The day when the Odyssey Expedition would finally depart had arrived, and it was met by a flurry of activity in and around the Bastion. Supply and cargo ships slipped in and out of the massive station, while nearby the massive personnel transports moved colonists to the proper terminals to board their species' ark. The roar of conversation echoed through the station's central lobby as family members said their goodbyes, colonists bid their alien counterparts farewell, and lost colonists asked personnel for last minute directions. Rising from humming holographic transmitters, the Asari-esque Avina VI broadcast general instructions, while also offering personalized help to colonists that would stop and ask the VI questions.
If a colonist wasn't on their ark yet, getting their belongings tucked away prior to the freeze, they were likely here enjoying their last fleeting moment in the Milky Way. That happened to be exactly what Frankie, a colonist unlike any other present, was doing. The A.I. anxiously paced the lobby, experiencing the closest thing a synthetic could experience to worry. She'd spent months planning her infiltration of the Expedition, and how she would avoid discovery during the cryo-sleep process. For all of the organics present, such a procedure was risky and prone to complications — meaning that doctors and medical staff would be closely observing any colonist entering cryo-sleep. For Frankie, however, the transition from 'alert' to 'hibernation' would be seamless, and was one that she'd performed plenty of times. Her plan was to link her system to that of the ship, and for its proximity to their ultimate destination to trigger the awakening command with her. Her synthetic body was programmed well enough that, with the addition of the cryo-freezing, no complications should arise from long-term inactivity; she was only worried about successfully fooling all of the medical scanners and brainwave monitors. She'd fooled plenty before, but this was 'life or death' as organics often said. She'd be under closer scrutiny from medical personnel than ever before, and moreover if she was discovered now she was without a method of escape.
Attempting to force close the processes within her core that inspired the anxiety, Frankie moved towards one of the Avina terminals. She felt a pang of empathy for the VI, trapped in this transmitter and rudimentary runtime as it was. The VI lacked the programming of an AI to be truly intelligent, but its processes were close enough that she felt sorry for the machine. Is this how organics view slavery? Or is it how they view their disabled? Exploratory processes will have to be dedicated to understanding such a conundrum upon arrival in Andromeda. Ignoring her pity for the VI, Frankie began to speak to the VI, asking it simple questions to give the appearance that she was using it as intended. Instead, the AI was accessing Bastion and Icarus' systems to begin her deception of the medical scanners.
Rachel Vier rubbed her temples, fingers pressing against the soft pale skin to relieve an impending migraine. Despite three days having passed since the 'incident' in Osiris, she felt like she was still hungover. It'd only taken a few questions of her friends and associates for them to bombard her with a deluge of tales from the night of the Odyssey party, some even having found vids on the extranet of the debacle. It turned out that, in her inebriation, Rachel had decided she wanted to know once and for all what a quarian looked like under their helmet, and unfortunately she'd been successful. A quick check of Odyssey personnel using her clearance codes revealed that the quarian, Tam'Venik or 'Tammy' as Rachel had donned her, was being treated in the Alenko-Memorial Hospital onboard Bastion. Her condition was listed as stable, with diagnosis of multiple infections, and severe anaphylaxis, from prolonged toxic exposure. Her memory of the 'exposure' was splotchy, but she did recall seeing the look of surprise on the alien quarian face as her face mask came flying off and the girl was exposed to 'dirty' air.
Her body language conveying insecurity, Rachel slipped through Alenko-Memorial in search of room 3-41, where the database had listed Tammy. Approaching the tinted glass door she glanced around, taking in the nurses that bustled through the hall — though none of them seemed to give her any mind. In her right hand she clutched a datapad with the quarian's records pulled up. After learning that she'd risked the girl's life, Rachel had done a bit of research on the alien. Using her Alliance Military clearance, and the clearance given to her as a Security Operative with the Expedition, she was able to see a broader background report on the girl than most would. In her attempt to learn more about Tammy she'd found out that she'd been exiled from the Migrant Fleet, the detailed report on which had been a grim read. Rachel had derived a potential olive branch to make up somewhat for that night in Osiris. Hesitantly she pressed the chime affixed to the outside of the patient room, signaling to Tam that someone was attempting to visit her, and waited to hear the girl's response. .
Tam didn't remember much after the Salarian named Ewin brought her to the clinic as she passed out shortly afterwards and didn't regain consciousness until she was on board the Bastion a day later being treated via IV to try and flush any residual bacteria from her system. Tam felt like death as her body was attempting to fight her infection. She had a high fever, an upper respiratory infection, her through felt like someone had taken a belt sander to it, and she was fairly certain that she was groped by the man that restrained her from punching that human's lights out in the bar.
The inside of the patient room was more than likely designed by the medical staff with the specific needs of her species in mind. The room was divided in half by a glass wall with a miniature airlock acting as a way for the medical staff to enter the 'clean' section where Tam was currently resting on a bed. Thanks to the clean room Tam could afford to not wear her suit, instead she was clad in a simple hospital gown while her freshly sanitized suit was lying neatly next to her on a table.
Tam was currently halfway through a mission in the popular Omni-Tool game Alliance Corsair when Rachel hit the door chime causing her to jump and Tam's character to miss his shot resulting in a charging Krogan violently bisecting her character. She groaned once she was greeted with the often dreaded 'Mission Failure' screen and closed the application, hitting the bedside button telling her guest to come in as she did so. She sighed as the person who entered was not the hot Turian doctor that saved her life but was instead the human that nearly killed her.
"Oh, it's you." She said weakly in between coughs. "What? Didn't get a good enough look three days ago?" She mused, chuckling for a second before breaking out into another coughing fit. Tam took another good look at the woman and could see that she was genuinely at odds with herself about the debacle that unfolded a few days ago in that bar and began to feel a little bad for making fun of her. "What do you want Rachel?" She sighed, attempting to give her a chance to explain herself.
Tam's words were harsh, rightfully so, and brought a blush to her cheeks that was nearly as bright a shade of red as her hair. The N7 winced at the violent coughing from the quarian, no doubt a result of the infections that she'd contracted thanks to Rachel. Tentatively walking forward the glass barrier she let her eyes rest on the floor, before awkwardly raising them to make contact with the sick woman. "I just wanted to stop by and apologize for the other night. I dared the Krogan, I think he called himself 'Bones'? to a drinking game, and I was out of control of myself. I know an apology isn't near what you deserve, given how sick you've gotten, but—" Rachel set the purse that she'd been carrying over her shoulder on the ground so that she could hold her datapad with two hands. Stepping back a little she reached out and pressed the door control, shutting the tinted glass door back in place. With that out of the way she walked back to the center of the room and began to bring something up on her datapad. Pressing the screen to the glass barrier she glanced between the device and Tam.
"I don't know how well you can see this screen from your bed, but this is your personnel record. Not just your civilian background check, but all the data that the Alliance has on you, and the records that Odyssey has found on you." She turned the screen back to her and brought another screen up, her eyes traveling over the pad to look back at Tam, "I know you're not just going to Andromeda to explore, you were exiled from the Migrant Fleet. This isn't me coming here to rub that in your face after I made you sick, I want to extend an olive branch of sorts." She tapped the datapad a few more times, before turning the screen back towards Tam. There was a circular progress bar strewn across the screen that was slowly filling with the color red. "I just used my Alliance clearance, and my Odyssey security codes, to delete that from both of their records. After all, I'm only going to be in this Galaxy another hour or so, it's not like the Alliance can court martial me." The human woman gave a soft chuckle and tucked the datapad away. "If you don't believe me, well hack into the records database—you're an engineer, I figure you're good with technology. Oh—" Rachel blurted, before crouching to fish through her purse and withdraw something, "I got one other thing. I figure your faceplate probably got scratched with all the dropping and ripping it off. They don't have quarians in Andromeda, and I figure supplies for your suit will be limited there.. I bought you this from a requisitions officer on Arcturus. They promised me it was top of the line, but I'm not sure what to really look for when it comes to Quarian suit tech.. anyways I'll leave this here for the doctors to sanitize." She set the faceplate gingerly on a chair before she began to back away towards the door.
Beverly Maddox moved along the halls of the Bastion, keeping her eyes forward and ignoring the stares of surprise and approval by numerous members of the Expedition, from workers to civilians, as she moved along. And they were staring due to what she was wearing.
The Odyssey Expedition was a (mostly) civilian venture, and there was a modicum of customization to be had in one’s uniform as a result; mostly to do with things like coloration, logo placement, whatever. But apparently someone higher up on the chain of command thought it would be a good idea for Bev to wear what was effectively a catsuit, even though the other uniforms were rather form-fitting themselves. The Expedition logo was present on her chest, which was shown even more prominently than usual even though it was fully concealed. And then the boots! These weren’t utilitarian, they were practically stilettos: three, maybe four inches high! She had a hard enough time not getting stared at for the way she walked, but all this made it so much worse. She had no trouble at all walking or running in heels, it was just that she was unintentionally moving like a runway model even more than usual and it pissed her off.
She needed to find somewhere quiet so she could sulk, because she couldn’t find any more sensible replacement uniforms on such short notice. And as she came across one of the Bastion’s garden areas, she glanced around. It seemed empty… except for the guy who had helped her with the drunk krogan the other night. Like the other night when she had first seen Rachel, she hesitated— in this case particularly due to her outfit— before deciding to move toward him.
“Mister Windsor… Hi.” she said, sheer discipline keeping the awkwardness out of her voice. She knew who this man was even though it had taken a bit to place him: This guy was descended from royalty, had been an Alliance Marine and had been dishonorably discharged before reaching N7 status, when Bev was already three years into her military service, and as far as she knew he had been a famous mercenary in the Terminus systems. And now he was here, seeking a new life in a new galaxy like so many others.
He stood, dressed in a somewhat form fitting jumpsuit that matched the colours of the expedition uniform, admiring a rose bush that someone had placed in this garden, but everything about it was wrong. It grew close to other plants, in a way that the roots of roses didn't like. It was really central in the garden, absorbing artificial sunlight all day when he knew that flowers preferred early morning light. The stems had few thorns, as if they were meant to be picked. It felt to fake to Joel as he stared at them. This whole expedition felt like something dressed up as a new beginning but no one really ready for it. No one actually prepared. Everyone ready to bring all the same drama somewhere else. Everyone fake. Then he looked at the woman before him, dragging on his cigarette and giving it a french inhale. The krogan was right, they are bad for him, and he can feel it. While cancer had mostly been killed off through gene-therapy in the latter half of the 21st century, smoking still wasn't any good for his lungs. He contemplated the embers at the end of his cigarette before responding.
"Never expected 'mister' in my lifetime if I'm being honest. It was 'Master' when i was growing up, and then it was to be 'Lord' when my father died. Hell... maybe it is Lord now. Haven't spoken to the bastard in almost 20 years." He took another drag, blowing it out of the corner of his mouth as he turned around to look at something that might've been less fake than the roses, perhaps more natural plants. His eyes studied a fern with some beetles crawling beneath it. "I'm sorry about the bar the other night. I try to keep people safe but I'm not nice about it. Never was good at 'nice.' Just making sure people didn't die." He paused, then turned and extended his hand to the woman. "Call me Joel. I don't think we actually exchanged names yet."
Free time was especially hard to come by when you were the technician in charge of one of the engine's efficiency monitors: for Ewin, finagling with his schedule and wrangling with the section chief earned him his sweet respite. It came at a cost of pulling double duty later on, but the salarian was content at what he managed to achieve.
Moderately dressed in faded colors, the salarian hummed quietly to himself as he walked through the doors of the Alenko-Memorial hospital. A quick question at the counter, followed by a stern warning on the necessities of sterilization gave Ewin the directions he needed. He gave the nurse a quiet thanks, then took the first lift on the left. Another human entered the same lift as Ewin, who frowned when the human pressed for three floors down. He gave an abrupt look of confusion when the lift carriage went up for Ewin's floor, but eventually shrugged and tapped his foot.
Ewin narrowed his eyes but held his tongue.
He muttered darkly to himself as he walked down the corridor, pulling his pack closer to his body and eyeing the nurses with an almost paranoid intensity. The door to her ward was not unlike the rest, though he supposed that was the intention. He pressed on the door bell and waited outside until he heard the chime. Pausing only to clear his throat and crick his neck, the salarian entered the room. Ewin wasn't expecting to see the human female- Rachel, was it?- in the room, not especially when she was the reason why Tam'Venik was administered here in the first place. He blinked twice slowly in a manner only salarians could, then coughed once. "Apologies. Did not mean to interrupt meeting, completely unintentional."
Spotting the face plate on the chair Ewin blinked slowly once more and followed Rachel's movements with a raised eyebrow. "Gift? Suppose is justified: death not so common event, surviving warrants something special. New model? Hear F3 series much better than standard T5: faster algorithms, thinner and more lightweight construction. Maintenance heavy, I think. Not too sure, never tested personally. Might want to, one day if reborn as quarian. Maybe not when wearing faceplate, but perhaps by then will have new generations?" he shrugged, taking a few steps to her bed but keeping a healthy distance away from the trouble maker. "Name is Ewin Ruhe- don't ask full name, no one ever remembers. Saved your life few cycles ago, I think. Doctors deserve better credit."
Closing his eyes, Ewin filled his lungs deeply with the scent of sterilized air. He exhaled slowly and opened his eyes, smiling at the ill quarian. "Decided to drop by, section chief anxious: understaffed, had to take your shift as well. Wants to know when quarian will be available for work. Told her, recuperating efficiently requires stress-free environment but can check up. So." he gave the room a quick look over, his attention seemingly contested by the design of its architecture.
"See you are recovering. Not fully, not yet. Need assistance? Have read multiple quarian biology books- not as interesting as volatile chemical equations or mechanical operating system guide, but informative. Has good suggestions on poses to strengthen immunity system, although dubious: author not quarian. Not salarian either. But maybe worth a read- more useful than video games. Imagine not very beneficial towards stress-free environment. Thoughts?"
Bev was not a mind-reader. But what she liked to think she was at least some of the time, was a people-reader. Joel’s body language indicated that he was in some kind of deep thought; about what she wasn’t sure. She listened attentively as he spoke, frowning slightly in thought. He was estranged from his father? That was something she hadn’t read in his old files. And for that matter, she could never dream of being separated from her father for such a length of time; even in her ten years in the Alliance, she had made sure to be in as regular contact with him as she could, and she was incredibly grateful that he was coming along on the trip to Andromeda with her.
As he apologized to her, then turned around to greet her, Bev mentally braced herself for him to look over her body like so many others did. But he didn’t, he kept his eyes squarely on her own, which Bev was quite grateful for as she gave him the same courtesy, reaching to grip his hand firmly.
“Beverly Maddox,” she replied to him, retracting her hand after a moment. “And you don’t need to apologize; I was grateful for the help, honestly. I swear, dealing with drunks, especially drunks like the kind we saw, is like trying to herd cats. I felt like a babysitter…”
Shaking her head a bit, she turned and moved to sit down on a bench a few feet away, crossing one leg over the other. “That krogan… If he had decided to get mad at us, it could have been bad. Very bad. So you helped save a lot more lives than just the quarian girl. She’s recovering in Alenko Memorial as we speak.”
Tam felt like she had a lead ball in her stomach as She learned that Rachel had read her file, and all the embarrassing history that it entailed knowing how thorough the Odyssey screeners were during her interview. It was disheartening remembering the whole affair and up until now she had successfully repressed it from her mind. Her head lowered as Rachel continued to talk, her eyes welling up as she deleted that little bit of embarrassing data from her file. She finally looked up as Rachel began to walk out of the room. Tam opened her mouth to say something but froze as Ewin entered through the door and began speaking as fast as a machine gun fires about the gift that Rachel bought.
How the salarian spoke so fast but managed to cram a thesaurus's worth of information into his sentences always managed to put a smile on her face and Tam cheered up instantly when he entered the room. "Oh hello Ewin, if memory serves we both briefly worked together when the Bastion's engines experienced that unexpected power failure a few weeks ago?" Tam chuckled as Ewin continued to talk as she looked back at Rachel with a smile, waiting for Ewin to finish before speaking as to not interrupt him. "Thank you Rachel this all means a lot. We'll talk later, I'll um.. send you a message." She said sheepishly as she turned back to Ewin. "The doctor did clear me to leave yesterday but I figured a few more hours of bed rest wouldn't do me any more harm. Tell the section chief I'll be down momentarily in time for the jump, just give me a moment to get ready." She said, waiting for everyone to vacate her room so she could call a nurse and get dressed.
”Alenko-Memorial?” He repeated thoughtfully. ”Well at least she’ll be back to snuff soon. Probably need her for... something on the expedition.”
He flicked his cigarette with perfect accuracy into a nearby trash receptacle, now a safer practice with the lack of plastic bags used as liners. Plus, if something DID catch fire somewhere in the trash tubes it’s would immediately be suffocated. He reached into his left breast pocket and pulled out a small black paper box, flipping open the lid to reveal half a pack already gone. He stared at it and sighed, wondering if he’d had enough cigarettes once he got to Andromeda. Of course he’d snuck some tobacco seeds and raw smoking tobacco in his personal affects, as well as wrapping paper and 5 whole cartons of the best cigarettes he could buy, but at this rate he’d be dry within a couple of months. The pack he held in his hand had been opened for the first time last night. He pulled out another cigarette and pressed it between his lips.
”As for the krogan...” He took a moment, still instinctively looking for a lighter, despite no one eve seeming to fucking have one. ”Fuck me...” He muttered as he brought up his fingers and snapped sparks onto the paper. He dragged, bringing the cigarette to life before exhaling the smoke away from Bev. ”I’ve probably fought more of his kind than most. Maybe not as... unique as him, but enough to know the ins and outs of it. That’s the long and the short of it, love.”
Bev watched Joel as he got himself another cigarette, and lit it with his biotics. That was a neat little trick, and for all the things she was taught to do by Valia Neheris, the asari commando who had taught Bev how to fight with weapons and her biotic abilities, using a mass effect field to generate combustion wasn’t one of those things.
She pursed her lips in thought as he continued speaking, and nodded.
“Never fought a krogan, myself,” she said. “Plenty of batarians. Humans, turians, a few salarians… an asari,” she recounted. “Never a krogan, though. And I don’t really plan on doing so if I can help it. But if I do, I hope I’ve got you there to back me up.”
She fell silent at this; she wasn’t the best at small talk, especially not with people she didn’t know. Which was a far cry from how she had been as a kid. She found herself thinking back to those years, looking off into the distance for a long moment.
“Sorry,” she said to him, pulling herself out of her thoughts. “I’m not good with talking to most people if it’s not about whatever mission I’m on, or that I’ve got. I’m probably boring you.”
”You’re not a bover, love.” He replied with sincerity.
Normally he found himself looking down when speaking to others but Bev was tall for a woman, and also in some stupid heels that someone had put on her uniform. He finally looked her up and down, but with a look of curiosity rather than what she normally got. Yes, her figure was perfect, but who in the god damn thought it was a good idea to put her in this...
”Who the fuck did you piss off enough to put you in this catsuit. I mean that is the least practical bloody thing they could’ve picked.” He then motioned, cigarette in his hand before scowling down at her feet. ”And are those fucking stilettos??? For Christ’s sake. Do you need new clothes?” he offered casually.
A tad embarrassed by the whole situation, and already anxious about the impending departure to Andromeda, Rachel just gave a soft nod and dipped from the room. The N7 slipped around the salarian as he rapid fire conversated with Tammy, and just nodded at his assessments of the faceplates on her way out. Before she could exit, Tam directed her attention towards Rachel one last time. Pausing mid stride Rachel turned back, brushing a strand of hair from in front of her eye she said "Sure of course. Once Icarus re-docks with Bastion I'll come find you and we can get a drink." With that the N7 completed her exit of the hospital and made about preparing for the cryo-sleep.
There was nothing left for Frankie to busy herself with at the moment. She'd paced the commons area of Bastion eight times over, had interacted with three Avina terminals, had downloaded the Avina database and checked the filesum three times to make sure she hadn't missed anything—as far as preparations went Frankie was ready to embark. It was 'mentally' that she wasn't ready, or whatever mentally was for an AI. Presently the AI's plan was to wait until the largest crowd of colonist made their way to Icarus, and then hopefully get lost in the chaos and crowds. That meant that she needed to stay here until such a time, and to avoid looking like she was delaying she needed to find something to do—thus her nervous pacing.
Her photoreceptors were focused away from her direction of travel, analyzing one of the security mechs near the edge of the room. There was no indication that the mech was watching her, but her impending deception made Frankie wary of any security personnel, and that was when she plowed into one of the organics. The man was well built, muscular, and clearly of some security profession. He'd just been asking a woman about her clothes before the 500 pound synthetic plowed into him at full speed. Not expecting the collision Frankie hadn't done anything to implement her eezo conduits to reduce her weight, meaning that it'd been the full weight and force of the android that'd impacted the man. Immediately she fired up the eezo conduits, shifting her weight down to a petite 130 imperial-pounds. Concern and embarrassment shot across her face as she turned to face Joel, her words stammering out a dozen at a time, "I'm so sorry, my apologies, I wasn't watching where I was going, are you okay?"
Looking down at herself as Joel reacted to her outfit, Bev couldn’t help but smirk a bit. The majority of people had either complimented her (by way of stares and/or wolf-whistles, which she guessed she should probably appreciate on some level, but was more annoyed than anything), or gave judging looks as if she were a whore. This, though, was refreshing enough to be downright amusing. And for a few moments, Bev’s hardened stoicism melted away, replaced with the snarky, smiling girl Bev used to be; and it was a beautiful smile.
“Honestly, I don’t think whoever decided I should wear this was pissed off, so much as getting off, when they thought of it,” she said, giving a rueful smirk as she spoke with a sarcastic tone.
“And what, are you telling me it’s not normal for a woman who happens to be one of the baddest bitches in the entire Milky Way to saunter around in high heels?” she asked, even more sarcastically. She uncrossed her legs, tapping the heels and toes of her boots along the floor for a few moments in a rapid, rhythmic, almost musical clattering, like a tap dancer; she had no experience with that sort of dancing, but offhandedly thought she could learn it and master it easily enough. Like everything else set in front of her to learn and master.
“Who’d’ve thunk it, eh? But yeah… I could definitely go with a change of clothes, so thanks for being chivalrous enough to offer, but… Fuck it, I’m actually not on the clock for once; I guess I can live with looking like an actual woman for once. Even with the staring. Plus I doubt you have anything my size, what with you being built like a tank and all.”
She was waiting for Joel to reply when he was literally plowed into by a woman. And to Bev’s disbelief, the large man was knocked on his ass as if he had been hit by a biotically-launched crate by this woman who Bev quickly realized shouldn’t have been able to run into someone with such force. Alarm bells rang in her head, and she was on her feet in half a second, striding toward Joel and offering him a hand up; she was only half listening to the woman’s apologies to Joel, but her senses were on alert; if this woman were a danger, she’d need to react fast.
"I mean, to each hi- GAH BOLLOCKS!" Joel slammed into the raised barrier of the garden box and smashed his shoulder, probably bruising the shit out of it. It'd probably still be sore when he woke up in 600 years.
How the fuck had he not seen her coming? How the fuck did she throw him like that? A million questions flew through Joel's head as he was trucked to the ground by some tiny girl looking frightened. He grabbed hold of Beverly's extended hand. He had enjoyed the moment they had shared, the way she laughed and smiled, almost like she hadn't done it in years. It had brightened his day just enough until some daft cunt barreled into him like a bull in a china shop. He rose to his feet and found the cigarette that had been in his mouth to have landed perfectly on the edge of the garden he had been looking at. He picked it up, brushed any dirt off the butt, and pressed it back between his lips as he dragged on it, trying to calm down.
"Bloody fucking Nora..." He rubbed his shoulder, rotating it and trying to massage out the impact. "I haven't been hit like that since the Blitz, so how the FUCK did you move me like that, eh bellend?"
"Unexpected? No, was completely expected within 15 to 19 percent probability. Numbers against us, but simple fix. Very ingenious by the way; would not have though hydrospanner would be so useful." Ewin tried to smile but only awkwardly grinned, giving more of a predatory look on the amphibian's face. He waved a silent and half-hearted good bye when the human left, reminding himself to sift through the hospital's security logs in his spare time.
Ewin nodded graciously when Tam mentioned her status. Far be it for him, a simple technician, to doubt the words of a fully trained medical professional to give the quarian an A+ health rating. He simply nodded, though held back from patting her shoulder in case he accidentally infected her again. "Will do so. Advise you do so immediately- would not like to miss departure seated in bed. See you." He blinked once and then left the room, stopping by the doorway only to give a small smile and a wave.
There was nothing left to be discussed: nothing productive to the salarian's time and effort, anyway. Time spent with her at least, proved to be mildly interesting.
The atmosphere within the Bastion's engine room belittled the monstrous application of energy within its very halls: even as the many reactors thrummed, thumped or bwooomed its crews ran in silence, muttering silently to themselves. Overlooking the rest, the chief engineer's office loomed like an unshakable presence: the turian's eagle eyed observation had been the cause of many a rescinded shore leave. They call her Bancia, though how one could differentiate Bancia and her brother Decbus was up to anyone's guess.
Ewin liked to think himself as detached from office politics: his time in the Special Task Group had given him enough taste of politicking and behind-the-scenes manipulation. Yet every now and then while he'd trawl through the various systems in Bastion he would come across another snippet of trivia, secret or 'blacked' information about the turian duo. Must be several folders big now. Of course he wasn't paid to keep black files of his employers and colleagues, but monitoring one of the tertiary reactors was dull work by salarian standards, leaving him with so much time on his hands. His area within the Bastion's engine section was already secluded, with three other engineers working with him at most. One of the side consoles was left empty, although another fellow quarian had left a get-well note pinned to the display.
Ewin thought it was rather meaningless given that Tam would only see it when she got back, well rested and recuperated. He doted down a minor fluctuation in the reactor core's readings, tapping away to request an adjustment in heat dispersion enroute. Even the most minor heat build up could spell trouble for the station after all.
Deep in his thoughts and passive observation, the salarian failed to notice Tam's presence.
Tam ran her gloved fingers against her new visor before taking a deep breath and clicking it into the slot on her helmet. She was startled as the visor lit up and an endless stream of code began flying past her eyes. At first she thought that somehow her suit was being hacked but just as the display started spazzing out it stoped and the Kassa Fabrication companies logo appeared. "Well well.. Apology accepted Rachel." She said out loud but too herself as the logo disappeared and a detailed heads up display began linking itself to her suit's sensors and Omni Tool.
Even though she was well enough to leave the hospital Tam still felt like death due to both her infection and from the medicine she was on. The antibiotics she was taking made her nauseous and she hadn't been able to keep a decent meal down since that night at the bar. It was probably a good idea not to have a full stomach before 600 years of cryosleep but at this point she would do anything just to keep down some of her tasteless nutrient paste. Eventually she managed to make it back to her post in the engine room without drawing the gaze of the chief engineer and took her place next to Ewin, smiling as she read the 'get well soon' note that someone had left her. Tam pocketed the note before typing in her login credentials on the terminal so she could monitor the drive core in between coughing fits. "Nobody has told me what time the Bastion is actually going to make the jump, did Bancia ever say anything Ewin?" She asked.
Frankie immediately noticed that the two organics were extremely concerned by the force that she'd exerted onto the male, sending him flying backwards into a nearby raised garden. Frankie's face adopted an expression of embarrassed horror, looking between them while rapidly processing what her response to the situation would be. The synth-skin covering her cheeks flushed with a bright red as her eyes drifted towards the floor, "I uh.." Frankie stammered. She raised a hand to rub the back of her head in a mimic of common human body language that she'd observed, before looking back up at the male. "I'm one of the engineers.." she began, while fabricating what her role in the expedition would be. While she'd put her name in the system, she hadn't been sure what role to occupy. The expedition's data-centers had been protected by a considerable firewall, one she easily could've broken—but not without setting off flags that someone had intruded. It was because of this that she wasn't sure what the breadth of the roles in the expedition would be, and had simply put herself down as a colonist when hacking the registration.
When pressed for time, fabricating a deception for the humans, Frankie had defaulted to engineering because it was the department that her synthetics and artificial processes would be most suited for. While she continued to stammer talking to them her background processes began to cut through the Expedition firewalls in the crowd of traffic during launch day to solidify her story. "We don't know what kind of alien races we might run into in Andromeda, so Triton and Hahne-Kedar collaborated on a new personal shield unit for unencumbered wearing, in case our colonists are at risk... My department head asked me to try it on during my daily activities to see if it would be bothersome or interfere with scientists.. I- well.." Her eyes drifted away from eye contact with the man out of additional embarrassment, "It's seemed that the kinetic calibration on them is a bit off, and if I collide with something while I'm walking at any kind of speed it attempts to repel a kinetic attack.." Biting down on her lip Frankie shoved her hands down into her pockets, "I'm not even sure that I was supposed to tell you all that.. please don't spread it."
Her interaction with Tam had gone better than Rachel had expected, and surprisingly the quarian seemed to have accepted the girl's apology—even suggesting they meet up for coffee once in Andromeda. The positive interaction had calmed most of the turbulence in the N7's mind, leaving her calm enough to collect her thoughts before they disembarked for Andromeda. It was just as she was approaching one of the elevators to another section of Bastion that she heard the VI voice come over the overhead speakers. ">>Attention all colonists, please make your way to your species' respective ark and prepare for departure. Arks will be detaching from bastion in twenty minutes and zero seconds."
Whereas she'd been planning to sit down for a minute and just rest, Rachel shifted her hand on the elevator panel to instead select the Icarus docking port. As one of Odyssey's security directors, and one of the highest ranking security personnel aboard the human ark, she'd need to be present on Icarus' bridge for departure. As she felt the metal car shift and begin descending through the station. Despite the advances in transportation across the galaxy the elevator still seemed to take an absurd amount of time to arrive.
Rachel's security clearance bought her a direct line onto the Ark, rather than waiting in the lengthy colonist lines, and a minute later she was striding through the stark white and blue halls of Ark Icarus. A few turns, and another ride in a rather lengthy elevator, brought her to the ship's bridge. Sitting in the main pilot's seat was the oversized hideous Krogan that she'd met several nights earlier in Osiris aboard Arcturus. "I hope you're actually sober today, Bones." She said with a slight laugh to her voice, "Otherwise this is going to be a really short cryo-freeze." Of course it would be fucking launch day. Bancia had warned them that hiring a suit rat to do critical work, especially on Bastion of all ships in the Expedition, was a bad idea. What were some major accomplishments of the suit rats? They created the fucking Geth. They lived in a piecemeal fleet of ancient ships that, despite their 'natural talent at technology and engineering' they had done a piss poor job of sustaining. Not only that, but the faceless bastards had managed to kill what was left of their entire species' immune system in just three centuries—they were a disgrace to dextros everywhere. Now on launch day, arguably the most critical day of the entire damn expedition, one of Bancia's engineers (by assignment, not choice) had called out sick. As soon as the damned elevator reached the floor for Alenko-Memorial Bancia came storming out, her long avian legs carrying her swiftly through the hospital's foyer and into a long hall lined with patient rooms. Her visor that extended in front of her left eye displayed Tam'venik's room number, which was to be the target of Bancia's irate march. The turian woman charged through the doors nearly before they'd opened fully, her eyes trained on where the quarian should've been.... but wasn't.
"Where in the hell is my engineer?" The turian shouted from the room, drawing the attention of a salarian nurse. "I'm sorry ma'am, it appears Ms. Tam'venik departed Alenko-Memorial earlier this afternoon, as her condition became listed as stable. She left note for any future visitors that she was returning to her post in engineering. Would you like a map?"
"I'm the Chief of Bastion propulsion and maintenance, no I don't need a damned map." The turian snapped back, already working herself up into a purposeful stride towards the lift. Fifteen minutes later she'd made her way to the engineering department, her mood even more sour than it'd been when she'd arrived in the hospital earlier to find Tam gone. "Tam'venik!" Bancia shouted at the young quarian, marching towards her station, "I quite vividly remember the contract that you signed when you agreed to work with the Odyssey Expedition, as I signed one much like it. You agreed to always report to your assigned duty stations at designated times, despite any ill-advised activities you may partake in during your personal time. Unless I've developed acute blindness, you failed to report for duty not just on launch day, but for two days leading up to it as well. I'm well aware of the 'infections' that landed you in Alenko-Memorial, but as a suit rat you should know better than to take expose yourself to potential infections, despite any intoxication you may be experiencing." Pausing for a moment Bancia looked the girl over and noted the new faceplate, "Oh, I see you weren't too sick to upgrade your suit. What do you have to say for yourself?"
Watching Joel’s rather justifiable freak out after she helped him up, Bev looked to the small woman and frowned, listening to her nervous explanation of what had just happened. She had never heard of a kinetic barrier causing that violent of a deflection, simply from running into someone, because they factored in both mass and speed. Merely walking into someone shouldn’t have triggered a barrier at all, let alone one like that.
The alarm bells still rang in her head as she narrowed her eyes slightly, but before she could say anything, an announcement came over the Bastion’s intercom, declaring final preparations for liftoff and that everyone scheduled to be on one of the Arks should get there within twenty minutes so that they could enter cryosleep after the journey was underway; it wasn’t as if twenty-thousand-plus humans were all going to be frozen at the exact same time, after all.
“We should go,” Bev said to Joel and the woman both, before she moved to head back to the Icarus, her heels clacking authoritatively and her hips swaying deliciously, though she was far too focused to care about that right now. She still had things she needed to do, final preparations to make, before going into cryosleep.
"SIT THE FUCK DOWN OR WE'LL FUCKING LEAVE YOU HERE!" Mister Bones barked at one of his yeomen patrolling the bridge, everyone frantically moving about to get into position for launch. All of that training, all of their waiting was finally over and now they were about to leave the Milky Way behind them once and for all. The Captain of the ship authoritatively stood behind Mister Bones at a map of the Milky Way projected, though differing from a typical galaxy map there was a route to Andromeda displayed prominently on the hologram. "WHAT WAS THAT HUMAN?!" Bones spun around, seeing the Yeoman he was shouting at disappear around the corner. "Captain Archer, these damn welps need to buckle in. We're about to go on a wild ride. Heh... heh... heh..."
"They will, Pilot Bones. At ease." The captain spoke, his raspy voice commanding the room. He was a rather young Captain, one in charge of making sure that the Human Ark got to where it needed to go. He seen more than his fair share of battles, the majority of his body synthetic. An N7 insignia was proudly displayed on his armored chest plating, both his augmented arms crossed across his chest as the jet black haired captain stood stoic at the galaxy map. "Make sure your coordinates are right, Bones... We got no room for failure, one coordinate off and we're fucked."
"Like you Odyssey puppets haven't checked them a billion times already. Krogans don't do math!" Mister Bones groaned in frustration, knowing he could get them to where they needed to go. "Luke, we-"
"Captain." Captain Archer corrected, a hint of a smirk on his face.
"God damn it. Captain Archer. I'll get us there in one piece." Bones grunted as Captain Archer turned his attention elsewhere. "Fucking humans... I'm gonna crash this ark into a-"
Just then, the N7 Commander from a few nights ago came walking up. She had proudly head butted him during a conga-line competition Bones fondly remembered. Barely.
"Vier." Bones said with a smirk appearing on his delicious boney face. "Gonna be a short freeze anyways. You humans go to sleep first then the main crew here go shortly after. Me and Captain Archer up there are the last to go night night." He started chuckling, "Have to tuck our frozen babies in first before the long sleep." He grunted, "Mister Bones will get you there in one piece. What we do when we get there is when the fun begins... This trip is going to be a quiet one."
Mister Bones seemed sad that the trip was calculated to be as safe as possible.
Almost immediately after Tam had the audacity to utter her name the bastion's chief engineer, and her abhorrently racist boss, Bancia began screaming her name. "Oh keelah what now." She muttered under her breath as she turned to face a very irate Bancia who began to chastise Tam for not showing up to her post for the last couple of days despite the fact that she was in the hospital with a life threatening infection.
"I'm fairly certain that the contract does not mandate that anyone has to work while deathly ill and I didn't expose myself to anything, some bosh'tet-." Tam was cut off by Bancia's insinuation that she was shirking work to shop for suit upgrades before she could get another word in about how her mask had been forcibly removed. "It was a gift, my old one had been scratched. It's hard to shop while I'm stuck in a clean room chief engineer. She retorted with just a slight hint of anger in her voice, crossing her arms as she finished her explanation.
Tam had no idea what she did to personally offend her boss or if she was just prejudiced towards quarians in general but every day since she signed on to be part of the expedition had been a beating dealing with her blatant racism.
Tam had attempted every avenue to either get her fired or at the very least get the expedition's leadership to re assign Tam to a different section of the ship, but every time she was either told that her talents were necessary to the mission or she was just flat out ignored. If she wasn't so desperate for work she would've left a long time ago.