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Thread: Mass Effect: Association (PG-15, RPG Thread)

  1. #51
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    She found herself by the cargo elevator leading to the hangar, and Keelo was there too, clearly about to take it.

    "Keelo," she said in greeting. "It's nice to see you again. How are you finding the ship? You seemed pretty excited about it earlier."


    Noticing movement out of the peripheral of his one-way mask, the quarian in question turned towards the voice.

    "Oh, Melanie," he greeted with a disarming smile that he was confident that she couldn't see. "Yes, it is very fascinating. I loved the tour that they gave us. I was hoping to explore at my own pace at some point." Keelo sheepishly rubbed his arm and chuckled a bit. "Although I don't think they want me going near the drive core."

    "Vehicles of all sizes fascinate me, but I am particularly drawn to military-grade starships. The amount of energy output required in order for them to function in a full-pitched, heated battle... The specs must be amazing compared to civilian vessels," he mused. "Most of the military vessels at the flotilla have been repurposed for civilian usage, so it is rare that I get to see a frigate that matches its original specifications. In fact, I have never been on a turian ship before. I'm interested to know what additions Elkoss Combine made to the ship when they procured it."

    Keelo rubbed the back of his neck. "But I could geek out over starships all day. I was just about to take the elevator down to the cargo hold, if you are also headed that way. I hear some of the others are shooting down there," he explained.

    Stepping into the elevator, Keelo waited for it to descend to the hangar. He looked over at Melanie. "How are you feeling? You look much better than before," he noted, able to tell that Melanie was no longer wincing or hunched over with pain. He was relieved to see that.

    "It seems like the crew of the Shanxi is very busy," he also noted. "We must be departing from Omega soon." He was about to say something about how he'd like to get away from the station as quickly as possible, but he remembered that Melanie was from Omega and he didn't want to offend her. "You are from Omega, aren't you? Will you miss it?" he wondered as the elevator settled on the cargo bay's level.

    He stepped out of the elevator with Melanie, listening to her reply. He nodded politely and listened intently, curious about what her life was like. Although they were frequently interrupted by the sounds of gunshot ringing out ahead of them, Keelo intently observed her response. However, before he could get a word in, the quarian was grabbed by Cogwedg.

    “You, help. Need more hands. Maintenance, spot check,” the salarian said as he pulled the other engineer to his table, which had already become quite a mechanical mess in what was less than an hour. “Can watch, but hands busy,” he told Keelo, handing him looked to be mods.

    "Ah!" Keelo exclaimed, looking at Melanie apologetically was he was pulled away and brought over to Cog's work table. He was surprised that Cog set one up so quickly.

    The quarian was given a rifle with a modded scope. Although these were custom mods, they were things that Keelo was used to. Weapons usually had a standardized design to make them more mod-friendly. Keelo inspected the scope and the firing mechanism of the weapon keenly. The nostalgia of being in a weapons mod business washed over him.

    “Can use any of equipment. Careful of explosive devices - don’t push any buttons.”

    Keelo nodded and then blinked. "Wait, what?"

    -

    Brask watched as the others followed his lead in the shooting contest. He observed each of the following competitors with silent interest. Like the others, he was sizing up his teammates. For all the bravado and hot air, that's what this shooting contest was really about and he knew it.

    The krogan grunted as Askari finished last, hitting all of the cans. "Hmph," Brask grunted dismissively. "I prefer to be in the thick of the bloodshed anyways. You don't get a rush picking off targets from three blocks away. Talk about watching the fun from the nosebleed section." A large grin crawled onto his face. "Next time, we should do hand-to-hand."

    "You know, krogan don't have a monopoly on hand-to-hand combat," Ariana pointed out with a calm, competitive glint in her eyes.

    "No, but we've definitely got an edge. You should see our bar fights after one too many ryncol," Brask boasted with a grin.

    Despite his words, Brask sized up his competition. As he expected, Domitian proved to have good shooting skills. He had a feeling that his bite was as good as his bark. Brask wondered about the human too. It seemed that his primary role was that of a sniper. Askari definitely had the aim to reflect that.

    The krogan was most interested by Ariana, however. He knew that the asari was rough around the edges enough to be a grease monkey, but he didn't expect her to have almost as good aim as he did.

    "Well, that was fun," he muttered. "Anyway, if you all want to challenge me again while not using smart aim, you know where I am," he added with a good-humoured grin.

    He cricked his neck and began walking away from the group, back towards the elevator. He noticed that Keelo and Melanie had also come down to watch, and that the quarian had been pulled into helping the eccentric salarian.

    Brask shook his head. "I'm gonna go get settled in. Maybe look around the ship. See what's on the menu. If we're going to be spending a lot of time here, I want to know we're not choking down pyjak meat. I've got my standards," the krogan said as he walked away.

    He wondered when the best time to talk to Kalros would be. He figured he'd wait. She probably wanted to talk with her turian son.

    The krogan grunted. Along with good food, he also hoped that they'd have alcohol on the ship. If nothing else, it was good for breaking the ice. He had a feeling he'd need it given some of the company around here.
    Last edited by Griff4815; 20th December 2016 at 2:08 PM.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
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  2. #52
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    (So sorry for the delay. I had planned to have this up after I got back from a trip last week, however I got hit with a head-cold. I think I have committed Tissuebox genocide.)


    - Brask's right eye twitched. "...How many siblings?" he asked incredulously. "Did she adopt the entire damn orphanage? Damn, I really do need to go talk to her... "

    Rosh could not help the soft chuckle that escaped. He could not deny the possibility, she really did take care of most of them at the Monastery, in one way or another.

    - "Anyway, I'd better go. Having a shooting match with some of the other down in the ship's hangar. Come if you want. Just don't expect to win," he offered. Brask turned away from Rosh, pivoting his large body around. "Might check out the turian chef after and... see what's on the menu."

    - Brask glanced over his shoulder at Rosh and gave him another once over with his sharp emerald eyes. "Later,"


    Rosh raised a hand in kind, not having anything else to say. Hearing the door slip shut, he dipped his head and remained still in the silence that followed. He sighed, taking his time with deciding what to do next.

    After several minutes, he jerked up from the table and grabbed his jacket off the bed. Out the door he went, taking a slow pace down the rather quiet hallway. He slid the jacket on while ambling to the room he knew Jaraha.. well.. Kalros had taken as her own.
    He stopped, standing rigid in front of the door. Rolling stiff shoulders and cracking his neck, Rosh respectfully knocked.

    He anticipated what kind of greeting he would receive.. But it never happened..

    After a decent amount of time he repeated the action.
    A few seconds pass by before he finally spoke up, “It’s me..” He called out just loud enough to be heard through the door.
    The lack of response stretched on and Rosh glanced up and down the hall for a moment. Either the room was empty or... she was ignoring him. The dark Turian groaned, twisting around to thump his back against the wall near the door frame.

    He would wait.

    He had no motivation to go anywhere else. At least until he rid himself of this rare touch of nervousness that had plagued him since seeing his adoptive mother.

    Lifting his right arm, the Omni-tool came to life with a faded blue light.
    Like a well ingrained habit, he started to systematical input names and data he had mentally cataloged since his arrival on Omega. Only a few minutes in and his attention had already flipped to looking up surface information he could find on a few of the members. He did not bother to search too hard, satisfied with just whatever a he could find with ease for now.
    Both Brask and Askari came up through connections for Mercenaries, as expected. No personal files on either could be found with a basic search, however.

    Domitian, as a Turian, ended up being one of the quickest to look up. Civil Service and Military files took little effort for Rosh to hack into, having done it quite a few times in the past. Nothing he found surprised him considering what he had seen in person since meeting the other Turian. After skimming through a few mission briefings and service reports, his thoughts were side-tracked with imagining what he would have become had he enlisted as well. He wondered if he would have had the same difficulty fitting in.
    He hummed, ending his speculation and moving on.

    After several attempts, he could not find a single shred of personal information on Melanie. Rosh finally gave up and deactivated the omni-tool with a grunt. Far too many humans shared names and he lacked background to use any more keywords.
    Feeling himself drift, he chose to leave the others for later. Folding his arms, his head dropped along with his eye-lids. With the hallway still vacant, sleep took over within seconds.

  3. #53
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    Keelo smiled a bit and looked over at the female krogan. "Still, it is your homeworld," he responded. "There must be a few things good about it."

    Jahara remained silent. The few good things, her sisters and him, were centuries long gone. She stopped that line of thought. The ghosts of the past helped little in her current situation.

    Keelo stopped and winced. "Err, I'm sorry. I don't mean to imply that I know more about your own homeworld than you do," he insisted apologetically. "It's just, us quarians don't have our own homeworld anymore, and I--" He stalled again, realising that he didn't know where he was going with that sentence and there was a good chance that he would just make a bigger faux pas.

    The female krogan waved off Keelo’s concerns. She knew she had her triggers to make her snap, but she’d learn to smooth out the reaction in the face of heart-felt sincerity over the years. She was beginning to doubt this quarian could do anything to upset her, unless it was something utterly stupid.

    Keelo smiled and fixed the device back into the helmet. "There, I'm finished. It should be as good as when you last used it, although you will have to check out the helmet's mini-suite for yourself," he explained.

    The quarian began placing the tools back into the toolbox. "Anyways, if you'd like, I can take the tools down to Ariana. I was planning on watching the others shoot," he explained.

    "It was really nice talking with you, Kalros. I will see you later."


    Jahara watched as the quarian departed. “You as well...young one.” she called softly, setting aside her pistol and grabbing the repaired helmet.

    The krogan female held the newly repaired helmet in her three-fingered hands studying the repair job. Satisfied with the quarian’s seamless work, the biotic inserted the helmet back over her head with a click. The hub display lit up with status read outs for the armor’s systems. Going through each software program carefully, Jahara fine-tuned the armor settings to her preference with an adjustment here and there. She tested the voice synthesizer to ensure the repairs were in order. A low monotone voice replaced her gruff tenor in the space of the quarters.

    The process only took ten minutes before the shaman felt everything was green. Packing away her bag in a storage locker beneath the bed, Jahara rose to stretch in the cramp quarters, carefully rotating her right shoulder as far as she could.

    The armored biotic considered what to do next. She suspected quite a bit of down time until they reached their destination for the first debriefing. Figuring she’d take the opportunity to study her new teammates a bit, Jahara left her quarters and headed straight for the hanger.

    __________________________

    A small crowd gathered outside the hangar entry as the shooting competition got underway. Jahara, decked out in full armor again, arrived just as Brask was taking the first turn. Leaning comfortable against the back wall, the female krogan studied the young krogan’s stead posture as he worked his way through the targets. Jahara gave credit where credit was due; the whelp’s skills were better than the average krogan.

    When Ariana step up next, Jahara crossed her arms, eager to see what the asari could do. The armored krogan wasn’t disappointed in her original assessment of the engineer. Jahara had recognized the careful work and obvious passion reflected in the heavily modded weapon on the asari’s worktable when the krogan came by for the tools and materials to repair her helmet. One seldom builds functional weapons to simply look and appreciate them. She figured the engineer did her own testing of the mods.

    Jahara couldn’t decide if she should view Domitian’s run through, disturbing or not. Clean, professional, but very deliberate and calculating with each shot, like a hunter zeroing in on his prey. He was too much like another blood-thirsty krogan male from her past. The unwanted memory lead her to subconsciously brush the outside of her left thigh armor, where a jagged scar laid hidden.

    The human male, Askari, intrigued her the most. A bland, unassuming human male greeted her shielded eyes on first impressions. However, she felt he was the type that showed you what they wanted you to see. They were a type very difficult to pin down as they were near impossible to read. Of course, Jahara could only theorize this based on centuries of experience with races she’s encountered. Her experience with reading human expression and body language was still somewhat limited.

    With all the cans shot down, the contest was over with Askari with a clean win. Jahara spied an unused can in the far back corner forgotten on a stack of crates. She tilted her helmet to the side, gauging the distance. Not an impossible shot with a controlled biotic burst by any means, however, Jahara preferred not to showcase the full extant of her abilities in front of the whole group. The temptation to up one on the males lasted all of ten seconds fortunately. Perhaps, later when the hangar was empty during the ship night cycle, she get in her own practice with her weapons and biotics.

    She pushed off the wall and left the hangar before the others took much notice of her presence.


    __________________________________________________ ____

    The journey back to their quarters was uneventful. Most of the party had been in hangar to begin with and the crew at their respected stations. However, she was met with one surprise -or unsurprisingly- waiting outside her quarters. Shaking her helmet, Jahara covered the remaining distance with careful steps. At least as quiet as a krogan in full armor could hope to achieve.

    The krogan female approached her door, planting a three-fingered hand firmly on the dozing turian’s shoulder to shove him to the side. Hard.

    “Get off your a**, pyjak,” Jahara scowled at the flailing turian. “I see some things haven’t change, despite my best efforts.”

    She ducked into her quarters without a glance back.
    Anything is possible...apart from skiing through a revolving door.

    Image Credit goes to Kamotz

  4. #54
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    "Oh, Melanie," he greeted with a disarming smile that he was confident that she couldn't see. "Yes, it is very fascinating. I loved the tour that they gave us. I was hoping to explore at my own pace at some point." Keelo sheepishly rubbed his arm and chuckled a bit. "Although I don't think they want me going near the drive core."
    "They're probably just being cautious," Melanie murmured. "If the drive core goes wrong, the whole ship could go up. No offense meant, I'd worry more about Cog than you on that front. He has a pretty unhealthy enthusiasm for tampering with things."

    "Vehicles of all sizes fascinate me, but I am particularly drawn to military-grade starships. The amount of energy output required in order for them to function in a full-pitched, heated battle... The specs must be amazing compared to civilian vessels," he mused. "Most of the military vessels at the flotilla have been repurposed for civilian usage, so it is rare that I get to see a frigate that matches its original specifications. In fact, I have never been on a turian ship before. I'm interested to know what additions Elkoss Combine made to the ship when they procured it."
    "I couldn't help you," she said with an apologetic smile. "The only tech I'm that familiar with is computers and alarm systems, that kind of thing. Ships are way above me." She chuckled at her own pun. "I'd say ask Domitian, since I'm pretty sure he's ex-military, but that'd mean having a conversation with Domitian and dealing with his pompous ass."

    "How are you feeling? You look much better than before," he noted, able to tell that Melanie was no longer wincing or hunched over with pain. He was relieved to see that.
    "I'm good," she said, her smile turning sincere. "Like I said, it's my implant. Not a lot I can do with it in a place like Omega and it hasn't got me killed... yet. Might one day, but not so far."

    "It seems like the crew of the Shanxi is very busy," he also noted. "We must be departing from Omega soon." He was about to say something about how he'd like to get away from the station as quickly as possible, but he remembered that Melanie was from Omega and he didn't want to offend her. "You are from Omega, aren't you? Will you miss it?" he wondered as the elevator settled on the cargo bay's level.
    "Yeah," she nodded, glancing at the elevator's side and wondering why it moved so glacially slow. "Omega's... it's not really where I'm from. But it's the closest thing I have to home. It's grimy and harsh and cruel, but it's home. Wouldn't say I'll miss it, exactly, but it's weird to leave home in any case. Let alone on a mission like this. "

    The elevator opened and they stepped out, the sounds of gunfire ringing to them from across the hold. Melanie glanced around, taking the space in again. It felt empty, like there was supposed to be more here. She guessed that when this ship was still in active service with the turians, it would have held supplies or troops or ground vehicles in this hold, the wall opposite the elevator definitely seemed like it could become a ramp. But Elkoss had only left some crates and cans down here.

    Cogwedj accosted Keelo suddenly, making her jump a little as well and her hand fall to her pistol. She relaxed, watching Keelo be dragged away and wondering whether to intervene or go watch whatever was going on with the others. She settled on the latter, keeping one eye glancing at Keelo in case he showed any sign of wanting to be far, far away from the salarian.

    She arrived in time to catch the tail end of the contest, seeing Askari's finish and smirking as Domitian took it in.

    ---

    "Well, well, it seems I have been surpassed," Domitian chuckled, a dangerous gleam in his eye. "I will endeavour to return the favour, Askari." His fist tightened a little, hard as his intent. He noticed Melanie observing the contest and her smirk made him chuckle again.

    "I see you're not as good as you seem to think," the human woman said.

    "Perhaps that is so," he answered. "But defeat such as this is temporary and all I must do is strive to overcome it. If I am not dead, I can grow stronger."

    "What doesn't kill you," Melanie murmured. "I'd have thought you'd be the type to freak out about losing."

    "I am not thin-skinned, child," Domitian chided. "This was a petty contest with no consequences. I can suffer someone being better than me in such circumstances. As I said, I endeavour to return the favour."

    "You didn't seem to consider it petty when you were grandstanding about shooting eight cans," she deadpanned. Before the conversation could continue, a siren wailed across the deck.

    "All crew and passengers, the Shanxi is now leaving dock," Hec Brann declared over the intercom. "All crew to your active stations."

    "That's my cue," Ariana said with a smile around the group. "Gotta make sure the ship doesn't blow up on us." With that, the asari strode away.

    "Any idea where we're heading?" Melanie asked, to general signs of 'no idea'.

    "Passengers, please gather in the comms room for additional briefing," Hec Brann added as if in answer.

    ---

    The comms room hadn't really been designed to hold ten people, let alone with two krogan in that number, but it was the most private space on the ship. Therefore, the eight recruits, plus Hec Brann and Gatatog Reor were stuffed into it.

    The volus had brought up a map of the systems surrounding Omega on the screen at the back of the room.

    "The facility from which the target was stolen was located here, in the Sigurd's Cradle cluster," he explained with a gesture aided by a pointer. "This was three days ago local time. However, the assailants sustained damage during their assault, and we believe it severe enough for them to be forced to seek shelter and repairs before continuing to whatever their intended destination is." He typed a command into the console, bringing up a video. "This is security footage recovered from the facility after the attack."

    The footage displayed a brilliant starfield, with only weapons emplacements and a stretch of steely grey wall to indicate the facility it belonged to.

    "Was this footage chosen because it was all you had or because it was best placed to prevent us identifying the precise location?" Domitian noted.

    "Because it was the only footage which captured the attacking ship," Brann replied. As if on cue, the ship swooped into view, loosing shots into the facility which made the video tremble. It was a jet black frigate with no markings, dark as the void between the stars behind it. To Domitian's eyes it was clearly a ship of human make.

    "Why is there no response?" the turian asked after a moment. "Why was the ship not detected by the facility's sensors?"

    The volus looked away. "I cannot answer that question, Palaven-clan. If I had the answer to that question, it would be of great help to many of us."

    "But there's gunfire," Melanie noted. It couldn't be heard, but she could see lines of fire lancing into the void, some punching into the dark ship.

    "Automated defenses," Domitian replied. "That is what I find curious. The only response I can ascertain is automated turrets firing on an unauthorised intruder, or I presume that is what those are?" Brann nodded and he continued. "Was any communication received from the guards? Or was your only indication that this happened sensor warnings?"

    "Sensor warnings," Reor rumbled. "You're quick on the uptake, turian."

    Melanie frowned. "There were guards, right?"

    "A sizeable contingent, in fact," the volus confirmed. "Not one of them raised the alarm or responded to communications we sent in response to the sensors alerting us of this unauthorised vessel. We thought initially that they were killed so quickly they could not respond, but when we investigated, several had clearly been slain at close quarters."

    "The intruders boarded the facility, slew everyone in their path, made off with your item, and not one guard sent a call for aid?" Domitian wondered. "Are you certain communications were not jammed?"

    "If they had been, we wouldn't have received the sensor alerts, the only things which indicated something was wrong."

    The turian tapped his claws on the console next to him, running one up and down it enough to leave a light groove in the surface. "How... vexing."

    "In any case, this is the vessel. Profile suggests it is of human make," Brann said. "From the size, we assume a frigate equivalent in scale to the Systems Alliance ship Normandy, for instance."

    "But not in capability," Domitian noted. "As far as I am aware, the Normandy possessed a revolutionary thermal cloaking system that this vessel lacks if your sensors detected it." He paused in thought, his interest aroused by the problem. "Perhaps it possessed some means of incapacitating your guards."

    "That is a possibility we have considered," the volus said. "But the slain guards showed no sign of being disabled in a consistent manner."

    "Hm. In any case, this is a puzzle for another time," the turian noted. "Should you discover more, however, it would be prudent to inform us so we can prepare for their capabilities. Where do you suspect they would seek repairs? Presumably not Omega, or we would not be leaving."

    Brann paused the video with a key press and brought up the map again. "There is a station in the Fafnir's Claw system near Sigurd's Cradle which offers repair services. Given the damage sustained by the vessel, we suspect they would have had to run at reduced speed to avoid stressing the drive core unduly, thus it would have taken them some time to arrive, as there is no direct relay route between the two systems. If our luck holds, they will still be there and we can jump to Sigurd's Cradle from the Omega Relay, then proceed to Fafnir Station in the hopes of catching them."

    "Then there is precious little time to waste. Let us proceed to this system and bring this to a swift end," Domitian chuckled.

    "How much time will it take to get to Fafnir Station?" Melanie asked.

    "Allowing for the time taken from here to the Omega Relay and from the Sigurd Relay to the station, about a day in total," Brann concluded. "It is difficult to estimate how long their repairs will take, but assuming significant delay in reaching the station due to the damage they sustained, we should arrive before the repairs are complete."

    "Then as I said, we have precious little time to waste, for reality is rarely as one expects," Domitian declared. "Unless we wish to spend more time questioning the circumstances?"
    I walk the shadowed path.

  5. #55
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    "Well, well, it seems I have been surpassed," Domitian chuckled, a dangerous gleam in his eye. "I will endeavour to return the favour, Askari."

    The named human was quick to raise his hand, along with his Predator, and paint a sheepish and slightly intimidated look on his face. “Now, now, like I said, my aim is because I’m a sniper. I’m not any good of one if I couldn’t do this,” he told the turian with a small smile. “And I’m not nearly as good when I’m under pressure, so I would really appreciate it if you could help on that part,” he said, although it looked like Melanie had picked that moment to interrupt.

    Askari let himself look relieved, quietly clicking the safety back on his Predator. Just a little precaution, in case Domitian’s look meant the kind of danger that Ask was quite used to dealing.

    He then blinked. It was then that he realized it. He was being watched. It had taken him a while - he was focused on their competition as well as their subsequent reaction to his marksmanship - but he finally placed the odd feeling he had.

    Ask turned his head towards the direction. He was met with the retreating form of an armored Krogan.

    He smiled a bit.

    -

    At the announcement that the ship would be departing, Cogwedj was ecstatic. He was about to make a beeline for the engines and drive core, amongst other things, to bask and observe in their mechanical wonder at work. Before he could do that, however, Ariana - who had the foresight to know what the salarian was thinking - had appeared and grabbed him by the collar and threw him out of the hangar.

    And so it was in the conference room that the sulking salarian scientist and engineer sat with folded arms and an obvious frown on his face.

    Ask wasn’t sure if he was listening to the conversation or not, but he could see that the video, at least, had garnered Cog’s interest. “Fascinating,” he heard Cog say with rapt attention.

    The salarian’s large wide eyes never looked away from the screen as he took out his omni-tool and started putting down notes. He couldn’t see what Cog was inputting, but whatever it was, it had definitely pulled him out of the flunk that he had.

    Askari merely listened as the others talked. It was what he was good at, listening, and then picking out information that he thought was important. But in such a situation, it looked like almost everything that was being spoken was pretty significant. Ask was hardpressed to find anything that stood out from the rest.

    Of course, that was probably because he felt that Hec was still hiding something important from them. And while he didn’t want to press - he usually used other means to find information he needed or wanted - it felt too much like they were being tossed straight into the mouth of hell.

    “Odd,” Cog then spoke up, looking at Hec. “Certain this is only relevant images? What of internal surveillance? Surely physical features and appearance of the assailants pertinent to mission success.”

    “That depends on how smart they were,” Ask then decide to speak up. “They could have destroyed video records and surveillance cameras, but that would mean having prior knowledge of where everything is, as well as access to such rooms. After all, I’m sure an esteemed company like Elkoss wouldn’t have spared any expense to safeguard something so important that you’d hire mercenaries such as ourselves to get it back. But really, that wouldn’t explain how you have a video of the ship.”

    Askari then smiles innocently. “Unless, of course, you simply don’t want us to see what exactly they procured from the station.” He then leaned against the wall behind him.

    “There’s also another possibility - traitors. Which in a company this big shouldn’t be so surprising,” Askari added, thinking to himself. “Were all crew members accounted for? Also, I’d like to know each particular way the crew were killed. I’d like to know what kind of weapons we might be going against.”
    There are stories made from the imagination. There are stories born from experience.
    There are stories told because of a need to be filled. There are stories that simply need to be told.
    This is one of them.


    “Maybe there really is a method to his madness…or maybe he’s just plain insane."
    Chapter 3: Act III is out and posted!


  6. #56
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    Brask leaned against the wall of the comm room, arms folded. The krogan listened to Hec's explanation of events. He didn't trust the volus completely, but he didn't have any choice but to go along with what he wanted for now. Brask wasn't planning anything malevolent against his employers, but he was suspicious. His intuition told him that there was something they weren't being told. He wanted to protect himself in case things went bad.

    The krogan watched intently as the surveillance footage of the facility was displayed for their benefit.

    Watching from the other side of the comm room, somewhat squished between Kalros and Melanie, was Keelo. The quarian's eyes lit up upon seeing the ship. He immediately recognised it as a human-made frigate, but it didn't fly Systems Alliance colours.

    Brask also frowned deeply upon seeing the ship. It wasn't what he was expecting. "Looks like it's not Batarian pirates," he observed, dismissing his first guess. "Unless they managed to get themselves a ship like that somehow."

    The krogan definitely felt that something was wrong as Domitian voiced the contradictions of the situation. It was glaringly unusual that the guards didn't raise a communication to Elkoss Combine when they were under attack. Between the automated turrets detecting and firing on the unknown vessel and the close-quarters combat, there would have been plenty of time for the team to send a distress signal. The attackers would have had to land, disembark, and storm the facility. That isn't something that can be done in under five minutes, even with a seamless operation.

    "If it was one idiot asleep on the job, then sure, but a full contingent of trained guards... there's no way there could be incompetence of that scale," Brask pointed out.

    The krogan glanced over at Askari, who spoke up with his thoughts. He didn't trust the human at all. He didn't trust his smiles and his happy-go-lucky attitude. Brask wasn't sure why, but something about him just seemed artificial...

    However, he voiced an opinion that crossed Brask's mind as well. "Yeah, it could've been traitors in your own company," Brask agreed. He turned and looked at Hec. "I'm sure it's different back at Elkoss HQ, but out in the Terminus Systems, you only have to turn around to trip over a corrupt asshole. Maybe one of your guys was bribed by whoever these thieves are."

    Keelo remained mostly quiet. He had been trying to deduce who the attackers were based on the model of the ship. "Could they be human pirates?" Keelo suggested. "There are no markings of the ship and the entire hull was given a new paint job, which suggests that it is a group who doesn't want to be recognised."

    The quarian sheepishly fidgeted with the green clothing that covered the back of his head. "Although, I realise that sounds somewhat obvious to say..."

    As the volus explained what the plan was, Brask stood up straight and nodded. "Sounds simple enough. We catch up to them, intercept them at Fafnir Station, kill them, and get your... whatever back," Brask enumerated. The krogan's emerald eyes narrowed slightly. "Almost too easy..."

    While they were at Fafnir Station, he planned to keep one eye on the enemy, and one eye on Gatatog Reor. Once they received the mysterious item that Hec didn't want to reveal the identity of, Brask wanted to be sure that Reor and his team wasn't going to turn around and eliminate any witnesses as soon as they were done. Some would consider Brask paranoid, but he would say that it's better than being dead. He wanted to be sure that he made it out in one piece. After all, there were many foods and aliens that he still had yet to enjoy.

    "Then as I said, we have precious little time to waste, for reality is rarely as one expects," Domitian declared. "Unless we wish to spend more time questioning the circumstances?"

    "I'm afraid I don't have any helpful theories," Keelo put forward. "Not without more evidence from the facility where everything took place..."

    The quarian looked at the Elkoss representative. "What can you tell us about Fafnir Station? Is it very populated?"

    "We'll find out when we get there," Brask responded, folding his heavy arms. "I just want to get prepared so that we can touch down on the station prepared. We don't know how large the enemy force is or what kind of weapons they're packing." He looked at Hec Brann. "If there's nothing else you can tell us, I'd rather we spend the rest of the time making sure we don't get blown to space dust."

    Keelo felt a twinge of nervousness at the prospect of more combat. "I assume this ship is prepared for ship-to-ship combat," Keelo put forward. "If such a situation arises, I will help in any way that I can."

    "Not much chance of that if they're docked in the station, quarian," Brask responded. "What we should do is storm their ship and capture it. Force them to fight on our terms. That'll be where they're keeping the item, anyways..."

    As he spoke, Brask briefly glanced over at Kalros and Rosh, passively wondering if they ever ended up speaking to each other. It didn't matter to him, but he found himself getting curious about them for some reason. He put it out of his mind. If the mission went as planned, he'd leave and probably never see them again. Any of them. That was how Brask preferred it. Although he wondered if there were any willing bed partners he could have some fun with before parting ways. He figured there were plenty of eligible candidates on their little frigate...
    Last edited by Griff4815; 16th January 2017 at 12:33 AM.
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Completed.

  7. #57
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    Jointly Written with Solsabre.
    Characters: Jahara/Kalros & Rosh
    Location: Personal Quarters

    _______


    An arm shot out at the sudden loss of balance before the Turian even opened his eyes. He half-yelped and growled as he barely managed to keep himself from meeting the floor.

    “Get off your a**, pyjak,” Jahara scowled at the flailing turian. “I see some things haven’t changed, despite my best efforts.”

    Jerking his blurred vision towards the familiar voice, Rosh’s startled state immediately dissolved to minor annoyance. Previous apprehension sunk back into his chest and without a word, he followed the Krogan into the room.

    Jahara maneuvered in the cramped quarters once more setting herself onto the flat surface of the bed. A side kick to the desk chair scooted it closer to the entrance, a quiet invite to her wayward son. A familiar snap and hiss sounded through the small room as the female krogan removed her helmet, revealing her face wholly to Rosh.

    Feeling the door close behind him, Rosh remained on his feet even after the chair conventionally moved his way. His attention became momentarily distracted with ensuring his adoptive mother looked well. Even though quite aware she was fully capable and then some, he still could not help the concern he held. Though he would never admit it verbally, Rosh felt relieved to see her face again after so many years.


    “I imagine you’ve got some questions,” Jahara stated simply. Her previous snappish tone gone.

    The dark Turian hummed low, finally settling into the chair. He sat on the very edge, with his elbows planted on his knees and fingers laced.

    “I’m sorry,” He spoke up, his voice graveled from his earlier nap. “. . for not getting in touch the last couple of years.”

    Jahara peered at Rosh with an intense gaze, noting his discomfort. The unexpected reunion was jarring to say the least, probably not helped by her bullying him verbally back on Omega. Unrepentant by her previous actions, she’d give the turian some slack due to the shock.

    “Most of you seldom do, once you leave.” She stated matter-of-factly. The biotic expected the same of the troublesome turian when the time came, but surprise crossed her reptilian features the first time she heard back from him. Privately, she enjoyed the occasional correspondence of his progress in life. When the messages finally ceased, she’d resignedly accepted that he’d moved on or that the worst happened.

    Black painted mandibles twitched, and Rosh had difficulty keeping eye contact. Truly he had a million questions he wanted to rattle off, but his guilt won out first.
    The Turian cleared his throat and sat up.
    “But.. Umm, yes… What are you doing taking on contract work?” No longer speaking in a mellow tone, he overcame his earlier hesitation. Only his deep-seated respect held him back from showing just how taken aback he had been from their abrupt reunion.

    Jahara considered the question for a moment, while staring at his dodging eyes. Really, the answer was simple. The biotic female gave a small sigh and rest her head against the bulkhead.

    “Hard times have hit us in the last year with poor crop, a rash of sickness, and troublesome new policymakers in charge trying to suck the colonists dry of everything valuable.” She paused to take a breath, a look of irritation crossed her leathery features. “Of course, the Sisters forbade me from dealing with that last problem directly myself.”

    The Turian hummed, recalling similar hard times in his youth at the monastery. He had his reasons for staying as long as he did and even after moving on, he had sent money back after a good pay day. Rosh felt eternally indebted to the Sisters and other children. He had been quite a handful for them for a few years.

    A three-fingered fist tighten, popping the knuckles. “The last monetary reserves were used to barter supplies for the last quarter. We didn’t have any other choice but to consider other means of earning revenue.”

    Jahara spat in disgust, “Unfortunately, we krogan are only good for bashing bodies into a bloodied pulp, hence why I’m here.” She omitted that Elkross approached her first about the job, before she even had a chance to announce Kalros’s return to the mercenary circles.

    ”Still..” The Turian could not help the mumble of reproach, but he bit his tongue. He did not have any right to criticize even if it came from worry. He also held doubts this was the first time she had ever taken such a job.

    “What about you? I didn’t think you had the stomach for this line of work.” She surveyed the turian with a crucial eye. Yes, she hadn’t seen him for a long time, but he appeared somewhat out of it and not just because of the shock of seeing her again.

    The last remark caused him to partially laugh that ended in a long sigh.
    “ ’Line of work,’ ” he repeated thoughtfully, “You know of the missing persons cases I have taken.”
    He sat up as he mentally put his words together. “Over the decades I have had to learn to stomach... many things.”

    Jahara grunt with a slight nod, conceding to his point. When they were still in connect, he’d described a few of the cases vaguely. She knew enough... from her own experiences to fill in the rest of the picture on her own.

    The omission brought on brief memories of some his worst investigations, all of which he reburied for the time being. He was here to rekindle a distanced relationship, not reminisce on tragedies.
    The thought had however brought on a sense of self awareness to differences since their last meeting. For some reason it had completely slipped his mind till this moment and she would no doubt want at least some explanation for the new marks. For now, unless she asked, he would not trouble himself with drawing attention to it.

    He cleared his head as well as his throat to continue where he had left off.
    “As far as this job in particular.. Honestly it was not originally mine to take, but for the same reason; Money. Two years with only a few stray cases solved leaves the dinner table pretty sparse of food.”

    He drew back and relaxed into the chair, habitually folding his arms in the same motion. His mandibles angled down to a degree, and he let out a low short trill.
    “And also an excuse to get me off the planet.” He added, remembering the insistence of his friends to leave the colony for a while.

    “Settled on a planet finally did you,” Jahara stated, her sharp eyes took in the turian fully. The black marking were new and she might not have recognized him immediately if not for hearing his distinctive voice first. “I take it you finally met someone?”

    Her expression softened slightly. While her mind easily concluded that possibility, something else felt off. Her Rosh was too quiet, subdued.

    “Aah.. this..” Rosh spoke low as he gingerly ran finger tips across the marks. “No.. Not quite.”

    Pale violet eyes shifted away from his mother's gaze and grew distant.
    “It’s a memento..” He murmured low enough that his vocals lost their dual-tone. He tilted his head to the side and leaned back.

    “The last message I sent you..” He began with renewed energy in his voice, a determination to overcome his weak sentiments, “I think I mentioned the case; the biotic murders..” He forced the words out even as recalling it after so long still caused his insides to ache.

    He continued with an emotionally detached tone, “ I had to work with local police after taking up the assignment. My job to find one missing human girl quickly had a body count of fourteen by the time I figured out what happened to her. By the end we did find survivors.. five to be exact, including the teenager I was looking for.”

    “After my official work was done, at the hospital, one of the.. victims... I took her in.” His sub harmonics betrayed his true feelings even as he kept his voice steady. “My time with her was brief.”

    “She-” Rosh nearly choked on his next words when an alarm startled him. His groan in response morphed into a deep growl as a voice relayed information over the intercom.

    Jahara craned her head to the side listening, snorting slightly. The blaring alarm distracted her from catching her son’s tight tone. “It seems we’ll have to finish at a later opportunity.”

    The female krogan grabbed the newly repaired helmet beside her, securing it once more with the black camo armor. Quickly the small quarters became crowded as she stood and attached the Acolyte pistol to a hip. Looking over her shoulder, Kalros beckoned Roshiovis to follow as they made their way to the comms room.

    “It is good to see you again, Rosh.” Jahara’s tenor voice carried from the helmet, before activating the voice modulator.

    The Turian genuinely smiled as he followed behind her, a comfortable warmth easing away the tension he had been carrying.

  8. #58
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    The armored krogan filed into crowded comms room and found herself with Keelo on her one side and Rosh on the other. Leaning up against the back wall, she crossed her arms together listening intently to the purpose of their mission.

    The brief video played showing the unknown human vessel swooping down and attacking the station.

    “Bold move,” Kalros interjected, the voice modulator operating normally as it had at the beginning of the mission. Her own thoughts stirred at the situation. “Or the raiders simply got lucky… How many workers and guards were stationed at the facility? The raiders would almost need to be or close in strength of numbers to overwhelmed the guards, unless they had prior knowledge of the station layout and security forces.”

    The female krogan’s questions overlapped with the human male, Askari. Hec wasn’t providing them with a very detailed picture and Jahara hated going into a combat situation blindly. Though not visible through the helmet, she scowled with distrust. Corporations like Elkross usually had their own decent information networks to protect themselves and keep up competitors. She had dealt with corporate sabotage before.

    “Do you have any competitors who would stand to benefit from the theft?” Jahara blatantly asked. She worded the question carefully instead of outright asking who their current enemies were, plus it might lend some insight to the nature of the stolen object. “If the possibilities were narrowed down, we’d have a better idea of who or what to expect once we catch up.”

    The female krogan glanced around the room with a careful eye. It was perhaps the most she spoken to the group at large since being here and she generally preferred to keep attention away from herself. However, the fact that she was female was already out, so she could afford to act more freely for the sake of ease during the mission. She lingered her unseen gaze warily at Reor and Brask as if daring them to try anything.

    Stubborn as she could be on relying on her own abilities to hold her own. Jahara did not mind having someone she could trust to watch her back for once. The turian was a comforting presence at her side.
    Anything is possible...apart from skiing through a revolving door.

    Image Credit goes to Kamotz

  9. #59
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    (Really sorry guys. Work's been fairly hectic and I have anxiety issues where I know I should come back and post but the longer I don't the more anxious about it I get and I work myself into horrible loops)

    “Certain this is only relevant images? What of internal surveillance? Surely physical features and appearance of the assailants pertinent to mission success.”
    "A few images were captured," Brann nodded, bringing them up. The assailants were dressed all in black and dull silver, like covert ops agents. They stalked the base's spartan corridors in tight, combat-ready formation that spoke of efficient training. Domitian nodded his approval as he looked them over and his eyes gleamed with satisfaction. Worthy enemies, it would seem. Though as Askari mentioned it, he did notice a distinct lack of the stolen item, save a glimpse of some kind of metal container in the corner of one shot.

    "What about the guards?" Melanie asked, following Askari's sentiments.

    "All accounted for, some with more difficulty than others," the volus commented. "Their positions were... odd."

    "Elaborate," Domitian crooned.

    Brann brought up what was presumably a plan of the base, plain enough for it to be clear that labels were missing. A typed command brought up red dots on the image. "Each of these dots is a guard, in the position their corpses were found. The breach through which the attackers entered is here." He gestured to a spot on the plan, illuminating it. "The facility contained advanced sensors which would have alerted security personnel to any such breach and pinpointed the exact location."

    Melanie scanned the map, trying to see what was strange. The dots were scattered around, occasionally clustering together where presumably a squad had perished.

    "Defensible positions," Domitian thought aloud, running his claws across the image. "These men died in dribs and drabs, some here, some there. If the sensors would have alerted them to the breach, why were they not deployed in containment patterns?" He paused. "Perhaps the bodies were moved post-mortem to create misleading impressions?"

    The volus shook his head. "Not unless they were remarkably good at removing and falsifying forensics. All blood splatter and bullets matched up to those positions."

    Melanie furrowed her brow. "But that means the guards didn't react to this at all."

    "Unusual, to say the least," the turian noted. "If all personnel were accounted for, then it would seem either there was no traitor or those he collaborated with saw fit to remove loose ends rather permanently." He returned his attention to the pictures of the attackers. "I find it remarkable none of your cameras captured them in combat."

    "It seems either they were thorough in the extreme in that regard, or that their methods just happened to destroy all cameras which did so," Brann said. "We have no intact footage of the murder of our personnel."

    "Curiouser and curiouser," Domitian chuckled.

    "What can you tell us about Fafnir Station? Is it very populated?"
    "Reasonably so," Brann said, bringing up relevant data on the screen. "Population of 200,000. A smaller, less corrupt Omega, if you will. It trades mostly in mechanical expertise, offering repairs and fuel to passing ships in exchange for currency or favors. Lawless, but in a civil manner."

    "Discreet, presumably, judging by our enemies' love for secrecy," Domitian queried, receiving a nod. "Well, I certainly hope the locals do not interfere. I would hate to have to make way through them." He chuckled.

    Melanie shot him a glare.

    “Or the raiders simply got lucky… How many workers and guards were stationed at the facility? The raiders would almost need to be or close in strength of numbers to overwhelmed the guards, unless they had prior knowledge of the station layout and security forces.”
    "The security contingent consisted of around sixty soldiers," Brann said. "We've counted a dozen attackers so far, but given the sporadic nature of the camera coverage and the confusion of the attack, it's possible there are more."

    "I don't like those odds," Melanie mused. "There's something we're missing. Those guards didn't react at all. But I don't think the advantage of surprise would carry the attackers through a five to one advantage."

    "For once, we agree," Domitian noted. "These attackers are either of prodigious combat skill, which I may grant, or there is another factor involved which explains your guards' lack of a reaction."

    “Do you have any competitors who would stand to benefit from the theft?” Jahara blatantly asked. She worded the question carefully instead of outright asking who their current enemies were, plus it might lend some insight to the nature of the stolen object. “If the possibilities were narrowed down, we’d have a better idea of who or what to expect once we catch up.”
    "Many, of course," Brann admitted. "The research conducted at the facility was promising. Very promising indeed. Company secrets, naturally. But certainly, if a rival became aware of the subject of that research, they would likely be tempted to acquire it for themselves."

    Domitian's eyes narrowed. "Which would necessitate them to assault your facility and steal your research in person rather than attempting to replicate it independently and avoiding the trouble?"

    Brann's face was covered, but he had the air of someone who had said too much. "As I said, Palaven-clan, company secrets."

    "You mean that whatever was taken was something they couldn't just synthesise or recreate themselves?" Melanie asked.

    "Presumably so," Domitian sighed. "I am somewhat unusual in the galaxy in that I find combat enjoyable, others have a rather profound distaste for it, particularly those in the corporate sphere. Oh, they have their tools they will resort to should the need appear, but on the whole, they prefer to fight in their own baffling little ways. If the secret that Elkoss was working on in this facility became known to a rival, I imagine that their first step would be to attempt to replicate it independently, so as to avoid alerting anyone about their knowledge until the time was right. If direct action like this was taken, it was because whatever was worked on in the facility could not be replicated. Thus, it would seem that the item we are seeking is, perhaps, unique."

    Brann shook his head and Reor rumbled from his side. "Company secrets. It's none of your concern. Just get it back, get your paycheck, and forget about it."

    "Oh, this isn't over," the turian chuckled. "I will play along, certainly, but I would very much like to know exactly what you hide, Hec Brann."

    "We should get underway," the volus murmured. "We've spent enough time waiting here so far and our quarry may be gaining a lead."

    "I agree," Domitian said. "The sooner we find them, the sooner this mystery can begin to unfurl." He laughed and swept from the room. "If you require me for any reason, even if it be silencing me, you may find me in the hangar. Any who wish to test their mettle may join me, if their egos are not easily bruised by defeat." With that parting taunt, he was gone into the corridors of the Shanxi.

    Melanie shook her head. "I'm sure he's going to be a liability at some point. Somehow." She turned to Keelo. "I'm not sure if they're pirates. There's something about that ship... it's too sleek. Too new. I've seen pirate ships, they always seem worn and battered, unless they've just been taken from somewhere." She paused and looked back at the photos of the assailants. They were dark and cold and drilled to perfection, stalking the corridors of the base like walking Death. She caught glimpses of their weapons and armor, one recurring figure bulky and hefting a large rifle with some kind of attachment, another in mighty armor and wielding a shield on one arm, a third at the back sleek and wielding what appeared to be a sniper rifle.

    And there was a figure who was always just on the edge of the images, like they were racing to tear past their comrades. Their armor was dark and silver like a nightmare, their helm glaring with a deep crimson visor. Looking at them sent a shiver through her bones and made her skull ache. There was a killer. The lethal intent was clear even in these snapshots.

    Who were these people?

    "Set course for Fafnir Station," Brann commanded, making her jump as he spoke into the intercom. "With as much speed as can be mustered, Yulik."

    "As much speed as can be mustered?" the salarian chattered back. "You're joking surely. That's my standard speed. Slower is not my kind of speed. Haha. Ha."

    ----

    A few minutes later, the ship broke its moorings and detached from Omega, falling into the void of the cosmos. Stars gleamed around it as it speared away from the station towards the Mass Relay which would convey them to the Sigurd's Cradle cluster at relativistic speed.

    Aboard, Domitian stood in the hanger, omni-blades ignited as he whirled and slashed, practising combat kata with fierce yet precise motions. There was a deadly lethality to his moves, and had he been surrounded by enemies, each blow would have felled one of them. Some of the crew paused in their duties to look on in curiosity and admiration, while Ariana smirked from her position as she stripped a rifle, made a minute modification and reassembled it.

    Melanie sat in her room, pondering the dark phantoms from the security images and the questions Domitian and the others had asked. What awaited them at Fafnir Station? Would the enemy already be gone, or would they have to fight those lethal spectres?

    (Leaving a window for more character interaction, but if it's wanted, I can just fast-forward us to Fafnir for a change of scenery and some plot)
    I walk the shadowed path.

  10. #60
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    Veska Jahara
    Krogan


    "Many, of course," Brann admitted. "The research conducted at the facility was promising. Very promising indeed. Company secrets, naturally. But certainly, if a rival became aware of the subject of that research, they would likely be tempted to acquire it for themselves."

    A research program, Jahara considered silently. So they were either after the data results or the final product. The female krogan listened with dark amusement as Domitian pounced on the scraplet of information Brann slipped loose.

    "We should get underway," the volus murmured. "We've spent enough time waiting here so far and our quarry may be gaining a lead." '


    The biotic krogan agreed with the slightist tilt of her helmet. As intriguing as the mystery of their objective was and given the chance to find out she's want to know. However, at the end of the day, Jahara had greater priorities: staying alive to finish this mission and return to the monastry. In an unconscious after thought, she tack on Rosh's well being to that concern as well.

    **********

    A few hours after the briefing, Jahara emerged from her quarters after a short rest still fully armored. Exiting into the hallway, she stomped down the metal floor of the living section. They only had a short amount of time to prepare for the mission before they reach their destination and she needed to speak with the human biotic. The turian cruiser shuttered momentarily from the engines being pushed to greater speed. Jahara braced a three-fingered hand to steady herself before moving once more.

    She studied the non-descriptive doors as she passed by, until pausing at the door she was fairly certain belonging to the human, Melanie. The biotic krogan knocked (pounded) sharply three times to announce her presence. “Kalros,” the synthesized voice implying which krogan on board was unintentionally bringing down the door.

    When the door eventually opened, Jahara stood there trying to look relaxed, but detested the necessity of the subject at hand. “A discussion of biotic abilities for cooperative measures would be imperative for mission success.” The statement was void of emotion, almost robotic.

    (Okay, hope that's okay, I'm a little rusty)
    Last edited by Solsabre; 7th March 2017 at 10:12 PM.
    Anything is possible...apart from skiing through a revolving door.

    Image Credit goes to Kamotz

  11. #61
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    Dec 2006
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    (OOC: Ugh, I'm just realising that I screwed up Brask's weapons. That should be a Striker Pistol, not a Hurricane Pistol. My bad.)

    As the Shanxi took off for the mass relay, Brask tromped down one of the long, metal corridors of the frigate. He turned at a corner and stopped in front of the elevator.

    He was outfitted in his heavy armour, which had since been cleaned of all traces of krogan blood and surface blemishes. Magnetically attached was his Tornado shotgun and his Duelist pistol. Before going into combat, he wanted to do a routine equipment check. He knew the importance of keeping one's gear in smooth, working order before going into a firefight. All it would take is a heat sink malfunction for him to wind up in a bad situation.

    Brask stepped into the elevator and waited for lift to descend down to the cargo bay. He exhaled and leaned back against the back wall.

    He thought about what had been revealed during the strategy meeting. The whole situation seemed suspicious to him. The unusual patterns in which the guards had died. The lack of an alarm raised. The mysterious nature of the development that had been going on at the facility. It all made him uneasy. He knew that Hec Brann was holding something back from them.

    Brask attempted not to dwell on it. Going into battle with doubts was a bad idea. It would only distract him from his mission. He just had to focus on the job at hand and deal with whatever obstacles might emerge as they come.

    As the elevator doors opened, he wandered out into the cargo bay. Brask noticed Domitian practicing his combat form. He watched with mild interest as the turian performed a highly refined blade dance. His movements were fluid and professional, but the krogan couldn't help but roll his eyes at his showmanship.

    Brask walked straight over to Ariana's work bench and nodded over at Domitian. "Who's he trying to impress?" the tall, blue-armoured krogan asked with a smirk.

    "Himself, probably," Ariana responded, smiling with amusement. "Think you can do that?" she challenged playfully.

    Brask grunted. "Grace isn't my strong point, but I'm willing to bet I could lay him out in a one-on-one fight," the muscular krogan boasted. "Too bad my omni-tool got blown to pieces."

    "Sounds like a convenient excuse," Ariana teasingly suggested. "How did you manage that?"

    "Hm... I guess you could say it happened when I tendered my resignation from the Blood Pack," Brask responded casually. "They gave me quite the farewell party."

    Ariana raised an eyebrow. "I can imagine..." she mused curiously. "The Blood Pack, huh? That's some unsavory company you keep, Brask."

    "Yeah, well, not any more. I'm pretty glad to be leaving Omega. The Blood Pack has a lot of clout around here, so if they found out that I've been sniffing around like a hungry varren..." Brask trailed off. "Let's just say it's harder for me to operate out of Omega these days."

    "I can imagine... So, you freelance now?" the asari mechanic inquired.

    "Yeah. Since I'm not a member of a big organisation anymore, I don't have the resources to take on big jobs and operations anymore. Have to take small jobs - you know, bodyguarding, bounty hunting, muscle and coercion, retrieval... I've got an agent who sets me up."

    "I see..." Ariana responded. She looked up at the tall krogan curiously, sensing that he didn't just come over for a chat. "So, is there anything you need?"

    "Yeah," Brask replied, pulling out his shotgun and pistol. After making sure they were safe, he placed the pair of weapons on top of Ariana's table. "Can you check these? I want to make sure there's no problems before we get to Fafnir Station."

    Ariana nodded and looked over the two weapons with scrutinizing eyes. "Tornado shotgun from Haliat Armory, and a modified Striker pistol from Elanus Risk Control Services... The barrel widened for higher caliber slugs. More stopping power, more heat generation and a slower rate of fire... about 150 RPM if I were to guess... I had a feeling you'd prefer heavy pistols to lighter ones. You want power over speed," she deduced with a faint smile.

    A charming grin formed on Brask's face. "Looks like you know your stuff," he mused. "Not every asari knows her way around guns."

    "I'm not every asari," she responded with a smirk. "Yeah, I'll take a look at these. It is my job, after all."

    "I appreciate it," Brask answered.

    "Maybe if this job goes on long enough, you'll even let me add some mods to these," Ariana suggested.

    Brask chuckled. "You know the way to my hearts, don't you?" he said with a playful wink. "I guess we'll see how this operation goes at Fafnir Station."

    "I guess so," Ariana replied, already beginning to strip down Brask's Striker pistol. "I'll be done with these in about half an hour."

    Brask nodded and left her to his weapons. He made his way over to the practicing turian. He didn't announce his approach. The krogan merely watched Domitian's smooth and surgical movements.

    Brask smirked and approached Domitian from behind. He assumed that the turian had already noticed him by now. Brask moved forwards and drew his combat knife. Purposefully getting in the path of one of Domitian's dancing omni-blades, he raised his large knife and blocked the swipe, smirking at the shorter turian as he held his blade steady.

    "You've got some good moves, turian. Not everyone has the dexterity to use dual omni-blades," Brask noted, taking a step backwards and releasing Domitian from the blade lock. "They don't teach you blade work like that in the turian military... And that armour and jetpacks... I want to say you're a Havoc from one of the Armiger Legions, but you don't have the personal discipline to cut it in an elite turian unit," Brask mused, as if remembering. He smirked at Domitian. "You're kind of interesting, turian."

    -

    Meanwhile, Keelo wandered the Shanxi. He didn't have much to prepare for the coming mission. His sniper rifle was in working order and his equipment was ready.

    He passed the time by exploring the ship. The curious quarian that he was, he investigated every nook and cranny. Keelo walked around the CIC, looking at the various systems that the crew worked on. He noted the differences and similarities between the Shanxi and the ships that he remembered from the Flotilla.

    Keelo really wanted to check out the engine room and the drive core, but he had a feeling that he wouldn't be allowed in. It was understandable, as access to such important technology was sensitive. There were always concerns about technologies being replicated.

    Rather than press his luck, Keelo offered his help to any of the bridge staff that needed it. He couldn't operate and of the ship's complicated on-board systems, but he was willing even to get them coffee or lunch. He was accustomed to pulling his weight wherever he could, he made sure that he would do so for as long as he could.

    He continued to make himself useful until they reached the mass relay.

    (OOC: I don't really have much to do with Keelo at the moment, so he'll just be around the ship.)
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Completed.

  12. #62
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    "You've got some good moves, turian. Not everyone has the dexterity to use dual omni-blades," Brask noted, taking a step backwards and releasing Domitian from the blade lock. "They don't teach you blade work like that in the turian military... And that armour and jetpacks... I want to say you're a Havoc from one of the Armiger Legions, but you don't have the personal discipline to cut it in an elite turian unit," Brask mused, as if remembering. He smirked at Domitian. "You're kind of interesting, turian."
    Domitian sneered. "Ooh, how perceptive of you, krogan. Yes, sadly the Armiger Legion admired my prowess but were unwilling to stomach my manner. Something about 'inability to exercise proper restraint', 'insubordination', those sorts of things. But as you so accurately noticed, I was able to achieve their standards via my own work." He ceased his elegant kata enough to display the jump jets built into his armor. "I imagine the Havocs of the Armiger Legion would disapprove, but so long as I get results, I do not care."

    He glanced at Ariana, noticing her going about her work, then back to Brask. "Not many use omni-blades to begin with, but I find the ability to wield two hidden blades at all times rather useful. I'm sure you understand how so." He chuckled. "And I have become rather adept with them, as you observed."

    The turian paused. "But I do not think you came for idle chatter, krogan. What did you have in mind?"

    ----

    The shadows of Melanie's room were deep. The Shanxi was dark, its lights not fully restored in some places, and her assigned room was one of them. She didn't entirely mind. She was used to living in the dark and it was soothing. The shadows hid her, hid her face, kept her safe. The darkness had been her shelter for years. When Cerberus had held her, the times when her cell was pitch-black were the only times she'd had respite from the pain of their instruction. She could lie in the shadows with tears on her face and for a time be still.

    She shuddered at the memories and her bones ached as she recalled the times they had been broken.

    Most of the Cerberus scientists were faceless in her mind, always hidden by visors or surgical gear. The guards too, clad in dark armor. But there were a few faces she recalled. There was that instructor, the one who'd drawn out her power by breaking her until it leaked out. The one who punished defiance and failure in the same way, by grabbing Melanie's limbs with biotic whips and making them bend in ways they weren't meant to. If someone were to look at her bones, the scars would probably still be there. Two years worth of twisted bones and voices digging into her brain. Two years of pain both physical and mental. After that, the dark wasn't terrifying. She didn't fear the dark, she feared the people who smiled in the light as they cut her open and tried to turn her into their weapon.

    In some ways, a weapon was what she'd become, forged into one by both Cerberus and by Omega. Killing had become a grim necessity, committed without hesitation when it was her life or the enemy's. And the law became just words on paper in the face of her need to survive. It wasn't pretty or delicate. But surviving never was.

    A knock at her door startled her out of her grim thoughts.

    “Kalros,” the synthesized voice implying which krogan on board was unintentionally bringing down the door.

    When the door eventually opened, Jahara stood there trying to look relaxed, but detested the necessity of the subject at hand. “A discussion of biotic abilities for cooperative measures would be imperative for mission success.” The statement was void of emotion, almost robotic.
    Melanie lowered her hand. "Ah, Kalros. Sorry, you startled me." She smiled sheepishly, uneasy about this krogan. Brask she could read and understand and he wasn't all too unfamiliar. She'd met krogan like him before. But Kalros was something she didn't know. A female krogan was very unusual out here.

    "Uh, biotic abilities?" she murmured. "I'm mostly about protecting things, I can throw stuff, put up a barrier and stasis enemies." She paused. "How about you? And, sorry if this is intrusive, but why are you here? Why'd you decide to accept this job?"
    I walk the shadowed path.

  13. #63
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    “Stay out!”

    Having been forcefully ejected from the engine room once more, Cogwedj and his amphibious behind slammed hard on the cold metal floor as he heard the voice command. He had fortunately reacted in time to keep from having his head following suit, his hands out behind him to catch his weight.

    Unlike the rest of the crew, the salarian engineer had apparently pushed the job and its apparent dangers to the back of his mind the moment they left the conference. Yes, he was highly interested in the mysteries of the operation, and he was also curious about the sleek and black ship that he had seen that belonged to their supposed targets. But simply put, those were questions that he did not have the capability of answering until he had more information. So until then, he busied himself with more present and immediate mysteries - such as the heart of the Shanxi.

    “How many times do I have to tell you!?” a pony-tailed human engineer, garbed in the dark and muted colors of the crew’s uniform. “Only authorized personnel inside the engine room!” he yelled, his irritated voice resounding in the hangar.

    “No need repetition, or physical aggression,” Cog replied as he stood back up, dusting himself off, obviously unperturbed by rough salarian-handling. He had barely been inside for a minute before he was found out due to the uncontrolled and loud squeal he emitted the moment he saw the wonderful beast that was the Shanxi’s engines.

    “I wouldn’t need to if you just listened,” the human said disgruntledly with folded arms, staring at him with an annoyed gaze. “How’d you get in anyway? I was watching the door like a hawk!”

    It hadn’t been the first time Cog had infiltrated a restricted room. When one was as obsessively interested into something as Cog was to large and complex machinery, one would find ways - not all of them legal nor orthodox. Often times, however, the salarian found that the best way into a guarded room was the simplest way.

    “Air vent,” Cog replied, blinking once.

    The human engineer stared, uncertain whether the unusual creature in front of him was telling the truth or was just saying something to throw him off. Then he shook his head and affixed a glare at him. “Well, whatever! I’m staying right here and keeping an eye on you, so don’t even think of getting back in there,” the human grease monkey said with folded arms.

    “Noted,” Stele replied half-heartedly, unfazed as he looked past him towards the door. He would eventually find his way back in - he always did. A few cuts, maybe a bullet hole or two, were always worth the risk. But before he could make a move, a hand placed itself on his shoulder.

    “Come on, weirdo,” Ariana said, rolling her eyes pulling him back to her work desk. “I can’t concentrate with you barging in and making a loud commotion every half hour.”

    “Would be no commotion if just allowed inside,” Cog replied with a deadpan expression.

    “No dice, frog face,” the asari replied as she placed him firmly in front of the work desk Cog had left his gadgets on haphazardly. “Instead, tell me how you made these,” she said, placing a hand in front of one of the salarian’s bombs.

    She had gone off to his work desk in search of her tools. She didn’t trust the salarian not to have taken them while she wasn’t looking. To her chagrin, she was right in thinking that he had helped himself to her work instruments, but she also found it full of machinery she wasn’t familiar with. Even his mods were unusual to her eyes, full of features that shouldn’t make sense. But as with every engineer worth her salt, she was adamant in finding out how they worked. And more importantly: why.

    Cog blinked and looked at her with a tilted head. “Utility explosives. Not hard. Finicky, however,” he told her.

    “I know,” Ariana replied with slightly annoyed expression. “I looked at one of them, and the way you put them together tells me that they should have exploded a long time ago, like they’re barely being held together. Or at least shouldn’t be working at all.”

    Cogwedj took one of his bombs, a black sphere with numerous screws and a gray pin protruding outwards. “Maximum efficiency. Optimized result.”

    “Show me,” Ariana said, looking at him determinedly, smiling widely.

    Cog observed her for a moment before opening his mouth. “Need materials. Not easy to-”

    “Tell me what you need. I’ll get them for you. Just show me,” she told him, obviously not taking no for an answer.

    The salarian, however, just nodded. “Very well. Could always use more. Better than without when needed,” he replied as he took his omni-tool and showed her a screen. “Top materials most important, necessary for intended purpose.”

    “Right, come on then,” Ariana said, taking his wrist and dragging him to gather said materials.

    As she pulled him along, she vowed to learn everything the open salarian was going to show her and use it to improve her own skills. Keeping him distracted and busy from entering the engine was also a highly relieving bonus.

    -

    After making sure all his equipment were all primed and ready. Askari had taken his place in a small relaxation area of the living quarters. It was composed of a number of kitchen and cooking appliances and a long table with screwed in seats meant for a place where crew members could sit and dine, among other things, although for now, he was all alone. Depending on how long they would be on the mission, he doubted they’d be using it frequently or for its intended purpose. So far, more than half of their group were composed of private and wary mercenaries, not the type of people who would just sit and chat about their emotions or goals or thoughts.

    Though it wasn’t like he was one to talk. Jason Askance might be quite the social creature, but his personal thoughts and feelings were privy only to himself and himself alone. No one has even called him by his real name in years - so much that it already felt alien to him.

    The human sniper shook his head, ridding himself of such dreary thoughts, and gazed up for just a moment to spot his exact opposite coming in to gather what looked to be food stuffs for the busier members of the crew.

    He merely nodded at Keelo, giving him a small smile and a few short but polite words of greeting, before letting him go off to finish his duties. The innocent quarian was so different from him - so open about his feelings. He had no doubt that if he could see Keelo’s face without his helmeted exosuit, it would be an open book.

    He wondered if that made things easier for him.

    “Course, not that they’d help me right now,” he said to himself as he looked back at the computer in front of him.

    He had somehow convinced Hec Brann to give him access of some of the videos and images he had captured. It was in his nature to observe and study as much as he could. After all, sometimes that was the difference between living another day and being flat-on-your-face dead. But he still couldn’t understand how their targets were able to get in and out of the facility so cleanly and…mysteriously. How else could he describe it? From a tactical point, it didn’t make sense.

    And it was giving him a headache.

    Askari groaned as he rubbed his temples. He was glad no one else was around - it would probably be both amusing and unsettling to see the usual carefree sniper so worked up.

    “Okay, Ask,” he then told himself as he placed his fingers back on the keyboard. “Let’s try another method,” he said, making sure there wasn’t anyone else. He had purposefully placed himself against a wall with the screen of his computer facing away from the lone entrance, as well as the single surveillance camera surveying the room.

    ‘If they're adamant about keeping us out,’ he thought to himself. ‘Then it's the infiltrator's job to get in,’ he finished as he started to try and hack his way through the system, using the photo and video the volus gave him access to as a starting point.
    There are stories made from the imagination. There are stories born from experience.
    There are stories told because of a need to be filled. There are stories that simply need to be told.
    This is one of them.


    “Maybe there really is a method to his madness…or maybe he’s just plain insane."
    Chapter 3: Act III is out and posted!


  14. #64
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    Brask took a step away and sheathed his combat dagger. He looked at Domitian with a watchful eye as he spoke.

    "Not many use omni-blades to begin with, but I find the ability to wield two hidden blades at all times rather useful. I'm sure you understand how so." He chuckled. "And I have become rather adept with them, as you observed."

    "It's an interesting combat style. That's for sure," Brask noted, folding his large arms. "Not much use at a range, but I guess that's why we've got those snipers and biotics with us."

    "But I do not think you came for idle chatter, krogan. What did you have in mind?"

    Brask turned his head and looked around the cargo bay conspiratorially. He saw Ariana walking off with Cogwedj. "...I don't trust our employers, and I don't think you do either. They're holding stuff back, but I don't know what or why," he said to the turian. "I'm willing to go along with what Brann says, but I just think we should watch ourselves at Fafnir. I know we're just the hired muscle and there's company secrets and all that, but there's enough weird things that I feel suspicious. I don't know about you."

    Brask shrugged. "Anyway, maybe I'm over thinking it. I'm gonna go get ready for the operation," he told Domitian. The krogan turned and began strutting down the cargo bay. He glanced over his shoulder at Domitian. "Don't tire yourself out showing off, turian," he suggested with a smirk. "Our enemies looked professional."

    The krogan made his way back to the elevator and started taking it up to the level with the living quarters. He had a few things to prepare in his room while he waited for Ariana to finish inspecting his guns.

    When the lift's door opened, Brask stepped out and began heading down the ship's corridor towards their rooms. With heavy footsteps, he approached his quarters and prepared to open the door. The sound of a pair of female voices distracted him.

    Brask turned and looked towards Melanie's room. He thought he heard Kalros' recognisable voice coming from there as well. Brask crept over to the door and listened in. He didn't interrupt or try to make himself known, but he could definitely see Kalros' form inside Melanie's room, asking her something about biotics.

    "I'm mostly about protecting things, I can throw stuff, put up a barrier and stasis enemies." She paused. "How about you? And, sorry if this is intrusive, but why are you here? Why'd you decide to accept this job?"

    Brask was interested in Kalros' response as well. He closed his mouth and pressed up against the corridor outside of the room. The krogan decided that he might just eavesdrop a little on their conversation...
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Completed.

  15. #65
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    "...I don't trust our employers, and I don't think you do either. They're holding stuff back, but I don't know what or why," he said to the turian. "I'm willing to go along with what Brann says, but I just think we should watch ourselves at Fafnir. I know we're just the hired muscle and there's company secrets and all that, but there's enough weird things that I feel suspicious. I don't know about you."
    "Oh, I agree," Domitian replied with a chuckle. "Perhaps I had you wrong, krogan. This mission is too mysterious for my liking. They are trying too hard to keep us away from knowing exactly what was taken or how the attackers apparently disabled the guards. Even corporate secrecy doesn't account for how elusive Brann is about it." He deactivated his omni-blades. "I always watch myself, and I am certain you do too. Perhaps we should watch the others too. Irritating as some of them may be, we may need the extra hands once we find Elkoss' precious treasure, and they may prove useful in the meantime."

    Brask shrugged. "Anyway, maybe I'm over thinking it. I'm gonna go get ready for the operation," he told Domitian. The krogan turned and began strutting down the cargo bay. He glanced over his shoulder at Domitian. "Don't tire yourself out showing off, turian," he suggested with a smirk. "Our enemies looked professional."
    "Oh, that is why I was practising," Domitian laughed in answer. "I anticipate worthy foes in our future, krogan. I have not seen their like in such a long time, and I sincerely hope to cross blades with them before we must inevitably walk over their corpses to reclaim what they stole." He turned away. "But thank you for the concern," he added with a mocking chuckle before striding into the shadows. He had felt the eyes watching him and was curious about who they belonged to.

    A quarian rested in the deepest shadows, their gaze fixed on him as he approached. Their suit was dark enough to blend in, dark enough that they could almost have stayed undetected forever. But his warrior senses were strong and he had felt this one's stare as he practised.

    "I do not believe we have been introduced," the turian said.

    "Yir'Naemis vas Shanxi," the quarian replied. His voice was a cold whisper, chilling like the air of a winter night. The plain visor was the deep blue of an ocean and only a few dots of color adorned the quarian's suit. "I'm here to keep the ship maintained."

    "Ah, our mechanic. I had wondered why Brann didn't mention you previously," Domitian chuckled. "I thought Ariana was the mechanic? And why are you skulking in the shadows? Did you find my practice entertaining?"

    Yir'Naemis shrugged. "She is, technically. But I was hired too, probably for redundancy. As for what I'm doing in the shadows, I like to be alone with my thoughts when I'm not needed. Sitting here, I don't usually get disturbed and I'm close to the drive core if I'm needed there. I'm surprised you noticed me. The only reason the others know I'm here is because they're used to me."

    "When you fight for your life as often as I do, you develop a sense for being watched," Domitian said. "Your eyes were like knives in my back, quarian."

    "My apologies," the quarian chuckled. "You have me at a disadvantage."

    "Oh, were you not informed of our identities? My apologies for assuming," the turian said in his smug manner. "I am Domitian Occisor, blade for hire, scourge of criminal gangs, that sort of thing. I imagine you know why exactly I am aboard this rather dismal vessel."

    "Something was stolen and we're getting it back," Yir'Naemis recited. "That's about what I know. I was hired just the same as you. Elkoss needed crew and I needed money."

    "Is it by coincidence that you share a name with this ship?" Domitian asked. He hadn't encountered many quarians, or rather he hadn't engaged many in conversation. He had seen them in passing, killed quite a few, but it was rare for him to have reason to talk to one. Most were preoccupied or stuck on their Migrant Fleet.

    "Vas Shanxi means crew of the Shanxi," the quarian replied. "Because that is what I am. I'm guessing you don't know the meaning of quarian names."

    "Would you care to enlighten me?" His question was as sharp as his tone always was, demanding the answers. Not that he cared particularly much, but he couldn't deny some interest in this one.

    "I am, technically, still on my pilgrimage," Yir'Naemis explained. "By the standards of my people, I am a child. But I have little interest in going back to the Migrant Fleet, so I dubbed myself an adult according to whichever ship I work on. I sell my skills and my tools." He stood up. "If I cared for tradition, my name would be Yir'Naemis nar Shellen, for the ship on which I was born, and I would not become vas until I returned to the fleet with a worthy offering for a ship to become my home. But I prefer life out here and I don't care for those traditions."

    "Ah, one who does not fit in. I understand that well," Domitian chuckled. "It seems you and I may have common ground, vas Shanxi."

    "Perhaps, but we are not alike," he answered. "You take a lot of pride in your fighting. I can tell from how you practice. To me, violence is a tool, as much as the tools I use to fix ships. Sometimes it's right for the job and sometimes not. I don't enjoy it because if I did, I might use it when it's wrong for the job."

    "Oh, but you seem so... disappointed by your race," Domitian said, needling the quarian. "What is it exactly that drives you away from the fleet? Did you tire of the exhausting restrictions placed upon you? Or was it something else?" Though masked by his harsh manner, his curiosity was now genuinely aroused.

    "I have opinions about certain subjects that my people find distasteful," Yir'Naemis replied, turning to walk away. "And I ask questions about things they don't want me to. So I find life away from their closed thoughts liberating." He laughed. "I imagine it's not quite like what you had in mind. No violent disagreements for me. I just question history in places my elders seem to prefer unquestioned."

    "Philosophical disagreements are not alien to me," the turian replied. "I've experienced my share of them. But do you really find the life of a mechanic for hire so interesting? And I imagine a quarian who's made himself a nuisance cannot expect help."

    "I don't need help," Yir'Naemis retorted. "I use the tools in my hands to survive. Sometimes that means fixing machines and sometimes breaking people. I'm free. That's what matters to me. I imagine that's what motivates you too, in a way." He turned his head to look back at Domitian. "You and that krogan. I didn't hear what you were talking about, but it had something to do with the mission, right?"

    Domitian just inclined his head slightly in answer.

    "I thought so," he said, and there was probably a smile on his face under that visor. "Elkoss cares a lot about this thing that was stolen. Someone else cares a lot about it too. I know that much. Whatever it is, it's got to be worth a lot to make them this desperate for it."

    "Yes, that thought had occurred to me," Domitian deadpanned. "I did think it would be strange for them to go to such expense for an inert hunk of metal."

    "You and the others should watch yourselves," Yir'Naemis commented. "If they want this thing so bad, they'll fight to hold onto it. The thieves, that is."

    "Elkoss too, no doubt," the turian replied sardonically. "But do not worry, vas Shanxi. I'm sure we can exchange more enthralling conversation in the future. I imagine I know where to find you should I wish to know more about these unorthodox beliefs of yours. In the meantime, you must excuse me. I have spent enough time in this banter and must prepare for the strike on Fafnir Station."

    "Keep your eyes on the dark," the quarian said. "I'm not the only thing that tries to stay unseen and in my experience, the other things tend to be a lot less friendly than me." He chuckled coldly.

    "I am not afraid of anything, least of all things which have to cower in the dark," Domitian retorted with laughter of his own.
    Last edited by storymasterb; 16th March 2017 at 4:38 AM.
    I walk the shadowed path.

  16. #66
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    Askari’s head spun. He found quite a bit, probably more than what Hec Brann or anyone in this ship would want him to.

    The first thing - or things - that he found was a set of dossiers on the whole crew, including the group that he found himself meeting with in Omega. It pleased him to know that they were all reliable at least, even if some of them had quite a…infamous reputation. There were also notes on each of them - he didn’t particularly like that they kept footnotes on how each of them could possibly endanger the mission…and how to stop each of them if they ever reneged on their contracts. Apparently, the ones like Domitian and Cog needed particular…supervision.

    And then there were the chat and video logs. There weren’t many, but what he did find were quite informative.

    There were mentions of how the Fafnir Station was raided. Mostly the things that they were already told about it. But then he frowned as he listened - other than projectile injury, there were mentions of high impact trauma. Although there were many possible reasons, there was one that stood out to him - biotic manipulation. Hec Brann had conveniently left that out.

    And then there were talks about the stolen item and the possible raiders. Askari had to raise a brow at the mention of Spectres - even he had qualms about facing one. But then there mentions of the Citadel Council having no evidence to hang over their heads. And then there were mentions of making sure to keep him and his new acquaintances in the dark about the item so that none of their rivals, as well as Citadel itself, would find out about it.

    It irritated Askari that there were no mentions as to what the item itself was, but it offered him important information at least. Whatever it was: it’s valuable…and maybe criminal. Not that it would change much - he’d already done some illegal things himself.

    And finally, there was Hec Brann’s particularly vocal disagreement about the formation of their rag-tag group of misfits. And then he heard a name he didn’t expect to hear.

    “Shepard worked out for Citadel.”

    That definitely made Ask’s brow rise. He didn’t expect them to be compared to someone of such…reputation. But that basically told him that they were formed for a reason.

    Askari sighed and nodded to himself as he shut down his computer, having transferred the important information to his omni-tool from his laptop.

    The laptop itself was an odd fixture - by now, everyone was using omni-tools for the same functions of a laptop - but Ask found it had a certain appeal, especially since it allowed him the use of both hands. It also helped him that it had the added security and functions that he could manipulate, and it wasn’t that hard to connect it to his omni-tool anyway.

    He picked it up and placed it in a box, clamping it closed. Then came his lock. It was a small thing and relatively normal looking. Until someone tried to break it, then it would explode, turning it and the laptop into shrapnel. And just possibly bringing along the hand that tried to open his case.

    “Right then... I think I need to have a talk with a few people…but who…?” The human sniper spoke to himself softly as he stood up and thought to himself. “Most preferably, someone rational and reliable…and I think I know who.”

    He then nodded as he took his laptop case and took the few steps out of the recreational room and into the hallway - right into the path of a certain quarian engineer.

    “Ooops, sorry there…Keelo’Zannen nar Rayya. Being a helpful busybody, I see. That’s really kind of you. I don’” he told him with a nod, speaking honestly, if not oddly. “I like to keep busy myself, but probably the way you do,” he added with a grin and a wink.

    “But I must say, winning a marksmanship contest on your first time… That’s impressive~ It’s real sad shame you didn’t join in on our…little contest back in the hangar, but I’m sure we’ll get to see you use those surprising skills of yours eventually,” he told him, patting his holstered gun on his side.

    Ask then looked thoughtful, looking closely at Keelo.

    “Actually, Keelo, could you come with me?”

    The look on Askari’s face told him that he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

    -

    “Spying, Brask?”

    Ask called out as he approached Melanie’s room with Keelo in tow. “That’s not gentlemanly of you at all,” he said with a small grin. It was hypocritical, but it wasn’t like they knew about it.

    He walked over to the door and heard voices inside as well. He was surprised to hear Kalros’ voice. It looks like Melanie was the popular one in the group. And while he was curious about their conversation, it probably wouldn’t be wise for them to stay out in the hallway and draw too much attention. He gave Brask a slightly apologetic look, and then he knocked on the door.

    “Melannie?” he called out as he entered her room - which would probably get quite crowded with all of them in. “And probably the rest of you too,” he said, turning to the others that were gathered in the room. He also made sure that the door to her room was closed. And locked.

    He raised his omni-tool. “There are…a few things that we might want to know,” he told them, informing them a few things. Not everything - definitely not the part about Elkoss having a way to off them if anything happened - but definitely about the biotic-way the ones in Fafnir Station were killed.

    And that what they were trying to get is not only valuable, most definitely very…VERY…illegal.
    There are stories made from the imagination. There are stories born from experience.
    There are stories told because of a need to be filled. There are stories that simply need to be told.
    This is one of them.


    “Maybe there really is a method to his madness…or maybe he’s just plain insane."
    Chapter 3: Act III is out and posted!


  17. #67
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    Kalros

    The armored krogan stepped into the tight quarters for some privacy, letting the door sliding shut behind her. Kalros remained standing, keeping a comfortable distance between her and the human biotic. She leaned against the metal walls to appear more relax with her arms crossed in front.

    “Um, biotic abilities?” she murmured. “I'm mostly about protecting things, I can throw stuff, put up a barrier, and stasis enemies.” She paused.

    The female krogan mulled over several possibilities in combining their various biotics. Her initial training centuries ago had been with another krogan of similar abilities to her own. A ghost of a smile crossed her face remembering the battlemaster's endless frustration to answer her pestering questions regarding the finer points and nuances for biotic manipulations. She'd left him without words on more than one occasion.

    Jahara closed her blue eyes, unseen under the helmet, momentarily with a painful throb in her chest from the sudden resurgence of memories involving Khax. Drawing a deep calming breath, the biotic krogan pushed aside the old feelings and straighten her posture to focus more on the present.

    “How about you?”


    “Spatial distortions and kinetic fields,” Kalros replied back with the nature of her biotics. “I can create pin-point spatial distortions to warp and damage armor. My kinetic fields generate explosive shockwaves, especially effective on immobilized or airborne targets.” The krogan biotic gestured a three-fingered hand towards Melanie to indicate a possible co-op strategy with her throw and stasis abilities. “Both abilities are rather destructive, especially if used in tandem. Normal krogan standard,” Kalros's sarcasm managed to leak through the voice synthesisor, though her words also betrayed her level of skill in using two different abilities in rapid succession.

    Melanie interrupted her before she could continue.

    And, sorry if this intrusive, but why are you here? Why'd you decide to accept this job?”

    The abrupt inquiry startled Kalros with it's straightforwardness. Briefly choosing to ignore the personal question, the krogan held this female human with a steady gaze. She was reminded again of the spunky child, Ashlynn, back at the monastery. The comparison was startling similar if one took into account for the difference of years. Truthfully, this human, Melanie still seemed quite young, but carried carried herself with a maturity of a difficult life forced upon her. Oddly enough, Jahara flashed back to her own young adult years with a bitter embrace.

    Deactivating the voice modulator, Jahara spoke in low cryptic whisper, “Sometimes, you do what you must for those you are responsible for.”

    Not so-subtle movement outside in the hallway caught her attention, snapping her helm towards the doorway and turning the voice modulator back on.

    “Spying, Brask?” A muffled voice carried through the door, clearly belonging to the other human on their team. Kalros suddenly tensed with her hands curling into tight fists. She all but punched the holographic button at her side to open the door just as Askari knocked.

    The armored krogan stared hard at the male krogan in the hallway, ignoring Askari as he stepped into the quarters around her to address Melanie. “And probably the rest of you as well.”

    It was a bit of a mad swarm of bodies to get everyone situated in the tight quarters to be able to close the door. Tight quarters with two armored up krogan. Much to Jahara's immense displeasure she got squished next to Brask. She jabbed an armored elbow not-so-gently into the younger male's side to give her space that simply didn't exist at that moment. Kalros snarled threateningly at him in case he objected.

    “There are...a few things that we might want to know.” Askari's statement distracted Kalros from her current predicament. Her frown deepen as the human sniper described the way several of the guards may have perished from biotic manipulation and how that knowledge was kept from them. The mission she'd signed on for was becoming increasingly dangerous with the obviously illegal objective they were hired to recover. Jahara had a very good idea that Askari wasn't informing them of everything he'd learn, she could guess very well herself. Right now, the assembled team could only really trust each other to watch their back in case the mission went south. Even that was putting a lot of assumptions that none of them were infiltrators to deepen the ruse. They had no idea whether the rest of the ship's crew was aware of the deception or not.

    “I'll deal with them,” Kalros spoke up, reluctantly volunteering to go into a direct and open confrontation with other biotics rather than a last resort. “Should we encounter biotics direct them my way and I'll keep their attention off the team.” Mentioning the possibility of Melanie and her joining biotic barriers for a strong defensive measure didn't cross her mind. With the growing danger of their employer turning on them, Jahara automatically leaned on her own abilities to prevail when sh*t hit the fan.

    She'd lost count how many times she'd been in similar situations.
    Last edited by Solsabre; 20th March 2017 at 3:04 AM.
    Anything is possible...apart from skiing through a revolving door.

    Image Credit goes to Kamotz

  18. #68
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    2,533

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    Melanie nodded as Kalros explained the nature of her abilities, seeing the more offensive focus of the krogan's biotic powers. That was understandable. Krogan didn't tend to think of defense and her few encounters with krogan biotics on Omega had shown her how fearsome and destructive they could be. Then her second question seemed to puncture Kalros' calmness, for the krogan did not speak for some time.

    “Sometimes, you do what you must for those you are responsible for.”
    Melanie blinked in shock at the unmodulated, feminine voice that spoke the words. "Those you are responsible for...?" she thought, opening her mouth to ask what Kalros meant. This krogan only grew more mysterious by the moment. She had had the measure of Brask quickly, Keelo and Domitian too, but other members of the group were still enigmas and Kalros most of all. Melanie didn't even know what she truly looked like.

    Before her question could be voiced, Askari's voice came to puncture the moment like a pin bursting a balloon.

    “Spying, Brask?”

    "What?" Melanie muttered, turning her gaze to the door even as Kalros opened it with a hammered fist into the control. As Askari entered, his gaze was fixed on her and it was her he addressed first. Why her? He didn't know her and she didn't know him. They'd barely even talked, if at all.

    Then her room was crowded by herself, Kalros, Askari, Keelo and Brask. In fact, crowded was a word incapable of accurately describing how cramped and claustrophobic the space became. Squashed against her bed with Keelo on one side, Askari on the other and the two krogan consuming the remaining space, Melanie found herself wondering if the ship's atmosphere could remain breathable with five people in so small a space. Kalros and Brask were competing for space, she noticed as she glanced around.


    “There are...a few things that we might want to know.” Askari's voice brought her gaze back to him and she listened as he outlined what she presumed he had found via some creative play with the ship's systems. Elkoss had dossiers detailing each of them, that came as little surprise, though she wondered how deep their research into her went and if they knew about Cerberus. Several of the facility guards had died of high impact trauma, consistent with the result of biotic throws, suggesting that their unknown quarry had access to biotic abilities. That the item they were after was illegal enough for concerns to be voiced about the Council interfering, however, was both shocking and enlightening.

    Melanie was silent as he finished, processing what he had just told them. The mission had suddenly become a lot more murky and complicated.

    "I'll deal with them," Kalros offered, first to speak. “Should we encounter biotics direct them my way and I'll keep their attention off the team.”

    "I'm concerned about the biotics," Melanie said. "But the other stuff too. What the hell are we searching for, exactly? What could be worth this much?" She couldn't imagine what kind of R&D project would be worth so much effort, both to steal and to retrieve. New weapons technology, perhaps? Some kind of superweapon developed in hiding for fear of provoking the Council's wrath and a turian fleet to reduce the facility to glass from above? A bioweapon of some kind? Or something more insidious. Maybe Elkoss had been developing AI in secret and feared the violent response should the experiment come to light. AI was a taboo subject in both Citadel Space and the Terminus Systems, one of the few laws the lawless stars had. No one wanted to see a re-enactment of the geth rising against the quarians. No matter what, it was clear that Hec Brann had revealed far less than he knew, and now they were chasing something dangerous.

    "What have we signed up for?" she wondered aloud, a bitter edge sharpening her tone, before she regarded the group. "Askari, have you told Domitian, Cog and Roshiovis about this? And was there anything else, anything that might tell us more about the group we're chasing or what they stole or what Elkoss has in mind?"

    It reminded her of Omega in the early days, when she didn't know anything and every shadow was dangerous and everyone's face was a mask. She'd struggled to survive then, unsure which people would give her a helping hand and which would shiv her when her back was turned, drug her into submission and use her, or worse. But she had been hardened and sharpened to an edge by that experience, and this time she wouldn't be unprepared. She already suspected that there was more that Askari wasn't saying, perhaps because he didn't fully trust them (though she noted by the absence of the other three of their group that either he couldn't find them on the way to her or that he didn't trust them at all) or because he didn't want to worry them. She could make a stab in the dark at it, perhaps that their employer's motives were less than innocent or that there was something else about the group they were pursuing, or some hint about the nature of the stolen item which would cause problems if he revealed it. She didn't know what it was exactly, but Omega had taught her to read into what people didn't say as much as what they did, and she knew he was hiding at least one thing from them.

    She waited for him to respond and for the others to offer their insight, in case something they said helped her understand the mysteries now surrounding them like shadows.

    ----

    "Approaching system relay," Yulik's voice chattered over the intercom. "All crew prepare for jump to Sigurd's Cradle relay."

    Domitian stopped, regarding the stars through the viewing port of the vessel's starboard gallery. The galleries gazed into the void through small windows, allowing troops to observe conditions beyond the ship's armored shell. At least, originally that had been the purpose of the port and starboard galleries. Now they were empty, save for when the crew of the Shanxi wished to stare into the abyss.

    The mass relay hung in space, its element zero core blazing like an eternal torch of blue fire. The relays were ancient and enigmatic, their secrets untouched despite century on century of study by the civilisations of the galaxy. Many believed the protheans had built them long ago, a network which could instantaneously move ships, cargo and passengers vast distances across the stars, others believing the relays outlived even the protheans. Recently some whispered of dark, cold horrors clawing their way through the relays from the dark between galaxies. Domitian laughed at such tales. In his eyes, the relays were but mysterious tools. Without them, it was a cold simple fact that interstellar civilisation could not exist. The distances between solar systems were insurmountable without them. He had heard mutterings of an expedition beyond the galaxy, an attempt to colonise another galaxy by dispatching a ship with a frozen crew. Madness. Surely without the power of the relays, such a journey would take decades, centuries, perhaps even more.

    He was brought from his thoughts by Yulik's voice. "Three... two... one!"

    Domitian had closed his eyes before the ship hit the relay. One did not simply stare into space during a jump, though whether because of the blinding glow of the relay's core at close distance or the jarring impact of a different starfield replacing the current one in an instant was never clear. Regardless, when he opened them several seconds after Yulik finished speaking and after he felt the violent shudder of the jump subside, the stars were different and a sun now burned in his view. They had leapt across a distance which would normally take years and years to traverse in less than a second.

    "Arrival in Sigurd's Cradle cluster confirmed," Yulik chattered. "Now proceeding to Fafnir Station. Expect arrival within six hours." Domitian's mandibles twitched in amusement at that. Given the vast distances in space, a six hour arrival time was nothing short of incredible.

    He turned and left the gallery, bored with the silence and hoping to find someone interesting to test his wordplay.
    I walk the shadowed path.

  19. #69
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    3,383

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    After spending a few hours helping the crew of the Shanxi, Keelo began to retire to his room for a rest. He figured that he might as well have a nap to regenerate and maybe play some games on his omni-tool as a means of passing the time until they get to Sigurd's Cradle.

    He walked down the sterile corridor of the ship towards the living quarters. With the exception of the occasional passing crew member, this part of the ship was fairly quiet and tranquil by Keelo's standards. He was used to the crowded, claustrophobic ships of the Flotilla and the bustle of Tayseri Ward. He enjoyed the peace for a change.

    This was interrupted when he turned a corner and collided into a familiar teammate of his. "Oh! Sorry," Keelo quickly uttered, stepping back from Askari.

    “Ooops, sorry there…Keelo’Zannen nar Rayya. Being a helpful busybody, I see. That’s really kind of you,” he told him with a nod, speaking honestly, if not oddly. “I like to keep busy myself, but probably not the way you do,” he added with a grin and a wink.
    Keelo wasn't really sure what he meant by that. "I just like to do what I can to help. I want to make sure that I pull my weight," he insisted.

    “But I must say, winning a marksmanship contest on your first time… That’s impressive~ It’s real sad shame you didn’t join in on our…little contest back in the hangar, but I’m sure we’ll get to see you use those surprising skills of yours eventually,” he told him, patting his holstered gun on his side.
    Keelo leveled a stare of shock at Askari. How did he know about that? Did he see him on the news or on the extranet? He didn't think that it was an accomplishment that would be widely known, but he supposed that that was how Elkoss Combine found him, so perhaps somebody on the crew told him.

    The quarian felt a bit embarrassed. He was about to open his mouth to respond, but he was interrupted when Ask leaned in conspiratorially.

    “Actually, Keelo, could you come with me?”
    "Um..."

    -

    Keelo found himself following Askari to Melanie's room. He wasn't sure what he wanted with either of them, but he knew he was about to find out.

    To the quarian's surprise, he saw Brask lingering outside of Melanie's room, listening to the conversation of two familiar voices. Keelo felt it was a bit impolite, but he didn't say so.

    “Spying, Brask?” Ask called out as he approached Melanie’s room with Keelo in tow. “That’s not gentlemanly of you at all,” he said with a small grin.
    Brask tensed up for a moment and spun around with a scowl, knowing the two females inside heard that. "I was just on my way to my room, actually," he responded matter-of-factly.

    Askari knocked on the door and revealed that he had some information that he wanted to share with them.

    Brask heard a loud thump inside of the room. The door opened to reveal an utterly peeved Kalros glaring at him.

    "Yup, she definitely heard that," Brask thought to himself, walking in as casually as possible.

    The three guests all crowded into the small room and soon found that there wasn't a lot of space. Keelo ended up fitting on Melanie's bed along with her and Askari.

    Brask ended up pressed against Kalros - not an ideal situation for him, being in the personal space of an angry krogan female whose ire was directed at him. He let out a sharp grunt of pain when he felt her drive her elbow into his side. "Ow! Hey!" Brask protested angrily, trying to move away from her but finding himself unable to thanks to the closed door. He released a low rumble in his throat.

    He folded his arms and suffered the situation as he listened to Askari describe what he had found. He was a bit sceptical about working with a hacker, but, in this case, the information Askari found was useful to him. It didn't do anything to quell his doubts and uneasiness though.

    "I'm concerned about the biotics," Melanie said. "But the other stuff too. What the hell are we searching for, exactly? What could be worth this much?"
    "I have no idea..." Keelo said, frowning as he processed the information. "Illegal technology, maybe? If they are keeping it from the Citadel, then it must be something that goes against Citadel law. No wonder the facility was out in the Terminus Systems..." the quarian mused. "And if they don't want rivals finding out, then it must be some sort of prototype technology that Elkoss Combine doesn't want rival defence firms replicating. They must be worried about industrial espionage..."

    At these revelations, Keelo couldn't help but feel his curiosity swell inside of him. As the mystery deepened, he wanted more and more to find out what they were searching for. "I wonder what it could be..." he murmured.

    "All I know is it's something big and important," Brask explained. "If the Citadel and Spectres start to get involved, then..." He shook his head. "Who knows? All I know is that Elkoss is holding out on us. I don't like going into jobs blind."

    Before Brask could continue, the intercom sounded and grabbed the crew's attention.

    "Approaching system relay," Yulik's voice chattered over the intercom. "All crew prepare for jump to Sigurd's Cradle relay."
    Brask heard the salarian's swift-speaking voice and decided that he didn't want to be in this cramped room when they went through the mass relay. He figured that, between him and Kalros, they'd end up crushing the three smaller aliens to death.

    The krogan turned and pressed his hand on the button that opened the door. "Thanks for the heads up. I'm goin' to my room to prepare for the jump," he informed the other four.

    Brask turned his head and looked at Kalros. "If I were you, I'd make sure to tell your turian brat about what Ask showed us," he suggested. Frowning, Brask turned forwards and walked through the doorway. "It's just better to have our team be prepared."

    Keelo nodded. "Melanie's right. Maybe you should tell Cogwedj and Domitian as well. Thank you for telling us, by the way," he said to Askari as he stood up. Keelo smiled and nodded at Melanie and Kalros. "I'm going to prepare for our jump too. See you in the Sigurd's Cradle cluster. Keelah se'lai."

    The green-garbed quarian walked out of his room and made his way to his own room. He wondered if, if they managed to obtain the stolen technology at Fafnir Station, they would be able to have a look at it before handing it over to Elkoss Combine...

    Meanwhile, Brask sat on his bed and prepared for the mass relay jump. He heard Yulik's voice over the intercom, his high, nasal voice counting down. Brask kept one hand on the wall of his room and the other on the edge of his bed as the salarian hit one. Suddenly there was a sharp and violent shake through the ship as they jumped through space. Brask jerked forwards slightly but kept himself standing.

    The krogan smirked a bit as the ship stabilized. He stood to his feet and activated his omni-tool. All that was left was waiting to arrive at Fafnir Station.

    Brask decided to pass the time as he waited, as there wasn't much else he could do to prepare at this point.

    "Almost time for some action...
    Claimed: Grovyle - November 10th, 2013
    Completed.

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