Monday, June 26, 2017

Multiverse Desperado: A JumpChain Fiction Chapter 15

Chapter 15: Getting Pulled Back In
Of all the ways Commander Shepard could have returned in my life it just had to be with me behind a desk of a major office in an executive dress, mouth full of spicy veggies and local protein looking like a deer in headlights. I honestly didn't know whether or not to finish my mouthful or let it flop out with indignity.

Unfortunately my brain didn't get the memo to my mouth fast enough.

“What the hell are you doing here?!” I blurted out, sending out masticated chunks of lunch.

Shepard flashed a smile and sat down at my desk, in full armor nonetheless, and responded, “I'm here to discuss a new major development that you want to be a part of.”

I quickly wiped my mouth with a napkin and hailed Erika to hold my calls and appointments, mentioning I was being questioned by a Spectre. I then flashed my most practiced toothy smile and started fiddling with my Omni-Tool under the desk.

“Commander Shepard, hero of the battle of the Citadel, what ever could bring you all the way to Thessia just to see me? As you can see I'm a legitimate businesswoman now, my criminal past behind me-”

Then the cameras and audio recording equipment were de-activated.

“- and you have some nerve showing up after two years off the grid.” I snarled, letting my anger show.

“I thought you were dead! I thought you were captured! The Reapers are more than just geth and indoctrinated sleeper agents you know!” I blurted out.

“Glad to see the white collar life hasn't changed you that much, Variza,” Shepard commented, “that's exactly why I came to seek you out. I am looking for people to help me on a top-secret mission.”

And just like that, my corporate induced malaise evaporated, and with it my righteous indignation. That old rush of traveling the galaxy again, fighting for a new tomorrow overwhelmed me. The excitement. The rush. The terror. The danger. The fact that I nearly died on at least four separate occasions. The haunting visage of Saren's twisted metal maw as he put me on death's door with a single shot.

“Get somebody else.” I said after a few dozen heartbeats. “I'm no warrior, and I get a feeling I already know what the mission is so I can tell I'm not suited for it.”

“Variza, if what you told me so long ago is true, then I know you want to find some way to help the hundreds of human colonists that have gone missing by the Collectors.” Shepard remarked. “You still have some human pride right.”

He did have me there. The asari are some of the most empathic and caring people in the galaxy. But at the same time they take forever to do anything and think about long-term way too much. It's like being a chihuahua in a world of sloths. And the sloths run cable news and run the stock market.

“Yeah, but I also know my limitations.” I finally confessed. “That fight with Saren was a wake-up call. You, Garrus, Wrex, Tali. You guys are amazing, some of the biggest badasses around. I don't want to hamstring that kind of efficiency when we have trillions of lives at stake.”

“Which is why you won't be on the front lines.”

“Excuse me, what?”

Shepard got up from his chair and moved towards my window, taking in my view of the asari planet.

“First, let's evaluate the situation, including the details so we're on the same page.”

I shrugged while swiveling my chair to address him. “Of course. The devil's in the details as they say.”

“First, as of a few months ago, various human colonies have gone missing. Instances of communications going out, several hours of silence, then when a team goes in to investigate, no one is left. Like they just vanished.

“Then while I was investigating a report of a similar instance happening on the colony of Freedom's Progress, I bumped into a squad of quarians, a search party looking for a friend of theirs who was on the colony helping them with repairs of some kind. We found him locked down in a bunker with a lot of improvised traps and counter-measures. But it also gave us crucial information and confirmation of the threat to the Alliance and what had happened to the colonists”

“The Collectors.” I responded. Shepard simply pointed at me in confirmation.

“From there, we were able to determine that their ships have been going in and out of the Omega-4 relay, a Mass Relay in the network that no one dares to use. Anyone who does is never heard from again.”

“And in order to figure out what they're doing with the colonists you are assembling a crack team of the best scientists, engineers, soldiers, assassins, and pilots to go through the relay, see what the Collector's are doing and stop them.” I rushed out. “Yes, I am aware of how the script goes.”

Shepard then turned to me, his face like stone, “Then you should know that things have changed.”

I blinked several times and took some sips from my drink, hoping to drown my impatience.

“Please, enlighten me then. I have been out of the loop after all.” I said after several pensive swallows.

“What I didn't explain was that during my time on Freedom's Progress was there was a third party there, hostile to both my fireteam and the quarians. Cerberus.”

“That's a bit of a surprise. They've mostly been in the business of unethical experimentation and human supremacy nonsense.”

“Well they got some help. Apparently some of the technology obtained from Sovereign's remains got into Cerberus' hands. Whoever that fireteam was, they were good. Really good. Apparently they were after information about the Collectors as well, and were willing to put us down to get to it.”

“At least you put them down right?”I asked hopefully.

“No. We managed to pin them down but they got away with some well placed flashbangs. Whoever they are, they're still out there. Bolstered by reverse-engineered Reaper tech.”

I took several moments to mull this over.

“So you're still recruiting for your big suicide mission, but due to the interference of Cerberus, you can't be in two places at once. Which means you need my help for the recruitment procedure.”

“To go to places in the galaxy I can't, to convince the kind of people that won't listen to me.” Shepard added, a hint of relief in his tone.

“Why? The Council too worried about legal ramifications or war breaking out?” I sarcastically remarked.

“Actually, no. The Council is behind this mission completely. The problem is my new organization doesn't have enough agents to undertake such a mission. Which is why I'm recruiting your services.”

A new organization? I stared at him utterly puzzled. His expression turned to one of amusement.

“It's quite fitting considering Cerberus started as the Alliance's black ops organization before splintering off that we created a new version of it to fight them, don't you think?”

I couldn't help but laugh at the irony.

“Alright fine, Shepard. I'll help you recruit some crazy people for your big suicide mission. Forward the information to my account and I'll keep in touch with who I find and send them your way.”

Shepard gave a genuine smile after that. I rose to shake his hand and he made his way towards the exit.

“Just one more thing before you go.” I called out. He stopped at the threshold.

“With all the money the council is giving away with the Hephaestus Initiative to bring up arms development and you having their full support, why are you still low on supplies and recruits?”

Shepard turned to me and simply said, “Because they're too busy working on the Crucible project. It wasn't on Ilos, it was on Mars. You can thank Liara for the discovery.”

Then he left.

I slumped in my chair and finished my lunch. The closest thing to comfort I'm going to have for a long time.

The rest of my day went by in a haze. By the time I fully absorbed what I was about to undertake I was already at my elevator going back up to my penthouse. As per my ritual, I undid my high heels and slumped into the wall, just glad it was over.

Then the doors opened and instead of my usual welcoming abode of solitude, there was another asari in my bed. Spread out in luscious erotic glory like a pin-up girl in a dirty magazine. Her figure alluring in every way. The lights didn't full illuminate her face, but her voice came out like sweet honey.

“Hello stranger” she crooned, taking a moment to stretch her arms out, if only to arch her back and thrust out her chest.

I carefully kept my hand near my thigh holster and approached slowly.

“Hello yourself.” I responded back, looking around my apartment for signs of a struggle. Blast marks, cuts, broken glass. My eyes turned up with nothing. “I don't recall giving my number to anyone at a bar, miss. So forgive me if I'm not exactly running up to greet you.”

“Oh, I think this might clear that up.” she responded, her voice full of sultry temptation. She tapped my personal holo display on the bedside table and a recorded message came up.

“Hey boss, it's Erika. Listen, we here at the company really do appreciate what you do for us. Compared to other companies you've been generous with our health care packages and even took several pay cuts rather than downsizing. So we kind of chipped in and got you a little companion for the night. It wasn't exactly cheap, but you're worth it. Besides you clearly need a night to yourself. Hope you have fun Miss T'Som.”

The mysterious figure then sat up and started casually stripping. It looked like a tight leather outfit of some kind. It has been forever since I've been with someone....

I quickly scanned her with my Omni-Tool searching for weapons on her person. She came up clean.

“Are you done examining me Miss T'Som? I mean... you do have me for the entire night.” she added that last part with a kiss.

Sometimes I hate how my base needs destroy my logic. But screw it, it was my last night before another mission for Shepard and I was going to make the most of it.

It was within two minutes that I was under the sheets with her. Kissing and biting and cooing the entire time. But something wasn't right. Some harsh feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like being in a shark tank.

I pulled myself away from one of her forceful french kisses, her biting my lower lip with such force.

“Wait,” I gasped, “I'm a bit old-fashioned I mean...can I at least get your name?”

She gave me a wolfish smile as she threw me to the bed, holding my arms down with her wait and straddling me.

She then whispered in my ear, “Morinth.”

The bottom fell out of my stomach and my heart stopped.

The look she gave me was pure sadistic glee.

“The Shadow Broker says hello,” she moaned, her eyes turning to midnight black, “and good-bye.”

And then my body erupted into my flame and my brain was filled with acid.

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