(Continued from Part 1)
They all turned at once, alerted by the sound of the opening hatch. Hammer almost laughed at the expression of surprise and terror on their faces. He headbutted the one in the middle, knocking the human senseless. The one on the left, another human, was flung across to a bulkhead with a powerful swing. He crumpled. Without pausing, he shoved the butt of his shotgun into the midsection of the batarian on his right. There was an audible “Oof” as his breath left him and he doubled over. Or at least he tried to; the butt of hammer’s weapon caught his chin on the way down. All three guards were unconscious in less than two seconds. Hammer would have congratulated himself if he hadn’t noticed the “sun” tattoo of on the batarian’s neck. “Shit!” he muttered before transmitting to his team “Secondary team, listen up. They’ve got Blue Suns onboard.”
“Blue Suns?” it was Shrike who replied. “That means….”
“Yeah.” Said Hammer, his blood singing as he ran. “Cheer up asari, you get to earn your creds today.” He had to get to that drive quick. Luckily he encountered no further resistance. Within seconds, he was at the drive itself. He had Whisper aimed and ready as the doors opened. His luck held as he quickly scanned the people inside. Five engineers, all unarmed. No mercs. Hammer wasted no time.
“Anyone runs, I blow them to bits.” with his weapon, he pointed to a bulkhead to his far right. “All of you line up there.” Legs shaking, the engineers meekly complied. Hammer quickly placed his remaining charges on key locations around the drive. With that done, he looked at the terrified engineers with a wolfish grin. “This would be the part where you cover your ears.”
The engineers didn’t have to be told twice, they knew exactly what was coming. With a click of a button, Hammer blew the charges, the resulting blast, albeit loud, was contained. Hammer took a quick look. Satisfied with what he saw he spoke “FTL drive neutralized. She’s not going anywhere now.” Before walking out, he looked back at the engineers, “If you want to keep breathing, stay here and don’t do anything stupid.” With that he ran out. Even if the engineers tried to repair the damage, it would take hours; he and his team would be long gone by then. For now, he needed to get to the docking bay.
“Secondary team report.” Said Hammer.
“Three minutes out. Slim, how are those controls looking?” asked Fuse.
“Hacking in even as we speak.” Replied the human, “I should have the bay doors open before you get there.”
On the Dovantiz, Hammer was now beginning to worry. He should have encountered at least a token amount of resistance. So far, there was none. This could only mean one thing. Hoping he was wrong, he ran on towards the docking area. As soon as he entered the space, his suspicions were confirmed.
“SLIM!” he shouted into his helmet as he ducked to avoid rifle fire. “Do NOT open those doors. They have a hell of a welcoming committee waiting.” He scrambled desperately for some secured crates stowed under protective netting to the left of the docking bay.
“Understood Hammer. I should have control in another minute but I’ll keep the doors shut. Fuse, you better slow down.”
“Understood.” Fuse acknowledged “What sort of resistance are we looking at Hammer?”
The krogan risked a quick look from behind cover. He earned a hail of rifle fire for his trouble. “Damn Blue Suns” he cursed as one of the shots bounced off his helmet’s shields. He ducked and rolled to his right. Although technically a private security firm, the Blue Suns were widely recognized as mercenaries. Mercenaries with a reputation for ruthless efficiency. Thorough professionals, they knew any serious attempt to hijack the ship could only be successful by a boarding party. So they concentrated their forces in the one area where such a thing was possible.
“I count twelve mercs, two with rocket launchers positioned around the bay door.” Said Hammer as he returned fire. His target, a batarian he noted, rolled to his left, easily dodging the shotgun’s blast. Though devastating in close quarters, Whisper was not the most accurate weapon at long range.
“That’s not so bad. If you take out the guys with the rockets the shuttle can approach. It will be a little risky but…”
“I wasn’t done. These are Blue Suns remember?” He ducked again and tried to figure out his next move. Already three of the mercs were repositioning, no doubt in an effort to flush him out. “And what do Blue Suns love above all?”
Fuse’s reply was a groan. “Mechs.”
“Exactly.” Hammer said “Big ones. You’ve got two YMIR heavy mechs aiming their weapons right at the door. The second they open, your shuttle is toast.”
“That’s the least of your worries krogan” Hammer froze for what seemed like an eternity. The unknown feminine voice that spoke was coming in through his helmets comm unit which meant-
“Son of a bitch!” Slim exclaimed. “The bastards have our frequency! They’ve been listening in the entire time!”
“Indeed we have” the voice continued “Your little hijack attempt just died… Hammer? Is it?”
“Yeah? Well I’m still breathing.” Growled the krogan.
“Bravado. A typical krogan response.” The voice carried a hint of boredom “Admirable ofcourse, but in this case, suicidal. There are three highly trained individuals with grenades closing in on your position. Another one is aiming a rocket launcher directly at those crates you hide behind. Oh and by the way, I know you are a krogan Battlemaster. As a fellow biotic, I can sense your powers aren’t enough to neutralize all of us. So please don’t try. You situation is untenable krogan. I’m going to give you three seconds to surrender. Starting now. One, two-”
“Fine.” Said Hammer as he got up, he had already secured Whisper across his back before doing so.
“Excellent” the voice continued. Hammer realized he was talking to an asari, one that now confidently began walking up to him with her heavy pistol drawn. She wasn’t lying about the three mercs either. All three had their weapons aimed squarely at his head. The situation, he realized really was untenable. The asari spoke again “Normally I’d ask you to hand over your weapon but seeing as how no one on my team is a seven foot reptile, you can keep yours. Make a move however, and you know what happens next.”
“Mighty kind of you asari.” Said Hammer sardonically, “Though I doubt you are as smart as you’d like us to believe. Had you known we were coming, that access hatch would have been trapped and ready to blow up in my face the second I touched it. That means you only hacked into our frequency a short time ago.”
The asari laughed “Still using that reptilian brain of yours Hammer? I wouldn’t bother. We wanted you alive. More importantly, we wanted to know who hired you.”
“Maybe,” Nodded Hammer, eyeing the hulking YMIRs. Their imposing frames dominated the scene and he noted how both of them had now turned in his direction. Armed with rockets and twin atomic mass accelerators on their arms, those humanoid mechs would vaporize him in the blink of an eye. “But even if that was true, I doubt you’d let me disable the FTL drive. So no, you didn’t know.”
“Regardless” said the asari in an irritated tone. “Here you stand. With enough firepower pointing in your direction to level a building.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” said Hammer with a smile, “I’m flattered that you have those mechs pointing at me rather than the door.”
“I grow tired of this pointless exchange” said the asari angrily “Tell your team to stand down krogan. Or I WILL order those mechs to vaporize you where you stand.”
“Infact,” continued the krogan, as if he didn’t hear the asari at all “I think your confidence may have been premature. Why else would all of you be standing here with no mag boots.”
“I don’t know what you are playing at krogan,” said the asari with increased irritation, “but there was no way those doors were ever going to open. Now, for the last time, order your team to surrender.”
Hammer sighed “It’s not your fault asari. It sometimes takes more courage than brains to do things with subtlety. You know? The right way?”
“What the hell are you going on about? What way?” Asked the asari angrily.
For as long as Hammer would live, he would remember the look of sheer bewilderment on the asari’s face as Fuse’s voice cut through the comm channel. “The krogan way you Blue Sun bitch!”
With that, the shuttle crashed through the bulkhead.
There was an unnatural roar of metal tearing metal as the small craft, the front of which was lined with the faint glow of biotic energy (undoubtedly Shrike’s doing), tore into the hull like a greased bullet. It hardly slowed as it crushed one of the mechs to pulp. Barely had the Blue Suns registered what had happened that the air in the bay was violently sucked out. The mercs quickly followed suit. The asari, finally realizing the hopelessness of the situation, screamed as she desperately clawed at the deck in an effort to slow her inescapable fate. Hammer didn’t waste time seeing her die and was only vaguely aware of how her screams were muted in seconds as the entire bay depressurized.
Keeping his wits about him, he fired up his biotic charge and rushed right into the back of the other, still operational mech. Just as he came to a stop, Hammer fired his wrist harpoon into the deck of the bay even as he used his left hand to grab Whisper. He brought it to bear just in time. The shuttle had now crashed to a stop and the mech, slowly turned towards it. Even though he was tethered to the deck at a ridiculous angle, his feet being pulled towards the gaping maw that was the hull breach, it was impossible for Whisper to miss at point blank range. He wasted no time in firing a number of devastating shots into the mech, tearing a large hole through its control unit. Now just another piece of floating debris, it too joined the ill-fated mercs in the emptiness of space.
It was all over in seconds. With the air now completely gone from the docking bay, an eerie silence fell upon the scene. Once again, Hammer was acutely aware of his own breathing.
“Somebody better say something before I think you all are dead.” Slim’s voice was music to Hammer’s ears.
“Hammer here. I’m alright.”
“Fuse here. Still operational.”
“Shrike. Nursing the mother of all headaches but alive.”
“Ion. Alive but a little disappointed that there’s no one left to kill.”
“We are not done yet.” Said Hammer, “The cargo still needs to be secured. Fuse, come with me. You two go up to the bridge and pay the captain a visit. Once you are there, tell him I am very ,very upset.”
The next few minutes were relatively uneventful. As expected, there were no more mercs on board and what little token resistance the ship’s crew tried to put up was quickly neutralized. The sight of their dead crewmates quickly took the fight out the surviving personnel and the captain surrendered without a word.
Hammer spent some time talking to Fuse as they walked up to the cargo decks. With the hull being breached, it took a few minutes for Slim to override the emergency doors leading deeper into the freighter. Once they were in the interior of the Dovantiz, Hammer retracted his helmet visor and looked at Fuse. “You saved my hide today salarian.” He said.
Fuse looked at the Krogan, the two of them looking a little ridiculous walking side by side. Hammer was big, even for a krogan. While Fuse was slim and lithe, even by the diminutive standards of his species. They walked in silence for a moment, the salarian unsure of how to respond. In the end he merely shrugged. “Just doing my job.” he said.
“You and I both know there was no reason for you to risk your neck once I surrendered. What changed your mind?” asked Hammer.
The salarian shrugged again “You don’t strike me as the chatty type. So when you kept talking and describing your surroundings to the asari, I figured your reasons were tactical. The second you mentioned the mechs weren’t aiming at the door and that none of the Suns had mag boots, I knew you were expecting us to breach. Besides, we still had a mission to complete.”
“Hoping.” Corrected the Krogan, “Not expecting. But even so, I wouldn’t be wasting by breath if there wasn’t an ex STG piloting that shuttle.”
Fuse was taken aback by that. “You knew?” he asked, his surprise clearly showing in his large oval eyes.
“I suspected. Those charges you made were perfect, precision like that only comes with military training. But it’s that line you just mentioned, the whole “mission” thing. Coupled with your no nonsense attitude, and the fact that you have a quad, it’s pretty much a dead giveaway.” He smiled then “The Salarian Special Tasks Group does have a reputation after all.”
“Those days are behind me Hammer.” Said the salarian, with hint of bitterness that the krogan immediately picked up on.
“I’m not going to pry. You have secrets. I can respect that. But after what you did for me back there, there is little reason for me to keep one of mine.” With that he held out his hand “Wrex. Of clan Urdnot”
“Ruben Wiks” said the salarian as he shook the Krogan’s hand, his palm completely disappearing in Wrex’s.
The krogan nodded, a fierce nod that somehow seemed fitting to Ruben. He then stopped at a door.
“Well,” he said, “here we are. Cargo bay 32 A. Ready to complete this mission Wiks?”
Ruben nodded, “Indeed.”
Wrex operated the controls, the door promptly opened with a quite hiss. Before either of them could congratulate themselves, Slim’s voice interrupted them. “Err. Guys? I don’t know how to tell you this but…we’ve got company.”
“Blue Suns?” asked Wrex with concern.
“This is the battle cruiser Providence. Congratulations to you and your team on a job well done Hammer. Please prepare the Dovantiz for boarding.” The speaker’s voice made it clear that it was not a request.
“How the hell did they get to us so fast?” said Wrex angrily.
“I know of the Providence” said Ruben “it’s a Turian cruiser. Probably had a tracker on us.”
“I don’t like this.” Wrex complained.
“Wouldn’t be the first time the boss has pulled a surprise like this. I wouldn’t worry about it.” said the salarian.
“He’s done this before?” inquired Wrex.
“Ion mentioned it a couple of days ago. Said he does it to make sure people do their jobs right. Not that he shows up personally. I don’t mind actually, we do have free reign on how to conduct ourselves, no interference. And in return he pulls one of these.” Ruben smiled then, “Come to think of it, it’s sort of how the STG operated. I like to think of this as a surprise inspection.”
Wrex scowled at that, “I still don’t like it.” He stepped into the cargo bay. “But, speaking of Ion..” he transmitted a message across to the batarian “How’s the sweep going?”
“No problems here. Though once again, I am disappointed.” Replied Ion.
“Well, this is the biggest freighter we’ve ever hijacked. The whole op was risky even without the Blue Suns. I would have thought there’d be something onboard to justify the risk. But so far all I’m seeing is food and medical supplies.” Replied Ion.
“Well keep looking. There’s bound to be something more.” Said Wrex.
I wasn’t long before the landing party was on board. Ion’s misgivings about the value of cargo proved to be well founded. There really seemed to be nothing particularly valuable about the Dovantiz’s haul. Wrex’s unease began to grow. Leaving Ruben at 32A, he took to searching through the bodies of the ones they had killed. He was rummaging through the pockets of one such body when the Providence’s complement arrived. It was led by a Turian and Wrex knew immediately that this was the boss himself. He carried himself as such, someone who was used to giving orders and expected complete obedience. He was flanked by six mercenaries. One look at the turian set Wrex’s nerves on edge. On the surface, there was nothing special about him. He seemed typical of the his species, six feet tall with taloned hands and avian like features with a set of mandibles around the mouth. But there was something… disturbing about this one’s eyes. He seemed to look through everyone and everything around him, as if he was walking in a dream. Yet his movements were precise and almost predator like.
“Nice seeing you again Saren” greeted Ion. Wrex had not noticed the batarian’s arrival.
The turian walked on without responding. It was almost as if he didn’t even see him. Without pause, he and his entourage entered the cargo bay. Once inside, the mercs with Saren immediately began scanning the containers present. Saren watched them work wordlessly, his hands behind his back as he walked around the hold. Wrex began to feel more uneasy with every second.
One of the mercs, a human, spoke up then, breaking Wrex’s chain of thought. “ We’ll take it from here. You can loot whatever you want for the next two hours. After that you are to return to your ship and proceed to Omega. Get to “Afterlife”, the club. There, you will be paid what is due.”
Wrex nodded, without taking his eyes off Saren. Against his better judgment, he asked “What the hell is in those crates anyway?”
Hearing that, Saren turned towards the krogan, staring at him with those dead eyes. Wrex felt a chill run through him. “That,” replied the human, “is none of your business.”
“Of course.” Said Wrex, “Just curious. I’ll see you guys on Omega.” With that he turned and started making his way to the docking bay. Although Wrex couldn’t see him, he felt Saren’s icy gaze on his back the entire time.
Wrex waited impatiently at his table, his back to the corner, just another face in a myriad of faces in the club. Not that anyone cared to look. The “Singularity” wasn’t the classiest of establishments and a wayward stare was usually enough to spark an altercation. But such was usually the way on most mining asteroids.
He sat facing the entrance, lazily scanning the crowd and keeping an eye on only other exit, far to his right. Though he’d ordered a number of drinks, he kept pouring them into one of the artificial plants that lined the wall behind him.
It had been a month since the Dovantiz job and even though he’d gone to Omega along with the others, he had quickly excused himself and hitched a ride on the first ship departing it. Every instinct he had told him to get away from Saren and his crew. And that’s exactly what he did.
He spilled some of drink he held, feigning the first signs of inebriation as he continued to watch the crowd. Humans, salarians, krogans, volus, turians all congregating in a shady bar after a day spent mining. If there was a lesson in there somewhere, Wrex was in no mood to ponder it. His reasons for coming here were very specific.
He felt rather than saw the human that approached from his right. Without a word, the man sat in the chair next to the krogan.
“You’re late.” Observed Wrex.
The human, dressed in the garb of a miner, with a light layer of dust on his brown overalls, shrugged “Your instructions were to be discreet. Discretion takes time.”
“Time and a whole lot of credits” growled the krogan. “And I’m running low on both. For your sake, I hope your “services” were worth it.”
The human smiled. “Not a very wise thing to do, threatening an agent of the Shadowbroker. Still, you are a client so we shall let that pass.” He then reached into his pocket, noting how the krogan watched his hands very closely as he did, and handed him a data pad. “As you requested. Information on the individuals whose names you provided.”
Wrex took the pad and began reading. He swiped the screen a few times and the human saw the krogans shoulders sag.
“All four of them?” asked Wrex quietly.
The human nodded “All dead within a week of arriving on Omega. The batarian was killed in a barroom brawl. The asari suffered a fatal aneurysm inked to her usage of biotics, very unusual for an asari. The human was involved some shady arms deal that went bad and the salarian? He was just unlucky.”
“Explain.” Said Wrex.
The agent pretended not to notice the anger in Wrex’s voice. “Caught in the crossfire of a battle between rival street gangs. Three shots to the head. ”
Wrex looked at the datapad, his anger growing. For a moment, the human though he would fling the datapad across the club. After what seemed like an eternity, he took a deep breath. “And the Turian?”
“Ah yes. Frankly, I was surprised to find his name on the list, seeing as you could have just typed his name into any extranet terminal and gotten everything on him.”
The krogan looked at him blankly.
“Wow” said the human “You really don’t know do you? The turian is a Spectre by the name of Saren Arterius. The longest serving Spectre in history too. A bit of a hero among his people to be honest.”
Wrex glared at him.
“But I can see that you are not a fan. Anyway, not much to add apart from what I just said. He’s a Spectre, goes around the galaxy doing whatever the council doesn’t have the stomach to do itself. Present location unknown.”
Wrex looked back to the datapad. His fingers swiped back a couple of screens, settling on what the human clearly saw was a picture of a salarian face down in a pool of blood. For a moment, they sat in relative silence as the noise of the club enveloped them. Finally, realizing that the krogan was unlikely to say much more, the human got up and beagn to walk out.
“Oh, by the way,” he turned back to Wrex “Not that you asked for this but the salarian has a brother. Goes by the name Padok. Details are on the pad.” He then turned and walked away, disappearing into the crowd.
After a long while, Wrex put down the pad. Picking up one of the drinks he had ordered, he downed it in one gulp.
“Saren.” He spat.
He would remember the name.
[Author’s note: Chances are that if you have bothered to read through this little piece of fan fiction, you already know its inspired by Bioware’s “Mass Effect” video game franchise. This whole thing was triggered by a little bit of dialogue I came across on my first playthrough of Mass Effect 1. I could not help but think about how Wrex’s encounter with Saren would have gone. The basics of the plot were already there, I just had to fill in the blanks. I’d like to think that I succeeded in that endeavor. Writing this was a whole lot easier than editing it. The original draft was about twice as long. I ended up having to cut out a lot in order to keep this from becoming ridiculously wordy. As a result, a lot of descriptive text had to go. I took the liberty of assuming that anyone interested in the story already knows what an asari looks like for example. I especially liked the idea of giving Ruben the family name of Wiks. That sort of ties into something major that happens in Mass Effect 3. Bonus points for guessing what that is ;)]