The next morning Korik and Joran worked on the Tiger's engine. Yesterday's excitement had caused sand to clog the air filters and gears. It was slow tedious work not to mention dangerous. At the moment they were sitting still on top of a dune hoping the maw wouldn't show up anytime soon.

Ashley kept watch by sitting on top of the turret. From there she had a pretty good view of the surrounding desert. A light wind blew her hair about while the sun burned her face. The glare made it difficult stare at the sand for any extended period of time. Mirages caused by the heat made sections of the sand look like an ocean. By now she wished to be somewhere cold like Noveria.

"Hey chief! Do you see anything?" bellowed Korik. He was diligently scraping sand from the engine block in the front.

"Nothing so far," answered Ashley.

Joran was under the vehicle taking a look at the axel shaft. In school he took a short class on basic vehicle repair. When studying in the wild, one must be prepared for anything. Although it didn't take a certificate to see what was wrong. The rear most axel was bent but still functioning. "I think we might have to go back to the resort."

"Why?" asked Korik coming around to see what Joran had found.

Joran came out from under the Tigar explaining, "That maw hit us from underneath. It bent our back axel. One more hit like that and we're stuck out here."

Ashley's ears perked up. Getting stuck meant dying. Out this far into the desert it would be days on foot to reach the resort. If heat exhaustion didn't kill them; the maw certainly would. "So are we heading back now?"

"No," said Korik firmly.

"Sticking it with one more hydrogen balloon should do the trick. But who knows when it'll come back," said Joran climbing back onto the Tiger.

"Actually I think I see it," mentioned Ashley standing up straight. A large figure could be seen in the distance that looked like a long finger in the sand.

"Ha, we got him. Joran, get behind the wheel and take us over there," ordered Korik.

The figure was a few miles away. As they got closer it became clear it was the thresher maw. It lay still without making any noise. Joran drove slowly along one side of it gawking at its sheer mass. Korik studied the monsterous worm feeling a little disappointed. He expected the maw to give them more of a fight.

"Is it dead?" asked Ashley while climbing down from the turret. She clutched her assault rifle closely as they came near the head.

"Possibly," muttered Korik. "The hydrogen must have poisoned his blood stream."

"Good. Let's go home now. I've got more important assignments to attend to," said Ashley.

"Wait a minute. I have to be sure," said Korik. Turning to Joran he ordered, "Stop alongside its head."

When the vehicle stopped they could see the maw's entire head which resembled a tropical flower. The petal like flaps that made up its mouth were closed. A light breathing noise eminated from the mouth. Korik tensed up studying the maw closely. Going into the cabin he grabbed his shotgun; a customized claymore. Turning to Ashley he said, "The maw has a weak spot behind the head. I'm going to put it down for good."

"Wait, you're not actually..." Ashley began to protest but he jumped over the side landing hard in the sand.

Korik approached the beast cautiously holding his shotgun at the ready. His weight made walking through the fine sand somewhat difficult as each step sunk about a foot into the ground. Trudging along up the mighty beast he grabbed hold of the maw's skin pulling himself up the side. This action caused the maw to stir a little but Korik was undeterred. All maws had a soft spot near the begining of their spine much like the temple on a human's skull.

"Just hold still you bastard," muttered Korik as he found the maw's weak spot. Pressing the claymore shotgun to the target Korik pulled the trigger. The explosive shot did a massive amount of damage ripping the maw's skin open exposing torn muscle and bone. However, the maw wasn't killed instantly as Korik expected. Instead it roared in pain and began to dive into the sand. Leaping from the maw's back Korik exclaimed, "Impossible!"

"Just get back here!" yelled Ashley anxious to get moving again.

Meanwhile, Joran was busy loading another hydrogen harpoon. "The damn fool has really pissed it off now."

"Shut your mouth salarian," barked Korik as he climbed back onto the Tiger.

Ashley turned around in time to see the thresher maw barreling through the sand heading straight for them. There was no time to react. She simply froze as the maw slammed into them sending the Tiger tumbling across a couple dunes. All three members were tossed in different directions some distance from the safety of the vehicle. The maw circled the area in a wide arc possibly assessing who to eat first.

For a moment Ashley stayed still as the thresher maw passed her by. The maw's large bone-like fins cut through the sand like water. The Tiger lay upside down about fifty yards away. She could see Korik was already at the vehicle trying to get inside. Hopefully it was like the Mako and had a mechanism for flipping it right side up. Joran could be seen a hundred yards away sprinting through the sand. He was filled with terror and panic. Salarians lived short lives as it is; to have it cut even shorter would be tragic. No longer did he care for thresher maws and he swore to give up the profession if he lived through this mess. However his prayers were not answered as the maw came up from under him swallowing the helpless salarian whole.

Seeing this, Ashley bolted for the Tiger. Korik had managed to activate a mass effect field which turned the massive vehicle over onto its wheels. After he climbed aboard he offered a hand to Ashley who was still sprinting across the hot sand. She jumped, grasping Korik's arm who then easily pulled her up and over the side.

"Joran's dead," breathed Ashley while getting to her feet.

"I know." Korik seemed completely indifferent to the news. "Get behind the wheel and we'll finish off this bastard."

"You're going to get us killed," blurted Ashley.

Korik snarled and stepped into Ashley looking directly into her eyes. Before he could say something threatening the thresher maw interrupted him with a mighty roar. They both turned to see the maw making another run at the Tiger. Ashley didn't stick around to argue. She darted over to the steering collumn putting the Tiger in gear. Korik manned the turret controls as Ashley barely cleared the vehicle of the maw's path.

"Try to get behind it so I can take another shot at the maw's soft spot," ordered Korik.

Ashley was having trouble shaking the maw much less getting behind it. Again the maw tried to ram the vehicle to knock it over. At every turn the maw would cut Ashley off or wrap it's body around the Tiger. The large wheels threw sand around wildly as Ashley made one sharp turn after another. The muscles in her forearms became sore as her nerves slowly unravelled. The roaring beast was determined to eat them and did not let up.

The motion and torque of the vehicle often threatened to throw Korik from his chair. He struggled to keep the turret aimed straight long enough to take a shot. For a moment his sights did line up. He fired the harpoon but to no avail as the maw moved at the last second. Furious, he yelled at Ashley, "Keep it steady damn you!"

"I CAN'T," shouted Ashley with surprising force.

She had barely avoided a spit attack by the thresher maw. Considering how battered the Tiger was she didn't trust in its shields to hold up against such a potent substance. Just as Ashley thought she could out maneuver the thresher, a sickening hissing noise arose from the back of the vehicle. A large amount of acid hit the rear melting down through the axel. Immediately the Tiger slid to a halt. The maw was no where to be seen.

Korik grabbed his claymore and went out to check the damage. Ashley stayed in the doorway nearly hyperventilating. "This is it. We're going to die out here."

"You might be right," muttered Korik staring down at the steaming hole which led straight down into the sand.

The maw attacked from below biting into the back end of the Tiger. It shook the vehicle violently; possibly trying to pull it down below the sand. Tipping the Tiger back at a steep angle caused Korik to lose his footing. Ashley lept forward grabbing his hand while keeping her other hand gripped on the doorway. The krogan weighed so much she found it impossible to hang on for long. After a momentary desperate struggle Korik slipped from Ashley's hand. He slid screaming into the maw's open mouth who then bit him in half. Due to the krogan redundant nervous system he lived for a few seconds longer as the maw feasted on his flesh. Shortly after the maw disappeared again.

Horrified by the ordeal, Ashley retreated further into the cabin. The Tiger was severely damaged and half buried in the sand. Needless to say, she wasn't going anywhere. Taking a deep breath she summoned her marine training and tried to stay calm. Ashley was determined to not go down without a fight.

At that moment the thresher maw slammed its head into the side of the Tiger's hull breaking through the weakened metal. The maw's large head couldn't fit through the hole leaving its prey just out of reach. Ashley screamed when the maw burst through the hull. Reacting quickly, she grabbed one of Joran's remaining hydrogen harpoons and began to stab the maw with the sharp end. On the fourth jab the barbed tip got stuck in the maw's mouth activating the hyrdogen bag. Screaming in agony, the maw retreated back below the sand. With the maw's absense more fine sand poured into the Tiger causing it to slip ever further into the ground.

Now that the cabin was no longer safe Ashley went out onto the back deck. Korik's claymore sat in a pool of his own blood nearby. She picked it up before climbing up on top of the turret to make her final stand. Ashley knew if she could shoot the hydrogen bag it would either catch the maw on fire or possibly blow it's head off. The only problem being that claymore's were very difficult for humans to fire without shattering their arms.

The thresher maw could be seen making a wide circle around the disabled vehicle. It's boney fins jutted out from the sand giving the maw a menacing appeal. Without warning those fins changed direction and headed straight for Ashley.

Holding the claymore tight to her shoulder Ashley prepared to fire the large shotgun. When the maw's head came within fifty yards she fired. The spread shot kicked up a lot of sand but no luck. Her shoulder went numb as well. She let off a second shot when the maw reached thirty yards with no result. A sharp pain filled her arm but she managed to hold on. The maw burst up from the ground ready to devour Ashley. Holding up the claymore, Ashley took aim muttering, "You must die!"

The final shot hit its mark causing the hydrogen to ignite and blow the thresher maw's head off. Chunks of thresher meat and blood rained down all around the desert as Ashley cheered. When the dust settled Ashley realized that she had no way back to the hotel. Not to mention her shoulder was most likely dislocated as well as her collar bone being broken. For the rest of the day and that night she lay there in agony unsure of what fate awaited her.

In the morning a civilian shuttle flew by surveying the landscape. Nyala had sent the ship out to get a report on their progress. The pilot spotted the large snake like maw laying dead in the sand. Next to sat the wreckage of Korik's Tiger with Ashley laying helplessly on top. They landed to pick her up and were amazed that she even survived. The mission was finally over. Despite many invitations to celebrate the hotel's reopening, Ashley wanted nothing more than to get back to the Citadel. Hopefully Udina didn't have another assignment waiting for her.

A/N: If this chapter feels rushed that's because it was. I wanted to finish up so I could get to work on a true Mass Aliens sequal. I was tempted to stick with the original line 'smile you son of a bitch' but I figured I'd wrap it up with a ME1 classic quote. Hope you enjoyed the story.