bit of shopping, Darcy will turn it into a mission to save the galaxy.”

“Well there won’t be any more galaxy-saving-shopping trips if he doesn’t learn how to wait for the reactors to finish their power transfer. And if you ask me, I think the Commander needs to take a little break every now and then, as well. He’s always wanting to go somewhere at every moment. What gives with that?”

Her supervisor shrugged his shoulders and moved away from the control panel. He turned to walk down the gangplank that allowed access to where they were standing from the primary cold fusion reactors behind them. The engineering deck was one of the larger portions of the Vindicator’s lower levels. While it was schematically considered to be one deck, the entire area actually took up the volume of three for a standard frigate. The Vindicator favored maneuverability over firepower, and that required several main and secondary cold fusion reactors that fed power to several thrusters around the ship. Helium-3 tanks lay at the front of the deck, ahead of the protective shell that encased the eezo core.

Dianna logged out of the control panel and turned to hurry and catch up with Tony. When she appeared by his shoulder, he answered her earlier question. “The Commander can seem a bit restless at times,” he said. “I don’t think the man gets much sleep nowadays. My hunch is that its impatience; and – looking at his history – I’d be amazed to see the man sit still in a chair for more than a minute.”

“What do you mean by ‘his history’?” Foster asked, suddenly very curious about Commander Titus.

“Well it’s no secret that he used to be Alliance; one of them N7 Marines that are the talk of the town with them. But… he had a bit of a problem with following orders.”

Dianna laughed and said, “I find that hard to believe! Titus always does what the Illusive Man tells him to do. And if he had such a problem with following orders, why does the leader of Cerberus seem to trust him so much and give him a ship? Hmm?”

Tony looked at her, but his expression was far from amused. “The Commander had a problem following orders that were based on politics and formalities, Dianna. Red tape only angers the man; Titus is someone who wants to get things done. Take the lack of traditional military standards aboard this ship, for instance. Why do you think he rarely returns a salute?”

Foster had never thought about that little before. It was true that Titus never cared for the typical customs and courtesies due officers in the military; but she had merely brushed that off as a personal preference, or maybe because they were Cerberus. But it seems there was more to the man than just a casual attitude.

“So,” she began to ask, “what brought him to Cerberus?”

Tony approached a haptic interface against one of the main reactors and began punching way at the holographic buttons. The implants beneath the skin of his fingertips told the computer exactly who was pecking away at the interface, and the screen altered from its default readings to ones that only he cared about. As he typed and scanned, he replied, “You could say it was the fact that the Illusive Man trusts his commanders to make the right decisions and execute them on their own. It was also, probably, the fact that this organization in general just gets the job done without having to jump through political hoops first.”

“But what was the final straw for him?” Dianna asked. The curiosity was practically crushing her now. She wanted to know what the Alliance must have done, or ordered Titus to do, that finally drove him away from the military.

Tony glanced over at her and tapped a key on the interface that logged him out of the system completely. “Careful there, Miss Foster,” he said in a cautioning tone. “If you want to know so badly, I suggest that you simply ask him yourself. It’s not my place to answer that question.”

A feeling of utter embarrassment swept over Dianna and she felt herself blushing. “Oh! Of course, sir. I’m sorry, I guess I just let my curiosity get the better of me there. It won’t happen again.”

Tony stared at her for several seconds. The expression on his face was cold, suspicious and almost intruding. Dianna felt completely guilty and knew she must have crossed some kind of line by questioning her supervisor about their commander’s past. But that guilt was overtaken with instant confusion when a large grin broke out on Tony’s face and he burst out laughing.

“What the hell is so funny?” Foster demanded; unsure if she was just played, or if the man had thought she had been a bit too apologetic and found it humorous.

“I- I just thought th- that was too funny! I’m sorry, Dianna, I couldn’t resist that one.” When he finally stopped laughing, he took a deep breath to control himself and calmly said, “Okay… I was serious about it not being my place to answer your question; but for heaven’s sake, lighten up a tad bit! You don’t need to apologize for that nonsense.”

Dianna closed the gaping hole that had been her mouth and crossed her arms. “You’re lucky I don’t throw you in the damn coolant vats for that, Mister Sullivan.”
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:34 am

Horn walked to the elevator, quickly taking it back up to his cabin in order to get himself showered and changed into something decent. He would be the last to say that appearance mattered to him, but there was a line between casual, and just downright gross looking. So, once the elevator opened, he tossed his clothes on the bed and made for a quick shower. Once that was done, he switched into his marine uniform, and tossed the dirty clothes down the shoot for the janitorial staff to take care of. No sooner had he closed the latch that Serah came over the comm. "Commander Horn? We have a contact on the edge of our sensor range. Initial findings prove the ship to be of Blue Suns origins, most likely a slaver barge."

"Anything else? Is it moving? Weapons? Escorts?" Horn asked in quick sequence as he made for the elevator.

"No escorts Commander. The ship appears to be dead in space. I will need to get closer for a more intensive scans, but preliminary findings seem to indicate that the barge is functioning on limited power."

"Alright, I'm on my way to the bridge now." Horn stated as the elevator doors closed in front of him.

Horn quickly walked across the CIC, not surprised to see his 2IC already there waiting for him. She looked at him, and gave a smile that seemed more mischievous than greeting. "Something funny Kelly?" Horn asked as he looked through the view port.

"Oh, I just heard that you took on Tia St. Jean in the Observatory." Horn rubbed his jaw at the thought.

"Yeah. For a newbie, she has an arm of solid rock."

"Probably because it's bionic." Kelly stated as she returned her attention to the view port as the ship grew in size in front of them.

"Yeah, that might ex-" Jason stopped for a second. "It's bionic?! Why didn't you tell me!" Horn yelled, more surprised than angry.

"It wasn't prudent to the current mission or time, as per your orders, I only need to inform you of the important things. I handle the rest."

"Yeah...well..." Jason thought for a second. "It really fucking hurt."

"Oh I bet it did. From what I heard...you became quite the gymnast when she clothslined you." Kelly said with a small laugh. Jason just gave a glare.

"Funny, I never needed someone to force my head into a mechanical limb to do a backflip before."

"Scanning." Serah interrupted the both of them.

"You know I'll get you back for this Ms. Invaru." Jason stated, returning his full attention back to the screens.

"I know you'll forget about it about a day from now." Kelly fired back, almost spurring Jason into another argument as he floundered with his words to come up with something. Kelly laughed and Serah cut in once again.

"Commander?"

"What?!" Horn yelled at the machine in frustration. Serah took it in her usual cool manner.

"Scans indicate that their mass effect core is off line, life support is running on emergency power, and all other non-essential systems have either been shut down or destroyed." There seemed to be a pause for a second, which was incredibly long for an AI. "There also appears to be some sort of shield around the vessel. I can not scan for life signs."

"Can you determine what might be causing this?" Horn asked, having calmed down to the point of not being able to tell he was ever frustrated.

"The signature matches that of a biotic barrier, but the power required for an entire ship to be cascaded in it would be enormous. There are no known records of anyone, human or otherwise, being able to do this. My hypothesis is that there are numerous biotics working in unison to shield the ship from either collapse or exterior scans like it is now." Jason thought for a second while Kelly simply looked at him with her hands clasped behind her back.

"So, in other words, we know that there is at least one person on that ship still breathing. If it just one, they have to be one hell of a biotic." Jason stated as he paced slightly on the bridge.

"As I said before Commander, the probability states that that occurrence is highly unlikely. I would estimate 6.74 regular strength biotics needed to maintain a shield that large."

"Commander? We're within boarding range." Jack said as he was sitting there. His hands flew over the controls. "Your orders?"

"Dock, but keep the airlock locked up tight until we're ready to move across. I don't know what's in there...but I'm keeping my god damn ship. Kelly." Horn said, redirecting himself towards his XO. "Get the newbies, Vala and Tia, ready for a boarding action, oxygen free atmosphere gear. Time to see if they follow orders as well as they make trouble on my ship."

"Of course sir." Kelly said, biting her tongue about Horn instigating both of those instances. Jason made his way to the armoury in a brisk walk, his armour no doubt having been repaired by now.




A little while later, and Horn was standing before the airlock, double checking every little bit of gear. His mask was on, serving also as a standalone pressure seal against vacuum. His weapons, a Vindicator assault rifle and Cerberus M-22 Eviscerator shotgun on his back. Of course he also had his trusty Carnifex Hand Cannon, along with his combat knife. He looked like a small army by himself, but he was also bring back up with him. He tapped his pack to make sure it was secured and fuelled. If the barrier was holding the ship together, then there would be a chance that if it went down, they could all be sucked into space. He hated it when he had no control over his own movements.

Vala and Tia joined him quickly, and he set about doing almost his alternate persona of a serious Commander Horn who dealt with the mission at hand. He looked to each, and nodded respectively before speaking. "Alright, whatever impression you got of me during our first visit, wipe it clean. This is the real test. For you, you get to see how I command on the field and how I handle situations on the spot. For me, I get to see how far I can trust you, and how quick you are to follow my orders. Make no mistake, if you can't do what I say, then you have no place on this ship." Horn let that sink in for a minute, before turning to the mission at hand. "Alright, so the ship is a Blue Suns slaver barge, currently operating under minimum power. Mass effect core is offline, life support is running on backup, and anything else that doesn't need to be turned on, isn't. Tia, this is where you come in. Some of these doors may need to be manually opened. Using your skills, I expect nothing less but a quick path and recon. We know that there is at least one person on this ship still alive, managing to create a barrier around the ship that is either holding the ship together or keeping out life sign readings, maybe both." Horn paced in front of the airlock for a moment.

"Vala, your part in all of this once we get on board is to find, examine, but do not engage these unknowns. They could be allies, enemies, or scared slaves with immense power and the common sense to band together." He pointed to his mask for a moment. "There is a threat that the ship will collapse if this barrier is brought down by any means. So, if you find yourself in a depressurized zone, keep your cool. Chances are that whoever is in there isn't prepped for Zero atmo, so it will work to our benefit." Horn hit the button for the first airlock to pop open.

"Questions?" Horn asked.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:00 am

Dianna nervously twiddled her thumbs underneath the surface of the mess table. Her palms were already hot and sweaty, and she did her best to not reach up and grab her napkin to dry them too often for someone to notice the strange behavior. Normally, she never sat with the other officers aboard the Vindicator. Miss Foster was far more comfortable eating with her colleagues two tables over, but she was determined to know more about her commander; and Tony's teasing had definitely worked up enough courage to make her sit at the table for more than five minutes.

Along with her and Titus sat Operative Taylor, Keown, Williams, and the young Mr. Reynolds (who had noticeably become more attached to Mr. Williams since the Vindicator's recent visit to Omega). As she aimed to see, Dianna was sitting directly across from Commander Titus. He was busy helping himself to a fork of steaming ramen noodles while reading an e-book. Whatever he was reading must have earned enough attention for him to not become involved in the conversation among the other officers. His entranced demeanor in front of the e-reader's teal-toned screen increasingly discouraged her from saying even two words to the man.

Suddenly, without hesitation and without turning his eyes away from his novel, the commander asked, "Is there something I can help you with, Miss Foster?"

Dianna felt herself blushing and quickly diverted ashamed eyes elsewhere. "My apologies, sir," she quickly stammered. "I didn't mean to stare."

Titus carefully set down his e-reader on the table, and proceeded to dig his fork into the noodles on his tray. He finely twisted the utensil with a delicate ease, and gracefully rose the fork from the plate, leveling it out before him. As elegantly as he prepared the serving, it vanished from the fork and a satisfied grin met his lips. After dabbing them with his napkin, he cleared his throat and spoke again.

"Miss Foster, you've been under my command for practically a year by now. If you have a question for me or need to tell me something, you shouldn't be embarrassed about it."

Dianna reached up and plucked her napkin from the table once more, gently rubbing the already-mashed fabric in her palms to dry up the next round of nervous sweat. Finally, she said, "Actually, commander, I was just wondering what your reasons for joining Cerberus were."

As soon as the confession escaped her lips, the entire table fell eerily silent. They had all heard Miss Foster's words, and she quickly felt even more ashamed. Keown, Williams, and Operative Taylor looked from Dianna to Titus with new-found interest, but little emotion. Even the boy sitting next to Mr. Williams' giant figure in comparison seemed curious. Once again, the question of whether or not the propulsion engineer had crossed a line sprang into Diann'a thoughts. She wanted to lift her glass of water to her lips and drown the uncomfortable silence in long, slow slurps, but every muscle in her body refused to move an inch or fear of being called out as undisciplined or defiant.

Titus quietly set his fork down on his tray at the five o'clock position and sat slightly back in his chair; the sign of a gentlemen indicating that he has finished his meal. With a blank stare he simply said, "No one has ever asked me that question before, Miss Foster."

The words echoed through the woman's mind, and a feeling of dread swept over her. You just had to be the first to ask, didn't you? she thought quietly to herself. Out loud she said, "Forgive me, sir, I didn't mean to-"

The Commander raised a gentle hand, stopping her mid-sentence. A warm smile melted away the stiff nerves that had relentlessly seized the woman. "No need for apologies, ma'am," he said. "I suppose my crew deserves to know a little about me." Titus calmly reached over and tapped the power key on his e-reader, blacking out the teal screen completely to show that he was going to devote his full attention to the upcoming telling of his history. Like a professor expressing intrigue, the man pushed his tray aside, leaned forward, and placed his elbows steadily on the table. His fingers spread, but the tips of each hand pressed against each other, resting just below his line of sight to Dianna. The engineer felt she was about to be lectured.

"Two years ago," he began, "I left the Alliance and joined Cerberus. I'm sure you and everybody else aboard the ship know about my past as an N7 Marine; so I won't bother with sounding repetitive, although I would like to correct a few of the tall-tales I hear about myself every now and then in the future.

"For starters, the heroes in the Alliance that I used to look up to became less iconic the longer I served. Men like Admiral Jon Grissam are all but completely transparent today. Overtime the Alliance became more concerned with appeasing the demands of the Council than the safety of our colonies and humans everywhere across the galaxy. They became push-overs, and politicians. If a human vessel is attacked today in the Skyllian Verge, do you know what the Alliance will do? They'll write up a report and send a request to the Council, seeking authorization to possibly use deadly force after they send out a scouting party to respond to the distress. By the time they'll get there, every human on board will either be dead or taken as slaves.

"That's the main reason why I left: I was tired of taking orders from ambassadors and 'representatives of the human race'. But another reason why I left is because of the way they lead their men. Every species has a 'thing', one might say, for tradition. That's fine and all, but when it comes to saving lives - human lives - I would like it better if we threw bull shit like customs and courtesies out the damn air lock. Sorry, but I'm not going to sit back and take orders from a man that hasn't been in a dogfight since the First Contact War. My team and I are going to do what needs to be done, regardless of what the Council threatens to do."

Titus paused for a moment, letting his emotions cool down after his harshly spoken words against the military he used to serve in. A quick sip from his glass of water allowed a more calm man to return, and he returned to the monologue. "I have three simple rules as a commander, Miss Foster. They take precedence over any military tradition on this ship. The first is to never turn your back on a crew member. The second is to always support your crew. And the last, but not least, is never leave anyone behind. The Illusive Man liked the fact that I kept things simple, and so he contacted me one day out of the blue, shortly after I left the Alliance. I guess it was training as an N7 Marine, coupled with my style of leadership and resentment toward traditional policies that he liked.

“Working for an terrorist organization didn’t sit well with me at first, but over time, I grew to accept to Cerberus’ ideals and the greater goal that they seek to accomplish. I don’t always like how they do things, but I do like the fact that they don't bog themselves down in regulations and standards.”

Dianna smiled, satisfied that he had answered the question she had feared to ask him, and with such ease and trust. “Thank you, Commander,” she said. “I appreciate you sharing that with me.”

Titus raised his glass of water in a mock toast and replied, “Anytime, Miss Foster.”

“So,” Mr. Williams started so suddenly, breaking the silence that had engulfed the table during their commander’s revelation, “what do you think of Operative Buchan, sir?”

A wide, playful grin formed on Operative Taylor’s lips and she said aloud, “You would bring her up, wouldn’t you, Lance?”

Mr. Williams shrugged and answered, “We gotta thing.”

Titus set down his glass and rested his arms completely atop the table, leaning in just a bit to see past Operative Taylor and down to his Forward Battery Officer. With a grin as large as Taylor’s he said, “I think your little brother over there had more of a ‘thing’ with Vala than you ever did, Lance.”

Mr. Williams reached a hand up and brushed the insult off of his shoulder, smiling away as if the comment did little harm to his ego. The young Mr. Reynolds merely blushed at the remark and remained silent.

“But to answer your question, Mr. Williams,” the Commander continued, “operatives like Miss Buchan actually don’t bother me much. She only cares about protocol when the mission is at stake or if she perceives you simply being in her way. Other than those things, I’m sure she could care less about something as petty as blousing your trouser legs above your boots, or ensuring that the hair on your chin is kept below one eighth of an inch. It’s crap like that that I don’t have much concern for. Does it make you look spiffy and professional? Sure; but what do a bunch of Collectors care when they have you pinned down, ready to take you captive for whatever sick experiments they’re putting our abducted colonists through?”

Everyone at the table gave an understanding nod, more so out of common courtesy after the commander’s pause than true understanding. Each of them came from a different background, some Alliance, some mercenary, and some even just normal business owners on some human colony in the Skyllian Verge or Terminus systems. None of them, except for possibly Operative Taylor, truly understood where their commander was coming from. But Dianna knew that Titus wasn’t concerned about that, either. So long as his three rules were followed to the letter, the master of the Vindicator let you be yourself.

In a sense, Dianna Foster understood exactly what the commander was trying to get at. In the end, they were at war for humanity’s very survival. In all wars, one side is always fighting for that very same goal. And that’s all that mattered.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Oct 27, 2011 3:34 am

Vala had almost reached the lift when Invaru’s voice sounded over the intercom. "Attention! Attention! Vala Buchan and Tia St. Jean report to the airlock! Non-atmo gear! Repeat! Vala Buchan and Tia St. Jean report to the airlock! Non-atmo gear!” She turned on her heel, striding towards the armoury without a moment’s hesitation. Mission time. Now was the perfect opportunity to show the Commander(and his entire crew) just how capable she was. With luck, TJ would have finished her armour by now, and she’d be able to make use of the cloak in whatever situation Horn was getting her into.

If not, she’d have to borrow one of the spare sets of armour. The door hissed open, and she flicked her gaze over the room in search of the massive woman. Her absence likely meant she was either off duty, or behind the sheet. Reaching for the sheet, it peeled back before she could reach it, and her armour was thrust roughly into her unsuspecting arms. “Get moving. Don’t keep the Commander waiting.” She could still feel the hostility radiating off the woman, and her own temper flared slightly at the memory from earlier. The muscled figure grinned darkly, almost daring her. “Don’t set off your collar. Get.”

The operative opted to put the armour on right there, taking a few seconds longer than necessary just to get under the armourer’s skin. Despite her dislike of TJ, it was hard to deny her results. The armour was back to it’s old self, with a few extra scratches added to show it’s experience. Her Omni-tool displayed all systems as green, and with some surprise, Vala noted TJ had even gotten the cloak working once again. Impressive. As the last clasp of her breather locked into place, she gave a tilt of her head. “Thank you for fixing it.” Still don‘t like you. She added as an afterthought, retrieving her Phalanx and Tempest from the table and fastening them to their respective hips, and heading for the airlock. Nodding in greeting to Tia as the two entered, she snapped a salute off before Horn could protest, and settled into a comfortable at ease.

He explained the mission with a professional’s grace, something which caught her slightly off guard, but she hid it behind impassive eyes. He had instructed them to blank slate their impressions, and she was willing to listen, if only so she could impartially view his command skills. A slaver’s barge. She grit her teeth, eyes narrowing ever so slightly. God help any of the Batarians that were still alive, especially if she found them. The shield peaked her interest though.

“Commander, will I be moving independently of the squad, or on point?”

"Tia and I will be moving through the ship as the main engagement unit. You will be sent ahead for recon."

“Call me Saint, Commander.” Vala spared a glance at the woman for a moment, before looking back to the Commander. Once the questions had been dealt with, Horn stepped forward into the airlock, motioning for them to follow. “Alright, ladies. Let’s see what these nasty ol’ mercs have been up to.” The door behind them sealed with a hiss, and the Commander hit the access panel for the foreign ships airlock, watching it open slowly, eventually allowing the passage.

“Aw crap.” Saint took the words right out of her mouth.

What lay beyond wasn’t what Vala, or anyone really, had been expecting. The bay was a blood bath, streaked with half clotted blood still pooling into the miniature ocean of crimson that made up most of the room. What she could only assume were the remains of the Batarians were difficult to sort from the mess, and any one distinguishable part was surrounded by the mulched mess of whomever it had been. Feeling a trickle on her face, she spared a glance up, swallowing hard at the half shredded torso lodged into the ceiling.

Horn broke the silence first. “Now I’m hungry. C’mon.” She watched him move to the center of the bay, trying her best to ignore the sloshing noise the bits made as the squad passed over them. The hallway ahead looked no better, scorch marks lining the walls and more…‘chum’ strewn about like it was confetti.

Tia chuckled over the comm. “You’re certifiable, aren’t you?”

The Commander’s helmet glanced back at her, and she could practically hear the half serious grin on his face. “Got my degree at the “bad comment, bad situation” academy.” Well, at least they were enjoying themselves. Solo recon was beginning to sound more like a death sentence than the easy search she’d been expecting.

The trio advanced slowly down the darkened hall, checking cautiously for any signs of movement or life amongst the corpses. “Reminds me of my days on Omega…” She muttered into the comms, stepping over one of the mutilated mounds. “…only with more dead mercenaries and half the team.”

The door at the end didn’t open at their approach, and Saint quickly synced into the console with her Omni-tool. Vala gazed quietly down the hallway they had come down, Phalanx ready in her hands should whatever had slaughtered the crew try to come for them.

“Atmospherically locked, sir.” Glancing back at the two, Vala watched Horn think quietly for a moment. There was a risk of no atmosphere, but Horn’s foresight(or basic wisdom) made that negligible for them. Anything else on the ship…might not be so lucky.

"Saint, get the door unlocked. Vala, once she's done, get to work. I want you to be around this ship twice by the time we're halfway to the bridge, deal?"

She nodded. “Simple enough. I’ll keep in touch.” Moments later, the door hissed open, and the atmosphere around them was sucked away, leaving them in near perfect silence. The operative wasted no time, entering the room beyond and sweeping the corners with her hand gun. “Clear. Proceeding to right hall way.” The door slide open without a sound, and she didn’t look back as she moved deeper into the slaver ship. Her footsteps echoed loudly in the silence, as she followed the path of carnage round the various twists of the ship.

“No sign of survivors.” She didn’t wait for a response, rounding the corner to a sealed door. A sigh escaped her, and she glanced to the access pad. Locked. Just her luck. Crouching to the pad, she brought up her Omni-tool and tapped a few keys. Basic enough encryption. She wasn’t overly familiar with Batarian designs, but with a bit of elbow grease, it couldn’t be too difficult. “Small snag. Locked door, attempting a bypass.”

Tapping the first key, she watched the screen access the system, pulling up various sheets of code that encrypted the door. Rubbing a finger on her temple, the blonde hesitantly made to select one of the sheets, only for the door to suddenly buckle outwards, cracking open ever so slightly from the sudden hit. Having thrown herself against the wall at the sound, Vala took a moment to steady her breathing, eyes wide and probing as they looked over the bent metal.

A trickle of crimson slipped through the crack, a soft drip echoing in the room. Taking a hesitant step forward, she was rewarded with the sound of ripping flesh, and the trickle grew into a river. After a heavy moment of silence, she took the final step to the door. Sparks leapt from it’s wiring, and the gap was just big enough for her to fit her fingers into. With luck she’d…

Gripping the metal, she pushed up, forcing the bulkhead upwards inch by inch. Thankfully, the system seemed fried, and the hatch didn’t try and close itself. Once the gap was big enough, she slipped through. The soft squick beneath her boots brought her gaze to the floor. Crushed against the wall by a crate, the lower half of what she assumed was a Batarian sat, still twitching from the sudden hit. The room was mostly barren, with most of the scarce furniture strewn around the opposite door, which had been blown in much like the other had almost been. Topaz eyes following the wide trail of fresh crimson blood, she was both thankful and disturbed to find it going right back out the door which had been blasted in. Whatever had gotten in, it had been after the slaver, and the slaver alone.

“Commander Horn, I have confirmed a KIA Batarian Slaver.”

Horn responded a moment later. “I think we’ve been wading through slavers since we got here, Vala. Anything actually useful?”

She resisted the urge to swear, and spoke calmly. “A fresh KIA, Commander. He…” A glance at the corpse gave her pause. “…it was alive a few moments ago. Something killed it. With a crate that smashed half a bulkhead in.”

“Any idea what is was?”

She squatted down to examine the cadaver, examining the blood trail and what remained of it’s corpse. “Nothing concrete, but I’d wager some sort of predatory animal. It took the top half with it, likely to feed.” Glancing towards the blown in door, she frowned. “It’s a long shot, but I’d almost say a yahg, if you’re familiar with them. Highly predatory, and strong as all hell if the Council’s word is to believed. I don‘t know if they can be biotic though…” A spent thermal clip lay a few feet away, and she shook her head silently. “Regardless, the slaver emptied a clip into it. If we’re lucky, it’ll be injured.”

“Don’t count on luck. Keep sharp.”

“Copy that, Commander. I’m going to follow the trail, see if I can’t find the source of our little massacre.” Her Omni-tool chimed, and she gave it a once over.

System checks complete. P.O.C.S. running at 97% capacity. Extending cloaking periods capable. Releasing P.O.C.S. system inhibitor. Activate P.O.C.S.?

A key stoke sent the shimmering field over her body, and she vanished into the murky dark of the spaceship. Much better. Now she’d be able to see whatever it was long before it ever saw her. Rising from her crouch, the operative ducked through the buckled bulkhead, eyes flicking over the corners for any signs of hostiles. Something wasn’t really adding up about the situation. Anything that could have butchered the crew so thoroughly would have to be either swarming, or practically immune to their gunfire. The slavers had obviously been running, fighting as they fell back from the rear(or at least what she thought was the rear) towards what she could only assume was the bridge or the airlock. Desperate to escape. The butchered remains were obviously from something large and/or powerful, shredding anything it got it’s hands on.

Had the slavers risked taking a yahg off their home world? How had they managed? The yahg were watched closely by the council, condemned to pre-space flight civilization. Any ship entering the system would have been noticed. The silence was beginning to unnerve her. The trail just kept going, although it was beginning to thin out a bit. Every room she passed had suffered a similar face as the one before. Doors blasted apart, and nothing but blood and bits left inside. Vala was thankful she had a strong stomach, still feeling a slight retch every time she stumbled across a more intact yet equally mangled body.

The trail ended in what appeared to be the barracks, and she gave her new surroundings a slow sweep with her eyes. Something moved in one of the rooms, and she froze in place. Cautiously flicking her gaze into the chamber, the operative approached, pistol raised and at the ready. The crack of bone split the still, and she swallowed the doubt and stepped through the door.

Her eyes were drawn immediately to the source of the sound, and they widened in shock. “O-oh god.” Taking a hesitant step back, the blonde braced herself against the wall, cupping a hand to her breather mask in a futile effort to keep herself quiet. The feasting creature stopped, turning it’s eyes towards the source, the all to familiar features of a human blaring through the blood and grime smeared across it’s face. “Commander Horn, it’s…it’s humans. Biotic humans. They’re killing the slavers…and they’re eating them.”

Suddenly, she found herself wishing it had been a yahg instead.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:15 am

Tia had just exited her shower and was towelling her hair off when the call cam over the comm; "Attention! Attention! Vala Buchan and Tia St. Jean report to the airlock! Non-atmo gear! Repeat! Vala Buchan and Tia St. Jean report to the airlock! Non-atmo gear!” Tia tossed her towel onto the bed and immediately began suiting up for whatever the call was about. Only the three of them? It must not be a large situation and likely the Commander wanted to put them through their paces. Because her gear had been stowed so precisely, it took her little time at all to dress and strap on her M-3 Predator at her right hip while her M-8 rifle and HMW shotgun both attached to her light armor at the back. She exited her room at a brisk walk and before long she stood next to Horn to his left with Vala to his right. She clamped her tweaked Omni-tool to her right forearm.

She knew she looked rather battered, in fact all three of them looked like they'd gone several rounds in a bar with some Marines. It brought a twinkle to her eye. Horn got right down to business laying out the mission and the odd phenomenon of the shield around the ship. She let him continue explaining that the ship was a Batarian slaver barge which didn't make Tia happy at all. She checked the seals on her helmet while Vala asked if she'd be taking point and was told she would.

"Tia and I will be moving through the ship as the main engagement unit. You will be sent ahead for recon." Horn had advised.

“Call me Saint, Commander.” Tia requested. "Sooner or later, you'll see just why."

Then, the door hissed closed behind them to allow the pressure to equalize and then Horn hit the access panel to allow them into the Batarian barge. The sight that greeted them was straight out of a nightmare. Blood seemed to cover every surface. Churned bits of meat mixed with the barely congealing blood. Body parts even clung to the ceiling as if the body had exploded. "Aw crap." Tia breathed out.

They were all taken aback for a few seconds. But they had a job to do. Horn quipped, "“Now I’m hungry. C’mon.” He stepped out into the pools of crimson and the two women followed him. Tia chuckled at Horn's seeming calm. "You're certifiable, aren't you?"

Vala was sent off to scout ahead while she and Horn were to cautiously make their way to the bridge; the most likely last hold out of any survivors. The first door was locked and Tia made short work of it, ensuring they were aware there was no atmosphere on the other side. Getting the go ahead, she opened it and after the initial whoosh of the atmosphere in the docking bay being sucked away ceased, Vala headed off down the right hallway. That door taken care of, she took the HMW shotgun from her back and looked to Horn to lead the way. Once through, Horn covered them with his Eviscerator shotgun while Tia closed the door behind them and reset the atmosphere. A few key strokes on her Omni tool let her hack it's over-ride codes so that she could open the door remotely. She had learned long ago that you ever knew when something might be useful.

The pair headed to the left, searching the area for any hostiles or, less hopefully, survivors. Hallway by hallway the worked their way forward, along the way, she overheard Vala calling in her progress on her own search. Tia opening two more bulkhead doors with little effort. The slavers hadn't bought the best of security for their barge. The latest bulk head opened to a large area and it opened out into a large area where slaves had obviously been kept. Here too, blood and gore seemed to cover every surface. Cages lined the walls, some exhibiting skeletons in them, presumably those of slaves. Some of the cages were torn open from the inside.

Horn made his way along the hallway cautiously, his shotgun at the ready with Tia immediately behind him. They rounded a corner to the sight of a pair of painfully thin humans gnawing on bones stripped of all flesh, but still attached to the torso of a Turian. In a remarkable case of timing, Vala called over the comm, "Commander Horn, it’s…it’s humans. Biotic humans. They’re killing the slavers…and they’re eating them.” Tia's eyes widened at the sight and for the second time since they'd stepped aboard muttered a cryptic, "Aw...crap."

Horn calmly keyed his comm and responded. "Yeah...kind of figured that part out."

"Orders?" Vala asked.

"If you aren't made," Horn stated. "Do not engage."

"Copy."

Vala's tone was all business. Tia admired that, but had to wonder how the biotic felt about what she'd just found. Keeping her eyes on the two humans, Tia asked, "Think they're all biotics? And that's why there's a shield around the ship?"

"Let's find out." Horn sauntered casually up to the crouched pair of humans. They technically were cannibals, but, were they going to be hostile to other humans was another question. Approaching them, Horn lowered his shotgun slightly. "Hey there hungry people...you alright?"

The two humans lifted their heads to stare at Horn and then stood slowly. After a brief moment of seeming thought, they both charged him screaming gibberish and slavering at the mouth. The intense blue glow revealing them as Biotics suddenly surrounded them as they ran toward Horn. Tia fired at the furthest Biotic while Horn opened fire one the closest to him. The rounds were simply absorbed by the energy of the barriers. The kinetic energy, however, did make the Biotics falter briefly, but not enough.

Tia kept firing, to keep at least one of the humans off of Horn, but he kept moving forward. As the Biotic screamed and roared, Tia noticed that the bulkheads behind the pair of Biotics creaked ominously. Evidently the power was being transferred from the shield around the ship to their personal shields.

"Commander! Get back!" Tia shouted.

Horn just grinned and began to fire, "Look, Saint. I have new friends!" He waited until the first one was close enough and threw his favorite right hook at insane man's jaw.

"What the hell is that supposed to do?" Tia shouted as she gave up on her own shotgun as well. Attaching it to the the magnetic holder at her back once more, Tia lunged forward for the second gibbering Biotic catching him around the neck with her enhanced left arm. Wrapping her legs around his waist, she clung to his back like a barnacle, squeezing off his air for all she was worth. But, he wasn't going to go down like any old human.

The Biotic screamed and clawed at her, trying to scrape her off his back but, she refused to be dislodged. Tia knew she'd be dead if she did. The man ran in circles, even tried to peel her off by ramming her against the bars of the cages the slaves had been kept in until recently. "Don't...oof! Make me...damn it!" *Crash! "Hurt you!" Tia screamed at the demented man trying his best to crush her against the bulkhead. She shifted her grip on his throat to the crook of her left elbow and torqued on it. "Damn it." She grunted as the shield around the man intensified to attempt to compensate for the damage she was inflicting.

Even more creaking of the bulkhead could be heard next to her head as the Biotic fought for his own survival. "Commander! They're going to tear this ship apart!" A final gargantuan effort rewarded Tia with an audible snap and the Biotic she'd been battling slumped to the deck boneless. Riding the body to the floor, she rolled forward and lunged toward the second Biotic that Horn had tied up.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:07 pm

So far they were listening to Horn, which was a point in their favour. Jason had to admit, he wasn't expecting the bloodbath when he opened the doors, but the two members behind him handled it well enough. He was a little disgusted, sure, but such was the state of the unknown. After they opened their first door, Vala split off as ordered and Tia got them through a few more doors quite easily. At least her abilities, thus far, hadn't been over stated. There was little communication, save from Vala giving updates as they moved through what appeared to be the main cargo hold for the slaves the Blue Suns were transporting to potential buyers. He noticed a few were broken out from the inside, and wondered just how strong or biotically inclined some of these prisoners were.

As they rounded one of the corners, that's when they saw their first glimpse of the slaves. As they munched down on the remains of one of the Blue Sun's crew. Vala, being the ever so talented in timing, announced that the slaves had not only done the carnage, but were eating the crew as well. "Yeah...kind of figured that out." Horn responded.

"Orders?" Vala asked.

"If you aren't made, do not engage."

"Copy." She stated and cut the comm. link. Horn stared at the two slaves for a moment, thinking about his options before Tia spoke up.

"Think they are all biotics? And that's why there's a shield around the ship?"

"Let's find out." Horn stated as he casually wandered up to the pair of slaves. His Eviscerator shotgun was lowered slightly, but still ready to be used at a moment's notice. "Hey there hungry people...you alright?" When they looked at him, and stood up slowly, the only thought that entered his mind was;

I'm going to get punched again...aren't I?

As if on cue to that thought, the two slaves launched forward spouting random words or syllables and slobbering at the mouth. A blue glow surrounded their bodies as their biotic barriers kicked in. Well, that answered Tia's question. Horn thought to himself as he focused fire on the closest one. The barriers were strong, throwing off their weapons fire as if they were pellet guns. The kinetic force slowed them down, but it wasn't long before they were within melee range of the Commander.

"Commander! Get back!" Tia yelled, and Jason gave a wide smile.

"Look Saint! I have new friends!" He yelled back as he threw his right hook into the man's face, watching as the slave stumbled backwards. Tia yelled something, but Jason didn't pay attention as she took on the second slave. The first on in front of him came back flying at him, smashing his hands and forcing the shotgun to fly out of them and skid around on the floor. The slave's fists glowed blue as he forced some of his energy into his punched. Horn blocked and parried, feeling the weight from them smash at his armour. The slave threw a right hook, which Horn caught under the crook of his arm. He twisted it upwards, and delivered a chop to the man's throat. There was a slight gurgle before he twirled around him, keeping a grip on his arm, and prepared to break it with a hard yank from the back.

Before he could, the man's palm opened up, and a wave of biotic energy sent Horn flying backwards. Ramming into a cage and dislodging it from it's already weakened safety holdings and flipping it on it's side as he landed on the other end. He could hear the biotic coming up on him, and with his conduits in his legs amplifying his strength, gave the cage a good kick. He was rewarded with the crack of the metal hitting the man's bones, and followed up behind the cage and tackled the biotic as he was struggling to rise once more. Horn delivered a few good punches to the man's face, which was now showing signs of broken bones and bruises. The slave tried to biotically push him away again, but Jason forced his hand away and watched as several cages were sent flying.

Horn looked over to see Tia finishing up with her slave, and rushing to help him out. He lifted the slave and kicked him out slightly, watching with great satisfaction as Saint hit him full on with the power of her bionic arm, crushing several bones in his face, and most likely causing more intense brain damage. Despite this, he was still alive on the ground slobbering off to his side and giving off grunts and wheezes. Jason found his shotgun, cocked it once, and wandered over to the man. His shield was still partially on, so he stepped on the man's throat, forced open his mouth and shoved the barrel inside before pulling the trigger.

The man's head exploded, and he was finally still. Horn looked down at his boot for a split second before giving it a shake. "I got some crazy on my armour!" He complained, before putting it back down. It wasn't until it was silent that he noticed the creaking of the bulkhead. That reminded him of what Tia had said during the fight, or at least, what he had been ignoring during the fight. The ship wasn't starting to crumble yet, but with each biotic dead, there was more risk of explosive decompression. While they did have suits to protect against the vacuum of space, the decompression could force their bodies out of a hole an inch wide. He quickly hit his comm. again.

"Vala? Change of plans. I want you to find the engine room, and prepare it to be overloaded. Once we're done here, this entire ship is going to burn, understood?"

"Yes sir." She came back over the comm. before cutting it once more.

"Any objections Saint?" Horn looked over at her, but said it in such a tone that he didn't want an argument. She simply gave it some thought, and nodded in agreement.

"If they're all like this, we can't risk them getting to the Titan." She stated. Horn just shrugged.

"I was more about oblivion being a mercy for these nut jobs." Horn stated before he made to move again. There was the sound of screaming, and footsteps could be heard rapidly approaching from their front. Numbers were unknown, and two were bad enough to fight on a fair rules sort of deal. "Down. Down." Horn whispered to Tia as he forced himself over the fallen cage and took up a spot behind it. Saint had done the same thing, hiding behind one of the fallen cages a few feet to his right. No sooner had they done that when another five biotics showed up, all looking just as crazed as the ones they just fought.

They looked slightly, and noticed two of their number down. They wandered over slowly, kicking at the bodies to see if they would get up to no avail. They were all silent for a moment, almost as if they were grieving, before they started yelling at the top of their lungs and all started running in separate directions. Horn watched as one of the biotics barely missed him with her foot, and kept running. Soon, their screaming could no longer be heard. Horn peered back over his cage, and wandered back into the opening once more. "And the town meeting of the fucking lunatics is adjourned. C'mon Saint, we still need to get the bridge, download their logs, and blow this ship to the nine circles of hell."

"Yes sir." She stated as she fell in behind him. They quickly made their way to the next door, which was also locked but not atmospherically no. That meant there were possible targets on the other side, but also the main way leading to the bridge. They didn't have time to go around, so Horn ordered Tia to get it open, and stood off to the side. The Moment Tia got it, she shoved herself to the opposite side of the door, and it opened to reveal another two biotics down the hallway simply walking. With the sound of the door opening, they both turned and looked at the opening with confusion. With a slow step, they made their way to the door. Horn already had out his combat knife, as did Saint.

"Alright. More wine tasters. Let's make this quick Saint." Horn stated over the comm. as the first one got within striking range.


Last edited by quakernuts on Sun Nov 06, 2011 9:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

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