Well, here's chapter two.

As you might have guessed, Omega will be for the Magnus-arch what the Normandy in Book 1 was for Thomas.


The face of a merc


December 24th

BSV Guardian Angel.

Medical facility, deck 2.

12:27

Thomas stared at Ashley, his mind repelling the very idea that she had just said what he believed she had said. There was no way… there was just no way.

He wanted to say something. He wanted to deny what she said, wanted to call Ashley a liar. He wanted, ever so desperately, to make it all a lie.

"…What?" In the end, was all he managed to press out. He could feel his throat constrict, dry as parchment as his eyes watered and his jaw trembled, along with his entire body. The bed no longer felt soft or comfortable, but now rather stiff, hot, unwelcoming and utterly undeserved. Why… why was he alive, and lying in a bed, when he had so catastrophically failed the people he had sworn to protect, failed the man he had sworn to save, failed the friend who had, in his last moments, relied on him for salvation?

"I'm sorry…"

"…I…" He tried speaking, moving his mouth, but with no sound leaving him. His vision went to hell, blurred by tears that started streaming down his face. A gash in his cheek started stinging from the salty liquid, but it was numbed by the sheer, and raw emotional pain that was washing over him, threatening to all but stop his heart from beating. His breath hitched and became thick as he struggled to process what she had told him. No! No! No! Please gods, No!

Ashley hugged him again, pressing him to her body as her own breathing hitched and tears flowed from her face and onto his. He numbly returned the embrace, feeling at least a small gratitude that she had survived in the end. The pain from the loss was still much too horrible to contain, and in the embrace of the woman, Thomas wept for the friend he had lost.


13:41

BSV Guardian Angel

Cantina, Deck 1

"So… let me see if I got this right, Captain." The human Suns commander, Freest Depal said, looking between Jane and the datapad he had used to write down her debriefing. Jane had allowed it, for more than just the reason of gratitude towards the merc. She also needed to make sure she remembered ever detail for when they returned to Arcturus. She nodded, allowing him to continue;

"You were scouting out the Amada-system, looking for signs of disappeared ships, ten to be precise. At approximately half an hour after you entered the system, your ship was, while in stealth, ambushed by forces unknown." Jane nodded; "Following a failed attempt at escaping, your ship, the SSV Normandy, was destroyed by said forces. Notable lost personnel was the commander of the Normandy, the Quarian John'Shepard."

"Yes. Chief Fisher attempted to recover the commander by going after him into space, though he was unsuccessful in this, and we nearly lost him as well." Jane said, maintaining a calm and professional voice. The Suns commander scratched his chin;

"Fisher… is he a biotic?"

"No, not that any tests have ever shown or revealed." Jane said, shaking her head.

"You said earlier that he was suspended in a form of biotic stasis?" The man said, highlighting that particular section of their former conversation.

"True, and we have no idea how. It doesn't help that, according to Chief Williams, Fisher suffers from short-term amnesia, likely caused by a knock to the head during the attack."

"Well… John'Shepard was a known biotic. Could he have done it, to protect Fisher?"

"I don't know. I've never seen John to be capable of creating a stasis field, but aside from that, I really… sorry, it's… a lot has happened. Some of my crew is harder hit than others." Tali'Zorah, she knew, was ranking in the top of those. Jane felt for the girl, and did her best to be there for her, even though she had an inkling that being alone was probably what Tali preferred for the moment.

"I understand. Losing a ship, as well as valued friends, is never easy." Freest Depal muttered, standing. As Jane did the same, Depal nodded; "You, as well as your crew, can take the rest of the day to cope. We should arrive at Arcturus in about nine hours, where you will disembark and we will return to our duties."

"Thank you, Commander. I never would have thought… I appreciate it, we all do." Depal gave a weak smile at her halted sentence;

"You never thought a mercenary would stop to help those in need?"

"I didn't say…" Jane tried, flustered. Damn it, why did she have to fuck everything she did up? First she lost the ship, then John, and now she had insulted the man who had saved their asses?

"Before the revolution, you'd have probably been right. The Suns are different now, though, and if I can ask any payment off you, it is that you tell this to your superiors. Improved rep or not, we are still seen as criminals by many. Good day, Captain." Depal said, nodded and then left Jane to her own devices. At the moment, those devices involved simply slumping back down on the chair, head in her hands and eyes closed.

"Why… why, why, why…" She muttered to herself, tired from the last few days and what they had brought.

The Suns had agreed to take them to Arcturus, but only after the Guardian Angel had made a stop at Omega, of all places, to drop something, or someone off. Despite his friendly and polite manners, Freest had been adamant that no non-Blue Sun had seen what they were unloading, and as such the entire surviving Normandy crew had been allocated as far away from the hangar and any windows turned towards the station. And now, here she sat, alone in a cantina made by Turians, bought by mercs and captained by a 'criminal'.

What was a criminal anyway? Criminals broke the law, that was easy to remember. But… Spectres broke the law all the time, and lots of companies broke the law all the time. These mercs… God, she used to hate mercs with every fiber in her body. Once, she had taken joy in executing pirates and mercs without even giving those actions any second thoughts. It had all been so much easier back then. Now?

Now she owed her life, the lives of her entire crew, to a ship owned by mercs.

"If this is some sort of joke… I'm still waiting for the punchline…" Jane muttered to herself, resting her forehead on the cold surface of the metal table, so alike the tables they had had on the Normandy. Right… and I lost the Normandy…and John…

"Jane?" A familiar, soft voice spoke. Jane didn't bother looking up, as she would recognize the gentle tones of Kaidan anywhere and at all times. He was a constant in her life, both the former and this one, and as long as he was around, she had the feeling that things at least had a boundary they couldn't cross to get even more shitty.

Didn't mean she even considered raising her forehead from the cool, comfortable table though. She would have loved some alcohol right about now, preferably whisky. As Kaidan sat down in the chair next to hers, she listened to his even and calm breathing, allowing it to grant her a sort of calm that nothing else seemed capable of giving.

It was… nice.

"How are you holding up?" Kaidan asked after a few minutes of silence.

"Just dandy. You?" She muttered, straining to make her right eye see him without having to move her head, thus losing the nice, hard and cool surface of the table. Kaidan sighed and leaned back, probably looking at the ceiling or something. She didn't really care.

"I'm alive. Wish I could say the same about some other people, but there really was nothing we could have done." He said after a moment of silence. Jane pressed her eyes shut, feeling like the lowest piece of slime that she hadn't bothered telling him about Thomas's warning. Far as she knew, the only person who had known was Joker. Because I didn't want unnecessary panic… fuck my sense of logic with a cactus…

"Maybe…" Was all she said. What could she say? Was this what Thomas felt whenever he had to spill some terrible secrets? Was this what the kid felt when he had to keep said secret from his friends? If so, she pitied the guy, and started gaining far more personal respect for him than she ever had before.

"Jane… Captain. You did your best, no matter the outcome. There was nothing you, or I, or anyone could have done that could have saved the people we lost. Adams was… he was a good man, really good. Even Wrex seemed to like him, you know." Kaidan tried a chuckle, but it came out as a weak cough instead. Jane knew he was steering around the subject of John.

"He was…I just never… Kaidan, why… why?" She groaned, forcing her eyes shut for fear that her tears would burst out. A comforting and familiar hand was placed on her shoulder, and she found herself suddenly leaning against the lieutenant who had been a comforting presence in her life for… years, at least.

"The universe can be a cruel place, Jane. Friends die, family die, loved ones die… All we can do is try to make the galaxy a brighter place before we leave." Jane shuddered as he spoke the words 'family', as it reminded her, forced her to remember the fateful day back on Mindoir, where her entire world had crumbled under the unforgiving and merciless boot of Batarian slavers.

She winced as he spoke the words 'loved ones' as it forced her mind back to every moment she had spent with Magnus since the day they had met, and till the day he was gunned down on the Citadel.

"I don't…know, if… Kaidan, how do I make it brighter?" She was now fully leaning against him, not caring if anyone saw them. Her hair was a mess as her head rested on his chest and he held her, not unlike how one would hold a sad child.

"You just do the best you can, Jane." He said, every tone in his words radiating confidence and trust in her, in her personality and her abilities as a leader.

She wasn't so sure she believed him.


December 24th

Omega, Sahrabarik system.

"Docking bay" 0005

"Ah, Omega. The city of light and love and expensive croissants… no wait, that's Paris…" Magnus laughed to himself as he and the rest of the sixty Blue Suns emerged from the docked BSV Scorpio, having locked and secured the vessel with enough codes and gadgets to keep out a hyperactive Salarian, if need be.

"Just call it the anus of the galaxy. Is what I do when I came here the last time." Tuara replied, sauntering through the "docking bay" they used for the frigate. Calling it a docking bay was doing it more credit than calling a female Krogan 'sexy'. The dock was a hole carved into the station, then fitted with a pressure-room for depressurization and an airlock. If something broke on it, the entire immediate ward or block would be sucked into the vacuum of space. Not really the nicest way to go.

"What's the matter, Tatra? Don't like the smell of the galaxy's collective doodie shoved into a single station?" Hayfield asked from behind as he pulled the cart of their accumulated equipment. The Suns were like every other military in the regard that they had to pull their stuff around either by cart, or like the Eclipse favored, by mech. The public usually never saw this, and probably just though they carried around disassembled mechs in their pockets.

"Hey, I grew up in lower Cipritine. I lived this shit every day, 'cept we had an atmosphere, and less of those crawly thingies." The Turian woman protested as she tapped her sidearm, just to be sure it hadn't already been stolen. Weapons were stolen faster than a Salarian could blink on Omega, but oddly enough, cars and vehicles were left pretty much alone.

"Spiders?"

"Those, yeah. Whatever sick mind thought to invent those fuckers in their evolution, should have my foot up his ass." Tuara growled. Magnus resisted a laugh that would likely have earned him a kick over the shin from said Turian. Next to him, Lantar shook his head in an exasperated sigh.

"You know, Darwin might get a little sad that you don't like his theories."

"Who's Darvin?" Tuara asked, looking back at Magnus. He himself was hauling his own weapons, plus the compressed barrels for a mounted 30calliber 'Firestarter' minigun. Thing was heavy as hell, and he was only carrying the barrels.

"Charles Darwin" Sidonis said; "…was the first human to fully realize and theorize the evolution of organic life on the human homeworld, back in their date of 1859. He theorized that every single species and race of animal on their planet had evolved to suit the needs of their respective environments. At that time, mind you, most humans firmly believed that a creator God had designed everything right from the beginning, which was a belief Darwin somewhat shattered with his… Book? He published a text he dubbed 'The Origin of species', that even to this date, multiple scholars throughout the galaxy refer to."

As Lantar stopped, Magnus stared at him in wide-eyes amazement, which was a rare thing for him to do. Never had he though the Turian's knowledge of humans extended that far and wide. Hell, he himself hadn't known half the shit Lantar just said.

"…What's that got to do with spiders?" Tuara asked after a moment of silence. Magnus smacked his helmet's forehead, making sure the Turian medic both heard and saw him do it.

As the crew advanced through the station, headed for the outpost belonging to the Blue Suns, Magnus started noticing aspects of the station, and more importantly its inhabitants, that seemed far more… gloomy, than it had back when he had seen it the first time. Of course, back then it had all been digital. The real life version always was more… well, 'gloomy' really was the best word for it.

People were lying in the streets, sitting in the corners with little signs spelling out pleas for food, medicine of just general humanitarian compassion. Apparently, those were sort of "out of stock" on the station. He idly wondered if Aria was just slouching back in her comfy sofa, watching her people as they suffered. Honestly, he really wouldn't put it past the Asari to do just thát.

He saw a Batarian, hardly older than ten human years, stripping a corpse for anything valuable. The body was another Batarian, probably a woman, judging by the torn bra that failed to cover her chest completely. Prostitution was a common enough sight that he never really noticed it before. Though seeing a child rob a dead prostitute… Omega really was the "Rectum of the Galaxy" that people called it.

After hours of walking, bypassing checkpoints held by Aria's men, the group reached what amounted to the "border" between Arian's land and that of the Blue Suns. As they were cleared and passed the heavily armed guards, all of them humans. He would have wondered why that was, if he actually cared. For the moment though, he was simply downright tired of hauling and waiting, feeling like thát one kid in the airport that everyone wanted to knock unconscious with a tire iron, but no one really bothered getting close enough to.

The difference when they finally entered Blue Suns territory, was rather astonishing compared to what he had seen of Omega thus far.

There were no dead or dying people littering the streets, for one. Instead, there seemed to be the rule that if you could work, you worked and the Suns gave you shelter. Rather pragmatic, maybe, but more reasonable than just dumping people on the streets.

The second thing he noticed, was that most houses, if one could describe the buildings as such, seemed to have power and were somewhat kept, even though they still looked like something from Fallout. They were all made from scrap, or simply metal that had long-since rusted brown. He even saw an actual prefabricated building, supposed to sit on the surface of a planet, welded to the wall above another home, with a ladder extending. So this is what Quarians must feel like on the Flotilla…

The third thing he noticed, and what really both surprised him and yet didn't, was the fact that Batarians were walking freely around, living their lives with little to no visible constrictions. He saw no Batarians in armor, which would have completely confused him, but he was still amazed that the Batarians, the species that had been ethnically cleansed from the organization, seemed so… well, 'peaceful' seemed a good word for it. The only thing they seemed to do for the Suns, was repairing buildings and non-essential equipment for the community, such as refiners and pumps for the water.

"Hey, what gives with the Four-eyes?" Magnus asked Lantar as they walked side by side, subjected to the rather curious looks of the surroundings. If the turian raised a brow beneath the helmet, Magnus had no idea.

"We wiped them from the organization. Doesn't mean we have to slaughter every one we see, Magnus."

"Oh… right, of… I just figured… Never mind." He muttered as he looked around. There were a few squads of Suns patrolling the streets, weapons loaded and ready for trouble. The residents around him seemed better off than what he'd see anywhere else on Omega, but still piss-poor compared to places like Elysium or the Citadel, or Hel, just Arcturus; "So… what'd they do here?"

"Pretty much what everyone else does, I suspect. They've lived here since before the formation of the Suns, so we're pretty much just a police-force here." The Turian shrugged. Magnus noted that there still was an air of sadness about Lantar, but decided not to comment on it. He knew enough that losing friends tended to hurt for a while.

"Right… so, no hostilities? No bad feelings?" He asked.

"Bound to be some, of course. Mind you, not everywhere had the same bloodbaths as Zorya. Not Omega, but some places simply sacked the Batarian Suns. I figure there was some pissed people there, but grateful when they heard what happened at HQ."

"Right…" Magnus muttered as their group came to a stop in a plaza-like section of the territory. Tara was at the lead, along with Navigator Velan Harius, presenting a surprisingly professional front towards the rest of the place. Professional or not though, Magnus snickered to himself, noticing how Tara's armor failed to conceal her more than generously shaped hips.

Approaching the formation of Scorpio's troopers, was a trio of Suns, none of them regulars from the looks of it. Two of them were Turians, clad in heavy armor and with holographic armor on top of it too, both toting every kind of weapons capable of being carried by a single person. Leading them was a woman, helmet on and presenting an almost menacing appearance to those looking at her. Her hip sported a pair of pistols, Carnifex's from what Magnus could see, as well as a monomolecular katana-blade on her left hip. Damn… what is it with women and being deadly?

As the trio of obvious high-ups stopped in front of Tara's formation, both sides snapped to a salute, one that the entirety of the formation mirrored, if not with military precision.

"Captain Tara'Velan vas Scorpio nar Qwib Qwib, reporting with reinforcements and supplies per requested orders." Tara said in one breath, giving Magnus yet another reason he never wanted to be an officer. Having to remember that whole mouth-off in one go? No way.

"Commander Jentha Haruno, Omega Blue Suns, 2nd Battalion." The woman said. She then, to Magnus's great surprise, removed her helmet with a hiss, and revealed the face of a young woman, possibly no older than her late twenties. Her hair, colored to be a dark red, closing on downright purple, fell down to her cheeks and stopped just where her armor began at the start of the neck. Adding even more surprise, Jentha smiled broadly at Tara; "It's good to see you, Captain Velan."

"Likewise, Commander." Tara replied, grasping the commander's extended hand in a tight grasp. Well… I suppose I really should stop being surprised these days…

Sure, Tara had told him that she knew a Jentha on Omega, but Magnus had never really imagined that it was the same Jentha that he had seen so many years back. Sure, back then it had all been digital, but faces were easy to recognize, and this was the same damned woman he had seen back then. I guess this means I won't have to end up shooting her? Cool.

The Scorpion's crew was then directed to one of the barracks, a repurposed community center that had been outfitted with make-do walls and added rooms to accommodate a small army of troopers. A group of logisticians directed the crew to their own section of the building, granting at least the privacy of being with people you were somewhat familiar with. Magnus dumped his duffel-bag onto a bed that was of considerably lower quality than what he had gotten used to on Zorya. It was still better than what he had expected from Omega though, and he knew that he really should be, and was, grateful that there even was a bed at all. Thát done, he positioned the barrels for the 'Fire starter' machinegun across his back and went to find where to dump the piece of tech.

Even when wearing his armor, carrying around a sixty-kilo six-barrel part of a heavy weapon, took its toll on him. Still, no point in complaining, or he'd sure as hell not have made it thís far. As he made his way to the armory where he suspected he could drop off the thing, Magnus started taking the chance to look around more as he went.

Here and there, true, he saw signs of poverty and famine, decline in health and such problems. But, compared to the rest of Omega, the places run by the Suns really seemed far better off. There had to be some sort of secret that was known only to the Blue Suns, since they were the only ones who actually managed to get their shit together on what amounted to the disease-ridden asshole of the civilized galaxy.

Despite all the shit that had gone down, especially with the Batarian Suns, he saw civilians and mercs working together, repairing buildings, maintaining equipment and more. A fact that struck him was that he even saw Batarians, though not as many as the others, work with the Suns. As Lantar had said, they lived there too.

The barracks were just one of countless buildings arrayed around the central plaza, giving a very 'P'-like shape to the immediate compound. The plaza itself was not very big, but then again, what was on a station made up of shit and scrap? It was big enough that running across it would make him winded when carrying the parts, so instead a leisurely stroll was both called for and appreciated. Granted, it was a stroll carrying a piece of a weapon that could turn an YMIR-mech into scrap, but who really cared?

Okay, maybe the guys who were going to be using it…

The Armory itself was rather well organized, as something supplying well over hundreds of men needed to be. Magnus had no idea what the place had been before, but the flickering holographic image of a knife that went up and down in a swooping manner, made him guess at either a barbershop, or a butcher. Except if it's Sweeny Todd, then it's both in one hat.

Long rows were organized for different types of weapons, with countless stands for low-grade Avenger rifles filling out the better part of the place, while Vindicators, Mattocks and a few Turian Phaestons were available as well. It was, as he had expected, mostly rifles, though there was no shortage of shotguns and sub-machineguns either. He saw no pistols, but then again, who among them didn't have their own sidearm already?

As he walked the corridors, eyes sweeping the many weapons on display, he could feel the same sort of childish glee he had felt when the Alliance Marines had issued him his very first Avenger, way back in the day.

His fingers, on the hand not holding the strap for the oversized barrels, tentatively danced over the surfaces of a Mattock, admiring the fact that it had clearly been repaired from a state of absolute scrap, to a condition that was close to pristine, if one looked away from the multiple scars and scrapes on its surface.

"Can I help you?" A filtered voice asked, causing Magnus to snap around fast enough that he managed to tear the gun from its place. Oh fuck!

"Damn! Sorry, I'll just… right… there." Magnus actually found himself stuttering as he fumbled with getting the weapon back in place. The speaker was a Quarian, who was now looking at him with hands on his hips, looking almost bossy-like.

"It's fine. Mattocks can take being shot at, a bump won't ruin it." The Quarian said, looking like he was sizing Magnus up for something; "You're one of the new guys, right? Just came in?"

"I am… how did…"

"People new to Omega always have the same way of walking. I've been here since my pilgrimage started, so I should know." The Quarian said, gesturing for Magnus to hand him the barrels for the gun; "You're from the Scorpio, aren't you? Straight from Zorya?"

"Seriously, do I have it spelled on my helmet or something?" Magnus asked, scratching to remove any painted letters on his head that would spell 'FNG From Zorya'. He followed as the unnamed Quarian carried the piece of armament into what almost looked like a shop of some sort. There was a sign next to the Quarian's bench, spelling 'Kenn'Tol nar Idenna'. So… this is Kenn? Figures really, I get to meet everybody… who's next, Mordin?

"Not really, no. Anyway, thanks for bringing this thing over. Need to get the gun up and running, sooner rather than later actually." Kenn said, immediately getting to work at assembling the heavy weapon all on his own. Magnus watched in stupefied awe as he witnessed just why Quarians were known as the best mechanics and engineers in the galaxy.

What would have taken his own species at least a team, plus machines to assemble, this one Quarian did on his own in less than fifteen minutes, finally standing back to examine his work with a satisfied nod.

"So… that was… Why do you need it working as soon as possible?" Magnus asked, finding that it would be beyond stupid to start commenting on what this guy probably did on a daily basis. Kenn shrugged as he ran his Omnitool over the weapon, now looking like something that ate Krogans for lunch.

"Blood Pack's been pressing the guys lately. They probably figures us easy targets now, what with the Batarian troopers either dead or sacked, and those sacked mostly went to join either Aria or the blood Pack itself. For some reason, Eclipse doesn't take them either." The way Kenn spoke, betrayed the fact that he had seen more than a kid his age should, and probably been through more shit than Magnus before his time in the Alliance Navy.

"So… we essentially dropped into a war-zone?" Magnus asked. At Kenn's rather casual nod and shrug, he just sighed; "Figures… well, at least it's just Vorcha and Krogan. Shouldn't be too much of a problem."

"And Varren too. Nasty things, like to tear into everything and have disease-ridden teeth. Lost a lot of people to infected bites, from what I've heard." Kenn seemed to repress a shudder. Magnus grinned beneath his helmet. The last time he had encountered Varren had been on Feros, where he had planted his shotgun in the mouth of a Varren Alpha pack leader. Things weren't really that much different from the wolves of Earth, 'cept they lacked fur and had bigger teeth.

Also wolves were a lot more adorable than Varren. Magnus was about to press on the subject when his comms buzzed;

"Magnus, rally at the central plaza in five. Arm and armor up, we're joining the fight here. Any chance you can bring some heavy weapons from the armory?" Tara said. Magnus smiled at hearing her voice, a blissful sound in this shithole they called Omega. Fitting name really, as a lot of things met their end here.

"Got that, Tara. Would a Krogan-eating minigun do the trick?" Even talking to her over the comms made him grin.

"Good, yes that'll be needed. Bring the thing here, I'll have someone bring your rifle. Are you wearing your armor?"

"Kinky phone-games have to wait, Tara." He smirked, almost laughing when he heard her stuttering on her end of the link; "Yeah I am. Will bring the weapon."

"See you there." Tara stuttered, then cut the link. It was obvious he had hit a soft spot there, and by Frey, he savored it. Tara was at her cutest when he made her stutter or fumble. He turned towards Kenn who looked at him. Well, where else would he look?

"Well, nice meeting' you Kenn. You mind if I steal this thing away?"

"Where to?" Kenn asked, suddenly growing a little hesitant about letting something he had repaired just leave the place.

"Captain Velan says we need something with a punch. Can I-"

"Velan? Tara'Velan nar Qwib Qwib?!" Kenn exclaimed, stopping himself from stepping right into Magnus' face.

"…Yeah?"

"Then… then yes, yes, yes of course. Yes, I'll have it brought to- I'll bring- I mean… do you need help carrying it?" The kid, and he really was a kid, was literally beaming behind his visor. Magnus couldn't help the laugh that escaped him;

"No, no I think I've got it." He laughed, slowly remembering what Tara had told him of her first time on Omega, of how she had saved another Quarian from some thugs; "Say, you wouldn't happen to be the scrawny pilgrim Tara got out of a situation a few…"

"A year and a half ago? Yes, yes, I am. Tara stopped a pair of Batarians from robbing me of everything. I still think Harrot's the one who hired them, but on Omega… well, anyway. Could you… you know, say hi from me?" Kenn's voice had grown increasingly frail and nervous, like he was a small child talking to one of those Goofy-costumed geeks in Disneyland.

"Sure, why not. I'm going there anyway." He said, then glanced at the mounted gun; "You ehm… wouldn't happen to have a cart for that thing?"

A few minutes later, notably after he was supposed to have been at the rally, Magnus reached the central plaza, dragging a 'Fire Starter' heavy machinegun, capable of ripping apart just about anything in its way. He'd seen these things mounted on Jeeps before, though not as a stationary weapon. Then again, there was a first time for everything.

The rest of the crew hadn't waited for him to show up, though Lantar tossed him his rifle and shotgun. Magnus already carried his sidearm on him. On Omega, you didn't simply walk around without a gun. A thing Magnus noticed as he stood with the rest of them, trying to catch the end of the briefing from a dry Turian, was that there was a lot more activity in the plaza than had been just before.
Troops were jogging around in formations, civilians were either making themselves scarce or stopping what they were doing in order to watch the troopers march by. There were several mechs walking around as well, as Omega wasn't the most wheel-friendly station. He honestly wasn't surprised to see that most of the mechs were Firebats, what with the Hellhound-class being far better suited to deal with Vorcha.

The term 'Kill it with fire' got a completely new meaning when your enemy could regenerate a blown-off leg.

"…at the barricades. Velan, your men will be making sure the Vorcha aren't getting at us through the sewers. A point of entry into the systems has been uploaded to your Omnitool. Now make ready, the Blood Pack is mounting up."

There was a chorus of affirmatives from the groups listening to the briefing. The group under Tara's command started moving out, and Magnus found himself confused as to what the fuck he was supposed to do with the gun. You didn't just bring a heavy machinegun into the sewers of a space station. Ideally, you didn't even bring firearms to a space station at all.

"Trooper, leave the mounted weapon here." The turian called. Magnus immediately obeyed, thankful that he was rid of the burden, but sad that he wasn't going to be ripping apart the Vorcha with it. Oh well, plenty of death to be dealing out when your enemy had both numbers and intelligence of rats.

As they reached the entrance to the sewers, Tara turned around to face the sixty-some troops.

"Everyone remembered to waterproof their armor?" There were a few weak chuckles at that. Of course the armor was waterproof, it was even airtight. Didn't change the fact that the water they would be wading through… Magnus shuddered at the thought.

Tara removed the cover, unveiling a regular sewer beneath the manhole. There was a short ladder down, ending in a slowly flowing river of something that was supposed to be restricted to someone's nightmares. Brian Kittles went down as the first, armed with a Firestorm. Having a flamethrower was going to be damned handy down there, but then again, there was the risk of setting gasses alight.

Magnus didn't want his death to be caused by "Burned alive by ignited farts in the anus of the galaxy". That would just be downstraight humiliating.

As the line of troopers submerged themselves into the manhole, Magnus resisted the urge to gag and was thankful for his armor's filtration-systems. He knew right away that this would be a mission he would be hating. Having sixty-odd troopers in a single sewer… so much shit could go down the drain from thát, and it was bound to at some point.

As his boots splashed into the cold muck, he shuddered and gagged at the sound and sensation of the heavy liquid and what was in it, splashing and running between his legs at knee-height. As if that wasn't enough, the only illumination in the tunnel-like pipes of shit were the lights on their helmets.

All else was darkness…

And Magnus really hated the dark…


A/N: As you may have noticed, this chapter is a lot shorter than most previous ones. The reason is quite simple really. In long chapters, people tend to forget the start by the time they reach the bottom. Belive me, I do that myself. And it sucks, because so many awesome stories don't get enough reviews because their chapters are too long. One that's been an inspiration to me, por ejemblo, is 'Avatar of Victory'. It's the single most badass Avatar/Mass Effect crossover ever done by human hands, yet only has 300-some reviews. James Golen is a badass writer, and I know I shouldn't be highlighting "competitors" in this story, but he simply is an artist.

Back to the reason. I've decided to make my chapters shorter, so I can make more of them, and you'll have a chance at remembering what actually happened in them. So, theoretically, everyone wins.

Next chapter will reunite us with Kasumi, but for now, I just wanted to make an update on what Magnus was foolin' around and doing.

Also, as you may have noticed, MC won the contest and will appear in this story. Possibly as a crewmember, possibly as a xeno-hating supser-soldier, possibly as a janitor. Who knows? ...Well, okay, I know, but that would just be spoiling, wouldn't it?