AN: To all of you who give me support through fav's, sub's or reviews – thank you very much!
Another shout out, this time to Tayg and her awesome story 'Uncommon Bonds'. She's the reason why the title is so silly. Liara Balboa rocks!
A heads up: I will be touring Asia from September, 16. till mid October so there will be no updates. I won't pull a Salsar though and hope to actually finish this arc before departing. I was temped to leave you with a cliffhanger – but the only one in the near future is just too evil.
I had a more lengthy AN written here but decided to put most of it at the end of this chapter. It will explain a few thinks as well as go into Leviathan, the new DLC. No spoilers though.
Liara had rounded a couple of corners before she noticed something. She had no idea where to go.
Coming to an abrupt halt she whirled round to face Feron who had followed her in uneasy silence. "I don't suppose you have the data with you?" she asked, not surprised at his negative response. "I assume you were unable to extract it from Meolin and he still has it. So where is he?"
"I'll lead you to him, but if the Broker already knew about my plan, he will also know where to look for Meolin as well," Feron actually seemed eager to offer. "But he's smart and more than a little paranoid after what has happened on Ilos. Make that more paranoid than normal. He might have run at the first sign of trouble."
"Then we better hurry," was all Liara said.
Positions reversed, Liara followed Feron through the abandoned streets of the station. Machines clanked in hidden spaces, contributing to the loud silence that was only pierced on occasion by a distant cry often followed by gunfire. Liara could see that actually most of the dwellings were inhabited but none of the tenants were out and about. Probably too scared or drugged up. Or both.
Feron came to a halt near the end of an unremarkable hidden allay, crouching behind some crates. Across the street Liara could see more prefab shelters haphazardly stacked to something resembling an apartment block. This type of architectonic eyesore was common in the poorer parts of Omega and hardly the first the pair had encountered, but Liara still couldn't believe that people actually lived in those things.
"If he hasn't vanished yet, Meolin will be in on of the prefabs in the near left corner; top floor," Feron said, pointing the ones out that he meant. At Liara's calculating look he continued, "Look, I know it's not pretty but it makes a very good hideaway. I could afford something better but then I would have to worry about being ratted out.
"Pretty stupid of me; in hindsight."
He was regaled with an amused, if slightly schadenfreudig, smirk.
Suddenly an old Batarian woman stepped in front of their small allay, staring directly at them. Liara had her pistol trained at her before Feron even registered what happened. The woman only stared defiantly back at her. She had steel in her eyes, which surprised Liara. She had pictured the people who lived here as broken outcasts.
"Are you going to let me pass or will you shoot me? Either way, make it quick. I haven't got all day," the crone said after a terse minute. Her tone implied she would be very disappointed if Liara would shoot her. It reminded her of her mother.
Lowering her weapon, Liara let herself visibly relax, while strengthening her barriers. Unlike the males of the species she didn't hate the female Batarians. All of them were slaves or had been for a large part of their lives. Batarian women were property of their fathers and later husbands; or sons in case of widows. Only when all male descendants were dead could a Batarian woman be free, a curse as much as it was a blessing. Something told Liara that this one was one of the few. It showed her inner strength. Most in her situation would rather kill themselves. A manless Batarian woman was on the lowest ladder, in some senses even below her enslaved sisters. Freedom can't feed you.
Stepping out of the way she tilted her head slightly to the left to show respect. "Peace be on your way, Revered Mother."
The old woman snorted at her words. "Child, this is Omega. What's this peace you are talking about," she said as she passed them. Liara did not take her eyes from the retreating woman until she vanished around a corner.
The encounter had shaken her more than she cared to admit and it was hard maintaining her confident mask. Apparently she had misjudged the inhabitants of this place; at least some of them. Previously she had planned to just barge in and take everyone out that sported the Blue Sun's colours. She couldn't be certain but she guessed there were no more than eight of them here, most of them spread out and thus vulnerable to a single attacker. Still that approach would lead to a lot of collateral damage and there was the distinct possibility that some bystander would get hurt. That hadn't bothered her until the Batarian crone had shown up.
Now she wasn't so sure anymore.
"Feron, is there another way in, besides the main door?" she asked her guide after they were sure the Batarian wouldn't come back.
"There is an access hatch on the roof but I don't see how we could get there without flying. Unless you got a skycar or some heavy duty climbing gear stowed away somewhere," came his tentative answer. In this neighbourhood people didn't own skycars and it would take them at least half an hour to reach a place where they could rent one. He gave Liara an apologetic look which she acknowledged with a dismissive shrug.
Internally Liara was dismayed. Looking up she immediately saw that he told the truth. The building was isolated, obviously something that had appealed to Feron when he settled on this place. I guess all we can do is be careful not to cause too much damage.
Her gaze settled on the narrowest gap, still far to wide to safely jump it, eyes unseeing as she battled with herself. Unless...
This is stupid! Liara told herself for the hundredth time in as many seconds, but she was already committed. Feron crouched on the roof of the nearest building to their target, exactly where Liara had left him only half a minute ago, staring at her in awe.
She herself was suspended halfway across the gap trying desperately to balance herself between falling down and floating away, and at the same time propel herself forward. The gap was not wide; only ten, maybe fifteen meters by her estimate, yet it felt like the other side of the Galaxy.
Again her plan had seemed so easy on paper. Just lift herself off the ground and then push herself across. Easy. With Shepard at her side she wouldn't have hesitated for a moment; in fact, the assistance of any other biotic would have made this move as simple as trashing Geth. One does the lifting, the other the pushing. But she was alone and had to do both.
Even that would not pose such a big problem if all she had to do was first do a lift than a throw. But she had no intention on splattering herself across the other roof. Stop it, you are overly dramatic! You would be fine. Bruised but in one piece.
Lifting, Throwing and Pulling were generally thought to be very similar by non-Biotics but they were not. Not at all.
Lifting was accomplished by reducing the mass, and at the same time gravity, to zero. The rest was all Newton's Third Law: the victim pushed against the floor, if only slightly, and pushed himself off in the process. Escape velocity was zero in z-gee - without gravity there was no reverting force to keep him grounded.
The mechanism behind Pulling was similar to what happened when a ship used the Relays. The Biotic created a field corridor with a gradual potential which the victim 'tumbled down'. Sadly, at least in this case, the Biotic could not be affected.
Throwing was a sudden change in momentum, which was actually rather complex to do with only mass effect fields, even when the idea was to throw as hard as possible. To a trained Biotic it was no more difficult than the rest of course. They didn't have to worry about the physics behind, just wave their arms and enjoy their foes tumbling like so many bowling pins.
Liara was not throwing very hard but still the continuous nature took its toll on her. She had not completely Lifted herself, reducing her mass to a tenth of its normal value instead of zero and was counteracting the now very weak gravity by carefully regulated Throws slightly angled to provide forward momentum as well. She had to be very careful though if she didn't want to cause a chaotic mixture of the conflicting fields. The effect was not very elegant and slightly nauseating, the up and down reminding her of the more unpleasant trips in the Mako.
Almost there! Asari were similar to Humans in many ways. Sweat was one of them, as evidenced by her glistering forehead. With a final push, slightly more forceful than the previous ones, Liara propelled herself across the edge. Her landing was wobbly but she had made it across safe and sound. Unable to suppress a satisfied smirk she wiped her brow and gave Feron a thumbs up. Angie will be so jealous! I can't wait to tell her that I can fly!
Of course she knew she didn't actually fly and that others before her had mastered similar feats and managed to look much more graceful than her. Liara herself had once witnessed on of the more talented Commandos in Benezias employ glide down effortlessly from a five story building with nothing to aid her but her Biotics. As a young teenager she had been deeply impressed by how relaxed the Matron had looked as she descended like some goddess, bathed in biotic blue.
Liara noticed with satisfaction that Feron had left the roof. The plan was that he would enter the building through the main entrance as soon as Liara had stirred them up sufficiently. He was then to take out any Blue Suns that came his way, thrusting that the confusion would protect him from being spotted immediately. He was also to make sure Meolin would not slip by.
Having given Feron enough time to get into position, Liara opened the trapdoor, gave the room below a quick glance, and hopped down flippantly instead of dropping herself off the ledge. She immediately regretted it as her control over her Biotics had not yet recovered sufficiently. What she intended to be a smaller repetition of the Commandos performance turned into an embarrassing tumble that ended with her backside hitting the ground first, instead of her feet. It was mostly her pride that was bruised; mostly. Even the best armour couldn't protect her from blunt trauma, only spread it out over a larger area. It only meant her arse would be purple all over. Sleep would be difficult for a day or two; Liara was normally sleeping on her back, unless she had her Human pillow. Well, that will teach me to keep my head level. I hope nobody finds out about this...
Quickly getting to her feet she listened if anyone had heard her entrance. It didn't seem so. Just in case she took cover before hitting the opening mechanism to Feron's apartment.
She was surprised to see only two Blue Sun's, a Batarian and a Human in the room. They in turn were just as surprised as she was, only Liara recovered much faster. Before they could even grab for their weapons, on was enveloped in a stasis field and the other dispatched with two precise shots in the head. Liara approached the captured Human slowly, trying not to wince at the pain she was feeling. Going by the look of fear on the man's face she was doing a decent job of it. Seeing her pistol trained steadily at his head might have helped.
"Where is the rest of your sorry gang of loosers?" she asked, releasing him from the stasis. "Where is the Salarian?" Her left hand began to glow biotic blue, a reminder that his temporary freedom could be taken away at a moment's notice. Or that she could blast him with a Warp field. There was no way to tell. The merc seemed ready to piss himself.
"I- I- I don't know! Bato told us to search for anything the frog might have left behind," he was positively shitting himself, going by the fear in his voice. "I don't know what happened! We stormed the place but as soon as we entered all our weapons overheated. That crazy Salarian was mumbling to himself right there and the next moment he was gone. He just vanished! Next thing we know the guy we left outside went down and Bato stormed out leaving only us behind."
"Is that all?" Liara asked taking another threatening step towards the man.
"Yes! It's the truth! Please don't kill me! We wouldn't have done anything to you, I swear!" He was backing away from here but Liara didn't let up.
"I don't believe you," was all the warning he got. Taking a page out of Shepard's book she closed the distance in two swift steps and struck him across the jaw with a biotic-infused fist. He was out cold, his jaw probably shattered. Liara didn't notice; her hand hurt like hell and she was cradling it against her chest, shouting a few choice expletives in various languages no one would have guessed she knew. Yet alone use.
Just as she had moved to her favourite swearing language – Italian, she had Angie to thank for that – as the omni-tool of the dead Batarian suddenly flickered to life. It was an audio only transmission, the caller not wasting any time with pleasantries.
"Bato here, we got that little lizard cornered at the dock at Vatar Plaza, but I can't raise Tizok," Liara recognized the voice easily, eliciting another stream of profanities. "Something has gone wrong and we are not sticking around to find out what. So hurry the fuck up and get your asses here, we are leaving as soon as we got the package."
Laira was out the door in a heartbeat, instructing her own omni-tool to calculate the quickest route to Vatar Plaza. She barely noticed Feron falling in step behind her, not daring to ask her what happened.
They arrived at the dock just in time to see Meolin hauled into a freighter. Liara immediately started firing and throwing the mercenaries around with her biotics. Despite the fact that they got their asses handed to them by a single Asari Maiden they managed to hold the line long enough for the ship to finish its starting procedure. A few minutes more and they would have been overwhelmed but they got off light; only three had to be left behind, dead. Liara could hear Bato swearing at her and promising revenge. She let him shout, as she knew her apparent indifference was fanning his anger; and anger made people stupid. Liara wanted to swear and shout herself, but wouldn't let herself. Goddess! What do I do now?
She considered calling Shepard, but even she would be unable to track down the freighter with the head start they would have by the time the Normandy made it to Omega. She could take the freighter she had used to get to Omega but it lacked the advanced scanning equipment necessary to follow a vessel, even if it was only another freighter. And we are back at the beginning. We have one part, the others the second part. Only this time we are working against the Shadow Broker himself.
Feron, probably guessing at her inner thoughts, was shifting restlessly from one foot the the other. At any other time she would have ignored it, but right now Liara's patience was lacking. "What is it?" she snapped at him. Although he had helped her as best as he could, she hadn't forgiven him his part in all this; not by a long shot.
"Sorry Doctor T'Soni. I think I know where they are going," he answered, taken aback by her sudden agitation. "I want to make this right. I will help you get the data back."
AN you don't have to read:
I actually don't understand how Throw can work. As far as we know, Mass Effect Fields can change the mass in an arbitrary volume of space. They can either lower or increase the mass but there is no mention of impairing momentum or actually act as a force in the codex entry.
I can understand how Lift works and Pull is only slightly different. Singularity is easy too and I can get my head around Warp somewhat. Stasis is a special case since the combat variant is not too far fetched, but the stasis pod variant is something else. And Reave is just plain ridiculous, but in a cool way.
So I will just wave my hand dismissively and say 'A wizard – I mean, Dark Energy did it'. Thankfully Mass Effect is not Hard Science Fiction.
Leviathan. Short version: The action was enjoyable but standard fare. The ambience was stunning and the lore worth it though. Overall better than the other DLCs except LotSB – can't compare it to Overlord and Arrival though, never played them.
Special mention goes to Liara's little quips when you talk to her on the Normandy. The last one had me cracking up. I won't spoil it to you but I think you have to have romanced her for it. The rest of the team also have their moments. If you don't intend to play the DLC look up the dialogue on youtube.
What I don't get is: why have they not included Leviathan in the original game? Had they included the information we get in the DLC, I'm certain they would have received much less flak for the ending. At least it wouldn't have been completely out of the blue. Or they could have replaced From Ashes with Leviathan. As much as I like Javik he is not essential to the story. Leviathan is.
What I like is that I can use the material for this story. It really ties in well in what I had planned anyhow. Still going without the Starchild and the Crucible though.
(Just to be clear: I have nothing major against them in the game. Especially since Leviathan. But I want to go for something different.)
On this note and since Theodur has brought it up in his review (by the way: you rock!) I think I should address this further. Where does this fic go?
Last chapter I explained a little bit about how biotics work (at least here in this story). I also explained how Liara and Shepard have begun to change them.
Progress will not be restricted to biotics however. I already gave several hints that AIs will play a major role and the data Meolin carries is not just a MacGuffin (something everyone is after but has no relevance to the story itself).
This is a story about progress. One thing that bugged me without end was that ever since Virmire they know that their current technology was exactly what the Reapers wanted it to be. No chance in hell can they beat them with what they have. And since I refuse to use the Crucible in this story...
I will try to extrapolate from the tech known in ME and not wildly invent stuff or borrow it from other sources, so this story should keep the ME fell.
I might make an exception for powered armour though. And I'm talking Warhammer 40k-style and not some pussy Iron Man stuff. But that's only because I love the idea of a platoon of Space Marines utterly destroying some Reaper minions with chainswords and bolters. In the name of The Shepard!
And it's basically a downscaled Atlas, so it's not that far fetched...
Or I will go to the source for inspiration: Starship Troopers. The book, not the film.
(Speaking of which; another nugget of SF-trivia: Remember the conversation Shep can have with Ashley in ME1, where they commiserate on their respective times in boot. Their instructor used a very special word: goldbricking.
They even joke about how nobody uses that word besides him. Well, I found the original: Sergeant Zim, of Starship Troopers. He's the Drill Sargeant in charge of Johnny's troop; the one that in the film responds to the question 'Who would bring a knife to a nuke fight?' by impaling the hand of the questioner. In the book he's slightly friendlier. But then the book is very different from the film.)
Another question came up, whether the Collectors would make an appearance or not. Yes, they definitely will.
One premise of this story is that Shepard is more proactive and didn't take the job of hunting down the Geth. As a result she never went back to the Terminus Systems, the main haunt of the Collectors, before returning to Ilos.
Remember, this story is just at the beginning. We haven't really started with ME2 yet, except for Overlord. And I still have another little arc (3-4 chapters) planned before we get to it. Then the title will also start to make sense.
Before you ask: Yes Cerberus will also play a major role, as will Miranda. I fully plan to include the whole team of ME2 in some way or another.
English and German swearing is pretty straightforward which has its uses. French swearing, as we know from the Merovingian, is like wiping your ass with silk. But the Italian steal the prize in both gusto and inventiveness in my opinion. Considering that their normal tone of discussion is a friendly shout, they have to. How else would they get the point across?