Mass Effect: On the Edge

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Tue Dec 20, 2011 3:23 pm

Tia took off her cloak and Squish suit, leaving them on the floor of her room where they landed. The cut along her chest and shoulder was shallow, but irritating. Not as irritating as the entire mission had been. They were being cut to pieces out here against the Collectors. The Titan was gone, Horn might not make it at all and at least half of the Titan's crew was lost. They needed more help and better weapons. Hell. Bigger weapons. Alot bigger, the kind that T.J. would just swoon over.

She unbraided her hair and threw herself back onto her bed to stare at the ceiling in deep dissatisfaction. This time it felt like the Illusive Man (she still couldn't think of him as Jack), was trying to destroy Cerebrus himself. It pissed her off. He stayed safe and hidden while his pawns paid the price.

She lay there stewing for a good half hour before contemplating a shower. Then a drink. Or both. At the same time. It was becoming a routine. Once again the idea of talking to the yeoman popped into her head and was dismissed.

In the shower, her mind chased thoughts around like a puppy after its own tail. The Turian had saved her ass today. Her lips compressed into a tight line at the thought. Why? What was his angle? She wondered. Self-preservation? It had to be. Whatever the reason, she didn't like owing the Alien. And god help him if he tried to crow about it.

A little later, the thought of Braden came up. That poor kid, he shouldn't be out here. She had to admit he was one of the most talented Biotics she'd ever seen. But, that didn't forgive the fact that he deserved to just be a kid for a while. She hadn't had a chance to work with him, but she vowed to the next day. She wasn't precisely sure how she could use his help with the shield interrupter without hurting him. But she'd figure something out.

Still unsettled and dissatisfied, Tia crawled into bed. She didn't want the company of the chow hall so she decided to fore go supper. It took her all of 15 minutes to drift off.

The following morning seemed to come far too early. But the buzzing at her door was insistent. She climbed out, dragged her fingers through her messy dark hair and strode across the room. Opening the door in a tank and shorts, she was surprised to find Braden standing there with two cups of coffee.

"Um...hi." He started hesitantly. "I hope I made it right." He indicated the coffee.

Tia chuckled. "Right now? It all tastes good." She stepped aside a little, invited the boy inside wordlessly. "What's got you up so early?"

Braden stepped across the threshold, "It's 11am, Ma'am." He corrected her.

Tia blinked and looked at the clock at her bedside. "Shit. I must have passed out." She led the way to her desk and sat down. Braden followed her with unsure steps. "Anyway. How're you holding up? We've been through a couple real shit storms." She then smiled, "And thanks for catching us yesterday." She then added with a slightly sarcastic tone, "I love it when a plan comes together."

"I'm alright." He stated, just a touch defensively. "I've been in firefights before, you know."

Tia just quirked a brow. "I see." Taking a sip of her coffee, she examined him over the rim of her cup. "I take it you came here for a reason?" She prompted him.

Braden took a tentative sip of his own cup of coffee, obviously not liking the flavor before answering her. "Oh. The Biotic Shield interrupter thing you wanted to work on? Darcy announced we're heading to Earth earlier this morning, so we'll have a little time to work on it." He paused. "I mean, if you still want to."

Tia nodded. "I'm not positive how to go about it without it hurting, but if Dr. Porter or Dr. Grass has some spare time, maybe we can get some advice."

This time Braden smiled, on firmer ground. "Alright. I'll wait for you in the Med Bay."

Grant St. Jean born July 15th, 2129 - Died May 16th, 2157
Beloved Son, Brother and Husband.

May the Stars shine the brighter for his presence.

Tia stared down at the tiny marker in the ground at the cemetery that had been swallowed up by the ever-expanding city of Houston. She crouched and brushed some dried leaves from the stone absently. No one came here anymore. Grant's family was all dead. She hadn't been to Earth in over 3 years. A soft smile graced her lips remembering her late husband's lop-sided grin and stupid sense of humor. She should miss him more, she thought. But, her grief was as dulled as her horror at losing squad mates in battle. Maybe she needed to talk to the yeoman after all.

The thought was dismissed almost as suddenly as it had surfaced. She just needed to get back to work. That's all. She flexed the fingers in her synthetic left hand absently. After all the strain and tweaks she'd worked into the limb, she was slightly amazed it had held together in all honesty. The Biotic Shield interrupter was still a work in progress, but maybe the Scientists had some new breakthroughs that might enhance it's capabilities. She needed an advantage...even if it was a tiny one.

While the trip to the lab and hospital where her surgery had been performed had been interesting, it was also fruitless. Nothing new was in development to enhance her arm. It was one of a kind and not worth pouring research monies into. They did inject a new generation of nanites into her system with slightly greater capacity for coordinated replication and repair, but it was a minor upgrade at best.

The balance of the day was spent purchasing new kit, armor and an emergency sidearm. She'd lost everything when the Titan had been destroyed. She especially regretted the loss of her sidearm. The Sig Sauer 226 had belonged to Grant's grandfather. It was the last thing she had of Grant's, so it's loss had hit her particularly. Given the credits from TIM, she decided to let him foot the bill for that as well as a quiet night on the town where she wouldn't have to worry about avoiding the Turian. She very much doubted he'd be wandering the Earthen city. Although, it was an image that made her smile.

The evening found Tia in one of the few old-time blues bars left in the sprawling city. Civilian clothes felt oddly loose on her frame, she'd indulged in jeans, a leather jacket and cowboy boots so she could sit in complete anonymity and just enjoy her beer and blues. She knew the break would be short-lived.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Tue Jan 03, 2012 8:35 pm

"Will you relax?" Lizzie demanded with a joking scowl, staring at the ever-nervous Braden as they walked into the church. "I promise," she said, taking his hand in hers, "God's not going to smote you for walking in here." Her elbow playfully nudged him in the arm and her gleeful giggle at least got a small chuckle out of the boy.

Braden had never, not once in his life, even set foot in a religious establishment; not church, a mosque, or other kind of a place of worship. He had never known any "god", nor had ever entertained the idea of one a celestial presence beyond the comprehension of human (or alien) intelligence. The more he thought about it, the less it seemed possible to him. If what Lizzie believed was true, where in the blazes is God now? Thousands of years of war, civil unrest, and generations of men doubting that gods and goddesses even existed just all seemed to be evidence to Braden that God was nothing more than a superstitious being.

"So what do you people do in this... place?" he asked hesitantly as the two of them walked down the isle of the sanctuary, past several of the long benches where he assumed church-goers sat during the services.

"This is where we sing praises, listen to sermons, and pray as a congregation to God," she said. "We sit here in the pews, but we also stand during certain parts of the worship, like when we're singing. And up there...," she pointed to the front of the sanctuary, where upon a raised portion of the floor, sat a long table adorned with a single bible on a glass display. Two candles stood erect on either side of the book, and behind the decorations was a crucifix of the man Braden assumed to be the Christ. "That's the alter. And no, we don't make blood sacrifices like some people may have led you to believe." She let out another giggle as she clung to Braden's arm.

"No one has led me to believe anything, yet," Braden said with a somewhat distant voice as his eyes remained locked on the clay figure nailed to the cross. A death sentence, he thought, and for what? To supposedly tell people that there's good in them after all and to keep trying? To forgive and let go, even after driving cold iron into his hands and feet into two wooden planks? "Why?" the question, with him barely realizing it, had come aloud and echoed through the empty sanctuary.

Lizzie brought her leaning head away from his warm body and gazed into lost eyes. There was no longer a jubilant expression on her face, but the replacement of sympathy and concern. "Why what?"

Braden knew she had not heard the questions and doubts circling through his mind, but he suspected she understood the origin of the question, nonetheless. Still he, fought against the want to shut up and turn his questions inside; the desire to keep his restless mind from revealing its cry for answers. A moment later, that want finally succumbed to the natural curiosity. "Why believe?" he asked simply.

She reached out with a gentle hand and glided warm, delicate fingers across his jaw lined, turning his head toward her. Their eyes locked and she leaned in to touch her lips to his ever so gently. An unexpected and pleasurable pulse surged through his entire body; and suddenly, without struggle, every thought but the thought of Lizzie vacated from his mind. He found himself wanting to say the cheesy line of "no matter place I'd rather be", but his lips and the ability to move them had been ceased by the delicate angel kissing him in the middle of the church. He could feel the hand that that had embraced his cheek move up and around the back of his head, running through his long hair and stopping at the base of his neck. Her other hand had locked with his own and they remained standing there, kissing and holding hands until she finally pulled away.

"Because of His peace," she cooed.

Titus walked through the strangely quiet corridors of his ship, mulling over the events of the day and the days before. Most of the crew had taken advantage of the CTO and was spending their night out on the town; enjoying the Texas booze, tasting the authentic food, or something as simple as watching a movie in an actual theatre. Whatever they were doing, they deserved it. John was content with his decision to let them live it up for once. He only wished he could do the same, but the Commander would rather continue to tend to his ship. Besides, he figured the injured could do with some company.

Horn was very lively at the moment. He had checked up on him earlier in the medical bay’s ICU, but the man was still in an induced coma. After leaving the broken Titan commander, he checked up on his crew. Several of the survivors were still in mourning for their lost comrades, and many more weren’t exactly in a talkative mood. The ones that were had gone out to the bars, probably to drown their worries in alcohol. For the first time, John actually realized that some of them may not even come back to the ship. But would he honestly blame them for desertion? Only the clinically insane would bend over backwards for the Illusive Man time and again without question. Cerberus’ cause was noble, but their methods were often suicidal.

"Call coming in, Commander," Darcy said over the intercom. "I'll patch it through to upstairs."

"Is it from the boss?"

"Nope. Regional Command."

A minute later John was walking back into the briefing room upstairs. He had expected EDI to begin closing the shutters around the dome, but he stopped at the top of the short staircase leading down into the main room when he had noticed that the AI had not executed the directive. "EDI? Is the call still on?"

"The call will not be conducted using the quantum entanglement communicator, Titus. The individual attempting to reach you is not far from our current location, and has requested that this be an audio-only meeting."

Titus frowned at this revelation, but nodded his head and replied, "Patch me through."

"Actually, I'm already listening," the unfamiliar voice of a man said over the speakers. He sounded middle aged, but the neutrality in the tone gave away little. This method of communique was used quite often by Cerberus intelligence operators: no holograms, no face-to-face; just old-fashioned audio linking. “I beg your pardon, Commander Titus,” he continued. “I know you and your crew are on a directed time of leave at the moment. But this urgent. Fortunately, you’re only needed close by, within the city. It appears your location has been tracked by the Alliance; a more clandestine cell of highly trained counter-terrorism operatives.”

John raised a brow, curious as to what the Alliance was going to do in to them in the middle of a densely populated city. “Are they planning on taking actions against us?” he asked.

“No. But that’s what has us concerned. The cell’s leader - a certain Captain Marcus Shire - is withholding his knowledge of your whereabouts from Alliance brass. What’s even more intriguing is that we know this. We have reason to believe that Captain Shire is deliberately leaking this information to us in an attempt to either start a trade... or lure us into a trap.”

“What do we know about Captain Shire and this cell?”

EDI’s blue orb appeared in the center of the conference table and the vertical “mouth” began to open and close as she answered for the Cerberus intelligence officer on the line, “According to the intelligence records, Captain Marcus Shire heads a recently activated Alliance black ops cell known as the Aurora Initiative. Leaked information attempts to make us believe that the cell specializes in counter-terrorism, but contradicting data concludes that Aurora is more along the lines of a black ops paramilitary organization. Intercepted intel confirms that even though the Alliance secretly sponsors Captain Shire and issues directives, the technology they use (which is far more advanced than standard Alliance systems and arms) is being provided by a privatized third party.”

“And who is that party?” Titus demanded.

EDI waited a second before responding. “A Salarian organization... the Special Tasks Group.”

The Cerberus intelligence officer took over again. “I’ll leave you, Commander Titus, with the decision on whether or not to pursue this any further. I’ve sent the coordinates of the Aurora operations center in Houston to EDI. Shire is working late tonight... probably wanting to see if we answer his call.”

Two minutes later, John found himself in the armory. Keown had taken advantage of the CTO and was out on the town with his colleagues, so the bay was empty and the commander was alone. That was exactly the way he wanted it. This wasn’t going to be a team mission. If a meeting was all that Shire wanted, then a posse of armed Cerberus thugs was too much. Even if it was a set-up; Titus was confident that he could handle himself on this one. He had promised his crew, and that of Commander Horn’s, some well-deserved time-off, and that was the way it was going to be tonight. John could pick up the slack just this once and go solo.

He punched his commander’s override code to one of the many weapons lockers and retrieved only a Phalanx hand cannon. No armor, no Excalibur. Just John Titus walking into Aurora with typical civilian clothes and a single sidearm. He wasn’t even wearing the Cerberus officer uniform. A black hoodie, khaki cargo pants, and tan combat boots would suffice. Just to be on the safe side, however, he retrieved a compact rappel gun from the utilities locker on the other side of the armory. They normally used the handy gadget on the surface of mountainous worlds, or in facilities that required innovative infiltration techniques. He figured the latter may be possible tonight... or he might need to use it for more unorthodox methods; one could never know.

A tiny comm link wrapped around the back of his ear, giving him a direct line to EDI - the only entity that hadn’t taken time off tonight from saving the galaxy. According to the way point path the AI had set up on Titus’ Omni-tool, the Aurora Initiative’s command center was only a five-minute taxi ride from the Vindicator’s port.

John stood outside at the port terminal, waiting for the next taxi shuttle to arrive for new customers, and gazed out at the dazzling Houston skyline. Now that the sun had completely set, the steel wonders of humanity seemed even more magnificent. Such sites offered subtle, but beautiful, reminders of why they - Cerberus - devote themselves to being humanity’s sentinel.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Wed Jan 04, 2012 7:18 pm

Leaning silently on the bulkhead, Vala watched the bodies as they rushed back and forth, an unending tide relentlessly trying to control the chaos that had erupted in the Vindicator’s CIC. It was a nightmare, bleeding soldiers, comrades barely controlling their pain. The room stunk of death and loss, and she found it nauseating. Still, she kept quiet watch over them, unable to help them, but at least willing to be there should they need her.

Her shoulder stung, and she rolled it experimentally, hissing at the burning sensation the movement provoked. The Nyx had held the brunt of the beam off fine, but it seemed the heat had still managed to cook her skin a little. With luck, it’d simply peel in the next few days and she’d have an odd patch of tan. The operative didn’t even consider visiting the med bay with something so minor. The bleeding marines needed the attention far more seriously than her pesky burn. Only after the last of the Titan’s former crew vanished, and some modicum of order had fallen over the CIC, did she stir from her place, straightening slightly and staring towards the Helm. They were well on their way, abandoning the once mighty warship to its fate.

Nothing about the situation seemed right. Weren’t they supposed to be stopping the Collectors? So far, everything just seemed like damage control, reacting to already grievous wounds to try and stem the tide of defeats.

She sighed, disengaging the visor of her helmet for the first time since the mission had begun. “This feels less like a war, and more like one last act of defiance…” One of the Vindicator marines paused in her route, glancing at the operative for a moment. Vala raised a curious brow.

“Is this how the world ends? Not with a bang, but a whisper?” The ship rocked suddenly, a shockwave from the Titan’s destruction. The two women were silent, before Vala chuckled. It was the marine’s turn for curiosity, and the blonde shook her head slowly.

“I’d prefer a bang, if it’s all the same to you.” They shared a humourless smile.

“I’ll hold you to that, Ma’am.”

Vala only nodded, calmly boarding the lift and pressing the key for the crew deck.


Looking quietly in the mirror, Vala glanced down at the marine uniform she wore. It really wasn’t something she would wear on leave. It made her stick out like a sore thumb, even if they were in the veritable heart of Cerberus.

The thought struck a sour chord, and she frowned at her reflection. Something didn’t really add up about the whole situation, really. They had flown to Earth almost immediately after the rescue of the Titan’s crew, only for the Commander to announce a 48 hour leave shortly after they arrived. On CHA’s credit, no less. Either the Illusive Man was being incredibly generous…or she was going to be giving and possibly getting an earful later.

Sighing loudly, the woman returned her focus to the mirror, grabbing the small bag beside it and fishing out the new clothes she’d purchased on her brief tour outside the Vindicator earlier. On CHA credit. She swallowed. They had been reasonably priced, and she had only grabbed two outfits. It was a dismally small amount of money compared to the trillions at Cerberus’s command. Still, the uncomfortable feeling in her gut said this was going to bite her in the ass later.

“Might as well make the most of it, Buchan.” Muttering under her breath, she slipped out of the uniform, and pulled on the first of her new outfits. Nothing fancy, just a dark long sleeved shirt and a pair of equally dark jeans. Tugging on a light grey jacket, she fiddled with its collar for a moment before looking back at the mirror. “Casual. Blend right in.” She smiled at the reflection. “Perfect.”

EDI’s synthetic voice filled her room. “Miss Buchan, I have a personal call holding for you. One Mrs. Alexis Sedlack.” Vala spun quickly on her heel, hoping into her chair and firing up the personal terminal, still smiling wide.

“Patch her through, EDI.”

The screen flickered for a moment, before finally settling and the face on the other end stabilized. The raven haired woman who appeared smiled lightly, a large scar dominating her lip. Pale blue eyes danced with mirth as they took a moment to just examine each other. “Well, I’ll be damned. How’s it going, Ivory?”

Vala laughed at the old nickname, leaning back comfortably in her seat. “I’ve been through hell and back in 24 hours, ‘Scorpion’. I’m great.” Her smile took a devious edge. “Mrs. Alexis Sedlack, eh? Last we talked, you were Ms Alexis Orzalli.”

Scorpion laughed, sticking her tongue out playfully. “Amazing, right? Disappear for half a year and all sorts of wonders happen.” Bringing her right hand up into view, she wiggled the ring finger, a small band of gold catching the light.

“Kicking myself for it already, but that’s just the way the job is.” Vala’s smile warmed. “Right side?”

“Make do with what you got, Ivory. So, when are you going to visit? I’ve got a stool with your name on it, and a spare bed.” She winked. “If you don’t mind the noise, that is.”

“Well, actually, I’ve only just been assigned to a 48 hour CTO leave.” Scorpion raised an eyebrow. “And I just so happen to be docked in Huston right now.” Her grin threatened to split her face as her friend’s eyes widened.

“Shut the hell up.”

“It’s true, I’m afraid.”

Alexis grinned widely, rubbing her hands together. “Oh, my dear Ivory, you best drag your precious ass down here ASAP.” She leaned closer, and Vala fought to contain a laugh at the woman’s antics. “I’m going to get you so plastered you won’t even remember which way is up! You here solo?”

Vala shook her head, tapping a quick note into her Omni-tool. “Assigned to a crew, if you can believe it. Rough couple of days, but we’re all living large on CHA credit.” That earned a hard laugh from Alexis.

“Oh Christ. The boss is going to regret that decision once he sees the bill. Never doubt the spending capabilities of a crew of depressed soldiers.” She glanced off screen for a moment. “Alright, I best get back to the grind. Feel free to drag any of your new buds down here, and I’ll see they get plenty shit-faced. I’ll close early, private party for my dearest Ivory.” She gave a mock salute, which Vala returned with a grin.

“Easy on the poison, Scorpion. I’m a little rusty.”

“Less talk, more move. See you soon.”

“See you then.” The screen blinked to darkness, and the operative rose without delay. “EDI, close up my room for me. Lock it up nice and tight.” The door hissed open to allow her passage, before locking itself up nice and tight. Moving quickly through the hall, she gave a quick nod in greeting to those she passed. Vala was already halfway across the mess hall when she noticed Daniel out of the corner of her eye. Pausing, she looked to the silent man, frowning slightly at his isolation. As easy as it would be to just go on with her plans…

Approaching silently, she watched him for a moment before speaking. “How you holding up?” It was a poor conversation starter, really, but she didn’t exactly have a ton of options.

He seemed to stare through her for a moment, before he shrugged and shifted his gaze to stare vacantly once again. “I’ll get over it.” She hoped he’d continue, make this somewhat easier, but unfortunately, he said nothing else.

“Right.” Grabbing the seat across from him, she made to sit down, before pausing. “I’m going to be heading down to a bar. Local place my friend owns. If you’re in the mood to drink, you’re welcome to join me.”

"I'm not sure I'd be the best drinking buddy right about now." He still didn’t look at her, and Vala sighed, plopping down into the chair.

“Daniel, I’m not asking you to come because I’m looking for a drinking buddy.” She considered her words for a moment, before continuing. “Sitting on this ship, burning a hole in the bulkhead isn’t going to help in the slightest.” She gave a weak smile. “Drinking might not fix it, but it’ll take your mind off it, at least for a night.”

Daniel looked down for a second, a heavy sigh escaping from his lips for a moment before he looked up. "The problem is not fixing it now; it's how I could have fixed it before it happened. As an Operative, I'm sure you've lost people before." Daniel paused, seeming to consider his words for a moment. "In the grand scope of could say we succeeded. We held them off long enough for the Titan to be evacuated. In the smaller details, I failed Vala. Linda is dead, Horn's in a coma, the Titan is a space wreck, and all the collectors got for this was a metaphorical bloody nose. Sitting here may not help, but what's to say that going out and getting drunk will?"

Vala was quiet, nodding slightly at what he said. “We all have those things we wish we could change. Those demons in the past that we should have seen coming, or think that, just maybe, if we’d done something different, we could have prevented it.” She shook her head slowly, staring down at her hands. “But to sit here and regret does no justice to those we’ve lost. We’ve made our choices, and they made theirs. Linda chose to fight, and gave everything.” She swallowed and met his gaze. “I won’t pretend to know her, but I doubt regret is what she’d want, and if Horn saw you sitting around like this, I’m sure he’d kick your ass for it.” She rose slowly, motioning towards the lift with her thumb. “So, how about we go raise a glass for them? At least until Horn wakes his ass up to do it himself.”

The Demon smiled, although weakly. “Yeah…you’re right. He would kick my ass…” Daniel rose from his seat, and Vala raised an eyebrow. “Alright. Let’s go.”

She nodded, starting towards the lift with him in tow. As the lift started to close, Vala glanced at Daniel. “Word of warning. Scorpion is a bit…eccentric.” There was long silence, before he spoke.


“It’s a long story.”


The half hour ride in one of the countless taxis that swarmed the city was spent in companionable silence, neither of the operatives really having anything to say to fill the time. More than once, their taxi driver gave the two a glance in his rear view, as if to ensure they were both still breathing. As it touched down, Vala quickly handed the driver her CHA credit chit, snatching it back as soon as the transaction was done and disembarking after Daniel. A small neon sign hung above the door, the words Serket’s Sting adding to the blazing lights of the more rowdy distract of Houston. Sparing a glance down the street, she counted enough bars and pubs to satisfy even the most seasoned pub crawler. “She certainly got some prime real estate…”

“Your first time visiting the bar?”

“She was in the process of getting it set up last time I was here. Also wasn’t married…” Vala chuckled, although she found it hollow and lacking. “Feels like yesterday I was visiting. The world really doesn’t wait, does it?”

“It’ll keep on turning no matter what.” He nodded towards the door, and the pair slipped inside without another word. The inside was raucous and Vala found herself smiling at the countless patrons despite herself.

“So much for a private party.” Pressing through the crowd of rowdy humans, bumping into the occasional turian, Vala slowly forced her way to the bar, sparing a glance back towards Daniel to find him parting the crowd with ease and gaining rapidly on her. “Show off.” He grinned as he passed, and the operative fell into his wake, letting the assault trooper do the work for her.

Moments later, they stood at the bar, and neither wasted any time snatching the first pair of empty stools that popped up. “It’s a nice place, if a little busy.” The décor seemed to be something of a mix between the more polished refinements of high end bars, like on Noveria or the Citadel, and the low end bars like Chora’s Den. It was a curious mix, but careful planning ensured that the two ‘sections’ were well accommodated to their own tastes, and the mixing pot variety of patrons brought some diversity to the otherwise stagnant crowd.

“Scorpion always did like bars. It doesn’t surprise me she made it accessible to everyone.” Daniel spun on his stool, focusing on the wall of alcohol just out of reach.

“Do I need to worry about being stung?”

“Five years ago, maybe. Now? I think she’s pretty content with the hubby.”

“I didn’t mean like that…” Vala laughed, facing towards the bar as well and winking at the man.

“Just messing with you, Daniel.” Her face went serious for a moment. “But seriously, try not to take anything personal. She’s got a wicked sense of humour.” A pair of glass bottles slid up to the two, before a figure stepped to their part of the bar.

“Spreading rumours about me, Ivory? That’s cruel. I haven’t even met the kid yet, and he’s going to be all afraid of me.” The dark haired woman grinned wide at the two, leaning casually on the counter as she rubbed at a glass. “It’s not like I’m the queen bitch with a stick up her ass.”

“No, you’re the vicious bitch with an itchy trigger and a bone to pick.”

Daniel had a look of confusion on his face as the two laughed like it was the funniest joke in the world, and shared a firm handshake. “I’m going to assume you’re Scorpion?” The barkeep turned, smiling a lopsided grin that spoke of hospitality, but seemed laced with just enough venom to keep him on edge. The moniker seemed to fit, now that he thought about it.

“Guilty as charged. Alexis Sedlack, or if you prefer, my old call sign, Scorpion. Pleasure to meet you, kid.” They shook hands, and Vala smiled at the two. She’d been worried they wouldn’t get along, but it seemed both were more than willing to play nice.

“Daniel Harrens.”

Scorpion chuckled, retracting her hand and returning to her cleaning. “Daniel, eh? Judging by the look of you, it’s been a rough fucking day. Pick your poison. It’s on CHA tonight.” He chuckled, before nodding towards one of the bottles on the wall. The barkeep grinned, pulling the bottle down and placing a shot glass in front of him. To his surprise, she didn’t pour him a drink. “I ain’t your nanny. I expect that whole thing gone before the end of tonight.”

“There’s more than half in here.”

“You want to get piss drunk, or just tipsy, kid?” He blinked, before sighing in resignation, and poured himself a shot of the liqueur, downing it quickly, and shaking his head as the drink burned down his throat. “And don’t try to get Ivory here to help you out. She can’t stand the hard shit.” ‘Ivory’ rolled her eyes, still smiling at Alexis’s antics. “Don’t worry; I’ll get you some nice easy beer for your poor little stomach.”

“Bite me.” Scorpion laughed, moving off to go fetch the beer and serve her other patrons, and only then did Daniel notice the sizable limp the woman walked with. Vala caught his gaze, and glanced backwards, her smile dulling a bit. “Don’t bring it up, Daniel.”

He snapped his gaze back to the drink, downing another shot quickly as if to avoid suspicion. “What up?”

“You know damn well. It’s a sore subject, alright?” He nodded in understanding, focusing his gaze back on the empty glass in his hand. “C’mon. Don’t go silent on me.” A beer, some strange brand she’d never heard of, slid up and the operative took a small sip before smiling at the silent demon. “Alright, I think its story time.”

Daniel glanced over at her, his curiosity getting the better of him. “Stories?”

“You said we’d swap stories sometime, didn’t you? You’re stuck with me for the rest of the night, so I figure now is as good a time as any.” Taking a swig of her beer, Vala got comfortable, leaning on the counter more fully. “I’ll start. You ever hear about that volus merchant on Illium a while back? The one that fell from his penthouse?” As he nodded, Vala snickered. “Yeah, I had a little something to do with that.”

“You’re shitting me? That was a Cerberus op?”

She nodded, before continuing her story. “One of my very first, actually, back when I was still in my teens. First time on Illium…”


“Your eyes are as big as saucers, Buchan.”

She started, pulling herself away from the picture perfect Illium skyline, the sun just starting to dip behind the horizon to complete the scene. “Sorry, sir! Won’t happen again, sir!” There was a chuckle of amusement, as an armoured figure turned back from his talk with a taxi stand attendant.

“Don’t worry about it. First time on Illium?” She nodded quickly, her slightly too big for her helmet bobbling about comically before she gripped it tightly to stop the embarrassing wobble. “It’s something else, isn’t it? Hard to believe something this beautiful was built by the asari. Almost makes me jealous. Our cities never look this pretty.”

“I don’t know about that, Operative Camarda. Have you ever seen Calgary at night? I could stare at it for hours.”

The two snapped to attention as a third figure approached, clad from head to toe in pristine black armour, a trio of red dots punctuating the visor and showing where the man looked. “Commander Slatton, sir!” They chorused in unison, and he held a hand up.

“At ease.” The two did as instructed, although the young woman took slightly longer than the man beside her. “Nothing wrong with enjoying a little downtime before an operation. Camarda, did you arrange the transport?” The operative nodded stiffly, motioning towards the small kiosk a few feet away. The attendant promptly wrapped up her call, and hung up, fixing the three with those eerily perfect smiles that the asari on Illium always seemed to have plastered on their face. There was a sigh over the comm, and the commander straightened into the perfect posture expected of one in his position. “Attention.”

Camarda and Buchan snapped to attention, as Slatton turned his back to them and stared back the way he had come. They stood like that for maybe a minute, before a pair of asari rounded the corner and calmly approached the Commander. “Excuse me, sir, if we could just have a moment of your time.” He nodded quickly, reaching up and disengaging the locks on his helmet, tucking it under his arm once it was free. Trimmed perfectly, Slatton’s dark black hair was the striking image of a solider, and she could see the look of surprise on the aliens faces at his age.

“What is it you need, ma’am?” He spoke with a flawless precision and a calm yet demanding tone.

“We are with Illium’s law enforcement, and are just curious as to the reason for your visit.” At his raised brow, the lead asari continued. “It’s not everyday we see heavily armed men and women walking the streets, save for the local Eclipse Mercenaries. It’s simply procedure to ensure that you have no intention of disrupting the peace.”

“Of course not.” He motioned back at her and Camarda, and she swallowed nervously, hoping they didn’t see any flaws in her stance. “I’m Commander Slatton, Alliance Military. I’ve been sent to over see a discrete negotiation between Alliance Officials and a local researcher.”

The two aliens shared a look, before focusing back on Slatton. “I see, Commander. May I see some identification? For our records.” He nodded, quickly pulling up his omni-tool and holding it out towards the lead asari. She raised her own, quickly scanning his identification. Moments later, her omni-tool chirped, and the asari smiled. “It matches our records. Thank you, Commander. Have a pleasant stay on Illium, and good luck on your negotiations.”

“Thank you.” As the cops walked away, Slatton turned back to them, donning his helmet quickly as they released a collective sigh of relief. “Worried?”

Camarda chuckled, shaking his head slowly. “I don’t know how you do it, Commander.” Buchan glanced at the older agent, raising an eyebrow that he couldn’t see. A taxi settled down on the pad behind them, and the Commander glanced over to it. “Well, let’s get this over with, shall we, sir?”

Slatton nodded stiffly, flicking his gaze down to Buchan, who stiffened under his searching gaze. “You ready, Buchan? This is your operation, first and foremost.”

She snapped a salute, before the trio boarded the waiting hover car. “Of course, sir. I won’t let you down.”

“Good.” He leaned forward, catching the cabbies gaze. He slipped the man a small data pad, before settling back into his seat. Moments later, the ship lifted off and raced off into the glistening skyline.


She had decided, staring up at the monolithic building that their target called home, that the skyline wasn’t as pretty once you got up close. The sky was filled with thousands of racing cars, whizzing past each other at breakneck speeds, with nothing but a few inches of metal protecting them. She’d always preferred walking. The trio had entered the upscale hotel without incident, booking a room a few floors below the penthouse on a line of CHA credit. The ride up the elevator was uneventful, although Slatton chose the slow climb up to their destination as the time to review the plan.

“Camarda, you’ll remain behind and secure the room. Buchan and I will scale the exterior up to the penthouse suit. Once we’ve secured the entry point, Buchan, you’ll head to the targets room. Avoid any contact with the guards. Our only priority is the target.” He fixed her with a hard stare that pierced straight through the protective cover of her helmet. “I’ll provide you with a syringe. The target is, fortunately for us, rather allergic to pyjaks.”

“First time I’ve ever heard of a volus with an allergy.” Camarda shook his head slowly, looking back at the stiff form of Buchan. “Relax kid. This op is a cakewalk. I could do it in my sleep, and the Commander could do it without a brain.”

“Thank you for the vote of confidence, Camarda.” The elevator opened, and the operative took the lead, quickly moving to their rented room and opening the door, sweeping through the massive room in a manner of moments, before signalling the all clear over the comm. “Commander, how are we going to scale the exterior, exactly?”

Slatton wasted no time, opening the door to the balcony and staring up the side of the building. “My armour has a super adhesive built into the gloves. I’m going to be climbing. You, on the other hand, will be attached to my rappel system.”

Buchan faltered in her step, staring hard at her superior officer’s back. He looked back at her, and tossed her the cord from his rappel. “Sir…”

“No time for idle chatter, Buchan. Attach it to your belt.” She did as instructed, reluctantly moving to his side as he experimentally tested the adhesive a few times. “Ready?” She nodded slowly, and the Commander began his ascent, straight up the wall. Swallowing, the agent started up the wall after him, moving slowly to prevent throwing the man off in his dangerous climb. Slowly, the pair made their way up the building, Slatton climbing up the wall metre by metre, pausing periodically to let the rookie catch up.

It felt like a lifetime, the slow awkward climb where any slip (and she did slip, more than once) would send her dropping several feet before the rappel would catch her and the Commander would haul her back to the wall. Finally, they reached the top, scaling over one of the countless balconies that surrounded the penthouse suite. Slatton hoisted her up, and she had never been so happy to have her feet on solid ground. Detaching his rappel from her belt, she wordlessly thanked him, before he pulled up a small map of the floor on his omni-tool. “The target should be in his room, likely with one of his asari consorts.”

She gagged, but let the man continue. “Inject him with this,” He pulled a small syringe from a small container on his belt, and the young agent took it gently. “Then meet me back here.” She nodded, and made to move, but a firm hand on her shoulder stopped her progress. “Agent Buchan, it is essential his death look like an accident. Are we clear?”

“Crystal, sir.”

“Good hunting.” He wasted no more words, as she slid the glass door open and crept into the house. From the general layout, she could tell it was the living room, although it was easily as big as her home back on Terra Nova. Calling on her memory of the map, Buchan plotted her route swiftly in her mind, before slipping through the first door in her route. No guards patrolled the hallways, a small blessing she was more than thankful for. Crouched low, she peered around the corner, noting the open door just ahead, as well as the twin grand doors to the master bedroom of the penthouse. Sneaking closer, she dared peek into the open chamber, only to snap back into the hallway a moment later, thin lines of red streaking her face.

“Buchan, I’m getting an elevated heart-rate. Is everything alright?”

“It’s…nothing, sir. The volus…he, um, seems to share his consort with the uh…guards.”

“Shit. Maybe I’m working for the wrong guy.”

“Stow it, Camarda. Take advantage of it, agent. They’ll never now what happened if they’re preoccupied.”

“Right. Preoccupied.” Slipping past the open door, she approached the grand doors cautiously, half expecting a guard to jump out of the room behind her with a rifle in hand. “Focus. Mission first.” Pushing the door open with all the stealth she could muster, Buchan peered into the room hesitantly, half expecting the exact same thing as the other. Much to her surprise, the volus was not preoccupied with some asari stripper, instead staring out across the skyline from the ceiling high windows that dominated half his bedroom.

Swallowing, she moved closer, eyes narrowing on the volus as she readied the syringe to deliver its fatal payload. The stubby alien gave no sign of awareness as she approached, and soon it was within striking distance. Raising the syringe quickly, she made to strike, only for something in the window to catch her gaze. Blackened armour stared back at her, and her topaz eyes widened in panic. Her reflection.


The volus spun around before she could react, a small pistol gripped in its stubby hands. “Drop it, Earth-clan.” Freezing, Buchan did as instructed, the needle shattering against the polished floor. The small alien’s raspy breaths slowed, and she swore its little face dangly bits were smiling smugly at her. “Not my first time with an assassin, Earth-clan, although your screw up suggests it’s your first time as one.”

“Shove it, you bloated little shit.” The volus seemed to laugh, although she was no expert at the species methods of expressing amusement. “What do you want?”

“If I could have anything, for these petty attempts on my life to end. Otherwise, I’ll settle for who sent you.” He took aim for her chest, likely where the alien presumed her heart was. Frankly, he was a little off, but a shot to the liver would be about as painful, if not as fatal, as one to the heart. “Judging by that armour, I’d wager you’re well funded.” His raspy breathing was both repugnant and poignant, as if it was meant to emphasize every word. “Cord-Hislop Aerospace?”

Buchan glanced at the window, before back to the stubby alien. “Yes.” The volus seemed surprised at how easily she volunteered the information, lowering his gun slightly. All the opening she needed. Snapping her leg up, she planted her heel on the short creature’s face, and pushed with all her might, sending the unstable alien stumbling backwards. His pistol fired off a round, although his frantic waving as he stumbled made the shot fire off into the window, causing spider web cracks to spread along its length.

She could only stare as the already weakened glass broke from the volus’s weight crashing into it, and he vanished over the edge, a muffled swear the only sound she could make out through his panicked rasps. Kicking the pistol out the window after him, she raced to the door, ducking behind it as it swung open and the guards poured inside, staring dumbstruck at the shattered glass. “Buchan, we heard gunshots, are you compromised?”

She was silent for a moment, slipping around the door and sprinting down the hallway to avoid the gawking guards. “Slight complication.”

“Did the target die as specified?”

“The syringe was broken…but…”

“Buchan, did you shoot the target?”

“No, sir. I kicked him out a window.”

There was a silence on the comms for a minute, before Camarda spoke. “Christ, Buchan, that’s just fucking cold.”

“It was…somewhat of an accident.”


Daniel laughed as Vala finished her story, shaking his head at the woman. “You kicked the volus off the god-damn building? I’m with Camarda, that IS cold.” Vala’s own laughter quieted, finishing off the last of her beer as Daniel forced himself through another shot.

“Orders are orders. Besides, the syringe would have made him suffocate. Falling was an instantaneous splat. Much more humane.” Alexis returned with another beer, shaking her head at the two. “As much as humane can be applied to an alien, anyway.”

“I always thought volus looked like soccer balls, yet you’re the only one I know who’s actually kicked one.”

“What can I say? I’m a bold explorer, kicking aliens where they’ve never been kicked before.” Daniel snickered as Alexis started polishing another glass. Most of the crowd had already filtered out for the early closing, and only a few remained, isolated in their corners and nursing drinks.

“You mean like the time you and Camarda had to deal with that Blood Pack krogan setting up shop on the citadel?” Vala groaned loudly, and instantly, Daniel’s curiosity was piqued. “She hasn’t told you that one, Danny boy?”

“Nothing much to tell, Scorpion.”

“Nothing much to tell my ass. You kicked a krogan in the quads. Who does that?”

“You try having a stark naked krogan come barrelling out of a room in the middle of the fire fight, and see what you do to survive.” She took a long drink of her beer, shaking her head as the memories came back. “Alright, maybe it was a little entertaining. Didn’t do shit to stop the fucker though. Gave me this look that just screamed “Really?!”

“Lemme guess, you threw him off a building?”

“Har har. No, he went rather painfully. Camarda kneecapped him and I drove a knife through his eye. His knife, to be exact.” Chuckling, Vala watched one of the servers usher out the last few patrons, before flicking off the open sign. “Still have it, actually. A trophy of mine. Dad always told me to respect your enemies, and never forget your toughest fights. I figured a memento would help.”

“I bet the krogan is in krogan heaven, so proud his knife is dismembering things even though he’s gone.” Daniel’s sarcasm made her snort, almost choking on the beer she was drinking. “Or, you know. Krogan hell, if he was a bad krogan.”

“There are good krogan?”

“Fair enough.”

Scorpion limped round the bar, and Daniel paused when he spotted, or rather noticed, the absence. The pale eyed bartender caught his gaze, and offered a lopsided grin. “Never seen a one legged person before, Danny boy?” She hauled herself into one of the stools, leaning her elbows on the counter and staring at the ceiling. He didn’t respond, remembering Vala’s words from earlier, but Alexis’s rough laugh broke his silence.

“What’s so funny?”

“Kid, I’ve been missing this leg for three years, and work in a pub. My skin is tough as steel. I can handle a curious stare.” She snorted. “Sides, I could still kick your ass. It’d just be a lot more awkward for everyone involved.”

Pushing away her empty beer, Vala rose from her stool. “I remember you actually doing that to Camarda once. Didn’t you prop yourself on the mess table and boot him into Pacheo’s dinner?” Alexis laughed at the memory, before fixing Vala with a look. “Bathroom.”

Jerking her thumb towards a small hallway, Alexis rolled her eyes at her friend. “Call it the pisser, you damn little debutant.” Flipping the bird, Vala disappeared down the hallway and left the two to themselves. “So, Daniel, I can guess you’ve probably got a few questions. I’ll answer, but every question means you do a shot, deal?”

The demon looked at the half drained bottle and shrugged, downing a shot and pouring himself another. “Alright, what happened to all these guys?”

“Who, Camarda?”

“No, this entire crew. As far as I’ve heard, Vala’s been a solo operator for quite sometime.” Alexis nodded slowly, glancing towards the hallway the woman in question had vanished down.

“You certainly know how to ask questions, Danny boy.” She rubbed her jaw, before spinning to properly face him. “Well, I guess I’ll start with the obvious. I’m one of the rare ‘retired’ Cerberus agents. My obvious ‘disability’ makes me rather useless for field work, and after the Arras…well, it seemed best for them to just keep me under watch. I run a bar on Cerberus credit, a nice place the grunts can go when their worries get too much, and every now and again, they call me up for some consultation on a layout or some bullshit.” She sighed. “Years of helping people break in have made me an expert on how not to let your bases get broken into.”

Daniel downed another shot, shaking his head to try and clear the blur settling over his senses. “You miss the field work?”

“Sometimes. Running a bar is pretty mundane compared to assassination and sabotage against the most powerful entities in space.” She looked to the ring on her finger, and smiled, the first honest one he’d seen her give. “Still…I’m happy. It’s nice to just live a normal life again. Most Cerberus agents don’t get that chance. We’re either dead or so entrenched that getting out is a nightmare.”

“You mentioned the Arras?”

“You really know the questions to ask, don’t you? Shot.” He did as instructed, as she fetched another shot glass and poured herself one. “The Arras was the ship we served on. Frigate, tiny little thing. An earlier attempt at stealth craft before the Normandy. Wasn’t invisible, but it was sure as hell easy to mistake the thing for a sensor screw up. Commander Slatton was our CO. taught practically everyone on that ship how to do their jobs, even managed to get a few of the veterans to learn a thing or two.” She downed the shot, before pouring another two and pounding them in quick succession. “The Arras disappeared a year ago. Off the charts, off the record, along with Commander Slatton and Camarda.”


“Don’t mention it near Vala, alright? Her and the Commander…” She trailed off, staring hard at the counter for a moment before heaving a sigh. “Just, keep it to yourself. She’s gone through enough already.”

“Don’t worry. Safe with me.” As if on cue, Vala returned, raising a brow at their suddenly silent conversation. Suspicion crept over her features, and the operative placed a hand on Alexis’s shoulder.

“Was she telling you stories about the hanar?” Alexis grinned darkly, and Daniel gave her a curious look. Vala blinked once, before realizing her blunder. “…ah shit. Alright, get me another beer; this one is a bit of a doozy.”


“I can’t believe you actually drank that entire bottle…” Vala stared incredulously as Daniel slumped over the counter, a freshly drained bottle of whisky knocked unceremoniously to its side as he grinned lopsidedly. “Alright, I owe you fifty credits, you crazy bastard.”

“I free fall onto planets with armour and a jetpack, woman! What did you expect?” She snickered at his slurring, enjoying the antics of the red-faced demon, unaware of her own healthy flush. Alexis simply laughed, watching the pair banter as she retrieved the whisky bottle and tossed it in the appropriate bin. A light knock at the door drew her gaze, and she sighed in annoyance. People couldn’t understand a closed sign anymore, could they?

Moving round the counter, she snatched her cane from its resting place and moved towards the door. “We’re closed!” The shrouded figure shook their head and knocked again, earning a scowl from Scorpion. “God dammit, I am not going to fucking serve you alcohol tonight, you bloody drunk.” Unlocking the door, she tugged it open, revealing a woman dressed in pressed chinos, a pale linen shirt and light jacket. “Sorry, we’re closed early tonight.”

The woman gave a professionally polite smile. “I know. I’m Kelly Invaru, I’m here to make sure Daniel and Vala make it back to the ship in one piece.” Alexis blinked, glancing back at the two seated at the bar. Vala peered back and gave a wave of greeting to Kelly, who returned it.

“Alright then. Come on in. What’s your poison?” Kelly politely shook her head, moving across the empty bar to sit beside her comrades. “No fun.” Working her way back to the bar, Alexis chuckled as Daniel and her shared a few hushed words, only for the man to hold up a single finger.

“You had one drink?”

“One bottle.” Kelly shook her head, smiling at the three despite herself. “They dared me to, I couldn’t just say no.”

Vala rolled her eyes. “Did it of your own free will. I just said you probably couldn’t.” She muttered under her breath. “Cost me fifty credits…”

“Well, as much as I’m sure you’d like to keep going, I think Daniel is at his limit.” Kelly rose, placing a hand on the drunken man’s shoulder. “Would you mind helping me get him back to the ship, Vala?” Alexis raised a hand, shaking her head.

“Sorry, but Ivory is staying here tonight. I’ll make sure she get’s back to the ship tomorrow, don’t you worry.” Vala glanced at her friend, before offering an apologetic smile to Kelly. “Besides, Daniel is an easy drunk to handle. Keep close by, and he’ll generally follow you around. I’ve seen his type countless times.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Have a good night, both of you.” Daniel rose from his seat, wobbling slightly, before starting towards the door, half-mumbling his goodbyes to his drinking buddies. “And Vala.” The operative glanced at the 2IC. “Thanks. I think he needed something like this.” The two departed shortly after, leaving Alexis and Vala to their own devices.

“Pleasant bunch you’ve signed up for.”

Vala half smiled, nursing another beer in her hand. “I like to think so. First time I think I’ve been somewhat human to any of them, though.” Alexis shrugged.

“You’ve always been slow to warm up to people. We were at each other’s throats when we first met, remember?”

“You were telling me to jump off a building when we first met.”

Alexis winked. “You listened, and here we are today. Quit your bitching.” Sipping at the beer, she grimaced. “This shit is like rat piss when it gets warm. Want a cold one?” Vala nodded, sliding the lukewarm beverage away. Normally, she’d be hesitant to waste money on something, but since CHA was paying…

“Is it nice being retired, Alexis?”

The bartender shrugged, reaching around in the cooler for a few more beer. “Sometimes. I get to catch up on my shows, and sleep in the same bed, so there’s a plus.” She spun about with the beer in hand, grinning from ear to ear. “And dates! Dating was a lovely experience after being cooped on a ship with your ass for so long.”

Vala stuck her tongue out and snatched one of the beers from her hand. “It’s weird, being on a ship after being solo.” Alexis didn’t respond, cracking her beer and taking a slow swig. “You start to remember people. After going through so many places, it’s…strange. You half expect to wake up and be in some foreign apartment in some godforsaken colony world.” She stared at the beer in her hand, reading the label but not really processing what it said. “Reminds me of the Arras. Drinking with you and Camarda after a successful mission. Hiding a laxative in Pacheo’s food.”

“Sneaking into the Commander’s quarters when you think no one is watching on the security feeds…”

Vala flushed crimson, and shot her a glare. “That was you?!”

“Guilty as charged. Oh, the crew loved the HELL out of that rumour.” Scorpion ruffled the blonde’s hair affectionately. “Stop analyzing the hell out of it, Vala. You’re on a new ship, full of new people. Enjoy the company while it lasts. Make some new friends. God knows you need more than just me.” Vala sipped her drink, and she continued. “The boss will have you flying solo again before you know it.”

“I don’t really know if I want to be solo again.” That gave Alexis pause, and she watched her friend fiddle with the label of her bottle with some level of disbelief.

“Times sure have changed, huh, Ivory?”

Vala smiled lightly, raising her glass to clink against Scorpion’s. “Yeah. Park your ass for a bit, I’ve got a few more stories to tell.”
Guilty Carrion
Guilty Carrion

Join date : 2010-01-12

Posts : 856
Age : 27
Location : The Underdark

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Fri Jan 06, 2012 1:43 am

Needless to say, the time between the escape from the SIC Titan and the arrival to Earth, everyone was in differing levels of shock and depression. Kelly herself had to keep herself composed in front of the crew, but once she was given private quarters, she locked herself and sat on the bed for quite awhile. A few tears streamed down her face as she sat at the head of her mattress, her knees bent slightly with her arms laying across them and slowly banging her head against the back of the wall. She had not been prepared for what they had just gone through, and now that she had a chance to let it out without losing face amongst the crew, she really thought about what had happened, or more specifically, what the result was.

Only Horn had known the actual mission, if there was one at all. The sudden attack by the Collector vessel had crippled them, but not before they fired off the prototype Thannix cannon. That could be viewed as their saving grace, or their biggest mistake. The cannon damaged the Collector's main weapon systems, but also left the Main Battery in complete shambles as the rushed firing and insufficient cooling methods caused the weapon to overload. Only quick action by Jesse and her crew did the majority of the build up get shunted into space, but she had barely made it out of there alive herself, and that was the end of any real offensive that the Titan had. Then, as always, Horn shrugged it off. Kelly had, for the first time, felt like yelling at him. Telling him that they were dead to rights, yet he still smiled and it calmed her. As his condition allowed it, he had no fear to hinder him from acting, and that's just what he did. She could still remember his words as he had his armour prepped and was just about to jump down the elevator shaft with the Demons.

"Don't worry, I'm only going over there to sell them life insurance and allow them to collect on it instantly. Everything will be fine before you know it."

Those were the last words she had heard him say, the next time she saw him he was bloodied and broken and put into a coma. However, she felt as if he had almost gone back on his words. Nothing was fine, they had lost good people and for what? She ran everything in her head, and she couldn't justify why they had died. The collectors had gotten away, their ship was gone, and now despite being the man that saved them, they had to listen to a man that wasn't technically their commanding officer. She quickly switched her thinking to those they lost on the ship. Most of which were basic crew, she didn't know them personally enough for her to make a decent statement in her mind to honour them. Instead, she stuck to the people she knew.

Lara Teesar, their Yeoman. A bubbly person who couldn't seem to get her head out of the games. Kelly had lost track of how many times she had been caught playing some sort of entertainment on her omni tool, yet she never really got into any trouble. When she was asked to do her job, she did it, and she did it well. Her and the Commander had butted heads a few times because he didn't like shrinks, and it was always fun to watch as Horn was stopped cold from a mind-bending question. She could remember many times when the immediate crew would stop to laugh at something as Horn sputtered at making a comeback, and it was a pleasant change of pace. Kelly always guessed that Lara had a feeling that Jason was suffering from something, but despite the prying questions, Kelly doubted she got wind of what was really wrong with him. Her death had been unnecessary, and saddening. She brought a little bit of life to the CIC, and she would be missed. Her empty coffin had been filled with enlightening letters from many of the crew on how she helped them cope with the stress, and she made sure everyone that sent one managed to get it with the shipment.

Jack Nathan, the Pilot and a real 'bro's' man. Probably a best friend to almost every guy he's met, Kelly could remember more than one time when him and half of the crew would be talking only for people to start talking about stories that Jack was in. She enjoyed his rather peaceful nature, taking any abuse thrown at him but almost never dishing it out. It was a nice change of pace from Horn's constant smart ass comments and funny dialogue. She knew he had been married, and after looking his record up in order to send the body off for burial found out why he never talked about her. A pretty brunette looking girl with sparkling green eyes and a definite 'girl next door' look had been placed as his significant other on his record. The name had been Susan Nathan, married exactly 2180 with no children. She was one of the few hundred colonists that died on Eden Prime during the geth invasion. While listed as 'deceased' in her file, it was noted that she was impaled with the Reaper spike devices, and turned into one of the many husks that were created during the attack. That explained why he never talked about it, and why he never took a leave. There was nothing to go back to, but at least it looked like he had put it behind him for the most part. Kelly hoped that he found peace, and wished that very thing in the letter and casket that she sent to Terra Nova.

Last of the main crew was Brandon Nicola. She hadn't known him for long, having only transferred in a few months ago as the replacement for Lieutenant Harrion. He had quickly asserted himself as not only a capable leader, but an influential one. She remembered many glowing words and admiration coming from the marines under his command. She hadn't really interacted with him outside of missions, but the few times that she had, he held his image of a soldier and leader perfectly. He would joke lightly, but he also had an air of seriousness and protruded an aura of authority even when off duty. She had remembered Harrion never really interacting with the marines during their off time, stating that "They get enough of my ugly mug when in a fight, the least I can do is give them their time off without having to stare at it." Brandon on the other hand became friends with those under his command, if not extremely close. His command style had served him well, as when the Titan was in danger, the bond he had formed with them had boosted their morale simply by that fact alone. When he went down, he went down fighting. His casket, yet another one empty, had been adorned with too many medals to bother counting when they had sent it off to his family.

Kelly sat there for a moment, letting her mind remain empty after thinking once again about those people they had lost. Since Horn was out of the game, she'd been forced to do it mainly alone, with only a few coming in to say goodbye to their friends. It had been hard, not something she was unused to, but this one came a little too close to her being one of those caskets and the thought of death simply hit her harder this time. She would get over it, she had the very first time she had seen one of her friends killed, but she also knew it never got easier. Finally, after about an hour of simply laying in her quarters, allowing herself to release any and all pent up emotions, she moved around the room and started getting ready to move. She slipped on some black chinos, a simple linen shirt, and her black jacket. Quickly, she applied a light bit of makeup in order to hide any signs that she had even the slightest of emotions leak through in her time, and soon she was ready to go. She slipped her hair into a long ponytail, and managed to exude a professional appearance even through her casual attire. She wouldn't mind seeing some of the sights here, but there was one stop she had to make first. She quickly walked to the door to her quarters, and promptly left.

A short walk later, and Kelly found herself standing in the Vindicator's med bay. On the table ahead of her was the sleeping Commander Jason Horn. He lay there with an oxygen mask on his face ensuring he got the proper air flow that he desperately needed at this time. Multiple needles supplying an assortment of fluids were pumping into his body as she stood there, and a few equipment stands monitored everything that was supposed to be working in his body to ensure it stayed that way. A blanket had been spread across his body, revealing only his arms and face. While there was only a few small cuts on his face that would disappear with time, his arms were another story. On his left arm, it appeared as if someone had taken barbed wire to it, with a circular pattern going all the way up his limb. The stitching was well done, but he would end up with a scar regardless. His right arm had two lacerations that looked like they were done with some sort of blade. On both the top, and bottom facing sides of his arm, a large cut appeared from his wrist to half way up his bicep.

Kelly stood at the foot of the table, watching the rise and fall of Jason's chest and surprised at just how peaceful he looked. He previously had always had the expression of adventure on his face. A look that stated that he was always ready for something, or to put it bluntly, waiting for something. Here was a state that she hadn't even known could exist on such a man. He didn't have to move, didn't have to command, didn't even have to think. This was probably the calmest time the Commander had ever known aside from childhood. She wondered if he subconsciously enjoyed it. Before she could try to answer her own question, the Med Bay's door slid open, and Dr. Porter stepped inside. She looked up, and gave a slight nod. "Operative Invaru. How are you?"

"I'm well doctor." Kelly stated with a smile. Veronica walked over to Horn, but stopped just short of checking the systems.

"I'm not interrupting anything am I?" She asked, and Kelly simply shook her head.

"Horn's not exactly in the mood for a conversation." She stated, which earned a slight smile from Dr. Porter.

"Coma patients rarely are." She returned as she checked several of his systems. As she did so, she took a bit of a breath. "Can I ask a personal question Operative?" She stopped for a second, before adding "And no, it's not if you two are an item." She gave a small smile, Kelly returned it.

"Of course." Kelly stated, her professional nature and tone present despite the casual clothes and actual 'on the job' status.

"Ok." Porter stated, seeming to think her question through for a moment. "My question is how can Jason lead when, from what I've read, he's almost completely impulse driven?"

"I beg your pardon?" Kelly asked, her tone completely inquisitive without any hint of being insulted. Porter looked up from checking Jason for a second to look at Kelly.

"I mean how can a man who is so obviously lead by what he feels rather than what he sees actually command a vessel?" She stated rather bluntly. Kelly blinked a couple of times, and but the answer was already there.

"With authority." She stated, and Veronica looked over to see if Kelly meant it as a joke. The lack of any hint of humour made her stop for a second.

"Now I'm the one saying 'begging your pardon?'" she stated. Kelly gave a small smile and looked down slightly before returning her gaze to the doctor.

"One may look upon Horn and see that he's a gung ho soldier who's only care is getting the job done. In some regards, they are right. However, he is an example to everyone underneath him, and everyone follows him because they know he won't simply tell them what to do, he'll show them."

"You mean getting shot up and nearly killed?" Porter half mumbled with a distinctive sarcastic tone to her remark, and was obviously not meaning it seriously but it hit Kelly a little harder than she would have liked. Invaru took a couple steps forward, and looked Veronica in the face.

"You weren't actually on the Titan, so I'll repeat the story for you. We were dead in space, we had no way out, and the only reason we weren't dead was because a lucky shot punctured their weapons systems." Kelly let that sink in for a moment. "Would you have preferred he spent his time exhausting every other possible option hoping that it would somehow get us out, or go with the guaranteed method that would buy us time even if it was an unknown amount?" Kelly backed up slightly, realizing she had slightly stepped out of that professional 'box' area she was so tightly kept sealed. "Commander Horn did what was necessary to ensure that we survive. I can guarantee that Titus would have done the same thing if the situation was reversed. " Porter stopped for a second and nodded.

"I did not mean any disrespect Operative." She stated, but neither of them said anything while Veronica continued her routine check. As soon as she was done, she exited, knowing that, despite Kelly's cool nature, she had hit a nerve. Kelly stood there for a moment, contemplating what Porter had said, but eventually dismissed it as someone who had no idea who the man was. She was starting to judge Horn on his actions, which was a good indicator of the man to be honest, but they didn't flesh him out as he deserved to be seen. He did what he did because it was the best and/or only option. She walked up beside his table, the constant beeping from the heart monitor the only thing making any real noise in the med lab. She heard the door open, but didn't bother turning until someone said something.

"Oh, sorry ma'am, didn't know you were in here." Kelly looked over to see Jessie McKrain standing at the doorway. Her hair was simply free flow, reaching just a little past her shoulders. She wiped the dirty blonde bangs out of her eyes, and looked to the man laying on the bed. She wore a black biker jacket, some torn jeans, and a tank top. Everything about her simply screamed party girl, even though she was carrying a few flowers in her hands. Kelly looked at them, and Jessie shied away slightly possibly the first time since Kelly had met her. "I don't have a crush if that's what you're thinking." She stated, a sly smile on her face.

"I don't think you do. It was a nice gesture." Kelly said, retaining the professional tone and manner that her crew was used to seeing even in such a situation.

"I just thought it would be know. It's just the least I could do for what he, Linda, and Daniel did to save us." Jessie came a bit closer, and placed them on the table opposite of Kelly. She stared down at him for a second, looking up at Kelly shortly after. "It's so weird seeing him like this. I figured that out of the entire crew, he would be the last one standing. Not one of the first on a medical table."

"I thought the same thing." Kelly said, looking over at her. "And it says a lot of what he did if it put him in this type of position." Jessie nodded, and walked around to the foot of the bed.

"Me and a couple of the crew our going to take a night out on the town. Shopping, drinking, basically trying to drive away our blues. I know you're my commanding officer at the moment...but you feel like coming along?" Kelly looked down at the Commander for a second.

"I appreciate the offer Jessie, but I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass." She stated, looking back at her.

"Ma'am, with all due respect, everyone needs a break. Everyone includes you."

"I know." Kelly stated back. "Don't worry about me. You and the crew go enjoy yourself, and I'll see you back here." Jessie looked ready to say something else, but stopped knowing that nothing would change her mind.

"Yes ma'am." Jessie walked out the door, and Kelly waited for a moment. She didn't look at Horn, but simply stared straight ahead. She did need a break, but it would be better if she could simply separate herself for awhile. Others required the company of others to feel better, she felt better when she was able to spend some time with herself. She gave a few moments to ensure that Jessie would be far enough ahead, and turned to leave. Only then did she catch sight of something behind the table on the other side of Horn. She wandered around, past where Jessie had laid her flowers and saw a large backpack sitting on the floor. She knelt down and opened it to see a rather large vase filled with a beautiful bouquet. Kelly slightly wondered who they could be from, but saw the tag on the side. She read it, and gave a large smile.

"Hey Commander.

These are for saving our asses back there, pulling some ballsy move that showed you got bigger nuts than a fucking Krogan.

I still don't like you, but I know I would be dead if it wasn't for you...

So Thanks.

P.S. If you're allergic to flowers, suck it up. I paid good credits for these!"

Kelly shook her head, hiding the flowers back into the backpack by zipping it up once more. No wonder they were hidden there, if this got out that TJ had actually bought the Commander some flowers, not only would her reputation be ruined but she would probably kill whoever brought it up. It wasn't signed, but it was hard to mistake the attitude in the message as anyone else. Confident enough that the flowers were hidden, Kelly made her way out of the room and exited the Med Bay.

The day had been spent with Kelly wandering through Houston, mainly window shopping and only buying a few necessities. She had ran into a few of the crew while she was walking the streets, and despite a few of them asking her to join them, she refused. She was enjoying the time away from the crew of the Titan. It wasn't that she didn't enjoy their company, but maybe it was the fact that she enjoyed it too much. Losing one was enough of a heartache, losing a number of them was harder than it should have been. As someone in a command position, you should have a certain detachment from her crew, and it was the fact that she didn't that made her want to do this walk solo.

When she had gotten word that Daniel and Vala had gone for drinks, and it was getting relatively late she had went to the bar herself to pick them up. Luckily, Daniel was piss drunk and looked to be enjoying himself. That was something that needed to be accomplished during this leave. She dragged him onto the Vindicator, and by the time they reached his temporary quarters, Kelly had his arm over her back, and was almost carrying him to his mattress. She sort of flopped him onto the bed, the man weighing far more than what he looked like, and he passed out almost instantly. Kelly simply shook her head at him, and exited the room only to be met with another crew member.

Kevin Jaconis stood there tapping on his omnitool. Judging by the fresh smears all over his suit and face, he had been hard at work while others had been enjoying themselves. "The whole point of the leave was to relax Kevin." Kelly said as he approached her. He simply grunted in response.

"With all due respect to the Commander and the fallen, I've dealt with enough death to know that's a temporary fix at best ma'am. Best to simply get back to work, and get over it." Kelly didn't show any outward effect of his words, but bristled inwardly at his tone. It was cold, callous, and showed no signs of remorse or sadness. She quickly rationalized it away as experience. The man in front had lost his entire family to the point where he was the only living Jaconis period. He had no more tears to shed.

"Ms. Invaru, I've been in touch with the Illusive Man through the comm. room here on the Vindicator." Kelly started walking towards the elevator, and Kevin joined her. "In short of you and everyone else being here, I was the next in line of officers. He's told me that he's reassigning a ship to us, called the 'Call of Victory'. Sort of an inappropriate title to give to a crew that just got it's ass handed to them, but I didn't say that." Once again Kelly bristled inwardly, but said and showed nothing as the elevator took them upwards.

"When will it be here?" She asked. Kevin tapped his omnitool and brought up a schedule.

"According to this, it's already en route and should reach us by the time the CTO is over. I'll need some time to familiarize myself with the engines before we take off, and no doubt McKrain will want to look over the new weapon systems before any action is taken. In short, when it gets here, it will have to remain in orbit for at least a couple of hours before we leave."

"Orbit? So it's not a frigate then?"

"No ma'am. Cruiser class, just like the Titan. Along with this, we'll be getting our replacements as well. The officers among them are..." Kevin called up the screen and tapped a few buttons. "Harold Bretton, pilot. Linda Franks, yeoman. Lieutenant Leonard 'Leo' O'Ryan as our secondary team leader replacing Nicola." Kelly nodded, but feared to think of the yeoman. Horn hated shrinks in particular, and having one named after one of his recently deceased team members was sure to cause friction.

"Do you know anything about them?" Kelly asked as the lift finally stopped on the CIC level. Kevin shrugged as they stepped out, but he stayed and held the door.

"I know of Leonard. Never talked to the man directly, but I've seen him. He's a hardass, preferring the drill instructor approach from what I saw. I haven't seen him when he isn't in combat though. The rest we're just going to have to see when we get here unless you look up their files."

"I will most likely do that. Thank you for your time Jaconis." Kevin gave a nod, and released the door. It closed shut, and Kelly found herself on a different command deck. She was so used to simply coming here, that she forgot that she wasn't on her ship anymore. Despite this lack of reason why she was here, she wandered around as if she had a purpose, even if all she did was check a couple systems and look over some data. As she did this, her mind wandered back to the CIC on the Titan, and she had to force herself to stop talking about it. Eventually she went back to the elevator and quickly made her way to her quarters. She was tired, not just physically but emotionally. She would get over it, but like all things she needed time.

And right now, sleep seemed like the best option.

Join date : 2009-09-19

Posts : 702
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Mon Jan 09, 2012 1:17 am

John stepped out of the cab after paying the driver and into the crisp, cool night air of Houston. It would be his second trip downtown in the same day. He figured that if he keeps this up, he'll have to start looking at renting an apartment. Before him now stood a large industrial complex of several buildings surrounded by a ten-foot perimeter wall. Every one hundred feet on the wall was a sign marked:

Restricted Area
Alliance Military Installation
Trespassers will be shot

The only obvious entrance was a gap in the wall, large enough for two vehicle lanes and a centered guard house. Three Alliance MPs stood watch at the gate, armed with rifles and sidearms that weren't familiar to Titus. Typically, guards would be armed with an M-8 Avenger, but that was standard across the board for any organized force. The real tell-tale signature of a man's employer was the sidearm he carried; and the Hahne-Kedar P7 was standard issue for Alliance MPs. Paramilitary organizations typically issued versions of the Striker sidearms, but these men carried neither. They weren't even carrying Avenger rifles. The uniform was definitely Alliance in color and dress code, but the patch on their right shoulder was a symbol unknown to him.

Being former Alliance himself, he knew most of the organization flashes out there. The eagle with open talons, swooping down to collect its prey, was the symbol of the Military Police. That particular flash was not worn by these men, and Titus figured that the new symbol he was seeing - where a single line rose upward to branch out in an array of several, smaller lines - was the face of the Aurora Initiative. The guards appeared to be far more disciplined than the rest of the Alliance security forces. They stood tall, with their backs straight, and chins held high, as if the ballistic armor vests around their torsos bore absolutely no weight at all. That was another difference: the lack of a typical hard suit. Instead, they wore minimal firearm protection with only a vest and joint pads. Nylon shirts sculpted their physique below the vests, and black cargo pant legs dropped down over heavy combat boots. The sidearms were snugly secured in drop-down holsters, wrapped around their thighs. Two of the men were clean-shaven, where the third sported a neatly trimmed, black goatee.

John waited at the curb for a moment and examined the complex from his vantage point. "EDI," he said through the comm piece around the back of his ear, "this place is a fortress. Any way inside?"

"I have detected few weak entry points that you could use to infiltrate undetected, Titus. However, the decision to even do that is highly unnecessary, according to the reason why you're here. “Did you try the front door?"

"Why didn't I think of that?" he mused as he approached the front gate, where one of the guards stepped forward with a raised, open palm.

“Halt,” the man ordered in a calm, but authoritative manner. “Identification.”

Titus considered for a moment the risk of telling them who he really was. If Captain Shire was indeed expected Cerberus to visit tonight, then they would probably let him right on through - with an escort, no doubt. But if not... Well, risks had to be made sometimes.

“Commander Johnathan Titus of the Vindicator,” he replied; leaving out “Cerberus Commander” just to be safe.

As the guard looked him over, remaining utterly silent, John noticed that his two colleagues began to cautiously flank him. They were setting up a capture net around him, and he was stuck in the open with only a Phalanx holstered on the back of his belt. The guard that had ordered him to identify himself was standing directly ahead, while the other two had no stopped to hold positions just behind John’s peripherals. He had been surrounded by the trio, and the situation didn’t look good. Any gesture towards the pistol on his belt would surely be answered with mass accelerated rounds pelleting his chest and back.

“I believe,” John went on, feeling that he had just taken the bait to a trap, “Captain Shire is expecting-” Before he could finish, his vision went black as a bag had been yanked down and around his head. He struggled to grab onto the sack and fight to pull it off, but the kick of someones boot buckled his legs.and he fell hard to the ground. A second later, a painful sting shot down his neck and he felt a sudden exhaustion and disorientation fall over him.

A blinding light poured into his vision as soon as the bag was roughly yanked off of his head. As his eyes adjusted to the all-too familiar surroundings of a pale interrogation room, he let his head bop around like a rag doll for a moment to shake off the delirium. He felt a tight pair of cuffs binding his wrists behind him, and the steely cold chrome of the chair he was sitting on brushing against the back of his hands and knuckles. His feet were left unbound (mistake number one on their part) and his torso was also free of any restraint (mistake number two). It was evident that the men who had drugged and dragged him in here were amateur interrogators.

His ears perked at the sound of the room’s only door hissing open, and his eyes wandered over to see the blurry figure of a tall, uniformed man marching into the room with the bearing and posture of a military hero. The uniform was that of an Alliance officer, but the symbol was the same as the one the guards had been sporting. John’s eye sight was still adjusting, but he could make out the distinct face of Shire, matching it to the images in EDI’s dug-up records.

Shire walked across the room, over to John, and leaned in so close that the commander could feel his breath against his face. The captain’s tightened, as if pondering his words very carefully, and then he asked in a commanding and direct tone, “Who do you work for?”

“You know who I work for,” John replied defiantly, but still with a genuine understanding that Shire really did know who his employer was.

“Actually,” Shire said, taking a deep breath, “I don’t. At first, we thought you to be one of the spies; but then I thought better. After all, those stingy bastards are too damn proud to send a human to do their dirty work. And the fact that you identified yourself to my men as a ‘commander’ had me completely convinced that you’re not someone we know - nor are you someone that I honestly care to know, right now. And if I don’t care to know you, then I might as well just have you shot right here and now.”

Suddenly, a few of the pieces of this strange puzzle began to fall in place. First, Shire had no clue who Commander Johnathan Titus was, or why he was there. Second, the information leak that Cerberus had obtain had clearly been meant to lure in someone else; apparently one of the spies that the Aurora captain had mentioned. And third, this was the last time he was going anywhere without backup.

“If I tell you,” John said, “you’ll shoot me anyway. You’ll want to shoot me. So I suggest you just get it over with right now. Go on; take your gun out and place it to my head.”

The older man seemed even more interested in his captive now. He stepped back away from John, allowing him to fully recognize the gun - his own Phalanx - on a chrome table in the center of the room. Now that the commander’s senses had fully recovered, he was more aware of his surroundings. Three guards, different than the ones he had met at the gate had taken up positions against a wall to their own: one in front of him, two at his sides. John snuck a quick glance over his shoulder to double check that no one was standing behind him, and silently thanked luck that that the back wall to the room had left only half of a foot between it and the chair he was sitting on. There was no way that someone could hide from him there; thus, including Shire himself, there were only four enemies.

“Now,” Shire said, “I really do want to know who you are. You seem professionally trained, despite the fact that you decided to come walking in here alone and with only a puny hand cannon. You put up a quite a struggle out there when my guards pulled the bag over your head. Your tone is defiant, but you also speak with authority. It’s clear to me that you’re no rag-tag mercenary. Private military company? Perhaps. Definitely not government, or you would have had back up with you.” Shire raised a finger and began to pace around the table. “I know! We’ll play twenty-questions. Let’s see if I can figure out who you work for. I love solving things, you know.”

John ducked his head and rolled his eyes. “Sure,” he replied, “why not?” He knew it would at least buy him time to strategize an escape.

“Excellent!” the captain exclaimed with a disturbing amount of joy. “First question: You told my men you were the commander of ‘the Vindicator’. What kind of ship is that?”

A sly smirk formed on Titus’ lips. “Why a luxury civilian cruise frigate, of course.”

Only one of the men had an assault rifle. The other two had holstered pistols. Same foreign technology that the guards had, though. The true fire power in the room was still a mystery.

“And why is the captain of that a ship called a ‘commander’?” Shire went on. “Question two.”

“Gee, capt’n... you got me there. Okay, maybe I’m actually the commander of a military-grade frigate.”

The man with the rifle was busy staring out the window on the blast door; clearly day dreaming. The guard on the far wall ahead of Titus was fighting exhaustion - eye lids heavy, head bopping up and down. Guard number three was too busy snickering at the game of twenty questions, paying more attention to the dialogue than John himself. His eyes were cast downward to the floor, and his arms were tightly crossed in front of his chest.

“Now, now, Commander Titus,” Shire said in a bit of a mocking tone, “I’m the one playing games here. No you. I expect you to answer my questions honestly, or I’ll pump a round from your Phalanx into you for each question you get wrong. So... question three: why are you on earth?”

The threats were already annoying, but Titus was almost done with his examination of the room’s occupants and the formulation of his plan. “Originally? It was to meet with my employer. But now we’re only here so my crew can enjoy some time off. I’m only here because I was told you leaked us information in an attempt to set up a meeting. But I guess that leak wasn’t intended for us. Was it?”

“No,” the captain replied, “it wasn’t. It was intended for a particular group of Salarians. A group that we - and others - have been tracking down. The others that are working with us have been tracking them for far longer than we have. Now; question number four: where did you go to meet with your employer?”

Oh, hell no. If the man honestly thought Titus was going to give that information up, he was dead wrong. John chose now to make his move, when Shire had begun pacing behind the table in the room. The commander lunged forward and dived underneath the table, pushing his back up underneath the surface to flip it, stunning Shire and forcing him off of his feet. Once his cover was in place, Titus bawled up in the fetal position and worked his cuffed wrists under his legs, around his boots, and out in front of his chest. With hands now in front of him, he shoved against the table and slammed into a still-recovering Shire, pushing him back into the wall and pinning both the captain and the tired guard, who had dropped his gun in front of him. John reached for the strange pistol and picked it up, finding it to be surprisingly light.

The guard with the rifle had thankfully ducked out of the blast door for cover, knowing that Titus’ only goal was to get his hands on a firearm for the time being. That just left the guard that had been too amused by the game of twenty questions vulnerable without cover. The commander lined up the holographic site array on the pistol’s barrel with the man’s forehead and fired a single, well-placed shot. The guard barely had time to raise his own weapon after finally getting it out of the holster by the time everything was over with.

Now all that was left was to get past the guard outside the room with the rifle and finish the escape; and the fact that the idiot had poked his head around the corner, after the sound of John’s new gun going off, had made that step much easier. Titus’ next round went between the man’s eyes.

Shire and the guard next to him were now pushing the table back, but Titus swiftly executed the guard at his close range, and placed the barrel of the pistol against Shire’s forehead. The man froze and slowly brought his hands back and away from the table’s surface.

“Now it’s my turn to ask a question,” Titus insisted, with a clearly pissed off tone in his voice. “What the fuck is the Aurora Initiative actually up to? And how do you not know who I am when you knew our location the whole time, and withheld it from your superiors in the rest of the Alliance?!”

Despite his tough-guy appearance and act, Captain Shire was an easy man to break; but so were many at the pressure of a gun barrel against your temple. “Th- the Salarian Special Tasks Group,” he whimpered, “brokered a deal with the Alliance. In exchange for helping the STG hunt them down, the Aurora Initiative would receive some of their latest weapons technology. We thought that your ship belonged to them. But now I see that you had merely been used as a decoy. Still, I gave the order to go dark in order to make it seem like we hadn't found them- or... you... who we thought was them!”

“Who’s them? Who are you hunting?!”

“Th- the League of One!”
The Ghost Writer
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Mon Jan 09, 2012 10:42 pm

Kelly had just gotten to her room, and was prepping for some much needed shuteye. She let loose her ponytail first, and had just managed to get her coat off when the speakers in her room came alive. "Operative Invaru." EDI started, causing Kelly to pause. "Operative Serena requests your presence in the CIC." I was just there. Kelly thought to herself as she threw her jacket back on and readied her ponytail once more.

"The reason EDI?" Kelly asked, her hand on the door waiting for an answer.

"Commander Titus has officially missed his check in date. Action is necessary to determine his position and possible problem." Kelly hung her head for a second. None of the Commanders could seem to keep themselves from actually staying out of trouble.

"Got it EDI." Kelly stated as she walked out of the room to the elevator.

Kelly reached the bridge, and stepped towards the bustling people and Serena near the galaxy map. Her short blonde hair was done up in a high ponytail, and her blue eyes looked over the galaxy map. She noticed Kelly, and gave a small smile. Kelly approached, and looked at the map that had been converted into a citywide image of Houston. Serena pointed to an obscure point on the map. "That's where Titus was last heard from. As EDI told you, he's past his rendezvous time and we're not pulling any punches. Either he's run into a position which he can't reply from, or he's in trouble. Either way, we need to go check it out." Serena looked to Kelly, who was trying to memorize the map of the place. "Normally we have a small squad of marines ready to go...but with the leave and thinking that we had some time of our own on Earth, most of them are either out in the town or too drunk to be reliable." Kelly nodded.

"So what would you like me to do?" She asked, but she already had a hint. Serena enlarged the map around the building Titus was supposedly in.

"I need you to fly a Kodiak to this building, and see if you can get a bead on the Commander." She looked to Invaru for a second. "I'll be staying here to coordinate efforts with the Vindicator crew." Kelly paused for a second, and looked up from the map.

"You want me to go alone?" She asked, hesitant at the answer. She wasn't a field operative by any stretch of the imagination, and the possibility that this might all fall on her shoulders was slightly overwhelming.

"No, we have one other who isn't otherwise indisposed." Serena said, nodding her head behind Kelly. Braden stood there, swinging his arms slightly and looking a little out of plae. He wore no actual armour, but if Kelly was right, he was a powerful biotic and wouldn't necessarily need it. She slowly turned back to Serena and lowered her voice.

"You want me to take a kid...on a assessment that could turn into a extraction?" She stated, her voice neutral but her posture betrayed that neutrality.

"He's a very powerful biotic, and has been in combat with Titus himself."

"Has he had any actual combat training?" Kelly asked, her voice still low. Serena did not answer for a few short moments.

"No." She answered.

"Operative, I was a biotic potential when I was a child too, it didn't mean that I was signing up for do or die missions with Cerberus. He's barely 14 years old."

"He is all we have at the moment Operative." Serena answered coldly. "You can either take him, or we can order you to abide by our choice, and take him anyways." Kelly stood tall for a moment.

"We're the same rank Operative. You can't order me to do anything." Serena just gave a cold stare for a moment.

"Actually I can. This is the Vindicator, not the Titan. Therefore authority delegates to me, and while you are staying on this ship, you will abide by this rule. Are we clear Operative Invaru." Kelly stiffened slightly, but understood regulation.

"Perfectly ma'am." There was the very subtle hint of venom, but unless you knew Kelly well, you wouldn't pick up on it. Serena gave a nod, and waved towards Braden.

"Good, then get to it. Titus could be in danger as we speak, and sitting here arguing with you is not going to solve the problem. Take one of the Kodiaks, determine if he's in danger, and if necessary, extract."

"Yes ma'am." Kelly stated as she turned curtly and walked to the elevator with Braden. The doors closed, and she stood there with a kid half her size. She simply stared straight ahead, angry at being ordered and berated like that in front of everyone, but understanding the ground rules needed to be set while she was on this ship. Thank god that the Call of Victory would be coming by soon.

"So you're one of the officers from that ship...the...Titan?" Braden said, looking up at her. She looked down, and gave a soft smile. She couldn't get over the fact that she was actually letting him come along, but she had been ordered and it was out of her hands. If they wanted to place a child in danger, than that was their prerogative.

"Yes, my name is Kelly Invaru. You're Braden Reynolds, correct?"

"Yes ma'am." He responded with youthful exuberance. He still had a childhood left to live, and she felt like she was robbing it from him for every second that he travelled with her. "I'm sorry about what happened to your crew." He said after a little bit of a silence. Kelly didn't respond, and the doors opened to the docking bay where Kodiaks were waiting to be used.

"You have nothing to be sorry about Braden." Kelly said, her voice soft and as usual, neutral. "You did your best, and saved most of our lives. If anything, we should be thanking you and the crew of the Vindicator." Kelly looked down at him for a moment, before kneeling down to him for a moment. "What's done is done, we can't change that. Instead, let's focus on what's in front of us, and make it count, alright?"

"Yes ma'am." He said, his voice still unsure on whether or not he had offended her in any way. She gave a smile and stood up, walking to the Kodiak and stepping into the pilot's seat. Braden took a seat in the back, and as the transport started up, Kelly had one more question.

" many fire fights have you gotten into?"

"Well...I think just one back on Illium with the shadow broker agent." Kelly simply nodded, but when she turned back to set the transport out, she wanted to bang her head against the dashboard. A kid with one fight under his belt, a fight with bullets flying anyways, to a possible combat extraction. As the Kodiak took off out of the docking bay, Kelly hoped that Titus was alright, simply for the fact that they weren't prepared for a combat exfil.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Wed Jan 11, 2012 4:03 am

Since Captain Shire turned out to be nothing but a coward at gun point, Titus couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. Instead, he picked up the keys to his cuffs from one of the dead guards, released his bound wrists, and took off leaving the stunned Aurora director in the interrogation room. The first thing he needed to do was find the rest of his equipment, being the comm link and rappel gun. He decided to leave the Phalanx behind, preferring the new pistol currently in his possession. It wasn't quite as powerful as the Excalibur pistols from Cerberus, but the technology was still superior to any known pistol on the market; but that was the salarians for you. Their weapons technology was always top of the line, only occasionally rivaled by the asari and humans.

A quick turn down a corridor and he found himself facing off with three security mechs. Shots to the head were the best way to take down a group of mechs, and so Titus picked out the center target and fired. The first shot narrowly missed center mass, but a follow-up round pierced the glass plating meant to protect the mech's sensor arrays. The expelled energy from a mass accelerated round overloaded the mech's systems and it burst into several pieces of high-velocity scrap metal, tearing down its companions.

The commander pressed onward until he found a room marked Distro and Contraband. He waved his hand over the access panel, but to no avail as the computer refused him entry. Titus then felt a light bulb go off over his head and he doubled-back to one of the fallen mechs in the corridor. Snatching up one of the hands he turned on heel and sprinted back to the panel. Waving the security unit's own limb in front of the panel fooled the facility's VI into granting John the access he desperately needed and the door opened. Once inside he began scavenging furiously for his two items, finding them a minute later in a small container haphazardly placed on top of several other confiscated goods. As he hooked the comm piece around his ear and clipped the rappel gun to his belt, he noticed that some of the contraband were files of documents, all of them stamped with the Aurora Initiative's symbol.

Someone was caught trying to steal intel? he thought. The sound of more approaching mechs outside the room prompted Titus to pick up the pace. He reached for and snatched up as many papers that he could fit into the large pockets of his cargo pants and then darted for the exit.

The short trip through the Houston sky was awkward to say the least. Braden could easily tell that Operative Invaru didn't like the fact that he was along for the recon mission, but that was something she was just going to have to accept. He was tired of walking around the Vindicator and feeling eyes all over him for being a kid involved in a military operation. It seems that even though they owed their loyalty to Commander Titus, they didn't always share his same visions, nor did Titus - he coming to learn - share the same visions of Cerberus and the Illusive Man. But, like his crew, he was loyal nonetheless. And so Braden chose to take the same route: he would keep his opinions and visions separate from his loyalty to Commander Titus and Operative Taylor.

Tonight was his opportunity to shine again. He had told Operative Invaru of his involvement on Illium, but he kept his affair on Omega to himself for more personal reasons. Now was her chance to see just what Braden could do. He tightly gripped the handle of the Avenger rifle and felt the weight with both of his hands. It was a heavy machine meant for war, but that didn't mean it wasn't easy to use. A single lever on the side, just above the trigger guard, dictated whether the weapon was safe, or ready to fire. The ejection port on the opposite, right side of the weapon would dispense an over-heated thermal clip if the user needed a cool one to be inserted for those sticky situations where a cyclic rate of fire would be necessary.

To a pacifist, learning how to use a gun was like learning a new language without a translator to assist you. But to someone like Braden -someone who has witnessed the price of war and the hardship of slavery, who has felt time and again the want to unleash a hell storm of his rage at those that remind him of his oppressors and the geth that invaded a home he could barely remember - a gun was a well-oiled machine. He turned the thermal clip over in one hand, while resting the bulk of the weapon on his lap and braced it by the handle. The red cylinder housed a small block of metal, which would be shaved whenever the user fires the weapon to dispense a fragments of that metal, the size of which could be compared to grounded pepper... but a million times more furious.

"ETA to target location: ten seconds," Kelly said over the headset.

Determined to prove himself, Braden stood up from the seat and slammed the thermal clip into the empty weld just below the weapon and ahead of the trigger guard. He heard the electronic ping of the weapon's computer, signalling that the clip was firmly seated and ready to be used. The auto-aim assistant indicator flashed from red to green, and Braden felt a surge of adrenaline rush up and down his spine. He used the new found energy to fight the turbulence and move over to the side door and wave his hand over the access panel to open it.

As soon as the door lifted upward, he felt the freezing cold night air try and suck him out, but held his ground by slamming his shoulder against the bulkhead at the end of the threshold; leaning against it to maintain his body weight's hold. Looking down, he saw the roof of the complex far below and a figure running out from a lone access point, pursued by a small army of security mechs and black-clad soldiers.

Titus stormed out of the exit to the roof with the mechanized security drones and several Aurora troopers closing on his tail. He was beginning to tire quickly and he thought he wouldn't make it out of there. His initial plan was to rappel off of the roof and down the side, but a smile formed on his face when he saw the Cerberus Kodiak hovering high above. He tapped the comm piece around the back of his ear and said, "EDI patch me though my kind rescuers, will ya."

"Patch complete. Operative Kelly Invaru is piloting. Mr. Reynolds is providing you with cover."

"Kelly," he said after hearing the audible patch tone in his ear, using her first name a he did with most Cerberus operatives, "keep her steady. I'm going to latch onto the hull of the Kodiak with my rappel."

"I'm sorry," she said with a sarcastic tone, "I thought I was rescuing Commander Titus, not Commander Horn."

John was about to crack his own Horn joke, but he was forced to duck his head at the sound of weapon fire behind him. Several mass accelerated rounds zipped past his head, passing by so close that he felt the intense heat nearly singe his hair. The Aurora thugs were closing in on him fast and John was beginning to worry again about whether or not he was actually going to make it off. But just when the situation started to seem grim, a rapid burst of rounds rained down from the Kodiak above, striking down several Aurora soldiers and security mechs. Titus glanced up to see Braden handling the assault rifle like a true professional.

"Keep it up, kid!" he exclaimed as he unholstered the rappel gun and took aim at the bottom of the Kodiak's hull. The rappel's claw was a three-pronged grappel that was able to pierce into most platinum and chromium alloys. It would have no problem latching onto the Kodiak, though it would require an expensive repair. Such situations like this, however, called for sacrifices. If Kelly landed, or even hovered near the edge of the roof for Titus to leap inside, all three of them would be put into jeapardy. He wouldn't allow that to happen tonight.

Titus squeezed the trigger and felt the recoil of the rappel gun force the device upward. He watched the uncoiling carbon-enforced cable spring up into the air. The grapple claw penetrated the hull with a loud clank and the cable instantly tightened. John only had to allow the mechanics of the gun to do the rest of the work for him. He felt a jerking tug and the vibration of the gun's tiny motor reeling in on the cable. "Kelly, I'm hooked. Pull me up!" The Kodiak slowly increased in altitude and John's feet levitated off of the roof's surface.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Wed Jan 11, 2012 11:11 pm

Tia's prediction had been right. Her comm chirruped in her ear right in the middle of the band's 3rd set. She closed her eyes in deep frustration, counted to 10 and rose from her chair. Damn it. She thought. Even having expected something to go wrong hadn't helped when the call actually came. She stepped out into Houston's muggy night, she touched the comm nestled in her ear. "St. Jean." She murmured once she was further into the parking lot of the hole-in-the-wall bar.

"Miss St. Jean." EDI acknowledged. "All crew have been recalled. Please make your way back to the ship soonest."

Tia sighed. "Confirm, EDI. On my way."

The traffic was relatively light as the cab transported Tia back to the docking yards. Even so, the trip across the sprawling city had taken a full 45 minutes. She paid the driver and nodded her thanks and then waited until the vehicle had pulled off into the night before heading to the Vindicator's docking location. Tia strode up the gangway noting many of the rest of the crew also making their way back aboard in various stages of inebriation and bad attitudes. She couldn't blame them. The few crew members still mobile were tasked with pouring their comrades into their bunks.

There seemed to be more drunk than sober. Once aboard, she tried to find out what was happening, but few seemed to know. Finally, in frustration, she tried to contact Operative Invaru, her current commanding officer in the wake of Horn's injuries. "Operative Invaru? Got a moment?"

Kelly's voice came over the comm, a tiny hint of irritation leaking through her professional tone. "Not really, Operative St. Jean. I'm off to find Commander Titus." There was silence and the woman added. "All questions should be referred to Operative Serena."

"Acknowledged." Tia answered. She frowned and headed to the CIC. If Titus was missing, then that's where she'd find his second in command. Tia passed her hand over the pad and the door hissed open, allowing her access to the CiC. Serena glanced up with a frown knitting her bows together. "Damn. Sober?"

Tia looked surprised, "Uh. Yeah. Why? What's going on?"

Serena sighed, "Not sure yet. Commander Titus went to check something out and went off the grid. I had to send Invaru and Braden out to find him. Maybe do an exfil. Could have used another hand." She shook her head, "Too late to worry about it now." She looked at a tablet a crew member handed her. "Shit. That mountain of bad attitude, TJ is refusing all calls to return to the ship." Serena's face closed up tight in restrained anger.

Tia just stood there letting the woman talk her way through things.

In the end, Serena looked up at Tia. "Looks like you get to go get her. I'll send some back up with you. You'll probably need every bit of it. Meet them back at the gangway."

Tia began to protest, but a single look from Serena made the words die in the throat. How in the hell are we supposed to get TJ to come back to the ship if she refused to go? If the woman was drinking, nothing short of 4 or 5 Krogan would be up to the task. Just to be on the safe side, Tia made two side trips; one to her room for her side arm and one to the med bay.

Once she had what she needed, Tia headed back down to the loading area and the gangway. Rounding the corner, she stopped dead when she saw just who Serena had assigned as her 'back up'. She mopped her face with a single hand, groaning. "God hates me." She murmured under her breath. Villayn and two other Turian pirates stood waiting for her. She couldn't seem to catch a break. Although, she thought, on the plus side, maybe she'd let TJ bounce Villayn and his two ship mates before she stepped in.

Villayn inclined his head at Tia when she approached and she imagined him smiling at her discomfiture, even though Turians couldn't smile. "Alright, if you haven't seen TJ, she's a massive slab of muscle wrapped around an even more massive bad attitude. We have to bring her home from the prom and not get broken in half in the effort."

The Turians merely nodded, probably not following her colloquialisms. Villayn, however, had questions. "I see you have your side arm. Are we going to shoot her if she refuses to come along? Or do you have a plan?"

Tia led the way down to hail a cab. "Christ, shooting her would just piss her off. The gun is for anyone else that objects to her being collected." She shrugged, "Plan for the worst, I say."

As they rode toward the location EDI had given. Villayn continued to ask, "So what is it you plan?" His eyes studied Tia's neutral profile intently. "To sacrifice us for a little personal revenge?"

Villayn's astute observation made Tia wince unconsciously. Snarky bastard. Tia thought. She scowled, but laid out what she had in mind. Even going so far as to telling him about her synthetic arm so he understood that she could more or less hold up her end of things if it came down to it.

The bar they were finally dropped at looked for all the world as if it should have been condemned years ago. It looked like it had been a warehouse at one time, converted to a church and finally converted again to a bar. Old, faded paint proclaimed the name as District Salvage. Another proclaimed that Jesus Sav... and yet another in florescent yellow spray paint named the edifice Murphy's. Every time the door opened, Tia and the Turians were assaulted with blaring country music and the odd cadence of a huge drunken crowd shouting as if watching a particularly violent tennis match.

Leading the way, Tia lead the way inside to find the interior of the bar filled to overflowing by a drunk and sweating crowd. The center of the enormous space held a huge sawdust covered area surrounded by the crowd. To the left and right, two separate bars made of corrugated galvanized aluminum catered to the spectators. Currently, two huge men wrestled in the middle of the open area, a couple of punches thrown now and then. Blood sprayed from a broken nose was soaked up by the sawdust on the floor.

"Well." Tia commented between cries from the crowd. "Seems like the perfect environment for TJ." She signaled for them to split up to find TJ among the crowd and they all went their separate ways to try to make the search as quick as possible.

One of the Turians found her first. The weapons master was on the opposite side of the saw dust fight ring from Tia, Once given a direction, Tia caught a glimpse of TJ drinking shots. From the slightly split knuckles, it looked as though TJ had already had her turn in the fighting area that night. They all converged on TJ quietly and Tia bought another round while TJ eyed her in deep malevolent suspicion.

"What the hell do you want, Saint?" TJ snarled at her.

"Came to get you. We've been recalled." She was careful not to look at the woman, feigning a relaxed posture.

"If you leave before I finish this shot, I'll let you live." TJ glared at Tia, daring her to start something.

""Can't." Tia answered. Her dodge only just got her out of the way in time. A woman that big shouldn't move that fast!

TJ threw a ham-sized fist at Tia's jaw in a straight jab that would have taken her head right off if it had connected.

The moment TJ threw that shot, Villayn leaped onto TJ's back and TJ roared her battle cry and tried to rip him from her back. The other two Turians spread out to ensure no one from the suddenly scattering crowd tried to interfere. Villayn clung to TJ like a tick. She swung this way and that, but couldn't dislodge him.

Tia danced in and out trying to get a clean shot to bring the big woman down, but TJ's movements were so erratic, she wasn't able. Finally, Tia kicked out and swept TJ's legs out from under her and the big woman crashed to the ground.

Villayn managed to roll out of the way before TJ could pile drive her shoulder into him as she went down.

Roaring dire threats, TJ was back on her feet far faster than she had any right to. She charged Tia, arms out-stretched and blood lust burning in her eyes. Villayn tried to slow her down, but only earned a hard elbow to his cheek, sending him crashing into the crowd.

Tia watched TJ bear down on her and wondered if maybe she was about to die. If she miscalculated, TJ would rip her limb from limb. She planted her feet, prepared to meet the rush and held her breath. Just as TJ reached her, Tia grabbed TJ's thick wrist with her left hand in an iron grip. She spun, forcing TJ's body to follow under it's own momentum. With her right hand, Tia slapped a heavy med patch to TJ's forearm. The sedative hit TJ's system like a freight train, but it didn't put her down immediately. She crashed to her knees jerking Tia off her feet as well. TJ thrashed, trying to rip her arm out of Tia's grip and kick at her at the same time.

Tia gritted her teeth, afraid to let go before TJ went out entirely.

Villayn jumped onto TJ's back, helping to hold the woman down while her struggling became weaker and weaker. When the behemoth finally went still and deep, sonorous snores escaped her lips, Tia and Villayn went limp against TJ's prone form. They were both breathing heavily from the exertion of fighting TJ. Villayn glanced up at the crowd which had lost interest in them now that the fun was over. He crawled to his feet and then looked to Tia. "She'll kill us both when she wakes you know."

Tia climbed to her feet and noted a rip in her new jacket with a sigh. "Yeah...maybe. But other than shooting her, I didn't have any other ideas."

It took all four of them to drag TJ's body to a cab and back to the Vindicator. Shocked silence fell on anyone they passed in the hallways on the way to TJ's bunk. It was if everyone knew the consequences of taking the big woman down.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Fri Jan 13, 2012 1:15 am

Kelly approached the coordinates that had been given to her by Serena in order to meet with Commander Titus. Any hope she had of a peaceful pick up and go was lost when she saw the man running across the rooftop with some soldiers and mechs in tow. well that idea was shot all to hell, now it was simply about how they were going to get him out of there. No sooner had she thought of that that Titus came over the comm. and instructed her to hover so he could shoot a rappel into the bottom of the Kodiak. After her reply, she complied. She looked back slightly to see Braden firing an assault rifle at the oncoming soldiers. He was handling himself well despite the lack of military training. Suddenly there was the 'thunk' of the rappel gun piercing the bottom of the transport. Titus ordered her to lift off, and she did so without a moment's hesitation. A few moments later, and Kelly could hear Titus being helped up by Braden.

"Nice job kid." She heard Titus say as she continued to fly towards the Vindicator. She could hear him approach, but she kept her eyes glued to the front.

"Commander." She stated in her neutral professional tone as she continued to get closer to the ship. "May I ask what that was all about?"

"Oh you know...the usual black ops regiment who seems to think they're as good as us." He replied in a lighter tone than she expected from him. She looked over to him slightly before returning her gaze to the city.

"Do we need to be worried about them following you?" She asked.

"I would think so. In fact, I believe we should recall everyone and get off of Earth before they manage to get to the Vindicator."

"Already in process sir. The Vindicator was recalling everyone when I left. They should be almost, if not done by now." Titus looked at the incoming Vindicator.

"Ah, good. We'll lift off as soon as we can then and relocate."

"I'll need time to send a transmission to our replacement ship, the Call of Victory then Commander. They were supposed to rendezvous with us in orbit." Kelly stated.

"Ah." Titus responded. "You'll be able to send them a message as we're taking off."

"Very well sir." Kelly stated and said nothing more. The rest of the trip was taken in silence.

Kelly docked the Kodiak, and a short trip up the lift later and Kelly was by herself on the medical ward deck. Titus had stopped off at the CIC to oversee the lift off, and Kelly kept hearing rumours of a giant woman being brought by Tia and the Turians to her bunk. Kelly wanted to half go tell the Tia and the Turians that they better hide, and the other half wanted to go put TJ in the brig until they knew that she wouldn't go try and kill them as soon as she woke up. Instead, she wandered to the communications room. There, she started a recording for a message that would instantly reach the Call of Victory, but they would receive it long before they got here.

"Call of Victory, this is Operative Kelly Invaru. Second in Command to Commander Horn, and current leader of the SIC Titan. The Vindicator is currently attempting to leave Earth under duress. Please change course and lock onto the Vindicator's signal. We will rendezvous when the Vindicator is safe. Operative Invaru out." Kelly cut the message and sent it out to the Call of Victory crew. With luck, it wouldn't be too long before they had their own ship again. She wasn't against working with the crew of the Vindicator, but she was used to being in charge. Being here made her feel like she was a raw recruit again, and that was not a feeling she enjoyed.

As she started walking out of the comm. room, she ran into Nerita and Cecil. They gave her a look, and while Nerita's facial expression didn't change, Cecil gave a wide smile. "Hello Operative Invaru. How are you doing tonight?" Kelly gave a small smile.

"I'm fine Cecil, how are you and Nerita doing?" Nerita gave a shrug but didn't say anything. Cecil gave her a jab with his shoulder slightly, and she looked down at him dangerously but did nothing.

"Oh, we're fine. Nerita here is doing her best to portray her 'ice cold bitch' persona. I'd say she's doing well, if it wasn't for the fact that she's simply a warm cuddly teddy bear on the inside." Cecil added, looking up at her.

"I doubt I have anything to do with a human child's toy." She stated, her tone more grumpy than arrogant. "Besides, I'm on a Cerberus ship where the only other aliens on board are three Turians. Soon, I'll be back to being the only alien on board. The only way to stop the racism and leering is to make sure that people know I could break them in half." Cecil gave a laugh.

"Really? I could have sworn you were having a good tussle with one of those marine boys the other day." He leaned in closer. "A reeeally good tussle." If Nerita could blush, she got about as close as an Asari could.

"That was a sparring match and you know it. Wrestling was involved, so what of it?" Cecil just shrugged.

"Nothing, just noticing that despite you trying to say that you can fight anyone here, you seemed to enjoy getting pinned a lot." Nerita glared down at him, but his smile seemed to defuse her. Kelly simply shook her head.

"Well, if you have any problems Nerita with any of the crew. You come find me, I'll set them straight." Kelly stated, and Cecil laughed.

"What if the problem is a 6'1 built blue eyed marine?" Nerita's arms glowed a soft blue as Cecil laughed harder and put an arm around the woman. Despite her posture, she didn't retaliate. Most likely out of the fact that Cecil was the only one on the ship she could really call a friend.

"Then I believe that's something that can only be fixed by Nerita here." Kelly stated. "But if you'll excuse me, it's getting late and I have yet to sleep without an interruption."

"Of course ma'am. Enjoy the night." Cecil said with a bow and a tip of the hat. He place an arm around Nerita's waist and walked her down the hallway. Some banter could be heard between the two, but all of it was playful. Kelly herself went in the other direction and found herself in the elevator once more.

A quick trip to the CIC to make sure the entire Titan crew was back, and she quickly made her way back to her room after another quick trip in the elevator. She quickly locked the door. She hoped that there would be no other use for her for at least another 6 hours. She felt like she really needed the sleep, and if she was to take over the Call of Victory for at least a little while, she needed to be prepped to take the additional responsibilities.

As she fell into bed, her mind was too busy thinking about what she was going to do on their new ship and she knew that no matter what she did, it wasn't going to be smooth.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Wed Jan 18, 2012 5:35 pm

"You continue to impress," Titus said to Braden, standing next to him in the armory, as he ejected the spent thermal clip from the Avenger that the young man had fired from the Kodiak. He placed the weapon down on the table and tapped the disassembly command on the rifle's side-mounted control console. The weapon expanded first to full size before a series of clicks were heard from the inside of the frame. A second later, John had the upper and lower receivers of the Avenger separated on the table in front of him. "You want to know how to take care of a weapon?" he asked, picking up a small bore brush from an open container he had previously placed on the table above the rifle.

Braden stepped closer and then directly in front of the parted assault rifle when his commander moved to the side. John handed him the brush and walked off towards a cabinet a few feet away. "You'll need to completely take it part before any proper cleaning methods can be used," the man said as he opened the cabinet doors. "If you look at the under carriage of the upper receiver, you'll see a bulky cylinder of metal. That's called the bolt carrier group. There's a smaller block of diamond-headed steel in there that ejects down whenever the trigger is pulled to shave off the right amount of steel from the thermal clip. Now, while the diamond doesn't really need cleaning, the rest of the bolt does. See that tiny pin on the end of the cylinder? Press in on that with your finger to disengage the bolt from the receiver."

The teen did as instructed and continued listening to the commander's instructions to finish taking apart the rest of the rifle. Titus returned with a small spray bottle of CLP lubricant and squirted a small dabble on the table's surface. Braden rubbed the bore brush in the CLP and cleaned out the barrel in the upper receiver. Despite all of the talking and explaining that John was doing, the kid seemed awefully silent, save for the occasional "uh-huh". This was to be expected, of course. Not only was it extremely late, but he more than likely killed several men today. But John didn't want to bring it up unless Braden did first. After the talk he had forced onto Vala, and seeing how easily certain lines were crossed, he wanted move slow.

"There we go," he said with a smile as he re-engaged the locks on the rifle. He then handed it to Braden and the teen took it in both hands. "I believe that goes in slot 17-A. If you needed to clean that weapon again, do you think you can do it without my help?"

"Uhm... yeah," Braden replied.

"Then I'll have Keown assign that weapon to you." He placed a hand on the young man's shoulder and leaned in to whisper, "Serena told me that Operative Invaru was... hesitant to bring you along for my exfil. I just want to let you know... if anyone else gives you any problems because of your age or lack of training, tell them they can go fuck themselves or they can come talk to me."

It took Braden a moment to fully process what his commander had just said before cracking up with the man and replying with a laughter-filled "Yes, sir!"

The Vindicator sat in an idol orbit forty kilometers for the Charon relay, awaiting the arrival of the Cry of Victory. It was the second day of the alotted 48 CTO hours, and so most of the crew were kicking back and taking it easy. Many were sleeping off their hangovers, and others were socializing in the mess hall and lounge. Titus had risen from his rest early in order to mull over the documents recovered from the Aurora facility. Most of the papers were financial records; ledgers recording credit transfers between Aurora and the STG.

John found it curious that everything was on paper, though. Nowadays, everything was digitally recorded. No one used paper anymore, but perhaps that was the point. In the past, when a paper trail was a criminal organization's most predictable downfall, confidential records were kept on encrypted harddrives. But today, computers are too easy to hack, and paper trails are rare. And if there is one race in the galaxy that is still accustomed to communicating with hand writing, it's the humans.

The commander briskly walked down the officers corridor on the second deck until he reached Vala's room and waved his hand over the access panel. The door whooshed open and he stepped inside, quickly reclosing it behind him. Operative Buchan looked up at him from her seat behind the long, L-shaped desk. She raised an inquistive brow as she leaned back and said, "Good morning, Commander. Something on your mind?"

Titus slapped the papers in font of her before turning around and dropping himself in one of the armless chairs in font of the desk. "What can you tell me about the League of One?"

Ever more curious now, Vala's fingers began graciously tabbing through the papers in front of her. As she studied what had been printed on them, she replied carefully, "They were an elite salarian black ops unit. But thy disappeared long ago, before humanity even entered into the galactic community. Why do you ask, and did you recover these documents from that Aurora facility last night?"

"The STG is sanctioned by the salarian government, correct? What about the League? According to rumor, it was like one government cell took the other completely out of the picture, or... so they thought."

Vala pushed the papers away from her when she saw the distant look in the commander's eyes. She knew that he had stumbled ono something that he wanted to go after, but what he was talking about wasn't only irrelevant to their mission, it was dangerous. Nevertheless, she answered his question. "Technically speaking, the League was never sanctioned by anyone. The salarian government took... measures... to ensure that the League's operations never linked o them. It was the political standing at the time with the asari that forced the government into getting rid of their skeletons completely - no more hiding them in the closet."

"But the STG failed, didn't they?" He went on. "The League still exists, and their collaboration with the Aurora Initiative - which is proven by the transactions in those documents - is meant to track down what remains of the League."

The woman took a deep breath and leaned forward over her desk. "Sir, with all due respect... you're out of your mind if you think getting involved in this little which hunt is a good idea."

Titus looked taken aback by the response to his unspoken idea. "Ouch," he said sarcastically.

"I'm serious, Commander," she continued, unrelenting despite his attempted humor. "If the League of One really does still exist, then you'd be getting Cerberus mixed up in a dangerous game. I've seen the post-mission report from Operative Taylor and EDI. I know that 'they' - be them members of the League, or some kind of wanna-be's - tagged the Vindicator as one of their own in attempt to throw Aurora's attention off of them and onto us. What happened last night isn't something you can just shrug your shoulders to and then turn around to start investigation into. That will only lead to more unwanted attention and increased liability."

"And if the League comes after us?"

"Have you given them reason to?"


Vala grinned, braced her elbows on the surface of her desk and resting her chin on propped knuckles. "Then they should leave us well enough alone. Our job is to chase after Collectors and learn about the Reaper threat, Commander. I doubt the Illusive Man will be pleased with you bringing another enemy onto this already-convoluted chess board."

John smiled and stood up from his seat. "Very well," he said with all honesty. "Thanks for you time, Vala." He turned to leave her quarters, content with her advice, but stopped before his hand reached the access panel to the door. He turned around and slipped a hand into his trouser pocket, gripping a tiny little chip in his fingers. "Oh," he started, "I almost forgot." John lifted the chip out and walked back over to the desk. He placed it gently on the surface before turning to leave again.

"What's this?" Vala asked, plucking the device in her fingers, scrutinizing it with the utmost curiosity. It was clear to her that it was a memory chip as she already moved closer to her computer and inserted it into a tiny slot in the thin CPU.

"A gift from the Illusive Man," Titus replied, opening the door to her quarters again and stepping back out into the corridor. Before the doors whooshed shut, he turned and said with a smile, "Specs for the new L5x implants. I've already spoken to Professor Sinclair in the tech lab and Dr. Porter. When you're ready; go see them."

Before she could get out another word, the doors closed tight and Titus casually waltzed down the corridor with both hands in his pockets and a large grin from cheek to cheek. A minute later, he found himself stopped beside a port view in the corridor, looking out from the port side of his ship. The Charon Mass Relay - the second greatest discovery by the human race after their revelation on Mars - could be seen nearly twenty kilometers away.

Right on schedule, a flash was seen near the end of the relay and John witness the subtle ripple in the void of space as large cruiser-class war ship came into existence. Both the Vindicator and the newly arrived Cruiser were disguised on Alliance sensor arrays as belonging to Cord-Hislop. All around them was dangerous territory, as they sat amongst nearly one hundred vessels of an Alliance first-responder fleet. But what better place to hide than right under the enemy's nose?

The Cry of Victory was skillfully piloted close to the Vindicator, and he knew that Darcy and EDI were already commencing with docking procedures. He folded his arms, enjoyed the view of the Charon relay for another minute, and then turned to continue his path towards the lift. It was time to say goodbye to their teammates and see them off on their new vessel.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:07 am

Kelly woke up the next day surprisingly refreshed. She didn't have to worry about being up before everyone else and getting everything lined up for the day, nor did she have to report to the CIC and stay there for relatively the entire day. However, that wouldn't last for the duration of the CTO. The Call of Victory was en route, and she would need to take over at least for the duration that Commander Horn was comatose, or another Commander was assigned to the ship. She preferred to think Horn would wake up, simply because his wounds were healed, but the mind was a funny thing. Maybe it didn't recognize that the body was healed, and since it was put into a coma when he was near death, still thinks he's there? She shook her head and let the thoughts pour out of her. She had to be thinking about running the ship, not worrying about whether or not someone would come and relieve her. She got up and retrieved her professional clothing, the white pressed one piece suit that was common among Operatives in command positions. She took a glance at the clock, and despite being later than what she was normally up at, deemed it to early for the Victory to show up for at least a couple of hours. So she grabbed what gear she brought with her and stowed it, making it ready to transfer over to the Victory. After that was done, she made her way out of her room to find herself some food at the cafeteria.

The mess hall was still seeing some activity despite the obvious hangovers from some of the crew. She quickly got into line and grabbed herself some food before finding a relatively isolated table and sitting down. She wasn't anti-social, but a lot of these people were not her crew, and therefore she didn't know them or command any sort of respect from them. Instead, just a few short minutes later, a voice came from behind her.

"Operative Invaru? Mind if I join you?" Kelly looked back to see Carly standing there. She was definitely a different image from when she had seen her. She still had her short brown hair, but it was obvious the way the marine uniform clung to her that she had toned up and gained some muscle. Horn liked to pride himself on forcing his marines to be tough because he needed them to be, and often enforced a rather extreme training regime.

"Of course not." Kelly stated in a light voice. Carly nodded with a smile, and took a seat opposite of Invaru. She had gotten a bigger meal than Kelly, but that was too be expected.

"So we're getting off this ship today?" Carly asked before she had even taken a bite. Kelly didn't bother to look up from her food.

"Yes. We should be meeting with them in a matter of hours. From there, we'll have as close as we can to our old home again." Carly nodded, doing well at repressing any outward feelings about the Titan.

"Alright. That's good, I'm tired of sharing a bunk with a few people I don't even know." Carly stopped for a second. "Not that I'm not appreciative of them getting us out of there, it's just that we're going to end up shooting each other if we stay here for much longer." Kelly gave a smile, and put her hands together in front of her.

"That sort of thing will happen when you get different Commanders with different styles, especially one as brash and impulsive as Commander Horn."

"I thought he was the norm for Cerberus." Carly said in between bites. Invaru gave a light laugh.

"I wouldn't say that. Everyone has their own style of leading, Horn's simply likes to emphasize being ready and able to do anything that needs doing."

"What about Titus?" Carly asked, looking up. "I've only had Horn to go by, but if he's so impulsive, how is Titus any different?" Kelly thought for a second before answering.

"He's more controlled. He knows when he can't take the odds, and knows when to play the right cards. From my perspective, it feels like he knows a lot more about a situation then he lets other people know, and is definitely more held back then Commander Horn. On the flip side, Horn is willing to take bigger chances and gambles that Titus would most likely consider to risky or dangerous. This can lead to giant rewards or damages. Along with this, I have yet to see Horn get rattled by fear, and has always managed to keep his...charming personality intact no matter the circumstance." Carly nodded to this, her meal almost already finished.

"So no one style is simply better than the others. Alright." Carly said, finishing up her meal. "To be honest, the Commander is the last one of us that I expected to be on a table unsure if he's going to wake up." Kelly looked at her with a smile. "I mean, I expected the universe to implode, stars to turn into blackholes, and cockroaches to go extinct, and on top of it all, Horn would be floating there going 'Now I have no sparring partners!'" Kelly gave a light laugh once more.

"I wouldn't tell him that if I were you, he might just try to find a way to do such a thing and we'll never hear the end of it." Carly tongued the inside of her cheek and nodded.

"No kidding, his comments border on narcissistic and sexist. Although, if he didn't back that up with action, I probably would have punched him so hard his jaw would have flown around the back of his head." Kelly gave a genuine laugh this time.

"I wouldn't worry about the comments Carly, all the women get them. It's part of who he is."

"Which is the only reason I haven't tried to hit him...that and he would probably put me on my ass." Carly stopped for a second. "Ah man...I'm glad I'm talking to you instead of Horn when I said that." Kelly smiled. "But anyways Ms. Invaru, I should go get to my training. It's hard to keep up the regime on a ship overflowing with marines. It was nice talking to you." Carly stated as she stood up.

"Anytime." Kelly said with a genuine smile as Carly nodded and walked off. Kelly sat there for a moment, before returning to her food.

A few hours later, and the entire crew of the newly assigned Victory were standing with their bags and belongings near the airlock. Horn was near the front on a bed, some equipment still stuck to him as they made sure to monitor his condition in case movement caused some previously unseen medical complications. Daniel stood beside Kelly in his pressed marine uniform. Normally he would have worn something more formal, but his dress suit and medals had been lost on the Titan. They all stood there waiting for the airlock to open, when the elevator opened to reveal Vala looking over the crew. Kelly looked back, as did several others.

"Hey Vala." Daniel said as he gave a smile. Vala gave a small one in return, and walked to the two of them.

"Just thought I should see you guys off, the few that I know anyways." Kelly gave a small smile and Daniel shrugged and smiled.

"Ah, it's no big deal. We get new ship, and we get to fuck those collectors up so hard they'll be nothing but a speck of dust after we're finished with them." Daniel stated as the hush of air and clank of the two ships meeting.

"I don't doubt it." Vala stated as everyone started to gather their things and start heading over. "Just take care of yourselves, alright? We don't need anyone getting into another catastrophe just yet." Daniel was about to say something, but Kelly held out an arm slightly.

"I'll make sure they hold their weapons with the safety on Operative Buchan." Daniel gave a wave as he started embarking, and the lift from the Vindicator opened once more to reveal Commander Titus. He stepped out, and stared at the crew as they left. Most of them gave him either a nod or a salute as they left, and Kelly watched as they disappeared into the confines of the Victory. Kelly took a step forward towards Titus, and offered him a customary crisp salute as she snapped to attention. Titus returned the gesture, and Kelly held out her hand.

"On behalf of Commander Horn and the entire crew of the now Call of Victory, I would like to thank you and your crew members for your hospitality and timely rescue." Titus gave a smile, and took the hand in a firm shake.

"No need to be so formal Operative. Just try to keep Horn from trying to take on the entire collector army by himself, alright?" Titus stated, and Kelly gave a small smile.

"Will do Commander. While I hope you are never in the position we were in, I hope we have a chance to repay this debt." They released hands, and Kelly turned crisply on her heel past everyone into the Call of Victory.

A few minutes later, and everyone was on board that needed to be. The Call of Victory disengaged from the Vindicator and started moving on it's own course. Kelly looked around the CIC, and was surprised at how much it resembled the Titan. Slight differences were made, as to where consoles were positioned and the table around the galaxy map. It was also larger, making the entire space stretch out in front of her.

"They don't go cheap on anything, do they?" Daniel asked as he looked around. Kelly gave a smile, and shook her head. "C'mon" Daniel said as he went around the corner to the elevator, the actual device not facing the galaxy map but exiting towards the communications room this time around. "Let's go see what else there is." Kelly gave a smile, and followed at a leisured pace. Despite everything being similar, it was still very different. It was new, it was powerful...

And it was their way of coming back from the dead.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Tue Jan 24, 2012 2:58 am

Titus dipped his spoon into the freshly prepared gumbo on his tray. The mess hall was far less crowded with Horn’s crew now gone; and John considered it safe again to reclaim his favorite table. The rest of the Vindicator officers were busy attending to their stations, having already had their dinner. While enjoying the spicy Cajun cuisine, John was catching up on one of his latest crime novels. It had been a while since he last buried himself in the pages of a fine e-book; but the job had to be placed above recreational activities. The story he was reading now had him so entranced, that he only just noticed the Asian-looking man sitting across from him when his fork clattered against his plate.

John looked up and into the man’s cold, hardened eyes. The Hungarian jaw features, the oriental descent, the muscular build – this wasn’t the first time the commander had seen this man before; but it had it also been a good minute, too. Finally, it dawned on him who the stranger was.

“How did you get aboard my ship?” Titus demanded while keeping his voice low so as to not draw attention just yet.

“Easy,” Kai Leng said. “I hitched a ride on the Call of Victory and waited for the right opportunity to slip across the docking bridge and through your air lock. I needed to speak with you, personally; but I needed to do so without making a big deal about it.”

Titus raised a suspicious brow and set the e-reader down on the table. He then picked up his fork and took another bite of his gumbo before asking, “Aren’t you supposed to be hunting down Grayson?”

Leng shook his head and replied, “It took me two years to hunt that rogue traitor down. Now that I know where he is, I can stop trying so hard. I’ve got a team keeping close tabs on him on Omega. He’s working for Aria T’Loak now as one of her own mercenary leaders. He won’t be going anywhere so soon, thinking he’s perfectly safe amongst the other low-life scum.”

“So what do you want with me?”

Leng pushed his barely-touched tray aside and Titus caught the faint expression of disgust on his face while looking at it. He figured the assassin probably stuck to a strict diet of something with less broth. “There’s an asari commando named Aleena. She’s stirred up a bit of trouble involving a Cerberus facility on Elysium. She sabotaged an entire archive related to our biotic research. Everything in there had been data backed up from identical archives at the Grissam Academy.”

Titus set his fork down and glanced back up at Leng. “Well… this certainly isn’t first time I’ve heard of Cerberus being involved in the Ascension Project. I mean, that is what we're talking about here, right?”

Leng shook his head again. “Not entirely. We’ve got our own assets within that program, but Aleena doesn’t know about that. We’re still trying to figure out how she even knew about our copied archives on the planet. Now, the loss of that data isn’t much of a concern to us as we can always recopy the raw data from the AP. All that Cerberus Command wants right now is that bitch’s head on a silver platter.”

“So why do you need my help? We’re Omni Cell; not-”

“-Because you’re the only ones I can trust to get the job done right,” Leng interrupted. “Look, my skills only work when my target doesn’t see me coming. I’m an assassin, not a commando; and with Aleena, you have to fight fire with fire. I need experienced soldiers for this job. I can have Command reroute the credits they promised me to an account of your choosing. It can help fund your mission.”

Titus knew that taking down the Collectors was an expensive assignment, but money was never a turn-on for him. He was a soldier, not a gun-for-hire. And as soon as that thought entered his mind, Aria’s words about him being a crusader echoed again in his head. Before turning this into either a mission for profit, or a crusade for glory, he had to clear his thoughts and weigh the pros and cons with a level head. Chasing after Aleena and doing Leng’s job for him might set them back on pursuing the Collectors, but eliminating her now would help Cerberus continue their research into human biotics. There was also the fact that Cerberus’s past experiments with biotics weren’t so pretty. Titus liked the fact that they were letting a more neutral and humble organization do all of the work while they simply sat on the sidelines and observed, taking from the research conducted what they can benefit from. If Aleena thwarts this strategy, the Illusive Man may be forced into trying another alternative to biotic progression in humans, and revert to experimenting on their own again. What negatives would come of that?

In the end, the pros to taking Aleena out of the picture out-weighed the cons. “Alright,” Titus said, “consider the Vindicator team on board with your mission. But on one condition…”

“Of course,” Leng said.

“We do things my way. Understand?”

The assassin returned a devilish grin, one that actually sent a chill down the commander’s spine and made him wonder if he was making the right decision. “Perfectly.”

Villayn Arkades knelt down behind the short-wall on the roof of a three-story building on the south end of the Elysium town. Arkan and Darak, the two other turians that had been with him since the Solar Spear, flanked him on either side. All three of the former pirates were staring through the scopes of their M-29 Incisor sniper rifles. The new prototype three-round burst rifles offered the best efficiency against kinetic and biotic barriers; which asari commandos (along with any military detail that was smart enough to wear them) tended to wear.

He wasn’t entirely sure why Commander Titus trusted the mysterious Kai Leng enough to accept this mission, but after everything that had happened since him and his two comrades were spared, Villayn knew that the human must have his reasons. Of course, there was also the question of the firepower that Titus had decided to bring along for this ordeal. According to his understanding, they were only after a single asari named Aleena; yet the commander wanted to have nearly his entire posse with him for this. Operatives Keown and Taylor had taken up a position on the other side of the square, directly across from Villayn’s sniper team. Leng had blended in with the crowd, and was currently browsing the wears at a human’s software kiosk near the center of the plaza. Braden and Commander Titus were waiting at the west end of the square. Finally there was Operative Williams, moving amongst the crowd of pedestrians. The darker colored human was supposed to intercept and stall Aleena long enough for either Leng to move in and assassinate her, or for the over-watch teams to rush in, incase Aleena saw past the bait.

Kai Leng said that Aleena was supposed to be meeting other commandos at this location to plan their next mission. Villayn wasn’t entirely sure how he knew this, but this was Cerberus. Besides, the location actually made since. The multi-species crowd would providing sufficient masking for their meeting, and the constant social chatter would cause too much interference for any audio bugs to pick up on their conversation. There was also the risk of collateral damage with all of the innocent civilians in the area. Once again, however, Villayn was now working with Cerberus. The organization had a colorful history of crossing lines, and the men (and woman) in this fire team were highly trained and skilled enough to take on an asari commando team without harming any bystanders. Braden, was Villayn’s only concern, but as long as the pubescent human stayed with Titus, he should be fine.

“So, boss,” Arkan said, opening up a conversation while they waited for the target, “what do you think of that human engineer everyone likes to talk about? Tia?”

Villayn looked over at his lieutenant with an inquisitive stare. “What do you mean?”

“Oh, come on,” he said. “Don’t kid me, Captain; I’ve seen the way you look at her when she turns her back to you. It’s as if her not liking us hardly affects you. Funny, though… I never took you for an interspecies romantic.”

Villayn had been taken completely off guard by Arkan’s embarrassing question. He had to admit though, The Saint was definitely attractive… for a human. He didn’t like it, but he had to keep forcing himself to remember what she was. Humans and turians may no longer be political enemies, but the grudges were still there, and so were the scars. What made it even more complicated was that Tia was a relic of the First Contact War. Villayn knew of her past, and was sure to tread lightly around the female, but deep down… he actually wanted to get to know her better; maybe even on an intimate level.

The turian captain shook his head, chasing the thoughts from his mind. “Just stay focused on the task at hand; will you, Arkan?”

“Target has entered the area,” Darak said over the comm to the rest of the team. The turians ducked lower, concealing the barrels of their sniper rifles behind the short wall so as to not be so easily spotted. So far, Aleena appeared calm and casual. She graciously walked into the crowd and slowly made her way to the center of the plaza. Lance had already spotted her and began to mingle closer. Villayn saw his hand reach up behind his ear and his index finger press in on a tiny device tucked behind the ear lobe.

The comm units everyone was wearing crackled and the loud chatter of half a dozen conversations suddenly became audible. As Lance moved closer to Aleena, the conversations in the listening piece gradually changed.

“Three more asari have entered the area,” Arkan stated, “one from each direction. They’re converging toward the center.”

“Time to turn on my charm,” they heard Lance muse over the net.

Titus watched patiently from the west end of the square as Lance converged the asari women having their meeting. The group stood close to a small monument on the center of the plaza, a replica of the SSV San Jacinto, an Alliance ship destroyed during the Skyllian Blitz. As Lance moved in closer, John could hear their conversation over the comm net thanks to the amp hidden behind his ear. Everything picked up by the amp was being recorded by EDI. The commander's plan was to catch Aleena planning another attack. If it was against Cerberus directly, then they would pull back and set a trap for when she actually launched the attack. If the plan was to sabotage a front organization, or do anything that can otherwise be considered illegal or an act of terrorism, then Titus would deliver the recording to the Alliance and have them take care of it. Leng wanted the asari commando dead, but executing her in the middle of this public place would spark an intergalactic incident between the humans and asari.

"What does Nassana want now?" one of the other asari asked with an annoyed tone.

"Protection, believe it or not," Aleena replied. "She's becoming paranoid. I think she's been targeted by an assassin."

One of the asari scoffed. "It wouldn't be the first time someone has tried to take that bitch down. Do we know who wants her dead now?"

"No clue. Rumor has it that he's a drell."

"Nice," another said. "She really must have pissed someone off. I hear that drell assassin's are the best in the business. You never see them coming."

"So she just wants a more qualified security detail? Sounds easy. But I prefer blowing shit up instead. Anything available on the books similar to our last job?"

"No," Aleena said. "It's too soon to hit Cerberus again."

Before the conversation carried on, a large cloud of smoke errupted in the middle of the plaza. Civilians scattered in every direction, screaming to the top of their lungs. John scanned the crowd and saw that Lance was quickly backing away, covering his mouth and nose with the sleeve of his jacket. Taylor and Keown were on the move, weaving and dodging through the stampede of the retreating bystanders. Villayn's team had their snipers trained on the smoke screen. The only person missing was, of course, Kai Leng.

"Leng?!" Titus called out over the net. "Leng! Lance, do you have eyes on Leng?!"

"Negative, Commander! There's too much god damn smoke!"

"Titus," Villayn said in a more calm and calculated tone, "thermals are showing five individuals in the smoke screen. The extra body is attacking the other four relentlessly. I think it may be your assassin."

"Shit! Ground teams, move in! Surround the targets!" Titus and Braden took off toward the cloud. Both had drawn the heavy pistols they had concealed under their jackets and ducked into the oncoming crowd. By the time they had reached the tickling edge of the smoke screen, the plaza was completely emptied. John knew it was only a matter of time before the Alliance MPs showed up.

Once behind the veil, all five of them had Leng and Aleena surrounded. The assassin had quickly dispatched the other asari, most likely with the blood soaked knife in one hand, in conjunction with the Hahne-Kedar Kessler pistol pressed against her temple. The asari commando herself was on her knees, rendered at a clear disadvantage. Kai Leng was obviously fast enough to execute her if she tried to use her biotics or even twitch.

"This wasn't the plan, Leng," Titus said. "This was to be a survellience-only operation! What the hell were you thinking?"

"He was thinking about doing what he was hired to do," Aleena said without removing her eyes from Leng's own cold stare.

"Exactly," the Cerberus assassin replied. "Anyone that dares attacks Cerberus with a cowardly hit and run bombing deserves to die the moment I get the chance to make it happen."

The asari scoffed. "Ha! Cowardly?! What I did was no different than the little stunts your Illusive Man pulled by sabotaging eezo transports over your own race's colonies. And let's not forget Azure..."

Leng pressed the barrel of the gun harder against her skull. "Since when are the asari so interested in Cerberus' affairs with humans?"

"Since they started to threaten every other sentient species."

"Azure?" The unexpected question had come fom Braden, who had stepped forward slightly snd lowered the Cerberus Skunkworks Harpy Pistol in his hands. Aleena's reference must have triggered his interest enough to make him speak up so suddenly.

The asari removed her eyes from Leng to examine the human child so close to her. John half expected her to make some retort about his age, but her expression was blank and uncaring. "One of your colonies," she replied. "Cerberus detonated another Ashland eezo transport in the planet's orbit in an attempt to produce biotic fetuses - as they've done several times before - but the detonation attracted the attention of a geth scouting frigate. The colony's proximity to the Perseus Veil allowed the geth to attack without warning. They saw the detonation as an act of aggression and took retaliatory measures. Thus... Cerberus basically let an entire colony be slaughetered because of the old man's insane ambitio-"

The crack from the Kessler came so fast that Titus barely had time to react. Aleena's body slumped over on the ground, complelety lifeless with eyes still wide open, caught in a state of shock. Leng holstered the pistol to the magnetic clip on his belt. "That's enough out of you," he grunted.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Tue Jan 24, 2012 11:46 pm

Kelly managed a brief wander through a couple of the decks aboard the Call of Victory, and after ensuring that Grass had had no issues with transporting Horn, continued her inspection of the ship. From first glance, it was very much like the Titan save for some miniscule differences. The first floor of the ship was very much the same. Engineering, Cargo space, and the Shuttle Bays were all located on the bottom. The second floor had been switched with the third floor from the Titan, now housing the Main and Secondary Batteries for the entire ship. While lacking in some of the heavier armaments from the Titan, most notably the Thannix Cannon, it had more than enough extra ports of more standard weaponry to make up for this fact. The third floor was now the Crew Quarters, Medical Bay, Armoury, and the Mess Hall. The armoury on the Victory was slightly different from that of the Titans for the sole fact that it had a shooting range further in the back enabling four marines to practice their aim at a time. It would definitely come in handy during long down periods. The fourth floor was your CIC, including the Bridge, Helm, Life Support, Observatory, and Comm. Center/Briefing room. The fifth floor, of course, was the Commander's Personal Quarters.

The layout was pretty standard, with a few things different that didn't make it difficult to find one's way around. Kelly knew that switching the Armoury to the third floor instead of the fourth. On that note...she wondered just how many times Jesse McKrain would go to the third floor instead of the second expecting weapons of all shapes to found covering the space, and swearing as she got back into the lift. Aside from the interior, the Victory was also heavier armoured than its predecessor. While not necessarily as powerful in the weapons department, the weapons that this ship was currently outfitted were tested and proven through trials of fire to perform, rather than an experimental cannon that was iffy as to whether or not it was going to work.

As for the rest, everything was pretty self explanatory. It would take some getting use to considering the stations and positions were slightly switched around, but it was all pretty familiar despite being a new ship. What Kelly had to do now, was talk to the new officers; Harold Bretton, Linda Franks, and Leonard O'Ryan. As far as she knew, Lieutenant O'Ryan would be in the armoury, trying to get a feel for the veterans from the Titan. As she made her way there, and opened the doors, TJ greeted her in her usual fashion. "Cheerleader." She stated, giving a grunt. "Is there a reason I need to share my station with a bunch of baby recruits?"

"We didn't order the Victory like this Ms. Keller. We're lucky we got a ship when we did." TJ just grunted once more, looking back at the marines.

"So long as they stay on their side, fine. I still don't like it though." Kelly simply gave a nod, pushing past the large woman to the wall that separated the armoury from the actual firing range. There, a large bullet-proof window protected any bystanders watching the training. Inside were a few marines, mainly ones that survived the attack on the Titan. Off to the side, with short black hair that was spiked up at the front and a black goatee, was Lieutenant Leonard 'Leo' O'Ryan. Kelly cased him for a minute, watching as he paced back and forth, obviously yelling orders even though Kelly herself couldn't hear them because of the sound proofing. As he paced back and forth, everyone stopped firing, most likely due to his order. He roughly turned one of the marines towards him, and jerked the weapon out of his hands. By the way he looked, he was yelling at the man, then roughly pushed him aside and fired a three round burst that hit the target squarely in the head. He yelled a bit more at the man, and shoved the rifle back into his hands. Finally, he glanced to his left, and noticed Kelly standing there. He barked another order before walking out the door.

He stepped out, and promptly shut the door behind him. Instantly he turned to Kelly, snapped to attention, and gave a very crisp salute. "Ma'am. Lieutenant Leonard O'Ryan reporting for duty." Kelly gave a small smile, returning the salute casually.

"At ease Lieutenant." Kelly stated, and Leo adopted the stance.

"I...apologize for not taking the time to come to you first, but when I saw the state of these marines...I felt that getting them back up to speed was the best thing to do." Leo stated, his voice much like his previous actions, full of gravel.

"You must understand Lieutenant, that these marines have been through a lot. They may need a slower regime than what you had planned." Leo lowered his head, but quickly looked up with his green eyes at Kelly.

"With all due respect ma'am, I disagree. We are marines for the sole reason of fighting. I read the report as to what happened to the Titan, as well as what happened to my predecessor, Lieutenant Nicola." He took a moment to sort his words. "If we allow them to grow complacent on the fact that they were in a traumatic situation, they will be useless to us. If one near death experience is enough to put them out, they don't deserve to be a marine." Kelly blinked once, but otherwise didn't show anything.

"That's very blunt Lieutenant." Kelly stated.

"I'm sorry if I have overstepped my bounds ma'am, but the facts are that they need something to preoccupy them. If we allow them to simply wander the ship, thinking too hard on what happened, PTSD will set in and we won't get them back no matter how hard I train them."

"Many people have come back from that disorder Lieutenant." Kelly said, not liking the underlying irony in the situation.

"I know this as well, but it's time wasted as we reintegrate them into the unit." There was a slight silence between them, before Leo spoke once more. "For what it's worth ma'am, I'm sorry for your loss. I know what it feels like."

"I know." Kelly stated. "I read your file. The battle on Maji after Sheperd repelled the initial incursion was a massacre." Leo nodded, and looked back at the window, giving a sigh as he peered through the glass.

"They need some work ma'am. If you'll excuse me, I need to shape them into something that resembles a marine again." Kelly nodded, and he saluted. She returned it.

"Lieutenant." Kelly stated as he started walking away. He stopped and looked back. "Commander Horn is not big on military protocol. I would do my best to not stand at attention and salute." He gave a cock of his head, and slightly furrowed his brows. He nodded, but Kelly could also see he wasn't used to that. It wouldn't matter for the first little while anyways, since it was unknown when exactly Horn would come back. After Leo returned to the marines, Kelly made for the lift to the CIC, to meet the other two officers.

A short ride up the lift later, and Kelly was standing on the Command Deck. Save for the small differences she noticed when she first stepped aboard, like the table around the galaxy map and the computers being in different places, it felt like she once again belonged here. Just a few feet in front of her, an average height woman stood over a console, feverishly tapping away at the console. Kelly approached her, and stood beside her. The woman didn't notice, her eyes darting back and forth across the screen. "Linda Franks?" Kelly stated, and the woman physically jumped.

"What the shi-...I mean, yes ma'am, what can I do for you?" Linda stated, having to physically calm herself down. She was pretty enough, obviously dolled up a little to give her more of a personable appearance as the Yeoman. Her brown hair was loose around her shoulders, her bangs combed over to one side of her face, just hovering over her one eye. Her brown eyes looked over Kelly, as if expecting a reprimand.

"Did I interrupt you?" Kelly asked, and Linda, having gotten over the scare, shrugged.

"Nah, just trying to update the psych profiles of the existing crew with the new. As predicted, some of your marines are suffering from minor cases of PTSD, and a noticed a few who tried to smuggle illegal alcohol to their quarters. I notified Lieutenant O'Ryan. Aside from that, I was merely trying to set up all my personal files, access routines, and logs that could be an asset to this command."

"So I didn't interrupt you." Kelly stated with a smile, a slight tinge of sarcasm seeping out of her. Linda gave a smile, it suited her.

"Maybe just a little ma'am. I figured you would be the one to come talk to me soon anyways, seeing as you're the people person of the command structure." Kelly tilted her head slightly.

"So you've already read my psych evaluation then I take it." Linda nodded.

"Yes ma'am, you and every other officer aboard this ship. My job is to know what is bothering you, how to approach it, and how to help you deal with it. I need to keep in the know, you know?" Kelly smiled, but Linda snapped her fingers a couple of times. "Speaking of which...there is a surprisingly limited amount of info on our very own Commander Horn. Why is that?"

"He...disagrees with psychiatrists." Kelly stated. "He doesn't like people probing into his mind or his past." Linda nodded.

"I see, one of those types eh? I've dealt with them before. Trying to be the big, handsome mysterious type that all the girls swoon over." Kelly gave a slight laugh.

"I don't think Horn is trying to be mysterious so much as he doesn't want to bring it up. He believes the past is just that, past."

"It seems you know him rather well ma'am." Linda said, and Kelly just gave a small smile.

"I've worked with him for his entire command Linda. I've had the time to actually learn about him, rather than question him." Linda nodded, and looked down at her console. "A word to the wise Yeoman..."

"I know, I share the same name as the squad mate that was killed aboard the Collector Vessel. Don't worry, I'll be careful." Linda interrupted.

"Extremely careful Linda. I can't say that I know what Horn will do when he sees that not only he has a new Yeoman, but her name is also that of his dead squad mate. It will most likely be tense." Linda gave a laugh.

"Ma'am, my job is to probe people's minds like it's a cave with buried treasure. Tense is my business." Kelly smiled, and gave a nod before walking away. She was a bit more personable than Lara, not always having her head in the video games, but she was also a bit more up front. If she pressed the issue of a psych evaluation with Horn, she might find out first hand that he didn't handle shrinks well. She walked up to the Helm, where the pilot was sitting, or rather, lounging.

His chair was leaned back, his leg up on one of the consoles, and a blue baseball cap was covering his face. He was snoring slightly as Kelly she stood behind his chair. She tapped his shoulder once, and there was no response. EDI showed up on her holographic interface as he blue ball form. "He has been like this for at least an hour Operative Invaru."

"Really." She stated, her voice neutral as she looked at the sleeping man. She picked up his hat, and then dropped it on his face. He grunted, and moved around slightly, rolling over to get more comfortable.

"Would you like me to wake him Operative?" EDI asked, and Kelly nodded. "Cover your ears." She ordered, and Kelly complied. A airhorn came over the speakers and Harold Bretton launched upwards. Panic wrote itself all over his face as he quickly came to a sitting position, his hands running over every console checking every system before he stopped and looked around.

"Oh son of a bitch. Nikky, you know how much that scares the shit out of me!"

"I'm sorry Helmsman, but Operative Invaru asked for your attention. Through previous experience, it has been proven that you are a heavy sleeper." EDI replied, now known as Nikky. Harold grunted, then realized what she said and spun around standing out of the chair at attention and saluting. "Helmsman Harold Bretton returning for..." He stopped for a second, obviously attempting to stop his eyes from wandering. "Duty ma'am." Kelly ignored it.

"Helmsman. Finding you sleeping on the job the first time we meet is not a good indicator." Kelly stated, her voice neutral but the point of the statement known. That being 'don't let me catch you again'.

"Ah...yes ma'am. I realize that. I just figured that it would be easier to grab a couple winks here in the chair, and if something should happen, I'm already here instead of at my quarters." He was still standing at attention, with his arm raised in a salute. He looked slightly uncomfortable, but Kelly stood there for a moment just watching him hold the pose. Finally she returned it.

"At ease Helmsman. You awake now?" Harold took the position, and was about to say something, stopped himself, and started something else.

"Yes ma'am. Completely."

"So you're Harold Bretton then?" Kelly asked, looking him over slightly. His short brown hair was unkept, most likely due to him just waking up, and a black chin strap was around his jaw. His eyes were a disturbing colour of black, but Kelly didn't stare. His uniform, while not neat, had been recently washed. Apparently he had wanted to make a good impression only have been caught at the wrong time.

"Yes ma'am, looking at the man with the lightning fast hands." He wiggled his fingers in front of him, but slowly stopped and placed his hands behind his back once more giving a cough.

"Are you always this socially awkward Mr. Bretton?" Kelly asked, and Harold shied away from the question slightly.

"Call it a weakness. I pilot ships, not people." He stopped for a second. "And wow that sounded wrong." Kelly gave a small smile.

"I wouldn't worry about it too much Helmsman. You'll get acclimatized soon enough. For now, keep to your post and try not to fall asleep again."

"Yes ma'am, no sleeping at the post while acclimatizing." He stopped, thinking that through again.

"Yes, something like that." Kelly stated, a slight amount of humour in her voice as she turned around and walked away. She could feel his eyes on her, and she stopped for a second before turning around. "Your instruments are behind you Helmsman Bretton." Harold went beet red.

"Yes ma'am!" He shouted unnecessarily loud, and sat down. Kelly walked away, but could hear the small amount of conversation between Harold and Nikky. "That sounded naughty...did that sound naughty?"

"She could break you in half with her mind Helmsman." Nikky replied.

"Oh..." Harold replied before Kelly got out of hearing range. As she stepped into the lift to go to her own quarters, she couldn't help but feel as if this was a new beginning. New ship, new people, and she was the one in charge. It was overwhelming, but she had to rise to the challenge. Hopefully she wouldn't disappoint.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Wed Jan 25, 2012 10:29 pm

The rest of their time aboard the Vindicator was spent in quiet contemplation for most of the crew of the Titan. Their leaves had been cut short and they'd found themselves in close quarters with the crew of the Vindicator trying not to get on each others nerves. Tia spent time between the observation deck, the mess hall and her own quarters. She felt slightly feverish and achy. Maybe she was coming down with some bug and she was grateful that she hadn't really started drinking on top of everything else.

Over a cup of coffee, Tia realized that she was avoiding three people on board and that she'd only be getting away from one of those three once she transferred to the Call of Victory with the rest of Horn's crew. She hadn't seen much of Vala, other than in passing and no words were exchanged between them. Tia still had her reservations about the Operative, but she wouldn't go out of her way to start a fight. Nor would she offer a hand in peace just yet either.

The armorer, TJ, didn't appear to be on a hunt for Tia's head,which was a small blessing. She really didn't think she'd get a second lucky shot at the woman and Tia liked her head where it was, thank you very much.

As luck would have it, though, she wouldn't have to worry about running into Villayn once they'd transferred to the Call of Victory. The Turian and his crew would remain with Titus and that suited Tia just fine. The alien might have saved her ass in the Collector ship and willingly gone along to fetch TJ from that fight club-slash-bar. But, that simply wasn't enough to get her over how she felt about Turians as a whole. Even in the supposed xenophobic organization Cerebrus was supposed to be, she sometimes wondered if she was unusually bigoted.

Finally, the Call of Victory arrived and Tia was relieved. The Vindicator had been a welcome sight after they'd escaped the Collector ship, but it had been cramped and too many of the Titan's crew were still dealing with the shock of the losses they'd taken. Kelly Invaru led the way, back straight, proud and putting on a brave face. Tia thought she'd make a good Commander some day. Titus came to see them off and Tia traded handshakes with the man and smiled. "Good hunting Commander."

"You too Saint. And good luck." He responded with his own answering smile. "My cook is going to be heartbroken, you know." He teased her before moving off to speak to Kelly.

She swung her duffel up over her shoulder and took her place in line with the rest of the crew waiting for Horn's gurney and Dr Grass to transfer the Commander to the new sick bay. The rest of the crew filed aboard slowly and as she took her turn, Tia felt the hair on the back of her neck raise slightly. Turning her head to gaze over her shoulder revealed Villayn in the passageway, where he'd evidently paused briefly to speak with Titus. The Turian glanced up when Tia looked behind her and caught her eye very briefly before turning his attention to the Vindicator's Commander as if nothing had happened.

Frowning over the oddity of Villayn's presence, Tia finally made her way across to the Call of Victory. Because she wasn't part of the command staff, Tia wasn't afforded the luxury of her own quarters this time around. She was assigned a room with 3 other women. The first woman, and one that she would share a shift with, was the Asari named Nerita. Tia had seen her before and had always gotten the impression that the woman had quite a chip on her shoulder. The other two women on the opposite shift would be Sargeant Isha Ilani, a dusky-skinned woman with the darkest hair and eyes. She was a munitions specialist that had come along with the Call of Victory. She had little to say when Tia arrived in the room. Not long after, another former member of the Titan's crew, Carly Laren also showed up and looked slightly skeptical about sharing a room.

Tia introduced herself with a smile, Carly did as well. Nerita simply stowed her gear and left immediately leaving the other three wondering how these arrangements were going to work out. Tia just shrugged. It would be she that had to deal with Nerita since they'd be off shift at the same time. So she told the others not to sweat it. "You shouldn't have to see her much. If she gives you any flack, let me know.

Carly bristled slightly. "I can handle myself."

"Probably. But if I get into trouble it doesn't matter. You get into trouble, Invaru will find new and creative ways to make your training hell." She took the sting from her words, "I doubt there'll be a problem, honestly. Nerita probably just prefers to do the dark and mysterious thing."

Last edited by Digital Muse on Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:26 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : spelling, spelling, spelling!)
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Fri Jan 27, 2012 11:49 pm

Face down in the pillow, Vala simply stared at the curious light show that her shut eyes conjured up. The strange dance of colour was…soothing, at least for the first few moments, but eventually, she acclimatized, and it lost its appeal. Sighing, she rolled over, wincing at the bright light. “EDI, dim the lights please…” On cue, the lights dropped to a comfortable dark, casting shadows over her quarters. The operative stared at the ceiling for a moment longer, before groaning and shifting to a cross-legged position. The bed still amazed with its comfort, but if she lingered in the warmth, she found her thoughts drifting.

“This isn’t working.” She muttered, drumming her fingers against her biceps as her eyes searched the room for something. What she was looking for, she didn’t really know, but the hope remained that she’d find something. Finally, she found the replacement emergency firearm Keown had sent to her room, and Vala wasted no time grabbing the grip. She frowned as she recognized the Edge II, a noticeable downgrade from her old Raikou. It was a good design, and the weapon saw wide spread use, even as older designs like this one where being phased out for the new heat sink capable models. For an emergency weapon, she preferred the older makes, as while they lacked the quick ‘cool down’ of their new cousins, there was no worry of how many rounds the heat sink could fire off. It would cool and be ready to fire in moments of overheating. When the chips were down, scrambling for thermal clips was the last thing she wanted to worry about.

She prepped the gun, silently aiming down the sight at the door, finger hovering above the trigger. The moment was short lived, as EDI suddenly interjected. “Miss Buchan, it is a safety hazard to aim your firearm at the sole point of entry to your room.” She glanced at the ceiling, half expecting to see some scolding, albeit holographic, face staring down at her. Greeted by only a cold metallic roof, Vala frowned, tossing the gun back to the nightstand.

“Sorry, EDI. I’ll be more careful.”

“Miss Buchan, if something troubles you, I recommend seeking counsel from Yeoman Brown.” She grimaced. Know you have problems when the AI is telling you to get help…

“I’ll be fine, EDI, don’t…worry.” The last word was awkward, as she briefly wondered if the AI could even ‘feel’ the emotion. Sighing, Vala ran a hand over her head, feeling the strange prickle of the small hairs. She’d had long hair practically her whole life, and the sensation of it just not being there was weird. Lowering her hand, Vala chuckled humourlessly. “Well, Buchan, you know you’re running out of options when you’re thinking about hair length.” Rising from the bed, she moved soundlessly to the office portion of her quarters, her eyes settling on the small ring tucked beside the terminal.

Reaching for the small object, Vala hesitated, uncertainty creeping over her features as her fingers inched closer. The tips barely brushed against the cool metal, but she winced as if hit and retracted quickly. A side long glance to the personal terminal told her she still had an hour to kill, before…

The operative sunk into her seat, resting her head against the scratched surface of her desk. She was quiet for a moment, before she spoke. “I’ve been in worse. Almost zero chance of survival, and come through with only a few extra scars.” Her eyes zeroed on the ring, half wishing that it’d simply speak up and make her feel less crazy for talking to an inanimate object. Of course it didn’t, and she rambled on. “This is no different. Fifty fifty odds. Those are damn good, I’d gamble on that.”

“But what would you gamble? Money? Guns? Information?” She growled in her throat, catching the reflection of her eyes lurking in the metal. “Those are cheap, easily replaceable. A life? Depends on the risk. It’s all about risk. Wager Titus’s life or Alexis’s life for the right price, just roll the dice.”

“But my life…that’s another story all together.” She chewed her lip, watching the door as if she expected it to hiss open any second. Maybe it would be best to go see the Yeoman, but how much help would the woman actually be after their…original difficulties? Familiar words echoed in her head.

“First impressions form a powerful basis that many people cling to no matter how much we work to change it. We can convince someone we’re the most important person they’ll ever meet, or just be another face lost to the masses, all with a few choice words and clothes. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. It’s up to you to control the reaction, and mould it as you deem fit.” She chuckled, rubbing her temples at the memory. A lesson from Benjamin, one of the earlier ones. Barely nineteen, if memory served, and he was dragging her off to some high end party for some information gathering. Alexis didn’t shut up about it for a month, and they had spent two days ensuring she was sufficiently ‘dolled up’ for such a gathering.

“Was more of a date than a mission, wasn’t it, Ben?” She took the ring slowly, rolling it between her fingers as she drifted through the memories. Inevitably, the amusement ended, and her eyes dulled as the memories rolled on. “Why did you do it, Ben? What changed that drove you over?” Questions, dozens of them, ricocheted through her mind, each one loaded with a hundred more threatening to spill for every answer.

Gritting her teeth, Vala clenched her hand around the ring, squeezing tightly as she forced everything back down. It was harder every time she had to, but this wasn’t the time or place for doubts and worry. The Illusive Man came to mind, and she focused on his words, the promise of their last conversation. They were going to find him, and she would face him. Opening her palm, she stared at the ring for a moment, before sliding it gently onto her finger.

“Ma’am?” She started, eyes snapping over to the open door and narrowing on the lone marine. “I’m sorry to intrude but Doctor Porter says they’re ready for you.” Vala nodded.

“Understood. Thank you, you’re dismissed.” The marine turned and left, as Vala rose from behind her desk. The ring felt strange on her finger, but she did her best to swallow the negative. “I need this, Ben. I have to be ready, because I know you. I need answers.” She looked to the ring, as if it would send every word straight to the man who had given it to her.

A few minutes later, she stood before the Tech Lab, staring at the blast door silently. Breathing deep, she crossed the threshold, looking to Dr. Porter first and then to Professor Sinclair. Sinclair was practically bouncing with excitement as he fluttered about the room, prepping numerous machines she’d never seen before in her life. Veronica gave a knowing smile, handing her something akin to a hospital gown and shooing Sinclair out of the room for a moment. Once changed, she was promptly ushered to the operating ‘chair’ as one of the aide’s handed Veronica a syringe before hurrying off to complete some other task. “Ready, Vala?”

Swallowing the lump that suddenly settled in her throat, Vala looked to the needle, before down to the ring on her finger. Releasing a shaky breath, she nodded. “I’m ready.” There was a brief pinch, and then sedative hit her system. The room blurred and spun, but before she could even attempt to process the world around her, it all went black.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:26 am

"Braden, slow down!" Titus exclaimed, attempting to keep up with the frantic and panicking teen. The Kodiak's engines were stuttering down and the young man was making his way across the shuttle bay floor with a quick step. John had noticed no signs of him being disturbed during the flight back up to the orbiting Vindicator until the door opened and the craft had touched down in the bay. The poor kid looked both sick and stricken with shock, leaving the commander absolutely confused. Did out have something to so with Aleena mentioning Azure?

Braden still refused to slow down and stop, forcing Titus to break into a full sprint after him. When the man finally caught up, he reached out and grabbed Braden's shoulder. The teen suddenly spun around and swiped away John's hand with a firm smack on the wrist. "Don't touch me!" he barked.

It was either the spin or the unexplained adrenaline rushing through his body that made him vomit, but a second later the kids had curled forwarded and coughed up whatever meal her had before the mission in front of John's feet.

"Obviously the kid can't handle a little gray matter from an asari's cranium," Leng mused as he passed by the two and continued on towards the elevator with a nonchalant attitude.

Titus ignored him and knelt down, ensuring that he was clear of the pool of vomit on the floor, and grabbed Braden, very gently, by the hand and upper arm. Slowly, the commander lifted his young troop to his feet.

"Come on, Reynolds," he said. "Let's go see Miss Brown. We can all meet together in my cabin."

"I don't want to see a damn shrink," Braden insisted.

Titus sighed and said, "Look... I don't know what just happened back there; but we're going to work through this together. We're all family on this ship. Understood? We don't hold anything back from each other."

Braden remained completely silent, and only started downward at the floor, slightly away from where John was standing. The man could feel the muscles in the boy's arm become tense to the point that he thought he was holding stone. To help the kid relax while trying not to cause him to cramp up, John stepped around behind him and cautiously moved Braden's fist into his chest while guiding his arm around with it.

"Breathe, Reynolds," John said. "Just deep, steady breaths." The two of them stood there in silence for several minutes. The rest of the team stood by the Kodiak, ready to render any assistance and to simply make sure the kid didn't go into a biotic meltdown. Eventually, and after much thought, John asked, "It's about Azure, isn't it? That was your colony... That's where you're from..."

What came next was the cross between a gasp for air and a painful cry of mournful dread. Braden's legs have out from under him and he struggled to latch onto Titus' already-straining arm. Titus used his free hand and completely removed his helmet, but the banes of his brown hair covered his downturn eyes in shadow... just as Braden's youthful lock did his own eyes.

It was at that very moment that everything made since to Titus: Braden's corky and socially awkward behaviors, the boy's biotic potential, why he was an orphan, how he managed to become caught up in the batarian slave trade... It all began with Azure. John realized that the boy must have somehow repressed the fall of his home colony deep within his subconscious. Only when Aleena mentioned the name and briefed the horrible events did everything come rushing back at once. Or perhaps the kid always had some sort of recollection of what happened, but kept the truth locked away from others. And the sad irony of it all was that the very people that were responsible for Azure's fall are the ones that have been taking care of him this whole time.

Commander Titus knew fully well that Cerberus' actions can never always be justified by any natural moral law, but today was the first day that he actually felt an excruciating pang of guilt for a decision made by the organization he worked for. What happened on Azure can't be called a shade of gray... just pure black.

Villayn stood by the Kodiak with the rest of the team, staring at Titus and Braden as the boy tried to fight off every emotion working its way to the surface of his conscience. The Incisor rested at his waste, hardly supported by limp wrists. It wasn’t that the rifle had become heavy to bare, but the entire scene before him simply sucked any spirited energy from him.

“You pity the human?” Arkan asked, stepping around to stand at his captain’s side.

The turians were a race of fearless warriors. When they reach adolescence they are required to enlist in the military and serve the Turian Hierarchy. Every adult of their species knew how to take a life, and knew how to conceal and control their emotions in the face of death and suffering. The only predominate emotion that would often break through a turian’s façade is anger. Villayn could understand the boy’s grief, but the expression of pain and agony on his face, and the tears… something he rarely saw in other species, was practically foreign to him. Braden looked like a maimed, helpless animal.

Yet, even though it was a strange sight behold, it was also something strangely beautiful to him. The ability for humans to simply let go… A domesticated turian would rather die first than open himself up to another.

“No,” he eventually replied to his lieutenant. “I envy him.”

Lisa Brown quietly entered into the captain's quarters and approached her commander with a data pad in her hand. The two of them were standing on a slightly raised loft that made up the first third of the quarters. Braden was seated on the edge of Titus' bed in the lower section, staring out the vast view port at a cyan-colored star on the Vindicator's port side. The teen's hands shook, even when he clasped them tightly together with interlacing fingers. Even his knees were bouncing to a fast rhythm.

John took the yeoman's data pad in hand and scanned over the details she managed to find relating to the Reynolds family and Azure. Lisa had conducted a very thorough search through the Alliance's archives, with the help of EDI's hacking abilities, of course. The attack occurred around two years ago, where at the same time, immediately after, Braden would have been abducted by the batarians. A helpless orphan with no one left alive to claim custody over him on a completely destroyed colony would have made the perfect target for slavers. After a year of forced labor, he then would have been rescued by the humanitarians that had found him on Omega and delivered him to the Ascension Project upon learning that he was a biotic.

"I had EDI do some digging into the Ashland sabotages," Lisa whispered. "It turns out there was a detonation about eleven years prior to the one that attracted the geth."

"Right before Braden was born," Titus stated in the same, low whisper. "That would explain the biotics. Did you find out his parents' names?"

Lisa nodded and reached across to tap an area on the pad's screen. "Adam and Sheri Reynolds. Both...," she hesitated for a moment as her eyes glided over to fall upon Braden, "confirmed deceased after the Alliance first responders finally made it to the planet. Braden was cited as missing. The slavers probably did their own clean-up in between the attack and the response."

A hint of dark anger flashed across Titus' face for a brief moment and he drew in a deep breath. "And that's why I left the Alliance," he murmured. "Red tape and political protocol. Enough fucking time elapsed for the geth to fully raze the colony and escape; and then for batarians to slip into the system, do their greedy abductions, and run."

Lisa took back the pad and frowned at her commander. "Sir, with all due respect, we should be more concerned about the now. What happened in the past can't be changed. Mr. Reynolds needs our help in the here and now. I recommend you let me meet with him, one on one, once a day for a while. And, considering his instability, he doesn't need to be involved in any missions for a while.”

After giving a firm nod of his approval, John began heading for the door. Too many thoughts were racing through his mind and he simply needed to step out and collect them. Appearing agitated or upset would only hurt Braden even more, and that was the last thing the commander wanted to let happen to the boy.

When he waved his hand over the access panel, Lisa spoke up again. “Commander,” she said in a slightly louder whisper as she quickly caught up to him, “there’s one last thing.” John looked over his shoulder, but appeared a little more composed then what he had been a second ago. Regardless, he still wasn’t sure if he wanted to hear anything else regarding the situation. “The boy’s father… he was an Alliance MP.”

At that moment, John felt a light bulb turn on over his head.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by quakernuts on Mon Feb 06, 2012 12:50 am

So far the warm-up to the ship had been going surprisingly well. Maybe Lieutenant O'Ryan knew what he was talking about when he said that people needed to keep their minds occupied. So far, everything was ready to go, and Kelly could plot their first jump out. She stepped up to the table surrounding the Galaxy Map, and watched as it flashed up to meet her. She looked at it, knowing how to use it and watching Horn plot courses on it, but for the first time she was making the choice to move. There was only one real exit, as the Relay in the Local Cluster only went to the Exodus System, so she simply plotted that as their destination.

"We're moving now Ma'am." Harold stated as the ship started to move. Within a minute, he was back over the speakers. "Passing through the Relay now." Kelly heard a hum come over the ship that she was familiar with having passed through so many relays in her lifetime, and just as quickly as it came, it was over. "Welcome to the Exodus Cluster." Harold stated, and Kelly wandered up to the cockpit to make sure everything had performed as expected.

"Everything's working up here Mr. Bretton?" She asked as she stood behind him.

"As usual ma'am." He replied, his hands still flying over the console checking all the systems. Kelly got onto the speakers herself this time, directed down towards the first floor.

"Engineering, report."

"We're good." Was all Kevin replied with. That was good enough for Kelly, knowing he didn't bullshit. Next she switched the speakers to the second floor.

"Batteries, report."

"Everything's alright down here Ma'am. Seems the ship's in working order." Jessie replied from her haven of heavy weapons. Kelly gave a slight nod, and stood up from the speaker. Those were the three areas that needed to be checked in, having the ability to run or cripple the ship. Satisfied that everything was in order, she turned around to walk away only to hear a beep come from the Helm.

"Incoming transmission." Harold traced the signal. "A Cerberus Frigate...Ascending Justice. Patching us through." Kelly started getting a lump in her throat the moment the screen flashed on. A pilot in perfect uniform and regulation hair length was on the other end. The pilot on the other end looked up, and gave a curt nod.

"Commanding officer of the Call of Victory, requesting permission to come aboard." Kelly was confused, why would another Cerberus vessel from obviously another cell want with them? Kelly took another step forward.

"This is Operative Kelly Invaru, currently in command of the Call of Victory. What is the purpose of this transaction?"

"Operative Invaru?" The pilot repeated, looking off to the side somewhere. "We have the commanding officer as that of Commander Jason Horn."

"He is currently too indisposed and, as regulations state, I have temporarily taken over his duties." The pilot seemed to contemplate this for a moment.

"I see." He nodded, then returned to his completely formal posture. "Well, in answer to your previous question, officially it's an inspection. Unofficially it's a visit."

"A visit? Visit from whom?" Kelly asked, now curious as to who it could possibly be. The helmsman looked back, and a dominating man entered the screen. He wore his navy blues, which were in immaculate condition adorned with his Captain's bars, multiple medals, and creases in exactly the right places. His face looked like it was chiselled from stone, the creases on his aging face seeming to strengthen his presence rather than weaken them. His black hair had streaks of grey at the temples, and his sky blue eyes seeming to pierce right through Kelly. Even from just the video, she could tell he was tall and built like a tank, his arms seeming to bulge from the sleeves of his navy blues.

"That would be from me Operative Invaru." The man replied, his voice filled with so much gravel Kelly expected rocks to fall from his mouth.

"Captain Grayson Horn."

Kelly had been shocked to hear from Jason's father. He had never spoken of the man, not even given hints that his family might be tied into Cerberus by blood, yet Kelly was waiting by the airlock for the man that looked like an exact opposite to Horn. In the short time she had, she made sure everything about her spoke professionalism, and made a speaker announcement to everyone on the ship to prepare for inspection. Hopefully those used to Horn's command style would still know the proper way to handle a superior officer coming aboard and seeing if the ship was up to par. The airlock hissed in front of Kelly, and it slid open. On the other side, she had misjudged how short the video had made the man.

Captain Horn stepped out, easily 6'4 and packed with the muscle of a exercising-addicted marine. His eyes caught Kelly, and for one of the first times she felt like she was being scanned for any and all imperfections. She snapped a smart salute, even though she didn't technically have to due to her rank being Operative, but she didn't want to give off any bad impressions right off the bat. "Welcome aboard the Call of Victory Captain. I'm Operative Kelly Invaru." She said, keeping her voice as crisp as possible.

Grayson returned the salute with a crisp one of his own. Without any further words, he simply nodded out of the airlock and started to walk out. Kelly matched his speed, and moment he stepped out onto the CIC, she snapped to attention. "Officer on deck!" She commanded, and everyone dropped what they were doing and snapped to attention.

"As you were." He returned, and everyone went back to what they were doing save with the occasional few who would glance back at the Captain. "It looks like you're running a tight enough ship here Operative." Grayson stated, and then looked down at her. "I have to ask though, where is Commander Horn?" Kelly looked down for a second before retrieving a pad from her pocket.

"I collected the report of our last mission. It should fill in any gaps you may have about Ja...Commander Horn." Grayson raised an eyebrow at Kelly's near use of his first name, but took the report anyways. He read slowly at first, his eyes taking in everything, but his eyes started going faster. His face was completely unreadable, yet another thing that separated him from his son. Finally, he handed the pad back, and started walking towards the elevator.

"Reckless and stupid." He stated, his voice carrying a little venom with it. Kelly looked up, but didn't bother defending. Grayson continued. "He went, along with only two others, to a ship filled with hostiles on some stupid gamble that only paid off because the Vindicator happened to come into the system." As they stepped into the elevator, Kelly punched the button for the next floor down. "He should have sent some expendable assets, not gone himself."

Kelly had to force down a twitch, but worked up enough nerve to ask him something. "Sir, if I may. Who do you mean by 'Expendable Assets'?" The Captain looked down at her, the color of his eyes starting to more and more resemble the state of his heart.

"Marines, technicians, commandos. Anyone who is combat personnel but not in a command position. Those people were bred and trained to fight and, should it come to it, die for their ship and officers." Grayson looked up away from Invaru. "Such is the way of war Operative. If my son had any brains in that head of his, he would recognize that." Kelly didn't say anything despite the fact that she felt like, for the first time to anyone, biotically punching him in the gut. He was already starting to sound like those die hard officers who believed themselves to be Gods and everyone below them expendable servants.

The door opened to reveal the third floor, housing the armoury, Med-Bay, Mess Hall, and Crew Quarters. They stepped out, and a few technicians and marines milled around doing anything from miniscule duties to enjoying some conversation. Grayson stepped out, and the few that were around the elevator looked at him. They didn't recognize him, and due to Horn's "No Salute" policy, none of them offered up a salute. Kelly was about to say something when Grayson did it for them. "Officer on Deck!" He shouted, his voice seeming to make the very walls tremble as everyone jumped and immediately saluted. He turned to Kelly. "What is this? Because they are not currently on duty, they don't feel the need to salute? Or is that another one of my brilliant son's accomplishments?"

"He preferred work over procedure sir." Kelly tried to defend, but the man just scoffed.

"A real commanding officer would not only be able to do both, but do both well. That is not a reason, that is an excuse to get lazy." He wandered up to the few that were standing around the elevator, giving each an X-ray like inspection. He would touch some of their uniforms, and scoff. "Despicable...intolerable..." Were the words he used as he wandered by each one. "If this was my ship, you would all either have ten weeks of latrine duty, or be transferred immediately."

"Well it's a good thing this isn't your ship then." A voice came from farther up ahead. Grayson looked forward, his nostrils flaring slightly.

"Insubordination now? This ship is one of a kind indeed." TJ stepped around the corner, wiping her hands on a grease rag with a few grease marks on her face as well. She continued forward until she stood right in front of the Captain, and they were almost like mirror copies of each other physically. They were both roughly the same height, and both built like bricks. "Where is my salute soldier?" Grayson demanded.

"Up your ass." TJ responded. Grayson leaned forward slightly.

"Excuse me soldier?" He said, enunciating each word. Kelly stood behind Grayson and did her best to not throw her face into her hands.

"Up...Your...Ass." She replied, mocking his tone. Grayson leaned backwards, looking as if he was ready to take out TJ himself. In Kelly's opinion, it would have been a fair fight.

"You." he stated. "You I wouldn't even bother transferring to another ship, I would simply put you in the airlock and shunt the atmosphere."

"As I said, this ain't your ship, you can't do shit." Grayson started to say something, only when TJ grabbed his collar. "According to Cerberus protocols, you have no actual authority over us. So I suggest you fuck right off, go back to your ship, and get the fuck off ours." With a quick movement, Grayson had grasped the hand of TJ, and twisted so hard that she actually bent over. With an even quicker movement, Grayson placed his knee on her back, and bent her arm backwards so much it threatened to break. TJ didn't scream or cry for mercy, but it obvious she was at the will of the Captain.

"Regardless of your knowledge of Cerberus protocols, which are obsolete, I am still a Captain in the Cerberus Navy. I deserve to be treated as such, and will not tolerate insolence from one such as you. Have I made myself clear?" TJ did not say anything. Grayson bent down slightly and yelled into her ear. "HAVE I MADE MYSELF CLEAR?!"

"Go fuck yourself!" TJ responded. Grayson sat back up, and was about to break her arm when Kelly interjected.

"Sir." He stopped to look. "I highly doubt breaking our armourer's arm will look good on a report to the Illusive man, nor help us perform our duties." Grayson looked down at TJ, then back at Kelly. He finally let go, and stepped off of TJ. He dusted his clothes slightly, and TJ got up looking ready for more. Kelly put up a hand. "TJ, I'm sure you have some work that you need to be doing." TJ took a step forward. "Now! TJ!" Kelly raised her voice slightly, and TJ finally stopped. With little more than a grunt, she wandered away back towards the armoury.

"Well Operative Invaru." The Captain stated. "This trip has been most enlightening." His voice was filling with more and more distaste as the tour went on, and Kelly could tell that nothing she said, did, or showed him was going to change his mind.

"Continue with the tour Operative Invaru. Let us see what else Commander Horn has managed to make a mockery of the military discipline." Kelly repressed a sigh, and continued throughout the deck.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Digital Muse on Mon Feb 06, 2012 2:57 pm

Her first shift on duty found assigned to training with Lt. O'Ryan. The man was relentless to say the least and she was sweating and shaking in no time under his shouted demands. A surreptitious look at the other Marines being drilled showed most were in far better shape than she was, or so it seemed. It only made her push herself that much harder. She recognized several of the faces from the rescue of the Titan and wondered how they were holding up to this punishing pace and then reminded herself that the ship already had one Yeoman. It didn't need two.

The lieutenant's gravelled voice was suddenly right in her ear. "You think you're special, St. John? Tech or no tech you will be ready for duty! I will not have the rest of the squad hauling your flacid ass around, you got me?"

Tia was so startled that he'd managed to come up on her unnoticed, she fell right onto her face in the middle of a weak push-up. She knew something was wrong; she’d never had trouble getting through a work out before. Maybe she really had come down with something.

In the end Tia managed to limp through the rest of the drill and then barely hauled herself back to her room. When she entered, feeling slightly sick, Nerita was there, but Carly and Isha were off on their own shifts. The Asari merely looked up at her, taking in Tia’s obvious discomfort. “Are you ill?” The woman asked, although there really wasn’t any feeling behind the inquiry.

“I think I’m coming down with a bug or something. I’ll just rest and I should be fine.” Tia replied.

Nerita shrugged, rose from her bed and left the room. Either the Asari didn’t want to catch whatever it was or she had other places to be.

Tia showered and crawled into bed, even though she hadn’t eaten and it was hours before she ordinarily would have gone to bed. She knew she just needed some rest and she’d get over this. Her sleep, however, wasn’t restful. Tia’s dreams were filled with nightmares that seemed to meld her battle for survival at Shanxi, to the months of surgery and rehabilitation to replace her arm, to the battles since she’d joined the Titan. Collectors mixed with Turians, all intent on killing her. She became feverish during the night, though she didn’t wake.

The following morning came far too early and Tia felt achy and weak from her night-terrors. Carly and Isha hadn’t returned yet, but Nerita was there. Tia felt a damp towel lying across her forehead. “You had a bad night.” The Asari said. “You should go to the Med Bay.” Even though it seemed as though Nerita had cared for her at some point during the night, she still gave off the impression that she could care less.

“I feel better.” Tia lied. “I think the worst of it is over.” She began to rise and head to the shower. “Thanks for..” She looked back at Nerita. “For sitting with me.”

Nerita shrugged, “It’s my room too.”

Tia sighed, coming to the conclusion that it was going to be real uphill battle getting behind the wall the Asari had built around her. And right now? She just didn’t have the energy for it. By the time she’d showered and dressed, Carly had returned sweating and swearing about how perverse and ass-holish O’Ryan was. Tia smiled and could only agree. “But, I suspect we’ll be thankful he’s a hard ass at some point.” Carly merely snorted in return.

Though she still felt like hell, Tia headed to the mess to try to eat at least something. The smell of the food when she hit the doorway was nauseating and it was all she could do not to turn right around again. But, she forced herself to get down some coffee and toast before heading to Engineering with the files she’d gotten together. Maybe working with Kevin Jaconis would help her take her mind off feeling so crumby. A few hours were spent with the engineer and while it was clear Jaconis was remarkably skilled, he wasn’t as personable as Tony Sullivan had been. He did, however, come up with shielding idea using Tia’s own nanites that would be able to withstand the biotic power surge, even if it would only be for a few precious minutes, it was something.

While in Engineering, Tia actually began to feel better and her stomach reminded her that she hadn’t eaten in some time. So she headed for the mess when she heard that they had a visitor and he was a ball-buster. A Captain Horn. Rumors followed on fast feet, he was Commander Horn’s father and had a stick so far up his ass, he probably shit splinters. Tia shook her head, that was all Invaru needed, Horn was down and now his Father was here? Dear god. Tia made a note that she’d stay away from the med bay for the duration of the Captain’s visit.
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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by The Ghost Writer on Mon Feb 06, 2012 10:49 pm

“Titus,” EDI’s voice said overhead in the lift’s intercom as the commander made his way down to the CIC, “Operative Buchan’s implantation procedure to install the new L5x amps has begun. Dr. Porter and Professor Sinclair are already making exceptional progress. Miss Buchan’s vitals are stable, the procedure should be completed in approximately five hours.”

John nodded his head in silence at the good news. He was glad that Vala made the decision to replace her old implants with the new, but he was still distracted with everything else that was going on. The catastrophic mission with Kai Leng had earned the selfish assassin a one-ticket off his ship, but the emotional meltdown Braden was having wasn’t making things any better. Still, though, the woman had made a pretty hefty decision today by going through with the procedure. The removal of biotic implants is rarely done because of the danger of the surgery. Most choose to simply keep whichever version they were implanted with in their adolescence.

“Thanks, EDI,” he eventually said. “I’ll be sure to visit Vala when she’s moved to the recovery ward in the medical bay. Keep me posted on her status.”

“Of course, Commander.”

The lift slowed to an easy stop and the blast doors whooshed open. When John stepped out he saw Serena standing atop the small platform that looked over the galaxy map. Perhaps taking a look at what’s available on the table for Cerberus missions might take his mind of off things for a while. John took a quick moment to gather the cool calm of his commanding posture before stepping up to join Serena at the map. The second in commander saw her superior out of her peripherals, but remained facing the beautiful hologram of the Milky Way.

“Commander,” she said in greeting.

“Anything from Command?” John asked, hoping for a “yes” in return so he could jump right back into the action.

To his disappointment, Serena only shook her head. “Sorry, sir. Not yet.” The sigh that came from Titus was enough to actually take her attention away from the map and turn to fully look at him with a concerned expression. “Is everything… alright?”

Titus tightly rubbed his forehead with his thumb and index finger and replied, “Been a… complicated afternoon. That’s all. I could really use something to do right about now.”

Serena shrugged her shoulders. “Well until Command sends something new our way, there’s not much out there to take on. The Collectors have been awfully quiet since our last encounter on the rim – no more vanishing colonies for the time being; and just about every pirate in the Terminus heard about Captain’s Villayn’s ‘demise’ at the hands of an exceptionally skilled Cerberus pilot.” She paused to let John amuse himself with the thought of Darcy being considered exceptional. “There are reports of Aurora still on the hunt for us, but the Illusive Man has sent them chasing after ghosts with some very creative false leads. Oh and since you’ve decided to ignore the League of One, I suppose they’ve returned the same favor. EDI hasn’t heard of any more rumors concerning them aside from all the conspiracy theories on the Extranet.”

John let out another sigh, slightly more exagerated than the last. "Well shit." The comment was loud enough to make one of the CIC technicians turn his head from his console in surprise. "Sorry," John apologized for the sudden lack of professionalism. He then looked back at Serena and explained, "Lisa is using my room at the moment to hold her first psych eval with Braden. I left my e-reader in there on my desk."

Serena allowed herself to chuckle at her boss' horrible delimma. "That sucks," she retorted. "Have you tried using your people skills?"

"What now?"

The woman placed her hands on her hips and looked at Titus as if a mother was about to teach a life lesson to her son. "I mean, have you tried checking up on the rest of the crew? I noticed Villayn came back from that last mission a little agitated. The turian barely said two words to me when I tried to pass him a bit of praise for his team's efforts in providing the overwatch."

"That's probably why," the commander replied. "They're turians. They've been trained to fight since puberty. Giving them a pat on the back for providing something as simple as overwatch on a mission is only annoying to them." Serena's stern look hardly changed and she wouldn't divert her eyes until Titus threw up his hands in surrender and said, "Okay! I'll talk to him."

The reason why the Vindicator looked like a passenger cruise frigate was because, at one time, it actually was a cruise frigate. Eventually the luxery travel organization that owned it had to cut their expenses where needed due to the galaxy-wide geth threat a little more than a year ago. Cerberus saw its potential and used CHA to purchase it for repurposing. This explains why there are twenty-five officer quarters, two crew barracks, a bar, and a gym. Other rooms were stripped to their original architectual skeletons and redesigned to fulfill a more militarized purpose. The spa became the medical bay, the large recreational center became the mess hall, and so on and so forth. Originally, the cruise frigate it was, was only meant to be leased out to the more wealthy human companies. It wasn't at all a major travel liner for entire families. Only company VPs, chairmen, and multi-billion credit tycoons could book passage on such a ship.

Today, the Vindicator retains much of the original sparkle and glory that it was. The crew lived comfortably; the kitchen maintained four commercial-grade, high-quality ovens; the gym still had all of the original exercise equipment; and, indeed, the aquarium floor in the captain's quarters was left installed. Barrium sulfate lined the inside of the exterior hull to prevent third-party scanners from detecting military grade hardware (such as the thanix cannon). Thus, the Vindicator made the perfect infiltration vessel, aside from the late Normandy.

Commander Titus made his way through the crew deck, passing by several of the officer quarters. Villayn and his men had been assigned to the quarters furthest away from the rest of the ship's population. That was not Titus' decision, however; it was requested by Villayn, himself - probably because he was a turian, including his two lieutenants, and the Vindicator was a Cerberus vessel. If that was the case, John didn't blame him; but that didn't mean the commander approved of the xenophobia.

As he approached upon Villayn's door, another further down the hall opened and Arkan stepped outside. The turian was wearing a form-fit outfit made up of mostly nylon and some kind if flanel material. It was brightly colored in blues and greens. Their bowl-shaped upper bodies always made John wonder how they manage to dress themselves.

"He's in the gym," Arkan said without slowing down. "I'm headed their right now. You're welcome to join me."

Titus shrugged and said, "Sure, why not?"

The two of them went on in silent stride for several seconds before the commander finally asked, "So... is the rest of the crew treating you well?"

Arkan gave him a sideways glance, but after a second replied, "Well enough. Most of them are nice, but cautious. They're obviously not used to working with turians."

"And what does your captain think?"

"That's a question you'll have to ask him. As for Darak, he's the personable one of us three. From what I've seen he gets along great with the humans here; always telling jokes and war stories - leaving out anything dealing with Shanxi, of course."

"Yeah...," John said, feeling that the walk to the gym just became awkward.

Arkan started laughing and the hall filled with his flanged, but moderatly soft voice. "No need to shy away from that topic around us, Commander. The way I see it: that war is over. Captain Villayn and Darak share that opinion. We're just delicate with the subject around the crew since this is a Cerberus ship."

After another moment of light conversation the two of them began passing by a long glass window that looked into the ship's gymnasium. Though the room was small - as it was, like the rest of the ship, suitable for the single men and women of wealth, rather than a middle class community - to say it was humble was a gross understatement. Expensive, top-of-the-line exercise equipement had been arranged in each corner of the room. The white plush carpeting was a comfortable change from the rest of the ship's hard, cold flooring. A blue matt occupied the center of the room for calisthenics or martial arts training. Villayn and Darak were currently going at each other on top of that matt.

"Before and after missions," Arkan started to explain as they entered the gym through an automatic glass door, "turians like to relieve stress through sparring matches."

Arkan broke off and headed toward one of the machines while John paused at the entrance and simply watched Villayn and Darak trade swings and kicks. After a minute or two, Darak was looking tired and his captain delivered a crippling blow to his abdominals. Once Darak was down on one knee, Villayn pushed down on Darak's shoulder and threw himself over and around his sparring partner. When he landed behind, Villayn dropped and placed Darak into an odd choke hold, pulling the turian's head back with one hand and digging in and around his neck with the other. Villayn had both legs secured around Darak's lower body and used his weight to pull him back and downward onto the matt.

After only a few more seconds, Darak tapped out by slamming his clenched talons hard enough onto the matt to make a beat. Villayn released his defeated opponent from his hold, and Titus applauded the match. Darak was the first to recover and offered a hand to Villayn, who was still seated on the mattress.

"See? I may be old, but I can still take you," the captain said. The two of them exchanged some words before Villayn broke away to speak with Titus. "Commander. What can I do for you?"

"Arkan tells me that turians use sparring as a stress reliever."

Villayn nodded. "It's a tradition of my people, yes. We never take it too far, and always ensure that competitors never injure themselves, but it boosts morale and its a great way for troops to let loose some pent up steam. Did you want in on some action?"

Titus smirked, "That depends on how much steam you have left in you. Miss Taylor said you appeared slightly irritated when she last saw you after the mission on Elysium. Was something bothering you?"

The captain looked around to ensure that his lieutenants weren't eavesdropping on the conversation before gesturing for Titus to accompany him closer to the door. "Its not in our blood to question a commanding officer, but recent events have had me wondering what kind of an operation this is that I'm tagging along on."

John raised a concerned brow. "Care to ellaborate, Captain?"

"Aurora? Assassin's that ruin operations based on their selfish egos? Human children with emotional issues-"

"You have a problem with Mr. Reynolds?" Titus' expression went from neutral to stand off in an instant, forcing Villayn to silence himself.

"My apologies, Commander. I didn't mean to sound-"

"Its perfectly fine, Captain," John said, raising his hands and appearing more calm.

There was an awkward moment of silence and the two leaders eventually diverted their gazes to watch Arkan and Darak push themselves to the limit on treadmills. Titus never realized just how fast a turian could run. Their bony legs naturally propelled them at an incredible speed, but their breathing remained normal. A turian's stamina was probably one of their greatest strengths on a battlefield.

"Perhaps," Villayn began slowly, "the child could use some formal combat training. I don't want to force him to do anything that would be against your wishes, but... he can benefit from it - both physically and mentally."

"You're willing to train a human teenager?"

"Hand-to-hand, CQB, anything and everything that can start molding him into a soldier."

The final word, "soldier", echoed in the back of the commander's mind, and it pained him to think that, that was exactly what Cerberus was doing to Braden - training him to be a child soldier. It violated both the laws of the Alliance and Counsel treatise. But this was now Braden's call. Titus now understood that he couldn't continue to make decisions for him. He was a child, yes, but he was at least old enough to determine his own destiny. To tell Villayn "yes" would destroy John's moral integrity, but to say "no" for that same reason would be denying Braden his right to choose.

"That's Braden's call, Captain," Titus said after a moment of continued thought. "I won't talk to him about it, though. If you're going to volunteer to train him, then its only fair for everyone that you approach him yourself. I won't have any say in the matter."

Braden fought back every desire to let the tears flow as he looked over Lizzie's shoulder and out the window in the back of his room. The same cyan star from earlier cast a soothing aura throughout his darkened quarters. Lizzie's arms stayed tightly wrapped around him, keeping him safe... from the fears, the worries, the memories. He had always known what had happened on Azure: the geth, the razing, the batarians. What he hadn't known, however, was that Cerberus was responsible. The ones to blame were soldiers like Titus, Vala, Saint, Lance...

The girl embracing him had to be the only innocent person on the Vindictor. Because her mother was with Cerberus, and Lizzie was a claimed dependent, then Lizzie was also a Cerberus member. But she showed compassion where Lisa could not; Lizzie gave him hope and an escape, where Lisa only nodded and prodded. Everytime he was around her, Braden could feel his heart pound violently in his chest. When she touched his hands, his whole body felt her warmth. When she coed in his ear, he felt at completely at peace. Even now, he could feel her breath gently caressing his ear and neck as she whispered a silent prayer.

And then there was her faith. Lizzie believed in a god that created the heavens and the earth. She had absolute faith in a being that never showed himself, a power-hungry bully that punished anyone out of the trillions of sentient species in the galaxy that refused to believe in his existence. She shared the scriptures with him, the history, and the prayers, but he still didn't get it. Braden accepted the fact that he may never fully understand why she was devoted to this "God" with a capital "G", but her resolute conviction to a governing and moral ideal was encouraging, inspirational, and comforting to witness.

"Better?" she asked after a long moment of silent embrace.

Braden gently parted from her arms, dried his eyes with his sleeve, and nodded. When he finished wiping away the tears he looked down at the sleeve of his uniform, unsure whether or not he wanted to continue to wear the Cerberus logo. Stricken with a painful animosity Braden unzipped the jacket and quickly removed it, tossing it on the bed. In an instant he began to pace around the room, but further away from the discarded jacket. He then moved over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of jeans and a light, black long-sleeve shirt.

He discarded the remainder of his uniform, haphazardly tossing the slacks and t-shirt on the bed with the jacket. Lizzie may have been in the room with him still - even staring in awkward silence - but he felt no embarrassment about changing in front of her. It was evident to every crew member that the two had blantantly obvious chemistry. Besides, he was sure to not completely expose himself. After slipping into the new attire he returned to the uniform and scooped up articles from the mattress. Braden then opened up the door to the tall wardrobe and tossed the slacks, shirt, and jacket into the bottom, closing the door immediatly after. He chose to keep the boots. They were light, comfortable, and far more supportive and protective than his shoes.

Lizzie approached him as the boy pushed his sleeves up to just below his elbows, gave him a peck on the cheek, and turned to leave the quarters. As she approached the door, she turned on her heel but kept walking backwards. Her hands were cupped behind her back and her steps were full of energy, pushing up off her toes. "Dinner?" she asked with a grin.

"Where at?" Braden asked, hands now in his pockets, standing with a slouched posture.

Lizzie laughed at his attempt to portray a "cool" look and replied, "Don't worry about that. I'll come find you." She winked and smirked as she spun back around and left through the door, leaving Braden standing there wondering exactly what she was planning for tonight, blushing.

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Re: Mass Effect: On the Edge

Post by Guilty Carrion on Thu Feb 09, 2012 3:50 am

“Check.” Logan blinked, looking at the holographic board in confusion for a moment, before a frown settled over his features. “Also mate.” The private shook his head, a lopsided grin stretched across his face. His opponent flashed a grin of her own, grey eyes twinkling as she pressed the board to reset.

“You’re beating me faster and faster, Maya.” The woman in question laughed, drumming her fingers against the small table that held their game. “You might actually be able to beat Ed here soon.”

“Not likely.” She snorted, sparing a glance over to the man in question, who sat with his back turned as his eyes flicked over an e-reader. “Corporal Sun Tzu royally trounces my ass every time he so much as looks at the board.”

Logan fixed her with a look, pushing one of his pawns forward to start the game. “Ed isn’t that good. He’s got some chops, but Sam always served his ass to him.” Maya raised an eyebrow, mirroring Logan’s opening move. “What was the final score again?”

“Something along the lines of 12-13, her favour.”

“Actually, it was 13-13.” The corporal glanced over his shoulder, his comrades fixing him with a suspicious look. “We had a private final match.” Logan shook his head, as Maya grinned widely at Ed. “What?”

“Private? Never pegged you as the type for those kinds of games, Ed.” She winked, sparing a glance to the board as Logan knocked another pawn forward. Once again, she mirrored the move, earning a disgruntled grunt from her opponent. “C’mon, Logan, I don’t have all day to trounce your ass.”

“Me and Sam had a purely professional relationship, regardless of your baseless accusations.” There was a moment’s pause, before the corporal spun his chair around to face the board proper. “It’s just nice to play a game every now and again without the peanut gallery.” Sparing a glance down at the board, he moved Logan’s queen. “Checkmate, by the way.”

Logan blinked once, as Maya floundered to see a way out. Edward grinned, tucking his e-reader into his pocket. “You can’t do that, Ed! He never would have thought of that!”

“It’s my job to guide you, even if sometimes it means I have to put you in your place.” Rising from his seat, he rubbed his knuckle on Logan’s head, who simply grunted in annoyance, resetting the board. “I suspect our newest member has gotten himself into some kind of shit by now, since it shouldn’t take an hour to fetch some coffee.”

“It’s a big ship, he probably just got lost.” Logan replied, as Maya sighed and rose from her seat. “Aren’t we playing another?”

“Nope, Ed’s got me going to find Roger.”

“I never said to.” She jabbed an accusatory finger into his chest, earning a grin. Despite her apparent sourness, she smiled good naturedly.

“I can read your face like a damn book, Ed. ‘Oh, Maya, be a dear and fetch the poor boy for me?’ It’s written all over your sorry mug.” She threw her hands up in mock surrender. “I’m just too nice for my own damn good!” Ed snatched her empty seat, watching her punch the door access panel. “And for the record, those low cut shirts were not purely professional, Ed.” The corporal rolled his eyes as the door hissed shut.

Logan shook his head in amusement, moving one of his pawns forward. “I wasn‘t aware your face spoke like some old British man.” A few moves passed in companionable silence, before Logan spoke again. “A private match though? Does that even really count?” Edward was silent for a moment, before a wry smile stretched across his face. There was silence between the two as slow realization dawned on the private’s face. “You didn’t.”

“It was one hell of a private match.”


Roger Pollard sat lazily on one of the spare fuel units in the shuttle bay, sipping at his lukewarm coffee as the technicians went about their regular maintenance on the Kodiak’s. So far, the Call of Victory had been about as dull as boot camp. It didn’t help that he’d been told nothing but rumours of how bloody badass the Commander was, constantly heading into the fray. Disappointing didn’t even really sum up his feelings about the giant floating tub. Even footsteps to his right drew his gaze, and the private grimaced at the sight of Maya Salazar. “I was hoping you wouldn’t come after me for at least another ten minutes. Circle back around and then I’ll come along willin-ow!”

Hoisting him up via a vice grip on his ear, Maya smiled, although it wasn’t exactly the most comforting thing he’d ever seen. “How about we go now, mmkay?” She released him, grinning all the wider as he muttered a few swears under his breath.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Save it for the officers, Roger.” She snorted. “Hell, you probably don’t even need it for them.”

“What about dear old Leo?” The man’s reputation had preceded him enough that even the relatively fresh private even knew he was and what he was like.

That gave her pause, and she scratched at her neck awkwardly. “Good point…why don’t we wait a bit before making enemies of the command staff? Much better suited to a Monday.” The marines started back the way Maya had come, travelling silently before Roger decided to break the ice.

“We’ll need to hit the mess for more coffee.”

“Procrastinating already? Oh, Ed is going to love you to pieces.” They rounded the corner and started down the hall towards the lift. “Have you heard the rumour kicking around?” Roger shook his head, stuffing his hands in the pockets as they boarded the lift. “Apparently we’ve got some high ranking brass on board.”

“Great, more people with a stick up their ass.”

“Captain Horn.”

Roger blinked once. “Wait…ain’t the Commander Horn?” Maya nodded with a knowing smile. “So then who the hell is…oh!”

“That’s the thought.”

Roger sighed, leaning on the railing as the lift rumbled to life. “Well, that’s just charming. Daddy comes to see his baby and we all get our heads torn off in the process.” Maya laughed, thumping the private on the arm.

“Daddykins is just worried. You’d be the same way if you had kids.” The lift opened, and the marines disembarked. “Assuming the rumour is true. Gossip isn’t exactly reliable.”

“Like the shit I’ve heard about our armourer? A half-breed krogan with territory issues and arms the size of me.”

“That TJ chick?”

Roger blinked in surprise. “Chick? It’s a woman?” His mind immediately began conjuring an image of what such a thing would look like, and he mock-gagged. “I’m avoiding the armoury.” They entered the mess moments later, noting the bitter moods of the few crew kicking around the area. A few muttered words about a Captain were heard, but other than that, no real clues materialized. “Maybe we should hurry back…”

“I’m inclined to agree.” They wasted no time filling up the cups of coffee for Logan and Edward, before grabbing their own and heading down the corridor towards the crew quarters. “With a little bit of luck, we’ll be able to slip into the room without running into this Captain.”

“Fortunately for you, I’m a lucky guy.” Roger winked as they rounded a corner, only to come face to face with a slab of a man decorated in more medals than either had fingers. There was a brief moment of silence as the marines craned their heads to look up at the rough face, before both visibly swallowed at the disapproving glare on the man’s face.

“What was that about being lucky?” Maya hissed under her breath, quickly shoving both her mugs into the private’s arms and snapping a salute. “Sir!” Roger swore, setting the mugs down carefully before mirroring the action.

The Captain returned the salute. “At ease.” They obeyed quickly, watching as he gave them both a slow once over, eyes narrowing when he finished the impromptu inspection. “Judging by your posture and your physique private, I would suggest more time in the gym, and less time in the mess hall.” Roger didn’t dare break the man’s gaze.

Operative Invaru, appearing from behind the massive Captain, spoke quickly. “Sir, these are Private Pollard and Spec-”

“I don’t care about names, only performance. I’m not liking what I’m seeing.”

“Sir, Private Pollard is a fresh recruit. He’s only been in active service for as long as the Call of Victory and a large portion of his training was dedicated to Kodiak piloting. Lt. O’Ryan will have him up to speed ASAP.” Maya spoke quickly, but in a respectful tone he’d never really heard the usually rough woman use.

The Captain’s gaze shifted to her. “Are you trying to make up excuses for the Private here, Specialist? If he needs you to stand up for him, then you are only solidifying the fact that he needs to train harder. Operative Kelly, continue with the tour. We're done here." He moved past them, the marines parting to let him past. Operative Invaru followed behind silently, and Roger bit his lip long enough for the two to get out of ear shot.

Once they felt safe enough, the private growled. “When his ship crashes because his pilot is too much of a roid monkey, I’m going to piss on his grave.” Maya patted his shoulder.

“I don’t think the Commander will appreciate that.”

“If the Commander is anything like his father…”

“Stuff it. Last thing I need is one of the vets hearing you trash talking and putting you in the Med-bay. Grab the coffee and let’s get moving.”

“Yes, yes, poor little Roger can’t fight the big bad marines.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll protect you.” She grinned as the private retrieved the mugs. “Can’t have someone breaking your precious little face before I do.”

“You’re all heart, Maya.”
Guilty Carrion
Guilty Carrion

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