A/N: This chapter has been edited, see below for more details.
I watched as Tali entered the Alleyway, slipping away from the crowded market. I made sure my Beowulf had a full mag and the underslung shotgun was not malfunctioning for about the tenth time in a row.
Something felt off about everything.
Shepard and the rest of the ground team was still stuck at the Presidium, being held up by dignitaries. Garrus hadn't arrived at Dr. Michel's clinic, and Wrex and Aethyta had been ready to sneak into Fists bar rather than shoot their way in.
This all felt so wrong.
I stayed cloaked in the shadows as I saw the Turian and two Salarian assassins enter the alleyway. I could see Tali immediately tense up when she saw the three agents enter her line of sight; "Are you the Shadow Broker?" She asked the Turian.
I could hear the nervous waver in her voice; and it felt like my heart was breaking at her naivety.
The Turian didn't answer right away, circling Tali; almost like he was checking her out. He finally stopped in front of her and asked, "Do you have the data?" his voice was grating, it sounded like he gargled glass.
Tali seemed to find her spine somewhat; and crossed her arms under her breasts indignantly, "I asked you a question, are you the Broker or not? And where is Fist." She demanded.
"No, but they'll be here soon." The Turian replied, touching the side of Tali's helmet with his talons; which she quickly smacked away.
"No way, the deal is off." She snapped, and turned around and tried to walk away.
I grimaced behind my mask and bandanna; that's a big fucking mistake. I thought as the Turian growled and grabbed her shoulder, spinning her around.
"You're not going anywhere." The Turian snarled as he went for his pistol.
Tali was quicker on the draw, and she drew her shotgun; blasting him point blank in the chest. A hole was ripped right through the Turians chest, killing him instantly. The two Salarians immediately drew their Rifles and two Turians appeared from where Tali had entered the alleyway.
That's my Que. I thought, smirking.
I stepped out of the shadows; not even bothering to de-cloak since I knew my gun would cause it to turn off automatically. I shot the first Salarian right in the head, his blood splattering the walls like some contemporary art.
The second whirled around, trying to see who had flanked behind them.
I used the shotgun and blew a hole in his chest; at this range his kinetic barriers were essentially useless. The assassin flew backward and slammed into the ground, a cluster of holes in his chest.
Tali meanwhile had taken cover behind a pile of crates; the Turians were just spraying their Rifles at me and her, lacking their normal discipline. I sprinted and did a baseball slide into cover beside Tali, startling the Quarian.
She tried to point her shotgun at me; but I stopped her by putting my hand on her barrel, "Easy there, I'm on your side." I exclaimed.
I could see her mercury eyes were as wide as dinner plates with fear; and it didn't seem to go down at all as she looked at me. The skull mask was very off-putting I will admit; useful when interrogating enemies, a handicap in dealing with allies.
"I'm Systems Alliance; Fist set you up, I'm here to help." I explained, ducking instinctively as a slug zipped particularly close to my head.
Tali still seemed terrified, but nodded in understanding; I took out a flashbang and said, "I'll take right, you take the left got it?"
"I-okay!" She squeaked.
I tossed the flashbang, waiting until I heard the loud BANG! before saying "Now!"
I popped up, using my laser pointer and red dot site on top of my ACOG to aim as I squeezed the trigger. The .50 caliber round smashed into the Turians visor, shattering it and exploding his brains out of the back of his helmet.
The kinetic barrier hadn't even slowed it down.
Tali for her part had been right on target; blasting the other assassin right in the chest, killing him instantly. Even as the Turian fell to the ground, Tali was dropping her shotgun and collapsing to her knees gasping.
I looked over at her alarmed, thinking she had been wounded; but realized that it was just shock setting in.
After checking to make sure that there were no other assassins in the area; I knelt down next to Tali and put my hand on her shoulder. "Hey, are you okay?" I asked softly, already berating myself for asking it; of course she wasn't okay, she had just killed someone.
But that did seem to steady her as she took a deep breath and looked at me; "Yes… yes I am okay." She seemed to size me up and asked, "Who are you?"
I smiled even though she couldn't see it, "Call me Nomad, Alliance Intelligence Special Activities Division. I was sent here to get the data you had on a rogue Spectre."
I suppose I should explain myself a bit; I go under the alias of August "Nomad" Lee. I could tell you my real name, but quite frankly I left my old name behind when I made my new one. I was born in in '99, and raised my whole life in Maryland.
My Father was a Mechanical Engineer for the Defense Department. At Least, I'm pretty sure that's what he did; there was a lot of shady stuff happening in those days, but I never paid much attention to it.
9/11 happened, and all I remember is dad leaving for a few weeks to a few months several times a year. He was a happy friendly guy, tall; muscular, and the last time I saw him what little hair he had on his head and his goatee had turned white. Always had a story to tell, always puttering around in his workshop; always dragging me into helping him out. Something that saved me multiple times let me tell you.
My mom had been a physical education teacher before my sister was born; and hated every minute of it. Being a white woman from Pittsburgh, and being sent to a southern Maryland ghetto school was not good for her career to say the least. Almost got stabbed her first week.
It's funny, she doesn't quite reach the old racist grandparent level; but she does touch upon it. I don't blame her for it; she grew up in the seventies, so that's to be expected. The Senior Military Ball, her first question about my date was "Is she black?" I told her yes, and she just shrugged and said, "Okay."
Dad was libertarian for the most part; socially conservative on some issues, but that's to be expected for a devout Catholic.
Mother was more radical in her beliefs, always whining and yelling at the TV when the news was on; shouting that we needed to "Ban the Commies, Ban the Socialists." and all that jazz, but it was more an older person bellyaching than genuine malice.
My sister… well we didn't get along to say the least. We loved each other like any brother and sister, but we couldn't really stand each other. She was like dad in personality; happy, bubbly, chatty, and very artistic. She loved nature, became a botanist if I remember correctly.
I was the exact opposite; cold, morose, quiet, grim, always had an eye for machinery and weapons. My almost constant silence was constantly aggravating to my sister, always pressuring me to talk more. Problem was our interests never aligned; I never cared about what she talked about, and she was the same way.
Hm… I suppose my greatest regret before leaving our world; will always be never reconciling with her.
The day I came to the world of Mass Effect was a day like any other. I was driving home from my late night Physics class. It had been dry season in Maryland, and only recently started raining that day; the roads had been slippery, the recent rain really screwing with traction.
It didn't help that it was 9PM, I was working off four hours of sleep; having eaten no lunch, hungry as hell, I just wanted to go home. My tan and navy blue Maryland hat fixed tightly on my head, a simple nylon button up work shirt; common with farmers, a pair of khaki wranglers pants, belt with a Maryland belt buckle.
My driving glasses fixed firmly upon my face; and a brown leather jacket for the rain. My mutton chop moustache was slightly prickly, but something I was used to. I looked kind of like captain price from COD: MW, the 2019 reboot.
I never saw the bastard that hit me coming.
Entering a roundabout, I had the right away; and in the rain, pitch black, the guy had no lights on as he slammed into my Chevy Trailblazer at almost 100 miles per hour.
I of course blacked out from the massive G-Load and change in direction I suddenly found myself going. When I woke up, I found myself on Omega.
"Not very descriptive." I hear you guys saying; well screw you, I'm trying not to be clichéd.
I won't tell you about how I discovered where I was; I didn't have to awkwardly ask where I was or anything like that. You could have been piss drunk and known next to nothing about Mass Effect and you would still know where you were.
But I got a rude wakeup call to how dangerous Omega really was. 20 years old; my first kill was a gangster.
It happened on my second day there; by that point, I had managed to somewhat calm myself down. I no longer had a micro panic attack every time I saw an alien.
I had spent the night in what could be best described as a sewer. I slept maybe three hours at best; but being a college student, I was used too going without sleep. I had no weapons, no money, no shields, no armor; I knew I was fucking screwed if I didn't get a weapon of some sort.
In a way, waking up on Omega was a blessing in disguise; because at least I wouldn't get arrested after C-Sec discovered I didn't exist. Of course, getting stabbed or shot to death wasn't much better. I may have believed in God and the Afterlife, but that didn't mean I wasn't afraid of death.
I was exiting my little hidey hole, mostly because my instincts were screaming at me to keep moving; never stay in one place for long. I was sticking to the alleyways, trying to avoid any attention at all costs; when it happened.
A Turian was thrown into the wall, being beaten by a Batarian; both were pounding away at each other at full force. I immediately ducked behind some garbage, staying hidden; my mind was telling me it wasn't my business. The Batarian dropped his knife while overwhelming the Turian and pinning it against the wall, and then did the act that drove me over the edge; he held the Turian up growling something unintelligible to me, but the Turian understood it perfectly.
Its eyes widened and started thrashing; frantically trying to break free, to no avail. The Batarian for his part started to undo his codpiece.
I had to do something; I refused to just stand by and watch or run away while an innocent woman was raped. At least, I assumed the Turian was female; because the implications of them being a male were unsettling to think of to say the least.
Then I spied the knife on the ground.
As the Turian started to give choked screams; I made up my mind. I sprinted forward and grabbed the knife. Neither noticed as I snuck up behind the Batarian; I waited until I was sure he was distracted, and then plunged the blade into his throat.
I yanked the knife sideways, tearing open his throat; spraying his dark red blood everywhere.
I hopped backward with a curse, carefully avoiding getting blood on my leather jacket and glasses. It took a few seconds, but the reality of what I just did hit me like a freight train. Immediately I felt lightheaded; dropping the knife on the ground, I fell to my knees.
I will not vomit! I refuse too! Must... Not vomit! I repeated that in my head over and over again, until I felt the bile in my throat recede enough that I felt confident that I wouldn't vomit.
I took a breath, and looked over at the Turian I had just rescued. She was picking herself up off the ground, looking at me with something akin to suspicion; she said something, but I couldn't understand her.
I sighed, figuring she would at least have a translator on her; assuming this wasn't pre first contact war. I tapped my ear, and said; "Lost my translator, so I can't understand you."
The Turian blinked, and then sighed; scavenging a gun from the dead Batarian.
She started walking away, and then turned to me; after a second, she waved her arm and jerked her head. Follow me.
I followed her to a small store; and upon entering, she shoved a translator into my hands. She gestured to my ears, and I cautiously put the thing in. "Can you understand me now human?" She asked.
"Yeah, now I can;" I replied, I looked over and saw a small stool in the corner of the shop; I walked over and slumped into it, all the energy leaving my body. "What's your name?" I asked.
Her mandibles twitched before replying; "Tavia Varimius, What is yours human?"
I froze involuntarily for a moment. I knew that I could not reveal my real name, especially to an alien like her. Thinking quickly, I said "August Lee, call sign Nomad." I'm not sure what inspired me to give myself a call sign; maybe to throw off people digging around into my past, or just because I wanted to appear like I was an official agent or something.
Whatever the reason, Tavia accepted the answer; tilting her head, "Well Mr. Nomad, what are you doing here on Omega?" She asked.
I pondered my answer carefully, which was pretty hard considering I was flying by the seat of my pants; and I was in minor shock still, even if I had hidden it rather well. "That's classified I'm afraid; but I can tell you a few things. See I'm rather new here and pretty underequipped, I have to get my own materials; my… employers want nothing traceable back to them, so I need to get my own equipment and cash. And a place to stay as well now that I think about it." I grunted and stood up, looking her in the eyes; "Think you can help me out a bit?"
Tavia had been kind enough to get me properly equipped. She was pretty nice and understanding; a rarity on omega. She was the one that had given me the start I needed in this universe. It helped that she was a retired Turian Cable, so she understood that I couldn't tell her much; in her own words, "I've dealt with enough secret spy shit in my life Mr. Nomad, don't tell me anything that you have to kill me over and we'll be fine."
A bit of gratitude for saving her life probably helped in some matters.
I had no credit chits; my iPhone was gone, left back in my old dimension. My wallet had twenty bucks; worthless in Mass Effect. Same with my Change, I had about twenty dollars' worth of Quarters, Nickels and Dimes. (I get hungry during class, and vending machines were all I could afford; sue me.) And three Maryland Cigars from my stockpile that I had taken with me; At least I thought they were all worthless, boy was I wrong.
Tavia's eyes had practically bugged out of her face. "Nomad… Is that real metal?" She rasped in surprise.
I immediately knew that these were far more valuable than I realized. "Yes Tavia, the big ones are called Quarters; old currency from the old United States of America pre-World War Three. They are 91 percent copper and 8 percent nickel. Medium ones are called Nickels, same era same country; 75 percent copper and 25 percent nickel. The smallest ones are dimes, same percentages as the Quarters." I informed her, knowing by how she was almost salivating that I had struck figurative gold.
"Nomad… this is worth at least 400,000 credits; almost certainly more. This metal alone is highly valuable as melted down ammunition." She replied. "While neither of these materials are rare per say, it is incredibly difficult to get a hold of without having anyone trace it.
Both of these metals are harvested by either government sponsored companies; or are gathered by "official" criminal organization's that sell it on the black market to boost their credit stockpiles.
I can make ammo blocks out of the nickel, and I can make wiring out of the copper; neither of which is traceable to anyone. If a hitman leaves one of these ammo blocks behind made out of this material, no one would be able to trace where he got it from!" She explained, growing more excited with every sentence.
I kept my face straight, but inwardly I was reeling. I had done the math, one Mass Effect credit was roughly equal to five US dollars in 2018. 400,000 credits would be approximately two million US dollars.
You know that scene in "Futurama" where Fry finds out he has 4.3 billion dollars in the bank? He starts hyperventilating and drooling before passing out; yeah that almost happened to me. Thankfully I clamped down hard on my emotions, and managed to get by with coughing like I'd swallowed my cigar.
"I… not to sound greedy, but you said it's almost certainly worth more; yet you can only give me 400,000? Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy with that and I'll take it; but I'm curious to know what the real price is." I managed to choke out in reply.
Tavia's mandibles twitched slightly as she contemplated how best to answer me. It was odd seeing it in person, not through a low resolution game; let me tell you.
"It's probably worth closer to 500,000; but I do need to make a profit, and in honesty I don't have that much to spare. Besides, like I said; it's not the metal that's valuable, it's the fact that its untraceable." She replied.
I nodded in understanding; TV shows like "Pawn Stars" fresh in my mind. "Tell you what, you have a bit of everything right? Well, how much would a pistol like this be worth?" I asked, taking out a picture.
To say she was surprised by my choice was an understatement.
"I've never seen a pistol of this design before; but I can easily fabricate the materials for it." She tapped her carapace. "Hm… consider this to be on the house; but if you want anything else, it will have to come out of what I plan to pay you." She informed me.
"More than fair I think." I replied with a grin, finally allowing myself to show some emotion.
After a bit of talk, we decided to fit me with some armor while she fabricated my gun. It took longer than you would think, because unlike old human armor; Mass Effect armor had to be fitted to your particular body shape.
I never thought of that to be honest.
Then there was the problem of aesthetics; I'll be honest, I always thought the armor from Mass Effect looked stupid. I always had an eye for armor that, at the very least, looked like it was feasible back in the 2000's; The Spartan armor from Halo, the HEV suit from Half Life along with the PCV armor from the same game being my favorites.
It took a long time and several arguments over functionality; but what I settled on was more than satisfactory to me.
The chest armor was a lot like a 21st century plate carrier in actuality, but it had was more… sleek in its looks. I also had shoulder armor pieces as well, and lower and upper leg armor fitted to me.
The helmet was unfortunately like the starting games helmet; but with a little help, I modified it so that it had no visor. Instead, I chose what looked like a 21st century gas mask. Tavia had explained that bit for me thankfully.
Apparently it had been a prototype mask for N7's and other human special forces, the gold-titanium alloy was incredibly durable and light; but it had been deemed too costly for mass deployment and thrown into the scrap heap.
When Tavia had told me that, I originally thought it would take half the money she planned to pay me with; but she told me that she had been trying to get rid of the thing. Only humans, and Quarians technically, could use it; but humans rarely came to Omega. No one else would buy it because it was "creepy."
"So what can it do?" I asked, looking at the mask with renewed interest.
Tavia tilted her head, "Its vacuum rated when combined with your helmet and the under suit I've fitted you for; its lenses have a specialized HUD software that can do a multitude of things, monitor your life signs for one. It can toggle between regular vision, night vision, thermal vision; and of course it gives you immunity to gases employed by human police and military personnel. It can also adjust its lenses and act as binoculars if need be, or in your case act as a replacement for those ridiculously fragile things you call glasses. That mask alone is worth 5,000 credits." She said.
"I'll take it." I said immediately.
When all was said and done, I had a skin tight vacuum rated suit that could be worn underneath normal clothing which I immediately put on, the armor rig looked like a 21st century plate carrier; shoulder and leg armor looking very similar.
Then came the most important piece; the long coat.
I admit, I'm a sucker for trench coats and long coats; so when I saw the rain cloak, made of grey military grade nylon, I knew I had to have it.
All the fitting and choosing took about five hours; but most of it was me and Tavia talking about different things. I admit, making small talk to an alien was strange; but I managed it. When all was said and done, I stepped out of the changing room; I looked almost exactly like Cole D. Walker from Ghost Recon Breakpoint. The only real difference was my mask, which looked like the M45 gas mask; but rather than being made of rubber it was made of metal, and the lenses had a green tint to them.
The only other difference was the vacuum suit, which covered every inch of skin.
I reluctantly parted ways with my old clothing with the exception of my Maryland hat, my glasses, and my leather jacket. My glasses was for pragmatism sake; and my hat and jacket for sentimental reasons. My jacket had been a gift from my dad when I was young; I didn't fit in it, but he had gotten it with the knowledge that I would grow into it.
The hat had been a gift from my mother shortly before I started collage, to help me "Remember where I came from" In her own words.
I stepped out of the room, and looked at Tavia, who flexed her mandibles; "How do I look?"
"Intimidating is one word I would choose." She replied, "I admit, you didn't look like much when you first came in here a few days ago. Now you look like a real warrior; your taste in aesthetics is a little odd, but I don't think anyone will be laughing at you for your looks."
I nodded, accepting her praise, damned faint as it was.
"How's the gun coming along?" I asked, examining the knife I had bought and attached to my chest rig.
"Should be ready," She replied, looking at the fabricator. Sure enough, as soon as the words left her mouth the buzzer rang; signaling that it was done. She stepped up and withdrew the pistol from the fabricator, almost reverently.
I grinned behind my new mask as I looked at it.
"A .50 Caliber Action Express Revolver; six shots, crosshair holographic sight." I said, taking it from her grip as she offered it to me. It looked like Kellogg's pistol from Fallout 4, just with a sight attached to the top, and a laser sight and mini-flashlight attached to the bottom.
I had chosen .50 Caliber Ammo because it would be the only type of ammo that had the stopping power I would need. Tavia had tested the ammo before; it could punch right through a Krogans head plate and kill them in one shot, but you did have to very precise in where you aimed. If it missed, all it would do was hurt them and piss them off something terrible.
And then I would become a blood stain with a fancy gun.
Naturally the recoil would be a bitch to handle, but she had installed a modification that reduced it to something more manageable. From what I could see, she had added a sort of recoil compensator that took the expended gasses and fed it out of vents in the barrel; without reducing the effectiveness of course.
I'm still not entirely sure how it works without fucking up the bullets spin and trajectory, but I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. Of course, all it did was make the recoil more manageable; it didn't all of a sudden make it into a .22 caliber pistol with next to no recoil whatsoever.
Even now, if I use it too much my arm starts cramping like a bastard.
I had purchased 300 rounds of ammo in speed loaders as well, much to her surprise. Where I planned on going, I would need it. When everything was said and done, I had spent about 75,000 credits on all my new equipment and weapon.
I strode out of Tavias gun store feeling like I could take on the world.
Of course, reality was oh so kind enough to slap me in the face.
A/N: A few edits to the chapter to make the story flow better and close up some plot holes. I also retconned Nomads pistol into a normal 6 shot revolver, with only slightly better recoil than normal; Meaning the thing kicks like a shotgun, rather than like a horse.
I also corrected the reasoning behind Nomad receiving so much money for his pocket change; it's not the metal itself, so much as the fact that it's untraceable. You drop that ammo block and run a test on it, you'll find the metal will be dated as being first melted down over 100 years ago from earth.
That is definitely worth the credits I think; also, probably a bit of gratitude on Tavia's part.