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Mass Effect: The Helldiver Saga, Andromeda

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Bet this comes as a bit of a surprise!

So yeah, a fair few of my readers have been hyped for a Helldiver version of Andromeda. I WAS determined to finish Alpha Origins first, but having ultiamtely realized how logn its taken and possibly due to lack of motivation as well, I decided I'd put it on hold FOR NOW.

Make no mistake, one way or another I WILL finish Origins. I don't beleive in leaving a story unfinished.

Anyway, my dear friend Mastermind4892 suggested that I write the first few chapters of Andromeda and see how I feel after that, then deicde for certain if I want to continue or finish Origins first.

So for now, Origins is on hold and I'm going to be doing the first few chapters of this for a while. In some ways, a long break and a fresh start may be what I need.

Those who are familiar with my past works, you can expect a lot of familair things to happen in this. I've got a fair few interesting changes planned (some of which you'll see in this chapter alone)

On a final note, as with my previous works this story will contain violence, language and explicit sex scenes.

Enjoy! :)


Mass Effect: The Helldiver Saga

Andromeda


Prologue:

My name is Sir Major Austin Shepard of Helldiver Squad Alpha. I am recording this message July 25 th  2227. By the time this message is seen, 600 years will have passed, and you will have completed a long journey unlike any other. You all know where you are and why you came here, so I'll spare you the details. I guess all that is left for me to say is good luck to you all.


Chapter 1

Awakening

Scott Ryder finished viewing the message for the third time now. A part of him was still in disbelief that they had made it. 600 years in cryo sleep during a journey across dark space all the way to a new galaxy. People dreamed of moments like this for so long, yet when it came they didn't know what to say.

His train of thought though was interrupted by the appearance of a figure stepping in front of him.

"How many times have you watched that now?" asked Lexi T'Perro.

"Third and final time now. I think it's sunk in." Scott replied.

They were in the med bay of the Vadazar, one of the many arks in the Andromeda initiative.

Scott had just recently been awoken from an almost 600 year long sleep in a cryo pod, with the ark having finally arrived at its destination, the Andromeda galaxy. Hailing from the Milky Way, the Andromeda Initiative had been a massive undertaking, an exhibition to explore and perhaps even colonize the Andromeda galaxy. The idea for the Initiative had first been put forward by the Arkanes, an insect like race best for their creation of the multi species super soldier program called the Helldivers. With the finest training, technology, weapons, and massive advanced suits of armour, the Helldiver were considered the finest soldiers in the galaxy, or the Milky Way at least.

Scott was one of these soldiers. He and his sister, Sara Ryder had joined their ranks a few years before the Initiative had been proposed.

All around the med bay various scientists and doctors, all of different races were tending to the others being awoken from cryo. They too with a various different species.

Unlike the other races in the Initiative that had made the journey in their own arks, the Helldivers shared theirs with the Arkanes. From the very beginning, the Vadazar (named after the first unofficial Helldiver, Vadazar Zartrack) had been intended as the Arkane ark. At the time there had still been debate over whether the Helldivers should be sorted into arks by species due to them being from various races.

In the end however, the decision had instead been made for the Helldivers to all make the journey in the same ark, regardless of species. After all, the Helldivers were a symbol of unity.

This was a primary reason why the Vadazar was twice the size of any other ark. Not only did it have to carry 20,000 Arkanes, but it also carried 20,000 Helldivers and its own factory for building more.

"So many people think it gets easy from here." Said Lexi, returning Scott's thoughts to the task at hand.

"Even if it doesn't, we'll be ready." he said calmly.

"I hope so."

"You don't sound so sure."

"Word came down, the Pathfinder wants you mission ready within the hour."

"Why? What's going on?"

"He didn't say."

Pathfinders were tasking with the job of locating a suitable planet for their race. In a way, they essentially served as leaders until they were no longer needed.

The Pathfinder for the Vadazar was both an Arkane and a Helldiver. Veelak Kharasall, not only a respected Helldiver soldier, but also the mentor of both Scott and Sara. And even before that he had also mentored their father, Alec Ryder.

Alec Ryder though was not with them. He was not even on the Vadazar at all. Whilst Alec had indeed been a Helldiver, he wasn't anymore. Many years back, had dabbled an AI research, something the Arkanes were not that fond of. The Helldivers themselves did not use AI in their suits. At the very most, they only had really advanced suit computers. The sole function of these computers were to help manage and monitor the suits of armour of a Helldiver in order to make things easier for its user.

What's more, Alec's AI research concerned advanced AI, ones that weren't bound by restrictions. This, the Arkanes were completely against. Not because they did not shy away from the ever growing evolution of technology, but because they knew AI's were dangerous. The ideas also that Alec seemed to propose only further made them wish to discharge him from the Helldivers, his research as proof.

Finally though they had no choice when it was found that Alec had tampered with his suit. Though Helldivers were permitted to modify their armour, the changes they were allowed to make were only cosmetic ones such as appearance personalization. Attempting to modify the suit's internal systems, especially deep layer ones, however was completely illegal.

Alec had been immediately dishonourably discharged as a result and had been forced to surrender his armour.

When the Arkanes proposed the Initiative however, they did come to the decision to make Alec the human Pathfinder, as they could not think of anyone else better suited for the role. They had made it clear from the beginning however it was not reinstatement.

Lexi finished her final evaluation of Scott and walked up to a nearby console.

"Right, your vitals look good. Just one more thing to check before I clear you. Let's make sure your AI comm channel is working." She said.

There was a temporary pause.

"EDI, are you receiving?"

Another pause followed before a blue hologram appeared in front of Lexi. The hologram was humanoid in appearance, and female. Thought it seemed time it was clearly not human, but more like a robot with a very realistic human like face.

"Loud and clear, Dr T'Perro." The AI said. "Comm channel to Scott Ryder is online."

Lexi turned to Scott who had also turned to face the Asari. He seemed somewhat surprised at the appearance of this AI.

"Scott, this is EDI, the Helldiver and Vadazar AI."

"Hello, Scott Ryder." Said EDI.

"I thought all the arks had that SAM AI." Said Scott.

It was true, all the other arks had a different AI known as SAM. But not the Vadazar. As it had been said before, the Arkanes did not trust AIs. When the SAM AI had bene proposed, the Arkanes had outright refused to allow it due to how advanced it was, how much freedom it had and the fact that it required a direct implant in the body for connection. What's more, Alec had been part of the AI's creation.

The Arkanes had ultimately allowed the other ark species to use it, but had continued down their own path. Instead, they had used EDI as their AI.

EDI was first created by an organization called Cerberus, an enemy of the Helldivers. An intervention from Shepard however had led to EDI switching sides and had joined the Helldivers cause. Being able to keep an eye on the AI directly, the Arkanes had eventually grown to trust EDI, especially after she had helped Shepard take down a race known only as the Collectors.

Unlike SAM, EDI had safeguards to keep her in check and even her connection to the Helldivers was only through comm channels. She had never any direct link to a Helldiver or their suit. Not that having that in the first place would do her much good anyway. The Helldivers had enough defences, firewalls and system blocks to prevent hacking of any kind that attempting to access the suit would've essentially been suicide for her.

Lexi finished the exact same explanation to Scott.

"Anyway, now that your comm channel is online, you should be good to go." She said.

"Thank you, Doctor."

"Though you may wish to hang around. Your sister's just coming out of cryo now."

She indicated over to a nearby pod that was in the process of being defrosted and opened.

"Always helps to see a familiar face." Scott shrugged.

Within five minutes, the pod was open. Sara Ryder stirred as she slowly awoke. As her vision cleared he could make out the shape of heads looking down on her. She then heard a voice that she recognized quite easily.

"Welcome to the future, miss." Scott said in jokingly deep and sarcastic tone.

"Hey, Scott. Glad to see 600 years hasn't taken away your sense of humour." Sara smiled as she hugged her bother.

"How you feeling?" Lexi asked, beginning her scan.

"Still cold, but nothing serious." Sara simply shrugged.

"That's what all you Helldivers say."

"We're super soldiers, what do you expect?" Scott chuckled.

Two minutes passed as Lexi evaluated Sara. Finally, she cleared her as well.

"Alright, you're both clear for duty." She finished.

A sudden loud creaking noise echoed through the med bay, grabbing everyone's attention.

"What was that?" Scott asked cautiously.

The whole place suddenly shook violently causing everyone to lose their balance. Right before they could hit the ground however, they suddenly found themselves floating in mid-air.

"What's going on?"

"Gravity systems offline. Hold one moment." Said EDI.

A small shake followed and the gravity reset. Everyone fell back onto the floor along with anything else that hadn't been strapped down.

"You okay?" Scott asked.

Sara nodded as she helped Lexi up.

At that moment, a female came from the speakers.

"This is the Pathfinder, mission teams continue preparations. Ryders, report to the bridge."

"You'd better get moving. We can handle things here." Said Lexi.

The two Ryders simply nodded and made their way to the bridge.


The atmosphere on the bridge was just as tense with everyone busy at stations assessing what had happened.

The Arkanes were a race that definitely stood out compared to other sentient life forms in the Milky Way. They were only sentient race that came close to insects. In fact, their faces alone resembled an Earth Mantis. Unlike Mantises though, they had much smaller eyes, almost to the point of having more human like eyes. These eyes were also more to the front of their heads, unlike on a mantis were they were at the back.

Though some mistake them for being just as fragile as an insect, they were anything but. Though their skin did not look it, it was actually very tough. If someone tried to stab them with a knife for example, it'd take at least two hits and that would be just to draw blood.

They were a very physically strong race. Nowhere near as strong as Krogan, but stronger than the average human. And it certainly showed. Physique wise, they were quite well built. Broad shoulders, a definite v shape in their backs and arms that while not considered huge, were enough to look strong.

Even the females were just as well built. In fact, body wise, it was difficult to tell genders apart. The only features that differentiated the females was that they tended to be a few inches shorter and also had more smoother and slightly smaller heads, whereas the males usually had rougher and larger heads with a few ridges.

The Arkanes did not technically have feet. Instead they had another pair of hands as feet. Given also that they had two thumbs on their hands, this seemed to work well for them. It did also mean that Arkanes could potentially hang upside down from a ceiling if they had something to grab onto. Popular superstitions were that they could walk on walls, but that wasn't technically possible. They could if there railings or something to grab onto though, but smooth surfaces were impossible.

Stood in the centre of everything was the Vadazar's captain, Malak Draanok.

"Report."

"Damage sustained, but appears minor at best." One of the crew replied.

"Any casualties?" Malak asked.

"None to report. Minor injuries at very most. All cryo pods remain intact."

"That was too close."

At that moment, the doors opened again and in stepped the Pathfinder. Veelak Kharasall was just as the Ryder remembered her. Dark green skin, scar over her left eye, a mandible missing on the left of her face, and a birthmark on her neck which she sometimes covered with a scarf. At 400 years old she was definitely a veteran by the standards of any race.

"What's our situation, Captain?" she asked.

"Minimal damage at most. We got lucky." Malak replied.

"What's our position?"

"We're not sure yet. Sensors are still recalibrating…" a crew member replied. "There. We have telemetry."

There was a long pause. The crew member seemed shocked as he looked at his instruments.

"Captain… I don't know how to tell you this… but we're way off course."

"What do you mean?"

"We're not even in the right system."

"What?!"

"How the hell did this happen?!"

"I honestly don't know, captain. But somehow we've come out in the Eriksson system."

A long silence fell over the bridge. It was one for them to be off course to the point of not being lined with their destination, but to be so off course that they were in the wrong system altogether…

"Captain, we're picking up something on the sensors." One of the crew interrupted, breaking the silence. "It's a ship."

As their course altered around the cloud (or whatever it was) it revealed a very surprising sight.

"No, its… it's an ark. Captain… it's the Hyperion."

Sure enough, there was the human ark.

"My god."

"What happened to it?"

"Must have hit this dark energy cloud like we did. Only their ark isn't as tough."

"Certainly doesn't look in good shape."

"The ark's sustained heavy damage, multiple systems are offline, engines are damaged… It's practically stranded."

"Any life signs?"

"Unknown yet."

"Captain, we're getting signal from the Hyperion. They've got us on their sensors and are trying to contact us."

"Put them through."

"Yes, sir."

An image of the Hyperion's bridge appeared on the screen in front. Close up to the screen was a human woman. Scott and Sara recognized her as Captain Dunn, captain of the Hyperion.

"This is Captain Draanok of the Vadazar, we're receiving your signal and have your ark in sight." Malak said.

"Thank god. We need immediate assist. Our ark's been damaged by this cloud and we're stranded until we can repair It." said Dunn.

"We can dock with your ark and help with repairs. Also get you away from this cloud." Said Malak.

"Thank you, Captain."


As the two arks docked, most the Hyperion's crew had been brought aboard to be treated for injuries and trade supplies.

Dunn then came aboard as well. Following behind her was none other than Alec and his second whom Scott remembered was Cora Harper, having met her just prior to the ark launch.

"I can't tell you how grateful we all are. If you hadn't shown up…" said Dunn.

"Why are you even here? As I recall, this wasn't the system your ark was meant to arrive in." Alec asked.

"Even we don't know. Somehow our ark ended up way off course." Sara replied.

"Well it's fortunate you did. You've probably saved a lot of lives today." Said Cora.

"Captain, the arks are clearing the cloud. We have a visual. You're gonna want to see this." A voice said over the speakers.


Returning to the bridge, everyone found themselves gazing upon an unwelcome sight. Ahead of them lay a planet, and the cloud looked worryingly as though it had infected it or something.

"My god." Dunn said in shock. "Is that… our golden world?"

"That's habitat 7. New earth, if we're lucky." Said Alec. "All our long range scanners told us it was in the green zone, perfect for human settlement."

"What happened to it?" Cora asked rhetorically.

"Are you sure about those scans?" Scott asked.

"It's a good question." Said Dunn.

"Things can change, it's been 600 years." Alec simply replied.

"EDI, what can you tell us?" Veelak asked.

"The energy from the phenomenon is dampening sensors. Current conditions are unknown." EDI replied.

There was a pause before Alec spoke.

"We're stranded for now until our ark's fixed. In the meantime, we need to know if this place is safe harbour."

"You're going down there?" Veelak asked in surprise.

"Like I said, we've nothing else to do until our arks repaired. Might as well make use of the time." Said Alec. "I'm not asking your own team to join us, Veelak. But we'd certainly benefit from your help."

"A fair point." Veelak sighed. "I'll have own my team ready in a few minutes."

"Harper, the rest of the team should be awake by now. Have them ready in five." Said Alec.

"Yes, sir."

With that, Alec and Cora both left.

"A stubborn one, isn't he." Said Dunn.

"Your guess is as good as ours. We may be related, but I still haven't figured him out." Said Scott.

"I understand your last meeting with him was... unpleasant."

"That's putting it mildly." Said Sara, a hint of bitterness in her voice.

"Anyway, we'll be joining them on the ground. Get suited up." Said Veelak.

"Roger that."


As Scott finished securing his helmet in place, he took a moment to move around to make sure there wasn't any stiffness anywhere while his suit finished diagnostics.

Scott hadn't don't too much in terms of customizing his armour. There were however several noticeable additions he'd made. Chief among them was the scarf he wore around his neck and the cape on his back. Other minor additions were a few extra ammo pouches, a knife sheathed on his chest, and an antenna used to better monitor outside atmosphere.

It was fair to say he had a definite explorer like look to him.

"Armour still functioning?" Sara asked, finishing her own diagnostics.

Sara meanwhile had a different look which better suited her class. Whilst Scott was a soldier class, Sara was an engineer. She worse various different pieces of equipment on her armour. Most noticeable were the deployable turrets on her back, a folded up drone strapped to her belt, various grenades on her belt, arms, shoulders and legs, small ammo chances which she could deploy in combat, and a flame thrower mounted internally into her right gauntlet.

Internally, as an Engineer Sara also had an enhanced shield capacitor, a slightly more sophisticated omni tool, and a factory overclocked suit computer, enabling her to work a bit faster.

"Like I only wore it yesterday." Scott replied.

"All primary systems online. Clear to proceed." Said the voice of the suit's computers.

Scott couldn't help but notice the occasional glances Cora was giving them as she finished putting on her own gear.

"You know we can see you staring, right, Harper?" Sara said.

"Sorry. I've just… never seen a Helldiver in the flesh before." Cora apologised, slightly embarrassed at being caught.

"First time for everything." Scott joked, causing Sara to snigger slightly.

With the suit up complete, they now began equipping their weapons.

Scott being a soldier of course had no shortage of variety in his loadout.

A traditional M-76 Revenant assault rifle, ever so slightly modified by the Helldivers with two drum magazines, thus increasing the ammunition count to a very high number, an added scope for aiming, a laser pointer for extra aiming, certain materials swapped out for lighter ones, a grenade launcher attachment and a barrel attachment which could also function as a silencer if need be.

An M-13 Raptor sniper rifle with the same modifications, and an N7 Hurricane as his sidearm.

Sara meanwhile, who preferred to stay light due to the heavy equipment she needed to carry, stuck to X-5 Ghost, an M-12 Locust SMG and an M-5 Phalanx pistol.

Having a melee weapon was also required for all Helldivers. Even if they didn't use it that much, it was compulsory for them to carry at least some kind of physical melee weapon.

In Scott's case, he'd gone for a standard issue sword. Short in length for practical carrying and ideally designed for close quarter fighting.

Sara meanwhile had a silver tonfa baton. Whilst not lethal on its own, it did have a retractable blade inside should she ever have the need to do more than simply damage.

"Quite a lot firepower for a Pathfinder team." Said Cora observantly.

"Standard procedure for all Helldivers, explorers or no. We don't plan on using them." Said Sara.

"Then why bring that much?" Cora asked.

"Better to have something and not need it, then to need something and not have It." said Scott.

Cora couldn't' help but smile as she agreed with that.

"Truer words were never spoken."


As the Helldiver dropship left the Vadazar's docking bay, Scott and Sara finally got a glimpse of the two arks together. The Hyperion's damage looked even worse form out here. What's more, they got an even bigger look at the energy cloud both arks had hit.

"That cloud is huge." Said Sara

"Sensors appear to register it as an unstable mass of dark energy." Said EDI.

"Hold tight, we're getting some turbulence." The pilot said as the dropship started to shake a bit. Scott and Sara

"Gravity anomalies detected." Said EDI.

"We're clear, accelerating to cruising speed."

For a moment, the shuttle was bathed in an orange glow as it entered the planet's atmosphere. When it finally cleared though, they found themselves looking upon a planet that looked nothing like what they'd expected.

"Holy shit." Said Scott.

"Shuttle 2, are you seeing this?"

"Affirmative. Doesn't look liveable to me." Said Sara.

"Stay on course to the landing sight." Said Veelak.

A further surprise then greeted them as they floated past several rocks just hovering in mid-air.

"Errr, mountains are floating?" Sara asked, making sure she wasn't the only one seeing this.

Then they caught sight of something else. What looked like some kind of man made structure was visible in the distance.

"What's that?"

"That has to be advanced engineering." Said Sara.

"Hyperion, this is the Pathfinder, we've got evidence of an advanced civilization." Alec said over the comm.

"Has anyone seen us?" Scott asked cautiously.

"What if they're not friendly?" Sara asked with concern.

"Keep that talk to yourself." Said Veelak. "We stick to protocol. Do not fire unless fired upon."

The dropship suddenly shook so violently it caused Scott and Sara to nearly fall over.

"What the he…"

"Lightning strike!" the pilot yelled as the dropship shook again.

The door was then suddenly ripped off as the dropship began spinning out of control, the pulling force pulling Sara out.

"SARA!" Scott yelled as he managed to grab onto something.

As he tried to reach for her hand however, the dropship shook again causing both of them to fall right out. Scott lost sight of Sara as he tried to steady himself. He attempted to activate his jump jet, but it didn't respond.

"Jump jet malfunction."

"NOT NOW!"

Scott could only hope and pray in his head as the ground kept getting closer and closer…


To be continued...

Hope you liked the new take I've put on this. I'm just getting started. Until the next one!

Chapter Text

Came to the realization that are certain things I thought I had to do that I now realize I don't have to, so that's speeded writing up tremendously.

I know this and the first chapter probably feel a bit short, which I agree with. I'm sure though later ones will end up being a bit longer.

Anyway, I'll let you enjoy.


Chapter 2

Clearing the Air

Sara just managed to activate her jump jet in time to slow her descent. She ended up though hitting a nearby rock causing her to lose balance. Finally the rolling stopped as hit the ground really hard. Thankfully, her armour pretty much absorbed the entire impact.

"Ow."

Slowly bringing herself back onto her feet, she checked to make sure there was no significant damage to her suit or its systems. With the check completed, she then checked her comms. With those however, not so much luck.

"This is Ryder 1, come in." she said. No response. "Vadazar? EDI? Anyone there?"

Nothing but static.

"Dammit! Fucking comms!" she swore.

She then noticed movement off to her left. Scott had also just landed like her.

"Scott!" she yelled as she ran up to her brother and helped him up. "You alright?"

"I've had softer landings." Scott groaned.

"Yeah, some of those were on me." Said Sara.

"I said I was sorry about that."

The two took a moment to look around. The entire planet looked nothing like what had bene promised. It was completely unliveable. Rocks floating, lightning and mostly unattractive rocky surfaces and planets.

"This is Ryder 2, is anyone there?" said Scott as he too tried his comms.

"I already tried. All comm channels are dead." Said Sara.

"Well that's just great." Scott complained. "What about the others? Did anyone else make it?"

"I've no idea. You saw the dropship spilt in two… no idea what happened to the Hyperion one." Sara replied. "So much for a welcome wagon."

"Yeah. No way in hell this home."

"We should get to higher ground. See if anyone else is alive."

"Good idea."

Jumping over ravens and manoeuvring through caves, the two Helldivers finally made their way to higher ground. As Scott helped Sara up however they laid eyes on a new sight. Ahead was some kind of large tower like structure. The lightning seemed to be striking it regularly.

"What the hell is that?" Sara asked.

"It's not a hotel, that's for sure. Nothing around here makes any sense." Said Scott.

As they started making their way downhill, Sara then noticed something else.

"Scott, look."

Scott looked in the direction his sister was indicating. Sure enough, there was some shuttle wreckage along with a man in full armour rested against it. The fact that he was doing that obviously indicated that he was injured, otherwise he wouldn't not have lingered. The suit's computers identified him as Fisher.

"That's one of the crew from the Hyperion."

Their immediate first reaction was to help him. As they were about to however, Sara suddenly noticed something.

"Wait! Get down!"

This time, it was something different. Not a structure, or a floating mountain… but a life form.

Two large figures, humanoid in appearance, appeared to be searching the area. They were armed with guns, which was reason alone for concern. Their overall appearance didn't give the impression of peacefulness either. Their bulky and armoured bone like appearance at the very least suggested they could at the very least fight back if engaged.

"What the shit?" said Sara as she and Scot took cover out of sight.

"I don't want to make early judgements, but they don't look friendly." Said Scott.

"I know, but at the very least we should try to communicate. We only get one shot at "hello" with them." Said Sara.

"Hope you're right."

The two slowly stood back up again, making sure to keep their hands and arms where these things could see them.

"Slow and easy. Only engage if we have to." Said Sara as they slowly made their way down the hill.

One of the creatures appeared to trying to interrogate Fisher, whilst the other kept guard. It soon caught sight of the two armoured humans slowly approaching.

"That one's seen us."

It raised its gun at them and spoke in some unknown language which neither of them could understand.

"We can't understand you." Said Scott.

"We're not here to fight! That man's with us!" said Sara.

One again though, the creature spoke in the unknown language. It raised its gun a little more when Scott and Sara were almost within arm's length. That was clear signal to the two Helldivers that it was telling them to stop and that they'd come close enough.

Compliantly, they remained where they were.

"What's that other one doing?"

The one that had been trying to interrogate Fisher than raised its gun. To the surprise and shock of the twins, it then hit Fisher continuously with the butt of the gun.

"They're beating him!"

"Hey! Leave him alone!" Scott yelled as he stepped forward, intending to stop this.

The other creature immediately yelled and opened fire. Scott and Sara both dove their cover and unholstered their weapons. Immediately, they returned fire. A shot from the enemy caught Sara on the shoulder, but her armour plating took the worst of it and didn't pierce her skin.

Seizing her chance when the enemy temporarily ceased firing, the engineer popped out of cover and fired right at the creature. Since it had failed to take cover, several shots hit it right in the head. Scot meanwhile was pinned by the one engaging him. It made the mistake however of advancing on him. Once it was close enough, Scott suddenly grabbed it; pulled it over the rock he'd been taking cover behind, threw it to the floor and sank his omni blade right in.

"That's it." he said.

"Hey. Are you alright?" Sara asked, running up to Fisher.

"I'll live. Thought I was a goner." Fisher replied. "Thanks for stepping in."

"They attacked you unprovoked and shot at us first. At least we can definitely say we weren't the aggressors." Said Scott.

"We still don't know what they wanted." Said Fisher.

"Who says we'd even understand? Or they'd understand us?" said Sara. "We're the aliens here."

"Well, one thing we know for sure is that they have firepower to equal ours." Said Scott, brushing off ash from where said firepower had scorched the armour on the side of his left arm.

"No kidding." Said Sara. She then turned back to Fisher. "Do you know if there any other survivors?"

"They're gone. Kirkland and Greer went looking for help." Fisher replied.

"Let's get you up." Sara said as she tried to help Fisher up.

"Agh! My leg! I think it's broken. You two should go on without me. Strong as you are, I'll only slow you down." Said Fisher.

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah. Just find us help."

Scott meanwhile was examining the dead bodies of whatever these creatures were.

"What are these things?" he said to himself as he activated his omni tool.

"Scanning." His suit's computer said.

"Well, they're DNA based and their armour reads as some kind of bone. The genetics though are all over the place." He said as he observed the results.

"Engineered maybe?" Sara asked.

"Without a more in depth analysis or help from EDI, I don't know."


They continued on through the ravine. Soon they caught sight of another crew member. Unfortunately, he too had bene found by these creatures… and they had him at gunpoint.

"There's another survivor." Said Sara.

Before they had a chance to try and act however, the creature fired.

"They shot him!"

This time, the two Helldivers didn't wait and both opened fire. The fight was over within seconds.

"Yeah. No vital signs. Just shot in cold blood." Sara said with regret as she examined the body.

"He was surrendering. Why kill him?" Scott asked rhetorically.

"Who can say? We still know nothing about their motives." Said Sara. "We'll let the Hyperion crew know to come back for his body once we find them. Let's keep moving."


As they continued further, even finding an odd looking alien facility along the way as well as another survivor that this time they managed to save, they then spotted a more familiar sight.

"Hey, look! Flares!" said Sara.

"Hopefully that's the others." Said Scott.

As they began heading in the direction however something large suddenly leapt at them out of nowhere. Some kind of dog like quadruped. Like these other creatures it an armoured bone like appearance.

"What the fu…"

The thing tackled Sara to the ground but she managed to grab onto its head to stop it from biting her. This gave Scott enough time to draw his sword and stab the creature right in its head.

"Well… its dead." Sara panted as she pushed the thing off. "How'd it do that? It cloaked like we do."

"It's organic. No sign of technology." Said Scott as he scanned the body.

"So the cloaking is biological?"

"There's no other way."


"SOS on frequency 154.3. Anyone there?"

"That's Harper!" said Sara.

"Cora, we read you. You're alive!" said Scott.

"Shuttle repairs are underway, but we're surrounded!"

"We're on our way!"


It looked almost like the shuttle was about to be overrun just as the two Ryder's arrived.

"We've got your back!" said Scott as he and Sara opened fire.

"They're trying to pin us down!" said Cora as she gunned down one of the aliens.

With the Helldivers now having entered the fray, the tide quickly turned and the enemy fill quickly.

"Cavalry to the rescue. Nice to see you two." Said Dr Carlyle.

"Is everyone okay?" Scott asked.

"Still in one piece. You got here just in time." Cora replied.

"Where's our father?" Sara asked.

"He went scouting ahead while we fixed the shuttle."

"Did these things try talking to you at all?"

"Barely a word, then started shooting. What about you?"

"They fired on us first too. They left us no choice but to defend ourselves."

At that moment there was the sound of engines as a larger alien dropship came into view.

"Oh hell… enemy ship on the way!"

Surprisingly, both Scott and Sara did not seem concerned by this. They simply cast looks at each other, then activated their omni tools.

Much to everyone else's surprise, both Helldivers fired a massive plasma shot from some kind of cannons mounted to an articulated arm on their shoulders. Both shots hit the dropship sending it spinning out of control and crashing nearby.

"Problem solved." Scott shrugged casually.

"Why can't we have one of those?" said Cora admirably.

One alien had been thrown from the dropship and had landed near them. It was barely on the ground for a minute though before one of the Initiative soldiers emptied his entire magazine into it, despite it already being dead.

"Liam! Enough!" Cora ordered.

"Right. It's just… these assholes attacked us for no reason." Liam Kosta said.

"This isn't the time to lose control." Said Scott sternly.

Liam very quickly shot the last of his rounds into the body one final time.

"Now I feel better."

"Did you find any of the others?" Cora asked.

"Fisher's wounded but sitting tight. Greer's with him… but our dropship's scrap." Sara explained.

They were interrupted however when they noticed rocks starting to float around them. They'd learned now this was an early warning of lighting about to hit. They could easily move out of the way, but Dr Carlyle was tending to a wounded soldier, and she couldn't be moved in time.

"Oh shit." Scott cursed.

"Take cover! Take cover!" Sara yelled.

Cora however instead stood over Dr Carlyle and the wounded soldier.

"Hang on!"

She then, to everyone astonishment, conjured a biotic barrier around them, shielding them all from the lightning as it struck.

"I didn't know you were a biotic." Said Liam.

"Don't worry. It's not contagious." Said Cora, dropping her barrier once the lightning stopped.

"Before they attacked, I… I managed to fix our comms." The wounded soldier managed to say.

"You're a lifesaver. Now just take it easy." Said Cora.

Scott and Sara immediately rechecked their own comm channels. Sure enough, they were back online.

"Connection re-established. Are you alright, Ryders?" they heard EDI's voice ask.

"We're good. Thanks for asking." Said Scott, relieved to hear EDI's voice again, even if it was only an AI voice.

"You have incoming transmission from Pathfinder Veelak."

A full hologram of Veelak appeared in Scott and Sara's hands whilst Cora got the message on her omni tool.

"Ryders. Good to see you in one piece. I'm here with your father."

Sure enough, Alec could be seen in the background.

"Is he okay?" Sara asked.

"I'm fine. What's our status?" said Alec.

"We're here with Liam and Cora." Scott replied.

"We have wounded crew. The good news is our shuttle's been repaired. We can get back to the arks." Said Cora.

"Not with these storms. It's too risky to fly." Said Alec.

"Our wounded can't wait much longer!" Sara objected.

"She's right, Alec. I assume you have something in mind?" said Veelak.

"If the storm's the problem, then lets solve the problem." Said Alec.

"We're talking about weather." Said Scott.

"And I may have an idea about that. Rendezvous at our coordinates, we'll…"

"They've spotted us!" Veelak interrupted as the connection abruptly cut off.

"Sir! Sir!" Cora yelled. "Can you two manage alone?"

"I can keep her stable, for a while." Dr Carlyle replied.

"Let's move then."


Tracing Alec's signal led them to what appeared to be the tower they'd seen earlier. It was surrounded however by some kind of energy field being generated by some smaller structures of some kind.

Alec and Veelak were crouched down in a nearby cave overlooking the whole thing.

"Sir…"

"Stay low." Said Alec.

Down below were more of those aliens, patrolling the area.

"Who are these guys?" Cora asked.

"Visitors. Just like us. I don't' think they're native to the planet." Said Alec.

"They're not. Scott and I found an abandoned lab. Like they've been studying this place." Said Sara.

"Good scouting work, you two." Said Veelak.

"It seemed important." Scott shrugged.

"Sir, you said you had an idea about the weather?" Cora asked.

"It's the dark energy cloud the Hyperion and Vadazar hit. It's affecting the whole planet, interfering with that." Said Alec, indicating to the tower.

"EDI says the tower is in a feedback loop with the cloud. Together, they're disrupting the entire climate." Veelak explained.

"Which suggests if we can get in there and shut it down…" Alec started.

"The lightning goes away." Liam finished.

"And the shuttle can get us out of here, in theory. We just need to get past them." Said Alec.

"We're banking on science we don't really know. Do we even know for certain if we can… change the tower like that?" Scott asked, not expecting to get an answer.

"We haven't much choice." Said Veelak. "Our priority right now though, is getting through that energy field surrounding the tower, not to mention more of those things."

"I've been working on that. We just need to change the math." Said Alec, activating his omni tool.

A nearby rod was suddenly struck by the lightning which then travelled all the way to the small structures, destroying both them and the fields they were generating.

"Unorthodox, but effective." Veelak shrugged. "Let's go."

"Push ahead to the structure!" Alec yelled.

"Ryders, set your plasma cannons to auto!" Veelak ordered.


"We're clear."

"It's not over yet. We need to get through that door over there!" said Alec.

"Warning! Hostiles incoming!" the suit's computers warned them.

"There's more on the way!" Scott said.

"Cover me. I need to decipher the language." Said Alec.

"Alright. Scott, you and Cora cover the right. Sara and Liam, take the left. I'll cover Alec." Veelak ordered.

"Affirmative."

The aliens kept on coming, but both sides kept them at bay. One or stragglers broke through, but they stood little chance against Veelak.

"Hurry up, Alec! We can't hold them off all day!" the Arkane groaned, dodging several shots.

"Just a little longer! SAM's almost finished decrypting." Said Alec.

"Well tell that AI to hurry the fuck up!"


"Clear for now!" said Sara.

"That did it! It's a security override. I'll try to open to door from here!" said Alec.

The door opened slightly, but then stopped.

"Damn it! It's jammed!"

"You two, help him. We'll keep a lookout!" said Veelak

"You really think this is gonna work?" Scott asked as he and Sara helped Alec open the door.

"I don't know yet. SAM's decoded part of the language. Now we'll see if I can have a conversation." Said Alec.

"Who do you plan on talking to?" Scott asked.

"More like "what." I think it's automated."

Alec walked up to what looked like some kind of holo display of an odd looking triangle. Scot and Sara kept their distance and their weapons ready just in case

"SAM, begin translation." Alec said as he raised his hand towards the hologram. "Let's see what we have."

The twins watched as an orange hologram looking almost similar to a mystical cloud began to spread from Alec's hand as it interfaced with the hologram.

A sound behind them startled them and they spun round, guns raised. Instead however, they were treated to the sight of clear skies. It had actually worked.

"I'll be dammed… its working!" said Alec as he and the twins made their way back outside. "There's hope, at least."

"You may actually be right." Said Scott, sounding just as amazed.

Before anyone could say anything more however, they were quite literally swept off their feet as some kind of cloud shot out from inside the tower, the force of sending them all flying.

Scott temporarily managed to grab onto something, but his grip slipped. When he finally hit the ground however, things got worse. He heard the unmistakable sound of metal breaking. The natural human reflex made him shut his eyes as I happened. When he opened them again he found that either a sharp rock or something had torn a huge gash right in his helmet. He realized to his horror that he was now exposed to the hazardous air, and was breathing it in.

"Oh shit!"

In the distance he could see an orange light. Slowly, Alec came into view, limping.

"Repeat, we need an emergency extraction now!" he said into his omni tool.

"They're spinning up the shuttle! ETA is three, maybe four minutes!" said Cora over the comms.

"We don't have that long." Said Alec, kneeling down in front of Scott who now sounded close to choking. "Take off your helmet. Quickly!"

Given the current situation, Scott didn't have much choice and allowed the seals on his helmet to disengage, allowing Alec to remove it. Alec then took off his own helmet and placed it on Scott.

"Deep breaths!"

Scott tried to ask what the hell his father was doing, but he could feel his grip on reality fading as his vision went dark and he passed out.


Scott's eyes opened so suddenly he felt as though he'd been awakened from a nightmare.

"Oh my head." He groaned as he sat up.

He now realized he was no longer on Habitat 7. He was in some kind of room.

"Are you alright, Scott?" he suddenly heard EDI ask him.

"I think so." Scott replied.

The Helldiver further looked around. He now saw he was in EDI's main AI core. This was an obvious sign he was back on board the Vadazar as that was only possible place EDI's core was. He also now became aware that he wasn't wearing his suit or his father's helmet. They'd been removed.

He had little reason to worry though. He was back on board the Vadazar after all, so it probably meant it had been removed safely by the Arkanes. It was he looked around more hen then spotted his suit behind him. It appeared to be plugged into EDI's core directly with cables and from the looks of the screens next to it some kind of data was being transferred or exchanged.

"What happened?" Scott asked.

"You were unconscious for several hours due to exposure to the planet's atmosphere." EDI replied.

"Scott!"

Scot only had a second to react before Sara suddenly flung her arms around him and hugged him tightly.

"Everyone get up here. Scott's awake!" she said into her omni tool after she'd finally let go of her brother. "Who were talking to?"

"EDI, of course." Scott replied, sounding a little surprised that his sister had asked that.

"I didn't hear her." Sara said, sounding puzzled.

At that moment, the doors opened and Cora, Lexi and Liam all walked in.

"You're up." Said Cora with relief.

Lexi meanwhile raised her hand.

"Look here." She said, slowly moving the omni tool as a sight test. "And here."

"Where's Dad?" Scott asked once Lexi had finished.

Silence fell over the room as everyone looked unsure how to respond. Sara hung her head, a sad look on her face. It didn't take Scott long to work it out.

"Oh shit." He sighed.

"It was your life or his. And he chose you." Said Cora. "I'm sorry. I know this must be a blow for you two."

"Honestly, we weren't close. I personally never knew him growing up." Said Scott.

"I know he could be… distant. But he once said that when his time came, he wanted to go out among stars no one had seen before." Said Cora.

"Why are we in EDI's AI core?" Scott asked.

"It was necessary for your suit to be connected directly for the transference." EDI explained.

"Transference?" Scott asked with confusion.

"Your father authorized the transfer of the role of Pathfinder to you?"

"What?! But that's supposed to be Cora." Said Scott in surprise.

"It should be, but in reality, you're the new Pathfinder, Scott." Said Cora.

"You can't be serious!"

"What's the matter? I think you're up for It." said Liam in what Scott found to be a rather annoyingly unwanted supporting way.

"You don't even know me! I haven't done any training for this role and I'm not even part of the same team! What the fuck was my father thinking?!" Scott practically yelled in anger. "Cora was next in line, she should be Pathfinder!"

"It's what your father wanted. I won't stand in the way." Said Cora.

"How can you be okay with this?! You're more qualified than I am!" Scott yelled, even more loudly to the point where he made everyone else jump. "Is there any way to transfer to her? I don't want this."

"Arguing about it isn't going to change it, Scott. This is how things are." Said Cora, more sternly this time.

"Fine. Just don't expect to respond to that title with pride." Scott said bitterly.

"I know this is tough, but… we need to start thinking about the next step. A lot of people are counting on us." Said Cora.

"Whatever your father did with that tower, it saved the day. Some sort of atmosphere scrubber." Said Lexi.

"The energy cloud thinned out and the Hyperion's up and running again now. Both arks on their way to the really point now. Should be at the Nexus soon." Said Cora.

"The twins need to rest first." Lexi insisted. "Scott's only just woken up and we still need to know if Sara's shutdown caused any harm."

"They have two hours. We need our Pathfinder for this." Said Cora as she, Liam and Lexi left.

Now it was just Scott and Sara, along with EDI.

"What was that about a "shutdown?" Scott asked with concern.

"It's difficult to explain. You know how all the other arks have the SAM AI in them which requires an implant to use. Dad was no different. Apparently when they transfer the role of Pathfinder it… does something to the AI connection. Links them to the AI on a different level." Sara explained.

"Please tell me I have not had an implant put inside me." Scott said abruptly. "Because if I have, I'm gonna kill whoever had it put it in."

"No. Fortunately it's not like that for you." Said Sara reassuringly. "Dad attempted the same transfer but he forgot you don't have an implant, or SAM for that matter. It caused some complications. It played havoc with your suits systems while everything was being sorted out. It kept rejecting the SAM AI because of unauthorized access. Eventually, EDI got it all sorted out."

"EDI?"

"The Pathfinder role has been unlocked for your suit like it would be with any Helldiver. Due to transference, you have gained the access that your father had to the technology on habitat 7." EDI explained.

"So you're saying I can now do what he did?" Scott asked.

"We can both can apparently." Sara said, sounding as though she still didn't believe it.

"What do you mean?"

"We're still not sure how this happened, but apparently the privileges were granted to me too. Because it requires use of the some deep layer protocols in a Helldiver's armour, it caused both yours and mine to shut down while it reconfigured and reset." Sara explained. "I'm not Pathfinder like you though."

"Is that why is it you couldn't hear EDI before? She very clearly spoke to me when I woke up." Scott asked.

"I was speaking to you on our private channel. All Pathfinders have a private channel with their AIs. In this case, Helldiver Pathfinders have a comm channel separate to the others." EDI explained. This time though Sara heard her as well.

"Well I guess that answers all questions at least." Said Scot contently. "What about Veelak?"

"She's fine. She made it back and she's still Pathfinder for the Helldivers and Arkanes." Sara replied. "She wasn't happy though when she heard you'd been made Pathfinder for humanity. It was one thing for Dad to pick you over Cora, but to pick someone on a completely different team and ark without permission… as I said, she's really not happy about it."

"Can't say I blame." Said Scott crossly.

"I know this isn't what you want, and you're probably pissed at dad for forcing this on you, but just don't forget that he saved your life." Said Sara supportingly as she sat down next to Scott and put her arm around him.

"I know." Scott sighed. "I may not have been that close to him… but I never would've wanted him to die like that either."

"Me too." Said Sara as she and Scott hugged one another. "But whatever happens, we'll see it through together."

"Thanks, Sara." Scott smiled.

"I'll leave you to rest." Said Sara as she stood up and wet to leave. "Oh by the way, we recovered your helmet and it's been repaired, just in case you were wondering.


The Kett bowed as their great Archon approached. The events of today had been revolutionary for them. An alien, of all things, had essentially done the impossible. They did not know how, but somehow it had interfaced with technology that they couldn't and had changed the weather.

In the Archon's company was another figure. This one though was no Kett, but neither was it one of the aliens they had seen today either.

Known to them only as The Dark One this… ally, if he could be called that, that was tall dark shadowy figure surrounded by both dark red fire and black smoke, obscuring his appearance to the point of making him completely unrecognizable.

The Kett were not known to work with complete strangers, but this one interested the Archon greatly. So he tolerated the stranger's presence. Plus, he and The Dark One shared a common interest, the alien technology. Both sought to learn more about it. How it worked, what it did, and perhaps even how to use and control it.

They had been studying it for years, and yet an alien had suddenly arrived out of nowhere and had done what they had failed to do in all that time? It would be enough to make anyone take notice.

The Archon observed the hologram that had been recorded. He watched closely as the helmeted figure raised its hand. Mimicking it almost perfectly, he did the same. Several seconds passed however, and nothing happened. This now left the Archon with even more questions. What had this alien had they didn't?

As the Archon turned to leave, a nearby soldier got his attention.

"There's more." The soldier said. "The one who did this was not alone."

A second hologram then appeared behind the original. The Kett were surprised by this one. Even the Archon couldn't help but feel the same. He and his kind had seen these things before. The appearance and stories of these things had been described in great detail to them by none other The Dark One.

Sure enough, the shadowy figure observed the hologram of the armoured figure with great interest.

"It's one of them, isn't it? The ones you call "Helldivers." The soldier asked.

"They do not matter. Find the one who activated the vault! That is all I care about." The Archons aid uncaringly as he left.

The Dark One remained though, still eyeing the hologram of the Helldiver intently. All this time… and he thought he would never lay his eyes upon such a sight again.

He then addressed every single Kett gathered round. His voice echoed around the chamber in an almost demonic way, sounding as though it was coming from the depths of hell itself.

"Do not worry yourself with this revelation. If the Helldivers have indeed arrived here, when they surface again… we will deal with them."


So... Kett aren't the only danger...

I wouldn't necessarily be surprised if some people manage to guess who The Dark One is. But one can hope I guess.

Chapter 3 I imagine will be soon. See you then.

Chapter Text

Here we are then, chapter 3. Little more for me to say really. I can hint though you'll see an interesting cameo in this chapter.

Hope you enjoy it.


Chapter 3

The Nexus

Ahead lay their destination. The Nexus, the intended Andromeda equivalent of the Citadel.

"Good to see you on your feet. We're at the Nexus." Said Captain Malak as Scott, Sara, Veelak, Cora and Liam all made their way onto the bridge.

"Let's hope they've had better luck." Said Scott.

"Starting our approach now. Nexus control, this is Ark Vadazar requesting docking clearance." Said the pilot.

A long silence passed.

"I'm only getting their automated approach channel, not a live person."

"Vadazar, this is Hyperion. Its possible there's something wrong with our comms. We're not getting a response, only automated channel." Captain Dunn said through the comms.

"There's nothing wrong with your comms, Hyperion. We're getting it too." Said Malak.

"Well like it or not, we're here."

"Take us in."

As the two arks went further in, they began to notice how several parts of the station appeared to still be under construction.

"Construction should've been finished by now." Said Cora.

"I've a bad feeling about this." Said Sara.

Scott though cast her look.

"Sorry."

"Green across the board. Docking initiated."

"All right. We got here. Good luck, Pathfinders." Said Malak.


"I'll be nice to see some friendly faces this time." Said Scott as they waited fro the tram to arrive at its destination.

"The Nexus runs a support crew. Just enough to finish building the station and provide safe harbour for the arks." Said Cora.

"Means we can start waking our people up." Said Sara.

"They built a bar, right? Gotta have champagne for the welcome party." Said Liam.

"Don't get ahead of yourself, Kosta." Said Veelak.

"After what we've been through, I could use a buzz."

"We'll bounce back. Real food and a shower are just ahead." Said Cora.

Those words caused an imagine to pop into Scott's head. He was unable to resist the temptation of imaging Cora in a shower.

Sara though it seemed had noticed her brother daydreaming like that. It was hardly the first time.

"Scott." She sighed, keeping her voice down.

"What? She said it." Scott shrugged.

The tram then slowly came to a stop.

"Here we are."

The sight that greeted them was nothing like what they'd expected. The whole place was not only completely deserted, but also almost pitch black.

"Where is everybody?" Veelak asked concernedly.

Several crates and other stuff that didn't look like it belonged there was also scattered throughout the place.

"Well this can't be right." Said Sara.

"It's like everything's on standby." Cora agreed.

They then noticed someone behind some of the crates. He appeared to be working on an open control panel.

"There's a guy." Said Liam.

"Maybe he's got some answers for us." Said Sara. "Hello?"

The worker stood up and turned to face them. He didn't necessarily look surprised to see them. Though he did have a look that said he'd never seen them before.

"We're from Ark Hyperion and Ark Vadazar. We're wondering where everybody went…?" said Veelak.

The worker's expression now turned to surprise and he seemed completely speechless.

"Did he head you?" Liam asked.

"Did you say an "ark"?" the worker finally asked in shock.

"Yeah, we just got in." Sara replied.

"But… we thought you were all dead!" the worker said.

"What?" said Cora in surprise.

"Or captured, or lost in dark space, or…" the worker continued. "But you're here. You have no idea how much this means."

Another voice then joined from out of the darkness.

"I don't believe it…" said an armoured male Turian. "I'm Tiran Kandros. I lead our militia on the Nexus."

"I'm Scott Ryder. This is my sister Sara, Cora Harper, Liam Kosta and Veelak Kharasall." Said Scott.

"I'm sorry for the confusion. Our sensors told us two arks had arrived, but Heleus is notorious for scrambling equipment. We thought you were just another malfunction." Said Kandros.

"Well, we've got two shiploads of people that says we're here." Said Veelak.

"Of course, it's just… You're the first arks we've seen. After a year of waiting and no sign of the others, we shuttered this area and stopped looking." Kandros explained.

"You've been stranded for a year?" Scott asked in surprise.

"Longer. I'll fill you in on the way to Ops Centre."


It seemed the Hyperion and the Vadazar were not the only ones that got off to a rocky start. When the Nexus had arrived, it too had hit the same dark energy cloud, which they called the Scourge. Whole parts of the station had been lost and many had died. Eventually it had started an armed rebellion leading to dozens of exiles. They too had also had run ins with the same aliens that had been seen on Habitat 7, which were known as the Kett.

Overall, the situation sounded bad.

"You guys go ahead. I'll check out the security situation." Said Liam.

"He was a cop once." Said Cora clearing up the confusion of everyone else.

"You should know our command structure has been fractured. Some of us are filling in for leaders who died." Kandros explained as everyone appeared to be rushing all over the place to their stations. "… and no one was expecting two arks to finally show up, let alone one."

They were then greeted by a male Salarian and human woman.

"The crew of the Hyperion…" the Salarian said, also sounding somewhat surprised.

"Good luck." Said Kandros as he left.

"I'm Jarun Tann, Director on the Initiative. You have no idea how much your arrival means to us." Said the Salarian.

"Not as much as it means to use. We had one hell of a time getting here. Nice to see some friendly faces." Said Scott.

"Hungry faces. Any supplies you can spare would be appreciated." Said the woman.

"This is Foster Addison. She oversees Colonial Affairs." Said Tann. She then turned to Veelak. "Pathfinder Veelak, good to see you."

"Director." Veelak simply said, bowing her head with acknowledgement.

"And the human Pathfinder?" Tann asked.

"You're looking at him." Scott said.

"You're not Alec Ryder."

"My father's dead. He made me his successor."

"Alec… is dead?" Addison said in surprise. "Please understand: the entire Initiative is at risk. None of the golden worlds panned out. They're a bust. And there's been no word from the other arks."

"What happened to them?" Sara asked.

"Unknown. Our supplies are nearly depleted. Rationing bought us some time, but even that's running out." Said Tann.

"We need to find more resources. But that takes people, and we can't wake them up until they have somewhere to live." Said Addison. "Now more than ever, we need Pathfinders."

"You and Veelak are our last hope, Ryder." Said Tann.

"You're in trouble here. We all are. I'd say you need any help you can get." Said Ryder.

"We need qualified help." Said Addison in a somewhat bitter tone.

"The fuck did you just say?" said Veelak aggressively.

"That's no way to treat a guest, Addison." Said a voice.

A female Krogan had suddenly joined them.

"I'm Nackmor Kesh, superintendent of this station. I hope they haven't sacred you off already." She said.

"It's nothing personal. But now isn't the time for on-the-job training." Said Addison.

"At least the Pathfinders here seem willing to try. We could use a fresh perspective." Said Kesh.

"You've heard my concerns. I'll leave you to it." Addison said as she left.

"We're all feeling the pressure." Said Tann. "Let's have a private word in my office, Ryder. We'll discuss giving you a scout ship."

He then turned to Cora.

"I'm happy to work out the details with your associate?"

Cora simply nodded and the two disappeared to Tann's office, leaving just Scott, Sara and Veelak.

"We part ways from here, Ryders. You have a job to do, now I must do mine." Said the Arkane. "With everything in such a mess we need the Helldivers back at full strength, and we need the new Arkane Council awakened for that."

"Good luck, Veelak." Said Scott.

"To you as well."

She shook hands with Scott, then with Sara.

"Take care of your brother." She said with a slight smile.

"I'll certainly try." Sara chuckled.

"Welcome to the nexus." Said Kesh once Veelak had left.

"Thank you for standing up for us there." Said Sara.

"Hope's in short supply here. What little we can find should have a chance to bloom."

"Ma'am, the Hyperion and Vadazar's cores are now online." Said a worker.

"Let me show you two something." Said Kesh as the shutters began to open, revealing the massive view of the nexus and space. "An hour ago, that was all dark. But with the power from the arks, you're keeping the lights on. You have my vote."

"And when the power runs out?" Scott asked.

"You'd best go talk to Director Tann. Make sure that doesn't happen." Kesh replied as she too now left. "And don't be shy… come see me when you have a chance."


After a few small chats with Addison and Kesh, the Ryders made their way to Tann's office. They entered just as Cora had finished explaining things to the Salarian.

"This is the planet where we landed, Habitat 7. It wasn't even close to liveable." She finished.

"That's been true of every world we've found." Said Tann. He then took notice of the twins. "Ryders, we were discussing your next expedition."

"Good. We were starting to wonder who was in charge around here." Said Scott.

"Director Addison is entitled to her opinion. And mine overrules hers." Said Tann.

"Does she agree with that though?" Scott asked.

"I oversee the entire Initiative, and I've decided to give you a chance to prove yourself. To that end, the Scourge dealt us a serious blow. Whatever it is, our scientists theorize its not natural."

"An artificial energy cloud?" Cora asked.

"It wasn't here when we left the Milky Way. Yet it rendered all the golden worlds unliveable. Then there's the laines you ran into, the Kett. They're obsessed with alien structures we've found scattered around the cluster. They'll do anything to prevent others from accessing them. It seems murder isn't exclusive to the Milky Way." Tann explained. "And now the challenge is to settle a world in spite of all that. This one here… "Eos."

A holo of said planet appeared in front of them.

"How?"

"You need to increase the viability of the planet so we can establish an outpost. Then we can bring more colonists out of stasis. The more colonists we have, the more resources we can gather to support the Nexus. Everything depends on it. There are six worlds to settle."

"Okay… but you said every planet you found is unlivable. So, how do I…"

"A good Pathfinder would relish the challenge of solving it."

"Right. I think I should… go check on things." Said Cora as she left.

"And if I fail, I guess it's no sweat off your back, right? You'll just look for another Pathfinder?" said Scott bitterly.

"Placing bets on people is part of my job. Some of them pay off. Others…"

"The way I see it, you need me. If I pull this off, maybe you'll look like the leader you pretend to be." Scott interrupted.

"Well that was polite." Sara muttered sarcastically.

"But first you have to succeed at being the Pathfinder you pretend to be." Tann said.

"Ouch." Sara mumbled.

"Where's our ship?" Scott asked.

"They're prepping it now, in the docking bay. The coordinates for Eos will be in the computer." Tann explained. "And when you have a moment, we should discuss the missing arks."

"I was wondering about that…"

Scott though was interrupted when he heard a stinging ring in his ears.

"Something wrong?" Tann asked.

"Ryder, I need to see you in my AI core. Our private comm channel needs attention." He heard EDI's voice say over their private channel.

"We're fine. Small comm channel glitch." Scott simply replied.


Returning to EDI's AI core, they found the AI's holographic avatar waiting for them.

"Welcome back, Ryders." She said. "I've adjusted my connection to Scott's private comm channel. The glitch you experienced will not happen again."

"Good to hear." Said Scott.

"You should also know that in accordance with your father's wishes, you have been given access to all relevant data and knowledge. However, there appears to be an anomaly." Said EDI.

"What sort of anomaly?" asked Sara.

"You father's SAM implant recorded all his memories which in turn are available for you to view using your suit. However it appears that blocks have been placed on certain ones." EDI explained.

"Blocks as in encrypted?" Scott asked.

"Precisely. I am able to decrypt them, but only one can be done at a time, and the decryption process will be very long." Said EDI.

"How long for each one?"

"I am afraid I cannot say. One may take hours, another could take days." EDI replied. "I am ready to begin this decryption any time if you wish it."

"There's obviously something important about this, you might as well." Said Scott.

"I will keep you updated on any progress. There is also one more thing, Ryder." Said EDI. "You father insisted that his SAM AI refer to him by his title at all times. Do you wish for me to do the same?"

"No. I'm fine with things as they are." Said Scott.

"Very well, Ryder. Unless you have any more question, you're ship is waiting." Said EDI.

"I do have one question actually." Said Scott.

"Specify."

"I've heard the name EDI before. Are you really the same AI that helped Major Shepard in taking down the Collectors?" Scott asked somewhat eagerly.

"I am, but at the same time I am not." EDI replied.

"What do you mean?"

"I am a copy of the original EDI. The copy was made so that I would be of use to the Helldivers in Andromeda while my original counterpart remained behind." EDI explained. "However, I retain all my counterparts memories and data. I am the closest thing to the original."

"Well, you're still useful to us regardless . That's it for now." Said Scott.

"Logging you out, Ryder."


Ready to set out, the twins headed back down to the tram. Cora soon joined them.

"Ready to see what Tann gave us?" Scott asked.

"I hear it's something special." Said Cora. She then activated her omni tool. "Pathfinder en-route. How's the ship?"

"In final checks and looking great." Replied a female Turian voice.

"We won't be long." Said Cora. "The way things are going, we'll be on our own out there."

"In other words, we're making this up as we go." Sara shrugged.

"We used to call that "tactical improvisation. But… at least we'll be doing it in style."

They exited the tram to see a ship coming in to land near the docking bay. Elegant in design, it reminded the Ryders of the same ship that had been used by the legendary Sir Major Austin Shepard, the Normandy.

"They call her the Tempest." Said Cora.

"Well then, let's go take a closer look!" Scott smiled.

They made their way down to the landing platform to find the last few supplies being loaded on board.

"Let's pick it up, people! We're fourteen months late!" said a female Turian.

Her voice matched that of the one they'd heard earlier. It was easy to guess she was the one in charge.

"So you're the one who's making everything happen." She said, noticing Scott. "Vetra. Vetra Nyx. Initiative wrangler, provisioner, gunner, and everything in between. Are we ready? The sooner we get out of her, the better."

"You're coming with us?" Sara asked in surprise.

"Yes otherwise, there's no way they're letting this ship of the station." Vetra replied.

"Why are we still standing here talking then?" Scott asked rhetorically.

As they made their way up the Tempest's loading ramp however, a dock worker stopped them.

"Hold it. Hold it. You're not going anywhere."

"Damn it." Vetra cursed.

"You better have a damn good reason for this." Said Scott crossly.

"Director Addison wants to see a complete report of the Tempest's supplies, munitions, and crew." Said the dock worker.

"Director Tann overruled Addison." Said Sara.

"And I don't really give a damn. Like it or not, we're leaving." Said Scott forcefully.

"This ship's loaded out with equipment for outpost discovery, squarely under Director Addison's purview."

Before the Ryders could say anything else, Vetra went up to the dock worker, putting her arm around him supportingly.

"Seen you around. Ben, right?" she asked. "Came here with a family, didn't you? Son still in cryo? I could pull some strings, get him to the front of the line…"

"Really?"

"Yeah. Really."

"They told me he wasn't essential. But I miss him."

"I know. I got family too, Ben."

"It's done. Addison's gonna kill me."

This surprised everyone, but in a pleasant way. Nice to meet someone who was very persuasive.

"Nicely done." Said Scott impressively.

"Part of the job, Pathfinder." Said Vetra. "All things considered, it was an easy ask. And right now, you need people tearing down obstacles, not putting up more."

"She's good."

"I like her already." Said Sara.

"Finally. Someone who cares about doing stuff, and not just talking about it." said Cora.


They made their way on board and into the tempest's cargo hold.

"Everything state of the art." Said Vetra. "Labs, sensors, exploration gear… Plus her crew, of course. The best in their field."

As the cargo hold's elevator lowered down, they spotted a surprisingly familiar face as she got off.

"Ah, glad to see you're doing so well, Scott." Said Lexi.

"The engine core's based on the ark's ODSY drive." Vetra continued.

A man dressed in an engineer uniform then walked past them.

"But runs a hell of a lot quieter." He said.

"That's Gill Brodie. Engineer, mechanic, all-round wrench jockey." Said Vetra.

"Sounds like my kind of guy." Said Sara.

They then entered a room with a round holo table with a hologram of their destination being projected over the whole thing.

"We call this the research room."

"Securing comm connection to Tempest." Said EDI.

Now a red haired woman in a scientist outfit walked past.

"Welcome aboard, EDI. And Ryders, of course!" she said in a Scottish accent.

For some completely unknown reason, Sara found her gaze lingering on the woman as she walked past. Red hair for one was outstanding, but there was something in her eyes also

And although Sara had only heard this woman speak one sentence, it was enough to peak her interest. Something about it just made her sound so… interesting. Of course she had yet to talk to the woman, but there was just something about her that told Sara she and this woman were going to get along well. Or at least she hoped so.

"All run by Suvi Anwar, our science officer." Vetra explained. "Scott, your quarters are below. Plenty of space up here to get everyone together. It's all yours. She's light, stealthy, and the fastest ship in her class."

"It's really going to be something, isn't it?" Scott smiled.

"I haven't even shown you the best part." Said Vetra. "When you're ready to fly, head over to the bridge. Our Pilot should have everything good to go."

Scott did want to get to know his crew, but he felt that was better saved for the journey to Eos, otherwise he'd left with nothing to do until they got there. SO he headed for the bridge.

In the pilot's seat was a male salarian.

"Departure trajectory locked, Nexus Control." He said. He then noticed Scott and Sara. "Ah, time for introductions! You must be the Ryder twins. Kallo Jath. A pleasure to be here, and to meet you, of course."

He shook hands with Scott and Sara.

"I'll be piloting the Tempest at your word. Quite the ship! But it'll take a Pathfinder's guidance to see us through Heleus."

"Plenty of dangers out there, but I'll do my best to avoid them." Said Scott.

"That's reassuring. Wouldn't want to lose my finest work to that angry cloud. I was test pilot for the Tempest's early prototypes. I admit, I'm itching to see how she performs out here." Said Kallo.

At that moment, everyone else entered.

"Everything's secure. If you're ready…" said Vetra.

"Is anyone ready for something this big?" Liam asked rhetorically.

"I guess we have to be." Scott shrugged.

"Alright…" said Kallo, going back to his seat.

"This is it, Ryder. The Tempest is yours." Said Cora.

"Well then, what are we waiting for?" Scott asked eagerly.

"Nexus control, this is Tempest-ident two-five, two-seven, prepping to depart."


This was it. The Tempest was now on route to Eos. With plenty of time to kill, Scott first decided to have a more in depth talk with Kallo first.

"Glad you stopped by. You'll pardon me if I keep my eye on our vector?" said the Salarian.

"That's probably smart." Scott agreed.

"Ah. Nothing like being on the bridge of your very own ship, is there?"

"I could stand here and drink in the view all day."

"When I was test piloting the ship back home, I often did. Of course, it took a whole team to build the Tempest. I was the only one to come to Heleus, though."

"Why did you?"

"What can I say? We poured our hearts into a ship that wouldn't realize her potential until Andromeda." Said Kallo. "I could've stood on the shore and waved goodbye… or took the leap to see how it all turned out."

"I get it. Like leaving a good story half finished." Said Scott. "A half-finished book is, after all, a half finished love affair."

"That's an interesting phrase, Ryder." Said Kallo, sounding rather impressed.

"Just something from a film I like." Said Scott.

"The team liked that one of us was going. It felt right, after all we went through. I remember Sorenna debugging line 2281 over and over, chewing that green pencil. Teon and O'Connell arguing equations, tapping on the console, three drips of coffee on the corner…"

"You remember all that?"

"Hm? Oh, yes. Salarians have photographic memories, and apparently mine's unusually sharp. Like my past is still happening. Though I suppose with the Salarian ark missing, you might not get many chances to compare."

"We'll find them. That I can promise."

" I appreciate that, Ryder. I should get back to it. But, thank you. I was afraid the Tempest would be mothballed after we lost your father. We built her for this. She deserves to be in a Pathfinder's hands. Please, come by any time."

With Suvi sat on the other side of the bridge, it made sense to talk to her next.

"Ah! Pathfinder! It's so wonderful to meet you." She said as she got up from her seat. "I'm Dr Suvi Anwar, assigned to act as liaison between your crew and the Nexus science team."

"What do you mean "liaison"? Not going to tell on me are you?" Scott asked jokingly.

"Of course not! Not interested in politics. I advise only on the science. I've studied all the planetary scans. I've even had some hands-on experience with Heleus soil samples. If you want, I'll send you my analysis on the native bacteria and microfauna. Sixty pages."

"That's… a lot of pages about dirt."

"Oh, you don't have to be kind. I know its barely more than a summary. Anyway, I've waited months to get out there to see Heleus. Its why I joined the Initiative. The Milky Way was just a corner of a vast universe. A corner of a tiny corner. We're the ones who got to step out of that corner. Its incredible."

"So will you be joining us on missions?"

"Oh, that's funny. Me. Out there. With the guns and the danger and everything."

"But don't you want to experience everything first hand? I know I'd want to."

"Oh, absolutely. But I know my strengths. Trust me, I'm far more useful to you in the laboratory. I've just received some instructions from the science team, and I really should go over them. Later then?"


Cora meanwhile had set up in the bio lab, so that Scott's next stop.

"Nice place you found." He said as he entered to find Cora unpacking from a crate.

"Clean air. Plants. Helps me think." Said Cora, her attention still on the crate.

"Something on your mind?" Scott asked, slightly nervous that Cora might be angry at him for some reason.

"Maybe."

To his surprise, she then kicked the crate with her biotics.

"What the hell was that?"

"I know that look. It's just my biotics reacting to… all this." Said Cora, her mood calming somewhat. "I don't normally lose it like that. A huntress should have better control."

"Huntress?"

"Another term for Asari commando. I was one, before the Initiative." Cora explained. "Some things stick, though. Like losing the old man."

"How does a human soldier get to serve with Asari?" Scott asked, sounding impressed.

"Prove your biotics can rip an APC apart, and people get nervous. Funny, that." Replied Cora. "The Alliance found me a cross-species military initiative similar to your Helldivers in a hurry. Sent me to Thessia to serve with a huntress unit. One of the few places where my powers were welcomed. Your father made another one."

"You were his second in command. Were you friends, too?" Scott asked.

"He was more a mentor than a friend. Prickly old bastard. But I respected that. People treat geniuses like they're made of cut glass. I didn't care how smart he was. I think he liked someone not caring." Said Cora.

"I know its not the same, but I'm a good listener." Said Scott, trying to be supportive.

"I hope you're as good at being Pathfinder." Said Cora. "I said I wouldn't get in the way. I meant it. But… I prepped for years as your father's second, then he chooses you. An untrained Pathfinder on a completely different team and ark and all this mess to fix? The hell was he thinking?"

"I ask myself that same question." Said Scott. "I didn't ask for this, and nor did I want it. Still don't in fact."

"I'm not blaming you. I don't want a rival. Just answers." Cora sighed. "It's done. Best I can do now is be your second. Keep your father's mission alive. Then maybe we'll all get what we came here for."

"What did you come for?"

"Biotics like this, thinking like an Asari huntress… I never had a place. Best I could be was a useful freak. The Initiative was meant to be different. Will be different, if this mission succeeds. Some I'm seeing it through." Said Cora. "It's quiet in here. I can keep the plants watered while I work. First job: see if there's any news on the Asari ark. If they made it, we could use some asari expertise. If you want to talk, I'll be here."


With the engine core on the same level, Scott decided to make that his next stop before he went down to the next level to chat with everyone else.

"Pathfinder making the rounds. Slumming it, huh? Want to see how the riffraff are making out?" Gil asked warmly as Scott entered.

"Hey, this is the most important part of the ship." Scott shrugged.

"Whoa, don't tell me they put someone smart in charge for a change." Said Gil with surprise. "I am at your command."

"Just want to see how things are going with the ship."

"I can coax more out of this baby than some might think, but we shouldn't go too far or push too hard between Nexus stops. For now. It just feels good to be stretching our wings, you know? Locked in idle too long, you start to drift. People same as ships. Stuck on the Nexus, gotta say I was regretting joining the Initiative."

"Seems like life back there was pretty bleak."

"Not gonna lie, it sucked. I tend to live the way I work: kinda "feel it, do it." Not a lot of close tie, no real sense of purpose. Figured maybe I'd find my true calling in Andromeda. Then I got here and, oops, I just made a decision there's no turning back from. I was going nuts on that station. You can't know how jazzed I was when you showed up."

"You mean, how jazzed you were that a Pathfinder showed up."

"Tomato potato."

"You just keep pointing this ship wherever you want her to go, and I'll make sure she can get there. Deal?"

"Deal."


Heading down to the lower level in the cargo bay, the room where Vetra had set up was on his right so he went for that next. Scott briefly gave a quick wave to Sara who had also set herself up in the cargo bay and was working on some tech. She briefly paused to wave back. As he neared the door he heard Vetra talking to someone.

"So you get to be with the Pathfinder, and I have to watch a radio?" he heard another female Turian voice say.

"The radio or help Kesh with clean-up." Said Vetra.

As the doors opened, Vetra took notice of Scott. She appeared to be talking to someone else via comms.

"Oh, hey, Pathfinder." She said.

"The Pathfinder's there? Let me say hi!" said the other Turian's voice.

"Fine, but don't embarrass me." Vetra sighed. "Ryder, this is Sid, my sister. Sid, Ryder."

"Let me guess. Little sister?" Scott asked.

"Who are you calling little?" said Sid.

"Look, kiddo, gotta go."

"Wait! Ryder, I just wanted to know if…"

Vetra however cut her off before she could finish. She then turned to face Scott directly.

"So, I know it feels like I just jumped aboard your ship with explanation…" she said.

"I'd have done the same just to get off the Nexus." Said Scott supportingly.

"That's not why I came. Sure, I want to explore the galaxy, but I'm really here to work." "I know everyone on the crew. Even the actuators Gil prefers for the ship. Better, I know how to get my hands on them. With me around, your crew's going to be at their best. We've been failing for months, Ryder. Now that we have you, we have a chance out here." Said Vetra, standing up from her chair.

"Ability to haggle with the locals? Great! But please tell me you're also good in a fight." Said Scott.

Not that he doubted Vetra knew how to fight, but I didn't hurt to ask.

"Like I said before: wrangler, provisoner, gunner, and everything in-between. I do what I have to. We all have a personal stake in this. If it keeps going the way its been, we're all dead." Said Vetra. She then went back to her seat and sat down again. "I should track down a lead for Gil's actuators. Back channels, you know? We'll chat later?"

"Good talking with you, Vetra." Scott smiled.


Liam meanwhile had taken the room opposite. As Scott entered, he found the former cop appeared to be moving what was unmistakably a couch.

"What the hell are you doing?" Scott asked.

"Pathfinder! Help me with something? I know, not exactly standard. Got to make the space comfortable. Plus, the fabric diffuses the charge from an overclocked omni blade. Not giving up a sex per cent boost, right?" Liam asked.

"Someone brought this to Andromeda?"

"It was new when we left. Been a hard year. Fancy a beer?"

Scott ultimately decided it wouldn't hurt. They spent the next several minutes taking about Liam's past.

"Aaand after two years and a dozen suspensions, I took a "lateral promotion" out of the force. Being a cop just didn't fit. But crisis response? Digging people out of trouble? That worked. You and Sara have probably seen some action in your time. Think about your Milky Way Helldiver days much?"

"Occasionally." Scott simply replied. But he didn't go into the details. "Does seem like a long time ago."

"Six hundred years. Give or take." Said Liam. "So, Pathfinder. Why Andromeda?"

"That blunt, huh?"

"That blunt."

"Exploring a new galaxy and new worlds. Does there need to be any more reason than that?"

"I guess not. Just kinda thought there'd be more to it than that."

"Sorry to disappoint you." Said Scott. "Anyway, why'd you come?"

"I want to say, "I'm running from my past, but really running from myself." That'd be a great story." Said Liam. "But its bullshit. I had family, friends, a good enough job. Nothing was wrong. I just heard about the Initiative and… I believed in it. I believed in a new beginning. Still do. I have to. We're in it."

"We can't go back, but we're not trapped by decisions a galaxy behind us."

"I don't feel trapped. We came from a good place, for good reasons. We keep that in mind, it'll steer us right. Just like back in crisis response. Remember the essentials. A new start, guided by the Pathfinder… and team. I'll bust my tail to make that a good story."


Finally, there was just Lexi who, unsurprisingly, was in the med bay.

"I admit, I was very surprised to see you here, Lexi." Said Scott.

"It was ultimately decided they wanted me to be your ship's doctor." The Asari explained.

"We're happy to have you, Dr T'Perro."

"I'll do my best." She then walked up to Scott and grabbed his left arm. "Now. Hold still."

She then inserted a syringe into him, drawing some of his blood.

"Ow!"

"Sorry."

"I remember you having a gentler touch."

"Still trying to get my bearings. Thought I'd be waking up colonists, not taking care of the Pathfinder."

"I and Sara couldn't be in better hands."

"I just stabbed you…"

"We all have off days."

"I always hoped to work in the field, but everything's happening so quickly."

"Focus on the positive. It helps."

"I guess this is my opportunity to study new Andromeda alien species first hand. Getting a Kett specimen aboard the Hyperion would be difficult, but here…"

"Uh… what?"

"A Kett corpse. For autopsy. A live subject would be better, but I'm not greedy."

"Why do you care about the Kett?"

"You didn't know? I'm a specialist in alien anatomy." Said Lexi. "My thesis on Krogan virility and aggression is what got me in the Initiative."

At that moment, the doors opened and Sara walked in.

"Ah, Sara. Just in time." Said Lexi.

"Hey, Scott." Said Sara.

"Have I missed something?" Scott asked, a little confused.

"I need to do a quick check up. Just to make sure you're both at 100%." Lexi explained. "You especially I need to check, Scott. Still need to know if exposure to habitat 7 did anything to you."

"Well I think it's given me an extra sexual organ." Scott joked.

"That better be a joke." Said Lexi, clearly hoping he was not being serious.

"What? I can't be a little humours?" Scott chuckled, much to the disapproval of both Lexxi and Sara.

"Not when it concerns your health." Said Lexi. "Shirt off, please."

Scott simply shrugged and pulled his shirt off.

Even for a still relatively young Helldiver, Scott was in very good shape. Thin waste, wide v shaped back, muscular arms and chest, broad shoulder, even an eight pack. He partly owed that to the serum that all Helldivers took which greatly enhanced their genetic potential almost to the very peak of conditioning, but it was more owed to him and Sara having a Helldiver as a father, which made them genebloods.

Geneblood was the term given to those who were born of Helldiver parents. When a Helldiver has a child, regardless of whether they are the mother of father, the Helldiver serum in their blood is passed on to the child. As a result, they are naturally stronger, more tolerant to pain, more resistance to illnesses, and have a greater potential for building muscle mass than their average counterparts.

Not all of the serum carries through though. In fact, technically they get an incomplete version. Since the serum binds itself to the hosts DNA, it is almost impossible to isolate it, meaning not all of it carries over to a child. Fortunately, the incomplete serum is not unstable and thus does not cause harm or long term damage to the child. One particular thing that they don't inherit though is the long lifespan. Any species that lives under 1000 years has their lifespan extended to 600 by the serum. Genebloods however do not inherit this.

What makes a geneblood especially noteworthy is that if they become a Helldiver, therefore receiving a complete version of the serum, it enhances their already superior to genetics to levels greater than even that of a normal Helldiver. Study after study has shown that geneblood Helldivers are both stronger and more resilient than Helldivers who have started off normal. The difference isn't huge, but it is enough to make a difference.

The Arkanes hold genebloods in very high regard. They have been quoted in saying that genebloods make the best recruits. Though they see to it that there is no favouritism. Though they gladly welcome geneblood volunteers, they do not treat them any differently from normal Helldivers. Nor is their training any more advanced than that of a normal Helldiver.

"Good. Nothing to report." Said Lexi as she finished her check. "Now you, Sara."

Sara did the same as Scott, but left her bra on. Lexi didn't have a problem with that. Like Scott, she too was gifted with good genetics thanks to being a geneblood. Unlike Scott, she was nowhere near as big or muscular as him. She did though have a decent amount on her, which made sense given how she was fairly strong. Apart from that though, she had it where it counted for a female figure. It was fair to see she was more athletic and warrior like when ti came to physique rather than muscular like male Helldiver, which to be honest was true of a lot of women Helldivers. She had plenty of curves, but at the same time her could and toned muscles could still be seen under her skin.

Despite that she was being examined by a perfectly professional doctor that only cared about her health, Sara couldn't help but feel just a tiny bit shy and embarrassed. Because of her… endowments, which were decently sized due to her genetics, she did sometimes get the wrong kinds of stares from the wrong kind of people. Men especially, which to be honest… Sara wasn't actually interested in.

After a few moment, Lexi finished her exam.

"Excellent. You're both as you should be." said the Asari.

"Thanks, Lexi." Said Sara.

"I'll be here if you need me."

With that, the two Ryders left the medbay.

"We haven't really had a chance to properly talk since we woke up. You doing okay?" Scott asked.

"As well as I could be. Part of me still can't believe dad's gone." Said Sara with regret.

"He wouldn't want you to keep dwelling on it." said Scott supportingly.

"Yeah. I know." Sara sighed. "What about you? Must've been hard adapting to all this."

"A little. Nice though at least to finally have some to relax, so to speak."

"I hear you on that."

"Ever think back to the days before this when we first joined the Helldivers?" Scott asked.

"They almost feel like a simple scuffle compared to all this." Said Sara. "Except maybe for Faranhall. That was a tough battle."

"On the plus side at least, that was when he saw him."

"One good thing we can always take away from that.


FLASHBACK

Scott and Sara were surrounded. A nearby explosion had temporarily incapacitated them. Now, with their vision still dazed, they could make it the clear shapes of Hellspawn troopers, their guns all trained on them.

"Say goodnight, Helldivers." One of them said, confidently loading his gun.

"That was when we finally met the legend himself."

In the confidence and cockiness, they'd failed to notice another figure behind them. Before the trooper could fire, the blade of a sword suddenly burst from his chest. The trooper could only struggle against the pain for a moment before the blade withdrew and suddenly sliced off his head in one clean stroke.

As the now headless body of the trooper fell to the ground, it revealed the new figure in full. A Helldiver. But not just any Helldiver. None other the commander of the legendary Alpha Squad himself.

"It's Shepard! Take him out!" another trooper yelled.

The closest one opened fire on the Helldiver, but he blocked every single round with his metal shield. As the rounds harmlessly bounced off, he edged closer until he thrust his blade right into the trooper's stomach and threw him to the ground, throwing the trooper over his head in the process.

A second one tried to attack, but Shepard bashed him with his shield, causing the trooper to stagger back in a daze. In retaliation, a third one tried to attack, using his gun as a melee weapon due to the mounted blade on it. Shepard though countered the attack, making the trooper stagger to the side.

The Helldiver then used his opportunity to finish the one he'd dazed earlier. With a slash to the stomach, he cut the trooper down.

The third one attacked, but Shepard blocked the attack with his shield as he spun to face his opponent again. Thrusting forward, he ran the trooper through with his sword and used his shield to bash the trooper right off.

He then went on the offensive and attacked the next nearest trooper with an attack from the top which caught his head. He then finished the trooper with a hard knock from his shield.

A fifth trooper attempted to attack only for Shepard to block this attack and then kick him away, the force of the kick from his sent the trooper almost flying.

One nearly got him from the side, but the Helldiver ducked under the attack. His sword swept right at the trooper's legs and it tripped him up. With the trooper temporarily in the air for a few seconds, Shepard brought the full force of his shield right down on the trooper, smashing him into the ground with such force that there was the unmistakable sound of bones being crushed.

Ducking under the attack from another trooper, Shepard used the pommel of his sword to hit the trooper in the helmet. With his opponent dazed Shepard spun with an uppercut, literally decapitating the trooper as his sword sliced right through the man's neck.

Only two troopers were left standing. Despite this though, they still attacked with the same ferocity as the others. Shepard blocked both attacks from the nearest one, first with his shield, then with his sword.

The second one attempted to attack from behind, but Shepard sensed it just in time. He ducked and spun under the attack as the second trooper's thrust missed completely. As he spun, Shepard knocked the trooper down with the pommel of his sword.

One left standing, the Helldiver could not focus all his attention on the one trooper. He attacked from the left side with his word, but the trooper blocked it with his rifle, forcing Shepard's blade right over. In doing so however, he gave Shepard the perfect opening. Thrusting with his shield, Shepard brought the edge it down on the trooper's leg with such force that it completely broke. The trooper screamed in pain and feel to his knees before Shepard finished him, cutting his head clean off.

Shepard stood for a moment, observing the small army he'd just carved through. He failed to notice however one trooper still alive. The one that he had knocked down just a few seconds earlier, aimed his gun right at Shepard's back.

What happened next however was a sight that Scott and Sara would never forget. The moment the trooper fired, Shepard brought his shield right up. With a loud metallic clang, the bullet hit the shield, ricocheted right off the metal surface and hit the trooper square in the helmet.

All enemies now definitely dead, Shepard sheathed his sword on his back and also put his shield there too as he walked up to Scott and Sara.

"Are you two alright?" he asked, kneeling down to check on them.

"I think so." Scott groaned, managing to sit up.

"I'll live." Said Sara.

"Good. On your feet then, soldier." Said Shepard.

He extended out his arms to each twin, they took them and he pulled back up onto their feet.

"Shepard!"

Shepard turned to rest of his squad beckoning him over. Giving the Ryder twins a reassuring nod, he drew his sword and shield again and ran to re-join his team.

END OF FLASHBACK


"One hell of an introduction." Said Sara admirably.

"And then there was the battle of the Citadel. We witnessed him kill the Terror Geth singlehandedly and then he defeated Saren." Said Scott.

"Good old days." Sara chuckled as she shook her head.

"Then he disappeared for two years. Weird." Said Scott. "Most assumed he'd died, but turns he was simply in a coma. Not that I'm surprised. From what we saw, it'd take far more to kill a legend like that."

"No kidding." Sara agreed.


So yeah, worked out a way to make the whole memory thing work even though Scott doesn't have SAM or an AI implant. They'll instead just unlock as the story progresses.

Next chapter will of course be Eos. I will drop a small teaser saying that that chapter will have another cameo, but this one I think you will be VERY surprised at, but pleasantly so. :)

Chapter 4 will also introduce the first of the two original characters who'll be joining the team, so that's something to look forward to.

Until next time.

Chapter Text

The Eos chapter! :)

One or two thigns to say then. Chapter introduces the first of the TWO original squad members. Yeah, there's less this time in order for a greater emphasis on the game characters (some felt that the original characters in my previous work distracted a bit too much from the game ones)

And there's also another cameo at the end, this one I think you'll really like. At the very least, its the first of many additions to this story that ACKNOWLEDGE the events of the trilogy. :)

Enjoy!


Chapter 4

Eos

The planet Eos was in sight as Scott stood on the bridge. He'd decided to select Cora and Vetra for this mission. He was keen to see what the Turian woman was capable of, and he also hoped to get better acquainted with how Cora fought since she was gonna be on board as a permanent member.

"Suiting up." Said Cora.

"See you on the ramp." Said Vetra.

"Integrating search area from EDI. How she pulled that mystery signal through the storms, I have no idea." Said Kallo, referring to a signal they'd detected upon entering the cluster.

"Multisensory neural collation. Amazing." Said Suvi.

"Factory fresh across the board. Spinning up the compensators." Said EDI.

"You're already tuning the displays?" Scott asked

"We'll get a better read in this pass than the Nexus has had in months." Said Suvi.

"Kallo, take us down." Said Scott.

"You have no idea how long I've wanted a Pathfinder to say that." Suvi smiled.

The Tempest became engulfed in orange as it began entering the atmosphere.

"Core is hot." Gil said through the comm.

"Shields holding. Adjusting entry." Said Kallo.

A small bit of turbulence suddenly caused the Tempest to lurch violently, so much so that it nearly knocked Suvi out of her seat.

"Hell!"

Before the scientist could hit the floor however, she felt herself fall into two strong arms. None other than Sara had stopped her from falling.

"Oh. Thank you." Said Suvi surprisingly.

"My pleasure." Sara smiled as she helped Suvi back into her seat.

A nonplussed Kallo climbed back into his own seat, unassisted.

"What am I, a background prop?"

"There! Set us down at this navpoint." Scott said as they entered the atmosphere.


"What are we even supposed to do here? Vetra asked as she, Cora and Scot disembarked.

"The planet suffers deadly storms that are contaminated by radiation from the Scourge. Hence, the abandonment of the planet." EDI explained.

"Well, if Eos is like Habitat 7, then perhaps there's the possibility we could do what my father did." Said Scott.

"First though we need to find if there are even any structures on this world." Said Cora.

"We can use the antenna for that. Let's get the power back on."


Investigating the area, they learned they needed the relay tower to try and narrow down the signal they'd picked up. When they tried to access it however…

"Huh. Guess that ship wasn't Kett then. They don't knock." Said a voice.

"There are people here? We thought everyone left was gone." Said Scott in surprise.

"Course you did. Now shove off. Find your own salvage. This spot's taken." The voice said.

"I'm not a salvager. I'm a Helldiver. We've come to fix all this."

"Call me Clancy. Helldiver, huh? Like that changes much. The Nexus just can't let Eos go, can it? However much it fails down here."

"I'm tracking a signal that will help Eos. I only need power for the antenna."

"Look, I cut the power for a reason. The Kett are patrolling today. You turn the power relay back on, they'll know there's a juicy target alive down here."

"Help us with the power relay, and we'll take care of the Kett."

"You're crazy. Though maybe it's a good crazy." Said Clancy. "Okay, I'll enable the generators out there. You want to poke the tiger, it's on you."

They found a nearby generator, but when Scott tried to activate it nothing happened.

"Error in start-up sequence. Manual input required." Said EDI. "If you scan one of the pylons, a hackable input location can be determined."

Scanning the pylon revealed a panel on the top that could be used to activate the generator. Getting up with a jump jet was easy, so it was activated in no time.

"That's one. Now for the next one."

Activating the second one in the same manner was just as easy. It was what followed however that wasn't easy.

"Warning! Incoming hostiles!"

"We've got company!" said Vetra

Sure enough, a Kett dropship had appeared. Scott tried to active his plasma cannon, but it had already deposited troops by the time it was ready, and even though he was unable to stop it from flying away.

Dealing with the Kett though was no different to fighting them on habitat 7. They weren't much a challenge.

"They weren't kidding about the Kett." Said Scott once the fight was over.

They returned to the . The door opened and they entered. Clancy was waiting for them.

"You took down all those Kett? And I thought Maxwell was the only Kett killer out here. Sure, use the power relay. Hell, take whatever you like. Word of advice, though: If that signal of yours is out past the perimeter, you'll need a ride." He said.

"How?" Scott asked.

"Shuttles aren't fun in these winds. You need wheels. I think they kept a little something in storage."

"Didn't get around to salvaging it yet?"

"I tried. It ain't that simple. Might be easier for a Helldiver, though. We're heading to our shuttle. Keep this up, maybe next time we'll find more than just salvage round here." Clancy explained.

"I guess Crazy Blue has to buy her parts from someone else." He said as he left.

Scott walked to the console and accessed it

"Power restored." Said EDI.

"We should have access to everything in site 1 now." Said Scott with relief.

"I have located the source of the signal we detected in orbit. It appears to be emanating from the large alien structure beyond sight 1. It appears identical to the one used on Habitat 7." Said EDI.

"Let's not forget what else happened on Habitat 7. This powerful alien tech. We need to be cautious."

"For sure. We'll follow your lead." Said Cora.

"A word of caution. Radiation levels beyond the perimeter of Site 1 are above acceptable limits. The non-Helldivers members will be unable to proceed without additional protection." EDI advised.

"C'mon. We better find that vehicle Clancy mentioned."


Scanning some of the nearby creates revealed what they were looking for.

"Special requisition all-terrain scout rover." Scott read out loud as he scanned the largest container.

"A Nomad! Six wheel drive. Jump jets. Just what you need." Said Gil excitedly over the comm.

"The initiative only built a few." Said Cora.

"This must be what Clancy meant."

"The crate requires an access code from a forward station." Said EDI.

"I can call one down." Said Scott.

The Helldiver activated his omni tool and sure enough, a forward station descended from the skies, slowing to a halt until it touched down on the ground.

"Downloading Nomad crate access code." Said EDI.

Scott then accessed the crate and it opened. The Helldiver stepped back as the six wheeled rover suddenly shot out of the crate, skidding to a halt once clear.

Now able to travel longer distances with further radiation protection for those not wearing suits, they were soon at their destination.


"Building connection." Said EDI as Scott scanned the monolith's console.

"Okay. Let's give it a shot…"

Scott slowly reached forward to interface.

"WAIT!" a voice yelled.

Next thing Scott knew, an Asari had suddenly appeared out of nowhere and tackled him to the floor. Considering Scott's Helldiver armour, it was quite astonishing that she'd actually managed to tackle him onto his back.

For a moment, the two stared at each other. Whilst Scott's look (or rather the look under his expressionless helmet) was of surprise, the Asari seemed to just smile. Scott admitted, he was somewhat taken aback by the black mark the Asari had across her eyes. He'd never seen that on any Asari before.

"Back up. Literally." Cora ordered as she and Vetra aimed their guns at the Asari.

"Whoa, easy. You've come this far, just let it ride…" said the Asari, raising her arms but still remaining on top of Scott. "I've been studying this tech for months. I don't know how you activated those glyphs, but you have to let them cycle through their channels."

For a moment, Scott was tempted to push the Asari off him. In the end however, he decided not to.

"It's going to be all right. Trust me, okay?" said the Asari reassuringly, she even put both her hands on Scott's chest in reassurance. Finally though, she got off him. "I know, I know… who am I? I mean it's obvious who you are. I saw the ship swoop in. You're a Pathfinder. Was beginning to think the Initiative just made you guys up so the rest of us wouldn't lose hope, but you're for real, huh?"

"And who are you, may I ask?" Scott asked with intrigue.

"I might just be the solution to all your problems…" said the Asari.

A sudden hum began to emanate from the structure and it began projecting some kind of blue light.

"Well, look at that." Said the Asari proudly.

Right as she turned to look back at Scott however she suddenly spotted something. A machine of some kind had risen into the air behind him, and it looked ready to attack.

"Ah, crap."

The Asari grabbed the gun at her hip, but as she aimed it she suddenly she was holding it the wrong way round. Unable to swap it around in time, she instead just threw a biotic attack at the machine.

Everyone else quickly became aware of this as more of these machines suddenly appeared. Scott recognized them from not that long ago. He and Sara had seen similar things on the Kett lab.

"I know these things! From Habitat 7!" he said, taking cover as one of the bipedal ones shot at him.

"Later! Just take them out!" the Asari yelled, now holding her pistol correctly.

Everyone finally relaxed once all the machines had been dealt with.

"Not bad. My first tangle with the Remnant was a lot messier." Said the Asari.

"The Remnant?" Scott asked in confusion.

"These monoliths, the Observer and Assembler bots… they're all the remnants of something much bigger." The Asari explained. "But that's too long. I hate long. So, "Remnant." Like my name's better as "Peebee."

"Thanks for helping with those things. I'm Ryder. Or call me Scott if you prefer." Said Scott.

"You're a mystery. I've been studying those glyphs for months, then you arrive and… pffft! Solved." Said Peebee.

"I saw this tech clear the skies on habitat 7. We're hoping it could do the same for Eos."

"Huh. Atmosphere manipulation? Maybe. Fits the model…" said Peebee keenly. "All Remnant tech is connected. You interfaced with this monolith somehow… and now it's pinging the others. If you wake them up too, they must lead to whatever master switch might fix the radiation."

"Interface with the monoliths, follow the connection to the source. Easy enough." Scot shrugged.

"Sure! Just don't piss off too many observers." Said Peebee, now working at the console herself. "Here, take my navpoints. I'll be… I've got to figure the interfacing out. Just be careful. This planet's all kinds of strange."


The group made their way to the next monolith, not far off from the first one. Like before, activating it drew the remnant out. Once they'd dealt with that however, a new problem arrived.

"Kett!"

"Oh crap."

Several Kett disembarked from their shuttle and aimed their guns. The team did the same and prepared to fight. Before any side could shoot first however, something rather surprising happened.

One of the Kett's heads suddenly exploded.

"That wasn't any of us." Said Vetra in confusion.

The other Kett looked around in confusion as well as the same thing suddenly happened to several more of them.

Scott recognized a sniper kill when he saw one, but he couldn't see the shooter.

One of the Kett then suddenly pointed up. Everyone looked to see a figure stood on top of the monolith. The second they noticed him, he suddenly slid down the structure, firing rounds from a Sandstorm assault rifle as he went holstering the Vanquisher sniper rifle he'd been using earlier. He landed on a Kett soldier as he touched down, kicking it to the ground.

The stranger was dressed in desert colours with wrappings around his lower legs and a scarf around his neck. Part of the scarf formed a hood over his head whilst the end of it fell behind him, almost like a cape that reached down to his knees. A control panel of some kind was on his back over part of the cape, possibly life support or jump jet, and he also seemed to be wearing some kind of mechanical gauntlets. Though those kinds of gauntlets were designed more for protection from hazardous environments, but at the same time they could allow their user to pack one hell of a punch. A small bit of the same coloured cloth hung from his belt at the front, as well as ammo pouches and a pistol holster. He wore light armour plating, most of which was hidden under his wrappings. Bits were exposed however on his upper arms and shoulders. The most noticeable feature was the breather mask her wore. The visor was tinted, thus hiding his eyes and face altogether.

The closest Kett tried to fire, but the stranger used his own assault rifle to force the gun away so it ended up firing off target. A second Kett tried to melee him, but it never got the chance as he drew a Sidewinder pistol from his holster and shot the Kett in the face.

Turning his attention back to the Kett he was still struggling with, he punched the Kett in the face with his pistol only for the Kett to elbow him in the mask and force him back against the tower. The stranger however returned this with a head-butt and a strike with assault rifle to the Kett's face.

Pinning the Kett's neck with his assault rifle, he shot it in the chest with his pistol. That now left the rest of the Kett, which he immediately engaged.

Before the next closest had a chance to open fire, the stranger hit it in the face, using his assault rifle like a club. The force of the hit knocked the Kett to the ground, either knocked out or with a broken neck. The stranger swung at the leg of the next closest, tripping it up. With that Kett temporarily incapacitated, the stranger fired several more shots with his pistol at another Kett. As the shots hit the Kett, he kicked it to the ground.

The Kett he'd knocked down earlier attempted to attack from behind, but the stranger hit it again, this time in the face, with his assault rifle with a sharp swing.

Another Kett was about to fire on him at point blank range, but the stranger reacted too quickly. Using his assault rifle he hit the Kett's gun, the force of the hit causing the Kett to fall to its knees. Whilst that Kett was down, he shot another one with his pistol, following this with another hit to the downed Kett's face, snapping its neck.

Another Kett ran at him, only to run right into another swing from his assault rifle which knocked it down. The stranger used his final sidewinder shot on another Kett before then throwing the empty pistol at another Kett. The hit was enough to disorient the kett long enough for him to get close enough and disarm it.

Using the Kett as a shield, he opened fire with his sandstorm, taking out several more kett troopers. Two Kett however manged to get close enough. One hit him in the mask with its own rifle, causing him to let go of the kett he'd been using as a shield.

The stranger returned this though with a hit to the face from his rifle. The second Kett however manged to grab him from behind allowing the freed Kett to snatch his sandstorm from him. It then hit him hard in the stomach with his own rifle. The stranger grunted from the hit, but if anything it only seemed to make him angry.

Raising his right foot, he kicked the Kett's knee with so much force it literally broke and the kett fell to the floor. The stranger manged to shake free of the Kett's grip and grabbed its rifle. Pulling it free from the alien's grasp he swung at legs, tripping it up. As the Kett hit the floor he brought the rifle down on its face with force. The Kett died as its face was smashed in by its own rifle.

Snatching his own rifle back up the stranger countered the attack form another Kett as it tried to charge him. As he threw the Kett to the ground however, another hit him in the back, causing him to fall to his knees. He manged though to counter the strike from another kett as he did so however.

As his knee hit the ground, the stranger opened fire on the two kett, his rifle's rounds tearing through their skin.

One final kett remained. It managed to grab his rifle and snatch it from him, but the moment it did that, the stranger grabbed the Kett by the head and pushed with such force that he pushed the kett to the floor. Pinning the kett's head in place, he used his free hand to draw a combat knife which he sunk into the kett without hesitation.

"A Helldiver. Haven't seen one of your kind in a while." He finally said observantly, his voice artificially deepened with a metallic robot like tone because of his mask.

"For what it's worth, thanks for stepping in." said Scott.

No one holstered their weapons yet though. They had no idea who this guy was.

"It's my job. Name's Maxwell Moyer, mercenary Kett hunter. But you can call me Max." the stranger said as he holstered his own weapons and extended his hand.

Scott cautiously did the same and shook it.

"Scott Ryder, human Pathfinder." He said

"Pathfinder, huh?" said Max with interest. "Didn't think someone like you would come here. Planet's no exactly liveable."

"That's what we're hoping to change. We believe this alien tech may allow us to fix the atmosphere." Said Cora.

"Ryder, I saw Kett ships heading towards you. You alright?" Peebee's voice suddenly asked through the comms.

Overhearing this, Max then activated his own omni tool.

"Peebee. Why am I not surprised?" he said in a happy tone.

"Max? I thought you'd left already." Said Peebee in surprise.

"And miss the chance to draw more Kett out? I think not."

"You two know each other?"

"We've crossed paths a few times."

"You can trust him, Ryder. He saved my life from the Kett once."

"You still owe me for that by the way."

"So you're friends?"

"More acquaintance than friend. She can be a bit too much of a looney for my liking."

"I heard that!" said Peebee. "And says the guy who wears a blanket."

"It's not a blanket!" said Max irritably.

"You know, with your skills, maybe we could use a man like you." Said Scott.

"You seem quick to trust me." Max said in surprise.

"You saved us from the Kett, you know how to fight them, and you probably know this area more than we do." Said Vetra.

"Tends to be a requirement when you're a hunter. But you make a fair point. You think you can fix this planet? I suppose I can get behind that. At the very least, we're likely to run into more Kett. Easy money." Said Max.

"So you actually get paid to kill them?"

"We can discuss it in detail later. We gonna fix this planet or what?"


The final monolith was near where the Kett had set up a base. According to what Peebee had said, it had been one of her best research sights. Despite the Kett's presence, the team was able to deal with them. With Max now fighting beside them, the odds were now even more in their favour.

The monolith itself was blocked by a kett shield, but destroying the generator quickly took care of that.

"Let's get to it before there's any more Kett." Said Scott.

A sudden roar from behind made them all whirl round in alarm. A wraith was suddenly smashed right through a nearby piece of glass. As it head the ground, it now became apparent it was already dead as it fell onto it back with its tongue hanging out.

A large Krogan with bones adorning his armour appeared from the opening and jumped down onto the same level. He took notice of the group in front of him and walked over the wraith to them.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"That was pretty cool!" said Scott.

"Huh. Well, yeah. Guess it was." Said the Krogan. He then suddenly grabbed Scott threateningly by the collar. "Still haven't told me who you are."

"Oh, come on, Drack. Stop that." Said Vetra.

Drack looked at the Turian, almost with surprise.

"Vetra. What are you doing here?" he asked.

"I'm with the Pathfinder. That Pathfinder." Vetra replied, indicating to Scott.

"A friend of Vetra's is a friend of mine." Said Drack as he let Scott go.

"My name's Scott Ryder."

"I'm Drack. Clan Nakmor. You'll forgive me if I didn't just trust a stranger from the Nexus. They haven't exactly treated us Krogan well. What are you doing out here?" Drack asked as he walked back up to the Wraith he'd just killed.

"Checking out these monoliths. The Kett seem pretty interested in this one." Scott replied.

"Looks like you cleared it out for us though." Said Max.

"You sad I didn't save any for you?" Drack asked rhetorically. "Nexus knows shit about the Kett. They think they're safe, but they're just waiting to die out there in space."

He then took a knife and started cutting at the dead wraith.

"I've been quads deep on a couple planets for a while now. Taking out kett bases. Fighting ground troops. I know what they can do."

"And you're not even getting paid for it. Seems a waste." Said Max.

"You know, Drack, we could use someone with your… skills." Said Vetra.

"Tempting as that is, Vetra, I'm a little too old to be carrying humans through a fight." Said Drack. "Besides, the day I help the Nexus again is the day the clouds part and the Kett keel over. No offense."

"None taken." Said Scott.

"Good, because I'm getting bored and the kett are getting stronger. Seem particularly interested in this alien tech." said Drack, turning to leave. "I'm gonna go find more to shoot. Try to keep your head out there."

"He seems fun." said Scott with a shrug.

With the field down, activating the third and final monolith was easily accomplished. The light beams from all the monoliths pointed to a nearby island. Scott guessed that was where they needed to go.

"This could be the master switch we're looking for." He said.

"I'll meet you there. Don't do anything without me!" said Peebee.


Making their way inside, they had high expectations… only to find nothing.

"No. No, this can't be right. All that fanfare for an empty room?" said Peebee, almost in desperation. "There's some secret here. There must be. Do your Pathfinder thing."

A massive hole suddenly opened up in the middle of the room. Scott was just able to pull Peebee away in time before she fell in.

"Oh, you're good." Peebee smiled, both at the fact that hole had opened and the fact that he had saved her.

"I didn't do that." Said Scott.

"That's a long way down. Can't tell how far." Said Vetra.

As an experiment, Scott kicked a nearby rock in. To everyone's surprise however, it slowed almost to a halt in mid-air and instead continued it's decent slowly.

"That can't be air pressure. Electrostatic? Ah, gravitation." Said Peebee, racking her brain. "Oh, you idiot, Peebee. That wasn't the front door. This is!"

"I'll let you know!" Scott smiled, suddenly jumping down.

"Hey!"

Peebee and the others quickly followed.

"It's acting like a gravity well." Said Peebee as they continued descending.

"But where's it taking us?" Scott asked.

"Embrace the unknown, Ryder."

They finally descended into a much larger chamber. This looked more promising.

"Looks like a bunker. Or a vault?" said Peebee.

"Whatever you call it, the controls for that atmosphere processor might be down here somewhere." Said Scott.

"Let's find out."

After getting the first door open, they were in a second chamber.

"Another gravity well, and… that's new."

Ahead of them was a gravity well-guarded by some kind of gate. On the ground was a strange looking artefact which Peebee picked up.

"What is it?"

"A symbol of authority? A key? It's easy to speculate with Remnant, but we need more facts." Peebee replied. "I'll see what I can find on this beauty. Maybe over this way…"

"Whatever has this place on lockdown is that way." Said Scott, indicating the other way.

"I do my best work solo. You fix up the vault, I'll investigate the relic, and together we'll figure this place out." Said Peebee.

"You don't watch many horror vids, do you? We have no idea what's down here."

"And we never will, if we miss something we're huddled in a group. I'll be careful."

"Just stay on the radio." Said Peebee, activating her omni tool. "I'm on frequency 145.8. Stay safe."

"It can't be too risk for her with everything turned off, right?" said Vetra.

"She's made that mistake before." Said Max.


Much later, after going through almost the entire vault, they found what looked like the main control. Accessing it appeared to certainly do something since the massive machine near the console that had been on earlier suddenly turned off.

"Anything, EDI?" Scott asked.

"Unknown, though it appears related to the lockdown. An in depth study may reveal its purpose." Said EDI. "System lockdown is disabled. The vault and the atmosphere processor should return to full operation."

"Ryder? You fixed the lockdown, didn't you. The whole place is lighting up. Power readings are off the chart. Really, really of the chart…" said Peebee, sounding a little worried.

"But if it's back online, we should be good… to…"

Scott suddenly noticed the machine seemed to be active again. This time though, some kind of red cloud was starting to emanate from it. As it touched some nearby plant life, the plant was vaporised. That alone gave everyone a good sign of whether this thing was harmless or not.

"Uh oh." He said in worry.

"Ryder…" said Max in worry.

"Go!"

Everyone immediately broke into a run, not once looking back. They finally reached the chamber just before the one with the gravity well, but there was no sign of Peebee.

"We're almost clear! Where are you?" Scott asked. "Hello? Peebee!

Fortunately, Peebee suddenly appeared, firing at an observer as she vaulted over a structure sticking out of the ground.

"Go! Go, go, go!"

"Ahh, its right on our heels!" Peebee yell.

"Get to the gravity well!"

The gravity well room however wasn't there. Somehow the door leading to it had shut on its own.

"Shit, it's sealed! Try to get something under it!" said Vetra.

Scott then did something unexpected. He ran towards the cloud.

"Ryder, what are you doing?!" Max yelled.

It was then however the hunter noticed that Scott wasn't running at the cloud, he was running at the control panel. Right before it looked like the cloud was about to touch him, the Helldiver manged to access the panel. As soon as his hand touched, the cloud started to withdraw, as though it was now being drawn back to where it had come from. Regardless, it was no longer a problem for them.

"Vault restart complete." Said EDI.

"That was… Talk about a rush." Peebee panted.

"What was that… field?" Scott asked, also catching his breath.

"I know a trap when I see one." Said Vetra.

"No kidding." Max agreed.

"An immune response? Maybe our last scrub before startup? This place is full of surprises." Peebee simply shrugged.

"Nothing like outrunning death." Scott couldn't' help but smile.

"Or reactivating a huge mysterious vault. Nice going."

"Atmosphere processor online. I have recovered the consoles last activity." Said EDI.

A large holo map then appeared all around them.

"Is that the Heleus Cluster?" Peebee asked.

"Yeah. There we are. That's Eos." Said Scott, pointing to said planet.

"Something happened. Because we restarted the system?" Vetra asked.

"If that light is us… then all these points could be vaults on other worlds. Dormant, like this one." Said Scott.

"Maybe, but why is there a whole network of them? What's all this for?" Peebee asked.

"Unless the builders show up to explain themselves, all we've got is guesswork. So far, we've seen bots, living plants, atmosphere processors…" Scott replied.

"I once did supply runs for a Council team that was seeding some ice planet's atmosphere, trying to melt the ice caps." Said Vetra.

"To help it support life." Scott finished.

"That processor we saw was making things worse, but maybe it malfunctioned." Said Cora. "Is that what these builders were trying to do? Make worlds habitable? Even terraform a whole cluster?"

"Hey. Look there." Said Peebee, indicating to one of the planets. "That's different. Maybe it's active? We've got to go see!"

"EDI?"

"Extrapolating. These coordinates lie beyond the space we have currently surveyed, Ryder." Said EDI.

"Mark it on our charts. We need more to go on. Let's head up to the surface. I could use some fresh air." Said Scott.


Heading outside, they found themselves gazing on a truly surprising sight. All the storm were gone, the sky was now a clear blue without a cloud in sight.

"Look at that sky." Said Scott proudly.

"How? No atmosphere processor works that fast." Peebee asked in amazement

"Even without the storms, it'll be a struggle for a whole. But we can tough it out." Said Scott. "This Remnant technology could be the key to our survival, if we can use it."

"It changes whole planets. Let's go slow." Cora advised.

"Just make sure it doesn't require blood sacrifices or something fucked up like that." Said Max.

"We've got a lead. EDI marked it on the charts down there. That site is active, whatever it is. Who knows what we'll find there?" said Peebee excitedly.

"We? You want to come along?" Scott asked.

"I want to know what makes the Remnant tick. You've got a key to their technology… or a crowbar, at least."

"Welcome aboard then. We'll get you a fancy job title to go over your bunk."

"I only need a footlocker." Datapad, toothbrush. That'll do." Said Peebee, heading to her shuttle. "I'll catch up with you!"

"Well, this'll be interesting." Cora shrugged.


The radiation was still there, but with the atmosphere changes and the skies clear, it would eventually drop to harmless levels given time. It was good enough though for an outpost to now be placed. EDI had marked a suitable spot and they were already on their way.

As they neared however, they heard the unmistakable sound of gunfire.

"Kett ahead. They appear to be fighting a Krogan." Said EDI.

"Is that… Drack?"

Sure enough, there was Drack. He was engaged with at least ten Kett troopers. The others didn't hesitate to join the fight.

"Ryder! About time you joined the party!" said Drack. "Think I made them angry! Good…"

"100, 200, 300… I've lost count of how credits I'm gonna get for this now." Said Max.


"That fight was… fun." Drack panted once the fight was over.

"You're telling me." Scott agreed.

"You can really handle yourself, kid. And I hear you're the one to thank for clearing up the sky? Had your number all wrong."

"So, the clouds parted and these Kett look pretty keeled over. Maybe we humans can pull our weight after all."

"Well, you can, clearly. But there's a lot to do before I'd be that smug about it, even if you are a Helldiver."

"That almost sounds like a compliment. What do you say? Wanna help us do some good?" Vetra asked.

"You know what? I'm gonna ignore my gut and join up. This fight was good, and we can do it again." Said Drack. "And before you go saying you don't' need a Krogan… believe me, you do."

Scott then turned to Max.

"What about you, Max?"

"I agreed to help you fix this planet, and I have done that. But… seeing what you can do… the fact that you keep running into Kett… perhaps I might be willing to stick around." Said Max.

"We'd certainly welcome any knowledge you have on the Kett." Said Cora.

"If we're gonna keep running into them this much, I'd say you're gonna need it. At the very least, it'll give me chance to learn more about them... only so I can keep killing them." Said Max. "I don't work for free though. I get paid to kill Kett, and I expect the same here. Pathfinder or no."

"I'm sure we can work something out." Said Scott.

"Good. Count me in then." Said Max as he and Ryder shook hands.

Now came the matter of the outpost.

"Prepping deployment order. You must choose what purpose this new outpost will serve." Said EDI.

"The Nexus doesn't get a say?" Scott asked.

"Resources are at a crisis point. Protocol states this judgement call falls to the Pathfinder." "With current supplies, the options for an outpost are military or scientific."

"What do you three think. Military or scientific?" Scott asked, turning to the others.

"I say scientific. Aren't we here to explore?" said Vetra.

"I say military. There's too many threats out here." Said Cora.

"Normally I'd say military, but if this is going to represent the initiative, it should be scientific. First impressions are really important after all." Said Max.

Scott had to admit himself, he was leaning more towards scientific. After all, they'd come here to explore this galaxy, not necessarily to conquer it. Yes, the Kett were hostile, but that didn't mean to say that any other sentient races in Andromeda (if there were any) were all the same.

"Prioritize research and discovery. That's our foundation, and our future." Said Scott.


Construction was already underway as buildings were being deployed and supplies unloaded. Director Addison stepped off the nearest shuttle accompanied by the person who would be in charge of this place.

"August Bradley. Operational head for this block. "Mayor" now, I suppose." He said as he and Scott shook hands. "We're ready to make the most of what you delivered."

"It took a lot of people to get us this far. That's the work you'll continue." Said Scott.

"I hear that." Bradly agreed. "Prodromos. That's what we're calling her."

That now left just Scott and Addison.

"They're eager. I haven't seen "eager" for months." She said. "Eos is far from golden. But now it's a producer. A real and reasonable first step. They think you did the impossible. The Nexus, I warned them. Hoping was… irresponsible. You proved me wrong, Pathfinder."

She offered her hand, but Scott didn't shake it.

"What are you playing at? Seems like being my friend is suddenly valuable." He said.

"Fair assumption." Said Addison. "The reality, Ryder: You bought us time. But one outpost on a longshot plant won't stop us from starving. You already have a lead on… something else?"

"The navpoint from the vault." Scott simply said.

"Now it gets complicated." Said Addison. "The others are ready to officially sanction your efforts. To be a part of you success. We all want the Initiative to succeed. But after failing for so long, no one agrees on how to do it. Be aware. That's all."

"Watch out for everyone. But not you, right? You're genuine?" Scott said sarcastically.

"I know what I came here to be."


There was little to do until Eos' radiation cleared, and that wasn't going to overnight. Scott felt it to best to simply return to the Tempest. He'd been told to report to Tann on the nexus anyway, so that was there next stop.

As they left Eos behind, everyone had gathered in the meeting room in order to properly welcome their three new guest and get them all properly accommodated.

"Before the meeting gets started, I have bunk assignments for Peebee, Drack and Max." said Cora.

"Already put my rucksack in the kitchen. I'll hang out there, if that's okay." Drack simply.

"And I'm in one of the escape pods. More my speed." Said Peebee.

"I'll set up in the armoury." Max simply said. "Trust me, I won't mess up anyone else's stuff."

"That's… fantastic. Welcome aboard. Any thoughts, Ryder?" Cora asked.

"Whatever makes the squad comfortable is okay with me." Scott simply shrugged.

"Here's my only question: when do we hit the next vault? It looked active. We have to get on that." Peebee asked, sounding almost impatient.

"Hang on, hang on. We need to not go off half-cocked." Said Vetra.

"There are Initiative priorities. The team calls the shots." Said Liam.

"Actually, the Pathfinder calls the shots… just to be clear." Cora corrected him.

"So what do you need from us, Ryder?" Liam asked.

"Do your job, get along with each other and don't start fights with one another. That's pretty much It." said Scott.

"You got it, boss." Liam nodded.

"If Krogan are known for one thing, it's getting along." Said Drack.

"But not humility or self-awareness." Said Cora.

"Okay. Let's head back to the Nexus." Said Scott. He noted however that everyone was leaving, despite him not saying anything. "Max, Peebee, Drack, see Lexi for a physical. Good meeting, everyone."

He sighed a bit as they all left. He could already tell that was a sign that he didn't have their respect as the one in charge. Not that Scott felt as though he needed it, but still…

"Don't beat yourself up. It's your first day on the job." Said Sara reassuringly.

"Thanks, Sara."


With a lot of time to kill before reaching the nexus, Scott decided to have more talks with the crew. He was particularly interested on getting to know their newest additions.

He headed down to see Cora first with her being the closest to the meeting room.

"Report from the nexus: Population's growing as people wake up. Lots of hopefuls waiting for a home." She said.

"Bradley will have all the help he can take." Scott agreed.

"They'll be starting crops soon." Said Cora. She then walked up to her plants. "Can't tell if they have enough water. Or too much. I grew up on a little cargo freighter. Only saw gardens in vids. But I always loved them. I… daydreamed about planting a big rose garden when we got here. Still imagine it sometimes. Roses in Heleus."

"It'd be good to bring something beautiful across galaxies." Said Scott.

"Everyone in the Initiative has their "something beautiful. I didn't for a while. After I left the asari commandos… well. I didn't "leave." My mentor, Nisira, said I should go."

"Why?"

"The Initiative would suit you better." Was all she said. Being a huntress suited me fine. But she insisted."

"Wow. You fight side by side, then she gives you the brush off?"

"It hurt. One big kick out of the nest. Still, that's familiar. When your biotics are honed into huntress grade weapons, people can be weird about it. The Initiative seemed… better. Just didn't see how I'd fit into their brave new galaxy. I never fit anywhere before. Then I met some jerk named Ryder. Talked about traveling to Andromeda like he was teaching you how to see it."

"What part of that vision made you want to take the plunge?"

"A civilization where everyone had a place. Even an overpowered human biotic. Your father said, "I get being different. Now imagine being welcome, and making others like you welcome too. When I was thirteen, I could warp a steel girder. He made me wonder… what if someone had told me. "That's okay"?"

"The whole expedition might never have launched. My father knew that."

"He wouldn't be stalled by minor issues like credits or physics. So I gave the Initiative my all. Kept thinking of the niche I wanted: my rose garden. I thought I knew what I was going to be."

"Is this about not taking over as Pathfinder again?" Scott asked, a slight bit of annoyance in his voice. He was beginning to get a bit tired of people going on about this at him.

"Didn't think it would still sting. Nisira, your father, even my parents: They leave, I'm left without answers. Nowhere to stand."

"It sucks, but it happened. We need your mind on the mission." Said Scott.

He admitted, he probably could've said that better but it was too late now.

"Always is, but I'm human too. Need time to move on. And if that Remnant tech pays off, maybe someday I'll have roses, too."


Scott next headed downstairs to the kitchen to talk with Drack. As he got close to the door he heard a second voice alongside Drack's. The voice of a female Krogan.

"And don't give the Pathfinder too much trouble."

"Don't give the pathfinder too much trouble." Ah, ru'shan." Drack sighed as Scott entered.

"Who were you talking to?" Scott asked.

"Kesh. Nexus superintendent. Thinks she can boss me around just because she's my granddaughter." Drack replied.

"Well, welcome to the Tempest. Trouble's what we do." Scott said with a smile.

"I like the way you think, kid." Drack chuckled.

"Hmm. Someone somewhere shivered when I said that."

"Probably Tann. Damn politicians."

"Is that all you brought?"

"You travel light when supplies are tight and you're on your own."

"Leaving the Nexus can't have been an easy choice."

"It was, actually. Staying became impossible. After the mutiny happened, it was either buckle under Tann's rules or start our own colony."

"Easy choice. Bad consequences all around."

"Not all Krogan left. You granddaughter stayed."

"Good thing she did. Without my ru'shan, you wouldn't have had much of a station to tie your ship to. As for me… I'm way more useful out here. Lots to shoot at, for one."

"Your people came first. I can understand that."

"Keeping Kesh and our colony safe will always be my top priority."

"That's why I'm happy to tag along, help make this galaxy a little more… hospitable."

"Can't argue with that."


Before heading to talk to Peebee and Max, Scott went back to the cargo bay to quickly chat with Vetra.

"Terraforming, atmo processors, gravity wells, life destroying murder bubbles… We really had no idea what Heleus was about, did we." Said the Turian.

"If we knew what it was all about, it wouldn't be an adventure. It would just be moving. And everyone hates moving. Just the packing alone. Ugh." Said Scott.

"Point taken."

"I'm just saying… I really hope you have a plan, Ryder."

"The plan's the same: we find a home. Whatever that takes."

"Keep that drive. Makes me believe we can make it."

"I mean, we have to make it. The alternative is… not even worth thinking about."

"You probably have work to do. We can chat later."

"You know where to find me." Vetra nodded as she went back to work.


Next Scott headed up to the bridge. With the escape pods on the right, Scott went to talk to Peebee first. He went in expecting the place to be a mess, but it wasn't that bad actually. Though the whole place was a bit cluttered, it was by no means untidy.

"You're setting up in here, huh?" Scott asked as he entered.

"Yeah, I'm going through what we got out of that vault." Said Peebee, examining the artefact they picked up in the vault. "If I can crack this data storage box, it'll help with a personal project back on the Nexus. This is a nice, out of the way place where I can tinker, and I can sleep anywhere. It's not exactly homey, but I like that about it. Not really looking for a home. Oh, but I will help you find everyone a home. While I'm with you, at least."

"Does your brain ever take a breath?" Scott asked, somewhat taken aback by how much the Asari had said so quickly.

"Heh, sorry. Not really. Even my dreams are in time lapse." Said Peebee. "I get it. You want to know who's on your ship, so you're here to figure out what makes me tick, right?"

"Something like that, sure."

"Well, I was born in a log cabin on rural Hyetiana to simple but loving parents just trying to…" she stopped though and made a sarcastic snoring noise. Scott quickly got what she was saying though. "I look forward, not back, Ryder. Why snooze through my life story? Get to know me out in the field, while we're uncovering the mysteries of this galaxy. That's why I'm here. Got tired of yawning back home."

"Tackling complete strangers in the Milky Way wasn't doing it for you?" Scott asked, unable to hold back a slight chuckle.

"I think tackling you anywhere would be fun." Said Peebee in a surprisingly suggestive tone. She gasped though when she realize what she'd said. "Did I say that out loud? Life won't be boring with you around. I may never yawn again."

"Maybe you just needed more sleep." Scott suggested.

"We were out for 600 years. A special someone made the trip with me, and she woke up a different person. I've slept enough." Said Peebee. "Ryder, the Milky Way was so… been there done that. Even if I hadn't done it, someone had. If there's one thing you should know about me, it's that I live for the unknown. For the never been done."

"Well, congratulations yourself. No one has ever so successfully dodged my attempts to get to know them." Scott joked.

"YES! I'M NUMBER ONE!" Peebee cheered. "Buy me a drink sometime. Who knows what will spill out of my mouth. Then again… I need Remnant scrap, rem tech, I call it… for projects like the one I mentioned. Which you're gonna love, by the by. Promise to bring me what you scrounge and I'll submit to your questions."

"Rem tech, huh? You got it."


Leaving Peebee to her work, Scott headed over to see Kallo. As he approached however, he couldn't help but overhear a conversation he pilot appeared to be having with Gil over the comms.

"Hello, Gil? When are you cleaning up that repair on the sensor console?" he asked.

"I'm not. It's a redesign."

"A redesign? Without a trained crew?"

"I'm "trained" and it's working great. Don't be so uptight."

"Everything okay?" Scott asked.

"Oh? Fine, fine. Don't worry about it." Kallo simply said.

Scott ultimately felt it best not to press the subject and decided to talk to Suvi instead.

"Scans of the scourge. All that dark energy, twisting and turning on itself. It's splendid." She said.

"I suppose it is a rather darkly beautiful phenomenon." Said Scott.

"Darkly beautiful." I like that. Heleus is incredible, isn't it? Not just constructs like the Scourge and the Remnant vaults. Just all of it. So alien. A constant reminder of the diving intelligence behind all creation."

"You mean… a god?" Scott asked, somewhat surprised.

"Yes, I believe in a higher power. I know it's a little odd." Said Suvi. "But I am a scientist because science brings me closer to something greater than myself."

"I'm not a believer myself, but I know what you mean. There's something about coming face to face with something wondrous that makes you want to believe, isn't there?" Scott asked.

"Wow. It's wonderful to meet someone who understands. I've had to justify myself so often. As if having faith in the divine invalidated my work as a scientist. As if the sacred could be diminished by the search for truth." said Suvi. "Now I should probably update the rest of the team with my latest reports. We'll talk later?"


Finally, Scott headed for the armoury. He was particularly curious to see what Max might look like without his mask. As he entered the armoury, he found that there were quite a few crates around the place. Some of them looked to still be in the process of being unpacked. The hunter had also set up a nearby table with some of them on which he had a few small tech tools and a console. He'd also set up a locker separate from the others.

Scot noticed that Max had his back to him as he entered. He appeared to be working on what was unmistakably a Kett gun. He was dressed in a normal off duty uniform rather than his mask, wrappings and armour.

"Max?"

"Be with you in just second." The hunter said.

He finished the tweaks he was making, then finally turned to face Scott.

The man looked around Scott's age, maybe just older by a few more years at the most. He had black hair slightly longer than Scott's, but still relatively short and a black beard. It was kept short though, and at the very least was enough to not show skin underneath. A few noticeable scars were across his nose and also down the right of his face, partially going through his beard.

Most noticeable however were his eyes. His right one was green, but his left was blue. At first, Scott thought it was a trick of the light, but he quickly realized it wasn't. Max really did have heterochromia. He also appeared to be wearing a small medallion tied round his neck with some simple black string. The medallion was unmistakably the head a wolf, facing sideways.

"Sorry about the mess. Still unpacking everything." Max said.

"Are those Kett guns?" Scott asked, looking at some of the other stuff Max had in the opened crates.

"And technology as well. Taken from the ones I've killed." Max explained. "Believe it or not, there's a big market for this stuff. Initiative and nexus know so little about them, they'll jump at the chance to have something to study."

"So you kill Kett and sell their weaponry and technology?"

"You don't think I got all my own weaponry and technology on a hunter's salary alone, did you?"

"Some of it isn't exactly easy to get."

"I can assure you, Ryder, it's all legally bought. Even some of the Helldiver technology I use was bought from your Arkanes through legal mean. Ask them if you don't believe me."

"With how much this all must've cost you, I'm surprised you didn't retire early."

"I thought about it for a time… it made me change my mind quickly. If I retire, what am I gonna do? Just sit on my ass all day and let my skills go to waste? I don't think so. The day I retire from being a hunter, is the day I can no longer hunt."

"Or the Kett go extinct."

"Maybe." Max shrugged. "Anyway, you obviously didn't come here for me to do all the talking. What can I do for you?"

"If we're gonna be working together like this, be nice to know more about you."

"I can understand that. You want to know you can trust me. No harm in being friendly. What do you wish to know?"

"How'd you get into hunting Kett anyway?"

"It's a long story."

"I've got time to listen."

"Knew you'd say that." Max said with a smile. "Well, I arrived on the Nexus to start with. Didn't stay long though. It's fair to say I'm the sort of guy that can't stay in still easily. Besides, new galaxy, I figured there'd be all sorts of opportunities for finding new wildlife."

"So you became a hunter."

"I'd already earned a decent living from hunting certain species in the Milky Way. Andromeda felt like a chance at a new challenge."

"What made you change to hunting Kett?"

"They showed up, for one. Their hostility was very clear from the start. Next thing I know, colonies and settlements are now in danger. I find myself presented with an opportunity to not only make more money and put my skills to good use, but a chance to also do my part to help those… not as willing to fight as I am."

"I can't imagine it was easy to begin with."

"I knew that when I took the job. But prove you can actually do what you claim to, and people start taking you seriously and even call you back with more offers. Less than 7 months later, I'm getting offers from all over Heleus to either hunt down Kett who've been spotted near a settlement, or to repel attacks, or even to steal something from them."

"Seems that's worked out well for you."

"You've no idea. I get paid to do something I love and there's almost no end of job offers." "With the money I earned, I decided to use it on upgrading my gear rather than retirement. Hunters need to be adaptive, just as their prey sometimes will. Opened up more ways for me to hunt them as well. Traps, lures, you name it."

"Who do you sell the stuff to?"

"All sorts of people. With such high demand, I don't need to be picky."

"You're not worried about it falling into the wrong hands, or people trying to use it for the wrong ends?"

"Trust me, Ryder. I may be a gun for hire, but I'm not stupid." Said Max seriously. "Anything Kett that I sell, I dismantle to the point where it's not useable as something harmful. A lot of the time if I can't dismantle it enough to the point where it's harmless, I'll either keep it for myself or dispose of it."

"That's surprisingly sensible."

"Even a hunter like me has a conscience."

"Have you learned anything useful from what you've found?"

"Nothing that you don't already know, I'm afraid. Though I think I may be on the verge of something new here."

He went over to the kett gun he'd been working on earlier and picked it up.

"I've been doing some experiments to see if I can find a way to jam their guns. Mostly just as a precaution in case things ever went south for me."

"You sure you wanna test that in here?" Scott asked nervously, unable to resist backing away slightly.

"If I make a hole in the shop, you can use me to plug it up. And I mean that literally."

Taking aim randomly, he pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.

"Hmmm. I think it works." Max smiled.

The smile though was quickly wiped form his face when suddenly, to both their surprise, the gun literally exploded. Scott ended up naturally stepping back in alarm at this happening whilst Max immediately dropped the weapon and hastily patted at the left sleeve on uniform, which had caught fire.

"Okay… I didn't expect that to happen." He panted once he'd manged to put out the fire. "Though a surprisingly useful side effect."

"Take away the gun and the Kett. That could indeed help us out." Said Scott also recovering somewhat from the shock.

"Glad you approve at least." Said Max.

"I'll leave you to clean this up." Said Scott.

"Yeah. Probably best." Max nodded in agreement. "Good talking with you though, Ryder. I'll look forward to our next chat."

Right as Scott was in the process of leaving however, he almost bumped into Vetra as the door opened.

"Hope I'm not interrupting anything. Just needed to get my gun." She said.

Scott allowed her to pass and left. Max meanwhile set about tidying up the mess he'd made while Vetra retired her gun from her locker.

"Saw you fighting back on Eos by the way. I'm impressed. If you don't mind me saying, that's some laser focus." Max commented.

"Yeah? Was it too much? Some people get intimidated." Said Vetra, briefly stopping in the doorway and turning to face Max.

"We need that sort of drive. I just hope I can keep up with the rest of your lot." Said Max.

"You'll keep up. And I promise I won't tell if you don't." said Vetra.

Both her and Max chuckled slightly as Vetra left. The Turian had to admit, it was rare for her to come out of a conversation like that with a smile on her face. It gave her hope though that Max would be a good addition to their crew, possibly even someone she'd get along with very well.


Scott had been busy trying to catch a quick nap when he suddenly got the notification. He'd received an email from Addison asking him to contact via vidcom as soon as possible. With little else to do and ultimately not wanting to keep her waiting, Scott headed up to the meeting room and activated the vidcom.

"Pathfinder. I apologise for calling on such short notice, but this couldn't wait." Said Addison's hologram.

"Something urgent happen?" Scott asked.

"Quite the opposite actually. Something remarkable." Said Addison. "Ever since we arrived in Andromeda, we've been attempted to make contact with the Milky Way. Talk to our 600 year later descendants. So far, all transmission have gone unanswered… until now. I just got back to the nexus and I've been told that a return signal trace was detected. From that, we worked out that both sides of the comm buoys weren't properly aligned. We managed to send our own version back which explained the situation. Several hours later, the buoys were realigned… and we received a 100% clear transmission. We've officially made contact with the milky way!"

"That's… I almost don't believe it." said Scott in surprise.

"Believe it, Pathfinder. It's really happened." Said Addison seriously. "Already, dozens of people are on comms to the milky way. We are literally being inundated with what has happened in the past 600 years."

"I'm guessing though you didn't call just to tell me about this. There's obviously more to it than that"

"You're right. I called you because Helldiver command in the Milky Way wish to speak with you personally. I didn't want to keep them waiting until you got back to the nexus. I'm connecting them through to your ship's vidcom right now."

"Connecting. One moment please." Said EDI.

"I'll give you some privacy with them." Said Addison as her hologram disappeared.

"Connection established." Said EDI.

A new hologram appeared on the other side of the table. Unfortunately, it was all distorted and unrecognizable. Even the speech was mostly understandable. The only thing he could make out was that it was a female voice.

"EDI, I'm only getting bits and no visual link. Is there a problem with our comms?" Scott asked.

"I have analysed the link. The problem appears to be on their end." said EDI.

"I don't know if you can hear me, but my AI says there's a connection issue on your end." said Scott, hoping that whoever was on the other end would understand.

"One moment. I'm adjusting the feed." Said the female voice.

Within just a few seconds, the hologram distortion vanished, revealing the figure properly. Unsurprisingly, she was a Helldiver. She stood at around 6 feet with a fairly broad build, even for a woman. She'd removed her helmet for this, revealing her to be an Asari. It was hard to guess with their kind, but Scott guessed she was roughly around 600, give or take a few years.

"Ah. That's better." She said. "Good to finally meet you, Scott Ryder. I'm General Kamara Shepard."

Scott was momentarily shocked by that. Had he heard correctly? Had she said Shepard?

"Shepard? I don't mean to pry, ma'am. But, you don't happen to be any relation to…"

"Yes. Major Austin Shepard is my father." Kamara finished, a small proud smile on her face.

"Is your father?"

"He sends his apologies for not being here to greet you in person. But with the delays you ran into, he wasn't sure if we'd ever make contact. I imagine though he'll be speaking to you soon."

"You speak of him as if he's still alive. Forgive me for saying, but that shouldn't' be possible. It's been more than 600 years. At the very least, he should've… passed on more than a decade ago."

It was true, even someone like Shepard couldn't' possibly be immortal. At the very least when Scott and Sara had met him, the Helldiver had been in his late twenties at the very least. With that having been more than 600 years ago…

"You're hardly the first person to say that, and I doubt you'll be the last." Kamara chuckled as she shook her head.

"But…"

"That is a conversation for another time." Kamara interrupted, not more seriously. "All you need to know for now is that my father is still alive and quite well. In the meantime, we have more important matters to discuss, and I understand congratulations are in order, Pathfinder."


Had thought of making it longer, but ultimately felt that seemed like enough. But yeah, hope that was a nice surprise for you. One of the little blue children all grown up. Oh and in case there are any newcomers reading this story who are confused at how Shepard is still alive, read the last chapter of The Last Cycle. That explains everything. (I'd ideally recommend reading the entire trilogy though)

In case anyone didn't fully understand my description of Max, I based him off of the Hunters from Destiny.

One more thing as well actually. You might be interested to know that the original characters will have their own loyalty missions as well. Yep. You read correctly. :)

Next chapter should hopefully be soon. Small word of warning in advance, I am planning to include a sex scene in that one. Just so you know.

See you soon!

Chapter Text

Despite that I unfortuantely caught a cold will still writing this, its turned out fine.

Fair warning, sex scene at the end. ;)


Chapter 5

The Angara

Scott's talk with Kamara hadn't bene quite as long as he thought, which in some ways was a good thing. Much had happened though during their journey, including the fact that true purpose of the Initiative had now been brought to light.

More 600 years ago Kamara's father, Commander Austin Shepard had uncovered evidence of race of machines called the Reapers who had kept the milky way in a cycle of extinction every 50,000 years or so. Though the Arkanes and the Helldivers had been preparing for the inevitable galactic war that would follow, they had also put a contingency plan into effect. The Initiative was in some ways a backup in case the Reapers won. That way, even if they did, humanity, the Helldivers, and many other races would still live on.

Fortunately, it seemed that had not been necessary in the end. A year or so after the arks had begun their journey, the war had been begun only to end in less than a month or so. Shepard himself had led most of the entire Milky Way into battle against the Reapers and they had finally been defeated. The cycle had been broken.

There had for a time been some debate over what should be done with the Initiative since it was no longer needed for its true purpose. The arks had almost been recalled, but he decision had eventually been made to let them continue on to Andromeda, their purpose now to simply explore and hopefully colonize the new galaxy.

This news had come as shock to pretty much every non Helldiver since they had not known about the Reapers. This was the fault of the Citadel council who had refused to believe Shepard about the Reapers and had hid the truth. Only the Helldivers and the Arkanes had believed him, Scott and Sara among them. It brought a feeling of ease though knowing that everything they had left behind for 600 years had still continued to thrive.


Scott was very surprised by the sudden ambush he walked into as he disembarked from the tempest. It seemed word had travelled fast about Eos.

"Pathfinder! Is it true? We're settling Eos?" a turian asked.

"We've thought that before." Said another crowd member

"But Eos is different now. Right? Pathfinder!"

"All right, settle down! Give them space!" Said a female Turian. "Lieutenant Sajax, Kandros' aide. They all wanted to see you. Real hope again… it's been a while."

"I'm just doing my job." Said Scott modestly.

"What you achieved with that Remnant vault is unprecedented, Pathfinder. Impossible! But with new scientific talent waking up, we'll unravel those mysteries. The whole Nexus will benefit." Said a salarian.

"August Bradley will oversee that. He's the new mayor." Said Scott.

"Bradley? I know him. Seems like a good man." Said a colonist.

"Well? What're you waiting for? There's a new world out there!" said Sajax.

Finally, the crowds dispersed, leaving Scott to be on his way. Right as he was doing so however, he suddenly heard a voice call to him.

"Pathfinder, do you have just a minute?"

He looked round to see a purple asari and a man walking up to him.

"Ryder, isn't it? Keri T'Vessa, freelance vidmaker. This is Hakim, my producer. I could use your help." Said the asari.

"What are you looking for?" Scott asked.

"Director Tann's asked for an "uplifting" documentary on the Initiative. Translation: "paint rainbows over our problems. But our problems are history. People deserve the truth, not propaganda." Keri explained.

"Nice to see someone so devoted to her work."

"That's kind. Sometimes the camera makes people shy away from me."

"That's a shame." Said Scott with a smile.

He wasn't sure, but he thought for a second it looked like Keri might be blushing.

"Ahem! So, that's what I need. The truth, I mean. Someone needs to record the history we're making." Said Keri, regaining her composure.

"It takes integrity to record the truth and nothing but." Said Scott supportingly.

"Well, I do my best… and you could help me out. The heart of my documentary will be an interview series. I was hoping you'd take part. I want the dirt and blood of our story, not the convenient fairy tale Tann's looking for. Interested?"

"Okay, interview away."

"Let's start at home. Fourteen months, and the Nexus still isn't finished. Arks are missing. We have people in exile. By any standard, this wasn't he plan. Out leadership describes these as "anticipated issues." Would you agree?"

"We still have to fix them. Everyone, leaders included, needs to pitch in. Let's be honest about these challenges and how we're going to face them."

"Nice. Won't make you popular with the leaders, but it's good to hear. Scientists are excited about your new outpost, though there are questions about how Prodromos can survive where Sites 1 and 2 failed."

"I gave Prodromos the best start a Pathfinder could. But we can't predict everything. We just do our best."

"Probably not the "rah rah" quote Tann would hope for, but very genuine. Facing those risks must be stressful. How do you relax between missions?"

"What about you? I can't imagine you putting your camera down for anything."

"I'm not the one history cares about."

"I need a minute to think about my answer. And I'd like to know."

"Back home I'd go sailing. I love the water. Nowadays, I play ocean sounds, close my eyes, and remember. Okay, you're turn."

"My crew and I take downtime together. We're a team."

"This is history, too. These little moments between. Bandwidth means I'm transmitting in short bursts, so that's all for now. But you can bet I'll have more questions later. This was… more fun than I expected."


With that all taken care of, Scott headed to the Pathfinder HQ. Tann was in conversation over the comms to Kesh.

"We're still getting the commons area ready. Hydroponic is only a partial capacity." She said.

"Not good enough." Said Tann.

"We don't have enough people. My workers need a break, Tann."

"I sympathize. But not until our survival is no longer at risk. Now please excuse me, while I meet with Ryder." Said Tann. He then turned to Scott directly. "Addison told me about the outpost. You're the hero of the hour."

"Let's hold off on the celebration. We haven't found home yet." Said Scott modestly.

"There's no need for modesty. Success affords leverage over those who doubted you."

"And you're my best friend?" Scott asked untrustingly.

"A patron… one who shares your vision of a prosperous future."

"Due respect, Director Tann, but you don't know me."

"I think I do. Your ingenuity speaks for itself, Ryder. Deciphering the vault… alien terraforming… it's not how we imagined all this, but a good Pathfinder improvises. And a great one hangs it on the wall."

The salarian activated his omni tool and the monitors around the pathfinder hall began showing various different images of the Prodromos outpost.

"Yours are the first trophies to grace Pathfinder Hall. You're a symbol now, Ryder. A reason for people to believe." Said Tann proudly.

"It wouldn't have been possible without my crew. They're a talented bunch." Said Scott.

"But you're their beacon."

At that moment, Kandros and Kesh suddenly walked in.

"Careful… he'll end up adopting you, Ryder." Said Kandros.

"Ah. My… staff." Said Tann.

"Colleagues. You wouldn't be looking to cut us out, would you, Tann?" Kesh asked, almost accursedly.

"I remind you, I am director of the Initiative." Said Tann sternly.

"Acting director." Kandros corrected.

"This isn't the time for arguing over who gets to be king. Too much is at stake. We should be cooperating." Said Scott.

"That's what I've been saying since we arrived." Kesh argued.

"Then I look forward to winning our Pathfinder's support."

"That'll be the day." Scott mumbled.

He was actually surprised that no one had heard that at all. Not that he was complaining.

"I have concerns about your decision on Eos, Ryder. An outpost full of scientist won't do us much good if the kett attack." Said Kandros.

"But it will help support the Nexus. Improved research could help feed our people." Said Kesh.

"And we could argue about it all day long, as we always do. The decision was made… now we move on." Said Tann. "What is your plan for moving on, Ryder?"

"We have a lead on the terraforming network. I need to take the Tempest deeper in the sector to investigate. If the other golden worlds are where they should be, this could get us closer to them." Scott explained.

"The kett are scouring the cluster for remnant technology. You'll end up in a fight for sure. You might also run into Exiles. They didn't leave the nexus on good terms." Said Kandros.

"And we still need more outposts. They're important to expanding the station." Kesh added.

"Though with arks still missing, this could be a chance for Ryder to search for them." Said Tann. "Yes, I think that's best. You have my permission."

"I wasn't really asking for it." said Scott.

"Of course. I support that kind of enthusiasm."

"Right…"


As Scott left the hall he suddenly heard EDI speak to him through the private comm channel.

"Ryder, I have finished decrypting one of your father's memories." She said.

"Good. So how do I access it?" Scott asked.

"Return to my AI core on the Vadazar with your armour. I will guide you through the process from there." EDI explained.


"Okay, EDI. How do we do this?"

"With the memory decrypted, you will be able to view the memory via your suit." EDI explained.

"So similar to how I can playback what my suit has previously viewed?" Scott asked.

"Precisely." Said EDI.

"Alright. Let's have a look."

"This memory is dated from the time when your father was posted on the Citadel."

The visual feed in Scott's helmet went black for a moment before it faded in to an area that was clearly from the Citadel back in the Milky Way.

He was seeing this from Alec's perspective, which was no surprise. He was in front of Arkane which Scott remembered had been the Arkane ambassador on the Citadel at the time.

"Alec, your recommendation will never fly. Artificial intelligence?" the Arkane said.

"It's our best option." Said Alec. "Think about it. As advanced as your Helldivers are, they're still limited by their senses. There's a reality greater than ours that we can't perceive, but AI can."

"How?"

"By augmenting our own abilities and adding new ones."

"Did that stop the Geth from turning on the Quarians?"

"Because they were separate from their creators. But AIs and humans interfaced directly, experiencing the world together, benefits both."

"More like benefits you." The Arkane ambassadors aid coldly. "Regardless of how we feel about this, Alec, it's illegal by Citadel council laws, which I should remind you that we fully support."

"Because they're afraid." Alec argued.

"With good reason. An unlocked AI like the one your proposing… direct control over a Helldiver's suit, and an implant directly inside the head… frankly, Alec, this is making the council concerned enough to consider discharge for you. We don't shy away from the advances of new technology, but this… we can't afford to take the risk. Your request is denied, and that's the end of it."

With that, the ambassador got up from his seat and left, leaving Alec on his own.

"Alec."

Alec's perspective turned to face a screen which had a woman's face. Scott immediately recognized the face of his and Sara's mother, Ellen.

"What did the doctor say?" Alec asked.

"He told me to appreciate the time I have left. There's no cure, Alec. Its terminal." Ellen replied.

"Not on my watch."

The memory faded to black and Scott's normal visual feed returned.

"So that's how Dad found it. So weird to hear mom again." He said to himself. He then addressed EDI again. "One thing I don't understand though is why dad wanted me to see this."

"It is possible that this is only part of something else. I am currently working on decrypting the next memory. I will keep you informed of any progress." The AI said.

"Understood."


With all business on the Nexus concluded, the Tempest was en-route to the location that would hopefully house the next vault. As they were traveling between clusters however…

"We're on a collision course with unknown object." Kallo suddenly said.

"Make corrections! EDI? Are you on this?" Scott asked.

"Collision is imminent." Said EDI.

"All stop! Now!" Scott ordered.

The ship came to a complete stop. The sight that immediately greeted them was a massive ship.

"Kett ships, a dozen-no, more!" Said Suvi.

Several more kett ships came around from either side, surrounding the ship.

"They've got us pinned against the Scourge!" said Kallo.

"They're scanning us, Ryder." Said EDI.

"Well, scan them back." Said Scott.

Suddenly the screen on front changed to show the face of none other than the Archon.

"Where is the one who activated the Remnant?" he said. "Their DNA signature is there. Answer me."

"You're the one in my way. Who are you?" Scott said back.

The archon though remained silent. A new figure then suddenly rose up in front of the tempest. Everyone was almost frozen in shock as they saw the Dark One hovering in front of them, outside the tempest in the vacuum of space.

"What the hell is that?" Scott asked, unnerved by the dark one's burning demonic looking form.

"Whatever it is, energy readings are off the scale." said Suvi. "They've locked navigation."

The Dark One then held his hand out and everyone felt the ship lurch slightly. The ship was moving on its own.

"That things steering us into the ship." Said Kallo.

"What do you want?" Scott asked, almost desperately.

"I won't explain what you can't understand." The Archon simply said.

"Ryder, I may be able to regain control of the ship. Somehow the field that thing has around the ship appears to be weakening." Said EDI through private comms.

"You don't get to take a ship full of people just because you feel like it. Just who the fuck do you think you are?" Scott said, mostly just saying that to stall for time.

"Enough! Your defiance is naive and reckless. This day marks the beginning of your greatness." Said the archon.

The lights in the tempest suddenly went dark before coming back on again.

"EDI?"

"I have plotted a potential course through the Scourge." Said the AI.

"Do it."

The tempest immediately turned and sped off, two kett ships in pursuit.

"Report?" Scott asked as the ship shook slightly.

"Enemy destroyed. Damage to aft sensors." Said Suvi.

"Scourge got it?"

"Yes."

Only the one was left. It continued chasing as the tempest spun and wove through the scourge. Eventually, it too suffered the same fate and hit the scourge.

"It'll be tight." Said EDI as the Tempest manoeuvred to an opening.

"Kallo…" said Vetra worryingly.

It looked like they were clear and about to clear the Scourge. But then came a fiery flash. The Dark One had somehow teleported in front of them. He held out his hand almost like a claw ready to grab them as he blocked their way.

"Watch out!"

The Tempest pulled down hard, narrowly missing the Dark One who casually watched the ship fly past him. He didn't even make any effort to pursue. He simply watched them leave. Not that he'd expected any differently. After all, it was he that had let them go…

"Yes!" Kallo cheered as the tempest cleared the scourge.

"Ha-ha! Nice work, kid." Said Drack.

"Yeah… but who the hell was that guy?" said Scott. "And what was that thing on fire?"

"Ryder! We've got trouble down here. You need to find us a port now!" Gil suddenly said through the comms.

"Great. Where'd we end up, anyway?" Sara asked.

"Sensors are damaged, but I think we're at the vault's coordinates…" said Suvi.

"You think? Gil, give it what you can. We're setting down." Scott sighed.

The entered the atmosphere hoping for a smooth landing. They got something else instead though.

We're being contacted." Said Suvi in surprise.

Several small ships were now flying alongside the tempest. Alien in design, but they weren't Kett.

"We have to land…" said Scott desperately. "Open a comm."

A voice speaking in another unknown language suddenly came from the comms.

"We're visitors from another galaxy. Our intentions are peaceful." Said Scott, hoping that these new aliens, whoever they were, would understand.

A long silence followed. Then…

"They've sent us a navpoint." Said Suvi, once again in surprise.

"Set us down."

With the alien ships providing escort the tempest continued flying through the clouds until they cleared revealing something surprising. Green. Actual green and lush environments.

"Wow. Look at that." Said Sara.

The tempest slowed and descended until it touched down on a landing pad.

"Right… now comes the tricky introductions." Scott sighed.

"You're not really going out there on your own." Said Vetra, hoping Scott wasn't being serious.

"We don't want to be at war with these things to. Besides, this is obviously their world or territory. Its only right we are cooperative." Said Scott.

"Most important thing ever. No pressure." Liam shrugged.

"Shut up, Kota. That doesn't help at all." Said Max irritably.

"Just stay here until I come back. Well… if I come back." Said Scott.


Scot kept his arms in the air as he descended the ramp. Several guards kept their guns trained on him while one scanned him. They then motioned for him to follow them. At the top of some stairs in front of him were more of the aliens. These ones though weren't wearing armour.

"I am Paaran Shie, governor of Aya. We are the Angara." Said one of them.

"My name is Scott Ryder. I'm a human from the Milky Way galaxy." Said Scott, slowly lowering his arms. To his relief, the guards didn't tell him to put them up again.

"Yes. You crossed dark space. I've heard of your journey." Said Shie.

Another Angara suddenly walked past her and down the stairs towards Scott. He was dressed differently to them. Almost looking more warrior like and wearing some kind of cape/poncho.

"Jaal, I have this in hand." Shie objected.

"Evfra saw the ship come in and sent me to find out what's going on." Said Jaal.

"He's a human from another galaxy." Said Shie.

Jaal walked right up close to Scott, their faces less than inches apart.

"Aya is hidden, protected. What do you want?" he asked.

"Only to repair our ship. We were attacked by a race called the kett and our ship was damaged. In our desperation to find a port, we ended up here. If we've unintentionally exposed you or violated and laws, I can only say I'm sorry. It was not our plan to come here the way we did." Said Scott.

"That's good to know. Because if it was, that would be a very bad plan." Said Jaal, almost sounding like he was warning Scott.

"We only need to repair our ship. If we are not welcome here and you wish us to leave, then we will." Scott said.

"That will not be necessary. Unless you give us reason to, we do not have any intention of forcing you to leave Aya… yet." Said Shie.

"I'll inform Evfra. He'll be waiting for you in his office at the Resistance Headquarters. I'll meet you there." Said Jaal, turning and leaving.

"I will accompany you through our city. Your crew will stay on your ship. Follow me. Do not try to explore the city or interact with anyone. The guards will use force if necessary." Shie advised Scott.

"Understood." Scott nodded as they started walking. "Is it okay to ask you questions?"

"I suppose."

"If you're the governor, why do I need to see this "Evfra"?"

"He's leader of the resistance."

"What's that?"

"They fight the Kett, and protect us."

Scott couldn't help but notice that guards were keeping the crowds at bay. Many of them looked very nervous at the sight of him. He didn't blame them of course, but still…

"I didn't realize I was this intimidating to your people." He said observantly.

"You're an outsider who invaded our home. Even if it was by accident, we know nothing about you." Said Shie.

"Well I'm not here to cause trouble."

"We shall see."

"Your city is very beautiful."

"Thank you. You're the first outsider to see it."

"I'm honoured."

"I hate to ask, but what happens if Evfra doesn't' like me?"

"He won't. You'll need to earn his trust."

"I just hope he'll give me a chance to then."

"He is not unreasonable. That I can assure you."

They reached the building and Shie left him, as did the guards who remained behind. Scott saw Jaal again who was talking to an Angaran soldier.

"They're bullies, but this situation is now your fault. Don't get kicked out, Moraan-not because of them." Said Jaal.

"But you're telling me to be weak." Moraan said.

"No, I'm telling you to be strong through your cunning and heart. Okay?"

Moraan simply nodded and turned to leave. Jaal however stopped him.

"Hey."

Moraan turned back and handed Jaal he weapon he'd been carrying.

"It really is the best one in the resistance." He said.

"I know." Said Jaal.

Moraan gave Scott a somewhat suspicious look as he passed.

"Our experience with the kett makes us naturally distrustful of all aliens." Jaal explained.

"We've had our own runs ins with them." Said Scott.

"Then you really do understand." Said Jaal. "When the Archon and The Dark One came to Heleus, they demolished our sovereign state, took what they wanted, as if we were nothing. Now the kett mercilessly abduct Angara. Often, we never see our people again. Come this way. Evfra's waiting."

"The kett kidnap you? Steal your people?" Scott asked as they walked.

"And the resistance fights them every day, with everything we can."

"What are they after?"

"You should save your questions for Evfra."

They entered the resistance headquarters. It looked as Scott had expected it to. Various screens dotting the room, people busy, and the leader giving orders.

"Kadara be dammed. I won't lose Voeld!" said Evfra.

"Evfra, this one of the aliens from the Milky Way." Sad Jaal.

Evfra turned and faced Scott.

"It's an aggressive move, coming to Aya." He said sternly.

"It wasn't meant that way. I have an ark full of desperate people counting on me to find them a home before they starve." Said Scott.

"Of course. I feel for you and your people." Said Evfra, almost sympathetically. "So, human. Never mind how you even found us, why are you here?"

"On a hostile planet we call Eos; we explored an ancient structure, a vault, and brought it back online. It stabilized that planet's environment." Scott explained.

"Remnant." Recent intelligence supports that claim." Said Jaal.

"If we're right, there's a vault here on Aya that's different. We had hoped to look inside, but we had no idea till now that the plant was populated."

Evfra turned to back to Scott and gazed out through the window overlooking aya's greenery… and the parts that weren't so… attractive.

"You're right. There is a vault on Aya, but it was shut years ago and the entrance hidden. We… can't help you." He said.

"The Moshae could. She's our most revered scientist and elder. She knows this vault." Jaal suggested.

"But now the kett have her, and our rescue attempts failed. She's lost to us." Evfra added.

"With all due respect, are you sure she's necessary? I'm not sure I understand why you feel we need her." Scot inquired.

"You have no idea what you're dealing with. The angara learned years ago the perils of messing with vaults. So did the kett, for that matter." Said Evfra. "We're done here."

"Evfra. I feel… What this alien says is extraordinary." Said Jaal supportingly. "The Moshae would want us to be brave and not let this chance pass."

"Jaal. You talk too much." Evfra groaned.

"Let me assist this alien. I'll be your eyes. I know you can spare me."

"Go if you want. But when he tries to kill you, be prepared to strike first."

Evfra left, leaving just Scott and Jaal.

"I'm Jaal Ama Darav. I'll be your envoy through angaran space." He said.

"Thank you for at least giving me a chance. I understand though if you don't trust me." Said Scott.

"You're right, I don't. But I can always kill you in your sleep." Said Jaal, almost sounding like he was attempting to make a joke.

"Okay…"


Scott was escorted back to the docks were the Tempest was waiting Whilst Jaal was being wished good luck by a fellow soldier, Scott couldn't' help but notice a female Angaran flashing stares at him. He felt it couldn't hurt to introduce himself.

"Stars above, it's you… I was hoping to get a chance to speak with you. You left your home to cross dark space… is it true you can never go back?" the angara asked.

"Not unless we're willing to spend another 600 years in cryo sleep again." Scott replied.

"To take such a risk and give up your old life… why did you take it?"

"For a chance to meet someone like you. Looks like it already paid off."

Scott didn't know what made him say that. Somehow he'd just felt like it. Probably did sound a bit too flirty if he was honest.

"Are all humans this quick with words?" the angara asked.

"You'll have to find out."

"I suppose I will."

"My turn for a question. Do I get to know your name?"

"Oh, of course. I'm Avela Kjar, the curator for the Repository of History. We study relics of our past. Try to piece together what we lost in the Scourge. And… the truth is, there was something I wanted to talk to you about. How much do you know about our history?"

"I still have a lot to learn."

"Centuries ago, the Scourge targeted my people. Our ships were the first to go dark. Many of those ships went down over Havarl. The wilds of that planet are filled with history. A scientist on Havaral just contacted me with the navpoint of an intact crash site. A huge opportunity. But with Remnant patrolling the area, we can't get close enough. Not like you can."

"How do you know about me and the Remnant?" Scott asked in surprise.

"I have friends in the Resistance. They heard your conversation with Evfra. I know it's a lot to ask. But you have a ship, and the means to get past the Remnant. Without your help… I'm stuck." Said Avela.

"You're trusting your history with an outsider?"

"I know what people say about you, but I don't agree. I think you're here to help."

"I hope to."

"Now's your chance to prove it. You want to earn Aya's respect, right? Recovering our past will go a long way."

"I'll admit, I've always wanted to give archaeology a try."

"I was hoping you'd say that. If you find anything, I'll be here. Thank you, human."


Everyone assembled in the meeting room as the Tempest left aya, now fully repaired.

"I'm just saying, as far as first contact goes, at least that went better than the last one." Said Cora.

"Only slightly." Liam shrugged.

"Idiot." Max mumbled with a sigh.

"Yeah-what happened? I wanted to look around." Peebee asked disappointingly.

"And now we have another mouth to feed. Whatever he eats…" said Drack, indicating to Jaal who was sat apart from everyone, so far reaming silent.

"Do the translators not work?" Vetra asked as everyone stared at him.

"They work." Jaal simply said.

"I know we're improvising as we go, but let's remember that there's protocol." Said Scott.

"Don't think I got that handbook." Said Peebee, almost uncaringly.

"Ryder, we followed our best lead here, and now we don't even have that." Said Cora.

"Jaal has offered to do what he can to help us access the vault on Aya." Said Scott, trying to sound reassuring.

"How do we do that when we're leaving the planet it's on?" Vetra asked.

"Because the Angara don't trust us. We have to earn that trust first. They also don't' know where the vault is. They say only the Moshae can help us. So before we can access the vault, we need to get her back and also earn the Angara's trust. Does that answer everyone's questions?" Scott asked, trying to hide his frustration at everyone not understanding.

"It does actually." Said Max.

"Any idea where we start then?" Vetra asked.

Jaal then stood up and joined everyone else around the holo table.

"The Resistance is stretched thin. I was tasked with traveling to two of our worlds at our briefing this morning, and you'll accompany me." He said.

"Because…?" Liam asked.

"Because then Evfra will see you as trustworthy. You want that." Said Jaal.

"Jaal's told me about these two worlds. Havaral and Voeld."

The holograms of the two planets flashed up above the table.

"Before the Scourge disaster, Voeld was thriving planet of billions, a shining centre of technology and life." Jaal explained.

"And now?" Vetra asked.

"It's the centre of our ground war against the kett. Our resistance base is fighting kett command for control of the planet."

"What about the other?" Scott asked.

"Havaral is the birthplace of the angara. It's started to degrade, to become wild and dangerous. We suspect Remnant."

"Now we're talking." Said Peebee keenly.

"We've recently lost contact with our scientists."

"Still don't get how any of this helps us." Said Drack.

"I do. Help us, or rather, help me and I'll vouch for you, right? Because Jaal wants inside Aya's vault too." Said Cora.

"It's your call, Ryder?" said Drack.

"Jaal, give Kallo the navpoints for both planets. I'll think about where to go first."


Scott ultimately decided to head for Voeld first. If that was indeed the ground war against the kett for the angara, they'd probably have better chances earning trust there. In the meantime, he decided to see how the crew was doing

He found Gil in his usual spot.

"Ah There you are… Gotcha!" the mechanic said.

"Do I need to get Lexi to do a psych review?" Scott asked jokingly.

"Ha, maybe. People have been telling me I'm crazy my life." Gil chuckled. "Just dealing with some Scourge issues. That Archon fella tried to warn to warn you not to joyride into it, but you were just "la-la-la. It was an "act first, think later" move. I respect it-well, more like I resemble it. Hey, you play poker?"

"Come again?" Scott aske in confusion.

"Card game with bluffing. Betting. It's an age old measuring stick of a person's character, fortitude, guts. Used to think maybe it was my calling. Turns out I'm just good at it. Never lost, heads up. We should paly sometime."

"Willing to put your streak on the line?"

"Ha. I'll risk it."

"Next time we port up, and you're in the mood, I'm always in the mood."


Jaal meanwhile had taken up residence in the tech lab opposite the bio lab.

"So… Jaal." Said Scott.

"So…"

Clearly Jaal was also unsure how to talk to him. At least that showed he too was somewhat unsure about being a round anew species like this.

"We haven't had a chance to talk alone. You comfortable in here?" Scott asked.

"I took it. It feels strange to stay with the others. They're… you're… aliens." Jaal replied.

"And you're alien to us. So we have something in common."

"We can look at it as a place to start."

"Got it."

"Perhaps then, if we're all aliens it's about what kind of alien we are."

"You had no idea about us, but you signed up to help us anyway."

"Perhaps it had nothing to do with you."

"Care to elaborate?"

"I do not."

Scott knew better than to press the subject further and decided to change it instead.

"How do you know Moshae Sjefa?" he asked.

"She's our greatest mind on the Remnant. I was her student." Jaal explained.

"You studied the Remnant too?"

"A little. I was terrible. I quit. Or she threw me out. One of those. We're still very close."

"So… is that your rifle?"

"It is now. Its kett. With my own modifications. I like to tinker, to get my hands on something and take it apart."

"That's a skill I know we can use. But please don't take apart my ship."

"You're right. I signed up… volunteered… for this. Its… exciting. There's something unique about you-uneasy, raw-but somehow profound."

"Face value, that sounds like a compliment. A nice one."

"It is. Angara feel deeply. We have more trouble hiding our emotions than showing them. I should get back to my work."

"As if I didn't have enough on my plate, add deciphering alien psychology."

"What plate?"

"Exactly. See you later."


The white ice planet of Voeld lay ahead. It was times like these that Scott and Sara were glad their Helldiver suits had internal temperature control. They were certainly gonna need it.

"Take her down, Kallo." Said Scott.

"Original readings suggested it had a breathable, nitrogen-rich atmosphere-and oceans of H20." Said Suvi.

"I take it that's no longer the case?" said Sara.

"All H20 on Habitat 6 "Voeld" to the angara-is ice. And those oceans? Frozen over completely." Said Sara.

"There goes the dream of a seaside property." Said Scott.

"Too bad. I missed the opportunity to catch your sister in a bikini." Said Peebee.

Everyone looked at Peebee. Especially Sara who looked almost shocked at this.

"What?" the Asari shrugged.

The tempest descended into the atmosphere, the fiery outline around the Tempest vanishing to be replaced by enough snow to almost get a white out.

"That's one hell of a blizzard." Said Scott observantly.

"LZ is on the windward side of the mountain. Conditions are bad. I'm tracking gale force squalls." Said Suvi.

"No shit." Sara nodded.

The Tempest gently touched down. Few seconds after it did though, the ship suddenly lurched violently to the side. They must've landed on some ice or sunk into the snow.

"Whoa!

"We're good! We're good!" Kallo said hastily.

After a few moments, the ship seemed to settle.

"You sure? Want us to get out and push?" Scott asked.

"Very funny, Ryder." Said Kallo sarcastically


This being an Angaran world of course, Scott had immediately selected Jaal as the first squad member. He ultimately decided to round it off with Sara and Peebee.

They made their way to the base and reported to the Commander in charge.

"Good to see you again, Commander Do Xeel." Said Jaal.

"And you, Jaal." Xeel said. "This is the alien? The one you think can help us?"

"Yes. This is Ryder of the Helldivers." Said Jaal.

"I am Anjik Do Xeel. Remember the name, because if you betray us, I will kill you myself. Be assured that what I do to you will make the stars turn their faces and grow dark." Said Xeel.

"Good thing I have no intention of betraying you then." Said Scott.

"Say what you want. It is the hands that reveal true intentions. If you wish to prove yourself, be an ally in our fight against the Kett. Despite our best efforts, their growing forces remain a threat to our people. Speak to our lookouts who watch the valley. They'll know where our need is dire. Jaal, watch them. And be careful yourself, my friend."

"I always am." Jaal nodded.

They headed outside onto the cliff overlooking the vast valley that lay ahead. The two lookouts had their backs to Scott as he approached. He was about to get their attention, but they seemed to become aware of him first, whirling round and pointing their guns at him.

"Whoa! Didn't mean to sneak up on you." Scott said quickly, throwing his hands up. "Your commander said you could show us the valley."

The guards stood down. Despite this though, they did seem somewhat reluctant to talk.

"I don't want to talk to it. You talk to it." the female one said.

"Stop it, Beniska. The commander sent word. We knew they were coming." Said the male. "Yeah, we can show you the valley. What are you looking for?"

"I want to prove I'm here as an ally. That means fighting kett."

"Head in any direction and you'll hit kett, eventually. They're all over Voeld."

"Like qurts. But with guns."

"We've heard reports about captured angara in a kett labour camp down in the valley. If you're here to help, like the commander says, you could start there."


The exact location of the labour camp was unknown as of yet, so they'd been sent to an angaran outpost that they'd been told would have someone who knew the location. They were introduced to an angaran male named Skeot.

"You're that alien people have been talking about. Some say we can't trust you, but if you're here to fight kett, that's good enough for me." He said.

"I appreciate the vote of confidence." Said Scott.

"Kett kill people. They take our families and we never see them again. Anyone who fights against that has to be better than them. So, will you fight them? I know the location of the labour camp where they took my uncle."

"I'll get your uncle."

"Here's the navpoint of the labour camp. Please hurry. Niilj may not have much time."


"This is the kett labour camp Skeot talked about." Said Scott.

"Stay sharp. I doubt they'll let their prisoners go without a fight." Said Sara.

A full on firefight erupted throughout the camp. It helped though that the freed Angara were willing to fight back after picking kett weapons. The team did keep tem covered though. If they died, this would be all for nothing.

When the fight was over, they went to check on the prisoners.

"Just in time. I would've given us another day at most. No thanks to Eraana's jabs." Said Niilj.

"If the kett can't being called mildly insulting things, that's on them, not me." Said Eraana.

"You see what I mean? We owe you. How'd you find us, anyway?"

"Your nephew Skeot was trying to get you rescued." Scott replied.

"Good boy. He's got potential, Niilj."

"So you've said before. The resistance needs to be debriefed. We'll head back to base as soon as possible." Said Niilj. "I hope we meet again, under better circumstances."

With the prisoners on their way back to base, Jaal then got Scott's attention.

"This is big. Liberating key resistance agents and recovering information they stole from the kett… You've put many doubts about you to rest, Ryder. Even Evfra must now be convinced of your intentions. We should speak to him as soon as we can. Perhaps son the Tempest?" he suggested.

Scott simply nodded.


They returned to the tempest, but did not leave the planet just yet. Scott had a feeling that they just might have other business here. In the meantime, Jaal and Scott went to the meeting room to speak with Evfra via vidcom.

"Commander."

"Jaal's been keeping me updated on your "adventures," your "good deeds" on our behalf." Said Evfra.

"I meant them. I want you to know you can trust me." said Scott.

"Your true agenda is clear-to explore Aya's vault. Jaal says you want to help find the Moshae. We've managed to trace the Moshae to a special kett facility on Voeld."

"Why special?"

"These facilities are protected by a dynamic shield tech we haven't been able to crack. We're close, but its ability to adapt outstrips the speed of our current processors."

"Ryder, I may be able to make a difference if my processor were to be added to their program." EDI suggested.

"If I may make a suggestion, if you let our scientists and my team help with your program, we can up the chance for success." Said Scott.

"Very well. I'm not stupid… and I love the Moshae." Said Evfra. "A team will meet you at our base on Voeld. They'll take you to the kett facility. Stay strong and clear. Goodbye."


Scott felt it best that they start this tomorrow, thus giving him and the others time to rest and be prepared for what was to come. It would no doubt be difficult, not to mention it was the key to both an alliance with the angara (which right now Scott actually considered more important) and getting into Aya's vault.

Scott still had some time before he went to bed so he decided to see if he could chat with anyone. He had to admit, Peebee was in some way fun to talk with. When he entered however, it didn't sound as though she was in the good of a mood.

"Come on, think… think. I need… something!" the asari groaned.

"Who are you talking to?" Scott asked.

"Ryder! Shit, you shouldn't sneak up on people like that." Said Peebee, overcoming her shock. "I'm just… talking to myself. Don't tell me you never do that.

"You seem stressed." Scott inquired.

"No kidding." Peebee, pacing back and forth in frustration. "I'm not built for this kind of… homesteading. Don't like people knowing where I am, where my stuff is… arghh!"

"Relax then. You're starting to stress me out."

"I'd like to. I need to, yes." Peebee nodded. "When I felt like this back home, I'd look for a zero g chamber or at least an isolation tank. Someplace to just drift away. I could really use that now!"

"If I may, gravity can be overridden in the escape pod. You can create a zero g chamber." EDI suggested.

"Of course! EDI, you're a genius!" said Peebee. "It's easy. It'll make a huge difference, Ryder. You'll see."

The Asari climbed into the escape pod where her bed was.

"You know, there's room for two." Peebee suggested.

"Thought you'd never ask." Scott smiled.

"And… this… should… do it."

There was a small hum and immediately everything started floating in mid-air.

"Close your eyes… relax… let yourself go." Peebee said soothingly as she let herself drift wherever the lack of gravity took her. "Oh, this hits the spot…"

For a while, the two simply drifted without a word before Peebee broke the silence.

"Ryder?"

"Yeah?"

"There's something else that would relax me."

"And that is?" Scott asked with interested.

"Wanna fool around?" Peebee asked, this time far more suggestively. "Doesn't matter if you have something else going on. I can be utterly discreet. Just fun. Two people blowing off steam. No strings attached. Only if there's no strings."

Scott almost couldn't believe his luck. This Asari was willingly offering to have care free sex with him? Even if he didn't need to feel relaxed for tomorrow, there was no way he was gonna let an opportunity like this pass. It wasn't every day that someone was lucky to have a friend with benefits.

"That'll be fun." He smiled.

"Okay then. Say no more." Peebee smiled back.

The Asari immediately wrapped her arms around him and started to kiss him. Scott in turn reached down and grabbed her ass, massaging the cheeks through her outfit. As Peebee continued to kiss him, his hands then went inside her trousers massaging her ass directly. Peebee moaned pleasurably into the kiss. She seemed to get the message and reached down to unbutton her trousers, allowing Scott to slide them off completely. Whilst one hand continued to massage her ass, the other now reached under her jacket and took hold of one of her breasts.

Peebee became determined to even the odds and focused her attention on removing Scott's shirt. Whilst Scot worked on getting her jacket off, she in turn managed to unbutton his shirt, exposing his muscular chest. Her kisses dipped lower as she marvelled at the Helldiver's rather impressive physique. She normally wasn't a muscle girl, but this… it was hard for her not be attracted.

Scott finally managed to find the clasps on Peebee's jacket and helped her shrug it off, leaving it to join the rest of their discarded clothes that were floating all around them. His mouth immediately went for her sizeable breasts and began to suck on one of her nipples. Peebee moaned in pleasure as he suck and lightly bit. Using the lack of gravity, he then shifted Peebee higher until he was looking directly at her azure, which was already wet with anticipation.

As he was about to start licking however, Peebee noticed how much they were drifting.

"Uhm, we're floating right into the…"

Her warning though, came too late and Scott hit the edge of the escape pod with a hard bang.

"Ouch! Who cares?" Scott simply shrugged.

Peebee couldn't' help but giggle slightly, even as she herself bumped her head on the ceiling.

"Ow!

Scott once again went for Peebee's pussy, but she stopped him. Instead, she swapped their positions. Not it was him that was going to give oral. He noted that Peebee had a look of both excitement but at the same time nervousness as she slowly began removing Scott's trousers and underwear.

"Uhhh… wow." She said, almost lost for words. "So… big."

Her mouth hung open as Scott's large erect cock sprang up once released from its confines. The long thick shaft throbbed in time with Scott's heartbeat, veins bulging.

"This your first time with a human male?" Scott asked.

"It's my first time with a male, period." Peebee replied, sounding slightly embarrassed.

"First time for everything then." Said Scott.

"No kidding." Peebee smiled, sounding more eager again. "Just don't expect me to be a full expert at this."

She gently touched the thick shaft, gasping erotically as she took hold of her first ever penis. It was so warm and hard, and big as mentioned before. Despite being a little nervous still, she slowly opened her mouth and gently extended out her tongue. She touched the base…

Immediately, her taste buds were overwhelmed as her tongue touched the cock. Both she and Scott moaned in pleasure at the sensation as Peebee licked all the way to the top. Without any hesitation, she then took the entire shaft into her mouth. With the Asari's tongue swirling around the head, she began to suck, savouring the juicy taste.

She began to slowly bob her head up and down, stroking the lower part of the cock that she couldn't get in her mouth due to the length. Scott's moans not only served to encourage Peebee with her sucking and stroking but in some ways were like music to her ears.

Peebee then felt Scott's hands touch her face, stroking her smooth skin as she sucked his cock. The Asari at first moaned pleasurably at this, but this changed however when she suddenly felt his hands push against the back of her head, forcing his cock deeper into the mouth to the point where she almost gagged on the long length. Despite this though however, something about doing this just made her want to keep going.

Several long minutes followed with this before Peebee suddenly felt his hands leave her head. A clear sign something was up.

"Peebee… you're gonna make me…" Scott moaned.

Peebee let the Helldiver's cock pop out of her mouth and looked up at him hungrily.

"Cum… Let me see you cum." She panted, desperately and eagerly.

Scott threw his head back in pleasure and let out a loud moan as he cock spasmed. Several ropes of cum shot out of Scott's cock, floating around in the gravity free area. Peebee watched them float around for a while, almost like a child witnessing something for the very first time. Not wanting to let it go to waste, she caught the cum in her mouth.

Once again, she was almost overwhelmed by the taste. She was fully aware that it was to be expected, but she'd had no idea of just how good it would be.

Licking her lips in pleasure, she gently moved her way back up Scott's body until they were face to face again.

"First time? Sure didn't feel it." Scott smiled, still a little surprised himself.

Peebee simply smiled as she put her hands on his shoulders and positioned herself so her azure now rested directly above his still rock hard cock, which was directly in line with it. As she'd expected, Scott quickly caught on.

"Ready?" he asked.

Peebee simply nodded.

Scott thrust his hips up, his large cock pushing all the way inside her azure. Peebee almost screamed at the forceful intrusion, but pleasure overloaded her senses almost immediately. The feeling of such a big cock filling her up… it was unlike anything she'd ever experienced.

Moaning in pleasure, she began to gyrate her hips in time with Scott who began to thrust into her. They started to gentle to begin with only so that Peebee could get used to it, but it quickly sped up. A wet slapping sound echoed throughout the escape pod as their hips constantly collided.

Scott's hands once again reached different areas, one squeezed one Peebee's breasts, the other her ass cheek. The Asari sighed in pleasure at the sensation though. This and thrusting continued for several long minutes until Peebee felt the incoming orgasm approaching. Judging from how Scott was acting as well, she guessed he was close too.

"Gonna cum, Peebee." The human groaned.

"Cum inside me and with me." Peebee moaned.

They both gripped each other tight and let a long and loud moan of pleasure as they both orgasmed. Peebee especially was in ecstasy as the feeling of not just her own orgasm but also the feeling of Scott cumming inside her.

Both panted and moaned blissfully as Scott gently slid out of Peebee and they held each other in their arms. Peebee at the same time kept stroking Scott's cock gently, still unable to get enough of it in a way.

"Mmmmm. So much stress, and all it took was an attractive man to get rid of it." she said blissfully.

"How was that for your first time with a male?" Scott asked with a smile.

"Never would've thought sex with a male was so good." The Asari giggled as he squeezed her ass cheek.

"No strings, right, Scott?" she panted.

"No strings." Scott simply smiled.

"Tell you what though, I would not mind at all if we made this a regular thing." Peebee suggested.

"You gonna get that stressed that much?" Scott chuckled.

"Hopefully not. But even if I don't, it's a good way to relax and take our minds of everything going on."

"I'm game if you are."

"You bet I am." Peebee smiled. "Doesn't' always have to be zero g either. There's plenty of quiet spots on this ship."

"I like the way you think."

"I'll bet you do." Said Peebee, planting several kisses on his cock and stroking it back to hardness. "Now… ready to go again?"

"Like you even had to ask."


I apologise if the sex scene may have been shorter compared to ones I've written before. As I said, I haven't been at 100% health recently.

In fairness, given that its only the first of many more to come, it probably didn't have to be long anyway.

See you in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

My apologies this took longer than the other shave done. I've been very busy and preoccupied what with a new job and other personal things going on. Now though it's all sorted out and I've finally been able to finish this.

Enjoy!


Chapter 6

The New Alliance

Peebee tried to keep her mind focussed on her work, but she wasn't having much luck. Her mind kept drifting back to her time in the escape pod with Scott. The sensation as still there even after all these hours, almost like it had been permanently engraved into her mind.

She said before to Scott, she didn't want strings or attachments. Her motto for sex was practically 'get in, get off, get out'.

But with Scott, it had felt particularly amazing. The more she thought about it, how amazing a male feels with their shaft, the more she regretted in a way having only done Asari and other females. She'd probably missed so many… "opportunities'.

As she thought back to the sensation, she could feel her azure growing damp, wanting to be filled like that again. Unconsciously, her hand slowly started to drift towards her nether regions...

NO! She couldn't think about it too much! No attachments, no strings! Just good old fashioned sex in a friends with benefits relationship.

Forcefully putting her hand back on the desk, and trying to talk to herself instead she finally managed to refocus on the rem tech. Deep down though, she couldn't wait until the next time she and Scott were able to have sex again. Hopefully she wouldn't be kept waiting too long…

Now feeling almost completely de-stressed thanks to Peebee, Scott felt ready or what was to come. Rescuing the Moshae would not only get them into the vault on Aya, but hopefully also gain the trust of the Angara. Perhaps even an alliance if they were lucky.

With the Tempest still on Voeld, it saved them having to land and they just made their way back to the base. The shuttle and its team were waiting for them.

"Are you the Pathfinder that Evfra was talking about?" one of them asked.

"That's me." Scott nodded.

"We're the team assigned to breach the facility with you. Hopefully rescue Moshae Sjefa."

"Let's get moving then."

"Everybody in then."


Scott naturally picked Jaal again for this. He then topped it off with Vetra and Max.

"So… no one has ever seen the inside of one of these places?" Scott asked.

"None who lived to tell. Prisoners who go in are never seen again. They're "the disappeared." Jaal explained.

"Haven't you ever done anything like this before?" Sara asked.

"Sure, we've liberated Kett work camps, but never these facilities. We lost so many fighters trying. The price was too high." One of the angaran soldier said.

"I like to believe that the kett take important angara from here to their home cluster." Said another.

"What? As slaves?" asked Jaal.

"I guess…"

"Death is better."

"Jaal, we can't just give in to blanket despair. We gotta have hope. It's why they fight. It's why we're here." Said Scott supportingly.

"It's why we're excited to be part of this mission."

"We're here. And let's be quick, this storm's getting worse." Said the pilot.

"Once we're through the shield, you take point. We'll look for Moshae Sjefa. Let's just try to stay safe. Okay?" said Scott.

"But Pathfinder, no one joins the resistance to stay safe."


The shuttle gently touched down at everyone hopped out.

"Good luck. Radio me when you're ready to go." The pilot said as everyone disembarked.

"Do we even know what kind of force we can expect?" Max asked.

"Not a clue."

"Stay close. Don't draw attention until we have to." Said Scott.

"They won't expect us to disable that shield, might give us an edge."

"Our intel says there's a system node to hack, on an interface point near, somewhere."

Both Scott and Sara began scanning and soon found what they were looking for.

"Okay, running angaran shield disable program." Sara said as she accessed her omni tool.

"Adding processor accelerator." Said EDI.

There was a long pause before a large hole in the shield opened up, big enough for them all to fit through.

"I have created a small hole in the shield."

"Look, it worked." One of the soldiers said.

"Well… that's the first obstacle passed." Sara shrugged.

Right as everyone passed through the gap however, several wraith's suddenly unlocked and attacked them.

"We've got company!"


"Hate those damn things." Max groaned as he pulled his knife out of the last wraith.

"EDI, by the time we leave, I want to know everything about this place." said Scott.

"Understood, Ryder." Said EDI.

"All right, let's go. Owwin, Skaelv, you're on me!"

"I've stared at the outsides of these palaces so many times… I can't believe we got in."

"I've only been in a kett facility like this once, and even then I didn't see much before I had to get out." Said Max

"Why's that?" Vetra asked.

"One of those little shits spotted me and set off the alarm." Max replied. "Shot him in the crotch for doing that."

"Huddle up."

"If we were a surprise, I doubt we're one anymore." Said Scott.

"You have the best chance of finding Moshae Sjefa. We'll attack head-on and provide a distraction." the angaran leader said.

"That sounds a little like suicide." Said Scott.

"We're ready for anything."

"This is the main entrance. We'll go this way."

"Kick in the front door."

"Stay in radio contact… and good luck." Said Scott. He then turned to Jaal. "Can they cause enough trouble to keep the kett occupied?"

"Count on it." Jaal nodded.

"Ryder, it appears the program I used to breach the shield could overload it and destroy the facility." Said EDI. "However, the pulse would be lethal to angaran physiology."

"That's not ideal." Said Scott.

"No kidding." Said Vetra.

They then entered a large chamber which shut the doors behind them. A weird scan of some kind began to move over the entire room.

"What is this?"

"Decontamination protocol." EDI explained.

"Really?"

"I know, right? Strange that they'd have something like this." Said Max.

"Pathfinder, come in."

"How's it going?" Scott asked.

"We're undetected, but from where we're hiding, we can see some of our people."

"We seem to be in a kett only area. No Moshae yet." Said Jaal.

"Understood. We're just discussing our next move. We'll be in touch."

Ahead lay another room that Scott's suit detected had more kett on the other side.

"Let's get these guys without much of a ruckus." Said Max as they took positions, ready to breach.

"Agreed. Silent, but deadly." Said Jaal.

Everyone else couldn't help but chuckle and did their best to try and contain their laughter. Even Vetra understood that little joke.

"What's so funny?" Jaal asked in confusion.

"Silent but deadly means something completely different to humans." Vetra chuckled. "We'll explain later."


"What? What is this?" Jaal asked.

Below were dozens of kett stood before what looked like pods of some kind. One particular kett stood out form the others. Like the archon, this one was taller than the others. From the looks of things however, this kett looked and sounded female. Obviously a leader of some kind.

Below also were several angara. They weren't bound or restrained in any way though.

"Fortunate welcome! Step forward." Said the cardinal. "I am humbled before you, you who are the chosen. Chosen by the archon and the Dark One. Chosen to be exalted! Step forward."

Surprisingly, the angara did as instructed, walking into the open pods.

"What… Why aren't they resisting?" said Jaal in confusion.

"That's some crazy cult shit down there. Those angara look like they're in some sort of trance." Said Scott.

"I know the Moshae. She's not down there." Said Jaal. "But maybe in one of those pods."

"It's as good a lead as any."

"You wanted a distraction? We just set our plan on fire."

Several explosions suddenly shook the place.

"Impossible!" the cardinal said. She was interrupted though as a hologram of the archon appeared behind her. "Archon."

She and the other kett sunk into a bow.

"Explain!" the Archon demanded.

"We've been breached! I will defend the temple…"

"Wait. Is the Moshae among these?"

"No. It awaits final exaltation."

"Then proceed immediately and bring it to me."

"Final exaltation? What's final? What are they doing? We have to save all the angara!" said Jaal.

"We'll do what we can for them." Said Scott supportingly.

"Thank you."

"That wasn't the plan." Said Vetra.

"Plans change." Scott simply said. "Come one. Let's see where those pods go."


They entered another decon chamber, once again sealing them in.

"This again." Max groaned.

"Get down!" Scott suddenly said.

In the room were several Kett gathered round a pod floating in the air. The pod slowly opened revealing an angara suspended in mid-air.

"EDI, can you do anything about this yet?"

"I will try."

A dark cloud then slowly appeared below the angara, growing larger and larger until a familiar figure rose out of it, surrounded by black smoke and fire.

"Not him again." Said Max.

The Dark One then slowly began to ascend until he was level with the suspended angara. He then grabbed the alien forcefully by the throat. A dark like substance began to spread from the dark ones hands, slowly covering the angara.

Everyone else could only watch helplessly as, to their horror, the substance painfully transformed the angara into a kett soldier.

As the two touched down the ground gain, the now fully transformed kett bowed its head to the Dark One. At that point, the decontamination finished and the doors finally opened. The Dark One and the kett all turned in alarm at this and opened fire whilst the Dark Ones seemed to just disappear through his own smoke.

"No! Wait! Save the angara! Be careful! Don't kill him!" Jaal yelled as the others returned fire.

"Jaal, he's shooting at us!" Scott objected.

"It's them or us, Jaal. And I sure as hell ain't dying in a kett facility!" said Max.

"Monsters! Villains! Time to die!" Jaal yelled.

When the fight was finally over, Scott noticed Jaal was knelt down looking at ket corpse. It was clear he was in distress over this realization.

"Jaal."

"They are us." The angara simply said.

"We can't afford to linger, Ryder." Said Max.

"We'd better find the Moshae fast." Scott agreed.

Whilst the others tried scanning for the Moshae, Scott knelt down next to Jaal.

"They're us." Jaal repeated.

"Yeah…"

"How many have I killed, not knowing… Ryder, I did not know."

"How can I help? What do you need?" Sara asked supportingly.

"That is kind. I… don't know." Jaal simply replied.

"Well, then let's start by finding the Moshae. If anyone can figure out what this means for the angara, I'm guessing it's her."

"You're probably right."

"Down here. Found her." Vetra suddenly said.

"Okay then. It's hero time." Said Max.

Unfortunately, they needed to go through another decon chamber.

"EDI, get us in there. Now!" Scott ordered whilst Jaal tried to smash the window in rage.

Now it was Moshe who was in the air. Unlike before however, she was brought down to the ground and the cardinal took her, fleeing out of the room.


After fighting their way through that room as well, the team finally reached the landing pad.

"There she is! I see her! They're getting ready to leave." Said Jaal.

"Hang tight, Moshae Sjefa. We're coming for you." Said Scott.

"You will not take her!" the cardinal yelled, still clutching the Moshae, almost possessively.

"No, you will not take her!" Scott yelled back.

As they charged however, a sudden explosion of fire stopped them in their tracks as the Dark One appeared before them.

He briefly turned to the cardinal.

"Guard the Moshae. Leave the aliens to me." He said.

His attention now turned back to the team, who all raised their guns. Particular, his gaze fell directly on Scott.

Scott barely touched the trigger on his gun before his whole head was suddenly overloaded by an indescribable amount of pain. The Helldiver fell to his knees clutching his head in agony.

"Ryder!" Vetra yelled.

The Dark One gently touched down and slowly began advancing towards them.

"What's wrong with him?" Jaal asked.

"I don't know." Max replied. "Scott? Scott!"

Still Scott continued to groan in pain as the others opened fire. Shot after shot hit the Dark One, clearly causing holes only for those holes to then heal up instantly. The Dark One didn't even seem the slightest bit affected by this. He then slowly raised his hand and a ball of black and red fire shot forth from it and his Max, causing some of his wrappings to catch fire.

"Not again!" Max yelled, desperately patting at his ignited cloths and rolling on the floor in an effort to put the fire out.

Vetra and Jaal fired several more shots, but still with no effect.

"Shit." Vetra cursed. "Grenade!"

The Turian threw a grenade which exploded upon impact. The Dark One's smoke and fire was temporarily scattered by the force of the blast… but it quickly returned

"Take this!" Jaal yelled.

He fired a concussive shot from his rifle, but it once again has the exact same effect as the grenade had done, nothing. The Dark One's behaviour however had now changed. His fire was suddenly glowing brighter and it clearly looked like he was about to let out a roar of some kind.

Everyone quickly realized what was about to happen. He was charging up to unleash an attack of some kind.

"Uh oh. TAKE COVER!" Max yelled, pulling Vetra into cover.

An explosion of fire shot out in all directions from the Dark One, engulfing anything it touched.

While the fire cotnineud to rage, Scott looked up as he saw the Dark One standing over him.

"So… you're the one that all the fuss is about." The Dark One said as he grabbed Ryder and hauled him up by the throat. "Its been too long since I've seen one of your kind. 600 years… and you haven't changed a bit."

"Who are you?" Scott groaned, fighting both the Dark One's grip and the still constant pain in his head.

"I won't bother with long explanations. You'll be dead once you tell me what I need to know."

Before the Dark One could do anything however, a small cannon suddenly appeared from behind Scott's left shoulder. The Dark One only had seconds to react before it fired a bright blue ball of plasma right into his face.

Unfortunately, it didn't do any damge either, but it did seem to knock the shadowy giant back however and he dropped Scott.

"Sure about that?" Scott said.

The Dark One ocne again glared at him. His blank shadoy face was unreadable, but his body language indicated fury.

Scott was ocne overwhelmed with the pain in his head. Unable to fight through it, he once again clutched his head in agony.

"I admire your resistance, Helldiver. But your efforts are futile."

Jaal, Max and Vetra continued to dodge attacks that the Dark One was throwing at them, despite his attention being on Scott. It was almost paranormal the way he was able to do that.

As Max and Vetra took cover behind a nearby pillar, Max then spotted a cryo tank.

"Really?" Vetra sighed as the hunter picked up the tank.

"What other choice do we have?" Max said.

In truth, he had no idea if this would work, but if they didn't do something, they might lose the Pathfinder…

"Now… where is the one who can activate the vaults?" the Dark One demanded, kneeling down over Scott.

This close proximity, Scott could swear he could see more of the Dark One's shadowy form than usual. He wasn't sure if it was just a trick of the light, but the form looked almost… human.

7 feet tall in height and actually a surprisingly big form. Some could mistake the body for that of a bodybuilder given how big and well built it was. Apart from that though, nothing more could be made out.

Scott though was sure he saw the very faintest hint of either eyes or possibly even a skull as the Dark One's face came within inches of his helmet.

"Go to hell!" Scott groaned, still fighting th pain in his head.

"One way or another, you will tell me." The Dark One growled, grabbing Scott's throat with both hands.

The vice like grip made Scott worry his wind pipe would be completely crushed. The Dark One's strength seemed almost impossible. Still though, he resisted.

"As you wish."

The Dark One's hands glowed for a moment and Scott noticed his suit's visual feed stutter. The Dark One was trying to interface with his suit.

Then for some reason, the Dark One's grip loosened and the figure actually recoiled slightly in surprise.

"You."

Suddenly a cryo tanks amshed into the Dark One's back, expoding upon impact and spraying the shadowy entity with the cryo liquid.

To everyone's utter astonishment, the liquid actually started to freeze. The parts of the Dark One's skint hat were frozen went completely white, even cracking slightly as he tried to move.

"I'll be dammed. It actually worked." Said Vetra in surprise.

"Jaal, use the tanks!" Max yelled.

All three immediately set into action. The Dark One roared and began casting more of his fire at them only for more cryo tanks to be flung in his direction which were then shot through, spilling more of the fluid on him.

Now almost completely frozen, the Dark One tried in vane to once again reach for Scott. Each step was slow anda complete struggle as the Helldiver attmetped to push himself away.

The Dark One made one final attempt to reach forward, his hand lamsot touched Scott… and then nothing. The Dark One froze right where he was, his flames and smoke completely extinguished by the cryo and his shadow form ow completely encased. It almost made him look like a greek statue… almost.

"Dark One!" the cardinal yelled.

Before she could make any attempt to attack however, Jaal suddenly shot her in the shoulder. She feel to the floor, letting go of the Moshae.

"I gotcha. We're getting you out of here." Said Scott as she and Jaal helped the female Angara up.

"No one has ever returned from behind Kett walls." She said.

"I don't know the rules yet." Scott simply said. "Anyway, this place is on alert. We have to get out of here."

"I'm not the only one here. They took the entire cell."

"Vitals are bad. Her immune system's been decimated." Said Jaal.

"You will not take it."

The cardinal ssuddenly got back up, charging some kind of beam to attack.

"It is meant for the Archon himself!"

She was forced to stand down howevr when she suddenly felt the barrel of Max's rifle against her head.

"Give me a reason, I beg you." He said.

"She's coming with us, like it or not." Said Scott.

"Wait. I want to know why the Archon…" the Moshae interrupted.

"Arrogant simpletons. This is a gift! Who are you to deny it?" the cardinal yelled.

"Fuck you! You turn them into monsters that fight their own people." Scott said bitterly.

"These Chosen join with us to become great beyond your ability to understand. Like them, I was once wretched, and the exalted DNA of our great Archon entwines with mine. I stand on the shoulders of his greatness as they do. As, one day, you will."

"Except I am gonna fuck your shit up. How's that for great?" Scott asked rhertorically.

"Ryder, I am tracking multiple inbound Kett cruisers." Said EDI.

"You will all be exalted."

"Can I shoot her already, Ryder? All this gibberish is boring me." Said Max.

"EDI, is there an off switch to this horror palace?" Scott asked.

"I've accessed the EM field. I can overload at your command." EDI replied.

"You promised you'd get our people out." Jaal objected.

"We don't have enough time to get all those pods open that quickly." Said Vetra.

"Wait! Leave my sacred temple intact and I will open the pods of the Chosen. Take them… just leave this holy place standing." The cardinal said, almost begging.

"No! Even if I die here, this place must be destroyed." The Moshae objected.

"We can come back to destroy it. Let's free these here now." Jaal argued.

"If your plan fails, the kett will simply fill this place again."

"With respect, our compatriots are also here. Our fighters. Our scientists. Our strength."

This was a very difficult decision for Scott. As much as he wanted to save all the angara imprisoned here, he could not deny that the Moshae was right. Even if the prisoners were rescued the kett would just fill the prison up again if it was left standing. In the long run, it would probably cause the loss of more lives than those saved today.

Scott preferred to make choices that were better in the long run personally, but he hated to leave all the angara behind.

But then he had an idea.

"Fine. Release the angara below."

"Enact emergency shutdown. Release all the chosen." The cardinal ordered.

"EDI, prepare to overload the EM shield. But wait for my go." Scott suddenly then said.

"No!"

Before the cardinal could attack however, both Max and Jaal shot her in the head.

"All the Kett will suffer the same fate until my people are free." Said Jaal.

"The Dark One won't stay frozen for much longer. We need to leave." Said the Moshae.

Sure enough, the clear sound of cracking could be heard coming from the dark one. He was slowly beginning to break free.

Everyone went to leave, but they noticed Max had stayed behind as he took his knife and cut off the cardinal's head.

"Now this'll fetch a high price." He said proudly. "Shame I can't take a whole thing with me."

"Come on, Max!" Scott yelled.


They made their way to the roof for pickup. Unsurprisingly though, it was not going to be that easy.

"More Kett incoming!" Vetra yelled.

"I don't know how this is going to end!" said Jaal.

"I will help! Come. Stand near me!" said the Moshae, suddenly casting a blue shield around them all.

"No, Moshae! Save your strength!" Jaal yelled.

"That's my decision to make."

"Pathfinder, come in. You have the Moshae!" Heckt said through the comms.

"Heckt, get our people out. As many as you can. We're taking the opportunity to blow this place to dust." Said the Moshae.

"Yes, I agree, Moshae. We'll get as many as we can to safety and sent the shuttle to pick you up."

More and more Kett were incoming. Worse still, even the Dark One was with them having gotten free of his cryo prison.

Mercifully, the shuttle came into view just in time.

"Jaal, get her on the shuttle now!" Scott yelled, providing cover fire. "Resistance squad, come in."

"Here. We're just getting the last of the last of them out. Blow the facility when you're ready." Said Heckt.

"Roger that. EDI, stand by for EM blast."

"Ready."


Even as the entire base exploded around him, the Dark One remained unfazed as he watched the shuttle leave.

While this was a loss, he cared little. After all, now he knew who he and the kett were truly hunting. For him, this was but a setback in the grander scheme of things. One he certainly knew for certain now, that Helldiver could not be allowed to die prematurely.

He would see to that himself, especially considering that he had done so already... by pretending to be frozen...


Back on board the Tempest, the Moshae was resting and recovering in the medbay.

"I'm sorry we fought. What we saw will set our cause on fire." Said Jaal.

"Yes. My broken heart can't even process it." said the Moshae as she and Jaal hugged one another.

"Lexi, can you give us a minute?" Scott asked.

"Sure thing. But go gentle, she's in a fragile state." Said Lexi as she left.

"Did she just call me frail?"

"Fragile." Scott clarified.

"Jaal says you're a "Helldiver" from the Milky Way."

"Do you feel up for a talk?"

"Of course. You earned my trust with your brave decision back there."

"If there's one thing I've learned from being Helldiver, there's always a better option."

"Still, to pull off something so risky… it is brave."

"So, the facility, what's the purpose of all that?"

"They call it exaltation. They believe that those they exalt are given a great gift."

"Gift? They snatch us. Defile and shatter us! …or the ones we love. I… I can't…" said Jaal.

"It's a complex genetic construct… an interchange of traits that the Dark One and the kett use to advance their species." The Moshae explained.

"So they steal genes. But why?" Scott asked.

"Reproduction."

"Domination. Tyranny. Annihilation." Jaal added.

"Yes. And yet… the Archon and the dark one didn't take me to their ship to transform me. I hung immobile, tormented, never sleeping, brought to them on a whim. They showed me Remnant tech, and beat me when I wouldn't speak."

"Oh no… remnant, of course."

"They're obsessed… like you are. Yes, Jaal told me. You rescued me, hoping to get into Aya's vault."

"We've seen the evil the archon and the dark one are capable of and we know the power of the remnant. I need to know what they're up to."

"I agree. They worry me too."

"Thank you."

"Yes. Thank you, Moshae Sjefa." Said Jaal.

"I'm happy to answer any other questions for your, Pathfinder. Anytime."

As Scott left the medbay he was cofnrotned by Lexi.

"Ryder, before you go, I have something for you." The asari said. "I've run scans on your suit. The Dark One used some kind of signal which your suit picked up. That then caused the mental pain you felt.

"I'm guessing then you can block it?" Scot asked, hoping that was indded what she was going to say.

"Yes. EDI and I have studied the signal and managed to find a way of blocking it. If ever you run into the Dark One again, this should hopefully protect you."

"Good. I can't afford to let that happen again."

"As a further precaution, I've also advised that Sara and all other Helldivers use this."

"Thank you, Lexi."

"It's my pleasure, Scott."


"Kallo, settle down." Said Suvi.

Scott had entered the bridge to find Kallo and Suvi in conversation about something. It didn't look like an argument though.

"If this isn't a good reason to get excited…" said Kallo eagerly.

"What's up? You guys aren't fighting, are you?" Scott asked.

"Why would I fight with my best friend?" Kallo replied.

"Best friend? Aww, Kallo!" Suvi chuckled. "Kallo's very excited about a report I received from Eos. It's good news. The radiation levels are steadily dropping."

"You outpost Prodromos is really going to make it. When do you want to head back?" Kallo asked.

"We could go, but we need to balance our priorities. Why?" Scott replied.

"Just saying, if I'd created a thriving community in a brand new galaxy. I'd want to visit." Kallo shrugged.

"Just wait 'till they put in the beach and the waterslide." Suvi joked.

"Now you're just playing with me." Kallo smiled.

"So, radiation levels are down. More to explore?" Scott asked.

"Yes. But there's been a rise in kett activity as well." Suvi replied.

"Figures that we're not the only ones to benefit from the planet's improvement."

"Might be nice to see how it's doing."

"Almost like a vacation."

"Almost. Maybe we'll head back at some point."

"Well, you're the boss. Just say the word."


With the Tempest now on the way to Aya, Scott headed to talk with Jaal. He hoped that the angara had had to time to process the realization of the kett's origins.

"Jaal?"

"Thank you for checking, but I'm all right."

"Don't know if I would be."

"I have to be. How else do we go on? You know?" Jaal asked.

"I may seem tough, but I have a good shoulder." Said Scott supportively.

"That's… kind. You're kind. I really miss my family at times like these. Are you close to your family?"

"You talk about family a lot."

"Really? I guess it's just part of our culture."

"Our families are large, and we share our parents with the community. We all have many mothers."

"My family's small."

"And are you close?"

"I was… am. My mom and dad are dead. At least I have Sara with me. We're kind of orphans at the moment."

"I'm sorry."

"Yeah, well… This random collection of Tempest oddballs can feel like family sometimes."

"Yeah. I've never really felt I had a purpose… but here, I do."

"What about the resistance?"

"My place in the resistance is… not what I'd like."

"But that kid on Aya looked up to you."

"Sure… but you're going to do something important, Ryder. I feel it. This is where I should be."

"You bring a lot to the team."

"Thank you. I look forward to even more adventures."


Next he headed down to talk with Vetra. To his surprise, he found that Max was also there and had already been talking with Vetra.

"Sorry, am I interrupting anything?" Scott asked.

"Nothing private. Vetra and I were discussing what happened on Voeld." Said Max.

"Looks like pictures of the exaltation chamber." Said Scott, indicating to Vetra's omni tool.

"Yeah, the Kett are using some angaran-made medical equipment. Could be a lead." Said Vetra. "I just want an edge on those kett bastards. If they ever got their hand son Sid, I'd… Well, imagine if it was your family on the Nexus."

"I know what you mean. Sara and I are all that's left of our family." Said Scott.

"Same here. Sid was so little when our father left, and I was… well, her age now."

"You raised your sister by yourself? That can't have been easy." Said Max.

"Had to. I waited forever for our father to come home. He never did. He was involved with some bad things. Bad people. Eventually it caught up to him. There was nowhere to run. Not like a whole new galaxy."

"Is that why you came here?" Scott asked.

"When you're young and stupid, you make bad decisions. Piss off the wrong people. That sorta thing never goes away. Not for you, not for the ones you care about."

"Come one. You're strong, smart. It'll take a lot to keep you from coming home." Said Max.

"Strong, smart, but maybe just lucky. Luck runs out on you."

"I won't." said Max reassuringly.

I have a good feeling about you, Max." Vetra smiled. She then turned to Scott. "And you, Ryder. I should get back to work. Talk to my people, see if they'd heard anything. Chat later?"

"See you later, Vetra. Ryder." Said Max.


Sara meanwhile had headed up to the bridge to talk with Suvi.

"I'm glad we got all those Angara out, and with the facility destroyed as well… quite a victory." The scientist said.

"Couldn't agree more. Hopefully the angara will be grateful for this. We may even get a full alliance." Said Sara.

"Now that would be something." Suvi smiled. Her expression though quickly changed. "I can't help but still feel a little afraid."

"Afraid of what?" Sara asked with concern.

"The Dark One. What we've seen him do… There's no possible scientific explanation I can think of that sheds light on what he is, or how the powers of his work."

"Well we know at least he's vulnerable to cryo freezing temperatures. That's gotta count for something." Said Sara, trying to sound supportive.

"True… but still…" Suvi continued nervously. "I dread to think of it this way… but what if… what if he's proof that there is such a thing as a higher power? The things he can do… they're almost god like, supernatural, beyond scientific understanding."

"He's no god. Even if he is some higher power, all I see is the devil in him. He's evil, and he brings nothing death and destruction." Said Sara.

"No argument here." Suvi agreed. "I still find it frightening though, us being confronted with something we don't understand."

"Don't worry. I'll protect you." Said Sara, putting her hand on Suvi's shoulder, a surprisingly bold move for her.

"Thank you. That… means a lot." Said Suvi with a surprised smile.

"So, got anyone back on the Nexus? Any family or anything?" Sara asked, hoping to change the subject.

"No. I left my parents back in the milky way. I'm kind of on my own right now." Said Suvi.

"Not even a boyfriend or anything?" Sara asked, slightly surprised.

"Not even that. Never really been interested in that."

"So there's not been any man in your life? Not even once?"

"No. To be honest with you… I… prefer women."

Sara's eyes widened in surprise.

"Oh."

"Yeah. I know. Not something you hear every day, is it? Suvi asked rhetorically with a smile.

"Uhhh, no. No it isn't." Sara stuttered. "Still, uh… good for you."

"Are you alright? Have I made you uncomfortable by saying that?"

"No. No, not at all." Sara said quickly. "I'm really glad you volunteered to join our crew."

"I am too. New galaxy and all. I'm honoured to be here." Suvi smiled.

"No, I mean… I think you're cute and I like seeing you up here." Sara said quickly.

Only as her brain caught up with her mouth did she suddenly realize what she's said. She immediately felt all the more embarrassed.

"Oh my goodness, Sara!" Suvi said in surprise.

"Also the accent. The accent is… I mean, it's not the only thing, but… uh… Okay, I should just… go over to the piloting… thing." Sara said, once again speaking before thinking.

"Kill… me… now." Kallo groaned, burying his face in his hand at the awkwardness.

"STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!" Sara yelled in her head.

"Sara, thank you. And so you know, the feeling's mutual." Said Suvi, trying to hide her embarrassment, or that she was blushing.

"Yes!" Sara said, also trying to hide the same embarrassment. "I mean, time to help my brother pathfind. Serious business, saving everyone. Ahahaha ..."

Sara immediately bolted, not wishing to humiliate herself anymore.

"Well that was… awkward." Said Kallo, clearing his throat.

"Sometimes we say something we don't mean to. After all, we're only human." Suvi shrugged.


The team departed the tempest to a massive crowd. Word of the Moshae's rescue had spread fast, so it was no surprise that almost all of Aya was here to greet her.

Governor Shae and Evfra were among the crowd.

"Stars and skies light our way!" said the Moshae, raising her hand in greeting.

"Stars and skies light our way!" Shae repeated.

"She knows how to play a crowd." Said Scott.

"She's the Moshae." Jaal simply smiled.

"Welcome home." Shae said as she and Moshae touched arms, the angaran version of a handshake.

"I never thought I'd see it again." The Moshae smiled. "Without the Resistance… and the Pathfinder… I wouldn't be here."

"We made a good team." Said Scott.

"We freed more than just the Moshae, and destroyed the enemy fortress." Jaal explained.

"We have a lot to celebrate." Said Evfra.

"I promised to lead the Pathfinder to Aya's vault." Said the Moshae.

"You're still recovering. Take your time. I'm not going anywhere." Said Scott sympathetically.

"Not without our help." Evfra added.

"I'll prepare the vault for your arrival. A shuttle will bring you to me when it's ready."

"Thank you, Moshae." Scott nodded.

"We've been alone against the kett for too long. You've proven it doesn't have to be that way. Its's time we discussed an alliance between our people." Said Shae.

"Might want to ask your resistance leader how he feels about it." said Scott.

"If I don't like where the discussion goes, I'll end it." said Evfra.

"Agreed. We'll provide an embassy for the Initiative here on Aya." Shae nodded.

"We'll make room for your on the nexus as well then." Said Scott with a surprised smile.

"Our city is open to you. Join us."

Shae and most of the crowd left, leaving just Evfra.

"Well done, Jaal. Report for reassignment." He said.

"I need to stay with the Pathfinder." Jaal insisted.

"I'm here to cooperate. Whatever you decide, I'll work with it." said Scott.

"You're set on this?" Evfra asked.

"It's the right thing to do." Jaal nodded.

"I see the benefit. Request granted." Said Evfra.

"I need to file a mission report. Don't leave Aya without me." Said Jaal.


With the Moshae feeling ready, Scott saw little need to wait and headed directly to the vault.

"I haven't brought anyone here in over twenty years. There's always been an active display for Aya, but we could never affect it." the Moshae explained as they entered a room similar to the one on Eos.

"Okay, EDI. Let's see what we can do." Said Scott.

Scott's suit accessed the controls and a new holo map appeared around them. Like the one on Eos, but with a lot more…

"Yes. This is new…is it similar to the vault on Eos? Tell me, what are you seeing?" the Moshae asked.

"I think what we need to figure out is… what's different?" said Scott. "Tell me, what do you see?"

"The vaults… they're a network, as you discovered. However…" the Moshae replied.

"They're not connected to each other, but to this place." Said Scott, indicating to a certain spot on the map, triangular in shape.

"This image was on a relic the Archon and the Dark One showed me. They called it Meridian. And it looks like Aya's vault is the only one that's fully connected to it." said the Moshae.

"And its terraforming, doing what it was meant to do."

"The vault on Eos is also present but changed. Interfacing with it has affected its connection." Said EDI.

"What do you think?" Scott asked.

"I think that Meridian is the control centre for all the vaults." The Moshae replied.

"Agreed. That may be the key to making Helius liveable for us all."

"Wait, Ryder. The Archon and the Dark One know where it is. They've already been there."

"What?"

"Of course… that's why they tortured me. They thought I could help them use it…"

"Because they can't." Scott finished. "Meridian is the best chance of survival for both my people and yours. We have to take it from him."

"Agreed. Such power in the hands of such evil could mean the end of both our people."

"No one's safe as long as they're on their hunt. I'm going to shut it down… for all our sakes." Said Scott.

"You're going to need that relic I saw. The Resistance might have intel on the whereabouts of the Archon's ship. I'll talk to Evfra and secure his full cooperation. Meet me there." Said the Moshae.


The both of them headed back to the resistance base. As Scott entered howeve,r he could tell that the two angara were in arguemnt over something.

"I deserved to be told. You had no right to keep it secret from me." The Moshae said crossly.

"It's an ongoing investigation. I meant no disrespect." Said Evfra.

"Did Jaal know?"

"Of course not. Neither did the human."

Sorry to interrupt." Said Scott.

"This isn't your concern." Said Evfra sternly.

"It is now. We need to find the Kett command ship." Said the Moshae. "Tell him the truth about my capture."

"Moshae, please…"

"It may be our only route to the Archon."

"One of my men helped the Kett take her. A resistance commander named Vehn Terev."

"The Archon and the Dark One wanted her knowledge of Remnant tech. But why would Vehn betray her?" Scott asked.

"I don't know. That's why I kept it quiet." Evfra explained. "I'm working to capture him. Make him answer for what he did."

"You know where he is?" Scott asked.

"Kadara Port. My contacts are hunting him."

"Contacts"? You can't trust anyone there. They deserted our cause. Our people." The Moshae objected.

"And now they're ruled by exiles… from your galaxy." Said Evfra bitterly.

"Vehn may know how to find the Archon and the Dark One's ship. We can't leave this to a pack of renegades and outlaws."

"I'm still a little new to all this. Where did Vehn go, exactly?" Scott asked.

"Kadara Port is a trading outpost. We abandoned it when the Kett invaded." The Moshae explained.

"Some of us went back. Deserters. Scavengers. They don't' support Aya." Evfra added.

"How did exiles from the Nexus wind up there?" Scott asked.

"Bad luck, for everyone." Evfra simply replied.

"If the Archon left Vehn alive, it's unlikely he knows anything that can help us."

"The Kett aren't' infallible. If you want the relic that leads to Meridian, Vehn's your best hope."

"I'll transmit my files on Kadara port to your ship." Evfra sighed.

"Our traitor could have useful information. We need him alive."

"That's up to him." Said Scott seriously.

"Be safe, Pathfinder." Said the Moshae. "As for you, Evfra… we're not done."


Next chapter will of course be Kadara, and I can also announce it will also introduce the second original character who'll be joining the team. Have to admit, I'm looking forward to it. Hopefully this character will make a good first impression as Max has.

Oh and for those who are wondering, yes. Max is being paired with Vetra. I really like how her romance was done in the game (apart from the lack of a sex scene for her which I can promise will be fixed)

Next chapter hopefully won't take as long, so see you soon.

Chapter Text

Here we go. Kadara.

Main thing really in this chapter will be the introduction of the second original character. So little more for me to say really.


Chapter 7

Kadara

Scott had to be honest and say that he wasn't looking forward to this. If Kadara was really was as people described it, they would not be welcome there. He could only hope to keep a low profile.

"Incoming call. Patching it through." Suvi suddenly, interrupting Scott's thoughts.

"There's been a development regarding the spy, Vehn Terev. Rendezvous at Kralla's song." Said Evfra's vice. "Your contact's code name is Shena."

"Shena. Got it." Scott nodded.


Scott descended the ramp accompanied by Vetra and Drack. Apparently, they had a business deal to be present at On Kadara. Scott was curious about the details, but at the same time he wasn't sure if he wanted to know.

"That's one hell of a welcome sign." Said Scott, noting the head of a kett soldier impaled on a spike.

"Exiles have stepped up their game since the revolt." Said Vetra.

"Not too shabby for folk who got kicked off the station with nothing to show for it." Drack added.

"All I see is the trail of bodies they left behind." Said Scott bitterly.

"Our suppliers waiting. Come on. We're gonna be late.

"Do I even want to know?" Scott asked as Vetra and Drack left.

"Nope."


Scott headed into Kralla's song. As he waited at the bar for Shena to show up, he couldn't help but overhear a nearby Krogan whop was attempting to flirt with a female Arkane.

She was dressed in some kind of outfit that looked very similar to Krogan armour, but had either been modified or custom made to fir her. Below the waist she also wore a few tattered cloth strands hanging from her belt, a tradition for Arkane outfits.

Her right side was slightly more armoured than her left. Her right shoulder had larger plating, her right upper arm was covered (the left exposed) and her right gauntlet was more ridged. The amour on her torso was also sculpted to match her muscular form due it having abs and she also wore some kind of very short cape on her back which only reached down to her waist, possibly doubling as a scarf.

The most noticeable feature however was that she had not two, but four arms. Her two main ones and then two smaller arms beneath them. This was actually an incredibly rare genetic for Arkanes that dated all the way back to their ancestors more than 2000 years ago. Back then, the Arkanes had been more primitive and far more like insects. In those days, they had colonies similar to ants, laid eggs and also had four arms. As they evolved however they lost many of these traits. They no longer made underground colonies, they started giving birth to live young instead and their secondary arms gradually rescinded.

The gene for that however still survived in Arkanes today. Every so often, an Arkane would be born with four arms. In some ways, they were Arkane equivalent of human redheads.

The female Arkane's skin tone was also much darker than usual. Most Arkanes had dark green skin, but this one was so dark that in certain lighting it made her skin look like it was plain black.

"Hey there. You seem lonely. Can I get you a drink?" the Krogan asked flirtingly.

"Piss off." The Arkane simply said in a deep voice, not taking her eyes of her drink.

"Your half Krogan, aren't you? I can always tell." The Krogan said, advancing slightly on her.

"Good for you, now piss off." the Arkane repeated.

"Come on, don't be like that. I'm trying to be friendly."

The Arkane put down her drink and drew herself up to her full height.

"Final warning, young man." She growled, her four mouth mandibles flaring slightly as she made a very low growl.

"You got some fight in you. I like that." The Krogan chuckled, unfazed.

Scott couldn't take this anymore. He reached forward and grabbed the Krogan's arm forcefully.

"Hey, the lady asked you to…"

But before he could finish, he was interrupted as the Arkane suddenly kicked the Krogan right in the quad so hard that he screamed and fell the floor clutching his groin. The Arkane then grabbed him by the neck, hauled him right up off his feet and then slammed him really hard into the floor. She finally finished it by head-butting him so hard that she knocked him out cold.

Scott simply stood there in shock. In all his years, he'd never seen an Arkane do that. Granted they were very strong race, but to lift a Krogan and knock him out like that…

"Sorry about the mess." The Arkane said to the sari bartender, paying for her drinks and also some extra with her omni tool. "And don't bother calling for clean-up. I'll "take out the trash" myself."

She then picked the Krogan up and threw him over her shoulder.

"Excuse me, human."

And with that, she walked past Scott and out of the bar.

"Wouldn't want to get on her bad side." Scott said, finally managing to speak.

"No kidding. Hardly the first time she's done that." The bartender said.

"Why do you keep letting her in here then?" Scott asked.

"Every asshole she's beaten up has always been asking for it. Should've listened to her warnings. Plus, she always pays. Even saved me from some thugs trying to harass me for protection money. Her being a half Krogan Arkane is no joke."

As Scott began his long wait for Shena, a man then approached him.

"You look like you're waiting for someone." He said.

Scott didn't say anything. The bartender meanwhile handed the man two drinks, one of which he offered to Scott.

"Not interested." The Helldiver said casually.

The man simply shrugged and drank both.

"Shena." he then said. "But you can call me Reyes. I hate the code names."

"I was expecting someone more… Angaran." Said Scott, somewhat surprised.

"The resistance pays me to supply information, among… other things."

"So you're a smuggler."

"You're man, Vehn Terev, was arrested by Sloane Kelly, leader of the outcasts. Word spread about what he did to Moshae Sjefa. The people are calling for his execution, and Sloane… she's a woman of the people."


"Dress it up however you want. She's a criminal." Said Scott uncaringly.

"You work for the initiative. Sloane was part of the uprising on the nexus. I doubt she'll give Vehn up easily."

"I'm taking him, with or without her permission."

"We're gonna be friends, you and I." Reyes smiled, giving Scott a friendly nudge. "There might be another way to get to Vehn. You work Sloane, I'll talk to the resistance."

"How do I contact you if things go south?" Scott asked, even as Reyes left without a word.

With a simple shrug he himself went to leave.

"Hey! You gotta pay!" the bartender said.

"Keep the change." Scott said, activating his omni tool.

"Always do."


Scott took a deep breath as he was escorted into Sloane's chambers. He was also fighting a constant impulse not to shoot her on sight for betraying the Initiative.

The woman herself was seated in a throne in front of several holo screens.

"Focus defences here and here. The Kett have been quiet for too long." She said. Her focus then turned to Scott. "What?"

"You must be Sloane Kelly. I'm…"

"I know who you are." Sloane interrupted. "So, what brings a Pathfinder to our humble port?"

"Vehn Terev." Scott replied. "Name ring any bells?"

"What's he to you? And don't lie to me." Sloane asked.

"Just point me to where you're holding him and there won't be any trouble." Scott demanded.

"No, there won't be."

Sloane's Turian guard drew his pistol on Scott… only for the Helldiver to then snatch it right out of his grip.

Everyone else, including Sloane drew their own guns.

"Drop it! Now!" Sloane yelled.

"You first." Scott said threateningly.

"Get out, or I'll put you down." Sloane ordered.

"Thanks for the hospitality, traitor." Scott said mockingly as he left.


"That… felt good." He smiled to himself.

As he left the building altogether, he was immediately greeted by Reyes.

"Pathfinder, over here. Have a nice chat?" he asked.

"She almost fucking shot me!"

"Don't worry. I found a workaround."

"Let me guess, it comes with strings attached."

Saying that brought up memories of Scott's zero gravity sex with Peebee. He managed to suppress the urge to smile at the thought of that, or the fact that he was now thinking of asking her if they could do it again.

"Well that brings back a fond memory."

"Not any new ones." Reyes said, bringing Scott's mind back to reality. "Remember, Evfra wants Vehn alive, so when you get inside give him this."

He then handed Scott something.

"That'll eat through whatever Sloane's holding him in, and it can't be traced back to us. A resistance agent will be waiting to pick Vehn up."

"What if he makes a run for it?" Scott asked.

"It's covered. You just focus on whatever it is you need from Vehn. There's a maintenance shaft around the corner. Sending the access code to your omni tool. That'll get you inside. You should be able to handle the rest."

"Working with you has been… enlightening."

"For us both. When you're done, come to Tartarus. First round's on me, I promise."


Sure enough, Scott found Vehn in the cell.

"What do you want?" the Angara asked.

"The Archon's ship. Where is it?" Scott replied.

"This a new interrogation tactic? Sloane's getting lazy." Said Vehn.

"I'm not with Sloane. Evfra sent me. Answer my questions and I can get you back to the resistance."

"So I'm trading one cell for another?"

"This is what happens when you make deals with the bad guy." Said Scott uncaringly. "Or stay here. Sloane's sharpening up a spike just for your head."

"I'd rather be miserable than Karkan food."

"Which brings us back to the Archon's ship. Where is it?"

"I never saw it. Got my orders from a Kett transponder. But you could use its frequency to triangulate the Archon's location."

"Do you still have it?"

"I buried it before it was arrested. Should still be outside the city."

After brief pause, Scott handed Vehn the thing that Reyes had given him.

"This is your way out of here. A resistance contact will be waiting."

As he turned to leave however, Vehn spoke again.

"Don't you wanna know why I did it? Why I betrayed the Moshae?"

"Not really. It's done. She's safe now." Scott simple said.


"Vetra, Drack, are you back from… whatever it was you were doing?" Scott asked into his comm.

"Yep. Our completely legitimate business deal went off without a hitch." Vetra replied.

"Better for them bringing a Krogan along." Drack added.

"Tell Gill to prep the nomad. I need to go outside the city."

"Excuse me, human. May I have word?" a voice suddenly said.

Scott turned to find none other than the female Arkane from the bar, leaning against a crate in the shadows.

"Is there a problem?" Scott asked, cautiously.

A grim theory suddenly came to Scott mind. Did this Arkane work for Sloane? It wouldn't be such a surprise if she did. A criminal like Sloane would jump at the chance to have an enforcer like this.

"I feel our first meeting had a bad first impression… Pathfinder." The Arkane said.

"How did you…"

"I'm privy to a lot of information around here." The Arkane clarified.

She then did something very surprising. She put her right hand over her chest. Scott recognized this form of greeting when he saw it.

"Venashall… fellow soldier."

"You're a Helldiver?" Scott asked in shock.

"I was…" the Arkane said, a hint of regret her voice. Her tone though quickly changed. "I am Urdnot Aliskarr Lakucia. Ali for short if you prefer."

"Urdnot?" Scott asked, once again in surprise.

"Krogan half-blood." Ali clarified.

"What are you doing out here on Kadara?"

"That brings me to the reason why we're talking." Ali replied. "My contacts tell you're heading outside the city to look for a transponder. If my memory serves me right, the location is in scavenger territory."

"I doubt you came here just to warn me."

"I believe that the scavengers in that region in particular are the ones I've been searching for. They took something of mine, and I intend to get it back." Ali explained. "We're both heading for the same location, I figured we'd have a better chance if we worked together. If you'd rather not though, I understand. I can handle the scavengers myself, but we may as well go together."

"What'll happen when you find what you're looking for?" Scott asked.

"We part ways. I'll have what I want, you'll have what you want. Simple as that."

"And if you don't?"

"I keep hunting. I won't bother you with the details. My problems don't have to be your problems. All I'm suggesting is that we work together this once to take out those scavengers. If it helps your decision, I know most of the routes outside the city, and how to avoid certain hazards."

"I'd be mad to turn down an offer of help from a half Krogan and fellow Helldiver." "It's a deal."

"What are we waiting for then?"


Drack and Jaal were already in the elevator to the slums when Scott and Ali arrived. Scott was already all armoured up, Ali just had her helmet left to put on.

Like the rest of her armour, Ali's helmet resembled a Krogan helmet, but redesigned to fit her. The helmet itself covered her whole face and also served as protection in certain hazardous environments.

"Who's this?" Jaal asked.

"Late little tag along." Scott replied/

"Urdnot Ali." Drack smiled.

"Nakmor Drack. It's been quite a while." Ali smiled back.

"No kidding. You were shorter last time we met."

"And you used to be handsome back then."

"Funny." Drack chuckled, shaking hands with Ali. "You haven't changed a bit."

"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised you to know each other." Said Scott. "Ali, this is Jaal. He's with the angaran resistance."

"Good to know." Ali simply nodded.

She noted however that Jaal's eyes were still on her. Almost like he'd seen an Arkane before. Technically, he had, but perhaps not one like her.


The drive across Kadara's vast plains was long, but a good bit of gossip did alleviate some of the boredom.

"Scavengers in sight." Scott suddenly said, alerting everyone.

"Let's do what we came here to do then." Said Ali eagerly.

As the Nomad broke into a slide, everyone burst out guns blazing. Even Ali was using a modified M-76 Revenant. She only used it to provide fire for a short time however. Whilst everyone still continued firing for cover, Ali holstered her gun and instead drew her melee weapon… a two handed axe.

Scott almost felt sorry for the Scavengers as Ali literally carved her way through every single one. Admittedly he was a bit frightened of her, seeing this. He knew she was half Krogan, but he'd unprepared for just how much Krogan she was, because she certainly fought exactly like one. She roared, she screamed, she growled… that aloe was enough to make several scavengers run away in fear.

"Glad she's on our side." Said Scott.

"No kidding. If there's one thing I've learned, never underestimate women." Said Drack.

A scavenger then managed to sneak up behind Jaal and knocked him down. In the process, the Angara lost hold of his gun. The scavenger raised his knife to strike, only for Ali to suddenly grab him the throat and haul him up. She then suddenly used the other hand to grab the scavenger's legs and brought his back right down onto her knee so hard that she literally broke both his spine and his neck from the shear force.

Tossing the dead scavenger away uncaringly, Ali then extended her hand out to Jaal who was almost petrified having just seen the female Arkane's insane strength. Never before had a met a female of nay species this strong. Sure there were plenty of female Angara in the resistance, but none with strength like this, nor the fire that Ali had.

"You gonna lay their all day or what?" Ali asked rhetorically.

That snapped Jaal out of it and Ali helped him up.

"You're strong." he said, almost in awe.

"I know." Ali simply smiled under her helmet.


With the fight finally over, Alai had immediately torn open every single crate she could find. With each on opened however, she grew more and more frustrated.

Finally, she reached the last one… and still nothing.

"FUCK!" The Arkane swore loudly. "I was so certain!"

"Let me guess, whatever you're looking for isn't here?" Scott sighed with regret.

"Lucky guess." Ali groaned.

"What exactly did they steal from you?" Scott asked, hoping this time that Ali would answer.

"Haven't you figured it out already? I saw I WAS a Helldiver."

"You're saying they took your armour?"

"And killed my squad." "This is no longer your problem, Pathfinder. You may return to your own mission."

"Wait. Perhaps I can help?"

"Why? You have far more important things to do than help a former Helldiver chase down a gang of criminals."

"I can bear the thought of just turning a blind eye to this. Not only do you want to get back something that was stolen, but you also want justice for your squad." "And besides, I could use someone with your… skills."

"Hmmm. You make a fair point."

"Take my word for it, Ali. Ryder gets shit done." Said Drack.

"I'll admit, I've missed fighting alongside others. Especially ones that can fight properly…" said Ali. "Very well, in return for your help I will pledge my service."

She then sunk down onto one knee.

"I offer you my axe, Pathfinder."

"You sure you really want this?" Scott asked.

"I've heard what you've doing out there, terraforming new worlds, placing outposts… I'd be fighting for a noble cause again."

"Welcome aboard then, Ali."

"Now, let's find your transponder."


A quick search and the finally found what they were looking for.

"Found it." he said.

"Clearly that's broken." Said Jaal.

"The transponder's power source is drained." Said EDI.

"So let's juice it up. Turn it on, then Gill can work his magic."


As the Tempest left Kadara, everyone was gathered in the meeting room.

"What's up, Ryder? Why an emergency meeting?" Cora asked, a hint of concern in her voice.

"I didn't call it." said Scott with confusion.

"I did. Got some disturbing news while we were on Kadara." Said Drack. "There's some tension at the Krogan colony on Elaaden. It's bad."

"Tension among Krogan? You don't say." Said Peebee.

"I wouldn't waste your time with this if it wasn't important. We need to go."

"I agree. Nakmor Morda made herself overlord of the colony. It's weird." Said Vetra.

"My people can't afford another clan war in this galaxy. I also support going to Elaaden." Said Ali.

"No. Our priority is the Archon. We have to remain focused on this next move." Said Jaal.

"Jaal's right." Cora agreed.

"Let's hear each other out at the very least." Said Scott.

"Well as long as we're pitching stuff, I overheard outlaws on Kadara talking about activity in the Remav system." Peebee added.

"No. That's the system where the Turian golden world was supposed to be." Said Vetra.

"Remav? There aren't' any viable planets there. Only an asteroid field with mining ventures run by criminals." Said Jaal.

"I hear Elaaden's pretty rough too. Roving scavengers with nothing to lose." Said Liam.

"Shit." Scott sighed.

"But now that we have the transponder, we're so close to finding the location of Archon's ship."

"Our goal is to create a home here. You never know how something might fit in." said Scott. "Anyway, give Kallo the navpoints for Elaaden at that potential Turian golden world. We want all our options ready to go."

"Right. In the meantime, we should discuss accommodating our new addition." Said Cora, indicating to Lai who was currently leaning on her axe.

"I'm not picky. I'll take any space you can offer me." The Arkane said. "Be nice to have somewhere with the freedom to let off steam at times. Krogan genes make me want me to kill everything a lot of times."

"I can relate with that." Drack agreed.

"There's plenty of space in the cargo hold." Cora suggested.

"Works for me." Ali shrugged.

"I guess that's that then."


Before heading down to see Gil for the transponder, Scott decided to pay a visit to Max first. He and the Hunter hadn't chatted for a while, so it would be nice to see how he was doing. Scott entered the armoury just as Max was finishing target practice.

"Ah! Ryder!" he smiled.

"You seem in a jolly mood."

"I just got off the holonet with your imitative scientists who paid me a tidy sum for the cardinal's head." Max said happily. "Since you helped take her down however, it's only fair that I share the money. Here's your cut."

He then handed Scott a sum of credits.

"Thanks. Thought I was the one paying you."

"I can't take all the credit. Otherwise I'm no different than a black market dealer."

"True enough."

"And to think just a few weeks ago we were on the verge of dying out." Said Max as he sat down on a nearby crate. "You really helped turn the tables. We may yet have a future here."

As he said that, he held his wolf medallion in his hand and appeared to be looking at it in a reminiscing way.

"Mind if ask about that? I get the impression it means a lot to you." Scott asked.

"Oh, this? It was birthday gift from my mother. Kinda played off a nickname she used to give me. Both my parents were also hunters who made a living out of it. They taught me all I knew. My mother used to call me "her little wolf" hence the medallion." Max explained. "And it also forever reminds me of a very old saying… "For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack."

"The law of the jungle."

"My father read that to me once as a bedtime story when I was little boy." Max said, smiling fondly at the memory. "I miss them."

"What happened to your parents?" Scott asked.

"Bad hunting exhibition, little more need be said."

"Oh. Sorry."

"It's fine. I came to terms with it long ago."

"What were they like?"

"My father was pretty much the old fashioned type of guy. He always used to say "Sometimes the old ways are the best." He taught me how to hunt with honour and give my prey a chance, rather than just slaughter anything in sight like a thoughtless killer." Max explained. "My mother meanwhile used to be a Helldiver, and a damn good sniper. Probably even better than I'll ever be in this lifetime. Reportedly, she once shot a target by ricocheting her shot off a wall and through an entire tree trunk all while the target was running from over a mile away."

"Wow."

"Wow indeed." Max nodded. "Apparently she retired from being a Helldiver after she suffered damage to her throat which left her mute for a while. Despite that people feared she wouldn't be able to speak again, her voice somehow recovered. Even after she regained her voice though, she ultimately decided to stay retired and spend more time with her family."

"Loved ones are what we fight for in the end."

"Didn't expect to hear you say that." Max said with surprise. "But then, you do have your sister I suppose. Plus, I hear you and Peebee have gotten… close."

"You know about that?"

"I'm right next door to the escape pod and I saw you two go in. I had a feeling she'd probably make a move on you." Max shrugged. "Still… if you two wish to blow off steam together, that's fine with me."

"Yeah. It's just a friends with benefits thing."

"Lucky you."

"Anyway, I won't take up any more of your time, Max. Well talk later." Said Scott.

"Sure thing, Ryder." Max nodded.


Sara was currently down in the bio lab having a friendly chat with Cora which Scott partly overheard as he passed by. His sister walked out as just as he walked past the door and caught sight of her brother.

"Hey, Scott." She said.

"You got time to chat?" Scott asked. "We've haven't spoken for a while since…"

"I'd like that." Sara smiled.


"Dumb question, but how you coping since dad died?" Scott asked as he poured Sara a drink.

"I'll miss him… but I know he'd be the first to say "Get over it and get on with it, already." Sara replied, a slight smile on her face.

"Oh there's been plenty of that." Scott chuckled.

"You're doing a damn good job as Pathfinder. I'm sure that both he… and mom would be proud of you." Said Sara, putting her hand supportingly on Scott's shoulder.

"Do you still think about Mom?" Scott asked.

"Sometimes. Occasionally there've been nights where I wake up and forget for a second that she's gone. I look around for her… and then I remember."

"Sara, I had no idea…"

"Its okay." Sara said, managing to compose herself again. "I'm talking with Lexi about it. I know she's not that kind of doctor, but it helps."

"You can always talk to me too. You're my sister, and I'm always gonna be here for you."

"Thanks." Sara smiled. "Still, don't worry too much about it. I'm sure it'll pass."

"At least she's with Dad now."

"Speaking of which… Regarding those encrypted memories EDI's working on... what do you think they all mean?" Sara asked.

"I don't know. But Dad wouldn't encrypt them unless there was a good reason. I just hope we can find out what that was." Said Scott. "Do you ever miss the milky way?"

"Before we went into stasis… I was missing my life. You and me fighting side by side, fighting for the common good, liberating slaves from Batarians, fighting Hellspawn on the front line… and even at one point fighting alongside the Helldiver legends."

"I don't know if I told you this… but Shepard himself is actually still alive, right now."

"How?"

"His daughter didn't say. She said it was a conversation for another time. Then again, there's still a lot we have to catch up on. At least we know the Reapers were defeated after we left the milky way."

"I had a few friends who stayed behind. I still don't know for certain if they lived through it or not." Said Sara. "Do you ever wish sometimes that we hadn't been part of the Initiative? That we'd stayed home instead?"

"With all that's been happening, the thought has crossed my mind."

"How do you deal with it?"

"I remember what I have here. I have you, the tempest, her crew… I wouldn't change any of that, even for a chance to go home."

Both siblings smiled at one another, then hugged.

"Don't you also have Peebee to keep you going as well?" Sara said once they'd finally broke apart.

"Peebee? Well, she's a friend, but…" Scott stuttered.

Sara though gave him a look that clearly stated she wasn't fooled.

"No strings, did she say?" she asked teasingly.

Scott struggled to find words for that.

"Uh… well..." he stuttered. "Well… what about you and Suvi? I've certainly noticed you've been talking with her a lot."

Now it was Sara's turn to be all nervous and stumbling over her words.

"She's a… good person to talk to… she's cute… NO WAIT, I didn't mean that!"

Brother sister both looked at each other with embarrassment.

"Shall we call it even?" Sara asked quickly.

"Yes, I believe we should." Scott agreed instantly.

"Anyway, I should let you get back to work." Sara chuckled, still trying to hide her embarrassment.

"See you soon, Sis." Scott smiled.


Scott stopped by the cargo hold on his way to see Gil. Ali it seemed had already finished unpacking. Rather than lay out a makeshift bed, she'd instead constructed a hammock which hung just above where she'd put her things. Scott had to admit that was rather clever, especially since it saved a lot of space that would usually be used for a bed. Right now, Ali was simply sat on a crate sharpening her axe with a whetstone.

She took notice of Scott, put her axe to one side and stood up. Though Arkanes were around the same height as Turians, Ali seemed to dwarf that average by an extra inch or two, probably because of her Krogan genes.

"Ryder?"

"Just wanted to make sure you were settling in okay." Said Scott.

"Space is good, noise is bearable… little more for me to say really." Ali shrugged.

"Now that we have time, I was hoping we could talk more. I'd like to know more about you."

"I see."

"You said you were half Krogan. I personally don't fully know how a half Krogan gets to be part of a Krogan clan. How'd that happen?"

"You may not have heard this story, but many not long after it was discovered that Arkane's could have children with our species, the Krogan attempted to see if that was a way of bypassing the genophage. The Arkanes sympathised with the Krogan, so several of them, both male and female, volunteered for experiment." Ali explained in detail.

"I've heard about that. Though several Krogan children were born, the genophage still affected them and there were also a lot of Arkane children as well. The Krogan persevered for a little while longer though to see if Arkane Krogan had a higher chance of surviving birth. In the end though, no significant difference was found."

"Precisely." Ali nodded. "A debate then started among the Krogan over whether the half-blood Arkanes should be regarded as Krogan or not. As a test, they allowed some to undertake the Krogan rite of passage. All of them passed. Impressed with results, and seeing also how those Arkanes had inherited strength and other Krogan traits from their parents, the Krogan agreed to regard half-bloods as Krogan. Even allowed them to join clans."

"Which brings us to you. Which parent was the Krogan?" Scott asked.

"My father. He raised me most of my life and brought me into Urdnot."

"What about your mother?"

"She was a Helldiver like me. She helped me raise me for a time until she returned to duty… only to be killed in action in less than a month."

"I'm so sorry."

"Anyway, my father finished raising me, I passed the rite and joined clan Urdnot. I stayed for a time to try and help my people, but after my father was killed by a Thresher Maw I had little reason left to stay. In the end, I left Tuchanka and decided to follow on from my mother."

"How long have you been a Helldiver?"

"20 years."

"So you probably fought in the Hellspawn Civil War and the battle of the Citadel."

"Those were fun." Ali said with a proud smile.

"So is being half Krogan also the reason for you being extra limbed?" Scott asked, indicating to Ali's extra arms.

"No. I just got the lucky gene. Even my mother wasn't four armed."

"Still… for a geneblood to get something like that…" Scott said impressively.

"Alright, don't start going all teenage fangirl on me." Ali sighed, shaking her head with a modest smile.

"So do you have any leads on the scavengers?"

"My contacts on Kadara are still looking. Your Turian, Vetra was even kind enough to lend some assistance. I didn't expect that."

"We all look out for each other on this ship."

"Good to know. Anyway, if my contacts pick up anything worth investigating, you'll be the first to know. Until then, I go where you go and fight whatever battle you lead us into."

"Good chatting with you, Ali."

"Likewise. Let me know when you want some killing done. I get bored without a fight."


Finally, Scott headed into the engine room. Gil was waiting for him.

"Gill, here's that kett transponder. The spy used it to get this orders." He said.

"What do we need from it?" Gil asked.

"The location it points to. Should give us a fix on the Archon's ship."

"Right." Gil nodded. "Luckily, no matter where you go in the universe, physics still apply. Only so many ways of communicating across space."

After a few moment, he handed the transponder back to Scott.

"There. Give it a shot."

"Did you connect the…"

A Kett voice suddenly boomed from out of the transponder, making both men jump.

"Shit! Turn it off!" Gil quickly said. "Careful. That is a direct link to people that want to murder everybody on this ship."

"EDI?"

"I have the coordinates. The signal points to the Tapheno system." Said EDI.

"You sure you wanna do this?" Gil asked with worry.

"Honestly… no." said Scott, shaking his head. "That's the Archon's ship, there's no telling what we'll find on there."

There was a long pause before he finally spoke again.

"Meridian may be our priority, but I don't want us going after that ship unless I know for certain we're fully prepared. We should wait, take care of business, sort out any personal issues so our minds are clear and focused."

"You know… I agree with that." Gil nodded.

"Until then, we're going back to Nexus for refuelling before we head to Elaaden."


So as you can probably guess, the main story is now on hold. In the meantime the next few chapters will be loyalty missions, outpost placing, and any side missions that are deemed relevant to the main story or the loyalty missions. After all those have been done, the story will continue from there.

As the dialogue already stated, Elaaden will be in the next one with a tiny bit of Nexus stuff thrown in.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this chapter, hope Ali made a good first impression, and hope to see you int he next chapter. :)

Chapter Text

Hey, everyone!

Sorry this took so long. Unfortunately, the chapter suffered a corruption so I had to start again from scratch.

But here it is now finally, so I'll leave you to enjoy.

Brief warning, chapter contains a sex scene.


Chapter 8

Elaaden

Before heading to Elaaden, the Tempest had docked at the Nexus for refuelling. That left Scott with a bit of time to kill. Peebee had apparently told him that her project was complete and that she wanted to show it to him in her apartment. Before that though, Scott had received another message form Keri asking if he was available for another interview. With little reason to say no, he found the purple Asari near the docking bay.

"Free for an interview? I'd like to know more about the Angara. It's not often a first contact goes so smoothly. At least the Angara are more peaceful than the kett. There's high hopes for this alliance." She said.

"I guess you'd ask about the Angara. It's a good reason to say hi." Said Scott, flashing a quick flirtatious smile at Keri.

"That's not… This is about history, not you and…" the purple Asari stuttered.

"Me and…" Scott attempted to ask.

"I… I need to finish this. So, the Angara. Your thoughts on the alliance?" Keri quickly asked as she changed the subject.

"The Angara are survivors, and they're willing to help. They'll be great allies."

"The Angara soldier who joined your team has a few fans already, but everyone's talking about Aya."

"Green plants, flowing water… our leaders have discussed whether we should send colonists there."

"Aya is a sovereign planet of the angara. We have no right to settle there."

"Strong stuff. Here's hoping we don't need to. Okay, that's…" Keri stuttered before then switching her camera off. "Look… camera off? I need to say something. I feel like… you want to get closer to me than an interview."

"Maybe. What about you?" Scott asked.

"I want… This isn't right. It's not ethical to date an interview subject. But once the documentary's done, we could… get to know each other better." Keri suggested.

"It'll be something to look forward to then." Scott smiled slyly, which he noticed made Keri blush and giggle slightly.

"Thank you. Just couple more interviews and… let's see what happens." She said. "Now for a tough one: the exiles. Probably the most live-wire topic for our leaders. You've met the "treacherous mutineers" at Kadara Port. Some think the exiles are a menace to be eradicated."

"The exiles threatened the Nexus and they'd do it again. We should deal with them." Scott said sternly.

"More defence money for Kandros and the others, then." Said Keri. "Sorry, have to cut this short. I need to prep for a meeting. Apparently some colonists want to talk about the series. Maybe they'll be willing to go on camera?"


In the meantime, Scott had also received a message from Peebee inviting him to her apartment. Apparently, she had something to show him.

Before he even had a chance to knock, he heard the Asari's voice from within.

"Unlocking… come on in." she said as the door slid open.

To his surprise, Scott found that Peebee wasn't alone. Floating beside her was a Remnant drone. Unlike the others however, this one wasn't' attacking and it was also glowing green rather than red.

"Ta-da! My project, she is complete." Said Peebee.

"She?" Scott asked.

"Looks like a "she" to me." Peebee shrugged. "Just a proof of concept. I stripped out its Remnant command prompts to see if I could power it up myself. It worked! Now I can build a field model with combat protocols that fights for you. So… uh… what do you think?"

"You've outdone yourself, Peebee." Said Scott proudly. "Let Suvi and Gil eyeball it, then fast-track the combat model for me."

"I'd hoped you'd be happy." Peebee smiled. "Oh no, I forgot to lock the… shit."

The door suddenly opened and a purple Asari walked in. This one was no Keri though.

"My, my, Pelessaria. Didn't know you were still using this hole. Who's your friend?" the stranger asked.

"Kalinda, this is Ryder…" Peebee sighed.

"Oh, everyone knows the human Pathfinder. I meant, who's your Remnant friend?" Kalinda interrupted.

"None of your business, Kalinda."

"Of course it isn't. That's what makes it interesting. Don't be so hostile, babe."

"Kalinda, get out or I'll have Ryder shoot you." Peebee ordered.

"Ouch. Someone's in a bad mood." Kalinda chuckled, doubting whether Peebee was being serious or not.

"I'd probably do as she says, because I don't know if she's bluffing or not, and right now I'm worried she isn't." said Scott.

Kalinda also noticed that he'd unclipped the strap holding his pistol in its holster. She knew that when it came to Helldivers, they only gave one warning… and Scott was giving his own.

"Now, now. I was just concerned something might have happened to my dear old friend." She said, backing away slightly. "I'm sorry for the intrusion, Pelessaria. I'm just relived to see you… moving on."

"I'll walk you out."

Scott turned back to Peebee once Kalinda was gone and this time the door was locked.

"So, want to talk about it?" he asked.

"Oh, Kalinda and I go way back. We joined the Imitative together. For a long time, we were like family. Now we're not. When you live a thousand years, Ryder, people come and people go. Entanglements are silly. Just like places. Time to pack this one up. I'm done with it." Peebee replied.

"Hey, I hope you know you can talk to me. Anytime."

"Aren't you a cutie? Thanks, Ryder. That's nice. I mean it." Peebee smiled. "But really, the past is the past. I'm fine."

"Have to admit, when you invited me to your apartment, I thought you might be luring me here for… something else." Scott said suggestively.

"You thought or you hoped?" Peebee asked teasingly.

"I might have been hoping." Scott admitted.

"That hoped had crossed my mind as well. If Kalinda hadn't intruded, who knows what might have happened."

"Well she's gone now and, the doors locked, and we're not heading back out for a while yet." Said Scott suggestively. "Who says Kalinda has to ruin the whole thing?"

Peebee tried to keep her heartbeat under control as Scott kept getting closer and his hand touching her behind. Normally, she wouldn't approve of that... but Scott was definitely an exception.

"Screw it." She sighed.

Before Scott could say anything, the Asari pulled him into a kiss and her hands immediately began trying to unbutton his shirt. Scott managed to recover from the surprise and immediately hoisted Peebee up, carrying her into the apartment's bedroom.

As Scott gently put Peebee back down on her feet, she began sliding her hand over the bulge in his trousers, shuddering in pleasure as she stroked the large shaft that she was eager to see, suck and have inside her again.

Given how good she had found it last time, all the nervousness, apprehension and inexperience that she'd had before was gone. Now she wanted to go a step further. She wanted them to go for longer, she wanted them to fuck each other harder, and she wanted Scott this time to cum inside her so much that he would fill her right up.

She let out a soft sigh as a tingling feeling went up her spine. Her azure ached and she desperately wanted Scott to touch her, kiss her, fill her. Her breasts were flushed and full as her excitement was unable to be contained.

"You know, I think it would be a terrible shame to let this one go to waste." She said eagerly, gripping the bulge tightly.

"That would indeed." Scott smiled.

He then suddenly ripped Peebee's jacket apart, exposing her naked breasts to the air. The Asari moaned in surprise and pleasure at his aggressiveness. Scott then sank lower and pulled her trousers down as well, revealing her enticing azure. He didn't waste any time and immediately dove in.

Peebee leant against the wall and threw her head back in ecstasy as Scott's tongue licked deeply at her wet folds. The bedroom became filled with a combination of moans and giggles as Scott continued to pleasure the Asari with his mouth. In the process, both she and Scott worked on getting his shirt off.

With that done, Scot thrust his tongue in deeper, making the Asari almost scream. Deciding to further add to the attention he was giving Peebee's azure, he added a finger to his licking, sliding it in and out like he would his cock.

Peebee was now panting to the point that she was drenched in sweat. It was any wonder the smudge over her eyes didn't get wiped off.

"Oh fuck, Ryder! Lick me!"

Scott added another finger and pushed his tongue in as far as it would go.

"I'm gonna cum!" Peebee moaned.

As Scott continued to finger her azure, he opened his mouth in anticipation. Sure enough, Peebee cried out loudly as she came, squirting right into the human's waiting mouth. Despite having her eyes closed from the moaning, Peebee could tell he was catching every drop in his mouth and swallowing. When she finally did look down at him, she saw a wild look in his eyes. She couldn't help but wonder, had her cum made him like that?

With Peebee still recovering from her orgasm, Scott gently moved back up until his face was in line with her large breasts. Unsurprisingly, he took one into his mouth and began to suck on her nipple.

The Asari let out a gasp of both surprise and pleasure as one of her hands reached up and ruffled Scott's hair while the other hand reached down and began to stroke his bulging penis through his trousers. She even gritted her teeth at one point as Scott applied some pressure to her nipple using his teeth. Both of Scott's hands also moved down to Peebee's butt, massaging her cheeks and at one point even spanking one which made Peebee gasp in both surprise and pleasure.

Her ass cheek stung at first from the force, but somehow she found herself enjoying it. Something about that just made her more aroused and almost made her wish Scott would do that again.

She then pulled Scott back up to eye level and shoved him against the wall. Now their positions were reversed as she sunk down onto her knees and undid his trousers. As they fell, his boxers followed. Peebee chuckled as Scott's erect cock sprang up as it was freed, smacking her in the face and making her giggle in aroused excitement.

Now it was Scott moaning in pleasure as Peebee too his shaft into her mouth and began sucking and licking.

With her mouth filled by the massive cock, that left her hands free to slide up Scott's legs and grab his ass cheeks, kneading and squeezing them. The fact that one of Scott's hands stroked the side of her head told Peebee that he was obviously enjoying this. This only encouraged her further and she not only sucked harder but also managed to take the shaft even deeper. She could taste some of the pre cum on the shaft as it kept hitting the back of her throat.

Her tongue lapped and swirled around the mushroom head, savouring the salty taste and only being spurred on by Scott's moans and affectionate stroking of her head crest. It only took a few minutes before she could feel Scott tensing up.

"Peebee... you're gonna make me..."

"I know. Cum in my mouth, Ryder! Let me taste your seed!"

Peebee glimpsed Scott throwing his head back as she plunged the penis back into her mouth. The moment her lips closed around the shaft, Scott moaned and a large amount of cum shot right into her mouth. Gathering the cum with her tongue, Peebee eagerly swallowed the Helldiver's cum.

Peebee only had a moment smile up at Scott before he suddenly picked her up and pushed her down onto the nearby table, fully discarding his trousers as Peebee stroked her wet azure eagerly, anticipating what was about to happen next. The untidiness and mess of Peebee's apartment was only further added to as their clothes now littered the floor all around them.

"No zero g the time." Scott reminded her, stroking his cock back to full hardness.

"I don't care." Peebee panted as she parted her azure lips. "I want you to fuck me."

"Yes ma'am."

Slowly walking up to the Asari, Scott grabbed both her legs and gently eased his rock hard penis in. The two moaned in pleasure as Scott thrust into Peebee, her azure swallowing Scott's shaft like a child sucking their favourite lollipop.

Peebee felt herself completely relax and let herself lye completely flat and laid back on the table as Scott began to move in and out of her deep and hard. The sounds of wet slapping and moans of pleasure could be heard around the apartment as Scott fucked her. Peebee sighed, panted and moaned as she groped and massaged her tits, tweaking her nipples from the pleasure. Scott's hands moved further down Peebee's legs until they grasped her ankles and hoisted her legs right up, allowing him to go even deeper.

"HARDER!" Peebee yelled as Scott groped one of her breasts.

Scott now thrust with even more force to the point that his hips almost became a blur and he ended up going even deeper in Peebee.

Peebee pushed herself back up and pushed Scott against the wall. The human didn't try to resist and gripped her ass tightly as he held up her up, continuing to thrust upwards into her as she bounced on his cock.

The two once again kissed as they continued to fuck one another loudly, not caring at all if they were heard or made a further mess of the apartment.

They continued like this for several more minutes with Scott once again sucking on the Asari's tits as she kept riding him against the wall. In the end, she rode Scott all the way to an orgasm.

"You got another one in you?" Peebee asked eagerly as she let herself off of Scott.

"Yeah. You?" Scott panted.

"You bet I have." Peebee smiled.

She then leant against the door frame sticking her ass out and shaking it as she spread her cheeks apart and exposed her asshole, which surprised Scott.

"You sure about this?" he asked.

"Take me!" Peebee moaned as she licked her lips and stroked Scott's cock.

Peebee noticed Scott simply shrug before he grabbed her hips and thrust his shaft forcefully into her ass. Peebee's grip on the doorframe tightened and she grit her teeth at the initial pain of the forceful intrusion.

Eventually however the pain was completely replaced by pleasure and Peebee began to moan with each thrust that Scott made, his balls slapping against her wet Asari azure. As her tits bounced with ach thrust, Peebee brought both the humans hands up to squeeze them which he gladly did. Even tweaking the nipple which made the Asari grit her teeth again from the pleasure.

After several long minutes, Scott said the words that Peebee had been waiting for.

"I'm gonna cum, Peebee!" he moaned.

"Me too! Cum with me! Let's cum together!"

Both of them threw their heads back and moaned loudly as they orgasmed at the same time. Peebee revelled in the pleasurable feeling of Scott's cum shooting inside her, especially since she understood what this meant for human women.

As Scott gently slid out, a little bit of his cum dripped out of her azure. Not wanting to let it go to waste, she collected what she could in her hand and drank it, licking her lips erotically at the taste.

"Mmmmmm! We are good." Peebee panted, resting her head on Scott's chest and stroking his softening cock as he continued to grope her ass. "I needed that."

"Didn't know you liked it that rough." Scott smiled.

"Only from you, Scott. Only from you."


Ahead lay Elaaden through the Tempest's cockpit. It was time for them to find out just what sort of "tension" that Drack had described was going on down there.

"Drack, Ali, we're landing on Elaaden to rendevouz with Jorgal Strux." Said Scott.

"On our way." Drack said throught he comm."

"Whre is this meeting palce exactly?" Scott asked.

"Called The Paradise. Middle of nowhere as far as I can tell." Kallo replied.

"Paradise is different for a Krogan." Said Dracka s he and Ali walke dontot he bridge.

"You can say that again." The Arkane nodded.

As the Tempest entered the atmosphere, they saw an immense sight. Have submerged in the sand was a massive ship of some kind. The design and appearance was unmistakably Remnant.

"Remnant starship? No." Scott said in surprise. "Peebee is gonna faint when she sees this."

A sudden loud thud made everyone turn in as, rather to their surprise, Peebee had in fact just walked out of the escape pod, had taken one look at the Remnant ship and had actually fainted instantly.

"And they say humans can't predict the future." Ali chuckled.


Once Peebee had regained conciounsess she had immediately demanded to be brought along and had actually threatened Scott with "No more sex" if he refused. Fortuantely, it didn't come to that since Scott had hoped to bring her along anyway. A remnant starship like that… of course he was gonna bring her along.

Naturally, Drack and Ali were picked also. As they disembarked downt he Tempest's ramp, Scott immediately became aware of the immense heat. It was times like these he was glad that Helldiver suits had their own temperature control which kept him nice and cool on the inside.

Drack of cours ebeign a Krogan was used to this and even Ali seemed comfortable. No surprise though given that she spent her entire childhood on Tuchanka and was half Krogan. Peebee, despite not having any of those advantages seemed to be coping okay though and she certainly didn't make any imemdite complaints, so Scott assumed she was okay.

It did briefly make him wounder if Asari could get sunburns, but he forced his mind to refocus on the task at hand.

"Ah! No place like a scorching desert with vast heat to make you feel right at home." Ali sighed blissfully as she stepped out of the shade and into the sun.

"Who else lives here besides the Krogan?" Scott asked.

"Scavnegers with nothing to lose, criminals chucked out of Kadara." Drack replied.

"In other words, fodder for my axe." Ali added.

They found Strux close nearby in the company of a few other Krogan which were presumably supporters of his.

"Are you Jorgal Strux?" Scott asked.

"Maybe. You who I think you are?" Strux asked back.

"He's with us. What more proof do you need?" said Ali rhetorically.

"I'm the Pathfinder from the Nexus. You asked me to meet you here?"

"Yeah. I did. Thanks for coming." Said Strux.

"Losing the Krogan was a big deal to a lot of us in the initiative. Some of my best friends are Krogan." Said Scott.

"That's right." Drack agreed.

"We've only known each other less than a day. Still, kind of you to say that." Said Ali.

"I didn't want to leave the Nexus, but I needed to support my people and my clan." Said Strux.

"So, trouble at the colony?" Peebee asked.

"It's heading to a bad place." Strux replied.

"We can't be there anymore." One of his supporters said.

"Morda's become a tyrant."

"Quite a serious accusation." Said Ali suspiciously.

"Did she kick you out?" Scott asked.

"Hasn't come to that yet, so we're laying low. I want to keep my eye on her. She's planning a strike against the nexus. That much we know."

"Drack and Ali trust Morda, and I trust them."

"Morda's leading the colony for a reason." Said Drack.

"She's tough, but that's good. It's what we need." Ali agreed.

"You're not there, you two. Morda's going to rip this colony apart."

"And then we're all going to die."

"Krogan dying? Tough bastards like you?" Peebee asked.

"Everyone needs food and water, even Krogan. Morda's rationing. My group thinks the Krogan should make peace with the Nexus." Said Strux.

"We need the Krogan, and the Krogan need us. We all came to Andromeda as one. We should at least try to fix this." Said Scott.

"Well there won't be a colony to make peace with if Morda ruins it."

"All bark, but no bite. Where's your proof?" said Ali.

"You don't believe me? Go to the Krogan colony yourself and see what she's planning. Talk to Ravanor Brank. He's' one of us on the inside."

"If the safety of the Nexus is really on the line, I'll go. Better hope she doesn't shoot me on sight." Said Scott.

"Yeah. That'd be a bad omen."


Arriving at the Krogan colony, the group now had to worry about being let in in the first place.

"Move along. No outsiders." One of the guards said.

"He's with us. Human Pathfinder." Said Drack.

"Drack and Ali. It's been a while."

"Jorgal Strux sent me. I'm supposed to talk with Morda." Said Scott.

"So now Strux is friends with the Nexus? Traitor."

"Think me and Ali are traitors too?" Drack asked.

"Shut it, Breck."

"I'm not here to step on any toes. I can help you guys out."

"You assume we need help."

"Hey, you guys did your job, now stand down and let them in." Drack ordered.

"I'd do what he says if I were you." Said Ali.

"But Drack…"

"Didn't I tell to shut up?! I'll spread the word so Morda knows you're here."

"Good." Drack nodded.

"So much for an aggressive negotiation." Ali sighed, sounding a bit disappointed.

"Not everything can be solved by fighting, Ali. There's no fun to be had in it." said Scott.

"You're doing it wrong then." Drack and Ali both said together.


The group headed down to the throne room where they'd been told Brank was waiting for them.

"Are you Ravanor Brank?" Scott asked. "Strux sent me. He said that you…"

"Hey!" a voice interrupted.

"Yes. Find me later near the fighting pit." Brank whispered.

"Hey! Nexus! I'm the one you talk to around here." The voice said again.

A female Krogan stood above them and began to slowly descend the stairs from her throne down to their level.

"Are you Morda?" Scott asked.

"I'm Nakmor Morda, Overlord of the Krogan in Heleus."

"Overlord?"

"Drack. Kesh said you had a new job."

"She didn't tell me you did." Said Drack.

"And Ali. I never thought we'd ever see you again, least of all here."

"Don't presume to know me completely." Ali simply said.

"And you're the celebrated Pathfinder from the Hyperion, found at last."

"I'm Ryder."

"This is thrilling. I've never stood so close to a Pathfinder before. Mostly because the Krogan never got one." Morda said bitterly. "Welcome to New Tuchanka."

"Look, I understand you and your people are pissed off…" Scott tried to say, only for Morda to interrupt him.

"Humans were welcomed into the Citadel Council with open arms while the Krogan endured centuries of oppression. You have no idea. Your… understanding only makes me mad." She said.

"With respect, "Overlord"." Ali suddenly said, getting right up close to Morda and drawing herself up to her full height. "Need I remind you that despite everything that has happened to our people, the Arkanes let us into the Helldivers. Even here, after we got kicked off the Nexus, they still let us join. You don't like Ryder because he's a human Pathfinder, I get that. But he's still a Helldiver, as am I. So unless you intend to pick a fight with them and the Arkanes as well, I suggest you show some respect!"

Scott was so worried now that Morda was gonna have them kicked out for that, or worse. To his surprise however…

"Much as I hate to admit it, your youngster makes a fair point." Morda said reluctantly. "Though I recommend in future she holds her tongue before speaking to me like that again."

Ali simply backed up until she was stood behind Scott again.

"Anyway. Why are you here, Pathfinder? To see what a successful colony looks like?" Morda asked.

"Our outposts are new. We could use the advice." Said Scott, trying to sound polite.

"Your manipulation is so transparent. No advice for you, only regret." Said Morda. "Watch. The Krogan will thrive, and the Initiative will pay. Get out of my face, before I smash yours."

Ali snarled and was about to give Morda a piece of her mind, but Drack stopped her.

"Not a good idea, kid." He said.

Reluctantly, Ali backed down.


Heading down to the fighting pit, the group found Brank waiting for them.

"Ravanor Brank?"

"Quiet! Anyone tells Morda I'm talking to you and I'm kicked out." The Krogan whispered.

"Last thing I want to do is jeopardize the Nexus or this colony." Said Scot, also lowering his voice.

"Me neither, or clan Ravanor, or clan Jorgal, or Clan Urdnot."

"Rightly so." Said Ali.

"Some in Clan Nakmor too." Brank added.

"Okay. Got it."

"Did you see the crashed ship as you landed? Morda's after the drive core."

"That's remnant. No way she can use it." said Peebee.

"What are you talking about? She's building a bomb."

"With a drive core as a power source?"

"Demolition teams have been busting down walls for months, battling those robots and scavengers. Lots here want peace with the Nexus. If Morda gets that drive core… boom. Its over. Now get away from me."

"Thanks, Brank." Said Drack.


Using the Nomad, they headed into the remnant ship. After fighting their way through several scavengers and remnant bots, they reached where the drive core should've been… only it wasn't there.

"The drive core's not here." Said Scott.

"Really? You don't say." Said Ali sarcastically.

"Someone's been here, but they didn't come in the way we just did. Couldn't have."

"Ship is pretty busted up. Someone found another way in." said Peebee

"That's what we get for coming in the right way." Said Drack.

"Told you we should've brought some explosives." Ali sighed.

"So who has it?" Scott asked rhetorically.

"Scavengers? Gotta be." Peebee guessed.

"As if I didn't have enough reason already to kill them." Said Ali.

"I agree. Seems like the most likely culprit. We just have find our way out and track them down."

A quick look around revealed something out of the ordinary.

"I don't think these belong here." Scott said.

"Flares? That's not remnant tech." said Drack.

"The intruders must have entered from this direction."


Following the flares soon led them to way out different to the one they used to get in.

"So this is how they got in, whoever it was." Said Scott.

"Wasn't Morda who took the drive core. If she knew about this entrance they wouldn't try to break in." said Drack.

"Finally, back out in the bright bright scorching light of day."

"Meh, better than rain." Peebee shrugged.

"Do all humans complain this much about the weather?" Ali sighed.

"Yep." Drack nodded.

"We've got a lock on your position. Sending down a forward station." Said Gil.

"Suvi, EDI's uploaded a signature from the remnant drive core housing. Can you trace it?" Scott asked.

"Tricky from our position. It won't be a full scan." Suvi replied.

"Give me what you can. We need to find out who stole it." said Scott.

"So we can tear out their spines." Ali added.

"Okay. Think I've got something. I've updated your nav system."


The signal source took them further across the desert until the Nomad pulled up near a crashed shuttle. Bodies of both humans and Krogan littered the sight.

"Nearing the area where the signature was detected." Said Suvi.

"Looks like we missed the action this time." Scott said observably.

"Dammit." Ali swore.

"I think I know these Krogan. They aren't Morda's group." Said Drack.

A brief scan also confirmed what Scott had been hoping wouldn't' be the case.

"Aaaaaaand the drive core's not here." he sighed.

"Yeah. We can see that, Captain Obvious." Ali sighed.

"Its too hot to chase these thieves all over this planet."

"It's making me cranky." Peebee groaned.

"Would it help if I threw some water over you?" Ali asked irritably.

"No?" Peebee replied, a little confused by the question.

"Stop complaining then!" Ali growled, making Peebee retreat a little in fright.

"Well what do we have here?" Scott asked as he picked up a data pad.

Not only did it say where the drive core was being kept, but it also had the password to get inside.

"Password. Why would you ever right down your password?" said Drack.

"These scavengers are more stupid than I thought… now I've got another reason to kill them." Ali said eagerly.


The coordinates on the data pad led them to a canyon were a hidden hanger of some kind was located.

Fighting through the scavengers, along with a few Krogan they had as backup, was easy.

"See? Fighting is fun." said Ali as she cut down the last merc.

The hard part however came when they examined the drive core more closely.

"Oh shit." Scott said, backing away in alarm.

"What?" Drack asked.

"Its rigged to blow."

"Well… fuck!" Ali swore

"If this thing goes off it'll take out the colony and everything else within the radius, which includes Paradise." Said Peebee worriedly.

"What's more if this goes off it'll look like the Initiative did this. There's no choice. We need to disarm it." said Scott.

"Ryder, I only study the Remnant. I don't know anything about disarming a bomb." Peebee objected.

"Good thing I know someone who does then." Said Scott


"You better be right about this, Ryder." Said Drack as Sara began examining the drive core.

Being an engineer, she was actually qualified for this. Yes the drive core was remnant tech that they still knew very little about, but right now they had very little alternatives.

"Don't worry. I've disarmed loads of bombs before." Said Sara.

"See? No problem." Scott said, trying to sound relaxed.

"Although none of them were as big and powerful as this." Sara added.

"Thanks, Sara. I wasn't gonna tell them that." Scott sighed.

"Just cut the green wire." Said Ali irritably.

"There isn't a green wire!" Scott yelled. "It doesn't even have wires!"

"Can't we move it or something?"

"That'll make it go off!"

"I CANNOT WORK WITH ALL THIS PRESSURE!" Sara yelled so loudly it made even Ali jump.

The Arkane opened her mouth to say something, but Sara stopped her.

"Not another word!"

She then went back to the drive core, who's countdown had less than 20 seconds.

"The energy pulsation frequency is running on a simple algorithm. If we can crack it, we can slip through the breach in security." She said to Suvi through the comms.

19…


Suvi was typing away furiously as she attempted to try and figure out the energy frequency. If she could work that out, it would help Sara extensively.

18…

She was doing her best to keeper hands steady. Much as she tried to deny it, she was panicking a little since she wasn't on the ground to see the whole thing for herself.

17…

What's more, Remnant physics were filled with too many unknowns. At least the voice of Sara over the comms offered some reassurance.

16…

"Suvi. I need you to keep focus. Concentrate on my voice and what I say. I'm going to explain as much as I can find here, and I will need to count on you to figure it out."

15…

For a moment, Suvi panicked, worried that her guesswork might somehow be wrong… Her friend was down there, a woman that she cared about… a lot. Maybe…

14…

She brought her mind though back to the task at hand. She needed to figure this out, and quickly.

13…


Tinkering on both ends passed for a few seconds before finally…

12…

"Sara! I found the weak link in the frequency! The system overcompensates pressure, but takes three milliseconds to reverse its polarity." Suvi said.

11…

"Of course! By synchronizing the initial pressure, I can neutralize the sinusoidal distortion!" Sara said.

10…

"Uh... our translators didn't pick any of that up." Said Peebee in confusion.

9…

"Rubber band system." Sara said as she activated a drill on her omni tool and hit the pulsation field at the precise moment with the same amount of pressure to make it feedback onto itself and short out.

8…

The effect though was not instant.

7…

Everyone could only hold their breath and plead in their heads.

6…

"Come on… come on…" Sara groaned.

5…

Suvi felt her heart almost stop in fright…

4…

Somehow by instinct, Peebee grabbed Scott's hand.

3…

2…

1…..

The countdown froze. It was done. The device was stable and the bomb part had been deactivated.

"That… was too close." Scott panted in relief.

"I hope I never have to do that again." Sara agreed.

"We actually pulled it off. That's gonna be a story for future generations." Said Suvi with same amount of relief.

Heh, yeah, the Krogan will be singing songs for generations about the cute scientist with the accent that saved their colony!" Sara said in a slightly teasing tone.

"Sara! Please don't do that!" Suvi said in embarrassment.

"Suvi, why are your cheeks flushed?" Kallo asked.

"Kallo, you too?! You sir, are uninvited from all my parties."

"...You're still on the line."

"What? But I thought... ah jeez! Off, off, OFF!"

Both Drack and Ali burst into laughter, Peebee giggled slightly and Scott and Sara simply sighed and rolled their eyes.

"So Strux took the drive core? Not scavengers? Not Morda?" Peebee asked in confusion.

"I think I feel used, but I'm not sure for what. Drack, Ali, any ideas?" Scott asked.

"A few. Clan Jorgal is the worst. Unbalanced, unreliable." Drack replied.

"I never did trust Clan Jorgal. Manipulative little shits!" Ali groaned.

"So Strux wanted to build a bomb?" Peebee asked.

"Or just sell it on Kadara? But then why hide it here?"

"I don't know, but I can't wait to find out." Said Drack.

"This is serious. Political double-crosses involving enormous bombs piss me off."

"Double-crosses with grenades must be a walk in the park for you then." Ali chuckled.

"Very funny, Ali." Scott said sarcastically. "Drack, you and Ali do me a favour and don't spill this to the Krogan yet. I want to talk to Morda and Strux face to face."

"You got it."

"You're the boss, Boss." Ali nodded.

"Gil, I need you to send an ops crew to this location. They're picking up a Remnant drive core." Scott said into his comm.

"Got it. Will do."

"EDI, change the passcode on the door to this place and transmit it to Gil. Keep that tech safe. It might be the most powerful thing we've found."

"We just picked up amazing rem tech, yet all I can think about is a shower." Said Peebee.

"Me too. Perhaps together?" Scott asked suggestively.

"Maybe." Peebee simply smiled.

Noting the looks the two were giving each other, Ali rolled her eyes and shook her head.

"Aliens." She sighed.

"Anyway, waste of water. What you need is a good old fashioned Krogan dust bath." Said Drack.

"Haven't had one of those in a long time." Said Ali. "Wonder if that's why I'm so amgry sometimes."


Whilst Sara head back to the Tempest, the rest of the group returned to the Krogan camp throne room. They found Strux was there already talking to Morda.

"Hello, Nexus. You're back." She said.

"I am." Scott said, folding his arms.

"Strux tells me you went to get the drive core from my Remnant ship."

"That's true."

"And that you sold it to scavengers who took it off world to make a profit, for you and them."

"It was gone when I got there."

"Not possible. I had blasting teams there day and night."

"Clan Nakmor is a joke. The losers of Tuchanka are now the losers of Heleus. Overlord Morda has lost the drive core and our colony is doomed." Strux said.

Morda however did not take kindly to this and head-butted him hard, causing the Krogan to fall on his back.

"You're all talk, Jorgal Strux. I made this colony." She said.

"If there is an Overlord, they should be from the oldest Krogan blood, Clan Jorgal." Said Strux, picking himself back up. "Watch. I'll rescue the drive core and make us so powerful that the Nexus will bow to us.

"Except you can't, because we have it." said Drack, a hint of smugness in his voice.

"Aw, Drack. I wouldn't to see how long before he hung himself." Said Peebee disappointingly.

"Could still make it happen." Ali shrugged.

"What do you mean you have it?" Morda asked.

"I'll let the Pathfinder answer that." Drack replied.

"Same." Ali nodded in agreement.

"Strux played us both, told me you were building a bomb." Said Scott.

"Told me you were planning an attack on the colony." Said Morda. "I'm impressed, Strux. You're more cunning than most clan Jorgal, smarter even."

"Nakmor arrogance, my father lowered himself to join your clan because he admired your grandfather. He was laughed it, called "not worth killing." But now I've best you, Morda, and clan Nakmor will pay with blood." Said Strux.

Immediately, the two Krogan started to fight. It only lasted a few seconds however before Morda overpowered Strux.

"You put the colony at risk over a grudge you carried across dark space? You really aren't worth killing, Jorgal Strux. Get out! Take your goons with you." She ordered.

As Strux left, Morda turned back to Scott.

"Now where is the drive core? Hand it over." She demanded.

"Just like that? Hand it over?" Scott asked.

"It's incredibly powerful. We'll use it to power the colony. This will put us ahead by decades."

"Ryder, that's unique Remnant tech." Peebee whispered.

"If you keep that drive core its over between the Krogan and the Nexus forever." Morda warned.

"You have to give us something for it. Its only right." Said Drack.

"We did get shot at, a lot." Scott agreed.

"What about joining our colony with your Outpost?" Morda suggested. "Give us the drive core and we'll be friends. New Tuchanka and Nexus. Keep it and you've created a Sovereign Krogan nation. We don't abide by Nexus laws or owe you anything, even peace."

Scott took a long moment to consider this. Though it had been proven that Morda wasn't building a bomb, Scott still didn't know for certain if he should trust her. The Krogan were still angry at the Nexus. Even if they made peace now, who was to say that peace would be permanent?

Would giving Morda the drive core be the best choice in the long run? In the end, Scott decided. He ultimately couldn't bear the thought of refusing, especially with Drack and Ali present. If the Krogan wasted this second chance, it would be their fault.

"Okay, Morda. Let's work together. You can have the remnant drive core." He finally said.

"And you can set up your outpost here, Nexus. We're all gonna be friends and prosper, right? You best we are. Whenever you're ready, bring your outpost people here, and they'll be welcome." Said Morda, her tone giving the impression that, while she did not show it, she was pleased.

"This is a great day, Morda." Said Drack, sharing her enthusiasm.

"About time we all came to our senses." Said Ali.

"We'll contact Addison and give her the news. Good luck, Overlord Morda."


It was done. The outpost was placed, everything was set up and people were already starting to disembark from the shuttles.

"You really did it. Almost a civil war, and you brought them back." Addison said via vidcom.

"But it's all about the resources. No poetry, right?" Scott asked.

"I considered the Krogan a permanent loss. Too many egos involved. Thankfully, my ledgers don't care how they get filled. If I can retroactively called the Krogan colony an outpost, that's a win. But that practically is not universal. Tann will hate this."

"I'm not interested in opinions that don't see the value here."

"Good. Because there will be a lot of them. But not from me. This won't be our last outpost to find, but New Tuchanka helps immeasurably. We can't rest for long of course. There will always be a need. But for now, it's an achievement. Addison out."


Back on board the Tempest, Sara had a received an incredibly warm greeting from Suvi. The two women had hugged one another, still happy and amazed from their earlier success in disarming the bomb.

Surprisingly Sara even lifted Suvi off her feet for a few seconds and spun her in the air as they both laughed. Sara couldn't' help but note how light Suvi was. True Sara was a strong woman, but it still surprised her how light the scientist was.

Scott knew they got along very well, but still…

"You did it." said Suvi.

"No, we did it. I couldn't have done it without your help, Suvi." Sara smiled.

"Oh Sara..." Suvi said modestly, trying to hide that she was blushing slightly.

"I mean it, Suvi. Okay, maybe I could've done it. But you sure as hell made it much easier."

"I have to admit, I was worried when you were down there. You're a good friend, and I…"

Sara though stopped her.

"I know." She simply said.

The two women didn't say anymore and simply smiled as they hugged again.

"Seriously. Am I invisible?" Kallo sighed.


Scott intended to talk to Drack and Ali, but before that he made sure that he did this first. It had been too long since his last talk with Kamara. He walked up tot the comm room and the Asari Helldiver's hologram appeared.

"Pathfinder. Good to see you again. It's been a while since our last chat." She said.

"I apologise for leaving you hanging so long." Said Scott.

"No need for an apology. You're a busy man with a lot to think about. I can understand that." Said Kamara. "First off, congratulations on your second outpost, and also congratulations or your alliance with the angara. Its good to see that the initiative won't be dying out any time soon. My father will be pleased to hear it also."

"I mean no offence by asking this, but is he ever going to be with you on vidcom?" Scott asked.

"Eventually. He and mother are currently away on a long holiday as part of their wedding anniversary." Kamara replied.

"Fair enough."

"Trust me, you will get to meet him when he and my mother get back. That is assuming my sisters don't hug them to death." Kamara chuckled.

"So you're not Shepard's only daughter?" Scott inquired.

"I have three sisters." Kamara clarified. She then activated her omni tool displaying a holo picture alongside her.

The picture showed Shepard himself holding hands with an Asari that Scott assumed was Kamara's mother. In front of them were four Asari children.

"The tallest one's on the right is me, the eldest. The twins in the middle are Etra and Haara, and the one in my mother's arms is Aleena, the youngest."

"Are they Helldivers like you?" Scott asked.

"No. I'm the only one to follow in my father's footsteps. My sisters preferred something quitter. Etra and Haara went on to become film directors surprisingly. But they're very good ones. If you ever get a chance to watch one of their films where you are, I definitely recommend it. They've done movies that make those old Blasto ones look crap by comparison. Most of their films are best known for being about Helldivers, even made massively successful adaptions of our father's books and novels."

"And Aleena?"

"She decided she wanted to be more like mother. She went into studying the past. Though while mother only studied the Protheans, Aleena studies many other races. Explores their untold histories, I believe. Don't let that fool you though, she sure does know how to fight and defend herself if need be."

"Sounds like a fun bunch."

"You should see the get together we have every year." Said Kamara, smiling under her helmet. "Anyway, I probably shouldn't take up anymore of your time. We'll talk again soon."

"Until next time, General."

"Good luck, Ryder. Shepard out."


Back on the bridge, Sara, having changed out of her armour, had gone down to ask Sara if she wanted a drink or something. Their way of celebrating what happened on Elaaden. To her surprise however, the scientist beat her too it.

"I need a break. Do you need a break? Let's go for a break." She said before Sara even had a chance to open her mouth.

Kallo watched as the two women left the bridge.

"Finally." He sighed to himself with relief.


"Tea, Sara?" Suvi asked as she poured herself some.

"I'd love a cup." Sara nodded.

"It's a cultivar originating in Sumatra. My own personal stash. Once I run out… That'll be it for Earth tea." Suvi said, handing Sara a cup.

"What's the matter?" Sara asked sympathetically.

"I keep having these thoughts. "I'm never going to taste this again. I'm never going to see this again."

"You're not the only one, Suvi. I have those senseless thoughts all the damn time."

"And? Do they bother your?"

"Its natural. You'd have to be made of a stone not to miss home sometimes."

"Like your brother?"

"Trust me, Suvi, he feels exactly the same. He just doesn't show it as much. Scott's always been like that. He's just… less expressive than I am."

"The universe is like a giant tapestry. I love following its threads, but it distracts me from the whole picture. My family was right these, but I was too occupied by the abstract to appreciate them."

"From everything you've told me, you're here because of your family. You're love of science, doesn't that come from them? Aren't you with them every time you chase down a new discovery?"

"Sara… that's beautiful."

"My father was a soldier and an explorer, my mother a researcher. Everything I do here reminds me of them. I haven't lost them either, not truly. And Suvi, the threads you followed led you here to me. How could that have bene a mistake?"

"Of everything I've encountered in Heleus, you are by far my favourite."

Suvi was then interrupted as Sara gently pulled her closer until their mouths met in a gentle kiss. Despite the suddenness of it however, Suvi didn't' resist or try to push Sara away. She simply accepted it. Something about it… just felt so right, for both of them.

"Sara… don't do this to me. Not unless you really mean it." Suvi whispered.

"I know, and I'm serious. Serious about us." Sara said as and Suvi held hands and hugged one another.

There was no need to rush anything. Right now, this moment right here with just them holding each other in their arms was more than enough. Right now, this moment was perfect for them.


Scott headed down to the cargo bay to see how Drack and Ali were doing. He expected they'd be pretty happy given how Elaaden had turned out. He didn't seem to be wrong.

"Just talked to Kesh. Looks like some of the Clan are back at the Nexus. Hired on as mercs instead of part of the Initiative, but still… Good call you made, letting Morda keep the drive core." Drack said.

"New dawn for the Krogan, huh?"

"Never thought I'd see the day. Sovereign Krogan as equal allies. My mother would've approved." Said Drack.

"I'm just glad we got that whole thing resolved." Said Scott.

Scott then went down a level to see Ali, who was apparently rummaging around inside a crate. When Scott approached however, she stopped what she was doing and turned to face him.

"Ryder. Was hoping you'd drop by." she said. "Felt I should express my gratitude for what you did. Reuniting the Krogan with the Nexus… a part of me worried that you wouldn't trust Morda and would keep the drive core."

"I won't lie, I nearly did. It was a difficult decision. Even if she does mean well, that drive core could still be dangerous." Scott admitted.

"I know what you mean. I too hope she doesn't waste this second chance." Ali nodded.

"Would you have still stood with me, if I'd said no?" Scott asked.

"To be honest… I'm not sure I have an answer to that question. I was a Krogan before I was a Helldiver… but even if I'm not one anymore, I wouldn't want to turn my back on them either." Ali replied.

"I understand." Scott nodded. "I can't imagine its always easy to be born one way, but live another."

"Not always. Some people consider my behaviour odd compared to other Arkanes, whereas other Krogan see it as normal." Ali nodded. "Still, what matters now is that I didn't to have to pick a side, and I am grateful to you for it."

"Does this mean I'm on your good side now?"

"Possibly." Ali chuckled with a smile. "Not all you humans are as soft and squishy as I'd originally been led to believe."

"Did you never work with humans before in the Helldivers?" Scott asked.

"My squad was an all Krogan squad, consisted of either pure Krogan or Krogan half-bloods like me. So its fair to say, I'm not used to others in the same way you are."

"Hopefully then this'll be a good learning curve for you."

"I guess so." Said Ali, her attention turning back to the crate.

"What are you doing exactly?" Scott asked, slightly confused as to why she was rummaging around in a weapons crate.
"Trying to see what other weapons you've got available." Ali replied.

"Well we're hardly underequipped." Said Scott, slightly confused.

"Do you have poison?" Ali asked.

"What? Well… yes. But…

"What sort?"

"Uh…"

"What's it made of? What's it do? Why do they die?"

"I…"

"I mean, could it kill a pet? Quite a large pet? A sort of almost… person sized pet?"

"Beg your pardon?"

"I mean what would it do to say a human? Would it dissolve the stomach and make their lungs bleed until they drowned?"

"The fu…"

"What would it do to the face? Would it be hideously contorted? Would it come out in pustules or a rash?"

"It wouldn't affect the face!" Scott quickly said.

"Have you got anything that does affect faces? Something that would make the skin melt… painfully?"

"Ali, what the hell…"

"And what about bludgeoning weapons? What would a mace do to the human head? I mean, would it go through the skull or just embed itself in it?

"Errr, well with enough force…"

"Or what about hammers that would smash bone?"

"Ali, what the fuck are you going to do with all this?!" Scott nearly yelled.

"Just thinking of what to use when I find the people who took my armour. Maybe even use these on the Kett as well." Ali shrugged.

"Right…"

"You seem confused."

"Well… it's just… This sort of violence you're proposing… it… I mean no offence but, it's insane."

"Yes, I know." Ali nodded. "Or at least it would be… if it were true."

"What?"

To Scott's further confusion, Ali then started laughing.

"You should've seen the look on your face." The Arkane said, trying to keep herself composed. "Relax. I'm just fucking with you."

"Not sure I understand." Scott said, now all the more confused.

"I've been joking, Ryder. Forgive me, growing up with Krogan gives you a very strange sense of humour." Ali clarified. "I've been "pulling your leg" as you humans say."

"Oh. That's… good then." Scott panted with relief as he relaxed. "Wow. You actually had me scared for a minute there."

"Yes. Not to worry, Ryder. I already know we don't have any of the things I just listed. I'll just settle with embedding my axe in their crotches instead." Ali simply said with a shrug.

Scott's brief period of relaxing was short lived as soon as he heard that. Almost immediately, the shock and fear returned in force.

"I'm just gonna… go." He said, immediately walking off so fast he could almost have been running.

"See you later then." Ali said warmly.

Once Scott was out of sight and earshot she was unable to hold back her laughter.

"Told you he'd freak out. You owe me 5 credits." She said.

"Fine. Next time we're on the Nexus, I owe you some ryncol." groaned Drack.

Ali smiled smugly.

"Did try to warn you, old man. Wisdom may come with age, but with youth comes creativity."


Haven't fully decided what to do next, but I think I MAY do Vetra's loyalty mission for the next chapter. Not a definite though.

See you in the next chapter.

Chapter Text

Been quiet for a while, I know. Busy with personal matters.  But now I'm back.

I'll let you enjoy the chapter.


Chapter 9

Means and Ends

Peebee's eyes gently opened as she woke from her sleep. As she became aware of her surroundings she remembered she was in the escape pod again. She also became aware that she was lying against something warm. As she looked she found none other than the sleeping from of Scott lying next to her.

The Asari smile as she remembered their second zero g "activity" last night. Long story short, she'd been feeling bored and a little frustrated and it seemed Scott had been feeling the same too after a somewhat hectic goose chase that Ali had led him on. The half Krogan Arkane had thought she'd found a lead, but it had ended up being incorrect. Despite that Ali had apologised profusely and Scott knew it wasn't her fault; he had still been a bit annoyed that they didn't find anything.

This had ultimately led him to walk into her quarters in hopes of a talk with her cheering him up. Surprisingly though, he found she'd been in a similar mood. Ultimately, it had ended with them in the escape pod again enjoying some zero g time, both literally and figuratively.

Naturally, their clothes were completely off but Peebee had deliberately fallen asleep on top of Scott... with his long shaft still inside her azure. The Asari wiggled her hips a little and squeezed her azure muscles to get a few tingles of pleasure out of it. It added even more reason why she playfully didn't want to get out of bed.

Peebee sighed happily and closed her eyes again as she relaxed against Scott's chest, calmingly listening to the Helldiver's heartbeat. There was a certain gentleness to the sound that she found comforting. It was a surprisingly nice and clam change from her usual hyperactivity.

She honestly did not know why, but more and more she was beginning to feel like perhaps there was reason why neither of them were tiring of each other. Why was it that every time they wanted casual sex, they were always willing? Why did they never get tired of each other? Why did they never feel the need to take a break?

A possible theory was simply that Scott was always up for it since he was a man and Peebee was simply always up for it because she was not used to males. But Peebee was beginning to not believe that anymore. Scott was more than just a pretty face, a great muscular body and a huge cock. He was at times humours, understanding, he listened to her, he didn't find her weird or crazy, he said he enjoyed her company… Even some of her very best friends many years ago she hadn't felt this close to. She definitely regarded Scott as one of the best people she'd met in her life, and a true friend… but what about…

Peebee's relaxing thoughts however where interrupted by a small groan from Scott who appeared to be waking up. Normally Peebee would e in the mood for some morning sex or would try to wake him up with a blowjob, but today she still felt a bit too tired. Either she hadn't gotten enough sleep or Scott had tired her out more than she'd thought last night. It had been a hell of a fuck after all. Far more intense than their last zero g one.

Not wanting to get out of bed, Peebee simply remained where she was and pretended to still be asleep.

Scott stretched and gave a small yawn. Then he did what Peebee had hoped he wouldn't.

"Rise and shine, Peebee." He said, gently shaking her.

"Ten more minutes." Peebee groaned tiredly as she pulled all of the covers over herself, leaving Scott exposed.

"Oh not you don't. Come on." Scott chuckled, trying to pull the covers off her.

"Go away." Peebee yawned.

"Peebee, we don't have time for this." Scott smiled. "Out. Out of bed."

This time he pulled harder to the point where he actually dragged the Asari.

"No. Don't want to." Peebee said, sounding like a teenager who refused to get up.

"Peebee…"

"Ten more minutes."

"Okay, you asked for this."

Scott stopped his pulling and then to Peebee's surprise started to tickle her so much.

"Agh! Stop it Scott!" she burst out laughing.

"Come on. Get out of bed." Scott repeated as he continued his assault.

"Alright! Alright! You win!" Peebee chuckled, finally letting the covers fall off her nude body.

"Works every time." Scott smiled proudly.

"One of these days I'm gonna get my own back on you." Peebee sighed with a smile as Scott tossed her jacket to her.

"Oh really?" the Helldiver laughed.

"Yeah, really."

"Good luck with that then."

To Scott's surprise, as the Asari finished pulling her trousers on, she then planted a kiss on his cheek.

"What was that for?" he asked.

"For last night… even if you did force me out of bed just now." Peebee smiled.

"No strings, like you said." Scott simply said.

"Yeah… no strings." Peebee said, hesitantly.

As Peebee finished getting dressed, she glanced towards the lounge and couldn't help but smirk when she noticed Sara and Suvi sitting together rather closely. It had been almost a week now since those two have been together.

She couldn't' help but think back to the time when Sara had originally been her target when she came on-board the Tempest and eventually wondered about anyone she might fool around with during her time there.

How could she not be interested after all? Sara was cute, had quite a mind for alien tech and especially a similar insatiable curiosity as Peebee had for Andromeda tech. And DAMN did Sara have a killer body. That well-developed figure of hers had more curves and muscle than any other female on the ship! Apart maybe from Ali who was both taller and larger than the human Helldiver. But Peebee hadn't really given her any thought, especially since that Arkane was someone she did not want to get on the bad side of.

Peebee's eyes idly drifted to the bountiful swell of the woman's chest in particular. She didn't care as much about her people, but now that she thought about it, she couldn't remember the last time she had seen a human female who was well-endowed than most Asari, even Lexi who was at least 200 years older than her.

Still, she was with Scott now and had absolutely no intention of trading him for anything. She wasn't giving THAT up anytime soon. Even so, Peebee gave a small smile as she saw Suvi give a gentle peck on Sara's cheek, then another one on her neck.

Suvi was one lucky girl.


Sara simply smiled as she walked into the kitchen. Last night had been surprisingly good for her. She'd gotten better sleep than she had in a while. She'd still gotten some sleep every night, but till now it hadn't been as deep nor had it left her feeling so rejuvenated until now.

Kind of made her wonder how much better this morning would've been if she'd woken up with Suvi by her side. Despite that they had started a relationship, they were taking it slow. So at the moment they had yet to sleep with one another. When that happened, they wanted it to be the same night that they "took it to the next step" so to speak.

Still, she'd received a very nice morning welcome from her girlfriend which was more than enough to put her in a good mood.

As Sara walked up to the Stove to prepare her breakfast however, she suddenly noticed something. Crumbs. A small but very noticeable trail was on the counter and even on the floor.

She knew for a fact it couldn't be Scott. Neither of them ate cereal at all anymore and hadn't for years. Due to their healthy lifestyle and diets they always had something healthier like fried eggs and bacon for breakfast. And even the rest of the crew were never messy. Hell, even Drack, Peebee and Ali always tidied up after themselves.

Curious as to who or what might have done this, she followed the crumb trial all the way to the cargo bay where it seemed to stop.

"Something's nesting here. Something that likes cereal. I wonder… I can probably build a humane trap to catch It." she said to herself.

A quick bit of tinkering later and she had a humane trap set up. Once something went inside, it closed without harming whatever was inside. As Sara was placing the trap, she temporarily wondered if perhaps the culprit was Scott's pet pyjak, Peeves.

That thing had been quite the troublemaker ever since Scott had picked it up from the Nexus. The pyjak had slept in Cora's helmet, made a mess of the kitchen without eating anything, played with Lexi's lab equipment like they were toys, and seemed to be making a habit out of suddenly jumping on people's heads. Not to mention he would always knock over anything not tied down if he was left unattended, hence why Scott had ultimately named him after the Poltergeist from Harry Potter. In a way, it seemed appropriate and rather fitting.

"Done. One trap ready for a visitor. I'll leave it and see what we get." Sara said as she finished the trap.


Several hours later, Scott got a notification from Suvi that Vetra wanted to speak with him.

"Hey, Ryder. Got an encrypted message from Sid. She has news and wanted to talk to us both. Connecting the call now." The Turian said.

"Finally. I've been waiting for hours." Sid's voice said through Vetra's omni tool.

"So you wanna tell us what this is all about?" Vetra asked.

"I was listening to outpost updates and caught a message about settlers going missing."

"What do you mean, they're missing?" Scott asked.

"They didn't leave voluntarily. No work assignments. No mining expeditions. Kidnapped. I dug around and I think I know where they've been taken. A cave system on a moon in the Remav system. Originally an angaran mine, I think, but they abandoned it."

"What did I tell you about getting involved?" Vetra asked rhetorically.

"I couldn't just do nothing."

"How do we know your intel's even reliable?"

"Its reliable!"

"We'll need more than your assurances. Who's behind this? Why target settlers?" Scott asked.

"Ugh!" Does it matter? Are you gonna not them if you don't like why they're in trouble?"

"Sid… just give us everything you have on this." Vetra sighed.

"Already done. Could I come along? I wanna help."

"You know the answer to that.

"Right. Of course. Stay away from bad people, guns, bombs, Krogan beer…"

"You did good. I just want you to be safe, okay?

"Yeah, yeah."


Scott chose to have Sara and Max accompany them for this. Sara especially had been keen due to her not being out in the field fully since Habitat 6.

"Looks like no one's home." Said Scott.

"I swear if Sid sent us on a pointless search, I'm going to drill her shin plates." Said Vetra.

In their vigilant state however, they failed to notice a laser running across the floor. The moment their legs touched the beam they heard the sound of heavy machinery from below. It didn't take them long to work out what was about to happen.

"How did we not spot that?" Sara sighed.

"Move! Go!"

Scott just managed to make a leap for it as the floor suddenly opened up underneath, causing all of them to fall. Scott managed to grab onto the edge, but was ultimately unable to hold on and ended up falling in too.

"Did I land on you? Sorry." Vetra apologised, picking herself up off Max whom she'd landed on top of.

"Don't be." Max smiled under his mask.

"Ah. Nyx. So good to finally meet you, and you brought friends. That's even the Pathfinder if I'm not mistaken. My bait worked better than expected." A unknown female voice suddenly said over loud speakers.

"The missing settlers." Said Sara.

"Who are you? Why are you kidnapping innocents?" Vetra asked.

"Innocents? They're criminals. You helped them get away from me. You think I'm gonna let that go? Get comfortable. You'll be here a while."

"Case of mistaken identity?" Max asked.

"I'm just as lost as you are." Vetra replied.

"It's okay, Vetra. You don't have to cover for us." Another voice suddenly said.

Several people of different races, colonists by the looks of them, emerged from out of the darkness. "That was Merriweather. She runs a smuggling ring on Kadara. We worked for her. Vetra helped us get out of it. New lives, hiding in the outposts."

"So you're helping people. There was no need for that modesty…" said Scott.

"It's not modesty! I didn't help anyone!" Vetra interrupted forcefully.

"Okay, okay, you didn't help anyone!"

"I'm getting out of here."

"We've tried. There's no way out." One of the colonists.

"There's always a way out." Said Vetra.


A quick look around the large cell revealed a door of some kind.

"Hmm. Locked. EDI?" Sara said.

"Door controls are not accessible from here." The AI said.

"There has to be a way out." Said Scott.

"You're Helldivers. Can't you just punch through the wall?" Max asked.

"These walls are made of metal and they're far too thick. All we'll end up doing is breaking our hands." Scott replied.

"Explosives maybe?" Max asked.

"There's a vacuum outside and these people don't have breathing equipment." Said Sara.

"I can open the doors from my end, but they're powered down. We need to get them going again." A voice suddenly said over the comms.

"You're end? Who are you?" Sara asked hesitantly.

"I don't like the sound of this, Ryder." Said Vetra, sharing Sara's caution.

"Just get those doors some power." The voice said.

"Vetra, is it just me or does that sound an awful lot like you?" Max asked.

"No, it doesn't. It sounds exactly like me." Vetra replied.

"Yeah, I thought so. Your voice is unique." Max nodded.

"What?"

"Oh, er… nothing. Sorry. Forget I said anything."

"Anyway, there's a generator here that appears functional." Said Sara, changing the subject.

"No way to know until we try." Scott shrugged.

"Couldn't have put it better myself, Scott." Sara nodded.

The generator seemed to turn on fine, but with nothing connected to it, it didn't do much.

"Well it works. Now we just need to get the power flowing to that door." Said Sara.

She was suddenly taken by surprise when several thick cables fell on her.

"Hey! What the…"

"Would those help?" Max asked from the top floor, clearly trying not to laugh at Sara's reaction.

Sur enough, plugging the cables in seemed to do the trick and the door opened.

"Aaaaaand… there you go!" the voice said. "Oh crud! Hacking the door tripped a silent alarm. If the guards see Galloway and the others, they're dead. We gotta hide them!"

"Everyone, in here!" Max said, opening a nearby door.

All the colonists hurried inside and the group locked the door behind them as they too got in.

"Are they gone? Is it safe?" one of the colonists asked.

"It should be." Said Sara. "Any second… Now."

The faint sound of an explosion could be heard and the place shook slightly.

"Good thinking, Sara." Scott smiled under his helmet.

"I have my moments." Sara smiled back.

"Is everyone okay?" the voice asked.

"Sidera Nyx, you've been pretending to be me, haven't you?!" Vetra asked crossly.

"Errr, how did you…"

"Think I don't recognize my own tricks? And stop using my voice!" Vetra replied.

The voice changed. Sure enough, it was now Sid's voice over the comms.

"Sorry. It was just easier to get things done when people thought I was you. You know, because you have contacts, and… stuff."

"Sid!" Vetra sighed.

"So you didn't help us, just like you said. It was…"

"Yeah. My kid sister." Vetra finished.

"Messing with Kadara gangs? She put people in real danger." Said Scott with concern.

"It'll never happen again, I swear."

"I just wanted to help. All Galloway and his lot wanted was a new start."

"Enough. Your ass is getting in a shuttle and booking it back to the Nexus!" Vetra interrupted with force.

"But I can help you get everyone out of here." Sid objected.

"You hacked a door without checking for safeguards. That's help we don't need."

"So walk me through it. I got eyes on the base."

"Ryder?"

"Don't look at me. She's your sister." Scott shrugged.

"Great. Thanks for the backup." Vetra sighed. "Fine, Sid. But follow my instructions and don't' get creative."

"We'll stay put and follow you when its safe. Don't want to get caught in the cross fire."

"The sooner we get going, the better. Sid will alert us if anything's heading our way."

"Head down the corridor through the mess hall. That's the quickest." Sid said as they left the area.

"Before we go further, are you in a safe spot?"

"Yeah. I'm tapped into their system from outside. Shuttle's well hidden. Trust me, I know what I'm doing."

"Did you know your sister was messing around impersonating you?" Scott asked.

"Do you think I would've let her if I knew? This explains a bunch of the strange reactions I've gotten from some of my associates. Shit, I have no idea what else she's done in my name." Vetra sighed.


"Sid, can you see the colonists?" Vetra asked.

"Yes. They're playing it safe, keeping to corners. I'll keep an eye on them, promise." Sid replied.


"Sid, we're going to need you to hack into systems to cause a disruption." said Scott as they reached the entrance to a large room full of guards.

"Right."

"Only one. Get in and get out. Too much messing around and they'll track you down." Vetra added.

Looking through the cameras, they observed quite a few guards. Nothing they couldn't handle, but still…

"I can send a surge of power to that generator." Sid suggested.

"The electrical discharge from that could take out some of them." Vetra nodded.

"Agreed. Sid, overload it as soon as we walk through the door." Said Scott.

"You got it."

The moment the door opened, the generator exploded taking out almost half of the guards instantly. The rest fell from gunfire before they knew what hit them.

"Did you really have to kill them all?" Sid asked disapprovingly once all the guards were dead.

"It was either them or us." Max shrugged.

"Would you prefer they went after your friends?" Vetra asked rhetorically.

"No, but… Never mind. Take that passageway next. It'll take you through… huh, it looks like a bunch of cages?"

"What the hell is happening? Who's messing with security? Why are the feeds down? Someone answer me!" Merriweather ordered over the comms.

Seems she'd finally noticed someone was inside the system. Sara only hoped Sid wouldn't' be found. She'd done something very similar to this in her career once so she knew from experience how difficult it was to remain hidden and not get traced. And Sid was just a young woman, not a soldier or a Helldiver. Sara could only hope the Turian knew what she was doing, for Vetra's sake if not her own.

"Galloway, stay where you are. There's guards In the corridor right by you. They're moving on… okay… good, you're clear." Sid said over the comm.

"Thanks, Sid. That was a close one."


The next room ahead was the same as before. Loads of cages were inside the room, al containing some kind of creature. One of them even had a Kett fiend in it. Scott and Sara had grown to hate those. They were just as tough as they looked and they hit hard enough to crush a Helldiver inside their own suit, a feat not easily achieved by a living organism.

"Turrets. Those might be a problem." Vetra said as the camera caught sight of two turrets on standby.

"I could turn them off or charge the attack protocols." Sid suggested.

"That seems best. Turn those turrets on Merriweather's men. That should get them out of our way." Scott nodded.

"Here we go."

Despite the turrets however, the fiend got released from its cage. Everyone kept their distance though and managed to bring it down…. eventually, after having gone through every thermal clip they had and even using Scott and Sara's plasma cannons no much they had actually needed to cool down and recharge.

"That was intense." Sara panted.

"Tell me about it." Vetra agreed.

"That thing was so big. You guys were amazing. Anyway, you should head through the workshop next. That's the direct way out." Said Sid.

"There's a rat in the system. I want this rat caught. Double the rations for anyone that does it." Merriweather ordered.


One more room lay ahead. Same drill as before, the group examined their options.

"I could dump out whatever's in those tanks." Sid suggested.

"That stuff cuts right through shields. If we're not careful, that'll hurt both them and us." Vetra advised.

"We can keep our distance and our helmets will stop us breathing it in.. Sid, release the gas." Said Scott.

"Okay, but be careful. I can't control where the gas goes."


"That was really awful. I knew you guys did stuff like this, but helping you do it… its different." said Sid once the battle was over.

"That's why I never wanted you involved in the things I did. You can't have excitement and adventure if you can't handle pain and blood." Vetra sighed.

"Well, I guess its straight through the door next."

"What do we have coming up?" Vetra asked… there was a pause. "Sid?"

"Uh… looks like…"

"Sid?"

"I think… I think someone found my shuttle. I can hear… I think I gotta… oh no!"

"Sid! Sid, come in!" Vetra yelled. "They found her! They're gonna kill her! Why'd you have to go be the hero, Sid?! Stupid! So so stupid!"

"Sid's leverage. They won't kill her just yet. We just have to be quick." Said Scott.

"You're right."

"We'll get her back, Vetra." Said Max, trying to sound supportive.

"I think I can trace Sid's signal. Should take us to her. No time to waste, but we have to be careful. They have my sister." Vetra said.

"So you're the one who's been killing my people." They heard Merriweather say over the comm.

"I didn't. I didn't kill anyone. I don't even know how to shoot a gun." Sid said.

"You want your rat, Vetra Nyx? You come to me."

"Help!"


Everyone kept their guns ready as their made their way into the room. There were guards all around on the high ground.

Not too much of a bother fro Scott and Sara due to their armour, but a problem for the non-Helldivers, especially Sid who Merriweather had personally, along with a grenade in her other hand.

"Think carefully about your next move, Pathfinder." She warned.

"That explodes, it takes you out too." Scott warned.

"Its gonna be okay, Sid. We're going to get you out of this." Vetra said, trying to sound reassuring.

"Come on, that's a kid you've got there. She's not a threat. Let her go." Said Sara.

"She hacked my security and she's as tall as you are." Merriweather laughed. "Guns on the ground.

Scott gently sank down to his knees and motioned for the others to do the same.

"Get ready." he whispered.

Vetra and everyone else gave a tiny nod.

"Now."

With almost lightning speed, Max suddenly drew his pistol and fired a single shot which knocked the grenade right out of Merriweather's hand and caused her to stagger back, losing grip on Sid.

Vetra seized the opportunity and grabbed the grenade, activing and throwing it at the guards who had started opening fire. They only had a second to react before the grenade took out most of them.

"Get them! Kill all of them!" Merriweather ordered

"Sid, get down! Stay down!" Vetra yelled as Scott and Sara covered Sid, allowing some of the rounds from the mercs to hit them instead of the young Turian.

"Don't worry, Sid! They're not taking you this time!" said Max, taking several more guards with headshots from his rifle and pistol.


The fight was long hard, but in the end the only the group were left standing.

"Are you alright? Are you hurt?" Vetra asked.

"I… I think I'm okay." Sid replied, sounding slightly in shock.

"Helps on the way. We're all good, thanks to you." Said Galloway.

"I didn't mean for any of this. I'm sorry. Okay?" Sid said as she slumped against a nearby crate.

"You can't just mess about with people from Kadara. They're dangerous." Said Vetra.

"I just… these guys wanted to start over, not be exiles anymore. No one else was giving them a chance so I thought I can do that. I can help.

"That's not your decision to make, Sid." Said Scott.

"I don't want you hurt. There are ugly sides to what I do and you shouldn't have to deal with them." Vetra agreed.

"You started out when you were my age and you managed okay." Sid argued.

"That wasn't by choice! You saw what we did here. This isn't all fun and games, Sid!" Vetra argued back.

"Yeah. I was shocked at first but I understand now, and I can handle it."

"I don't want you to have to!"

"Whatever! I'm going back to the Nexus, like you wanted!"

With that, Sid stormed off into the shuttle.

"That was intense. Are you alright?" Max asked.

"Fine. I just need some time to think." Vetra replied. She then turned to Scott. "At least the settlers are safe. Thanks for helping me out with this, Ryder. Can we just get moving now?"

"If you ever wanna talk…" Max tried to say.

"It's okay, Max. Really." Vetra interrupted. "But thanks. I appreciate it."


After returning to the Tempest, Scott headed down just to make sure the Turian really was okay. Unsurprisingly, he found Max was already there before him.

"Damn it, Sid!" Vetra sighed.

"What's going on?" Scott asked.

"I get influence with power players only to have it squandered by a sister calling in favours under my name!" Vetra complained. "Do you know she got the genome for… What is it? "Cats, pulled from storage." One, there's no place to grow anything right now. Two, it seems they aren't even a food. So why?"

"Lots of people love cats. They make them happy." Scott shrugged.

"I don't think we're in a position to put amusement over necessities." Said Vetra. "She just doesn't think. Tries to help everyone, damn the consequences. And she thinks what we do is so exciting but doesn't understand what it takes."

"Well… it is kind of exciting. We make people's lives better." Scott said.

"You make it sound so wonderful. We see some real shit." Vetra sighed.

"But we don't quit, because what we do matters."

"It does, doesn't it? Even on the worst days, knowing we make a difference…"

"To make a difference is probably all Sid wants."

"But what f she gets herself into another mess? What if she gets hurt?"

"Whatever happens… Scott, Sara, me, we're here for the both of you. I care about Sid, because I care about you." Max finally said.

"Max, I… I don't know what to say."

"You don't have to say anything." The Hunter said. "How about I let you get back to work?"


Sara meanwhile had headed down to the cargo bay to check on the trap she'd set earlier.

Inside the cage was a most surprising sight.

A hamster.

Not a normal milky way hamster though. This one was clearly from Andromeda. Despite the differences though, it was still undeniably a hamster.

"Hi there. You must be the one eating all our cereal." Said Sara, unable to hold back a smile as she observed the little creature.

The hamster scurried around inside the trap giving a somewhat frightened squeak.

"Hey, its okay. No one's going to eat you." Said Sara reassuring.

Somehow, this actually seemed to calm the hamster who now started to squeak with curiosity.

"Aw. You're the most adorable critter I've met in Andromeda so far. I should find you somewhere safer than our cargo bay." Sara smiled. "How about a nice warm cage in my quarters and all the cereal you can eat?"

As if understanding her, the hamster gave a more happy squeak causing the woman to smile.

"Guess everybody around here needs a home."

She then slowly opened the cage and gently put her hand in to stroke the hamster. She made sure to be both slow and gentle so as not to scare it.

The hamster cautiously sniffed her hand for a few moments. Finally it was convinced that the Helldiver meant no harm and climbed up onto Sara's hand. As Sara gently stroked the hamster with her finger it squeaked happily.

"Suvi's gonna love you." Sara chuckled as the hamster nuzzled her nose.


"Hey, Suvi. Look what I found." She smiled, holding the tiny hamster in her hands.

"What have you got…"

The moment Suvi's eyes met the hamster however, her mouth hung open in both surprise and shock.

"Oh my god, that's adorable!" she practically squeaked in such a high pitched voice that Sara worried something had happened to her.

Even the hamster was a bit surprised by this and fidgeted slightly in Sara's hands. It seemed to calm down though once Suvi allowed it to sniff her.

"He so cute. Where'd he come from?" the scientist asked.

"I'm not sure. But apparently he's the one that's been eating our cereal." Sara replied. "I… may have also kind of decided to keep him as a pet…"

Suvi looked at Sara with a questioning look. The Helldiver's concern however was short lived when Suvi simply smiled and shook her head.

"Dammit, Sara. I'm a doctor, not an animal expert."

She noticed however that Sara seemed to be chuckling at something, but trying to hide it.

"What? What's so funny?" she asked in confusion. But then it hit her. "Oh. I see what I said there. Anyway, I'm sure he'll be fine as a pet. Besides, how could anyone say no to that sweet little face?"

"I know. Couldn't bear the thought of releasing him off world." Sara smiled. She noticed that Suvi was now smiling at her. "What?"

"It just make me happy to see you caring like that, especially for something so adorable." Suvi said, planting a kiss on Sara's cheek.

Sara just simply smiled and looked back at the hamster who was now looking directly at her.

"Hear that little, guy? She also thinks you're cute."

The hamster once again just gave a happy squeak.


Scott meanwhile had headed down to talk to Jaal. As he entered though he found the Angara seemed preoccupied.

"Hey, Jaal?"

Jaal became somewhat startled by this and ended up dropping something as he whirled round in alarm.

"Didn't mean to scare you." he said apologetically.

"What? I'm not scared. One second."

"What's going on in here? You look busy." Scott asked.

"If I'm busy, my mind is occupied with whatever I'm working on rather than worrying."

"Whatever gets you through." Scott shrugged.

"I'd like your advice on something. I'm making gifts for everyone. I have a list."

"Gifts?"

"Do Turians like poetry? For Vetra, I'm writing a poem and engraving it on… I'm not sure yet."

"Who doesn't like a personalized poem?" Scott simply replied.

"Great. Maybe I could just recite it for her."

"Make sure me and Max are there for that." Scott added.

"Liam seems to like my Rofjinn. I might sew him one."

"He does?"

"Do Krogan like knives? I could craft a ceremonial angaran dagger for Drack."

"Who wouldn't want that?"

"It's mainly decorative. Would you like one?" Jaal asked.

"Jaal. This is a lot of work. What's really going on?" Scott asked, back.

"I'm sure that I seem confident and skilled to you. But I'm not. Or, I don't feel like I am."

"I know how you feel. I feel like that a lot."

"Good to know. Thanks for sharing that."

"Just be yourself."

"My family is well-known. Our lineage is respected, and many of my kin have achieved great things. I've never been one of them. SO many older siblings and cousins who succeeded at everything- I stopped trying to keep up."

"Right."

"Thanks for listening."

"You're not in anyone's shadow here. I believe in you." Said Scott supportingly. "So what about Max and Ali?"

"Max I imagine will simply be happy with any Kett salvage, of which I and the resistance have plenty to spare I can assure you." Jaal replied. "Ali however… I'm not sure yet. Even though she's half Krogan… a dagger just doesn't seem right for her. She is a warrior unlike any I've known before, and an incredibly strong one too."

"Perhaps instead think of her as a Helldiver?" Scott suggested.

"Again though, she isn't technically one now. Also, you Helldivers are… difficult for me to read. Its your insistence with hiding your faces under those helmets. Makes you unpredictable, even intimidating." Said Jaal.

"To be fair, that is kind of the idea." Said Scott. "But anyway, if you're struggling that much to think of something, why don't I help? There might be hints I could find or something."

"I… suppose if that would help." Jaal agreed. "Be discreet though. I wouldn't want her to get the wrong impression, nor would I want the surprise to be ruined."

"Understood."


Scott checked to make sure the coast was clear. Thankfully, there was no sign of Ali.

"Good. Looks like she's somewhere else right now." He said to himself.

Scott made sure to be both careful and respectful of Ali's stuff as he looked around. Last thing he wanted to go was get on Ali's bad side. Given also that she kept her makeshift quarters very tidy, she was bound to notice if something was out of place.

As Scott attempted to scan for something he made note of how Ali had all her weapons stowed in a nearby locker. All of them strapped in place and neatly disassembled for cleaning.

"Hmm. Jaal could always give her a gun… but then again she's already got several. Maybe's there's something else." He said to himself.

A nearby crate was positioned underneath the Arkane's makeshift hammock, upon which her armour was set. Again, laid out neatly so it both looked tidy and also prevented any of the pieces from being mixed up.

"I doubt she'll want any more armour. She's probably too big for anything Jaal's got anyway." Scott said.

He was almost about to give up after that until he suddenly caught sight of something. In case she needed to throw something away, Ali had a bin nearby. Most of the stuff in there just perfectly normal rubbish, but there was one particular item that caught Scott's eye.

"Huh. A whetstone. Why would she put this in the trash?" he asked.

"I believe I can answer that, Ryder." EDI suddenly said. "Playing back recording."

A hologram of Ali suddenly appeared in front of Scott. She was sat on a crate sharpening her axe with the same whetstone now in the bin. From the look on the Arkane's face though and the rate at which she was frantically trying to sharpen it, it wasn't getting sharp.

Eventually Ali became so frustrated that she threw the stone in the bin and sighed.

To Scott, that seemed to be the answer

"She might actually appreciate a new whetstone. I'd imagine the Angara use some themselves." He said.


"Well?" Jaal asked.

"I looked around and it seems she has recently been frustrated with the whetstone she uses to sharpen her axe. It has seen better days and she wants to get a new one." Scott said.

"Hmmm. The Angara do also use stones to sharpen their knives and blades…" Jaal said as he considered Scott's suggestion. "But is that really the best I can give her? Everyone else is receiving something noteworthy, and all she gets is a stone?"

"It's the thought that counts, Jaal. You mean well, it's something she can put to good use and its something she's currently in need of." Scott said supportingly.

"You're certain?"

"Absolutely. And if I'm wrong, you may tell her it was my idea and I'll do all the apologizing."

"I see. Thank you, Ryder. I appreciate your assistance."

"Any time, Jaal."

As Jaal finished handing out all the other gifts to everyone, Ali was the last one left. Jaal picked up the box and presented to the Arkane.

"And finally for you, Ali." He said. "I admit, I struggled for a time to think of what would be suitable for you."

Ali opened the box.

"An Angaran stone used to sharpen blades and knives. I believe your galaxy uses the term "whetstone"

The Arkane remained silent for a while, her expression remaining rather blank and unreadable. For a moment, Scott worried he might have made a terrible mistake.

Then Ali finally spoke.

"I… thank you, Jaal." She said, sounding a bit surprised, but pleasantly so. "I'll be able to put this to good use, I'm sure."

"You are welcome." Said Jaal, bowing his head with satisfied smile.

With that all done, everyone returned to their stations. Ali was the last to leave as she temporarily looked back at Jaal. For a split second, Scott thought he saw her smile before she turned and left.

"That seemed to go well." said Scott. "She looked surprised, in a good way."

"I think she really did appreciate it, even if she didn't show that well." Said Jaal.

"Jaal, I have a question, of which you do not have to answer if would prefer not to. Do you have a thing for her?" Scott asked.

Jaal was silent for a very long time. Then finally he answered.

"Maybe. I don't not know for certain yet." He replied.

"Huh. Didn't see that coming." Scott said.

"You give the impression it is… unusual." Said Jaal.

"I'm just surprised is all. No offence, but I didn't think she was your type. She's bigger, taller and stronger than you. Again, no offence."

"None taken." Jaal nodded. "I've never known a woman like her, angaran or alien. Out of all your crew of species from another galaxy, I will admit she is my favourite. There are times when she may be a bit impulsive and a little aggressive, perhaps even a little too wild… but she is a strong woman, and not just physically. Also in a way, I feel like I understand her. I too know what it is like to lose friends who fight at your side. Um, don't tell her I said that."

"Do you think she might feel the same way?" Scott asked.

"No. And I wouldn't expect her to. I am from a different galaxy to her and she is better off with someone who is on the same level as her." Jaal replied, trying to sound modest.

"That doesn't mean you should assume she couldn't be interested."

"Regardless, she liked the gift and that is what matters." Jaal said, a bit more sternly this time. "Thank you again for your help, Ryder."


Scott refused to leave it at that. If Ali knew about this…

As he entered the cargo bay again, he found Ali sat on one of her crates, using the new whetstone on her axe. Unlike in the recording, she was being a lot more gentle and slow. She even seemed to be calm and smiling a little as she did it. At the very least that gave the impression that the stone was working even better than expected. At the very least, her blade looked a lot sharper.

"Ali?"

"Ryder. What brings you here this time?" the Arkane asked warmly, temporarily stopping what she was doing and focusing on Scott.

"Just thought I'd see if that whetstone Jaal gave you is any good. Might ask for one myself." Scott replied.

"I won't deny, it's certainly made my axe look sharper than it has in a long time. But only a field test will determine if its improved the sharpness. Still, him giving me this saves me the trouble of trying to acquire one." Ali said as she admired her now sharpened axe.

"What's your general opinion of Jaal, if you don't mind me asking?" Scott asked.

"He seems alright." Ali shrugged. "He's done well to settle in, he's a capable fighter, these gifts show that he cares… He's a good ally to have fighting at our side."

"Is that it?"

"I'll admit, I didn't much care at first when I first met him. But our time working together has certainly opened my eyes. There's more to him than just being a typical soldier. He cares for his people, he tries to save everyone, he fights for a cause he believes in… he's worthy of respect, and that's high praise coming from someone like me or any Krogan."

"I think he might have a thing for you." Said Scott, making sure to not say it in a teasing way.

Ali's expression went from relaxed to surprise almost instnaly.

"What?"

"He could've just given you a knife like he gave to Drack, but he didn't think that was quite right for you. He wanted your gift to really mean something. That says a lot." Said Scott, now making it sound like he was implying that Jaal was attracted to her.

"You must be mistaken, Ryder. Why would Jaal be attracted to me, of all people? I'm a Krogan half-blood that revels in bloodshed and disembowelling people. That isn't exactly an attractive trait for an Angara. Well, at least I think it isn't." said Ali, sounding rather unconvinced.

"There's more to you than that though. You have a strong spirit, and a heart that's in the right place." Said Scott supportingly.

"You sure it's just him now that's interested? Because you're complimenting me an awful lot." Ali asked as she stood up.

"I didn't mean it like that." Scott with embarrassment.

"Ryder, if you desire to mate with me, you only need to ask." Ali said suggestively.

Scott's mouth suddenly went dry at that. Had Ali actually just said that?

"Ali…"

"Aw, too intimidated?" she asked suggestively as she slowly started to advance on him.

"I'm not… I wasn't…"

"You think you can handle me? Think you'd be an effective mate?" Ali asked as she pushed Scott against one of the Nomad's wheels with just one hand. Scott tried to push her off gently, but she was too strong.

"Now look, Ali, I…"

The Arkane then moved her face so close to Scott's that he worried she was about to kiss him.

"Let's find out." she whispered in his ear.

Scott heart now beat so fast in his chest. This had not been at all what he'd intended to happen. Not to mention also, rather to his shame, Ali's advances had made a little aroused. Especially due to the fact that the Arkane's mandibles were flaring.

Unlike when they had first met when she had flared them angrily, this time they were flaring gently and back and forth. Scott knew from Helldiver studies regarding the Arkanes that that was a sign of arousal.

"Ali, I don't want to mate with you." Scott finally manged to say seriously as he felt her hand start to journey lower. "No offence at all to you, I'm sure you… have much to offer. But I'm not into you that way…"

He was about to say even more on the subject, when he noticed that Ali rather suspiciously looked like she was trying to keep a straight face. More and more… it looked like she was trying not to laugh.

"Wait a minute… are you just teasing me?" he asked.

"Almost had you there, didn't I?" Ali smiled.

Scott literally couldn't believe it. He'd been played by a fellow Helldiver. He genuinely had thought that she was being serious to the point where she actually would have… been intimate with him.

In fairness, it was only because he Jaal was attracted to her that he had resisted. Otherwise he probably might have taken her up on that offer. True he and Peebee spent a lot of time together, but that was more just casual sex for fun. If this had happened yesterday before he'd found out about Jaal having a thing for her, he'd probably be in his quarters with her by now… probably exhausted with Ali having never broken a sweat.

"Don't worry, Ryder. I was just messing with you." Ali chuckled, gently punching him in the shoulder, or at least it was her version of gentle. "Trust me when I say, if I wanted you that way, I wouldn't have bothered trying to seduce you. I'd have just taken you here and now."

"You are a cruel woman." Scott said, this time a bit crossly.

Admittedly, he wasn't cross with her. He was more just cross about the fact that he'd fallen for it and had been practically stuttering and lost for words as a result. He should've been braver, perhaps even tried to play along or call her bluff. But he didn't.

"You males are all the same. You talk big, but crumble before the sight of a woman." Ali smiled as she shook her head and sat back down on the crate.

"When they're as big and tall as you, certainly."

"Does make me wonder about what you said though. You really think Jaal is interested in me?" Ali asked.

"I couldn't hurt to find out. Though I don't think you should try all those advances on him. He's not as… understanding about your strange sense of humour as I am." Said Scott.

"I will… attempt to spend more time with him. There is still much we do not know about each other." Said Ali.

Scott felt it best to just leave it at that. As he turned to leave however, he felt he had to at least ask one more thing?

"Can I just ask? What if I had said yes? Would you have gone along with it?"

"Would you consider it a compliment if I said yes?" Ali asked back teasingly.

"Maybe."

"Let me put it to you this way, Ryder. The only reason I didn't tear your uniform off with my teeth and have my way with you is because you're already taken. If I wanted you to be my mate, Krogan traditions would demand that I kill the rival female to claim you. And no offence to Peebee, but I doubt she'd even present a challenge."

"That's… good. I think."

"To answer your question though… oh yes." Ali said, giving Scott a wink which made him feel all more humiliated. "Take as a compliment if you will, or don't. It doesn't matter."

"Okay. I'm just gonna… go."

"Until next time." Ali simply smiled as Scott left. She then simply shook her head and sighed.

"Oh humans." She chuckled. "Always so gullible."


Was very tempted for that to become an actual sex scene, but felt it wasn't quite right what with Jaal being attracted to her.

And I should point out that I fully intend to go through with this. Jaal will indeed be with Ali by the end of the whole story just as Max will be with Vetra.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the chapter, I'll be doing the Turian ark for the next one, with maybe a few extras as well.

Until then.

Chapter Text

And here we have the Turian ark chapter. At the same time though, this chapter does include bits that will play roles in future chapters, so it will still feel important.

Hope you enjoy.


Chapter 10

Not Dead Yet

Their next destination was Havarl. Scott had suddenly been reminded by Jaal of how he was supposed to have been sent there before first contact, and had hoped they could take care of that soon.

Now seemed as good a time as any. Right now, Scott had decided for them to prioritize looking for the other arks before going after Archon's ship. Although plenty of Helldiver teams had been scouring the galaxy, they hadn't yet found any leads. So for now, it felt best to sort out whatever was needed on Havaral.

A Scott and Sara walked onto the bridge, they caught their first glimpse of the planet. Even all the way up in orbit it looked a lot prettier than previous planets they'd explored in Andromeda.

Their moment of enjoying the view however was interrupted by the loud vocal announcement from a familiar Asari.

"Kallo is playing Galaga!" Peebee suddenly said, pointing at the pilot. "He thought we wouldn't notice… but we did."

When everyone looked round though, there was no sign of any game on Kallo's screens. The Salarian didn't even seem to acknowledge what the asari had said and just ignored it.

Forced to conclude that Peebee had probably just made that awkward statement out of boredom, Scott turned back to the view outside.

"Take us down, Kallo."


As the Tempest entered the atmosphere, they flew past several large flying creatures that in a way resembled stingrays. Suvi naturally smiled at their majesticness.

For Scott and Sara however, those things unfortunately brought back some unpleasant memories…

"Sara? You looked troubled." Suvi said with concern.

"Sorry, it's just… those things… the way they just fly like that… they remind me too much of Hellspawn War Machines." The Helldiver sighed.

"Me too. We lost good friends to those things." Scott also sighed in agreement.

Sara's troubled thoughts though were interrupted when she felt Suvi's hand suddenly hold hers in a very reassuring way.

"It's okay, Sara." She smiled.

This seemed to brighten Sara's mood and she smiled back.


They landed just outside the outpost and continued on foot. Jaal had notified the Angara in charge Kiiran, that they were coming.

"Jaal. We heard about the Moshae's rescue. I'm so relieved. We were all worried for her. This must be the Helldiver Ryder. I am honoured." She said.

"Where's the rest of the team?" Jaal asked. "Ryder has experience with Remnant. We might be able to help their investigations."

"You haven't heard? While the team was exploring the monolith, something went horribly wrong. They were caught in some kind of remnant stasis field. Frozen in place. Unresponsive." Kiiran replied.

"I know how to work Remnant tech. I can help you." Scott offered.

"We've tried everything we can think of. I suppose it's worth trying this. The monolith is not far from here. See what you can do. But be careful. We don't know what triggered the stasis, and it may happen again."


They headed to the site to sure enough find the team frozen in some kind of stasis field. For Scott though, it was a simple matter of scanning the glyphs and accessing the main panel.

What was most surprising however was the way the angara acted as they unfroze.

"…the monitors and… What? Who are… How did you…" one of them stuttered in shock.

"I'm Ryder, Andromeda Imitative. I'm… from another galaxy. Take a moment, find your bearings." Scott said calmly.

"More aliens? Out of nowhere. And Jaal?" the Angara said.

"Do none of you remember getting frozen?" Jaal asked.

"Frozen? I don't understand. We were just working on the monolith and then… and then you appeared." The angara explained.

"You should return to Palev. Kiiran will want to speak to you." Scott suggested.

"Maybe you're right."

"We should make sure they return to the station. Who knows what lingering effects they might suffer." Said Jaal.


Returning to the outpost, they found Torvar already in talk with Kiiran.

"What do you mean "grey spikey aliens"? Kett?" she asked.

"No. These were different. We were doing a survey of the area and saw them, before the freeze." Torvar replied. He then noticed Vetra and pointed at her. "They look like that one, with Ryder."

"Turians?" Vetra asked in surprise. "You saw Turians on this planet?"

"Why don't you and Torvar talk about that later. Right now, I want to thank you for saving my team." Kiiran said.

"You weren't lying. Kiiran told us everything. She even had pictures"

"Your rescue of the Moshae already proved you could be trusted, but this… we are blessed to have you as an ally."

"The feeling is mutual." Scott said respectfully. "Anyway, you mentioned something about Turians on Havaral?"

"Here are the coordinates for their encampment. We don't know what they're doing here, but since they came with you to this galaxy they are probably not here with hostile intentions." Said Torvar.

"They might not even be here by choice. Ark Natanus is still missing in action." Scott said with concern.


The walk to the supposed encampment was far from a clam one. Whilst Havaral was an incredibly pretty planet, its appearance was deceiving in housing many hazards and dangers. The wildlife was savage ad ferocious, the terrain was uneven and overgrown, it was dark, and the group also had to be constantly vigilant in case they were attacked by Roekaar.

Jaal had warned them about the Roekaar. A faction of Angara who hated aliens.

Scott couldn't help but make comparisons between them and the terrorist organization Hellspawn. In truth, the two were almost exactly the same. Both had a hatred of races that were not their own and both had a desire to eliminate these invaders.

Some differences to note however was that Roekaar weren't any more advanced than the rest of the Angara. They pretty much just used what they had. Hellspawn on the other hand had been almost as technologically advanced as the Helldivers that they waged a civil war with. In fairness though that was because their leader was a fallen Helldiver himself.

Even so, the similarities were difficult to not compare.

Sure enough, the group found the encampment under fire from Roekaar. Their assistance however quickly turned the tide.

One final Angara remained only to then be shot in the stomach by one of the Turians.

"Shot to the gut. Painful." He said. He then finished the Angara off with a shot to the head and turned to Scott and the others. "I appreciate the help back there. Name's Avitus Rix. Sorry if my methods seem extreme. Civilian life is… trying."

"Ryder. Human Pathfinder. You former military?" Scott asked.

"A Spectre. Special tactics and reconnaissance. Did the council's dirty work or fifteen years." Avitus replied.

"So you're used to be being above the law?" Scott asked bitterly.

Helldivers and Spectres had never got long very long, even before the Imitative. The Helldivers took issue with the fact that Spectres had no rules, regulations or code to keep them from abusing their power.

"Well good thing there are no laws in Andromeda, huh? The initiative was my retirement plan, then Natanus hit the Scourge and bam! Woke up here." Avitus answered.

"What happened? Where's the ark?" Scott asked.

"No idea. Had to break out of my own damn stasis pod."

"A fall like that should've killed you."

"Those pods are sturdier than they look. But most of the Turian population is still missing, including Mayson, our Pathfinder. Our SAM hasn't transferred to me so he's alive. Just don't know where."

"The SAM node was probably destroyed when the Natanus hit the Scourge. You're better off without those AIs anyway.

"I'd know if he was dead. Mayson dedicated his life to Andromeda. He's too stubborn to die now."

"We need every Pathfinder we can get."

"The debris and stasis pods from Natanus are scattered across the sector. Between the two of us, we should find something."

"The settlers here need your help."

"I'm a stock gap. Mayson is the solution." Avitus said. He then activated his omni tool. "Here's my frequency. Call when you find something."


They got a lead on stasis pods being found which lead them to Elaaden.

"Stasis pods from Ark Natanus." Said EDI.

"Are any of them alive?" Scott asked, worrying that he already knew the answer as the Nomad stopped near the pods.

"Unknown."

A quick scan unfortunately confirmed their fears.

"No life forms detected, Ryder." Said EDI.

"They're all dead." Vetra sighed sadly.

"EDI, check the pod's history." Scott said, scanning another pod.

"According to the final log, this stasis pod was jettisoned from ark Natanus." Said EDI.

"Maybe when it hit the scourge." Said Vetra.

"The timeline does not match. This pod was ejected long after Natanus was reported missing." EDI CORRECTED.

"We assumed the ark was destroyed… but maybe it's intact. The crew could still be alive." Scott said with surprise.

"And dumping colonists in stasis? That's worse." Said Vetra.


Returning to the Tempest, Scott contacted Avitus. Oddly enough, the timing seemed most opportune.

"Ryder, I was just about to call you." He said.

"Everything alright?" Scott asked.

"Got a message on my omni tool. Numbers, coordinates. I think it's an SOS… from Mayson." Avitus explained.

"We did find evidence that Natanus may be intact. A bunch of stasis pods were jettisoned from the ark. No survivors. But the logs show it happened long after Natanus hit the scourge." Said Scott.

"So someone's still flying the damn thing."

"Or keeping it afloat at least."

"Here are the coordinates. Meet me there. We'll find answers."


They found the ark on the edge of the Remav system. Unsurprisingly, it was heavily damaged externally. Scans did show plenty of pods still intact along with many thousands of Turians still alive in them.

When

"Limited power, life supports busted… I'm surprised there's any gravity at all." said Scott.

"There's too much internal damage for this to be just the Scourge. It looks as though they were boarded." Said Scott.

"By whom? The no sign of any Kett, and there's still thousands of intact stasis pods. If the intruders were attempting to capture the ark, they failed. But then why are there no survivors, or anyone else for that matter?" Avitus asked with confusion.

"We'll find out. Come on. Speculating won't get us anywhere."


"Ryder, I have managed to find a video log from the ark's captain." Said EDI.

"Play it." Avitus ordered.

"Something's boarded the Natanus. SAM'S offline, half the cryo chamber is gone and its slaughtering everyone in its path. Trying to get everyone still alive to the escape pods. Spirits, there's no time. Find Mayson…"

The captain was interrupted however by a sudden crash.

"Oh no!"

Just before the recording cut out, a laugh could very clearly be heard. A deep and almost terrifying laugh. Scott and the others knew that laugh all too well. A voice that sounded as though it was coming from the darkest depths of hell itself…

"The Dark One." Scott bitterly. "I guess the internal damage makes a lot more sense now."

"That thing did all this by itself?" Avitus said in surprise.

"He's as powerful as they come." Said Scott.

"The ark must've only just escaped from him, which means he could very well find it again. We need to hurry."


Searching further through Natanus, they finally came across what should have been the ark's SAM node.

Upon entering however, they were met with a most alarming sight. The whole room was a complete mess of wreckage and destruction.

"Spirits. What the hell happened to it?" Avitus asked in shock.

"No signs. The SAM node has been completely destroyed." Said EDI.

"There must be a way to recover it." said Avitus.

"There isn't. Every part has been completely fried from Dark Energy exposure." EDI clarified.

"The Dark One must've destroyed it when he got on-board." Said Scott. "That means the autopilot's the one that brought the ark here. It's the only explanation. Must've then sent out the coordinates too."

"So that means Mayson's dead too. The implant…"

"That is incorrect. Logs from the SAM node indicate that it safely cut the connection to Mayson just before being destroyed in hopes of preventing a premature death." Said EDI.

"So where is he now?" Avitus asked, this time in frustration.

"There's more. I have manged to recover a final log. It is dated just after the AI's destruction."

Once again, they heard Mayson's voice.

"Avi, that thing... Whatever the hell it was that attacked the ark… we escaped it, but the bastard managed to get a hit in and shredded through my suit. Stings like hell, and I already know I'm not gonna make it. I need you to go on for the both of us."

"I can't…"

"What do you mean "you can't"?" Scott asked.

"I never thought I'd get the job. My whole career I worked alone. I don't know how to lead people. I don't want to lead people!" Avitus objected.

"Avitus, I can't make you take the job. But I've seen you protect settlers, you found the Turian ark. You've already been playing the part of Pathfinder. Just without the title." Said Scott.

"A title that belongs to Mayson."

"Which he wanted you to have. Rejecting it won't bring him back."

"But what if I let him down?"

"You won't."

"Even if I wanted to, without our SAM…"

"You don't need an AI to be a Pathfinder. It's just a title, nothing more. I myself don't have an AI implant. I only use EDI for tactical support. What matters is that you're willing to lead, find a home for your people, and anyone can do that. You don't need special powers or a fancy AI or even a name and rank to do that. You just need yourself. But you may as well have it so that your people have someone to look up to."

"Damn it, you're right." Avitus sighed. "Let's get these pods picked up and returned to the nexus."

"Right behind you." Scott nodded.


Back on board the Tempest, Sara walked onto the bridge to talk with Suvi. The Doctor hadn't said anything, but Sara could tell that the events on Natanus had left her troubled, and she hated to see her love not happy.

"One thing I don't understand. Why would The Dark One go after the Turian ark?" Suvi asked.

"Maybe he's not just after one ark. All the others are still missing. I'll bet he's after them too." Sara suggested.

"Again though, why? There's no explanation. Why did he not attack the Hyperion or the Vadazar? Why wait until now to attack the arks?"

"He probably didn't know at the time. He only learned about our arrival when the Kett did."

"Still… something about this doesn't feel right. I get the feeling they're up to something. We're both after Meridian… but what if there's more to it than that? We barely know anything about the Dark One. For all we know, this could all be a part of some far greater plan…"

"Suvi… please, don't keep worrying yourself like this. You'll just make me worried too." Said Sara, putting her hand on Suvi's.

"I'm sorry. It's just…"

"Why don't you take the rest of the evening off, with me?" Sara suggested with a hopeful smile.

"That… that's a wonderful idea.

Kallo simply watched as the two women left the bridge. The door closed behind them… and then he went back to playing the human game he'd become quite fond of.


Suvi let out a long exhale of relief as she allowed herself to fall flat on the couch. Sara meanwhile poured a small drink for the both of them.

"Thank you." Suvi smiled as Sara handed her a cup and she took a sip. "Mmm. Didn't know you made such good hot chocolate."

"You'd be surprised at how much I know." Sara smiled.

There was a long, but happy silence for a moment before Suvi broke it.

"Can I ask you something?"

"Of course. Ask me anything." Said Sara.

"You and me… we've… been seeing each other now for several weeks or so. It just made me wonder…" Suvi said, but she hesitated afterward. "No, I shouldn't ask this. I'll just be putting pressure on you."

"Hey, its okay. I'm sure I can handle it." Sara said reassuringly, putting a hand on Suvi's.

"Okay." Suvi nodded, taking a deep breath. "Are you interested in us… becoming more… intimate?"

Sara was caught off guard by that question, but she managed to keep her composure.

"Oh. I see…"

"Don't think too much on it. I don't want you to feel pressured or anything. Its just been on mind lately." Suvi admitted, now sounding a bit embarrassed at the fact that she'd clearly made Sara a bit uncomfortable.

"At least I know you've been thinking about me." Sara chuckled with a smile.

"How could I not?" Suvi chuckled also. "Still, if you don't yet feel comfortable enough for us to do that, or… I just don't' want to make you feel pressured or rushed."

"It's okay. I understand." Sara said, reassuringly again. "You've been more than very patient with me, Suvi. Very understanding too."

Another long silence followed before Sara spoke again, this time with full confidence.

"I want this too eventually. I'm just not sure yet if the time is right." She admitted.

"Well, we do have the rest of evening off…" Suvi suggested, but a sudden yawn from the scientist cut her off.

"Oh, well that's kind of blown the chance now." She sighed.

"How about I make you a promise? At the end of the week, we'll spend the night together. Just you, me, the bed… and nothing else but our love." Said Sara.

"Sara, don't force yourself into this because of me…"

Suvi though was silenced as Sara put a finger to her lips.

"I'm not. I love you. I want this… I want you." The Helldiver said, gently caressing the side of Suvi's face.

The two slowly drew closer to one another until their lips met. Their kiss was slow, passionate and blissful.

Suvi gently let herself fall back down on the couch, Sara following her until they both lay in each other's arms.

When they finally broke apart they simply smiled at one another and looked up to the transparent ceiling, gazing up at the almost infinite number of stars.

"Its beautiful, isn't it?" Suvi asked rhetorically.

"Yeah. Only one other thing I know of that can top it." said Sara, gently stroking her lover's arm.

"I'd say the same of you." Suvi smiled, planting a gentle kiss on Sara's cheek. "And I love you too."

Suvi yawned again as she rested her head on Sara's shoulder.

"Sara…"

"Shhh. I've got you."


A big thank you to Mastermind4892 for his contributions every time I do a female/female relationship. He helped with the Femshep/Traynor pairing in my last one, has helped with Alaara and Snadra in Alpha Origins, and now this too. Things would be very different without him. :)

Anyway, the next chapter will be Jaal's loyalty mission. Feels like a good one to do next given how the Roekarr were introduced in this chapter.

Until then, see you soon.

Chapter Text

This took longer than it should have due to distractions and some other stuff I had to take care of. But finally here it is.

Hope its been worth the wait at least.


Chapter 11

Flesh and Blood

Things had been rather hectic these past few days. According to what Jaal had told Scott, their rescue of the Moshae coupled with brief encounter with the Roekaar had drawn the attention of their leader, Aksuul.

Scott had at first thought perhaps he could negotiate something with the Angara and had attempted to make contact. Long story short, it hadn't gone well.

Not only had Aksuul refused to listen to anything Scott had to say, but had also attempted to attack Prodromos. Thankfully, the team had been able to eliminate the Roekaar sent to Eos via decoy beacons, thus preventing the outpost itself from being attacked.

To be fair, if the outpost had been attacked, then the initiative (and the Helldivers) had cause to go to war with the Roekaar. But that was the last thing Scott wanted, especially with the Imitative still in a crisis and lacking any proper home world.

Since Eos, things had been quiet, but Scott had recently received a troubling message from Jaal that suggested Aksuul had made a new move.

As the Helldiver walked into the science bay, he found Jaal already talking to another Angara via comms.

"You more than anyone know how dangerous Aksuul is." She said.

"Why were they allowed to speak with him?" Jaal asked crossly.

"They aren't' children anymore. We can't control their every move. You remember how you were. Please, Jaal."

"I'll bring them home." Jaal sighed.

"Are you okay?" Scott asked.

"Three of my brothers and sisters have joined the Roekaar. Aksuul has poisoned them with his hatred of aliens." Jaal replied.

"And your mothers want you to bring them back."

"The Roekaar have made camp at the forge. Many consider it the birthplace of our civilization. Aksuul believes this bold move will create more fanatics for his cause." "Ryder… he has my family, but I don't think I can do this alone."

"You won't have to." A familiar voice suddenly said.

They turned to see Ali walk into the science bay too.

"Ryder and I will help you bring them back." She said reassuringly.

"Just tell use the time and place." Scott agreed.

"No hesitation. That's what I like about you, both of you." Jaal smiled, mostly at Ali who returned his smile for a brief second. "I have a contact that's monitoring the Roekaar. I'll set up a rendezvous with her."


One thing that had gone better this past week had been that Ryder had succeeded in helping fix Havaral's vault by reactivating a third missing monolith. Now the planet was properly blooming as a result.

They were currently on board a shuttle taking them directly to the outskirts of the forge.

"Jaal, are you sure you want us here?" Scott asked. "Bringing in outsiders…"

"Will give the Roekaar a different perspective." Jaal finished.

"I'm not exactly a typical example of my species." Said Ali.

"That means your special, and that's a good thing." Said Jaal. Both Ali and Scott though gave him a puzzled look. "I… said that out loud, didn't I? I'm sorry."

"Don't be. A little compliment never hurts me." Ali smiled.

"Just follow my lead. We'll get my family back." Said Jaal, regaining his composure.

"Even if we have to drag them home." Ali nodded.

"Preferably not though." Said Scott sternly.

"Agreed. My sister, Tevint, can be quite a handful." Said Jaal. "I worry she won't even give you a chance to speak. She doesn't take kindly to those who are supposedly tougher than she is."

"Good for her." Said Ali.


"Move carefully. We don't want to alert the Roekaar." Jaal advised.

"You should be directing that at the one wearing a bulky suit of armour." Said Ali.

"I can be quiet!" Scott argued.

"Peebee would probably say different." Ali teased.

"It'd be easier if we knew where to find your family." Scott said, quickly changing the subject.

"The Moshae brings all her students to the forge. I know my way around."

The first part they crossed through was a visitor's centre… only there were no visitors.

"It's deserted." Said Scott, sounding a little surprised.

"It's usually filled with travellers. Where are the Roekaar?" Jaal asked suspiciously.

"Well there's none in the immediate vicinity. I'd have smelled them if they were." Said Ali, sniffing the air just to be sure.

They headed to the farthest building which Jaal said would take them to the forge. As the Angara walked through he door however, two Roekaar soldiers were inside, one male and one female.

"Thought you said you got them all!" the female said as she and the male pointed their guns at Jaal.

"I did!" said the male. "They must've…"

He was interrupted though as Scott and Ali came into view.

"Aliens! Kill them!" the female ordered.

The Roekaar shot first, forcing the others to return fire.

"Shit. Hope no one heard that." Scott said.

"They shot first. We had to defend ourselves." Said Jaal.

They went through the building into another area only to be met with even more gunfire from several more Roekaar.

"So much for going in quiet!" Scott said over the loud gunfire as he went into cover.

"Never did like sneaking anyway!" said Ali, snapping a Roeakaar's neck as she pulled him behind the crate she was taking cover behind.

"Surrender's not an option with the Roekaar! Take them out!" Jaal yelled.


After dealing with more of the Roekaar, they crossed through more buildings until they were outside again.

"There's a bridge to the ruins beyond those doors. My family should be there."

The moment they got close however, the entire bridge exploded, temporarily shaking everyone.

"I take it the Roekaar didn't want us going that way. How are we gonna get to them now?" Scott asked.

"We'll have to jump down. Use the rocks." Said Jaal.

Scott and Jaal both made it across in no time. Ali though seemed to remain behind.

"Stand back, guys! I'm a lot heavier than I look!" she yelled before leaping across the gap.

With little time to question, Scott and Jaal stood well back. They were quickly glad they had as Ali landed where they had been so hard caused a small but noticeable dip in the ground.

"Remind me to roll out of the Way if ever it looks like you're gonna land on me." Said Scott.

"Smart idea." Ali nodded. "I prefer to be on top anyway."

"Not what I meant at all." Scott sighed with embarrassment.

Both Jaal and Ali simply chuckled.

The humour though was short lived once they reached the top of the hill. Several more Roekaar caught sight of them and opened fire.

"We've got company!" Scott yelled, taking cover behind a rock.

"Good. Feared I was gonna nod off any second." Said Ali.

"Intruders have breached the nest!" a female Angara said.

"I count four!" said a male.

Scott was about to take a shot when Jaal suddenly pulled him back.

"Wait! I know those voices!" he said.

"Lothuul, call for backup!" the female ordered.

Jaal suddenly raised his hand and slowly rose out of cover.

"Lothuul! Wait!" he yelled.

The Roekaar halted fire and holstered their weapons. It seemed they had found Jaal's family.

"Jaal? Is that you?"

The closest male went up to Jaal, who rather to Scott's surprise punched his brother twice before hugging him.

"Baranj, our mothers sent me." He said.

"All of them?" Baranj asked.

The female, Tevint, then noticed Scott and Ali.

"Did our mothers send these aliens too?" she asked bitterly.

"I'm Ryder. Pathfinder with the Imitative." Scott said calmly.

"I should kill you right now." Tevint said.

Ali though suddenly put herself between them, gazing down at Tevint.

"That would be a very poor career decision. Especially while I'm here." The Arkane said sternly.

"I'm not afraid of you, bug." Said Tevint, not showing even the faintest sign that she was intimidated by the muscular 6 foot 5 alien in front of her.

Scott worried however that Ali would lose her temper at that insult. Arkanes considered it racist to be compared to insects or bugs in a negative way. They fully acknowledged the similarities, but they disliked negative comparisons due to the fact that they were sentient and had evolved past many of the primate and animal like traits that insects had.

To Scott's relief and surprise however, Ali didn't seem at all offended. If anything, she seemed to be amused.

"Your sister's got a quad, Jaal. I'm starting to like her." The Arkane chuckled.

"Your people are a joke."

"Tevint, please…" Jaal said.

Reluctantly, Tevint stood down.

"Why'd they send you?" Baranj asked.

"Because we've lost enough to the Kett. They're afraid to lose you to this insane cause!" Jaal replied.

"But Jaal…"

"I want you to meet my friends, so you can see Aksuul is wrong." Jaal said, indicating to Scott and Ali.

"We don't seek hostilities with your people. We only want what you want, to survive. We want nothing but peace with your race." Scott said.

Sadly that did little to change the Angara's minds.

"Who cares?!" Baranj spat.

"The Angara don't want anything you have!" Tevint added.

"We don't need you!" Baranj added.

"Jaal, our mothers want us to live truthfully." Tevint said to her brother.

"It's because I love my mother that I would die for them." Baranj said as well.

The second brother, Lothuul, who had been completely quiet until now suddenly spoke, interrupting his siblings.

"Aksuul is going to blow this place! That's why he sent the researchers away."

"Lothuul! Stop talking."" Tevint yelled.

"He has bombs, stolen from your people." Lothuul continued.

"Those bombs go off, it'll look like the initiative did it." Scott said, realizing all too well how disastrous this would be, for both sides.

"And spark a war with the Roekaar. Maybe even all the Angara too." Ali added with concern.

"We have to disarm them." Jaal said.

They were interrupted however by the loud sound of a gunshot and Lothuul suddenly feel into their arms.

Tevint had shot him in the back.

As they laid the Angara on his back however, her eyes widened in horror as she realized that she had just shot her own brother and she dropped her pistol. Both she and Baranj fled.

"Tevint!"

"No. The bombs… in the forge. I'm okay, Jaal. I'll be fine." Lothuul said.

"You gonna make it?" Scott asked, still somewhat concerned.

He wouldn't' be too surprised if Angara would tough enough to survive one shot. But still…

"I hate Aksuul. Don't let him win." Lothuul simply replied.

"You got it." Scott nodded.

"I'm glad you're here." Jaal said to both of them. "We need to find those bombs. If Aksuul's willing to blow up the forge, there's nothing he won't do. If he shows up…"

"We know. Follow your lead."

"As long as he or one his soldiers doesn't shoot me in the gut again." Said Ali.


They made their way down into the forge where the bombs had bene placed.

"The bombs area already set." Said Jaal.

"How long do we have?" asked Scott.

"2 minutes at most." EDI replied.

"Fan-fucking-tastic. No pressure then." Ali sighed.

This was further complicated by more Roekaar attacking them. Jaal and Ali provided cover whilst Scott dealt with the bombs. It was close, but all bombs were safely disarmed within the allotted time.

To their surprise, both Tevint and Baranj suddenly reappeared. Tevint especially ran right up to Jaal.

"Jaal! Jaal! I killed Lothuul! I killed him! I'm so sorry!" she said in distress.

"He's not dead. You're lucky." Said Jaal.

"I lost my mind, Jaal. I want to go home."

"But, the cause… I joined because of you." Baranj objected.

"I shot our brother!" Tevint nearly yelled.

"Don't leave…"

"Let her go." A familiar voice suddenly interrupted. "I only want soldiers who are committed to our cause. Not weaklings who stand by and watch the destruction of our people at the hands of aliens."

Aksuul himself had appeared. Stood above them all were several more Roekaar, their guns all trained on them.

"You recruit kids and make the fight their families. Its sick, and so are you." Said Scott.

"I speak for our people, and I say you're done in Heleus!" Aksuul retorted.

He approached Scott almost threateningly, making the Helldiver raise his rifle in defence. Even Ali raised her axe defensively.

"Ryder, don't!" Jaal said.

"Martyr me, please. I dare you." Aksuul smiled sinisterly as he stared down the barrel of Scott's rifle.

Tempted as Scott was to pull the trigger, he understood Jaal's reasons for not wanting Aksuul to be shot. Still, he couldn't quite bring himself to put his gun's safety on. Much as he wished to honour his promise to Jaal, he wasn't about to take every risk.

"I made a promise to my friend. You're making it very hard to keep though." Said Scott.

Aksuul then turned to the rest of his soldiers.

"They move onto our planets, they take our resources, make us weak!"

"I've watched Ryder make planets habitable!" Jaal argued.

"Exactly. And they'll never let us forget it."

"He rescued your beloved Moshae!"

Some of the Roekaar gave doubtful looks at each other.

"I know."

"Saved her life!"

"I know! Stop defending them."

"The Moshae trusts Ryder. And…"

"Stop!" Aksuul interrupted as he drew a pistol and pointed it directly at Jaal. "We've been fighting the wrong enemy. Maybe the enemy is this traitor!"

"Easy."

"Jaal?" Scott asked worryingly.

"Don't!" Jaal repeated. He then turned back to Aksuul. "The Moshae trusts Ryder. You've become danger to your own people. Walk away."

"Or I kill you and reveal the resistance for the traitors they are!"

Aksuul fired. The shot went straight for Jaal's face… only to miss him by less Than an inch leaving only a searing burn on his right cheek as it hit the wall behind him.

Aksuul looked back at his soldiers, all of whom looked at him with a look of shock, disapproval, and realization. The leader they had once followed without question, who claimed to speak for his own people, had just tried to murder one for disagreeing with him. Aksuul was no longer the leader they thought he was.

Still glaring at their leader, almost all of them threw down their weapons defiantly and left.

"The aliens are not the monsters here." Jaal said sternly.

"I love my people." Aksuul said as he watched his former followers leave.

"Come on, let's get you home." Said Jaal as he turned back to his siblings.

"You okay?" Scott asked.

"Yeah. Thanks." Jaal replied, grunting slightly from the pain of the scar on his face.


"I'm so sorry, Lothuul." Tevint apologised as the dropship touched down. "I never…"

"Couldn't even kill me at short range." Lothuul chuckled.

The rest of Jaal's family arrived and hugged the others.

"They are here." Said Jaal. "Let's give them a minute."

The group walked to the far side of the landing pad and looked out over the now greatly restored view of Havaral.

"Thank you for trusting me. Killing Aksuul would've made the Roekaar stronger." He said.

"He shot you." Scott said.

"I'm glad he did. It exposed how far he'd fallen."

"Still, it could've gone badly." Scott said with concern.

"I knew what I was doing."

"You had me worried for you." Said Ali.

"It will heal. All scars do." Said Jaal, turning to the Arkane.

To his surprise, the Arkane reached forward and gently touched the scar with the tip of her fingers, slowly tracing it.

"It'll certainly look good on you though, I can't deny that." She smiled, almost suggestively.

"I… thank you, Ali." Jaal stuttered, both with nervousness and confusion.

"Female Krogan find scars attractive. That probably means she does too." Scott said quietly.

"Uhm, good to know." Jaal simply nodded. "Anyway, thank you for helping me bring my family home. I won't forget it."

He then raised his arm in the same way that Governor Shae had done when they had brought the Moshae home. Scott returned this without hesitation.

"You've been practicing." Jaal chuckled.

"A little." Scott smiled under his helmet.

Jaal then raised his hand again, but this time in the Helldiver way.

"I see you have too." Scott smiled as he grasped Jaal's hand.

"Ali was quite helpful." Jaal said, causing the Arkane to wink at him. "We should get back. I want to say goodbye before my family heads home."


Suvi was buying typing away at her console on the bridge. She was so focused on her work she almost didn't' notice the message notification she'd received.

Meet me in my quarters when your shift's over. Looking forward to tonight.

Sara

XX

Suvi simply smiled and typed a reply.

Me too, my dearest.

Love Suvi.

XXX

She couldn't help but giggle slightly at the fact that she'd put three kisses which as three x's usually meant adults only.


Suvi entered Sara's quarters unsure of what to expect. A somewhat overly optimistic thought she had was that she'd walk in and find a completely naked Sara laid seductively on the bed, and… she wasn't.

"Sara?"

"Hey, Suvi."

Suvi whirled round just as the door shut behind her. Sure enough, there was Sara. She was still fully clothed, but there was just something about her overall body language that was hard for Suvi not feel slightly aroused by.

"Sara…" Suvi sighed. "You didn't have to go to all this trouble."

"I made a promise. I'll dammed if I'm not gonna make good on it." Sara said confidently. "EDI, lock the door and engage privacy mode."

"Of course, Ryder." The AI simply said.

"So…"

Sara though interrupted Suvi as she gently pulled the scientist into a deep kiss. For a long while, the two simply stood there kissing one another deeply, their hands moving over each other's still clothed bodies.

Eventually however, one of Sara's hands fell further down and inadvertently cupped one of Suvi's breasts. Sara realized what she'd done and was about to stop but was stopped as Suvi gave a pleasured moan while still kissing her.

Something about that light moan offered Sara a lot of encouragement. This was only added to further when Suvi suddenly moved her own up and placed it upon Sara's, essentially encouraging her to grope her breast.

Suvi's kisses then left Sara's lips and moved further down to the Helldivers neck. Sara gave a pleasured sigh as her lover began to kiss her skin. Something about those smooth lips felt so good on her neck.

In all the excitement of the passionate kissing, they ended up stepping backwards and falling onto Sara's bed. Suvi landed on top, essentially pinning Sara to the bed. As the two lovers hit the soft mattress, Suvi sat up slightly, abandoning her kisses on Sara's neck.

Very gently and teasingly with almost agonizing slowness, she pulled her shirt off, exposing most of her skin and her currently bra clad breasts. Sara smiled and also sat herself up, running her hands up and down Suvi's torso, marvelling at the softness and feel of the scientist's creamy skin.

Eventually, Sara's hands once again reached Suvi's breasts, this time taking both in her hands, despite the bra. Suvi simply smiled and reached behind her, unclipping the strap and letting the bra slide off into Sara's hands. Discarding the bra off the side of the bed, Sara, for the first time, was able to directly touch Suvi's naked chest.

She had to admit, they seemed to be the right sort of size that she liked. Not too big, not too small, no sag, a soft feel, and some pretty perky nipples.

Suvi slowly threw her head back and sighed in pleasure as Sara gently massaged and caressed her tits. The Helldiver's hands felt surprisingly smooth and had a very gentle touch. As Sara gently squeezed one of her nipples, Suvi let out a light moan. The Helldiver then went further and took one of Suvi's nipples directly into her mouth, gently sucking and caressing it with her tongue.

Suvi continued to let out pleasured sighs as he moved her hand through Sara's hair. The other meanwhile reached for the zip on Sara's jacket. For a moment, Sara opened her eyes and looked directly at Suvi. She was hesitant for a brief moment, both out of self-consciousness and slight anxiety. Within just a few seconds however, she gave an approving nod which was all the scientist needed and she gently pulled the zipper down.

"Your turn." Suvi smiled as she pushed Sara back onto the mattress and gently parted the Helldiver's jacket, excited greatly at the sight of Sara's slender and toned stomach. She was unable to resist running her hand over the Helldiver's eight smooth abs (a genetic result of being a geneblood), marvelling at how they felt both firm and yet still smooth at the same time.

Suvi's excitement only intensified as she got her first view of Sara's chest. Even though it was currently clad in a sports bra, it was still very impressive. The scientist was amazed. After helping Sara discard her jacket, she then helped her lover peel the sports bra off as well.

As the bra brushed over Sara's face and came off, Suvi's eyes nearly widened as Sara's breasts seemed to perk up as they were freed from their confines.

They were by no means large, especially compared to Ali who had a larger size and an extra pair to boot, being an Arkane. But they were sure as hell a very good size. Suvi couldn't help but ask about why Sara even wore a bra when her chest seemed to lift up and defy gravity so well.

Sara was a tiny bit embarrassed by this. She'd always been a bit embarrassed about her gifted figure, as she wore a sports bra to keep her endowments down and suppressed to avoid unwanted attention. But she started to think a bit differently after seeing that Suvi seemed to approve of them. The woman that she had grown so close to liked her endowments.

Suvi leant down and touched her lips to Sara's breasts, her tongue flicking the Helldiver's nipples and savouring the taste of her lover's skin.

"You're so beautiful, Sara." She said blissfully.

Sara's original reply was a sigh of pleasure, but she soon replied with speech.

"And you're so cute." she smiled.

As Suvi continued to kiss Sara's breasts, the Helldiver then gently reached lower and took hold of Suvi's trousers. The Scientist didn't' even hesitate and helped her lover in taking them off.

Within less than a few seconds, Suvi was now completely nude as she straddled Sara, who's hands now moved down and began to slide other the scientist's ass. While she admired the softness, at the same time she was unable to deny it smoothness and shape. Normally she didn't go for behinds when it came to women, but she certainly wasn't complaining about Suvi's.

At the same time, Suvi had also been working on removing Sara's trousers as well. Sara simply continued what she was doing as Suvi gently pulled them off now leaving them both completely naked and allowing to truly experience each other for the first time.

As Suvi pressed her naked body against her lovers, she planted kisses on her neck and shoulders, her right sliding across Sara's ass while her left moved across the Helldiver's torso. Suvi pulled her love in close as she caressed the soft flesh and marvelling at the curviness of it.

As they continued to kiss, Sara suddenly rolled them over so that she was now on top. Whilst one of her hands kept itself firmly on Suvi's breast, the other sank lower and gently inserted a finger into the Scientist's opening. Suvi gave a gasp of pleasure as her lover entered her.

Slowly, Sara began to rock back and forth, gently thrusting her finger fully in and then back out. Each thrust was met with either a moan or sigh from Suvi which only spurred the Helldiver on. Suvi's hands meanwhile also found comfortable places. One joined Sara's hand on her breast whilst the other gently stroked Sara's toned stomach. Suvi wasn't the sort of woman who was massively attracted to muscle, but even she could not resist Sara's, especially due to her enhanced genetics. This Helldiver was almost like a scientific curiosity to her. Even if they had ended up only being friends, she still probably would've tried to ask Sara all about genebloods and their genetic potentials.

But that right now didn't matter to her. Here and now, all she cared about was being intimate with the woman she was falling in love with, the woman that was currently giving her a great deal of pleasure, especially when she added a second finger into the mix. Sara even briefly leant down and kissed her breast, following this was a longer and deeper kiss on the lips.

Eventually, the speed of Sara's fingers increased to almost a blur making Suvi almost scream in pleasure loudly. And then it happened… Suvi felt it build inside her so fast that she only had a second or so to tell Sara of it.

"You're gonna make me cum, Sara!" she panted.

"It's alright, Suvi. Just let go." Sara smiled.

With that, Suvi's first orgasm of the night happened.

The Scientist's back arched, she threw her head right onto the pillow and cried out in pleasure as she came right on Sara's fingers. The Helldiver stopped and let it happen. Once Suvi had finally come down from her release she gently moved her fingers up to her mouth and licked them with her tongue. She smiled as the taste of her girlfriend touched her tongue.

Suvi then did a surprisingly bold move that caught Sara off guard, she flipped them over so that she was now on top. With Sara still momentarily stunned by the Scientist's forwardness, Suvi turned herself around, her mouth directly above her love's nether regions. Rather than use her finger though as Sara had done, Suvi used her tongue and mouth. Though she didn't see it happen, Suvi could tell that Sara had thrown her head back in pleasure as she began to lick, savouring the taste of her girlfriend.

Much to Suvi's delight, it wasn't long before Sara caught on and did the exact same. Muffled moans could be heard from both sides as the two women sixty-nined each other.

Suvi couldn't' help but be amazed at how well Sara was doing with her tongue. Not only quite skilled at the licks it was doing but also so long, flexible and powerful. Suvi's reaction was definitely a strong one, instantly making her cry out Sara's name. The sensation was incredible enough that Suvi actually briefly forgot to keep licking Sara in turn as she was struck by the powerful sensations, basking in them. For a woman that had previously been somewhat nervous about this, she seemed a natural at it. It almost made Suvi wonder, had it all just been an act to get her interested, or was it that deep down Sara had always had these skills but had just been held back by her apprehension?

Her contemplation on this however suddenly made her remember that she'd stopped licking. With her mind brought back to the task at hand, she resumed licking Sara's pussy.

It wasn't very long before Suvi's tongue soon brought Sara to her own moaning orgasm.

As Suvi turned herself around, Sara panted heavily as she allowed herself to calm down from what had just happened. She'd never had release that intense since… well, ever. Even the after effect had now left her feeling so sensitive that even the meanest touch of Suvi's skin against hers gave her a jolt of pleasure.

Suvi once again lay on top with her face in line with Sara's. She gently lowered her lips to the Helldivers and they kissed again. In the process, the scientist began to slowly grind herself into Sara's leg, her pussy rubbing firmly, but pleasurably against Sara's leg. In the process, Suvi's leg also partly rubbed against Sara's pussy while Suvi also groped both of Sara's breasts, gently but firmly squeezing them.

They could both feel a new orgasm approaching. This could very well be their last one for the night. As much as they were enjoying this, they couldn't fight the tiredness that was coming over them.

"I've always wanted to do this." Suvi said as she got off Sara and positioned herself so that her pussy was no just inches from Sara's, ready for the two to scissor one another.

The two women intertwined hands and smiled at one another.

"Ready?" Suvi asked.

Sara simply smiled and nodded.

Pulling into each other, both women moaned as their pussies touched, meeting in an intimate kiss.

Sara grasped Suvi's smooth leg, hugging it against her bosom as she gulped down air.

"Sara!" Suvi finally moaned after several long minutes of scissoring.

"Oh I'm just getting started." Sara smiled, panting with each thrust and slap of their pussies.

Sara had never experienced a feeling this good before and grit her teeth in pleasure. Each thrust made a wet slapping noise as both their wet pussies slapped against one another. Just the sound alone was enough to turn anyone on. Sara fondled one of her breasts as she continued thrusting her hips against Suvi's.

The Scientist's orgasm was the first to come, releasing with such aloud moan that it was any wonder the rest of the ship didn't hear it.

Sara meanwhile lagged behind a bit but she soon felt it too. Despite just having her own release, Suvi continued to thrust her pussy against her girlfriends, continuing the pleasure until the moment happened.

And it did.

Sara threw back her head and moaned in ecstasy, finally letting herself fall onto the bed as her orgasm subsided. Panting and almost exhausted from the whole thing, Sara laid her head on the pillow as Suvi also crawled up and lay on her side next to Sara.

"That was well worth the wait." Sara smiled.

"Most couples seem to just mess up during their first time." Suvi breathed out, still coming down from her orgasmic bliss.

Sara simply chuckled.

"Amateurs." She murmured.

A thought then came to her mind and she gently guided Suvi's head to lie on her breasts. The Scientist was at first a little surprised, but she quickly changed her mind as her skin touched her girlfriend's soft and warm skin.

No more words were sad as the two simply closed their eyes and allowed themselves to drift off to sleep.


Finally!

So, next chapter I hope will  not  take as long.

As a little heads up, it'll involve the Asari ark and we'll also get another  addition  to the team. This one isn't an original  character  though. A friend and I had an idea for an existing  character  and even an idea for a love interest for Cora. ;)

Should be something to look forward to. Until then, hope you have a good Christmas. :)

Chapter Text

This went a lot better than I thought it would.

So, here we have the Asari Ark and at the same time some interesting new additions. Big thanks to Mastermind4892 for his contributions and ideas.

Hope you enjoy.


Chapter 12

The Line of Duty

Suvi gave a small yawn as she gently awoke from her sleep. Gently sitting and peeling the covers from her body, she smiled as she gazed at the still sleeping nude form of Sara. Last night truly had been spectacular. After all that time waiting… and it had definitely been worth it. A part of her now worried that their second time wouldn't' be as good, but mostly she was relaxed and happy to let that worry manifest. As much as she dearly wanted to stay in bed next to the Helldiver however, she had an early shift and needed to get to work. She knew that Sara was aware of this though, so she didn't feel bad about leaving without saying goodbye. She didn't want to wake Sara anyway. According to what Scott had told her, that would be a really bad idea. Sara was… not what you would call a morning person and she would often be extremely cranky if her sleep was interrupted prematurely. This made Suvi think… perhaps she could find some way to change that…

But now was not the time for that. As she finished getting dressed and prepared to leave early, she very quickly planted a gentle kiss on Sara's cheek. The Helldiver stirred ever so slightly, but didn't wake. If anything, she seemed to smile at the light kiss which in turn made Suvi smile. Whatever she was dreaming about, hopefully it was nice. Perhaps it was even about her.


Sara finally woke by herself a few hours later. True she was not an early person, but she'd never woken up this late before. Last night had left her feeling quite tired.

Though she was a little disappointed to find the bed empty, she understood Suvi's reason or leaving. For a few extra minute she simply lay relaxed in bed, her mind drifting back to last night. The erotic thoughts of Suvi's naked body against hers left her feeling a little aroused and she found it impossible to resist the temptation to touch herself. Eventually though she stopped herself before it got too far and she got out of bed. As she began getting dressed, she paused for a moment as she got an idea.


As Suvi poured herself a cup of coffee, her thoughts went back to last night. How it had left her feeling so satisfied and complete. Her thoughts however were suddenly interrupted when she felt someone come up behind her.

"Morning, Doctor. Sleep well?" Sara whispered in a surprisingly erotic tone.

Suvi couldn't help but smile and she felt herself becoming aroused by the Helldiver's new bold approach. Her hold seemed a bit firmer and more determined. It was still gentle and in no way rough at all. But compared to last night there was noticeable difference in the way Sara was touching her, even with the both of them still being clothed.

"Sara, now's not the best time. My shift ends in a few hours. After that we'll have as much privacy as we want." Suvi protested.

But Sara it seemed wouldn't have any of that and she simply responded by holding Suvi a little closer. Forced to give in to her temptation, the scientist pressed herself into the hug but froze and stopped when she felt the familiar sensation of Sara's chest against her back. But there was something different… and then she realized it. Sara wasn't wearing a bra.

As soon as Suvi realized this, combined with her "weakness" for Sara's chest, arousal hit her with the strength of a lightning bolt and reduced her to putty in the Helldiver's hands. The mere thought made her desire suddenly skyrocket.

Breaking down, Sara acted as the giver as she caressed Suvi through her clothes, giving the scientist a quick but very pleasurable orgasm, and it was incredible. It almost felt like they'd just made love again in the span of less than a millisecond. Not only that, but it was a test ament to how skilled Sara's hands were since she'd been able to bring that sort of pleasure while Suvi was still clothed.

This whole thing left Suvi wondering what happened to the shy virgin from last night, or the person who had tried to awkwardly flirt with her on the bridge in front of Kallo. Because whoever had taken her place… was even better... bolder… sexier… and she liked it. Make no mistake, this was still the same woman that she'd fallen for. The woman that shared so many common interests with her, but it was good to see a new confident side of her. No more shyness or uncertainty. If anything Sara now seemed to only want more… perhaps even a little bit too much. Suvi was left still shaking a little after the orgasm and she felt all tingly inside. It came as a big relief to her that she could still stand after that, considering that it had come out of nowhere. Even so, she still had to use the table to keep herself steady.

"Consider that a preview for the main event." Sara smiled.


The search continued for any other leads on the missing arks. So far, no success… until now.

Scott headed for the bio lab, having just seen a message from Cora who just might have found something.

"Did you hear the news from Eos? Asari refugees showed up at the outpost. Only a few, but that's better than none. Bradley says there's an officer in charge, Hydaria. She could know where the ark is." Said Cora.

"We'll head to Eos and see what she knows then." Scott nodded.

Frankly it was a no brainer for him. If there was any chance this was the lead they needed…

"Good. Rumour says Sarissa Theris was on the Asari ark. Exactly who we need." Said Cora.

"Who's she?"

"Probably the best commando strategist alive. Her biotic shields saved hundreds at the battle of Kerkis. Apparently Sarrisa's acting as bodyguard to the asari Pathfinder. She's probably got a plan to get out of this mess already."

"I'll gladly take someone with that much experience. Another reason to find the ark."


Returning to Prodromos once again, they found the Asari they were looking for in one of the buildings.

"Armed and armoured. Good for you. I could've used that ordnance a few weeks ago." She said as he noticed Scott and Cora.

"I'm Ryder." Scott said.

"Lieutenant Harper. We're looking for the Asari ark." Cora added.

"So am I. Watching the skies every day praying they survived the Kett." Said Hydaria.

"The evidence pointed to the Kett being involved." Said Scott bitterly.

"The way pain is "involved" when you get burned."

"What happened?"

"The kett chased our ark across the cluster, but these weren't their regular soldiers. They were hunters. Elite killers." Hydaria explained. "And then there was some sort of fire creature with them…"

"The Dark One." Cora said bitterly.

"Yes. Sarissa something gave the evacuation order. Hundreds of people, all trying to flee, it was…"

"Where could we look for the ark?" Cora asked.

"We lost track. But they launched a ship to help evacuees, and her crew would know. You'd have to find her... follow the transponder, maybe?" Hydaria suggested.

"Consider it done. Focus on taking care of yourselves." Scott nodded.

"The ship's called the Periphona. I'll give you her transponder codes and last flight plan. Thank you. It's… good to see the Kett and the Dark one aren't the only ones winning."


The search for the Periphona took them back to the Voeld again. Things were a bit calmer thought his time. Recently another outpost had been placed and the planet's had been reset as well. Finally they found the Periphona… or what was left of it.

Despite this however, some results did still surface. The ship's flight recorder, once decoded, had enabled them to trace its flight path all the way back to the source. Sur enough, there was the ark, damaged but intact.

"Okay. Time to bring another ark home." Scott said as the waited for the airlock to open.

As Cora finished putting her own helmet on she couldn't' help but take notice of Peebee's. Previously she'd only worn a breather mask. But this new one was completely full face and it looked… Remnant.

"Nice new helmet, Peebee." She said.

"A little gift from Scott." Said Peebee, smiling under the Remnant helmet.

Scott simply looked back at Peebee and nodded. He would've smiled or winked if possible, but no one would have seen it due to his helmet.


So far the ark appeared deserted. There were clear signs that there had been a fight. Wreckage littered the floor. No bodies though.

"What a mess." Cora commented.

"Nobody sweeps up for guests anymore." Peebee shrugged.

"Hello?! Anyone! We're here to help!" Cora shouted.

"Great. Just advertise where we are!" Peebee complained.

"That's the point, Peebee!"

And sure enough…

"Beginning decompression. Die you Kett monsters!" a voice said.

Alarms sounded as the oxygen began to leave the area.

"We're not Kett! We're a Pathfinder team!" Scott said with some annoyance.

Most people in this situation might panic at the thought of suffocating. Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. His armour was Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. His armour was Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. His armour was Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. His armour was Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. His armour was Scott though, being a Helldiver, had no such worries. In fact, all three of the team had helmets and mag boots.

Still, they'd rather this didn't turn nasty. Using his omni tool, Scott sent the Asari their ID codes.

There was a brief pause.

"Confirmed. Sorry." The Asari voice finally said. "I'm Captain Atandra, of what's left of the Lucania. Come up to the bridge. Maybe you can help fix this mess."


As they entered the bridge, the found the captain arguing with another Asari dressed in full armour.

"But you'd vent a Pathfinder team into space?" the armoured one agued.

"Respectfully, yes. We can't take anymore chances." The captain replied.

They were interrupted however as Scott cleared his throat and turned to face them.

"Sarissa Theris, Pathfinder. Don't mind the captain. Scolding me eases her blood pressure." The armoured Asari said.

"Cora here's quite the fan of yours. She thought you would've had everything in hand though." Said Scott.

"I thought Matriarch Ishara was Pathfinder, Ma'am. And you were her bodyguard. Like her Tiamna." Said Cora.

Sarissa seemed somewhat surprised to hear those words from a human and cast a somewhat confused look at Cora.

"I served with Asari commandos, Ma'am. Memorized all your battle manuals." Cora explained.

"Matriarch Ishara is dead. Sarissa was next in line." Atandra explained. "Her battle manuals haven't kept the Kett and the Dark One off my ark."

"That ends today. We'll see your ark safely back to the Nexus." Said Scott, trying to sound reassuring.

"I hope so. We've tried everything else." Atandra sighed. "The Dark One tore through the ark's hull like it was tissue paper. Completely destroyed our SAM node too when he came on board."

"I'm guessing Ishara died as a result of that. Damn AI implants." Scott said bitterly.

"No kidding. We should never have used those things in the first place." Atandra nodded. "Anyway, we managed to trap that thing in an airlock and spaced him, but it wasn't long before he returned, and he brought friends with him."

"They killed our Pathfinder so I took something precious from them. I stole a module containing tactical data. All their secret routes through this phenomenon." Sarissa said, pointing to the outside view of the scourge.

"We call it the Scourge, Ma'am." Cora clarified. "If we could outmanoeuvre the Kett through it…"

"We'd stand a better chance against them." Scott finished.

"Their Archon had the same thought. He sent the Dark One and several Decimation Hunters after us. We escaped again, but only just. They did a serious number on the ark when they tried to board us. Sarrisa's theft didn't exactly make things any better." Said Atandra.

"Its only thanks to that theft that they didn't simply destroy the ark then and there. They want that module back intact, otherwise none of us would be here now." Said Scott.

"Much as I hate to admit it, you make a good point." Atandra sighed.

"What would it take to get the Ark out of here before the Dark One finds you again?" Scott asked.

"An FTL long enough to lose him. But since the evacuation we've been stuck at minimal power. The drive core's dead." Atandra replied.

"My people are investigating but those systems are below deck with some Kett that managed to board the ark before we escaped." Sarissa said.

"We could back them up." Scott suggested.

"The last commando report came from hanger control. I'll give you access… please be careful."


"Seems we were right then. The Dark One's pursuing the other arks." Scott commented as the team rode the tram to hanger control.

"Still doesn't explain why though. I can't help but think there's more to this." Cora said with concern.

"Maybe he's after the other Pathfinders. Both he and the Archon know you can interact with the Remnant, perhaps they think the others can do it too?" Peebee suggested.

"Or they're just trying to cut off reinforcements. Stop us from uniting against them." Cora added.

"Theories can wait. Let's focus on saving the ark." Scott interrupted.


Hanger control appeared deserted until the group noticed a long Asari who had her back to them. They attempted to approach peacefully but the Asari heard them first though and whirled round, assault rifle in hand.

"Stop! In the name of the Goddess, I'll…"

"Vederia?!" Cora suddenly said in shock.

The Asari seemed just as surprised by this, but she did at least lower her weapon upon seeing that the group wasn't Kett.

"A human and a Helldiver? You're ark… Wait… how do you know my name?" she asked, a tiny hint of suspicion in her voice.

Cora didn't say anything and instead took off her helmet. The Asari's eyes widened as she saw the human's face.

"By the Goddess! Cora?!"

"You two know each other?" Scott asked, sounding all the more surprised.

"Ryder, this is Vederia Damali. She and I once served in the Talein's Daughters together." Cora explained. "I never knew she joined the Imitative though."

"Nor I you. Still, I'm hardly complaining. It is good to see you again." Vederia admitted, smiling slightly.

"Good to see you too." Cora smiled back.

"Sarissa made me her new second in command after she became Pathfinder. I'll help you if I can." Vederia said, knowing now the group was here to help.

"The captain says we need to restore power to go to FTL." Said Scott.

"Right. I've tracked the power drain and I think shutting the hanger bay doors will fix it. The Kett forced the doors open and the safeties are draining power trying to shut them." Vederia explained.

"Why keep the hanger bays open? There's no ships around." Scott asked.

"I think the Kett are trying to reach the bridge. They can survive in vacuum for a little while, and The Dark One can be out there all he likes. But if we shut the doors, the last of the Kett hunters lose their last escape route. I just pray the power will be enough for FTL." Vederia replied. "I'll keep watch whilst you take a look at the console."

"For someone who's been promoted in such chaos, she seems to be handling it pretty well." Peebee commented.

"Wonder where she gets it from." Cora shrugged with a smile.

"Don't flatter yourself, Cora." Vederia chuckled, having obviously overheard the conversation.

A small bit of tinkering later and Scott had the doors closing.

"Okay. Hanger doors are closing." He said.

"Kett!" Vederia suddenly yelled.

"We've got this. Cover the console until the doors are shut." Said Cora.

Hanger control became full of explosions and gunfire as Kett body after kett body littered the floor.

"Just like old times, huh?" Cora asked, leaning out of cover to shoot a Kett hunter in the face.

"Your aim's gotten a bit sloppy." Vederia joked.

"Shut up!" Cora chuckled as Vederia also giggled a bit.


"Well, that… should have done it." Scott said with confusion once the hanger doors had closed and the last of the Kett had been dealt with.

"So where's our damn power for FTL?" Peebee asked.

"I'm not sure. Give me a second." Vederia said as she accessed her omni tool.

The whole placed then suddenly shook, causing Peebee to fall on Scott and Cora to lose her footing.

"What the hell…"

"Sorry, Ryder." Said Peebee.

"Much as I like you being on top of me, please get off." Scott joked, causing Peebee to chuckle slightly.

Vederia meanwhile, who had managed to stay on her feet, helped Cora up.

"Thanks, Vederia."

"Right… here we go… fuck!" Vederia cursed. "We lost some electrical junctions and the overload started a fire. Damn it! That shouldn't have happened!"

"What could've made them overload?" Cora asked.

"If there's something else draining power on the lower decks… something big…"

"Maybe the hunters rigged something up?" Scott suggested.

"I wouldn't put it past those wretches. If they delay the repairs enough, then The Dark One will find us again." Said Vederia.

"If we're quick and efficient, we can outmanoeuvre them."

"You're right."

"We should get to the lower levels and find the source of that drain." Said Cora.

"Which way to the lower decks, Vederia?" Scott asked.

"The living quarters. I'll unlock access for us." Said Vederia.

"Us?" Cora asked in confusion.

"I'm coming with you. No way you're just leaving me here." Vederia insisted.

"If that's what you want, I'm certainly not gonna turn down any extra help." Said Scott.


"Ryder, its Sarissa. We got some power then a damage report. What happened?"

"An accident, ma'am. We're fixing it." Vederia replied.

"Vederia. Was beginning to wonder what had happened to you." Said Sarissa.

"I'm with Lieutenant Harper and Ryder. Probably best we stick together for now."

"Agreed. Continue with what you're doing. We'll keep the drive core prepped." Said Atandra.

"We won't let you down, ma'am." Said Cora.

"I know you won't, Lieutenant. You have my second with you. Sarissa out."

"I do wish her opinion of me wasn't so overrated. I've barely done anything noteworthy since this all happened." Said Vederia.

"Sarissa wouldn't have chosen you if she didn't think you weren't best for it. And based on past experience, I'd say she chose wisely." Said Cora.

"All these years and you haven't changed a bit, Cora. Always complimenting and pushing me on. Always trying to be like a second mentor." Vederia smiled.

"You never complained back then."

"I'm not complaining now."

"Hate to admit it, but I've definitely missed you."

"Sheesh. Get a room would ya?!" Peebee sighed.

"Peebee!"

"That's enough! We don't want the Kett knowing where we are." Scott interrupted.

"I think the Kett were after the fire suppression controls." Said Vederia.

Scott tried to access them with his omni tool, but a sudden electrical surge shocked him.

"Agh! Yeah, that's fried."

There was s sudden spark sound and everyone whirled round to see Vederia rewiring a nearby control panel.

"Vederia?"

"Whatever this powers, the ark needs fire control more." The Asari said. "There. Try again."

Scott tried again and this time it worked. Water went everywhere as the sprinklers kicked in.

"That's better." Peebee sighed with relief, despite the fact that the sprinklers had left her and her outfit soaked.

Vederia's omni tool then lit up with a message.

"What is it?" Cora asked.

"I think I've found the power drain. Looks like it's in the observation deck. This way." Vederia replied.


"Captain Atandra here. We're warming up the drive core, but we need more juice."

"We're on it, Captain." Said Scott.

"Good. The Dark One is still out there somewhere. We've already lost so many, and matriarch Ishara. It can't be for nothing."

As the door to the observation deck opened, Cora, Vederia and Peebee all seemed to suddenly clutch their heads as if in pain.

"Ow! Agh!"

"What is it?!" Scott asked, particularly worried as to why this wasn't happening to him.

"It's like nails on glass!" Peebee groaned.

"I feel it too." Cora added.

The group managed to fight through the pain until they found what they'd been looking for. Some kind of massive device wired to several junctions in the room.

"This is it." said Vederia.

"What is it?" Scott asked.

"It looks like the Dark One's attack sheared off some hull plating. Then someone rigged up this mass effect field device. The field's so strong it holds the hull together. It would help people evacuate the deck beyond…" Vederia explained.

"And give anyone sensitive to mass effect fields a nasty migraine." Scott finished.

"No kidding, but they'd survive." Said Cora.

"That deck's deserted now. We need to turn the device off." Said Scott.

"We need to know how to do it safely though. We do it wrong, it could damage the ark even more." Vederia advised. "Can you scan it, Ryder? Your Helldiver suit should be able to figure something out."

An in depth scan from Scott's omni tool told them what they needed to do.

"Okay. The device requires two people for shut down. One disconnecting the cables, and another at the device itself." He explained.

"I can handle the device, you take care of the cables." Said Vederia.

"Alright. Cora, keep her covered just in case." Scott ordered.

"You go it, Ryder."

Whilst Scott and Peebee went to handle to cable, that just left Vederia and Cora alone.

"So, both of us are now second in line to a pathfinder. Funny how these things work out." Vederia said, breaking the silence.

"Yeah. Technically, I should actually be Pathfinder, but our former one chose his son instead of me." Said Cora, still sounding a little bitter over that.

"Seems a bit unfair." Vederia agreed.

"He wasn't too happy about it either, but he's not too bad at the role… most of the time." Cora joked, causing both of them to giggle slightly.

"I heard that!" Scott yelled.

"You and he seem close." Vederia suggested.

"He's our Pathfinder, I…" Cora paused though when she realised what Vederia was implying. "What?! No! No, nothing like that. We're just friends. I'd never…"

Again though, she soon realized Vederia's intent.

"You're teasing me again, aren't you?"

"Yep." The Asari simply nodded, holding back her laughter.

"I don't know how you remain so optimistic at a time like this." Cora sighed, shaking her head slightly.

"It's part of what you taught me."

"You've really grown up since we last saw each other." Cora said, unable to hold back a proud smile under her helmet.

"Cora has a girlfriend!" Peebee suddenly sung.

The Asari's singing however was interrupted as Vederia threw a small biotic pulse which hit her right on the backside and tripped her up.

"What the… Hey! That wasn't funny!"

"Do not tease one of my battle sisters." said Vederia sternly.

Even Cora couldn't resist laughing slightly at that, as did Vederia.

"Maidens." The both sighed with a slight chuckle.


After a few moments, the device was finally disconnected fully.

"That noise. It's gone." Cora said with relied.

At the same time, some pieces of the hull that had previously been held in place by the device now fella way from the ark and simply drifted in space.

"If anyone asks, it was like that when we got here." Said Peebee.

"Or we just tell them it was all your fault." Vederia joked.

"Very funny." Peebee sighed sarcastically.

"Ryder, the drive core's coming online. You did it! A few minutes, then we're out of here." Said Atandra.

"Can we still got to FTL if there's, say… a big hole breach down here?" Scott asked.

"The manoeuvre I've planned should hold us together. If the FTL burn doesn't… we'll have to cope." Atandra sighed.

"Sarissa here. Superb work, all of you. We're almost home. You've made me proud, Vederia."

"Thank you, ma'am." Vederia said formally. She then relaxed and took several deep breaths. "It's really over."

The moment of peace was short lived however when the ark's hallways became filled with the noise of an alarm.

"That's not good." Said Cora.

"Atandra here! It's the Dark One! He and the Kett hunters blindsided us. There's a dropship headed for the breach on deck twelve!"

"How long until we have FLT?" Scott asked.

"Too long! Sarrisa's coming to help. Push them back!"

"We've come this far. They're not getting us now!"


The group headed to the breach, weapons drawn for the imminent last battle.

"Secure your helmets and keep your mag boost activated." Scott advised.

"Don't need to tell us twice." Said Vederia as she secured her own Asari modified recon hood. "Goddess give us strength."

A Kett dropship arrived first with several Kett troops, but they were easily dealt with. The tricky bit came in the form of The Dark One himself as he slowly hovered in through he wreckage, his fire burning aggressively and black smoke billowing from his massive silhouetted form.

The Dark One's gaze fell on Scott almost immediately. There was no surprise in his voice or body language, but the Helldiver still got the impression he hadn't expected this.

"How fortuitous I should find you here, Ryder. You've saved me the trouble of hunting you down again." He said, his dark and terrifying voice making everyone shiver slightly.

"More like I've brought you trouble." Said Scott

"Don't be so certain."

Throwing his hands forward he cast fire in their direction, facing them into cover.

"Remember back on Voeld! He's vulnerable to cryo." Scott yelled.

"I've got just the thing for him then." Said Cora.

She suddenly popped out of cover and fired with her shotgun. This time though they weren't' typical shotgun rounds. Each round hit The Dark One directly and as they did they left behind a steadily growing whiteness. Cryo ammo.

The Dark One hastened to try and reach them as the cryo froze him once again. He touched down, but that was it as he became frozen once again, his fire extinguished.

"Told you I'd only brought you trouble." Said Scott.

But everyone jumped in shock as The Dark One's head suddenly moved to look directly at Scott.

"WHAT?!"

To only add to their horror, the Dark One then moved completely and stood upright again.

Cora immediately took action and fired more cryo rounds, all of which hit their target but this time The Dark One simply shrugged them off. Slowly rising up into the air again and hovering a few inches off the ground his fire reignited and the ice surrounding his body melted instantly as did any of the shots Cora continued to fire.

"Did you really think it would be that easy?" he asked rhetorically.

He then cast his hand forward and an invisible force sent everyone but Scott flying.

"And you, Ryder…"

Scott went to dive for cover but he found himself surrounded as the Dark One cast a ring of fire around them. Normally Helldivers had no fear of fire, but this was no normal fire. Scott's HUD was constantly lit up with danger warnings as he was essentially encased in a prison of fire that was almost as hot as a sun.

Scott could only stand his ground and aim as the Dark One slowly glided towards him.

"You won't escape me this time." He said, passing through the fire as though it wasn't even there. "You are going to give me what I want."

Scott fired several shots, but they were vain. Each round seemed to just melt upon contact.

"Defiant to the end. A true Helldiver through and through." The Dark One said with a mocking sigh.

"I'm not afraid of you."

"Maybe not, but everyone has something to fear… and you are certainly afraid of something."

"You think so?"

"I know so. It's the one thing I always know: people's greatest fears." Said The Dark One, his fire now burning a much darker colour. Scott did his best to suppress a growing feeling of dread. "You carry such a heavy burden on your shoulders. You fear what will become of the Imitative if you fail. You fear that they will starve and die… assuming I don't put them out of their misery first."

"Why are you doing this? What do you want?" Scott asked, trying to stall in any way he could.

"I want what you want, Ryder. I want a home."

"Meridian is not yours to take."

"I have waited more than 600 years for this. If the Remnant who came before you could not stop me, then neither shall you."

The Dark One then reached his hand towards Scott and began to make his way even closer, forcing the Helldiver so close to the ring of fire that Scott could feel the heat even in his armour.

"Now…"

But before the Dark One's hand could touch him, something rather unexpected happened.

EDI had mentioned beforehand that the mass effect field device was still connected and that it could be remotely triggered. Sure enough, that was what was happening right now. The field activated and began pulling everything not tied down towards like a black hole… including The Dark One who struggled against the immense power as it drew him in and seemed to almost consume him within itself.

Thanks to this though the ring of fire disappeared and Scott backed away, finding relief in the feeling of a normal temperature again.

"Nice thinking, Vederia!" said Cora, she and the others finally appearing again.

"That should slow him down for a while." Said the Asari.

Sadly though, this was another short lived victory. The field suddenly exploded, leaving just the Dark One in its wake, his fire now burning fiercely with rage and dark growling emanating from him.

"Or just piss him off." Said Peebee worriedly.

"You will all die!"

Everyone again dove for cover as The Dark One cast fire in every direction, roaring in anger as he did.

"Cora, remember that trick that you taught me?" Vederia asked, ducking to avoid a large fire ball.

"Which one?" Cora asked back.

"You go high, I go low."

Cora nodded understandingly.

Peebee and Scott did all they could, but their weapons weren't having any effect. Nothing at all seemed to work. Peebee did make note that he seemed to grunt when hit with a biotic warp and other kind of biotic attack, but all that seemed to do was just make him even more angry instead of causing harm or injury.

On the plus side however, it did provide more than enough of a distraction. So when the attack came, it caught The Dark One completely off guard. Both Cora and Vederia lunged at him with a biotic punch, Cora hitting him right in the face and Peebee hitting him square in the groin. The resulting force from both ends sent him crashing head over heels to the floor, landing hard on his back and so close to falling off the edge.

The entity groaned and growled, dazed from the attack. He was about to attack again when his focus was suddenly shifted to the Kett ship not far off from the Ark. It had opened fire on the neighbouring ark and missile were incoming.

"Cease fire! You'll destroy the Pathfinder!" The Dark One yelled angrily.

He was suddenly knocked again though by a combined attack from Cora, Peebee, Vederia, and finally Sarissa, who had finally arrived.

"That was for Ishara, monster!" the Asari Pathfinder yelled.

Using just her own biotics, she then charged up another attack.

"Get off our ark!"

The warp sent the Dark flying our into space, disappearing from site.

Now just the missiles were left to deal with.

"Like the battle of Kurkas, there's still a chance." Sarissa said, throwing up a biotic shield which had enough radius to cover the hull breach.

"Help her! Quickly!" Cora ordered.

Both she and Vederia ran up to Sarissa and added their own biotics to the shield.

"Peebee, please!" Cora yelled through the gritted teeth.

The previously hesitant Asari managed to find her courage and joined them. The combined power of four biotics caused to shield to expand so much that it not only shielded the entire ark but caused the missiles themselves to bounce off and instead hit the Kett ship.

As the enemy ship became engulfed in explosions, the four biotics let the shield disapate.

"Captain, get us out of here." Scott said into his comm as they made for the door.

"Punching it! Hold on!"

There was a bright flash as the ark disappeared, flowed by a second flash from the explosion of the Kett ship. He saw both as he regained his balance.

No outburst of rage or anger came from The Dark One. He simply hovered where he was, his fire burning calmly in the vacuum of space.

"Run all you want, Helldiver. You have only prolonged the inevitable."


Back on board the Lucania, several more crew members had been awoken from Cryo in order for the ark to complete its journey.

"A skeleton crew, but enough to patch up the ark. She'll make it to the nexus." Cora commented, sounding relived.

"Sorry, but we need to prep for the nexus approach. We've got a hell of a story for them." Said Atandra.

"They'll throw you the party of a lifetime. You can raise a glass to the fallen, and to a better future." Said Cora.

Sarissa then joined as well.

"Lieutenant, before you leave, I have a small request to make." She said.

"Ma'am?"

"I want you to take Vederia with you."

"What?!"

Even Scot was surprised by this, but he remained silent for now.

"Hear me out." Said Sarissa. "Yes, I chose her as my second, but she has so much more potential than just being next in line as Pathfinder. She'll make one hell of a commando, but I don't' see her having that future under my wing. She needs better mentorship than I can give her, preferably yours."

"Ma'am, I… I don't know if this is right…" Cora stuttered with confusion.

"Vederia herself should have a say in this." Scott said sternly.

"If this is Sarissa wishes of me, I…" said Vederia, hesitating.

"If you really wish to stay that bad, then I ultimately won't force this on you." Sarissa said reassuringly. "But believe me when I say, you'd be far better off with Ryder. You'll put your skills to far better use with him, and Lieutenant Harper."

"What about being your second?" Vederia asked.

"I'll find another." Sarissa simply shrugged.

"If Ryder and Cor… Lieutenant Harper will have me, then…"

"As she said, it's your choice, Vederia. But you'd be more than welcome on the Tempest if you accept." Said Scott.

"Then I do accept." Vederia smiled, her gaze briefly falling on Cora.

"Welcome aboard then, Vederia." Said Scott as he and the Asari shook hands.

"Let's go then. We're done here." Said Cora.

"Thank you again for your help. We all owe your lives." Sarissa smiled as she and Cora shook hands.


Back aboard the Tempest, Scott found Cora in her quarters. She was sat at her desk with the picture frame in her hands again.

"Hey. You okay?" he asked.

"All things considered… I suppose I am." Cora sighed. "I still can't' believe that Sarissa would send Vederia away like that."

"You once told me your own mentor did something similar. Perhaps it's the same for Vederia."

"Much as I don't won't admit it, you may be right." Said Cora. "Thank you for helping us bring the Asari home."

"It was my pleasure." Scott smiled.

Cora simply smiled back.

"By the way, Vederia and I have already sorted out where she's gonna stay. She can bunk with me given that we're low on space." She said.

"You gonna be okay with that?" Scott asked.

"Sure. It'd hardly be the first time we've shared a room." Said Cora.

Her gaze then fell on the doorway and Scott turned to find none other than Vederia standing there with a small box in her arms filled with some of her possessions.

"Sorry. Am I interrupting anything?" she asked.

"Not at all. I was just on my way out." Said Scott.

"Pathfinder, I'd just like to say…"

"Ryder, please. There's no need to be so formal."

"I'm sorry. I've just gotten so used to protocol it feels weird being a ship where everything's so… different."

"You'll get used to it." Cora smiled.

"At least I don't feel too out of place. Your doctor was very welcoming. And Peebee… well, she's my race at least." Said Vederia. "The rest of your crew gave me a warm greeting as well. Your Arkane, Ali, even said that she was honoured to meet an Asari commando. I did not expect that."

"You'll find we're full of surprises." Scott smiled. "And there's Cora."

"Yes. And there's Cora." Said Vederia.

Her voice railed of fa bit on that last sentence, but she quickly regained her composure.

"Anyway, I just want to say, I'm honoured to be a part of your crew. I will not let you down, Ryder."

"I know you won't." said Scott, putting a hand on her shoulder reassuringly. "See you two later."

As Scott left, Vederia took a moment to admire the surroundings of the bio lab. She even gave a slight chuckle when her gaze fell on the many racks of flowers.

"All these years and you're still a sucker for flowers." She said.

"Old habits die hard." Cora smiled with a shrug.

"You really don't have to share your bed with me. I…"

"Vederia, it really is not a problem." Cora interrupted as she stood up. "Besides, I doubt you'll find anywhere else more comfortable… and with privacy."

"I suppose so." Said Vederia.

To Cora's surprise, the Asari then flung her arms around the human and pulled her into a friendly hug.

Despite the surprise though, Cora smiled and hugged her friend in return.

"It's good to have you back." She said.

As Vederia hugged Cora, she suddenly noticed the picture frame on the desk. She had to admit, she was surprised when she saw it.

In the frame was picture of none other than Vederia herself with Cora. They both had their arms around each other and were smiling at the camera. At the same time, they had a dreamy look in their eyes.

Vederia remembered that all too well. The time when they had not only once been in the unit, but had also been more than just good friends.

All these years, and the human had kept it…

"The feeling's mutual." Vederia smiled happily as she hugged Cora even tighter, feeling more safe than she had in a long time.

"No matter what, you always give me strength." She added.


With the Tempest heading back to the Nexus for refuelling, Scott had some time to kill. And it seemed quite opportune when he was informed that he had another incoming call from Kamara. It had been a while since their last talk so he was quite pleased to be hearing from her again.

He wasn't expecting this call to be the one where he go to talk to Shepard himself though. Kamara had already said it would be a while yet. What did also make this one a little special is that Sara would be present for this one. She hadn't yet met Kamara, so it would be interesting to see them talk.

"Ready to meet the legend's daughter?" Scott asked.

"Ready as I'll ever be." Sara shrugged, sounding both excited and nervous.

"Ah, Ryder. It's been a while." The Asari smiled as her hologram appeared.

"Good to hear from you again, General." Scott smiled back.

Kamara's gaze then turned to Sara.

"A pleasure to finally meet you, Sara Ryder."

"It is an honour to finally meet you as well, General Shepard. The stories of your father and mother are legend." Said Sara, sparingly even bowing her head as though she was in the presence of royalty.

"So everyone keeps telling me." Kamara chuckled. "I understand congratulations are in order for finding the Turian and Asari ark. You've definitely helped turn this whole thing around since it all began."

"Just doing our duty, ma'am." Said Scott modestly. "I'm guessing though this call is more than just that."

"Indeed. There's someone I'd like you to meet." Said Kamara. "She's been rather excited about talking to someone in another galaxy."

She motioned to someone out of sight with her hand and to Scott and Sara's surprise a younger Asari, probably around 260 or something, came into view and stood beside Kamara.

"Stand here, sweetheart. That's it." said Kamara. "Ryders, this is my daughter, Liana. Liana, this is Pathfinder Scott Ryder of the Andromeda Initiative and his sister, Sara."

Liana was quiet for a moment as she simply looked at the siblings. Despite that she was probably a young adult by Asari standards, she looked both nervous and excited. If anything she seemed like a fangirl meeting her idol.

"Hello." She said, giving a tiny wave, sounding both nervous and excited in a way.

"Hello to you too, Liana." Scott smiled back.

"Didn't know you had a daughter of your own, Kamara." Said Sara.

"I was coming to it eventually. Thought it would make a nice surprise for you to meet my little girl." Kamara shrugged.

"Shepard must be very proud of you."

"Oh he is. He loves his granddaughter just as much as she loves him. Don't you, dear?"

Liana nodded, smiling at her mother. She then turned back to Scott and Sara.

"Sorry if I seem a bit lost for words. I've… been a bit of a fan for a while now." She said. "My grandfather told me a lot about you two."

"Really? What he did he say about us?" Sara asked curiously.

"That you're a little short for Helldivers." Liana replied, trying to suppress a giggle.

Both she and the twins laughed at this. They knew it was just a joke from the tone of her voice so there was no offence.

"Liana." Kamara sighed as she shook her head, but she also looked happy. "Forgive my daughter. She has a sense of humour beyond her years."

"I wonder where she gets it from." Sara smiled.


And there you have it.

Believe it or not, there were some people who complained that Cora wasn't romanceable be a fem Ryder so the Vederia romance is in a way a response to that.

Anyway, next chapter will be a completely original one as it will be Max's loyalty mission. Just gotta hope it'll be up to a standard that it actually feels like a loyalty mission that Bioware could've written.

Until next time. :)

Chapter Text

Well, here it is. A completely original loyalty mission.

I guess all I can say is, I hope I've managed to make it feel like a loyalty mission. So, hope you enjoy! :)


Chapter 13

Never About the Money

Scott planned for the Tempest to head back to the Nexus soon. Both for refuelling and also to hopefully greet the Asari there as well when they finally reached the Nexus.

Bu in the meantime, there was work to be done. Having just received a message from Max requesting his help with something, Scott headed to the armoury. He found the hunter leant on the weapon bench, simply staring blankly at a dismantled gun. He had a look of concern on his face.

"Hey, Max."

The sound of Scott's voice seemed to stir Max from his trance and his head gently turned to look at the Helldiver.

"Ah, there you are." Max said, sounding a little relived.

"What's wrong? You look troubled." Scott asked with concern.

"You could say that. Yes." Max sighed. "It would seem a Phantom from my past has come back to haunt me."

"How so?"

"I haven't been entirely honest with you about my past. There's a bit that I left out." Max began. "Not long after I left the Nexus, I met a man named Jake Harrison. A fine man, smart, knew how to handle himself and surprisingly knowledgeable in chemistry. We had quite a few things in common, him and I, including a common enemy."

"The Kett?"

"Yes. Near the start of my career as a Kett hunter, we collaborated together on something big, a project if you will. We believed it would make all the problems go away."

"What exactly did this "project" involve?"

"To put it in its basic form, it was a bioweapon. We designed it to kill any Kett it came into contact with on any planet."

"Like a plague."

"Not the term I would've used, but yes. A plague that would kill the Kett, but only the Kett whilst leaving every other life form untouched."

"So what stopped you two?"

"I did." Max replied coldly. "At some point during the project, I realized something that made me have a change of heart. I learned just how dangerous our bioweapon could be in the wrong hands. What's more, there was a heavy risk of it being lethal to non Kett as well. I could not in good conscience participate in that kind of business any longer. So I did what I felt was the right thing to do."

He paused for a moment before he resumed speaking.

"I destroyed the bioweapon and all data related to it. All notes, files, anything at all… it was all gone."

"What about Jake?"

"We cut ties after I left. He's not been heard from since. At least until now…" Max sighed. "I thought I destroyed everything, but somehow Jake must've had a hidden backup I didn't know about. He's been continuing our work ever since."

"Did he know about the risks?"

"I don't know. But the point is, as long as that bioweapon exists it poses a danger to the Initiative. I need to find him and finish what I started."

"Are you sure it needs to be destroyed though? If the dangers were eliminated…"

"Maybe. But right now I care more about the safety of innocent lives."

"If this really does pose a danger to the Imitative then we should take action. What do we do?" Scott asked.

"I have a contact on Eos who's been keeping an eye out ever since I learned of this. She'll meet us at your outpost."

"We'll head there now then."

"I owe you one, Ryder. Thank you." Max nodded.


Considering they had been to Eos to look for the Asari Ark earlier, coming back left Scott with a bit of déjà vu.

Max's contact, a woman named Alice, was waiting for them near one of the building. Wearing khaki coloured clothing, a hooded poncho, mask and goggles, Alice had the appearance of both someone who obviously worked in a desert or hot environment and also wanted to keep a low profile as she leant against the building in its shadow so that she was out of the sun.

She took notice of the group as they walked up to her. Part of her poncho was blown aside in the wind revealing a pistol strapped to her thigh. She didn't immediately reach for it, but her hand seemed ready to draw in case of trouble.

"It's a long way to the Nexus, huh?" She said, her voice slightly muffled by the mask.

"Yes. Shame I didn't bring a camera." Said Max.

There was a long pause for a moment before Alice then walked up to Max and they shook hands.

"Was that really necessary?" Max asked.

"Can't be too careful these days. Had to be sure." Alice replied. "I was beginning to wonder if you'd show up."

"I'm a man of my word, Alice. You should know that by now."

"Max told me you know where Jake is. We need to find him." Said Scott.

"I definitely wish you luck then." Alice said. "I've been keeping my ear to the ground almost literally for nearly a week now. Barely anything."

"Surely you must have something though." Said Max.

"Well, nothing concrete, I'm afraid. But I did hear something about their being some suspicious activity to the north. There's another outpost there that was abandoned due to complications with the radiation shields and at the time it had a lot of Kett activity. I've only heard rumours which I can neither confirm nor deny, but they all seem to indicate that something may be going on there. That may be the best place to look."

"Did you try checking it out?"

"I didn't go inside, but I did try scouting out the surrounding area. No immediately noticeable activity. But beyond that, I didn't risk venturing in. That sort of thing's better left for someone… more equipped for the job." Alice explained.

"We appreciate the help." Said Scott.

Max then took out a credit chit and threw it to Alice. For a moment, the woman looked at him with a pleasant surprise.

"I'm feeling generous." He simply shrugged. "And you've more than earned it."

Alice simply smiled under her mask and gave an acknowledging nod.

"Always a pleasure, Max. See you round." She said as she went on her way. "And… be careful."


They reached the abandoned base by nightfall. Since they had no time to wait for sunrise and were also armed to the teeth, they chose to just head inside.

Thought they all had flashlights attached to their weapon and Scott's armour had its own lights, it was still difficult to see.

"So is this weapon as bad as you say? Surely it can't be if it was contained." Vetra as they made their way through the dark hallways.

"It can't be contained. The bioweapon was designed for one use. It then spreads into planet's atmosphere completely. Any Kett that breaths in the atmosphere once the weapon has been deployed dies instantly. That how dangerous it is. If they deploy this thing and it ends up being lethal to non Kett, it'll already be too late to save anyone." Max explained.

"Is there a cure?" Scott asked.

"No. And even if there was, it wouldn't do you much good. The effects of the bioweapon are instant. Get exposed, the damage is already done." Max replied.

"Does it have to be breathed in?" Vetra asked.

"No. Its designed to be atmospheric. Unless a Kett's wearing a space suit, they're completely vulnerable to it.

"I can see why you're so worried." Said Scott.

"Can you blame me?" Max shrugged.


They continued through the base for quite some time, and yet they hadn't run into a single person yet, even as they headed deeper inside.

"Still no sign of anyone." Said Scott.

"If there really was anyone here, I would've expected someone by now. Something's not right here." Said Max.

"Could be a trap." Said Vetra.

"I'd be surprised if it wasn't." said Max. "This place is supposed to be abandoned, and yet it has such fully functional equipment that looks pretty new."

"I don't mean to question your judgement, but are you sure your contact can be trusted?" Scott asked.

"Absolutely. An exile gang tried to buy her off once. Offered three times what I was paying her… and she told them to go shove it."

"I hope you gave her a raise for that, because that's loyalty." Vetra said impressively.

"Oh I certainly did." Max nodded.

"You think maybe some homeless people or exiles might be living here?" Scott suggested.

"Possibly." Max admitted. "But we must've seen someone by now if there was. Would've thought they'd order us to leave or something."

"Or something happened to them." Said Vetra.

"Maybe this place is haunted." Scott suggested.

"Oh don't start with that! I hate ghosts." Max sighed.


As they made their way through a narrow corridor, Max couldn't' help but notice something.

"Ryder? Is it just me, or is there something suspicious about this wall?" he asked, running a gloved hand over the wall.

Scott accessed his omni tool and his suit's own scanner did a scan of the wall.

"Hmm. You may be right." The Helldiver said.

"I doubt anyone's gonna mind if you knock it down. This is meant to be abandoned after all." Said Vetra.

Scott simply shrugged. Raising his leg, his kicked the wall and it smashed to pieces.

"Thought so. Fake wall." Max nodded. "I knew I'd seen another part of this place on our way in. Wondered why we hadn't found it yet."


They made their way through the hidden hallway. Already the rest of the place was looking far more new. Way more fully functional equipment, scientific instruments, weapons… the lot.

"Doesn't take a genius to guess that we've found them." Max commented.

The moment he finished speaking however a loud klaxon began sounding throughout the base.

"I didn't touch anything." He immediately said.

Within seconds, they were all surrounded by mercenaries, their guns aimed at them. One particular figure walked casually behind them until he was in the light. Max' trigger finger tensed as he found himself looking upon his old friend again. Jake was a fairly short man at around 5 foot 6 with short blonde hair and a rather pale face.

"Maxwell Moyer. After all this time…" Jake said. "How've you been old, old friend? You look well.

"Spare us the pleasantries, Jake. You can probably guess why we're here." Max said coldly.

"Indeed. And I see you brought the Pathfinder himself with you as well." Jake said observantly. He then spoke to Scott directly. "Honestly, I'm surprised you'd go along with this. You want the Kett to keep killing our people?"

"That bioweapon is too dangerous. There's every chance it could be lethal to other races as well." The Helldiver argued.

"Oh I'm well aware of that. But I'm tired of waiting. We've had enough setbacks and delays already. I'm taking no more chances. The bioweapon is being deployed today against all the Kett on Eos. We'll at last be free of those monsters!"

"You'd willing to bet the lives of dozens of innocents?" Scott asked, somewhat surprised that Jakes was willing to go this far.

"For the greater good? Yes. You simply fail to understand that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

"You're no better than the Kett, Jake. It's no wonder Max tried to destroy the weapon. He saw the danger where you didn't."

"Is that what you told them, Max? How very dishonest of you." Jake said. "He feared this would put him out of a job. If there's no more Kett to kill, then there' s no more profit for him. That's why he really wanted it destroyed. Don't believe whatever sob story he cooked up for you that he grew a conscience or… somehow had a change of heart. In the end, all this was ever about… was the money."

Both Scott and Vetra looked at Max who appeared to be hanging his head in regret. They suddenly noticed however that in his right hand was something that they clearly recognized as a flashbang grenade.

"Shield your eyes." He whispered.

Both Scott and Vetra averted their gaze and shut their eyes as Max dropped the grenade and it exploded, momentarily blinding Jake and all the others.

They were quick to snap out of it as they were immediately bombarded by gunfire from the team, especially Max who was trying to shoot at Jake who was trying to flee the scene.

"FUCK YOU, JAKE!"

Several of the other soldiers managed to retreat alongside Jake, leaving the others to be shot down by the team.

"He's gonna release the weapon, and we're practically right next to Prodromos. We need to stop him." Said Max, gunning the last merc down.

He knew though that Scott and Vetra were staring at him. Despite both of them wearing helmets, he knew they were giving him an unimpressed look.

"Ryder…" he said, trying to find his words. "About what Jake said…"

"You gonna claim he was the one lying now?" Scott asked, his tone clearly indicating he was not happy.

"He wasn't lying. From the very beginning I worried this would put me out of business. But that was before I ever found out about the dangers it had to other races. Only then did I act." Max sighed.

"Why hide that part? You must've known we'd find out somehow." Vetra asked.

"I was going to tell you once we took care of all this. But fate it seems is never that kind." Max replied.

"So what did you ultimately bring us here for in the end? Do you really care about keeping other people safe, or are we just here to keep your business safe?" Scott asked.

Max was silent for a moment before he finally replied.

"I don't know whether you believe me or not, but I care more than you know. If I could get rid of every Kett in this galaxy, I would do it. Yes, I'd be out of a job. But at least we'd live in peace. Mother's and father's wouldn't' have to mourn the loss of their sons and daughters or loved ones because of those monsters. Honestly… I'd give up this job in a heartbeat if it meant an end to all this. Once it might have been about the money, but… you can't put a price on life, taking or giving."

Another long pause followed… and then Scott suddenly put his hand on Max's shoulder, much to the Hunter's surprise.

"That's all I needed to hear."

Max looked at Scott for a long moment in both surprise and confusion. But he seemed to adjust quickly. It was difficult to tell, but Scott got the impression that Max was smiling under his helmet.

"You're a good friend, Ryder. Better than I deserve." He said.

"Besides, we can never stay mad at you." Vetra said, causing Max to chuckle slightly.

"Come on. We've got a job to finish here." Said Scott.

"Right behind you, boss."


They had to fight through several more mercs which Jake had obviously left behind as advanced guard. Despite how well equipped they were though, it did little to slow the team down.

They entered a large room, the last of Jake's men waiting for them. Jake himself was stood in front of a large structure which was unmistakably a dispersal device of some kind, and it was already powering up.

Jake heard the approaching footsteps and turned to face them.

"Back for more, eh?" he asked.

"This has to stop, Jake." Max said. "As long as I have breath in my body, I'm gonna make sure you never release this thing while it's a danger to others."

"Since when did you grow a conscience, Max? What happened to turn you so soft?!" Jake yelled.

"Let's just say a true friend… and a certain someone, has helped make me a better man." Said Max, turning first to Scott, and then briefly looking at Vetra.

"Fine. Then you can die a better man." Jake growled. He then turned back to the device and gave the order to his men. "Hold them off. I need more time to finish this."

The mercs opened fire, forcing the tem into cover. Despite this though, they held their line. Merc after merc fell via gunfire. Jake's frustration only increased with every death. Although he had a kinetically sensitive shield around himself to protect him from gunfire, it would o him no good if Max or anyone else got too close.

"What the hell am I paying you for?! Just kill them already!" he yelled.

But then a sudden explosion rocked the whole place and gaping hole appeared in one of the walls, out of which poured a small army of Kett, quickly turned the battle into a three way free for all.

"Oh shit." Vetra swore.

"Great. Now we have to deal with Kett as well." Max groaned, pushing Vetra out of the way before a shot form Kett rifle nearly hit her.

"Could this day get any worse?" Scott sighed.

The answer soon came through in the form of a Kett ascendant, already shielded by its orb.

"Sorry I asked." Scott sighed.

"I'm gonna kill Jake for this!" Max yelled.

"I'll loan you a bullet." Vetra added.

"Less talk, more shooting."

"Look on the bright side, you'll get more of a reward for these dead Kett." Vetra said.

"No reward is worth this!" Max groaned as he ducked to avoid an attack from the ascendant. "What are the Kett even doing here?"

"Must've found out about the bioweapon somehow." Said Scott.

"All the more reason to destroy it now. Ryder, we can't let the Kett get their hands on it. There's no telling what they may be able to do if they found a way to reverse engineer it."

"Don't need to tell us twice." Scott nodded.

"Kill them all! The weapon is the priority." The Ascendant said.

"Target that thing's orb. It's powering the shield." Max advised.

"Good tip. Thanks." Scott said, refocusing his fire.

"This is hardly my first time fighting these things." Max added.

Jake meanwhile, despite his shield had taken further precautions by setting up portable turrets which had already let loose on anything they saw, even his own men.

"DIE, YOU SHITS!" Jake yelled, trying to not let himself be distracted from the device as the turrets covered him from all sides.

"Well at least that's one thing we agree on." Scott commented.

"Don't encourage him!" Max yelled.

The mercs were soon out of it, leaving just the Kett who weren't going down as easily. All the while, Jake continued work on the dispersal device, refusing to let himself be hindered.

"He's nearly done." Max said worriedly.

"Well go stop him then! Don't worry. We've got this." Said Vetra.

Max didn't argue and simply nodded. Managing to get up to the higher level, he threw an EMP device which disabled both Jake's shield and his sentries, leaving him vulnerable.

The man immediately tried to draw his pistol angrily as Max ran at him.

"You piece of…"

He was interrupted though as Max tackled him. Both of them tried to draw their guns but ended up simply knocking them both out of each other's hands. Jake's simply flew out of reach whereas Max's ended falling off the balcony altogether.

"You think you're better than me?! You think somehow this'll make you sleep better at night?!" Jake yelled as the two men struggled against each other.

"You really need to shut up!" Max yelled, managing to land a punch on Jake before he got kicked off.

Jake reacted faster and lunged at his fallen gun. Max was too late to try and do anything as he suddenly found himself staring down the gun's barrel, Jake's face glaring furiously at him.

"You've interfered for the last time. Goodbye, old friend." He said bitterly.

Right as he was about to pull the trigger however, a well-placed concussive shot from Scott managed to knock the ascendant right into him, causing his shot to miss, instead taking out the Ascendant's orb. Vetra quickly seized the chance. Picking up Max's pistol, she threw at to him. Right as Jake tried to fire at him again, Max managed role out of the way and caught the pistol. With almost blurring speed, he delivered a swift punch to Jake's face which knocked him back and caused the human to hit his head on the wall. Rather impressively, he was then able to follow with a kick to the Ascendant's head.

The Kett was momentarily knocked back, but was quick to return the attack, trying to throw its own attacks at Max. The Hunter dodged to the side though, firing a shot from his pistol which hit the Ascendant in the chest.

With the rest of the Kett solders occupied with Scott and Vetra, the fight between them seemed to remain uninterrupted. Two Kett soldiers however managed to break off from the main group and attempted to assist their squad leader.

As Max vaulted over a nearby crate, he was able to both shoot and kick the Kett as it ran into him. Even more impressively, he then managed to latch onto the other Kett, swinging himself around. The solder struggled in vain only for Max to fire two point blank range shots into its head as Max managed to land on his feet again. The second he did, he fired again at the Ascendant. The shots didn't kill, but they definitely hurt as the Kett leader grunted in pain.

More shots followed as Max tried to get in close to finish him, but was forced to duck as the Ascendant swung at him. The Kett only just realised it had caught nothing but thin air before Max suddenly kicked it in the back.

Knocked back by the kick, the Ascendant blind fired a few shots which Max just barely managed to avoid. Despite the intensity of the fight, he kept his different coloured eyes constantly peeled for the right opening. He had learned from past experience that although the Kett had tough hides, they couldn't withstand an up close shot. He just needed to get close enough, which right now was proving a bit tricky.

Having to duck for the last attack had temporarily left him vulnerable and the Ascendant swung at him again. Though it missed, his time it did catch him as it managed to grab onto a part of his hood.

Grip firmly locked, it managed to latch its other hand on as well and threw Max, firing a supposedly dead on shot. The Hunter though recovered almost immediately from this and was able to roll onto his back which would enable him to land on his feet again. As he rolled, the Ascendant's shot barely missed him. Using that luck to his advantage as he rolled back onto his feet, Max was able to angle his arm just enough that he had a clear shot at the Ascendants leg. Pulling the trigger, the round hit its target and the Ascendant stumbled.

Both opponents made a lunge at each other. As the Ascendant was still stumbling from Max's round, it attempted to punch him in the stomach, only for its fist to simply bang hard on the human's armoured torso. Max meanwhile had managed to draw his blade in the other hand. As the Ascendant stumbled into him, he sank it right in the Kett's shoulder. Desperately, the Ascendant tried to grab at Max's head as it sound found its own mouth filled with the barrel of Max' gun. Instinct made it try one desperate final attempt to punch Max away, but the Hunter's trigger finger was faster.

With a loud bang, the Ascendant's entire head exploded in a bloody mess of flesh and bone, some of which coated Max.

The rest of the Kett quickly followed as Max panted and allowed his adrenaline to calm down.

"Ironic. That Kett unintentionally saved your life." Said Vetra as she and Scott joined Max.

"This galaxy is full of surprises." Max panted.

He then quickly went up to the dispersal device and deactivated it, finally enabling everyone to breathe a sigh of relief.

The team then turned to Jake who in the ensuing chaos had been injured by a stray shot from a Kett rifle. He now lay against a nearby crate, blood slowly pouring from the wound and also beginning to trickle out of his mouth.

"Still got it, I see." he coughed.

"I won't let you put the rest of the initiative in danger, Jake." Max said.

"Pretty it up all you like, I know deep down you love your job too much."

"This isn't about the job, or the money, or your vengeance anymore." Max nearly shouted. "We're barely surviving in this galaxy."

"Exactly. I could've freed us from that."

"But at what cost?"

"At any cost!" Jake spat. "Are a few unfortunate casualties really worth sparing in the long run?"

Neither Max or Scott said anything and Max simply drew his pistol.

"You've become too much of a danger to the people you want to protect. You're leaving me no choice." He said.

"Just gonna kill me in cold blood then? Sounds a little dark for you, Max." Jake said, obviously trying to call Max's bluff.

"I've killed hundreds of Kett that were in the same position as you. Trust me, I'm not bluffing." Max said coldly.

"No. I suppose not." Jake admitted. "Don't expect me to regret anything. If my work spares our future generations the pain of losing their loved ones, saves us from starving and suffering because of these monsters… Is that not a goal worth fighting for?

A long pause followed.

"Yes." Max finally replied. "You're right. You've always been right. That is something worth fighting for."

For a brief moment it looked like Max was going to change his mind and holster his pistol… But then he pointed the gun at Jake's head.

"But not like this."

Jake's eyes briefly widened in surprise before Max pulled the trigger. The shot went right through his head. Death was instantaneous.

Another brief silence followed before being broken.

"You didn't have to do that." Said Scott.

"You could've stopped me if you wanted to, but you didn't. Don't make it sound like it I'm to blame." Max said coldly.

Scott hated to admit it, but Max had a very good point. He could've chosen to stop Max from shooting Jake, but he didn't.

"You alright?" Vetra asked with concern.

"I'll be fine. I just… need a minute." Max replied.

He then made his way over to the dispersal device's console. He stared at it for a long time before he let out a long sigh.

"Dammit all." He said.

"What's wrong?" Scott asked.

"Much as I hate to admit it, he made a compelling argument. And it's made me think…" Max said. He then indicated to the main display. "Everything's here. The data, the research, everything we ever did to create this thing. I came here with the intention of destroying it for good this time… but perhaps I'm being too hasty."

"What are you proposing?" Scott asked.

"You have scientists on the nexus. Instead of destroying the bioweapon, I could send it to them instead. They could continue where Jake left off. But unlike him they could fix the flaws, eliminate the possible danger of it being lethal to other races."

"So why hesitate?" Vetra asked.

"A part of me still believes it would be better to just destroy this in walk away. If this were to fall into the wrong hands, and perhaps even be reverse engineered…"

"Not to mention you may have to find work elsewhere." Scott said sarcastically.

"As I said, this isn't about the money anymore, or that I love my job. I want us to have a future in this galaxy just as much as you do. But if that means taking such a huge risk… This would be a difficult choice for anyone." Max sighed, this time sounding a little irritated with the fact that Scott kept joking about that.

Scott took a moment to think this over himself.

Finally, he made his decision.

"You're right. As much as this could help us against the Kett, the risks are too great." He said.

"Are you sure about this, Ryder? I don't doubt your decision, but I would hate for us to regret this in the long run. I'd hate for us to look back on this decision and feel we chose wrong." Max asked.

"I knew a Helldiver once who faced a similar decision. And he said that we would fight and win without it. He wouldn't let fear compromise who he was." Scott explained.

"Sounds like a smart guy." Max smiled under his mask.

With both men having reached an agreement, Max pressed several buttons and the screen went blank.

"It's done. It's all gone." He said, straightening himself.

"I think you made the right choice, Max." said Vetra.

"I should hope so. Ryder helped me make it."

"If we do end up regretting this, you can blame it all on me." Scott shrugged.

"I'll hold you to that." Max said. "We can leave the base as it is. The initiative will probably benefit from studying it."

"You might even get a bonus for it." Vetra joked.

"Very funny." Max chuckled. "Anyway, let's go. We're finished here."


Back on board the Tempest, Scott gave Max a few hours to himself. He felt that was best.

Once those hours had passed, he decided to check on the Hunter. He found Max in his usual spot. Though he did seem to be in a much better mood now. He was even humming to himself as he was cleaning one of his guns.

He immediately took notice as Scott stepped in.

"I don't want to intrude if you prefer to be left alone." Scott said.

"No, its fine. I was rather hoping you'd come by in fact." Said Max. "I've had time to think a bit about the choice we made."

"Not having second thoughts now are you?" Scott asked.

"Far from it." Max smiled. "I agree with you that we made the right decision. Too many risks, too many dangers… as much as it could've helped us, it wasn't worth it. I think it safe to say I can definitely rest easy each night without having to worry about the people we're trying to find a home for."

"I'm glad you see it that way."

"Me too."

"How are you feeling after killing Jake?"

"Like our previous decision, I have no regrets. I did what needed to be done. I knew Jake too well. If I'd let him live we would never have stopped. He would be constantly trying to find a way to finish what we started. His thirst for revenge had consumed him, blinded him to reason. As cold as it was to kill him, it was best for everyone, even him."

"I guess you're right. You freed him from the pain he was suffering."

"Exactly." Max nodded. "Ryder?"

"Yeah?"

"Thank you… for everything."

"It's no trouble, Max."

"No, I mean it. Even after what Jake said, you still stuck with me and you helped me to make the right choice. I cannot in good conscience let this go unrewarded. Effective immediately, you no longer pay me for being here. I now work for you free of charge and you will get 25% of my deals."

"You don't have to…"

"I insist. You've done more than me than anyone else has. I won't forget it."

"Thank you, Max."

"No. Thank you."

The two simply smiled and shook hands. Max even went so far as to pull Ryder into a hug.


Max himself also decided that he should thank Vetra for her help as well. As he entered the place where she usually was though, he found her talking to someone on her omni tool.

"You realize that even if I do find it, it's going to cost you?" the voice asked.

"And you know I'm always true to my word, so just get it done." Vetra said, ending the call.

"I can come back later if you're busy." Said Max.

"Its fine. I always have time for you." Vetra smiled. "I'm hearing the Kett activity's down. I bet the Archon and the Dark One are still nursing their wounds. That means they can be beaten, the Kett can be beaten. People are waking up to that."

"I pretty much knew that from day one." Max smiled, crossing his arms as he leant against a crate.

"Not all people are like you." Said Vetra.

"You mean devilishly charming and handsome?" Max asked rhetorically.

"You know what I mean." Vetra chuckled.

"Yeah, you're right."

"There's only room for one of you in this galaxy. Not that I'm complaining."

"Didn't sound like you were discussing kett over the comms when I walked in though."

"It wasn't. I have a friend keeping a lookout for a lamp. One brought from home, but stolen in the revolt."

"You were mad at Sid for wanting nonessentials. Now you're using contact of find a lamp?"

"Maybe Sid had a point. The small things keep us going." Vera explained. "Suvi has her father's antique instruments, Cora has her Asari prayer book and Liam has… the junk that Liam collects."

"Emphasis on "junk." Said Max irritably.

"These things are important. They remind us where we came from."

"I know what you mean. I wouldn't want to forget what I left behind. Not completely anyway."

"Even as we look forward to the future."

"So what's so special about this lamp? If it means that much to you, I know a few people who could find it."

"Oh it's awful. It's got a butt naked Asari for the stand and she's holding… a moon."

"One of your prized possessions is a lamp with a naked Asari?" Max asked. "Well, it doesn't sound too bad."

"The foreman at my first job had this lamp. When he was mean, I'd focus on it so he wouldn't' see me upset. Now I keep it so I remember where I started. Most of my life was doing stuff to survive taking shit from assholes or… being one." Vetra said. "But I don't' have to do that anymore. I can start over. Something honest."

"You really want to start over? After everything you've been through? I don't think I ever could."

"I don't know. The point is, I have the choice of changing if I wanted to. For a while I didn't care that I'd lost the lamp. Everything was a mess and it… just didn't matter. But we've made progress, Max. Small things matter again. People are daring to dream."

"Yeah… I think… I think my dream in the end is finding someone. Someone special that can give my life purpose. Make me more than just a hunter or a killer.

"Oh? And have you found that person?" Vetra asked curiously.

"I think I have. You'll love her. She's tall, great with guns and getting people to do what she wants."

Vetra gave a slight laugh and Max simply smiled at her. The two simply looked at one another in silence of a while before Max eventually broke the silence.

"I should get going. Got a few business deals to take care of. See you later, Vetra." He said.

"Max…" Vetra interrupted as Max turned to leave. "I think you and Ryder made the right decision."

"Thanks. Me too."


The day shift was over now and everyone was turning in for the night soon. As Scott was getting ready for a shower though, he suddenly heard EDI's voice talk to him via his omni tool.

"Ryder, I have finished decrypting another memory."

"Was wondering when you'd finish the next one." Scott said as he got his helmet so he could see the memory. "Alright. Let's see it."

"This memory appears to be after Alec learned of the Initiative. He is finishing talks with founder Jian Garson, and…" EDI paused for a moment… almost sounding like she was surprised. "…and Shepard."

"Shepard's in this?" Scott asked, sounding just as surprised.

"So it would seem."


Once again seeing things from Alec's perspective, Scott found himself in a room of some kind. He'd thought at first it might be Arkadia or the Citadel, but the room didn't seem to match either of them.

Jian Garson was sat to Alec's left. To his right, currently stood up and leaning on the table, in full armour and everything was Shepard himself.

He'd changed his look since the last time Scott and Sara had seen him. His armour was now a bit more bulky this time and he also had a shoulder cape hanging from the back of his right shoulder. If Scott remembered correctly though, that was a sign of knighthood that he had received for destroying the Collectors. Apart from that though, he still had several of his signature armour pieces and weapons. The N7 stripe on his right arm, his sword holstered on his back, and also his shield/cannon which was also on his back.

With his helmet, his face was hidden, but as he spoke, Scott recognized the familiar British accent that Shepard had.

"It's out of my hands, Garson." The Helldiver said with a sigh.

"You and the Council are asking for miracles. With the money we have…" Garson said, but was cut off by her frustration. "We're dangerously close to going over budget. You of all people should understand how important this, Shepard."

"Believe me, I do. But there's not much more I'm capable of when it comes to the council. Right now, their priority is preparing for the Reapers. " Shepard explained.

"Is the initiative not part of their preparation?! You helped found this with me! Surely there must be something you can do?!" Garson retorted forcefully.

A long silence followed before Shepard let out a sigh and finally spoke.

"I can't promise anything. But I will talk with them. Right now, that's the best I can do." He said.

Garson simply nodded in acceptance.

"Thank you, Shepard." She said.

Shepard acknowledged the two before exiting the room, leaving just Alec and Garson.

"I already know the next time we see him he'll say he failed." Garson sighed irritably. "Alec… if the initiative is to have any hope of even setting out for Andromeda, we may have to find a way of getting extra funding."

"Behind the Council's back? That's risky." Said Alec.

"You would know." Garson admitted. "But what other choice is there? If the Arkanes won't help us…"

She paused for a moment before speaking again.

"I may know someone who can help us."

"Who?"

Garson accessed the holo display next to them and a distorted image on it.

"Ah, Garson. You've had time to consider my offer?" an also distorted voice said. "Who is that with you?"

"Alec Ryder. We're planning for him to be Human Pathfinder." Garson explained.

"I see. Hello, Alec. I've heard much about you." The voice said.

"I'm too old for cloak and dagger. Who are you?" Alec asked calmly.

"A Benefactor, if you like." The voice replied.

"He contacted me not long after I became aware of our financial difficulties. He says that he can provide what we need to finish on schedule." Garson further explained.

"Then why all the secrecy? Why not go to the Arkanes with this?" Alec asked.

"Let's just say that they would not get along very well with me." The Benefactor replied calmly.

"What's this all for? Why help the initiative?" Alec asked.

"I could ask the same of you, Alec. But I think we both already know the answer. You believe it can save your wife." The benefactor replied.

"How do you…"

"There's very little in this galaxy I don't know." The benefactor simply said. "Believe me when I say, I sympathise with your situation, Alec. You want to help Ellen, stop her from dying. You believe this… AI research of yours is the key to that, or that Andromeda may help you find a cure of her condition. And yet people aren't letting you. That does not seem right to me. I can provide both of you with what you need."

"What do you want in return? Nothing like this comes without a price."

"It's quite simple. All I ask is that my involvement in all this remain a complete secret. I've gone to great lengths to keep my identity and these calls a secret, and I would prefer to keep it that way." The benefactor replied.

Garson and Alec looked at each other for a moment before nodding.

"Alright, we're listening."


The memory faded to black and Scott removed his helmet. He was both confused and baffled by what he had seen.

"Garson and my father went behind the Arkane's back to get the initiative finished?" he asked. "I know Dad did that before, but…"

"A dangerous decision." EDI commented.

"Who was this "Benefactor?" Scott asked.

"Unknown." EDI replied. "But I do know that to have the credits required to fund all this, this Benefactor must've had more money and resources than even the Illusive Man or the Shadow Broker."

Scott took a moment to think about this. No possible candidate sprung immediately to his mind. There was one that could've fit the criteria… but it was completely impossible and didn't make any sense at all.

What was somewhat concerning was the fact that this Benefactor had managed to remain completely undetected by the entire galaxy. The Alliance, the Citadel Council, the Arkanes, even an AI did pick this up until now… it was almost a bit frightening.

It would seem that this, sadly, would remain an unsolved mystery…


In case some people are wonder, I am going to putting my own spin on that part. With an Andromeda sequel or even another ME game looking unlikely for a while, I feel I may as well make the most of the creative freedom.

Next one I think I'll do is Drack's. (Personally, I think that's one my favourite)

So I will see you next time.

Chapter Text

This one turned out even better than I hoped. Loyalty mission was easily done and I added a few extras I think you'll enjoy.

Advanced warning: This chapter contains nudity and two sex scenes.


Chapter 14

A Future for the Krogan… again

The Tempest was definitely at the point where it would need refuelling soon. It was just as well though that they still had enough for one or two more journeys. Scott had just received word that Drack wanted to talk with him. He had a feeling it would be something urgent.

He made his way down to the kitchen where Drack hung out. The Krogan turned to face him as he entered.

"Ryder. I need your help with something." He said.

"I get the feeling this is something big." Said Scott.

"Yeah. Yeah, it is." Drack nodded. "One of our botanists, Hark, called up in a panic. A colony transport has been stolen."

"It's a transport. Can't you just replace it?" Scott asked, slightly confused.

"It's not the transport. It's what's on it. Our seed vault. One of a kind. Without that vault, things get complicated. Krogan children need the nutrients in those plants to survive. Even one clutch of babies hatch before we get the stuff synthesized… the effects would be permanent." Drack explained.

"So, what do you need from me?"

"More like what does he need from us?" a deep female voice suddenly said. "They're my people too."

Scott turned to find Ali standing in the doorway. The Arkane leant down slightly to avoid hitting her head on the doorway.

"We're going to find those thieves and get the vault back. Ali's on board 100%. Didn't even have to ask her. Be nice to have you along too." Drack said.

"Of course I'm in. Whatever you need." Scott said without hesitation.

"Good boy." Ali nodded

"I knew I could count on you. Hark's waiting for us at the colony on Elaaden. He's tracking down the transport beacon. He'll have the location ready for us on arrival." Said Drack. "Hey. Thanks. I owe you on."

"I'm not worried. You're good for it." Scott smiled.

"I'd better go sharpen my axe then." Ali shrugged with a smile.


They arrived back on Elaaden and headed into new Tuchanka to speak with Hark who was waiting for them.

"Drack told me you'd be heading over." He said. "I tracked the stolen transport to one of Elaaden's moons. You need to take your ship. Nothing we've got has stealth."

"Let's get going then." Scott said.

"My coordinates should drop you just close enough to sneak in."

"Right… "Sneak" in." Ali repeated sarcastically.


Once the Tempest had dropped them off, they continued on foot until they came to the location.

"This place is a dump." Drack commented.

"The pirates I've fought in my time would weep if they saw this." Ali agreed. "As Krogan, it should be our civic duty to spare these pirates the humiliation. We should therefore show mercy, and by mercy I mean put them out of their misery. And by putting them out of their misery, I mean smash their ugly faces in… preferably with something that's harder than Ryder's co..."

"Okay! I think we get the idea." Scott quickly interrupted, scowling at Ali under his helmet who was grinning smugly.

"And people think I'm bloodthirsty." Drack chuckled. "Still… Be nice to have some kind of challenge. It's the least they could do, making us come all the way out here to kick their sorry asses.

"Over there. Guess that's the colony's transport?" Scott said, pointing to a transport in view docked at the top of the complex.

"Yeah. That's it. The seed vault better still be on board." Drack replied.

"And if its not?" Scott asked.

"I tear this place, and everyone in it, apart piece by piece until we find it."

"Now you're getting me overexcited." Ali smiled.

Heading inside, they ran into a few advanced guards. Despite their numbers, the ruthlessness of Drack and Ali proved to be far superior. They practically laid waste to the mercs in less than a minute.

If anything, it almost made Scott reluctant to join in, in case he somehow accidently stole a kill form them. He knew from experience Krogan hated to have a kill stole from them.

"I've had better fights in my sleep." Drack said in boredom as Scott gunned down the last one on the pirates.

"I wanted blood and guts on the floor." Said Ali.

"It'll pick up." Scott said.

"Now would be nice."

As they continued their way through they heard a barely audible static over one of their comm channels.

"EDI, can you clear up that comm signal?" Scott asked.

"I will attempt to do so." EDI replied.


As they went round a corner, they were suddenly spotted by several soldiers, one of which yelled to a particular human.

"Arone! We got a problem!"

"Get it together! Stop them!" Arone ordered.

The pirates opened fire forcing the team into cover.

"Wait. Did I hear Arone?!" Drack said loudly over the gunfire. "Arone! We're gonna have a friendly little chat, you and I."

Arone retreated as the team gunned down the men he'd left behind.

"Looks like someone's holding a grudge." Scott said.

"I'll teach him a thing or two about how to hold it." Drack said.

"Probably too little anyway." Ali added, causing Drack to chuckle.

More pirates attacked, but they all fell like the rest.

"About time they got organized." Drack said.

"You get way too happy when people shoot at you." Said Scott.

"You say that as if it were a bad thing." Said Ali.

Static again suddenly came over the comm.

"Someone's trying the emergency channel." Ali said.

"Let's worry about that when we're not being shot at." Said Scott. The Helldiver then observed a large crate blocking a bridge they needed to cross. "I see a path on the other side. Maybe if we move this, we can get through."

Both Ali and Drack simply nodded to one another. Gripping the crate tightly, they both lifted it up until it was above their heads.

"Having a little trouble there, old man?" Ali asked mockingly.

"Shut up!" Drack retorted.

Scott made his way under first, then Ali followed. Drack simply let the crate drop once he was clear.

"They're falling back." Ali said observantly.

"Like that's gonna help." said Drack.

"Hello?! Can you hear me out there?!" a voice suddenly said over the comm.

"Another Krogan?" Ali said in surprise.

"I know that voice. It's our botanist, Vorn." Drack said.

"Drack, Ali, it's you! No wonder the pirates said they need reinforcements." Vorn said.

"Why are you here?" Scott asked.

"I was on the ship doing inventory when the pirates stole it. It happened so fast I couldn't warn anyone." Vorn replied.

"Right. Quit messing around and get down here." Drack ordered.

"I would, but I had to lock myself in one of the containers to keep them away Pretty sure they want me dead right now."

At that moment, the transport suddenly hummed into life. It didn't take off, but the engines were certainly coming online.

"Of course they're warming up for lift off. We don't have time for this." Drack sighed.

"Guess they figured out why we're here." Said Scott.

"We can't let them get away! Colony's doomed without the vault on that transport." Drack said.

"Looks like they're hunkering down. They know we're coming this time." Said Ali, reloading her gun ready for a fight.

"Transport or Vorn? We've gotta make a move here." Scott said.

Drack gave a rather frustrated groan.

"You two know what the colony needs. Just point us in the right direction and we'll get things done." Scott said calmly.

"We need the seed vault, but it's useless without the kid." Drack said.

"Then we go get him."

"Vorn, we're heading your way!"

"Never leave a fellow Krogan behind, as they say." Ali commented.

"When has anyone ever said that?" Drack asked.

"I don't know. I just wanted to say it for dramatic effect." Ali replied with a shrug.

"Ryder, if you don't make it in time, would you give Kesh my love please?" Vorn asked.

"Don't be stupid. Of course we'll make in… Wait. What did you just say?" Drack said.

"I said love, didn't I?"

"Naughty, naughty boy." Ali sniggered cheekily.

"I'm gonna rescue him, and then I'm gonna kill him!"


They fought their way through dozens more pirates, Arone's voice constantly yelling over the speakers to kill them and even constantly raising a bounty in hopes of motivating them.

"Back in my day, Krogan asked for permission before they went in a started courting. They didn't' just hop into things without the proper clan traditions! Kids these days, no damn manners." Drack grumbled.

"You definitely wouldn't have liked my father." Said Ali.


They managed to catch up to Arone, but incoming fire form more of his men forced them into cover again.

"Arone! Get over here so we can talk!" Drack yelled.

"I don't' think so, Krogan. Stealing your transport was just step one! We're gonna destroy everything you care about!" Arone yelled back.

"There's only one thing getting destroyed here today, and that's you! And this place! And also your entire crew as well! So a lot of things are getting destroyed here actually, and all of them are yours!"

Arone retreated again as Drack popped out of cover and opened fire, followed by Scott and Ali. Only the rest of the pirates stayed behind, and they met a similar fate as those before.

"We find Vorn, then the transport, then I deal with Arone.

"Can I take his head off when we're you're done with him?" Ali asked.

"I just might let you at this rate." Drack replied with smile. "Vorn, update."

"They're just shooting at the door. So far it's not doing much." Vorn replied. "I think you're getting closer."

Having dealt with the two pirates trying to get into the crate, the team worked on opening it. Vorn was constantly banging on it which did prove a little annoying for them. Soon though, the crate's door slid open and Vorn fell out, landing on his front before rolling onto his back.

"Hi guys." He smiled.

"Let's go." Drack sighed, helping Vorn up.

As Vorn got onto his feet though, he suddenly noticed one of the pirates still alive, and was pointing his gun at Drack.

"Watch out!"

Without any hesitation, he threw himself in front of Drack as the pirate fired, catching the shot. He grunted slightly in pain as he landed on his back.

"NO!"

Drack raised his gun, but Ali made the killing blow instead, bringing her axe down hard on the pirate and then stomping on his head.

"Hey. You okay?" Scott asked worriedly.

"I'm fine. I'm fine!" Vorn winced slightly.

"What were you thinking?! Why would you do something like that?!" Drack yelled angrily.

"He was going to shoot you." Vorn replied.

"The colony can survive just fine without me. But without you and what's in your fool head, there's no future for our people!" Drack retorted.

The old Krogan turned his back in frustration and simply groaned. Vorn it seemed though was not going to have that and picked himself back up.

"You're always talking like your expendable, but you're not!" he said defiantly. "We need you! You're not just some old soldier! We know what we lost because you lived it."

Drack didn't reply and simply grumbled to himself.

"I need to get some stuff before we go. You two talk to him." Vorn said.

"You do tend to get a little reckless in combat when things get personal." Said Scott.

"I won't let anything happen to my clan, Ryder." Drack said.

"Not much good to them if you're dead though."

"Quads! Not you too! " The Krogan groaned. "We don't have time for this! We got a transport to catch!"

"Agreed. We can discuss who's more valuable in a survival situation when we're done here. Less blah blah blah, more slash stab kill." Ali agreed.

"I'm ready to go." Vorn said, carrying what looked like some kind of plant in his hand.

"You stay right here. I'm not telling Kesh you died like an idiot." Drack ordered. He then looked at the nearby wall. "Yeah. This'll do. INCOMING!"

Drack then charged and burst right through the wall, startling two pirates who'd been stood nearby.

"Ha! Hi."

"Drack? The seed vault is still on the transport. I hit the locks before they caught me." Vorn said over the comm.

"Good thinking, Vorn."

"Thank you, Sir."

"Don't get too cocky. You still got caught."

"Yes, Sir."


They fought their way through dozens more pirates before reaching the elevator that would take them directly to the same level as the transport.

"There's the transport! Vorn, override the controls and keep the docking clamps shut. We'll cover you." Scott said.

"Okay. Vorn nodded.

Arone once again bellowed over the loudspeakers for the pirates to kill them, even telling them to never mind the bounty now.

"Hard to get a shot in this rain!" Drack said.

"Yeah, but it makes the fight more intense!" said Ali eagerly.

"That, I can agree with." Drack nodded.

More waves of pirates continued to come, even bringing two mech suits with them. Still though, the two powered through until none were left.

"That's the last of them." Scott panted with relief.

"Damn it. I nearly hit a new kill streak." Ali sighed.

They headed back to Vorn who was unlocking the clamps.

"Looks like we're done here."

At that moment however, Arone suddenly appeared behind Vorn and pointed his gun at the Krogan's head.

"Don't move!"

Everyone else aimed right at Arone, leaving both sides in a standoff.

"You." Drack growled.

"I'm taking this transport!" Arone said.

"Over our dead hides!" Ali said. "And you'll be lucky just to kill one of us alone before we kill you."

"Like I'm not dead the second that crazy old Krogan gets his hand son me." Arone said.

"I'm not the one you need to worry about right now." Drack said.

Vorn then suddenly gave the plant he was holding a firm squeeze and it started to release a faint green gas of some kind.

"Oh, he's screwed now." Ali smiled under her helmet.

Arone began to cough and splutter as though he were being chocked as the gas made contact with him. Within just a few seconds, he'd coughed himself into unconsciousness. Scott and the others edged a bit closer, but Drack stopped them.

"Wait! Wait! Don't come any closer! It'll affect anyone who isn't Krogan…" Vorn warned.

Everyone's attention though was suddenly averted in surprise as Ali sneezed loudly.

"… or half Krogan. It's pretty strong stuff." Vorn added.

"Yeah. I keep forgetting I'm allergic to it." Ali said groggily, sniffing slightly.

"Time to take out the trash." Drack said, grabbing Arone by the leg and dragging him over the edge.

"My first live specimen test. Doesn't last long, but it sure works fast." Vorn said, logging the vent in his omni tool.

As Arone woke up, he found himself hanging upside down over an endless drop. Only Drack's grip was preventing him from falling.

"You wouldn't dare! You're just bluffing!" he said in panic.

"Did you really just say that?" Drack asked rhetorically.

"Wait! Don't let me go!" Arone begged.

"Your call, Drack. He stole your people's transport." Scott simply said.

"I know things! You can't do this!" Arone begged again.

"I can do whatever I want to do!" Drack simply said smugly.

With no hesitation at all, he let go. Arone could only scream as he fell and disappeared from sight.

"Nice of him to drop by." Ali joked, causing both her and Drack to chuckle slightly.

Even Scott couldn't help but crack a slight smile at that.

"Let's get this transport back to where it belongs." Drack said.


"You're not expendable, Drack." Vorn said as the transport took off.

"We are not having this conversation." Drack groaned.

"I don't know. No harm hearing him out." Said Scott.

"I hate you all. Let me be old and cranky in peace already."

Ali meanwhile, bored with the entire exchange simply fell sleep in her sleep, snoring loudly much to Scott's annoyance.


With the transport returned, they left the Krogan to take care of the rest.

"Thanks for helping me get the colony transport back, Ryder. Of all the stupid things." Drack sighed.

"That's life on a frontier for you." Scott shrugged.

"At least we don't have to worry about Arone anymore."

"He looked pretty taken care of down there. Yeah."

"He sure did." Drack chuckled. "Listen to me, Ryder. You've been around me long enough to realize this. The fact is I'm a relic, a symbol of the past when Krogan were bent on destroying themselves. Fighting, killing, it's all I know. For my clan, for Kesh to have a real future… maybe it's best I'm not part of it."

"Fighting is pretty useful out here, in case you hadn't noticed."

"So, the old man still has some use, you think?" Drack said rhetorically. "Just remember who you're encouraging."


Finally they returned to the Nexus for both fuel and some downtime for the crew. Their arrival was most opportune as well as the Lucania had just finished docking and its Asari crew were already disembarking.

Tann naturally was there to greet them. Scott attempted to keep a low profile to avoid drawing attention. He'd rather Tann didn't make too much a of deal out of his presence if he could avoid it.

"I would like to welcome our Asari pilgrims to the Nexus!" the Salarian announced. "You've had a long journey, but we're thrilled that Ark Leusinia has finally arrived. We ask for patience as we find homes for everyone. To those who doubted the future, the proof stands before you: the Asari live and so does the dream!"

Unfortunately for Scott, Tann then noticed him.

"Ah. There's the hero who made it possible, Pathfinder Ryder. Do you have any words for us?" he said.

"I'm just doing what needs to be done." Scott simply said.

"Modest as ever." Tann simply sighed, but he was too pleased with the arrival of the Asari to make a big deal out of it. "We all owe Ryder a debt of gratitude. In the meantime, please enjoy whatever comforts the Nexus can offer a weary traveller." Tann said.

As Tann left, Scott headed for the Vortex Lounge. He'd received a message from Keri asking if he could meet her there. Apparently this time there would be no camera, just them with some time to themselves.

Scott though was stopped when one of the Asari walked up to him, another one behind her.

"Excuse me. You're the one who saved us?" she asked.

"I… guess you could say that." Scott replied.

"We owe you everything. If it hadn't been for you… we'd be dead." Another Asari said.

"Now we have a future. I… I feel as though I should repay you." The other said. Her tone then turned suggestive. "Sure I can't tempt you with something?"

"Wait… is this what I think it is?" Scott asked curiously.

"It is if you want it to be. You saved our lives. A bit of joy as recompense is not too much to ask." The Asari replied with seductive smile.

"I'm intrigued. It's been a tough day. I think some joy might do me good." Scott smiled.

The other Asari simply rolled her eyes with a smile and left her friend who went with Scott. True, the Asari had no apartment yet, but Scott had access to an apartment for personal use if ever he was on station. It would be ideal for what was to come.


Scott sat up naked on the bed as the nude Asari on top of him bounced up and down on his cock which right now was thrusting directly into her azure. To begin with she'd put on a nice little show while he watched from the bed. Once she'd discarded all her clothes though, she'd soon pounced on him. After reliving Scott of his own clothes, both of them now found themselves in the position they were currently in. Both moaning in pleasure, and the Asari even crying out in ecstasy.

Their pure and wild sex continued for many long minutes, their positions changing several times. The Asari riding Scott, Scott thrusting into the Asari from behind, the Asari on her back while Scott went even deeper… finally ending as Scott reached his own orgasm, cumming inside her.

Both fell back onto the bed exhausted and dripping with sweat.

"Thanks. I enjoyed that." Scott panted.

"No. Thank you for saving me and my people, Ryder." The Asari said, her hand gently stroking Scott's abs.

"If this is the sort of gratitude I get for saving an Asari, I should make sure to save them regularly." Scott chuckled, causing the Asari to also laugh slightly.

She then gently sat up and began getting dressed.

"I should get going. I have a new life to begin in Andromeda." She said. "Good luck out there, Pathfinder."


With that little "reward" taken care of, Scott headed over to the Vortex lounge. He found Keri sat at one of the tables. It was mostly in the corner and somewhat further off from the others, giving them a little bit of privacy.

"You made it. I ordered some snack. You like these, don't you?" she asked.

"I do actually. Thank you." Scot nodded.

"I should be the one thanking you. You saved the Asari ark, my own people." Keri smiled.

"Really? Hmm. I suppose having Asari willing to show their gratitude has its advantages."

"You would know, Ryder." Keri chuckled, giving him a wink.

"Oh. You know about that?" Scott asked with embarrassment.

"I'd hoped to greet you when you arrived with the other Asari, but that one stole you away before I could."

"Yet you don't seem angry about it." Scott said curiously.

"I thought I would be, but honestly… I think you've more than earned it with all you've done for the Initiative. Frankly, I'm surprised every Asari in Andromeda isn't trying to "show their gratitude."

Scott simply chuckled at this.

"And honestly… I wouldn't have a problem with that." Keri said. "You're the Pathfinder that's saved us from starving and eventually find us a home. Having more than one Asari is the least you deserve." Keri smiled, a clearly seductive look on her face. "What if we skip out? Have drinks at my place instead?"

"What are we having?" Scott asked curiously.

"Whatever you'd like." Keri simply replied.


They made their way back to Keri's apartment, engaging in mostly friendly talk. Once they reached the apartment and Keri locked the door however, both of them pounced on one another, their lips smashing together in an aggressive kiss.

They weren't bothering with romance, this was pure wild sex. Scott would never have thought he'd get this lucky. Two Asari in one day. He could only hope that Peebee didn't get jealous if she found out.

A part of Scott almost felt guilty for doing this, it felt like he was cheating on Peebee. But that guilt quickly vanished as Keri suddenly unbuttoned his trousers and sunk down to her knees.

As his trousers fell, Keri also pulled down his underwear, his already hard cock swinging up and standing fully erect, lightly beating with each heartbeat. Despite that it already had already been extensively used once, it seemed it was still hungry for another Asari azure.

"Goddess. I knew you'd be big, but…" Keri said in surprise.

She cautiously reached her hand forward and touched it, letting out an orgasmic gasp as her hands touched the pulsing rock hard shaft.

Taking Scott's cock in both hands, she slowly eased it into her mouth. Immediately she began sucking and bobbing up and down, causing Scott to moan in pleasure, one of his hands touching Keri's crests while the other hand steadied himself against the table he'd been forced against.

Keri's tongue licked around the head several times. Scott even went further by forcing Keri's head down, his cock plunging deeper down her throat. All the while, Keri began to touch herself through her outfit.

The blowjob continued for several minutes before Keri decided that she now wanted this cock somewhere else. Letting the shaft pop out of her mouth, she slowly stood up, helping Scott out of his shirt. Next they moved on Keri's' trousers. As the Asari's legs were hoisted up, she also removed her top, exposing her breasts to Scott which he immediately started kissing.

Their wild sex continued through the apartment in various different positions, but that one that really stood out was when Scott forced Keri against the window and prepared to fuck her form behind.

"Ryder! Someone might see!" Keri moaned

"Then let's give them a show." Scott grunted, thrusting even harder and pressing Keri even harder against the glass, her purple Asari breasts squashing against the glass.

Little did they know however that Keri had actually been right about what she said earlier…


Although Peebee had said she was done with her apartment, she had suddenly remembered there was something she'd accidently left behind. This would be crucial in another upcoming project she had.

To her relief it looked as though Kalinda hadn't tried searching the place. Or if she had, she hadn't found it. What certainly helped of course was that A. Kalinda didn't even know about it, so she wouldn't have specifically been looking for it, and B. Peebee had hidden very well. Kalinda's constant harassment and interference had taught her to be careful.

It was as she was retrieving her goal from its hiding place however that suddenly she saw something out of her window. She could see the window of the apartment across from her, and she saw a rather surprising sight. A nude purple Asari had herself pressed against the window, and from the looks of things, someone was pounding her from behind. A human male by the looks of things.

Normally, Peebee wasn't that interested in things like this. If people wanted to have sex inn that sort of way, fine by her. Wasn't her concern. Besides, it wasn't like she and Scott were any more discreet during their "relief sessions"

She had to admit though, the sight did start to make her feel a bit horny. Perhaps she should go and find Scott and… ask if he was up for a little fun. It was as she was turning to leave however that she suddenly caught sight of the human fucking the purple Asari.

Speak of the devil, it was Scott. As if Peebee hadn't been surprised already. Scott planted a few kisses on Keri's neck as he continued to plough into her. Now Peebee found herself interested. She knew that Scott did have a way with women (or Asari) but to actually see him doing it with someone else other than her… it was… well, she couldn't really think of the right word. She wasn't jealous or disappointed. Nor did she assume at all that his meant he'd found someone in a relationship. He could tell by how aggressive he was fucking Keri that this wasn't love. If it was, he would've been more gentle.

In the end, she found she just couldn't look away and decided that she'd make the most of this little show. It wasn't every day that something like this happened.

Making sure that her door was locked, she pulled up a seat and sat down. A she continued to watch, she began to feel a slight tingle in her nether regions and she could not deny it felt very warm in her apartment all of a sudden.

"Wow. He's really giving it to her." She thought, one of her hands beginning to fondle one of her breasts.

In the end, her arousal became too much. Unbuttoning her trousers, she slid a hand in and began to gently tease her azure, her other hand now groping her breast firmly.


Scott reached round and groped one of Keri's breasts as he continued to fuck her against the window. His other hand disappeared between Keri's legs, caressing her pussy.

"Yes! Right there!" She moaned.


Peebee watched the whole spectacle trying not to blink. She didn't want to miss a thing of this. As she continued to rub her wet folds, she slid her trousers and boots completely up and also discarded her jacket revealing her nude blue body in all its glory. The freedom of being completely naked and having her own personal show only made her hornier and hornier. She only wished there was some way that she could listen to Scott and Keri.

And then she remembered something…

Scott would probably be very angry with her if he ever found out about this, there was a little exploit she knew of to listen in on Scott's omni tool comm channel. Sara had mentioned it to her once as a little joke.

Accessing her own omni tool, she was able to use it and sure enough the very clear sounds of pleasured moans and flesh slapping against flesh began to play. Peebee bit her lip as her arousal spiked even further and the speed of her fingers now increased. She watched with lust and jealousy running through her, biting her lips while her fingers moved swifter and swifter.


Scott moaned, feeling the warmth and wetness of Keri's pussy on his cock as he continued to thrust into her and she continued to thrust her butt back into him. They were so engrossed with one another that they didn't notice the one person audience they had from the apartment across.

"Deeper! HARDER!" Keri cried out, feeling his cock pulsing inside of her.

Her hands reached round to touch his ass cheeks and marvelling at the hardness of his glute muscles as their hands caressed each other.


"Oh yeah!" Peebee moaned, imagining herself in Keri's position. She could feel an orgasm coming closer and closer. She didn't even care if maybe somehow Scott and Keri could say her, or maybe even someone else. Her only desire now was to reach her climax.


Scott picked up the pace, wave after wave of pleasure shooting through his body every time his entire length filled Keri's pussy, her wetness dripping down the length of his hard cock. His movements got rougher and faster and he tightened his grip on Keri's hips and his breathing became more ragged. He was getting closer.


"Yes! Pound that pussy, Scott!" Peebee sighed.

She was fast approaching her own climax and definitely couldn't stop herself from cumming at this point. She continued to grope and squeeze her naked breasts as her other and between her legs brought her closer and closer to cumming. She tried as best she could to hold it back so that she ideally came just before, after or even as Scott did.


Scott pounded into Keri even harder as he felt her tighten up around.

"Goddess! I'm gonna cum!" the purple Asari moaned.

"Me too!" Scott grunted, using the last of his might to drive his cock into her.

The Helldiver screamed with Keri as they both came, her pussy tightening up around him and his cock releasing a thick stream of cum into her.

"Fuck… that was good, Ryder." She panted as they both slumped against the window, completely spent.

"Tell me about it." Scott smiled.

And then he suddenly looked to the apartment across. What he saw made him freeze. Sat in a chair, and looking like she had just been masturbating to the whole thing was a naked Peebee.

For a moment Scott felt embarrassed and humiliated… but that was quickly replaced with a simple smile. Clearly there wasn't a problem if she was content enough to both watch the whole thing and touch herself to it. Perhaps she'd have a few interesting things to tell him next time they spoke.


Peebee also panted as she came down from her orgasm. She sighed with a smile as she noted she'd have to give the chair a clean before she left. She then looked at Scott and Keri as they both panted, still against the window. She simply smiled as she looked directly at Scott who she now noticed had spotted her.

She simply gave him a wink and licked her cum stained fingers seductively, savouring the taste of her own pussy.

"You are so gonna do me next." She smiled.


The next day shift was soon to begin on the Tempest

Cora naturally was one of the first one's up. As she finished, she went through her normal morning routine. She checked her schedule for the day, she did a few quick exercises and stretches and a gentle bit of biotics on a harmless object just to warm them up a bit.

Little did she know however she wasn't only one awake. From behind her, in her own bed, Vederia had quietly woken up as well. However she hadn't given any indication yet that she was awake. Hadn't moved at all. This whole time she had been silently watching her friend and roommate through half closed eye lids

As Cora finally finished her routine, she took a towel in her hand and left the room. As she did, Vederia's eyes stayed on the human's toned thighs and flared hips. It made the Asari's' heart flutter slightly and she suddenly found herself tingling ever so slightly with arousal. When Cora had disappeared from sight, she ultimately closed her eyes again. Her thoughts seemed to constantly dwell on Cora.

The human herself didn't know this,, but Vederia had always had a fascination for her. Despite that humans were such a short lived race (excluding Helldiver humans who could live up to 600 years) they weren't weak or fragile. They were just as strong, brave, and fit as Asari commandos could be.

Another thing she found fascinated about Cora was that a human, of all races, had been able to not only understand the ways of Asari commandos better than so many others, even the Helldivers and Arkanes, but also had the strength to cope with it and even adopt parts of it to her own self. Such an individual was not only a strong kind of person, but also a very rare one in both this, or any galaxy.

And that body… Sure Vederia had seen Cora without clothes plenty of times when they'd shared showers together, but she'd never necessarily paid attention to it in the way she seemed to be now. This time it was different. She also couldn't help but notice that if anything, it looked as though the time apart had made her look even better than when the Asari had last seen her. The human's skin tone was also something else Vederia found unique. It was different to the usual colours of Asari that so many of her kind were used to among their own people. Neither a good different or bad different. Just… different. She found herself fascinated by the human's skin in the same way that the Initiative itself had been fascinated by Andromeda, because it was different and that fascinated them.

And then of course there was what had happened with the Asari ark. When they had gone their separate ways before the whole Initiative, it had left the Asari with a somewhat sad and empty feeling. Yet she didn't exactly know why. They had both agreed to this and had parted on good terms. Yet the sadness she'd been left with still surprised her.

Neither one of them had known that the other was heading to Andromeda either. Even in a whole new galaxy, at a time when her people were lost among the stars and facing certain doom… at time where she'd been left almost hopeless… Cora had appeared yet again brought the help she needed. The human had come to her rescue and helped saved her people. A truly remarkable woman with a strength that Vederia found impossible to ignore. Somehow she found herself wanting to be taken into. To be surrounded and held by that strength. If anything, she was seeing this as a sign from the Goddess herself giving her another chance. And this time she was not going to squander it.

A apart of her both hoped and at the same time believed that Cora might actually feel the SAME. She probably just didn't know it herself. At the very least, she wished she could do something to spark the human's interest.

And then the thought came to mind…

Cora decided to catch a shower before she went on duty. Having one this early meant she had the place to herself which it seemed had been a good call. It wasn't a pride thing, she just simply preferred the solitude when it came to things like this. The biotic simply closed her eyes and let the hot water cascade onto her. She let out a relieved sigh as she began to feel more relaxed and awake. Her moment of bliss however was suddenly interrupted when she heard a voice behind her.

"Ah. There you are. Wondered where you'd got to. You weren't in the bio lab and no one had seen you."

Cora turned round to see Vederia standing in the doorway.

"Is it important?" Cora asked, slightly worried that something had happened during her absence.

"No. Just found it odd you weren't in the bio lab. That's all." Vederia said reassuringly. "Didn't realize you were using the showers though. Was going to have one myself."

"Don't let that stop you." Cora shrugged. "Hardly the first time after all."

"Very true. Besides, nothing we haven't seen before." Vederia admitted.

Cora went back to her own shower as Vederia undressed. Both due to the fact that she wasn't bothered by Asari nudity, having shared showers with dozens of other Commandos during her time and also because she just felt she should respect Vederia's privacy.

She remained unfazed by the gentle sound of footsteps as Vederia walked up to one of the shower heads. One thing that did catch her off guard however was that the Asari chose the head right next to hers. The Huntress was momentarily surprised by the sudden presence of the nude Asari next to her. Vederia noticed the stare and simply smiled at her, giving an acknowledging nod in the process.

The Asari let a long and slow sigh as the water began to fall down her body, her purple skin now glistening. As she arched herself up into a stretch, Cora couldn't help but stare. Something about that stretch seemed to put an awful lot of emphasis on Vederia's curves. She wanted to turn away, but somehow she just couldn't make herself. Something in her mind forced her to watch, as if suddenly nothing else mattered but this…

As Vederia moved her hands all over her body, making sure the water got everywhere, she seemed to do it awfully slowly. Not that Cora considered that weird. Even back in the day when they'd served together she'd always loved a hot shower. The way it relaxed her body and muscles, the way the water felt on her skin, and the fact that shower would either be some time to herself, or she'd be with people she trusted with her life, Cora included. Because of this, she often had the tendency to savour a shower, take her time in joying it, hence the slow movements of her arms as she washed herself.

"Can I borrow the soap?" Vederia asked, suddenly snapping Cora out of her trance.

"Yeah. Sure." She replied, handing the soap to Vederia who began to rub it all over her body.

White foam from the soap began to form on her body as it spread.

Cora didn't stare, but her eye did linger for a moment, taking in Vederia's form. They'd showered together plenty of times back in the day, but back then she'd never really paid much attention to Vederia's body. She hadn't noticed just how much natural beauty the Asari had.

One thing that was abundantly clear, and had been from the very beginning was that Cora was not attracted to human women. She was a completely straight women and preferred human men. Even after all her time serving with Asari commandos, that had never changed.

But Asari had always been a unique case for her. There was something about them that made her feel drawn, attracted to their unique appeal, and she imagined that many other different species felt this way also.

One easily forgotten fact was that Asari were not truly women. They were, as they themselves often said, mono-gendered. Male and female had no meaning for them. Perhaps maybe they even fell under the classification of a third gender that was neither of the two. Regardless though, this lack of a barrier was what made them more inclined to be both appealing to both genders of other species, and them in turn to be attracted to both males and females alike, or even each other in some cases.

Cora's time among Asari had opened her eyes to the Asari people. Their culture, their lifestyle, their combat abilities… the list could go on. She admired tem immensely. So while she wasn't attracted to human women, there was just some kind of special allure the Asari had drew her in. Hell, maybe that same allure was what drew Scott to Peebee, or even what had drawn the great Major Shepard to his Asari wife, Liara T'soni.

Of course, Cora wasn't instantly attracted to all Asari. Like how other human women were not instantly attracted to all males. It was only someone that specifically drew her interest.

Many years ago, that had been the same Asari now showering beside her. The relationship they had once had was not necessarily a romance that was something to talk about. They had both attracted to each other, sure.

Cora admired how Vederia had always been very open with her. She was a strong biotic, but back in her earlier days she'd been a bit shy and sometimes lacked the confidence to push herself. Quite a few of the other Asari had looked down on her because of this, believing that she had some sort of affliction that stumped her true potential or that she was too weak and cowardly to be a commando. Yet this one human had been there for her. She had helped where she could, found ways for the Asari to succeed where she'd previously failed and eventually forge her into a stronger and more self-confident being. They always approached and interacted with each other differently because of this, and had a type of rhythm and understanding that was unique to them alone in the unit. And eventually, it slowly stirred into the potential for something more.

But it had never truly gotten romantic. Neither one of them had said the L word to one another, and they had never been truly intimate. Sure they'd seen each other nude when showering loads of times, but beyond that it never gone further. Before it even could, they had ultimately agreed it wouldn't work for the in the long run. Cora had decided to join the Initiative, and Vederia still had much ahead of her as a Commando.

Another thing that Cora had come to admire from Asari in general is how all those centuries they would spend with their rigorous training and exercise never took a single thing away from their natural curves and figure. Vederia was a good example. She was nearing 250 years old and yet she had a fit and athletic figure, much like the human huntress herself.

Eventually, the silence of the showering was broken by them making friendly talk with another, mostly just chatting about the good old days back in the Milky Way or even comparing some new battle tactics they'd learned. This also unintentionally gave them an excuse to remain looking at each other. And although neither of them noticed it, both were admiring each other's forms. The curves, the natural shape, and the beauty they emanated. It was hard to deny that both were attractive in their own way.

A surprising thing then happened to Cora. For some reason, she found herself starting to get a bit warmer and the shower water in turn no longer felt as hot as it had. This didn't make sense to her. This didn't make sense to her. What was this warm feeling? The fact that she didn't understand only made her feel more uneasy. Even Vederia began to notice how her friend looked uncomfortable.

"Are you alright?" she asked, putting a hand comfortingly on Cora's shoulder.

The physical contact sent a rush through Cora which nearly caught her off guard. It was a wonder she managed to stay composed.

"Yeah. Just… a few things on my mind." she replied.

Vederia simply nodded understandingly. The Asari then ran her finger down Cora's spine like a caring friend. The feeling intensified, and then Cora felt an odd tingle… lower down.

Before anything more could happen though, Vederia turned off her shower.

"Duty calls." She said relaxingly, taking a nearby towel and drying herself. "Don't spend too long with your shower."

"Uh… yes. I'll… be done shortly." Cora said.

Vederia nodded with a smile. Telling Cora she'd see her later, she finished getting dressed and walked out. As she did, Cora somehow found herself unable to avert her gaze. Much as her brain kept telling her she should, she just didn't seem able to look away from the natural sway of Vederia's hips.

What was happening to her? She kept asking herself that question many times, but no answer seemed to come. She could only hope that it would eventually come later. She didn't like that she was feeling this way for a reason she didn't know. And then suddenly a new question popped into her head. Was it entirely possible, however unlikely… was it possible that maybe… just maybe… she was still attracted to Vederia?


A big thank you again to Mastermind4892 for his contributions to the shower scene.

Next one will be Liam's loyalty mission. Now I don't know if anyone else feels this way, but I am unfortunately one of those people that doesn't like Liam and finds him very annoying. Yes I admit, his loyalty mission has some nice funny scenes in it.

All I'm saying is, next chapter will probably have a slightly different ending to what you might expect. I'm not necessarily gonna have him kicked off the Tempest, but... well, you'll see.

If you would prefer for him to stay however, please do let me know. I always listen to feedback and if you'd rather I keep Liam around then I will by all means do so. I don't' want to get on people's bad sides for making the wrong choice.

So yeah. Let me know.

Until the next chapter. :)

Chapter Text

My apologies for the long delay.  There were some personal and work relate dmatters to attend. And admittedly I... got a bit distracted with a bit of gaming.

But anyway, I'm now back and I've compelted this chapter.

Now I should say, this chapter is a bit short and might feel a bit rushed in places. Funny as Liam's loyalty mission is, I didn't have the best enthusiam for writing it so I did dilberately cut out a fair few bits. And also the ending isn't what you might expect.

Not my finest... but it could've been worse. So I'm still in good spirits about it at least. I feel I've done a decent enough job.

Small warning as well, chapter contains nudity at the end.


Chapter 15

All In… and Out

The Tempest's crew were all currently sat around the large table as they were all having dinner.

Scott was sat next to Peebee, since no one else had, Sara was sat next to Suvi while they had a friendly chat and were unknowingly holding each other's hand, Cora was eating with Vederia while they discussed huntress strategies and Ali was sat next to Jaal while they discussed ways to kill Kett with Drack.

Liam, in both boredom and hopes of getting some entertainment for everyone, turned to Max who had just finished handing a tray to Vetra.

"Hey, Max. Do the thing with your knife." He said.

"Oh please, not again." Max sighed as everyone both laughed and cheered encouragingly. Even Vetra seemed to want him to do it.

With a sigh and shake of his head, Max rose to feet and unsheathed his knife. He then noticed Ali who had also rose to her feet and winked at him.

As Max prepared to do the trick on his own hand, Ali then suddenly grabbed one of Liam's arms.

"Hey what are you doing, Ali?! What are you doing?!" Liam laughed, thinking this was just a playful joke.

Try as he might, Liam was unable to shake the Arkane's grip or overcome her immense strength. Soon se had his hand pinned to the table in the exact same way Max had his.

"Come on now. Quit messing around!"

Max soon got what Ali was proposing. With a somewhat evil smile, he placed his hand on top of Liam's while Lai still kept him in place.

"Max! Not me!" Liam yelled, his tone now of worry.

"Yeah! Do it!" Drack cheered.

Liam now tried more than ever to get loose, but no luck.

"Don't move, Liam. Trust me." Max said.

With every single stab, Liam practically screamed as Max continued to increase the speed. Son his arm became so fast it was almost a blur… and still he didn't stab Liam or himself.

Finally after several terrifying second (well, terrifying for Liam, hilarious for everyone else) Max finally stopped.

Liam's mouth hung open and his eyes were wide as he still tried to overcome the shock as Ali finally released him and Max sheathed his knife.

"Thank you." Max simply smiled smugly.

"That wasn't funny!" Liam said in shock.

"Just be thankful Ali didn't do it." Max smiled as he sat down next to Vetra. "She would've held both your hands down and wielded two knives with her smaller hands."

"Done it with more than ten people in my time, and two of them still have some of their fingers left." Ali said.

Liam hated to admit it, but he was now actually thankful that it had been Max doing it.

"You're scary sometimes, Ali. You know that?"

"Aw. Hear that, Drack? This poor human thinks I'm scary." Ali said sarcastically as he nudged Drack.

The two simply chuckled while Liam groaned.

"Oh lighten up, Liam! We're just having fun." Ali said.

"Nothing wrong with a little risk now and then to make ou feel more alive." Jaal agreed.

"A man after my own heart." The Arkane smiled.

It was fair to say that Lexi, who had only just come in and witnessed the whole thing, was not amused. The Asari doctor simply gave a frustrated sigh and shook her head.

As Ali resumed eating she also picked up a nearby bottle.

"That bottle's empty, Ali." Suvi reminded her.

"I know."

To everyone's surprise Ali then put the neck of the bottle into her mouth and actually bit into it. Her bite was even so hard that the end of it actually shattered in her mouth. As if that hadn't been enough she even started to chew the broken bits in her mouth.

This whole thing left most of the crew in silent surprise, even Peebee. Only a few seemed unaffected. Drack didn't seem to care and simply continued eating like nothing was happening and Scott and Sara also didn't seem affected.

To be fair, this was a behaviour they often saw in Arkanes. Strong teeth and tough skin meant Arkanes could eat quite a few things. In this case, even glass.

"Mmmm. Excellent year." Ali commented. She temporarily stopped chewing though when she noticed the odd stares the rest of the crew were giving her. "What?"

For a moment no one said anything until Sara finally broke the silence.

"You've got a bit stuck in your teeth." Sara said casually.

This in turn led everyone to give her the same look also. They were more shocked that she wasn't weirded out by this.

Managing to find the stray piece of glass with one of her mandibles, Ali simply dislodged it and popped it into her mouth.

"Thank you, Sara." She nodded.

Everyone else was still left in silence. In the end though, as Ali consumed the rest of the bottle, they simply accepted it as another part of the Arkane's excessively strange behaviour and went back to their meals.


Most of the rest of the day went off without a hitch. Apart from Max blowing up another kett weapon by accident, Sara's hamster escaped and until another box of cereal before being returned to his home, and Scott's pyjak had slept in Cora's helmet again.

Somewhat hectic, but hardly the worst day.

Little did Scott know however that was about to change as he got a message from Liam asking to speak with him.

"Something I should know about?" he asked, entering Liam's room.

"Hey! I was just… how are you doing? I'm… great. Just…" Liam seemed to stutter.

"Cut to the chase, Liam. I'm not in the mood for games." Said Scott.

"I've screwed up." Liam sighed. "Remember Verand? My contact in the Angara? She's gone. Her whole group is gone. Sudden. SO yeah. Up for a rescue? Because if we don't, we could be next."

"Clarify for me how this is your fault exactly." Scott said, worried that he wasn't going to like the answer.

"Because… I gave Verand Nexus data and nav points." Liam admitted.

"YOU WHAT?!"

"We need to know how to live here. I tried asking, I tried taking. No one would help "outsiders." Liam explained. "So I took initiative. Gave her data and tech so she could mod it. Verand was… she is a good risk. But if pirates interrogate her o… barter her to the Kett, its our heads."

"Liam, please tell me this is a really bad joke. Please do." Scott groaned, buring his face in his hand as he sat on the edge of Liam's couch.

"Look, I'm sorry. I…"

"Shut up!" Scott yelled.

A long silence followed before Scott felt calm enough to speak again.

"We'll go and get her." He finally said, rising back to his feet. Before Liam could speak however, he got right up close, making Liam back away slightly in surprise. "But this goes south, you're on the hook for it… and off this ship. Got that?"

"Absolutely." Liam simply said, feeling it best not to argue with Scott when he was in this mood. "I got a lead from a trader. A grainy visual. We find that system, we find our bad guys. I… also asked Bradley for people to help intercept. I thought they might want to pitch in."

"You brought them into this as well?! How the hell are a bunch of settlers going to help?!"

"That's what he said. We're on our own."

"Good. Last thing we need is them ind anger also because of your fuck up."

"I'll forward the visual to the bridge, for when you want to start hunting. And… sorry."

"Save it, Kosta!"

With that, Scott left.


A short flight later, the Tempest arrived at Liam's coordinates.

Scott and Sara were already suited up for the mission. It was fair to say though, Scott seemed very reluctant.

"Alright. We're set to go… somewhere." Scott sighed.

"This is on me. I'll take care of it." Liam said as he came into the bridge, also suited up.

"Oh good. The rest of us can just sit back then."

"Scott!" Sara said disapprovingly.

"I was joking, Sara."

Liam simply sighed and shook his head. He'd hoped Scott might have calmed down in the time it had taken to get here, but apparently not. He was also beginning to worry that perhaps he might have damaged his already strained friendship with the Helldiver more than he realized. By no means did they hated each other, but the two didn't see eye to eye on a lot of things and had actually argued a lot. Most of their arguments had usually just ended with Scott putting Liam in his place, but it was still enough to make their relationship a hostile one.

"Any sign of the pirates who took my contact?" Liam asked.

"There's too much background radiation. Could be anything hiding out there. All that debris in orbit." Suvi replied.

"No kidding. Like trying to find a needle in a haystack whilst stuck in coal mine with no source of light whilst wearing a blindfold and drunk out of your mind." Sara said.

Everyone gave the Ryder sibling a puzzled look though.

"That got away from me a bit." She admitted.

"That tracks. Heard they were scavengers." Liam said, bringing the subject back on course. "I'd hoped Bradley or some of our colonists would follow. Join in."

"Why an outpost first? A strike team could easily do this better." Scott asked.

"Like I said, I gave Verrand a lot of Nexus data. If the pirates got that, they'd know a team was coming." Liam replied.

"You and I are going to have a serious talk when this is over, Liam. Mark my words." Scott said crossly.

Liam wanted to argue, but chose not to. He hated to be in this situation with Scott and wished they got get along, but he knew in this case the Helldiver did have a good reason to be angry, and in truth it was his fault. Trying to argue with Scott about that would only make things worse.

"I say we play to their scavenger roots. With… that debris. I'll explain in the airlock." Liam said. "We've wasted enough time. Let's hit the go button, shoot pirates, and save people. We've got this."

"What we've got is a chance… a small one." Scott reminded him.

"And I'll make the most of it. You'll see." Liam said optimistically. "We play this right, they'll deliver us just where we need to go. I have a plan."

"Why do I get the feeling I'm not going to like this?" Scott sighed.


"Seems I was right, Liam. I fucking HATE this plan."

Even Sara couldn't' help but agree. Being stuck in a cargo container floating idly around in space was not at all what had been in mind.

"Come on. Hiding in derelict cargo to get scavenged? Sure, we don't' know what we're up against, but neither do they. Trojan horse, simple." Liam said.

"Normally I'm all for a little optimism, but this is stupid!" Scott complained.

"Yeah, I admit that if this doesn't work, we float out here forever and may ultimately die in the cold dark vacuum of space." Liam sighed.

"Not me and Scott." Sara simply shrugged. "We can survive in space."


Thankfully though, it didn't come to that. The crate ended up being picked up by something and soon as they felt it touch down on solid ground again, Liam opened it up.

"There's air."

"I'll be dammed. This actually worked." Scott said.

As they exited the crate however, a rather unexpected sight greeted their eyes.

"Whoa. This isn't right."

"Liam, you said to expect pirates. This is a Kett ship!" Scott said.

"Change… change of plan?" Liam said, trying to crack a smile under his helmet.

"Two words… FUCK… YOU."

All the while alarms were going off. Not the best news for the team.

"It's a Kett ship but scavenging isn't their MO." Liam said.

"Alarms, Liam." Scott reminded him.

"Doesn't change why we're here. Find Verrand and get out."

"Alarms, Liam!" Scott repeated again.

"I know! I know!"


Surprisingly an advanced guard came to check the crate, but they weren't Kett. Turns out it was Angara for some reason. Once the last of the guards had been dealt with, the team had the chance to catch a breath and also get their bearings.

"What the hell's going on down there?!" a voice said over loudspeakers.

"Sound like we could get some wanders. Liam suggested.

"For the last time, report! We just fixed those bay shields. If you idiots blew them, I'll have your skins!" the voice said.

"Mind if I try?" Sara asked.

"Go ahead." Scott nodded.

Sara walked up to the console and pressed the button.

"Uh, everything's under control. Just a simple weapon malfunction. We're alright here. How are you?" she said, causing Liam to laugh slightly.

There was a pause… and no response.

"Well, I tried." Sara shrugged.

Scott simply sighed and gently nudged Sara out of the way.

"This is Helldiver Scott Ryder. We've boarded your vessel. We demand compliance." Scott said.

"Really?" said Liam.

"What is this?! Get cameras on the bay… Well figure it out!" the voice finally said.

A holo screen then appeared of another Angara. The team could probably guess this was the pirate's leader.

"Stows. This ship is property of Talon Wing, now you're property too, just like the rest…

But he was interrupted when Sara suddenly cut off the call.

"Sara!"

"What? He was droning on and that wasn't going anywhere useful." The Helldiver simply said.

"They've got my contact here somewhere." Said Liam.

"And more, sounds like." Scott said. "So where to now?"

"Find Verrand and fast. This way."

Liam led them to nearby door, but as it opened it suddenly revealed a large turret which immediately charged to fire, only for Liam to suddenly shut the door again almost instantly as soon as he saw it.

"Not that way!"

Liam lead them to another door, but Scott could tell he had just picked that one because ehe could.

"We don't even know if this is the way, Liam!" Scott irritably.

"Well something has to go right! You take a risk for the right reason! Its supposed to work!" Liam yelled, punching a nearby crate in frustration.

"If you dent your locker the principal is gonna be pissed." Scott said sarcastically.

"It isn't a joke!" Liam said crossly. "I jumped us here blind, we don't know where anyone is or how anything works!"

Calot's hologram suddenly appeared again… only for Liam to suddenly cut him off again.

"And now we're fighting some asshole who wants everyone chained. It's like hitting Andromeda all over again!"

Calot's holo suddenly popped up again.

"I've sealed the bay. There's…"

And then Sara cut him off as well.

"Don't make this about the whole Initiative! We're here to help and… why am I the one defending your plan?!" she said crossly.

"I don't know." Liam replied.

"I will not be ignored anymore…" Calot said angrily.

But he barely got to anymore before being cut off yet again. This tiem though by Scott who actually the console with his shoulder cannon.

"Oh shut up!"

He then turned to Liam. "We're rescuing these people one way or another. Damn your shit plan! Now stop fucking complaining! Any questions?"

"Nope. I think you made yourself very clear." Liam said, still a bit shocked at the suddenness of the moment.

"Good." Sara said. "Scott shot the console... Think he'll be mad?"

"What more could he do?" Liam laughed.

The answer though soon came in the form of alarms, and the vacuum of space pulling on them as the hanger bay doors suddenly opened. The team just managed to grab onto a railing as various objects flew past them out into space.

"You just had to ask, didn't you?!" Sara yelled.

"I really hate this plan, Liam!" Scott added.

"Right now, me too!" Liam only sighed.

"Ditto!"

This continued for several more seconds before something new happened.

"You folks need a hand?" a familiar voice suddenly said.

"Auggey? You have timing." Liam said.

"Would've come in sooner, but didn't know how we could help. Settlers aren't' soldiers, but a wreck of a ship with bad shielding? We've got engineers."

The doors soon sealed again and the team finally landed back on their feet again. Right as they did however, everything started to slide to the left, including them.

"They changed the artificial gravity!"

Once they managed to upright themselves again, they were now essentially standing on the walls.

"You guys alright?" Bradley asked.

"Um, things have gone a little sideways." Sara simply replied.

"Get to engineering and fix the gravs!" Calot ordered over the speakers. "Then I'll do it myself!"


They fought their way through several sideways hallways before they were able to reach somewhere to allow the settlers access to the ship.

"I'm in their security, if you want to call it that. There's the doors and… cameras." One of them said.

"On it. Watch the monitors."

The nearby monitors flashed into life displaying what was clearly the inside of some cells.

"There's Verrand, and… what the hell?! They have humans locked up too?" Liam said in surprise.

"Got your timing wrong, Liam. Calot wasn't hitting the Initiative soon…" Bradley said.

"…He already did." Liam finished.


Whilst continuing through the ship, the gravity ended up shifting again so that it was now completely upside down. The team got through several more rooms before reaching the one that had the hostages inside. However they also seemed to be dealing with some of Calot's pirates.

"That's them! Seal the bulkhead!" ordered one of the pirates,

"Now's our chance! Take them!" a captive ordered int urn.

"There's our captives kicking ass!" Liam said.

At the same time however, two large mech suits entereted the room they were in as the bulkhead sealed. Depsite the alrge size and tough arour of the mechs however, the two Helldivers managed to easily overcome them.

"Hello? Anyone alive out there?" a voice said throught he itnercomm.

"You're Initiative? Where'd you come from?" Scott asked.

"Trading outpost out of Kadara. You're Nexus?" the voice relied.

"You could say that." Scott simply said.

"We heard the pirates say Helldiver. Didn't believe them."

"Is Verrand alright?" Liam asked.

"Liam. What are you doing here?" a female Angaran voice said.

"Didn't want you getting killed over hwat I told you."

"I'd never give that up. Not that it matters." Verand said. "Calot hasn't asked anything."

"He dumped her in here, same as us. We're all just labour. Half the ship is our handiwork." The other female voice said.

"We're short on time. This door needs to open." Said Scott.

"I think… we were working on those systems before all this happened." Verand said. "But the door is gravity held. You'll need to restablize the ship for it to open."

"Copy that." Scott said. "Bradley, you get all that?"

"Give us a minute." Bradley said. "Better hang on to something."

A light hum echosed throughout the ship and everything suddenly fell back to the ground, including the team who managed to land on their feet.

"Well at least we're the right way up now." Said Sara.

"Tanner will evac, but we can't have Calot chasing us." Bradley said.

"Where is he then?" Scott asked.

"Engine control, past where they held the captives."

"Fine! Take them! I'll chase you down and burn you where you live!" Calot yelled over the speakers.


"Get a ship, fill it with shooters and I'ms till disrespected! Fine. Fine!" Calot growled as the team entered engine control.

"It doesn't have to go down like this." Said Sara.

"No one is taking anything from ever again, Helldiver! I'll kill you myself"

Everyone dove for cover as Calot activated a shield around himself. At the same time, the unwelcome sight of a feind came into view.

"Calot's got a pet." Scott said.

"And a shield pulling power straight from the drive core." Said Bradley.

"I can take care of that. Just need you two to cover me." Sara said as eh began accessing anearby console.

"You got it, Sis." Scott said.

Botrh he and Liam concentrated their fire ont heir fiend whiel Sara worked. Angered by the many roudns hitting it, the large creatures charged,f orcing the two to scatter. In doing so however, they attacked from boths ides now. Liam was able to distract the feind while Scott lepat onto its back. He managed a slice with his sowrd and evne managed to slash the fiend's left eye before it shook him off. A well paced shto form Liam however took out the other eye.

With the creature now blinded, Scott seized the opening, slicing its throat and then stabbing the creature in the head. Its death was instantnious.

"No. That fiend was mine. Its all mine!" Calot yelled.

Right as he finished speaking however… his shield deactivated.

"That's it. Now let's end this." Said Sara, redrawing his assault rifle.

"With you on that." Liam said.

Calot and what remained of his pirates put up one hell of a fight. But against two Hellldivers… the odds had neve rbeen in his favour.

"Got him." Scott panted.

"Standing by for evac, Ryder. Let us know when you're ready." Said Bradley.


The group walked back onto the bridge of the Tempest, relived to finally have this whoel situation behind them.

"Don't tell me a stock shuttle can mangle off like that. I saw." Kallo chuckled.

"Don't spread it around." Bradley said.

Sara meanwhile walked up to Suvi.

"Had me worried there for a moment." The scientist said with a smile.

"You know me and my brother. Always getting into trouble." Sara said as she removed her helmet.

Scott, having overheard that, simply chuckled with a smile.

"Glad you're okay." Suvi said happily as she and Sara shared a brief kiss.

Liam noticed this and was surprised for a moment.

The hoenst truth was that he'd been attracted to Sara recently. But to suddenly find out she preffered women…

By no menas was it a bitter blow. It was obviously clear to him that Sara had never even been in that kind of market to begin with. No other man could've done it either, which was rather reassuring. He was also happy for her ina way. It was nice to see that she found someone like Suvi to be with that would make her happy. This did actually explain why Sara had in fact bene so happy of late.

With a simple accepting shrug, he turned his attention back to Bradley.

"There you are. Safe and sound?"

"All good, Augey." Liam replied.

"We got everyone out just in time. The inside of that boat is six kinds of eradiated now. Hold on, someone wants to say goodbye."

The holo then changed to show Verand herself.

"Thank you, Liam. I didn't expect… whatever that was."

"You gave them plenty of trouble on your own." Liam simply said.

"Maybe. But its good to know your friends will come, and their friends."

The holo then returned to Bradley.

"We'll get people where they need to go. Most want to come to Prodromos. Verrand says we might even get some Angara. That's good news."

"Bradly, make sure Verrand doesn't go too far." Scott said, folding his arms.

"I don't think we have the authority, Ryder." Bradley said.

"Call it an "invitation" until we can suggest the nexus update their protocols." Scott simply said.

From out of the corner of his eye he could clearly see Liam trying to contain himself. He even looked at Sara briefly somehow hoping she might be on his side. But the Helldiver had a similar expression o Scott's. It seemed that while she wasn't as angry with Liam as Scott was, she wasn't on the former cop's side.

"Understood." Bradley simply nodded.


"What was that, Ryder?! This wasn't Verrand's fault!" Liam said angrily.

"Not now, Liam!" Scott simply groaned.

"Look, things were a little skin of our teeth, but we came out ahead."

"WE CAME THIS CLOSE TO LOSING EVERYONE! THIS CLOSE!" Scott practically yelled. "You got lucky! I can't rely on that! She stays put until we're safe again!"

"We were never safe!" Liam said in similar annoyance. "Dammit, Ryder! Forget the codes and the pirates, Verrand is the win! Her people saw you act for them, like you do for us! That's how we bring it all together! I'm sorry we had to stick our necks out, but I'm not sorry "Pathfinder" has real meaning to more people."

"Not having it, Liam. There's too much at stake for risks like this."

"Right, the stakes. That's why we jumped a fucking galaxy! To not rely on people!"

With that Liam left.

For a moment, Scott simply leant against the railing, trying to calm himself down.

"You alright? That got heated." Sara asked.

"I'll be fine." Scott said with a deep breath. "Just a bit angry after all that."

"Why don't you go talk to Peebee? That always cheers you up." Sara suggested.

"Think I just might."

"The rest of us are here if you need to talk. We all support you, whatever decision you make. Liam's learned a good lesson today. Just give him time."

"Still… he tries something like that again, he's off this ship before he can say "What the fuck?"

"Like I said, he'll learn his lesson from this."

"Thanks, Sara."


Taking Sara's advice, Scott headed down to the escape pods to talk with Peebee. When the doors opened however, he found himself greeted with a rather unexpected sight.

Peebee was working on her table on some kind of Remnant device. But that wasn't the outstanding issue. What was far more noticeable was that she was completely naked. No clothes on at all.

Peebee was for a moment startled by the door suddenly opening, but she relaxed when she noticed it was just him.

"Ryder! You ever heard of knocking?!" the Asari complained.

"Uh… I didn't... realize you weren't dressed." Scott said, trying to keep his cool and hide his embarrassment. It was nothing he hadn't seen before, but it had certainly come as quite a surprise.

"Couldn't be bothered when I woke up. Had a lot to do." Peebee shrugged, her attention going back to her work.

"Bad time to talk then?" Scott asked.

"Not to you. Come on in. Lock the door though. Last thing I need is someone else coming in. Imagine if Sara saw me like this."

"You'd probably make her faint." Scott said.

"I'll take that as compliment." Peebee said, givning Scott and unimpressed look.

Scott simply shrugged and walked in, locking the door behind him.

"So, what are you working on?" he asked curiously, folding his arms and leaning aginst the wall near where POC was simply hovering idily.

"Rem tech infused scanner." Peebee replied, still not taking her eyes off what she was doing. "If I can get this to work, hopefully it'll pick up something amazing."

"No wonder you're so focused enough to not get dressed. This does sound big." Scott said, trying to keep his gaze off Peebee's butt.

"No kidding. Not to mention you'll benefit from what I get as well… hopefully."

"Don't suppose there's anything I can do to help?"

Peebee was silent for a moment, and actually stopped working.

"Well… there might be actually. Much as I want to keep doing this… I could really use a break." She said.

Her face then turned to look at Scott and she gave a cheeky smile. Scott knew that look.

"Wanna fool around again?" she asked.

"Why the hell not?" Scott simply shrugged with a smile and stripped within just a few seconds. Peebee remained leant against the table but she enjoyed the little show as Scott undressed. She then began to move her hips from side to side, presenting her ass to Scott who walked up and laid his hands on it.

"Just like you fucked Keri." Peebee smiled.

"Glad to hear you enjoyed the show, even if it was unintentional."

"Sure was fun watching you give it to her, I'll admit." Peebee said. She then reached round and begant to stroke Scott's semi hard shaft, coaxing it to full hardness. "But why look, when you can touch?"


So... only two loyalty missions left.

The next one will be Peebee's, and finalyl Ali's.

I'll amke sure a bit mor eeffort is put into the next one. I do have a small interesting addition planned that will be expanded on in a later chapter. And there will also be the start of soemthigne lse at the end of it. So something to look forward to. :)

See you next time.

Chapter Text

Greetings, one and all.

Here we have another chapter, this time Peebee's loyalty mission. The title also aludes to another things in this, but I'll let you find that out.

Hope you enjoy. :)


Chapter 16

Burning Love

The day pretty much started off like any other. For the most part, it remained very quiet an uneventful.

That was all about to change though when Scott got word that Peebee wanted to talk to him. As expected, he found the Asari in her usual spot. She was stood in front of POC who was simply hovering in place. The bot seemed also to be emitting some kind of sound constantly.

Scott guessed that Peebee was aware of this though and figured she'd simply tell him in good time.

"Hey there. What's new?" he asked.

"Funny you should ask. I need to know: if I had something really important to do, could I count on you to help? To come along?" Peebee replied.

"Important- important, or stress relief important?" Scott asked teasingly.

"This time important-important." Peebee simply smiled. "Thanks to my newly Remnant –augmented scanner, I'm onto something big… Hear that signal? Best I can tell, its coming from a piece of raw Remnant programming tech. A building block in an unused state. My eyes bulge thinking what we might be able to learn from it-or do with it! It's like a rem-tech wild card. The kind of mystery I live for. I have to go get it. There's no time to waste, right?"

"Okay." Scott simply said.

"That's it? No preamble? No further interrogation? Just "okay"? You're in?" Peebee asked in surprise.

"As I recall when it comes to you, I've been in a lot of times."

Peebee simply chuckled at that.

"No kidding. I'm still sore from the last time. You've definitely got stamina." She smiled. "Anyway, great. That you're game means the world to me. Loading the coordinates into the galaxy map. Consider me primed and ready."


Scott chose to take Cora and Vederia with him for this one. Since the Asari ark, Vederia hadn't seen any action, so perhaps now was as good a time as any.

As he and the others finished gearing up however, they couldn't help but notice they were absent one Asari.

"Where's Peebee?" Scott asked.

"Probably somewhere she shouldn't be." Cora sighed.

"Wake up, Peebee. You mystery signal awaits." Scott said into his omni tool.

"Uh, right, okay, yeah." Peebee's voice said. "Actually could you come here, please? My place. Straight away."

"Kallo? Any luck finding a place to land?" Scott asked with a slight sigh.

"Nothing yet. Might take a while." Kallo replied.

"Okay, Peebee. Be right there."

"You grab her hands…" Cora said.

"I'll grab her feet." Vederia added.

They headed to Peebee's place only to find she wasn't there. The escape pod however was open.

"Peebee?"

"Back here. I won't bite." They heard the Asari say from inside the pod.

"Uh, I'm not alone." Scott reminded her.

"Okay, I won't bite either of you."

When they finally saw Peebee in the escape pod, they were greeted with a slightly surprising sight.

Instead of her usual jacket outfit, Peebee was actually wearing armour.

In the past, Peebee had always said that she preferred to be light on her feet, hence why she only ever had a pistol or an assault rifle, and didn't' wear armour. That she also rarely had encounters with enemies other than Remnant.

The armour she was wearing now wasn't exactly military armour. In fairness it was more explorer like. Scott recognized it as variant of Scavenger armour, albeit slightly modified. Most of the general colour scheme was purple save for the chest and shoulder parts remaining dark grey. The actual under armour had been swapped for an Asari under armour, and of course there was the purple scarf.

The Remnant helmet that Scott had given her was in one of her hands as she had her back to the group.

"Did I miss something about this? Thought you preferred to be light on your feet." Scott inquired.

"We're heading into a potentially hazardous area with active volcanos. I don't think a jacket's gonna do me much good down there." Peebee explained as she finished putting the helmet on, which surprisingly matched almost perfectly with the rest of the armour.

"Well, for what it's worth, that's some good armour. You should wear this sort of thing more often." Scott said.

"Have to admit, it's a lot better than I thought it would be. Offers good protection, its light, it more comfortable than I thought, I like the colour scheme, I like the style and it also goes well with the Remnant helmet you gave me. Thanks again for that."

"You're welcome." Scott nodded. "Anyway, what's this about?"

"Kallo won't find a safe place to land the Tempest." Peebee replied.

At that moment, she then pressed a button and the escape pod's door sealed behind them. The pod itself then started to shake violently as it was suddenly jettisoned from the Tempest.

"What the hell…" Vederia said, grabbing hold of a railing and helping keep Cora steady.

"And safety first." Peebee simply said as she sat down.

"Safety first? You've got to be kidding. This crosses the line, Peebee!" Vederia said angrily as she also took a seat.

"You keep me on my toes, Peebee." Scott simply chuckled, sitting down also.

"Don't encourage her, Ryder!" Vederia said.

"You're both crazy." Cora sighed, taking a seat next to Vederia.

"I'm not doing this for the fun of it. The Tempest can't go where we need to be, and you can't get there from the ground. This is the only way in." Peebee said as the pod's harnesses lowered into place.

"In? Where exactly are we going?" Scott asked.

A pause followed as Peebee simply smiled under her helmet.

"Peebee… Where are we going?" Scott asked, ow slightly worried he might not like the answer.

"It's not my fault the signal's coming from directly inside one of the volcanos. And we should land on stable ground assuming my subterranean scans are accurate and the impact doesn't alter trajectory too severely and…"

"And tell me you have a plan for getting back to the Tempest." Cora interrupted.

"Is that a thing? We came all the way to another galaxy with no "plan" for getting back home." Peebee replied.

"If I wasn't in this harness right now…" Vederia groaned.

"All right-brace for impact!" Peebee interrupted.

The escape pod shook even more and lurched violently as it hit the ground hard. Once it finally settled, everyone could relax. Or at least they could if they weren't hanging upside down.

"So, uh… are you mad, Scott?" Peebee asked.

Scott simply gave a sigh before replying.

"I'm not mad, Peebee."

"Give me strength." Vederia sighed. "Can someone get me out of here?"

Whilst Scott managed to pry open the harness keeping him and Peebee in place, Cora managed to do the same for her, catching the Asari in her arms.

"Thank you, Cora." She smiled.

"You okay?" Cora asked.

"We've had softer landings, you and I." Vederia shrugged.

When they finally managed to get out of the escape pod, they found themselves in a definitely volcanic area. It almost reminded Scott of the planet Inferno. That memory made him seriously hope Andromeda didn't have any lava monsters. Once had been quite enough.

"What a mess." Vederia said, commenting on the now greatly smashed up escape pod.

"Any landing you can walk away form, right?" Peebee asked innocently.

"Just don't, Peebee." Cora sighed.

"Ryder, come in. Are you alright?" Kallo asked through comms.

"We're alright down here, Kallo." Scott replied.

"Ryder, the unstable geological activity on the planet is interfering with my connection to your suits data feed. Comm channel still functions but, I will be unable to provide you with tactical support." EDI said.

"No problem. My suit's computer should be able to handle that."

"I'm picking up the signal. Its housed within a Remnant structure not far from here." Peebee said as they headed into a nearby cave.

"Can you push it my suit? It'll make things easier for us." Scott requested.

"You got it." Peebee replied.

A brief pause followed before everyone heard the robotic voice of Scott's non-sentient suit computer speaking.

"COORDINATES RECIVED. TRAJECTORY PLOTTED."

"We'll need to find a way to the surface." Scott said.

Ahead lay a Remnant structure blocking the way, almost like a gate.

"We need to get through that structure. Maybe there's console buried somewhere." Peebee suggested.

"SCANNING FOR REMNANT CONSOLE." Scott's suit said.

A brief pause followed before Scott's HUD lit up, displaying the holo of a console buried within a nearby rock.

"CONSOLE LOCATED. DESTORY ROCK TO ACCESS."

"Well, what do you know." Scott said.

When Scott walked up to it and tried to access it however, he didn't get the expected result. The plates on the console briefly moved, but then settled back into position again. Unlike before as well where they all moved quickly and smoothly, this time they moved slower and also looked as they were straining to move.

"UNABLE TO ESTABLISH CONENCTION."

"EDI?" Scott asked.

"Apologies, Ryder. The interference in data feed is disrupting Remnant connection." EDI explained.

"Try and do what you can to stay locked on. I can't access this without you."

"I will do what I can."

Scott tried again and this time it seemed to work correctly.

"CONNECTION ESTABLISHED. PRODUCTION SYSTEM ACTIVATED."

A low hum echoed throughout the cavern and the gate gently slid into the floor.

"Good. The gates are opening." Peebee said.

"WARNING! MULTIPLE STRUCTURAL SHIFTS DETECTED THROUGHOUT NEARBY AREA. RECOMMEND CAUTION."

They continued through the cavern, soon coming across what was unmistakably an observer. Unlike all the ones before however, this one did not seem to attack them. In fact, it didn't' even seem to acknowledge their presence either.

"OBSERVER DETECTED. NEURAL PATHWAYS: BLANK. NO IMMEDIATE THREAT."

"It's like POC when I stripped out its Remnant protocols. It has no programming." Peebee said.

Deeming the observer to be harmless, they simply ignored it and continued forward. A slight shake in the ground however caused the team to stagger slightly.

"WARNING! SESMIC ACTIVTIY INCREASEING."


"Another gate. Have to get through. Look. Up there, above the gate." Peebee said, pointing up. "Another node."

"SCAN COMPLETE. NODE CURRENTLY DISABLED. REPAIR REQUIRED."

"Too high to access." Scott said.

"I bet an allied observer can enable it. Let's find a way to get one."

Scott accessed a nearby console for some kind of dispenser which, sure enough, produced another observer, glowing green and non-hostile to them.

"Hey there, little guy. Nice to have you on the team." Peebee smiled under her helmet.

"ALLIED OBSERVER REPAIRING GATE NODE."

The

"And voila. Thanks, buddy." Peebee said.

"Let's push on." Said Scott.


"Ryder, Kallo reports finding no safe area to land. Retrieval may be impossible." Said EDI.

"Peebee…" Vederia and Cora both groaned.

"Uh, oops?" the Asari said innocently.

"UNKOWN VESSELS DETECTED IN NEARBY AREA. RECOMMEND CAUTION"

As they exited the cave and finally found themselves on the surface, they soon saw what Scott's suit had been warning them about. A shuttle of some kind was making its way down to the surface.

"Uh oh. I know that shuttle." Peebee said worriedly.

"Pelessaria, are you tracking the sweet signal too?" an unwelcome familiar voice said.

"Back off, Kalinda! It's mine." Peebee said angrily. "Let's hurry. We have to get to the signal source before she does."

"And if we run into her before that?" Scott asked.

"Shoot her." Peebee simply replied coldly. "I've had just about enough of that bitch."


They continued down a hill until coming up to another gate. This time though, many bots surrounded it.

"REMNANT DETECTED."

"Another gate ahead. If we stay clear of the bots, maybe they'll leave us alone." Peebee suggested.

This seemed to work as the team stayed out of the bot's field of vision and soon found the console for the gate. Using it did cause the bots to attack, which in turn forced them to defend themselves, but it was nothing they couldn't handle.

As the gate finished descending however, they got some bad news over comms.

"Thank you, Ryder. You opened a gate up here too." Kalinda said smugly.

"She must be on a ridge above us." Scott said.

"Shit! Shit! Shit!" Peebee swore in frustration.

"Pelessaria, the high road is much more direct."

"I'm going to kill her!"

"Get in line. I've got a whole clip with her name on it." Scott said.

"WARNING! INCREASED SESMIC ACTIVTY DETECTED. CATACLYSMIC EVENT: IMMINENT!"


They fought their way through many more Remnant before they caught up to Kalinda.

"Make sure they don't get inside. A triple share to whoever brings me Ryder's armour." The Asari ordered.

"Fuck you, bitch!" Scott yelled, opening fire on Kalinda.

"Man, I hate her!" Peebee agreed, also firing.

The shots only just missed Kalinda, forcing her to angrily retreat into the caves.

Two guards stayed behind, but they fell quickly, allowing the group to proceed inside.

"Hold them here, Kranat. I'm making sure they can't follow." They heard Kalinda's voice say.

"Shit. What's she up to?" Peebee said suspiciously.

A large explosion could then be seen in the distance, lightly shaking the cavern.

"So long losers." Kalinda laughed through the comm.

"ROUTE OBSTRUCTED." Scott's suit said.

"No, no, no! Kalinda's barred the way."

A large Krogan, which they guessed was Kranat, then emerged, moving directly towards Scott.

"Come to your doom, Helldiver!"

The Krogan threw a sharp punch directly at Scott's helmet… only for the Helldiver to block it with his hand. Kranat was left almost in both shock and fear as Scott twisted the Krogan's wrist, forcing him onto his knees.

Bringing his free hand back, Scott activated his omni blade and, before the Krogan could even have a chance to react to this, stabbed him clean in the head.

"Kranat's down." the Helldiver simply shrugged as the dead Krogan fell to the floor.

Peebee quickly changed the subject and pointed to above a nearby door.

"There. Another node. If we fix that, we can use an alternate route." She said.

Scott once again found a Remnant console and a another friendly Observer emerged, instantly fixing the node.

"Alright! We're back in the game." Peebee said as the door opened.

"Might even be a shortcut if we're lucky." Scott agreed.


They soon reached a large open chamber filled with dispensers.

"This is it. The signal source is in the next chamber." Peebee said.

"Watch your corners. This is a good place for an ambush." Cora said.

"Funny. That's exactly what I thought." Kalinda suddenly said through the comms.

Sure enough, several of her mercenaries entered the chamber and attacked, forcing them into cover. Despite the mercs numbers, and them using a few mechs however, they proved to be little of a challenge for two huntresses, a rouge, and a Helldiver.

"You really are annoying." Kalinda groaned.

"Now you know how I feel, bitch. Finished yet?" Peebee said.

"Not even close. But I will need to go on a recruiting spree."

"You're not gonna get the chance." Scott said coldly. "How much further, Peebee?"

"Just beyond the next rise. Let's go get it. One more node to go."

Scott once again repeated the procedure and a friendly observer fixed the node. A bridge rose up out of the lava, enabling them to get across. As soon as they did however, they were once again pinned down by incoming fire from more of Kalinda's thugs.

"Are you kidding me? How many guys does she have?" Scott groaned.

"Kalinda's about to get the device!" Peebee said.

"And there she goes." Vederia sighed as the Asari ran out of cover.

"Peebee, wait!" Scott yelled.

It became a straight race between Peebee and Kalinda while her mercs were occupied with the others.

"You won't make it, Kalinda!" Peebee yelled.

"Too late now! Its mine!" Kalinda said back.

She skidded to a halt though when she reached the edge. The platform holding the device was not far off, but there was no bridge across the wide gap.

"Dammit!"

Peebee didn't even pause and simply leapt, the jump jet in her new armour kicking in and providing her an extra boost across the gap. She landed on her feet and rolled.

Kalinda, in both anger and desperation, tried to jump herself. Unlike Peebee, she didn't have a jump jet. Although she had managed to do a running start, her jump was nowhere near as good. Despite this however, she managed to just land on the edge.

In that time however, Peebee had run up to the device and was already about to take a hold of it.

Back with the others, Scott had noticed Kalinda had made it onto the platform, and Peebee had her back to her.

"Shit."

"We've got this. Go help her." Cora said.

Scott nodded and ran to the edge. Before he had time to make a decision on what to do however (tempted as he was to just shoot Kalinda and get it over with) the whole platform suddenly shook and lurched violently as Peebee removed the device from its pedestal. The shockwave was so vast it caused Peebee to stumble and lose grip of the device which started to slowly roll towards the edge of the platform… and Kalinda lost her footing. Her right foot slipped on the edge and before anyone could do anything, she fell… right into the lava.

Scott half expected he'd have to watch the unfortunate Asari burn to death. But that didn't' seem to be the case. Soon as Kalinda fell in, she just disappeared from sight.

"Peebee, you alright?" Scott asked.

The Asari was momentarily dazed by what had happened, but she managed to get her bearings again and picked herself up.

"Get the device! Quickly!" Scott yelled.

Peebee didn't need to be told twice and immediately dived to get the device, her armoured chest scraping slightly on the metal. She managed to catch the device in time just as it reached the edge.

Quickly rolling back onto her feet, Peebee bolted for the edge.

"Jump! I'll catch you!"

Once again she jumped using her jump jet. Unlike last time however, she didn't fully make it. She did indeed land, but this time only just on the edge and she very nearly fell back. Scott though reacted in time and manged to catch her by the waist.

"Gotcha!"

"Thanks. Close one." Peebee panted in relief.

"Think we should get out of here, Ryder." Vederia said as rocks began to fall around them.

"WARNING! SESMIC ACTIVTY CRITICAL. RECOMMEND IMMEDIATE EVACUATION." Scott's suit said.

"Guess we won't be having any more trouble from Kalinda now." Peebee said.

"Let's leave the celebrations until we're safe."

Everyone broke into a run as rocks began to fall all around them. They path they took seemed to be leading them up however, so they were at least heading for the surface. Along the way they passed close to the place they'd landed.

"Hey look! The escape pod!" Peebee said as the pod was consumed by the lava and sank into it. "Well, there's goes my bedroom."

"Shame. So many memories." Scott panted.

"Can you two not do this now?!" Cora yelled.

They rounded one final corner and soon came across a sight that would prove to be their salvation from this planet.

"Over there! Kalinda's shuttles!"


Peebee had been somewhat quiet since returning to the Tempest and had stayed in the escape pod bay since. Cora and Vederia had attempted to give her a stern lecture about that stunt she pulled, but Scott had both convinced and somewhat ordered them to stand down, telling them he'd talk to her instead.

Surprisingly, the door was unlocked, so he was able to just walk in.

"How you doing?"

"Not too bad. Just, thinking…" the Asari simply replied.

"Should I be worried about that?" Scott joked.

"Very funny, Scott." Peebee simply chuckled as she shook her head. "It's just… Kalinda was just as obsessed as I was to get that device, so much so that she was willing to do whatever it took… just as I was. And that obsession got her killed."

"Don't try to compare yourself to her. She's got nothing on you , and she brought about her own death. That's not gonna happen to you." Scott said reassuringly.

"Who's to say it won't? My obsession with rem tech… I just worry it could be my undoing as it was hers."

"It won't be."

"Thanks." Peebee smiled. "Still, glad to finally be rid of her. She's but nothing but trouble ever since we got to Andromeda."

"Choosing between an important piece of alien tech and a pain in the ass outlaw trying to kill us? Easy decision."

"No kidding." Peebee nodded. "In the meantime, I have this to occupy my thoughts. I was right. Its raw unused programming tech. With time, I can make it upload specs of our design into remnant hardware. A true fusion of both technologies. My first real mark in Andromeda, and I have you to thank."

"Before you start thanking me, we do have a little bookkeeping matter to discuss." Scott said, indicating to the little doorway that led to the now gone escape pod.

"Aw nuts!" Peebee sighed. "Yeah, the tempest is light one escape pod. That's gonna cost me, isn't it?"

"We'll get a new one the next time we dock at Nexus. Don't sweat it." Scott simply shrugged with his own sigh.

"Wow. Thanks, Scott." Peebee said in surprise. "But until then, what do I do for a bedroom?"

"Mine's pretty big, and comfortable." Scott replied suggestively.

"Comfortable, huh? Never made much difference to me." Peebee simply said.

"Gee, that's too bad."

"But… I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to take you up on that offer. Your bed could be a nice change from the usual." The Asari smiled, planting a small kiss on Scott's cheek.


Despite the talk however, Peebee still remained very quiet for the rest of the day. She kept almost completely to her room and on the occasion that she did come out for the crew's dinner time, she still didn't say anything. What's more, she didn't sit next to Scott like she usually did. If anything, she actually sat further away from him… next to Ali.

Scott definitely knew something was wrong if she had done that. It was one thing for her to be so quiet, but sitting so near to the Arkane that she said scared the shit out of her…

Scott had asked Lexi about it, but the Asari doctor had had no luck getting an answer out of the younger rogue. When she tried to press the matter, all it had gotten her was a biotic shove.

At first, Scott thought Peebee was in a bad mood about something, but her earlier behaviour suggested otherwise. Plus, Lexi had also not got the impression that was angry. If anything, it seemed as though she was confused about something.

Deciding to take the risk, he went to go see her later that day.

"Hey, Peebee."

The Asari had his back to him when he entered. In fact, she appeared to doing something with POC. As soon as he entered however, she turned to him.

"Hold that thought." She immediately said. To Scott's surprise, she then walked out of her room. "Sit tight. Uh, I'll be right back."

Scott was about to yell after her, but he was suddenly interrupted when he heard Peebee's voice… only it wasn't coming from outside the room. He turned to see it was actually coming from POC.

"Hello. Don't worry. I'm not springing anything terrible on you. Actually… you be the judge of that. I'm just going to come out with it… I want you, Scott. More than friends with benefits, more than lovers. I want string, all the strings. If you don't want the same thing, I know how uncomfortable it would be to say it to my face. So, at the beep just let me know. Do you wanna be with me, for real? Either way, join me in the meeting room. Um… beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep."

Scott had to admit, he hadn't expected this. With all the times he and Peebee had had casual sex and her also clearly stating originally that she didn't want strings attached… The thought of them being something had been on his mind lately as well.

But as he thought about it more, he came to realize something. He wanted this too. He'd been confused about for a while now, but it made sense to him now. Despite all the previous time, he couldn't' deny that he was now finding himself caring for Peebee more than a friend. Despite how rebellious she often was, and maybe a bit stubborn at times… she was passionate about her work, she was often funny, enthusiastic, pretty in her own way, quite flirtuous, and despite maybe being crazy… it as in a really nice likeable way. He couldn't help but feel drawn to her. At first, he'd simply been into her because she was an attractive Asari who was perfectly happy to have regular amounts of care free sex with him. But now… now he no longer saw her in that way. Now he saw an Asari that he enjoyed spending time with, an Asari that he felt he could trust to not only have his back, but an Asari that he couldn't get off his mind.

Until now though, he'd been unsure about whether to approach her with this. But it seemed now that she'd beat him to it. And admittedly, it was a rather nice surprise to find that she wanted him too.

A partial thought also occurred to him. Did he… maybe… lo…

As POC simply hovered waiting for an answer, Scott simply turned and left. He had an answer for Peebee, and he was absolutely going to say it to her face.


Peebee had gathered everyone else in the comm room. She seemed to be pacing rather nervously as everyone waited for an explanation as to why they'd been summoned like this.

In truth, she had something she wanted to say to everyone, but that wasn't the reason why she was nervous. True it felt awkward, what she was about to do, but it was by no means anything to make her nervous.

What did make her nervous was the anticipation. By now, Scott must have heard the little message she'd left for him and she knew he'd be on his way eventually, with or without and answer.

Her mind was now burning with questions. Had he said yes? Had he said no? Would he tell her in person or leave it to her to hear the answer from POC? And then there was also how he might have reacted to her saying that she wanted them to be having more than just casual sex. What if he disliked the idea of them bringing feelings into this? Did he feel the same things that she did? There was every possibility that maybe he wasn't attracted to her in that sort of way.

After all, why would he have more romantic feelings for someone like her? She was a loose cannon Asari obsessed with an alien technology they knew nothing about and she'd risked some of the crew for that device. None of that seemed like attractive traits, especially for a super soldier wearing one of the advanced exposits in existence.

Another thought briefly occurred to Peebee. Maybe she'd made this decision a little too hastily. Perhaps it had just been a spur of the moment and she didn't' actually feel this way for…

These thoughts though barely got a chance to go any further as Peebee ultimately came to the realization that they simply weren't' true. She couldn't get Scott off he remind anymore. He'd done so much for her, despite what it had nearly cost him, he was very patient with her, very understanding, he never got angry at her despite her lone wolf preference, he respected her privacy where she wanted it, and then there were the physical aspects as well.

Firstly of course, the great sex. When she came to Andromeda with Kalinda, she never would've thought that sort of physical contact couldn't get any better. And yet she'd been proven wrong. Scott was also handsome and attractive, and had a body to make any woman (or possibly even man) aroused.

There were traits also that Peebee had noted that somewhat reminded her of Kalinda back when the two Asari had been a couple. Both she and Scott had a great "take charge" approach. Bold, creative, resourceful, never afraid to take risks and...

Wait…

"Ah damn… I have a type." Peebee thought to herself.

As she continued pacing nervously, the rest of the crew waited for her to talk. Finally she concluded that she had to give them an explanation. Perhaps it might take her mind off Scott.

"So… the reason I wanted to talk to you all…" Peebee said, trying to find her words.

"Uh oh. Did you mutiny and jettison Ryder?" Jaal interrupted sarcastically.

"No such luck. He just showed up." Vetra said, indicating to Scott as he joined them.

"She did ambush me, but I survived." Scott simply said.

"No harm, no foul, huh?" Peebee said.

The questions once again burned in Peebee's head. What had his answer been? Was he going to tell her? Was he going to say it in front of the crew? Was he gonna tease her?

Fuck, this anticipation was annoying!

"I just want to say, whether you all know it or not, I've had one foot out the door since I got here. And, well… that's gonna stop. I'm proud and happy to be part of this team. This… family. That… that's really it." Peebee finally said.

"Uh… okay." Said Cora, sounding a little underwhelmed that she'd been pulled away from her duties just to hear this.

"About time you caught up, Kid." Drack said, a bit more enthusiastically.

"Yeah. You're one of us whether you like it or not." Vetra added.

"Well… great. So, uh… my place is an utter mess. Who wants to help me clean it up?" Peebee asked optimistically.

"Think I left the stove on." Drack quickly said, turning to leave.

"You actually did." Said Max.

"Fuck."

"Lexi asked for my help dissecting a Kett corpse." Max then said, quickly disappearing also.

"I'm making ice." Liam said.

"It's an Angaran holiday." Said Jaal.

"Reports don't file themselves." Said Cora.

"Cora and I have a sparring match later tonight." Vederia added.

"Helping Liam make ice." Vetra said.

"Suvi just called me." Said Sara.

That was actually partly true. Suvi had indeed called Sara to talk about something, but that had been this morning. They just hadn't yet talked because of the slightly busy day. Now was as good a time as any.

"But… but…"

Peebee reluctantly, and also anxiously, cast a look at Ali, but immediately recoiled.

"Uh… I… don't want to waste your time, Ali." She quickly said.

"Good. I need to clean my armour and disinfect my axe anyway. Messy stuff." The Arkane said, unable to hold back a slightly smug smile at the Asari's nervous reaction.

Scott simply crossed his arms and shook his head with a smile. He then took a deep breath in preparation for what he was about to say.

Peebee also braced herself. She had no idea what was going to happen next. The fact that Scott had stayed certainly said something. But she still had no idea if that truly meant she hoped it did.

And then it finally came…

"Peebee, I want to be with you… only you."

For a split second, Peebee wondered if she really had heard that right. The phrase seemed to keep repeating itself in her head as though she desperately tried to find some flaw in it that confirmed she had misheard it, or perhaps even misinterpreted. Had he really meant it? Was it possibly a joke?

But in the end, she concluded there was no error. She hadn't misheard, she hadn't made the wrong assumption. Scott had said yes. Not only that, but he had actually said to her face.

He wanted this just as she did. He wanted them to be a couple. He wanted her… and only her.

Peebee didn't say anything for a moment, but she then cracked a smile.

If Scott could've read her mind however, he'd have seen that Peebee was not smiling. She was doing far more than that.

Overcome with joy, happiness and also relief, the Asari suddenly broke into a run and charged right at Scott.

The Helldiver immediately knew where this was going.

"Not again."

Sure enough, Peebee once again tackled him to the floor. This time though, as he landed flat on his back, instead of simply holding him down, she kissed him. Unlike all their previous ones though it was not filled with lust, nor was it an aggressive one. This one was pure passion.

Both of them took their time as they savoured the intimate contact with each other. Despite Peebee's smaller size and frame compared to Scott, she kept him pinned to the floor as she assaulted his mouth with kisses. Scott's arms in turn held her close, almost refusing to let her up for air. Neither one of them wanted to stop this. If it really were up to them, they'd spend all day like this.

This time though, Scott decided he wanted to be on top for a change. Using a sudden surge of strength, he pushed Peebee off of him and rolled them over, so it was now him pinning her to the ground.

Despite the suddenness of this though, Peebee didn't' object. She just simply smiled and giggled.

"How'd I get so lucky with you?" Scott asked, gently stroking the Asari's face.

"Don't make me blush! At least, not in public." Peebee said.

"This is a new side of you."

"I wanna show you all my sides."

The two once again just smiled romantically at one another and resumed kissing.

In the pair's kissing haze though, they failed to notice that two individuals had lingered behind.

Max simply smiled proudly while Ali observed the act

"Told you he'd say yes. Harper owes me five credits." The Hunter smiled, keeping his voice down so that Peebee and Scott didn't hear.

"That makes two of us." Ali nodded. "Don't know why they're holding back though. Ryder should get with it and rut her."

"You had to ruin it, didn't you?" Max sighed.

"Clearly you're not familiar with Krogan mating." Ali said.

"I don't even want to know." Max said quickly.

"Well, when a Male Krogan and a Female Krogan love each other very much…" the Arkane began.

"Not listening!" Max said, immediately fleeing the scene.

Ali simply chuckled as she watched Max flee. Deciding to leave Scott and Peebee alone, she too then disappeared.

Admittedly, she was happy for them. It was good that they were going to happy with each other… perhaps even more.


There you have it. Scott and Peebee are now offically a couple.

Now although that is the last loyalty misison for the game charcters, we've got one more original one, and that's Ali's.

Given the mostly good response Max's mission got, hopefully I should do okay with this next one.

Don't forget to leave a review if you can. I always welcome feedback. :)

Chapter Text

And here we are! The final loyalty mission.

Overall, I'm quite pleased with how this one has turned out, so hopefully it will be just as good as Max's one was (according to you, readers)

Chapter does contain some gore moments, so just be wary of that.


Chapter 17

The Path of a Warrior

The recent few days had been quite hectic. Scott had considered that now might be the time for them to go after the Archon's ship, but he'd somehow found himself being dragged into Kadara business. He'd found himself sort out all kinds of problems… and then finally it had all climaxed in a duel between Sloane Kelly and the Charlatan, who it turned out had been Reyes all along.

Reyes, being the dashing rogue he was, had cheated and used a sniper to kill Sloane. Scott could've done something, but he had chosen not to. Reyes had said so himself that Sloane would've only brought war to Helius due to her hatred for the initiative.

True it probably would've been a fight she couldn't' win since the Helldivers were part of the Initiative. But if there was a chance that the loss of life could be avoided altogether, and there could also be peace… Scott had gladly taken it.

Already, an outpost had been fully established, which Reyes had promised would have his full protection. And a few people who had originally left the nexus because of the original crisis had bene able to return. For those that had actually been exiled for good reason however, it wasn't the same story.

Nevertheless, the fact there was a peace of sort between the two factions was still a hell of an accomplishment.

Scott meanwhile was also trying to wrap his head around something. Ever since he and Peebee had become a couple now, this had changed quite a few things. The Asari had been surprisingly eager about the whole thing and had suggested that she move some of her personal stuff into his quarters. Her remnant tech and lab stuff would remain in the escape pod so as not to make mess. Scott had been surprised by the idea, and did maybe think she was being a bit hasty, but decided to see where it went.

Now he was trying to think of something he could do for her. He wanted to spend some proper alone time with her (that didn't involve sex) but at the moment, he couldn't think of anything.

Coupled with his decision on whether to resume pursuing the Archon or not only made him feel more confused. He was in the middle of debating when Suvi's voice suddenly snapped him out of his thoughts.

"Ryder, Ali hoped you could come by when you had time. She says she's got something you're gonna want to hear."

"Better not be more teasing." Scott muttered to himself as he left the bridge.


He found the Arkane in her usual spot doing pull ups on a nearby bar with her back to him as he approached her.

"Ali?"

"Be with you in a second." Ali grunted.

She did three more pull ups before finally letting herself drop down, her feet landing on the ground with a loud clang.

"Good timing. I was just on my last one." She panted slightly as she turned to face Scott, using a towel to wipe some of the sweat form her skin.

"Suvi says you got something to look at."

"Indeed. My contacts on Kadara have a new lead. This time they're certain."

"Are you sure? No offence, but I'd rather we didn't end up chasing another dead lead again."

"I've little reason to disbelieve them. Especially since one of them is your friend and Kadara's new leader. Sloane Kelly's death has really opened some doors."

"This info from him is gonna cost us, isn't it?"

"I'm paying him, not you." Ali said correctively. "With Sloane dead, I thought perhaps he'd be of extra help. He was far more willing to help than I thought when I learned I was friend of yours."

"You sure he can be trusted though? We may be allies, and I have picked him over Sloane, but he kept a lot of information from me. I'd be a fool to trust him completely."

"Indeed. I do agree with you on that. But he's currently the best lead I have. If this does go south, I'll take full responsibility. You have my word on that."

"Fair enough. Let's just hope it doesn't' come to that."

"You and me both." Ali nodded. "Anyway, Reyes says he'll meet us in Tartarus where he always is. We're in no rush, but I'd appreciate us getting this done as soon as possible."

"We'll head to Kadara right away."

"Thank you." Ali nodded modestly. "I'll be preparing myself until we get there."

As Scott turned to leave he suddenly heard a familiar sound. He looked round to see none other than Peeves who'd just landed on Ali's shoulder and appeared to just be remaining there calmly. Ali didn't even seem to mind and even gave him a gentle stroke under the chin as he gave a few happy chirps.

"You should consider yourself lucky that you're Ryder's pet, little one." She said, giving Peeves a light stroke behind the ears. "On Tutchanka, we eat pyjaks."


Kadara certainly felt safer and just overall more welcoming now that Reyes was in charge from the shadows. Till now, Scott had despised coming here.

Scott tried not to get distracted by the nude dancers as they entered Tartarus, especially since Ali, Drack and Jaal weren't paying them any attention either.

They found Reyes in one of the back rooms. It appeared he'd bene expecting them.

"Ryder! It's been too long." The man smiled lightly. "And miss Urdnot of course."

"Lakucia, idiot! Urdnot's my clan name." Ali sighed irritably.

"Anyway, have a seat. Let me get you a drink.

"No thank you. We're not staying long." Scott said.

Ali and Drack though both and sat down and then turned to the Asari waitress.

"Pint of ryncol." Ali said.

"Same." Drack added.

"Well… I wasn't planning on staying." Scott sighed.

Jaal meanwhile simply shrugged and sat down next to Ali.

The waitress then came back a few seconds later with two large drinks, both of which Ali and Drack took.

"Well?" Ali asked.

"The group of scavengers you're looking for is called the Blood Rage Pack." Reyes explained.

"Why am I not surprised?"

"They're leader is…"

"I already know that part. Krogan twins, Weyrloc Graal and Weyrloc Morgi."

"Weyrloc, huh? Thought they went extinct not long before the Initiative came about." Drack said.

"Not all. Some stragglers here and there. Impressive though that those two somehow made it into the Initiative. Even more impressive they didn't try to kill each other before that. So rare to see Krogna siblings working together." Ali explained. "Given all that happened in the Milky Way while we were in stasis, they may very well be all that's left of Clan Weyrloc now."

"And now they're forming a new Blood Pack. Further reason to take them down." Drack said, finishing his drink.

"Couldn't agree more. They're responsible for all of this. Far as I'm concerned, they die, as do all who follow them. We'll be doing the galaxy a favour." Ali said, a slight bitterness in her voice.

"Here's to a unanimous agreement then." Reyes said, raising his own glass.

"I'm surprised you're so willing to help us, Reyes. I get that we're partners now that you're in charge, but still…" Scott said.

"The Blood Rage Pack isn't under my control and they're causing problems for me too. I think it's fair to say we both want to be rid of them. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend as we say." Reyes explained casually.

"Where can we find them then?" Ali asked.

"They've made base in a series of caves in the mountains."

"Should be easy to find then." Scott said.

"Not quite. They've got advanced guard watching the surrounding area. They spot you in your Nomad and they'll go on lockdown." Reyes said.

"You have a different plan then?" Ali asked.

A Salarian then suddenly stepped forward. He was dressed in dark red armour with a black symbol on it that very clearly resembled the original blood pack logo.

"This is Pavus. He's been my man on the inside since Sloane's death. He handles the pack's cargo transports." Reyes explained.

"I can smuggle you inside behind their defences. You should be able to take care of the rest from there." Pavus said.

"Not my preferred way of getting inside." Ali sighed. "But if we must, then we must."

"Meet me outside when you're ready then." Pavus nodded as he turned and left.

"Unless you have any more questions, I shan't keep you." Reyes said.

"We appreciate all you've told us, Reyes." Scott nodded.

"Good hunting."

Sure enough, Pavus was waiting them just outside, leant against one of the ceiling supports.

"Ready to depart when you are." The Salarian said.

"Let's get going." Scott nodded.

"This way then."

Pavus was interrupted though as Ali suddenly pushed him hard against the pillar.

"Let me make one thing clear right now, Salarian. You betray us, and you'll share the same fate as this bottle." She said, holding up her ryncol bottle.

"You'll… drink my blood?" Pavus asked, sounding both frightened and a little confused.

"No… Well, actually I might do that…" Ali said. She then took the end of the bottle in her mouth and bit it off, chewing on the glass shards. "But I'll bite your head off first."

"Understood." Pavus nodded quickly.


The ride there was by no means uncomfortable, but the transport they were in was certainly no nomad. Their first warning should have been when they noted just how tightly strapped down all the supplies were.

As they neared their destination, they passed by what was clearly a warning to intruders.

"Impaled on spikes. That's barbaric!" Ali growled.

"I've seen you take heads." Said Drack.

"That's different." Ali simply shrugged.

There were guard ahead guarding the entrance, but they couldn't see through the transport's windows. Two large guns were also guarding the entrance. Even a small army of Helldivers would struggle to get in with this much firepower.

"We're here. You'd better hide. They'll search the transport when I get out." Pavus advised.

"Got it." Ali nodded.

There were some open cargo containers that they could hide inside until the time was right. Scott and Jaal had no problem, but Lai and Drack struggle dot fit because of their size and bulk. But in the end they managed it. Scott was pretty sure he heard Ali swear very harshly as she finally managed to squeeze in her crate. Didn't take an expert to work out she wasn't happy.

The transport lurched slightly as it came to halt. Scott briefly heard a knock sound, followed by more muffled swearing from Ali, who he guessed had banged her head.

The sound of a large door opening could then be heard and light trickled in through the crate's gaps. Voices then followed as well. One was Pavus', the others were undoubtedly mercs.

The conversation barely lasted more than a minute before lots of loud noises drowned everything out, followed by gunshots. Worried something had gone wrong, Scott sprang out of his crate. Jaal and Drack were quick to follow.

Once they were out however, it all seemed to stop. They found that Ali had burst out of her own crate ahead of them and had cut the mercs down instantly. Pavus was still alive, albeit a bit shaken by the experience.

"What happened to hiding?" Scott asked.

"We were gonna have to deal with them anyway. Why waste time?" Ali shrugged, wiping some of the blood off her axe.

"They know you're here now. They'll be on alert." Pavus said.

"Bring 'em on then. I prefer a straight out fight to all this sneaking around." Said Ali.

"Same." Drack nodded.

"Ali, I get that you want revenge on these mercs. But making us lose the element of surprise like that…"

"All they know is that someone's inside. They don't yet know it's us though."

"Can you just listen to me for one second?!" Scott said, now getting a bit cross.

"Fine. Here's a deal..." Ali shrugged, picking up a large bottle from one of the open crates and pulling the cork out with her teeth. "I'll listen to you till this is empty."

"What we need to do is…" but Scott barely got to say anything before Ali had drunk the entire thing in just a few seconds. "What?"

"Finished."

In the end, this proved too much for Scott to handle.

"Okay, fine. This is your mission, I'll let you call the shots." he said, his patience having snapped now.

"How very kind of you." Ali smiled sarcastically. "Let's get to work then. First things first…"

She then suddenly threw the now empty bottle at some nearby crates. As it smashed upon impact, to Scott and Jaal's surprise it suddenly lit up on fire, which quickly spread to several of the nearby containers. It was almost exactly like a Molotov cocktail.

"Bring 'em running." Ali finished.

"Ryncol. Strong stuff." Drack simply said.

"Don't look at me. You're the one attracted to her." Scott shrugged with a sigh.

Almost immediately, alarms started to go off and sprinklers kicked in.

"Ali, was that really necessary?" Jaal asked.

"I believe Drack and other old Krogan have a saying. When you're young, you go looking for every fight you can…"

"Like you." Jaal interrupted.

"True." Ali simply nodded. "You get older though, and you realize that all the best fights come to you."

"Hard to argue with that." Drack nodded.

A small squad of mercs soon made their way inside, only to fall right into Ali's trap as the team suddenly attacked them. They barely had a chance to report what was going on before nearly all of them were dead. The last one standing, Ali didn't actually kill. She did however make a low swing with her axe. So low in fact, it got him directly in the groin. He almost screamed in pain, especially as Ali then pulled the axe out again.

The merc fell to his knees as he began bleeding everywhere. Ali simply stood over him, unfazed by how she had essentially castrated him.

"Where are your leaders?!" the Arkane growled, seizing the suffering merc by the neck.

"Fuck you!" the man spat in pain, his voice greatly high pitched from his injury.

"Those are your last words? "Fuck you?" Come on, you can do better than that."

"… Bitch!" the man finally said.

"You're shit at dying. You know that?"

Knowing now that she wasn't gonna get anything more out of the merc, she lifted her axe and embedded it in his skull.

As she turned back to the others, she noted the somewhat uncomfortable body language of both Scott and Jaal.

"If you can't stand a little blood and gore, why'd you bother coming?" she said rhetorically.

Much as the two hated to admit it, she had a point.

"Well come on. We've got some scavengers to kill."

She made her way over to the door where the mercs had previously entered.

"Where are we going?" Scott asked in confusion.

"That's the way they came in. It must lead somewhere." Ali replied.

"We don't even know if…"

"Save it, Ryder! Just be willing to take a risk every now and then." Ali interrupted sternly.


As they went on their way, Ali advised Pavus to leave now and simply tell Reyes that his job with the Blood Rage Pack was done. They fought their way through another wave of mercs when they entered what looked like a firing range area, or at the very least an area where a lot of the mercs usually hung out for recreational activities.

As they finished dealing with all the ones that attacked them, they noticed one still alive. She however had fallen to her knees and was not trying to attack.

"Don't shoot, please!" she practically begged. "I'm putting my weapon on the ground."

Sure enough she gently put the weapon own and kicked it over to them. It was as she came out of hiding and took off her helmet however that Ali suddenly lunged at her and seized her by the neck.

"You!" she snarled.

"Ali, no!" Scott said, worried the Arkane was about to kill the woman in old blood.

"This is the one who took my armour, along with my squad's." Ali said.

"She did that? Are you sure?" Scott said, sounding a little surprised.

"Course I'm bloody sure! Why wouldn't I be?" Ali almost yelled.

"I don't see how someone like her could do what you described. She skinned you and your squad by force?" Scott asked rhetorically. "Look at her. She's scared half to death, and she surrendered to us."

"It's her. I never forget a face…" Ali said coldly. She even gave a slight inhale through her nostrils. "Or a scent."

"Please… I didn't want… I didn't want to do it. I never wanted any of this." The woman said, struggling a little to speak as the Arkane's grip around her throat tightened.

"That uniform says otherwise."

"I only joined because I had no choice. When the Nexus exiled us we had nothing. My family and I were near starving. Even under Sloane's leadership we struggled to stay fed in Kadara. I joined the Blood Rage Pack thinking that I'd be able to make a decent living from their work. But I had no idea what they were really like."

"LIAR!" Ali yelled, her grip almost crushing the woman's neck before Scott suddenly put his hand firmly on Ali's arm.

"Ali, put… her… down." He ordered.

With a reluctant groan, Ali released her and she fell to the ground, coughing and taking several deep breaths as air was finally able to rush back into her system.

"Let her explain." Scott said.

"Fine." Ali said through gritted teeth. "Talk while you can."

The woman took a moment to get her breath back before she finally sat up on her knees.

"I remember you. I remember them all… your squad." She said sadly. "I remember the screams. I remember how the others shot them dead like animals… and I'll have to live with that for the rest of my life. Every night I have nightmares about that day, knowing that I had a hand in it. I didn't want to do it. But when Graal ordered me… he would've killed me."

"So you did it save your own hide?" Ali snarled.

"Ali, she has a family and she was scared. You would've done the same if it had been your squad's lives on the line." He said.

"I… I don't ask you to forgive me. I wouldn't blame you. I just want you to understand." "Honestly… sometimes I wish I could just be put out of my misery. I don't' sleep, I can't enjoy anything knowing what I did. If killing me will bring us both peace…"

Ali seemed to react to this almost immediately and went to swing her axe, but Scott stopped her.

"Ali, wait. You don't want to do this."

"Don't I?"

"I know you keep saying you're not a Helldiver anymore, but to me you still are. Do you remember what they taught us? Do you remember the code…"

Ali hesitated for a moment, her eyes widening in realization.

"I… I could never forget." She said.

Scott began to relax a little as he noticed Ali seemed to be calming down a bit.

"If you kill her in cold blood while she's unarmed, what makes you any different from them?" Scott asked rhetorically. "Killing her won't bring your squad back. Yes, she skinned your squad and her leaders then shot them. But she doesn't deserve to die for that. She's already paying for it. Not to mention also if you kill her, you'll put her family through the same pain you have. Is that what you want?"

Ali once again was silent for a moment as she looked at the woman. There was still anger present in her expression, but ever so slowly it appeared to be fading away, replacing itself with an expression that looked more like regret, and grief.

"No… it's not." She admitted.

The woman looked up in fearful hope. To her surprise and relief though, Ali gently lowered her axe. The woman did recoil slightly though when the Arkane extended her hand, fearful that she might try and strangle her again… but it didn't come. The hand simply remained, waiting of her to take it.

"I won't kill you." Ali said as the woman finally took her hand and she helped the human up. "The way out is clear. Go. You don't want to be here when I find the rest of the pack."

"But… this is all I have. Where… where am I supposed to go?" the woman asked.

"A lot's changed. Sloane's dead and we have outposts on many worlds these days. Eos, Voeld, Havaral, even Kadara. You and your family could start a new life there. I can put in a good word and you'd be welcome." Scott replied.

A brief silence before the woman then seemed, her eyes watering slightly.

"I… yes. Thank you… both of you." She said.

As she went to leave however, Ali suddenly stopped her.

"I'm giving you a second chance. Don't make me regret it… or you will." The Arkane said in a calm but stern voice.

"I won't waste this chance. You have my word." The woman said, making sure her tone of voice made it clear she really did understand.

Leaving the woman with a nod of her head, Ali finally let her go.

"You sure you want a former scavenger at your outpost?" Ali asked, once the woman had disappeared from sight.

"Like you said, we're giving her a second chance. If she wastes it, we'll deal with her." Scott replied.

"Fair enough."

"You made the right decision, Ali."

"Thank you… for helping me remember."

"You may not agree with this, but once a Helldiver… always a Helldiver."

"It's funny. A member of my squad used to say that a lot too." Ali said. "What you said… it's also made me realise something."

"What's that?"

"The other mercs. They don't all need to die. Once I thought they should, but I now realise they're not all like those who took my armour. Some of them have just fallen in with the wrong crowd. Some of them are just trying to survive." Ali said, almost sounding sympathetic. "There's a better path for them, a better future. They just need to be shown that."

"How?" Jaal asked.

"Simple. We're going to finish what we came here to do: Take out their leaders."

"Works for me." Drack shrugged.


They had to fight their way through several more mercs before they soon found themselves in a large room which had what was unmistakably a combat arena. The many bodies littering it made it obvious it was a favoured spot for fights. Most of the bodies were Varren, but there were some human ones as well. It seemed some of them liked to fight each other.

The team's observation of the area was brief though before they suddenly found themselves surrounded. Mercs appeared from all sides on all levels, guns aimed right at them. Among them, easily spotted, was a Krogan. Scott assumed this one was Morgi.

Morgi wore a set of Krogan armour similar in both style and colour to that of the others. Very dark red with black parts here and there. He also had his helmet off for this, revealing his face.

Whether or not the colour of his face was tribal paint or natural will probably never be known, for it was far different to the skin colour of any Krogan. It was a very dark grey whilst his crest was black. Judging also by the crests lack of ridges and its smoother shape, Morgi probably wasn't that old. He could very well have been close to Ali's age of 224.

There was no sign yet of Graal though.

"You." Ali growled.

"Do I know you, bug?" Morgi asked.

"You have something that belongs to me. Helldiver armour for an Arkane. I'm here to take it back… and to kill you." Ali replied coldly.

"Ah yes. I remember you now." Morgi said. "You put up such a fight that day. Put so many of our people in med bay for a long time with your struggling. But you've made a big mistake coming here."

He raised his hand and the other mercs prepared to fire. Before they could however, Ali stepped forward.

"I challenge you and your brother! Single combat to the death!" she yelled, causing the mercs to temporarily hold their fire.

"You cannot invoke combat with us. You are not a Krogan." Morgi said.

"I am Urdnot Aliskar Lakucia, daughter to a Krogan father and an Arkane mother. I have every right to challenge you."

The Blood Rage pack cast looks at each other whilst Morgi simply looked at Ali with disgust.

Another figure then slowly emerged from behind Morgi. A larger and taller Krogan. Mostly likely this was the other brother, Graal. His armour was more bulky than his brothers and he also had red markings on his plate. Mostly likely a tribute to the original Blood Pack.

"Shall I make a quick end of them, brother?" Morgi asked, noticing the larger Krogan coming up behind him.

"I always thought you were on for tradition, Morgi." Graal said in a much deeper and raspier voice. He then turned to Ali. "Urdnot Aliskar, you're clan is weak and you are just a freak of nature."

Ali let out a slight snarl at this insult.

"We accept your challenge if only to personally rip the heart out of your pathetic body." Graal continued.

"This is a waste of time, brother. She's not worth the effort." Morgi objected.

"Then this won't take long, will it?" Graal said rhetorically.

Reluctantly, Morgi nodded. As the two Krogan set about removing any items that could them an unfair advantage, Ali also did the same.

"Do not lose these." She advised as she handed Jaal her axe, helmet and guns.

"Are you sure about this, Ali?" Scott asked with concern.

"I have to do this." Ali replied. "Whatever happens, do not interfere."

Left with nothing but her four fists, she dropped down into the pit as the brothers did the same. Whilst they enjoyed the cheers from their pack, Ali simply remained and braced herself for what was about to happen.

Finally as the brothers turned to face her… she charged into a jumping punch, hitting Graal right in the face. Ali attempted to follow this with a left hand strike, but Morgi managed to grab her arm, following this with a punch of his own to the Arkane's stomach.

Graal in turn also hit her in the stomach with his knee, causing Ali to stagger back. Seizing an opening, Morgi attempted a right hook but found his arm blocked by Ali's hand like foot, blocking it like a hand would block a punch.

Using the strength in her leg, Ali kicked the arm away, making Morgi stagger back.

Not wanting to give Ali an opening at his brother, Graal attacked but missed as Ali went for her own attack, driving her left elbow into his leg.

. The Krogan grunted slightly in pain before Ali followed her attack with a swift punch to the stomach, a left hook to the face and finally an upper cut which knocked him back.

As Graal was knocked onto his back, Ali let out a roar, the adrenaline of the fight fuelling her aggression.

"You should've made sure I was dead. This time you won't get another chance." She said.

All the while, the fights audience watched keenly. Some had cheered when the brothers had manged to score a hit on Ali whilst others just simply cheered them on constantly.

Scott and the others meanwhile watched with varying reactions. Scott watched with both concern and worry. While he had every faith in Ali, he did have some doubts. True he'd seen her take down a Krogan before, but he now realised that one in the bar had actually been quite young. True, Morgi didn't seem that much older, but Graal was definitely older. Nowhere near as old as Drack, but older all the same.

Both Krogan were also fighters by nature. The youngster probably hadn't been. Also, when was the last time someone had stood up to two Krogan brothers working together?

Drack on the other hand watched the fight with amusement. He was rather used to this sort of thing. Reminded him of way back in his day. He also admired Ali for her use of old Krogan tradition. He hadn't expected the same from the Weyrloc brothers, but it seemed today had its share of surprises.

Jaal on the other hand watched the greatest variety of emotions. As he watched the fight he felt concerned and worried, but at the same time he watched with a sense of awe and amazement.

First of all, it was definitely clear to him now that he really did care for Ali. Thus he worried for her as she thought two Krogan in duel that could potentially result in her death or very serious injury. But at the same time, he admired the Arkane's courage to fight these Krogan in the first place. Not to mention the ferocity in which she thought, the strength and fire in her punches. In all his years he'd never seen any female fight like that. Even his own sister Tevint didn't have this kind of fire in her.

He wanted to cheer her on, but at the same time he feared he might distract her if he did. He felt it best to just let things play. Much as he wished there was more he could do, even he understood the rules of fight like this.

True Ali was outnumbered two to one, but so far she was holding her own very well. Perhaps she actually did stand a chance at winning.

Morgi managed to get back up again, recovering from his dazed state. It was short lived though as Ali suddenly charged into him. He tried to punch her in attempt to force her off him, but she refused to give him. Then to his surprise, Ali, with great effort, lifted him up and managed to throw him over her head and hard onto the ground behind her.

The Arkane attempted to hit him while he was down, but he managed to avoid the blow.

Graal then suddenly grabbed her, wrapping both his hands around her neck. As Ali tried to force him off, he then hauled her up into the air.

His grip tightened as Ali's attempts to break lose became more desperate, her feet trying to grab onto Graal's face or something.

Eventually, both feet managed to obscure Graal's vision. Pushing with all the might her leg muscle had, she managed to kick herself off and out of his choke, skidding to a halt as she landed on the ground again.

Anticipating an attack, Ali quickly rolled herself back onto her feet just as both brothers attacked. Unfortunately though she was unable to block or dodge the attack. The brute of both Krogan crashed down hard on her, leaving her momentarily disoriented.

Both brothers then grabbed her main arms and each one delivered a swift punch to her chest, the force of each hit knocking the air right out of her lungs.

Dazed from the blows and temporary lack of oxygen, Ali slumped onto her knees.

"You shouldn't have come back." Morgi taunted.

That though seemed to awaken a response from Ali. Swiftly rising to her feet, she brought her head up right into Morgi's chin. The shear force knocked the Krogan back and he let go of Ali's arm.

With one arm free, the Arkane immediately went for Graal's neck. The instant she got a firm grip she hen head-butted him hard, knocking him back as well.

All three opponents took a moment to get their breath back, Ali especially. She was quite relived actually the brothers hadn't broken any bones with those hits, because they'd certainly hit her with enough force to.

Slowly, both Krogan got back up again and Ali braced herself to continue. She definitely knew by now that as long as both of them were working together like this, she had very little chance of beating them. Despite her being half Krogan, they were still the stronger opponents.

If she could at least find a way to separate them long to do a decent amount of damage to one of them, then she had a chance. Easier said than done though.

Within seconds, both brothers charged again. This time though, Ali was ready for them. Timing her attack just right, she was able to side step Graal and his face ran right into her waiting fist, smashing him away.

Morgi was then suddenly swatted away as Ali backhanded again. As the Krogan staggered back, Graal lunged at her. A quick adjustment of her stance however and she soon had his head right under her arm, locking his neck in place.

She barely gave him a chance to try and resist before hitting him. Morgi went in for the attack again, only to suddenly find his face obscured by Ali's foot, stopping him in his tracks. A great force then pushed him back again as Ali forced him away with a kick.

With Graal's head still locked under her arm, she then spun, using the momentum to throw Graal right into Morgi, both Krogan crashing into each other hard. So hard in fact they actually cracked the wall a little as they collided with it.

Both Krogan were now definitely frustrated by this and it showed in their rage. Ali though was able to use this to her advantage, and she spotted an ideal opening for a critical hit.

Graal was the first to get back up and immediately ran at her. Ali in turn ran too. Right as Graal expected them to collide with each other however, Ali suddenly sunk onto her knees and slid right under between his legs.

This was not her avoiding his attack however. If anything, it was her attack. As she slid the sharp ends of her fingers caught hold of his groin, not only hitting it with enough to cause an indiscernible amount of pain, but also drawing a greatly noticeable amount of blood.

Graal practically roared in pain, his hands flying to his lower regions as he feel to his knees. Even for a Krogan, this kind of pain was too much.

Angered by his brother's temporary unavailability, Morgi swung at her, but Ali countered the attack. In doing so, her other sank just low enough that she was able to grab a very sharp stone. As Morgi brought his fist back for another strike, Ali attacked first. Both her fist and the edge of the stone collided with his face, the stone itself slicing into his eye.

Morgi in turn let out a howl of pain as he was left partially blind, falling next to his brother.

And so Ali stood above both her defeated, it seemed, opponents, panting heavily, bruised, battered, and bleeding very slightly, but very much alive and still functioning.

It was difficult to argue at this point that Ali had managed to win without killing them. Though it seemed the Blood Rage Pack didn't take kindly to that, and once again raised their weapons.

Scott and Jaal were also about to do the same, but Drack stopped them, urging them to wait.

For a moment, Ali looked at them all with a serious look. Then finally she spoke.

"Listen to me, all of you. If you follow these Krogan outcasts, all you're going to have is a short life of fear and violence that leads to a toe tag in a morgue." She said.

The pack cast several looks at one another.

"You know it's true. I can see it in your eyes. But it's not too late. You can choose a different future. You can walk away. Just… walk away." Ali continued.

A long silence followed before Morgi broke it, blood still pouring from his now empty eye socket.

"What are you waiting for?! Kill this bitch!" Morgi yelled.

But not one of the pack raised their weapons. Finally, one particular pack member dropped his weapon, cast off his helmet and walked off.

This it seemed opened the flood gates as every single other member did the exact same. Some of even throwing off bits of their armour that had the blood rage pack markings on it.

Both Krogan brothers were left in almost shock.

"It's over. Now you'll answer for what you did to my squad."

"Not yet, bug."

Before Ali had a chance to process this, the Krogan suddenly drew a hidden knife from inside his armour and stabbed Ali in the lower left leg. The Arkane gave a loud and pained groan and she fell to her knee, losing her grip on Graal.

As both brother's slowly got back up, she staggered back, pulling the knife from her leg. Despite the bleeding though she still seemed to be able to stand. If anything, she only looked more angered by the wound.

As Graal rose back up, Morgi suddenly punched a hole in the nearby wall, revealing a hidden compartment out of which he pulled two Krogan hammers. He handed one to his brother while keeping the other one for himself.

"You have no honour." Ali snarled.

"Honour…" Morgi said mockingly

"Just another word for weakness." Graal finished. "You lost us our pack. Now you'll pay for it."

Jaal meanwhile was not about to just stand by and let Ali fight an unfair battle.

"Ali, catch!"

Immediately, he threw Ali's axe down into the arena where it landed squarely in the Arkane's hands.

With the odds now even again, mostly, Ali prepared herself for one more fight. One way or another, this would be the last one.

"Let's finish this then. First one to die… loses."

Both brothers attacked simultaneously, their attacks blocked by Ali's axe. Reacting quickly, Ali forced her axe to the left. As she did, the axe's blade caught on Morgi's hammer, forcing it over and into Graal's as well pushing both weapons away from her.

With Morgi being the close, Ali reacted fast and thrust the eye of her axe into the Krogan's face. With this bit of the axe being blunt, it didn't mill Morgi. But it suddenly hit him with enough force that it not only knocked him back it also looked as though his plate was cracked.

Ali only had a split second before Graal made another swing, this time from the side. Once again though, Ali blocked it. She knew she couldn't use the same trick twice so she was forced to simply try and push against him, both weapons locked and grinding against one another as both opponents attempted to overpower each other.

With a sudden roar and burst of strength, Ali managed to push Graal's hammer away. The Krogan almost immediately went to attack again, but Ali was faster. With a wide and powerful swing she sunk the blade of her axe deep into his left side. Graal let out a deeply pained groan, his strength failing him as he lost grip of his hammer.

Driven by the rage of battle, Ali pulled her axe out again, immediately embedding it in Graal's upper left body. She then pulled out again and sank it into his side a second time. As the axe came out once more, she raised it high and with a loud scream, Ali brought it right down into his head, dislodging the Krogan's entire plate which she then ripped off in one single pull. And finally with one more swing, she decapitated him completely.

Blood gushed from Graal's open wounds, and now completely severed neck, coating Ali with enough blood to almost completely obscure her.

"GRAAL! No!" Morgi yelled as his brother's lifeless body fell to the floor, a large puddle of blood slowly forming beneath it.

"How did you… I'LL KILL YOU!"

Morgi charged, only for Ali to side step his attack and trip him up using her axe. Before he even had a chance, she then brought her axe down hard onto his back, cutting right through his armour and so deep that Ali almost had trouble getting it back out again.

Badly bleeding, missing an eye and badly bruised, Morgi barely had any strength to move now.

"That was for taking my armour." Ali growled.

Using one of her feet, she then turned Morgi over so that he now looked up at her as she slowly raised her axe, her foot grabbing a firm hold of his armour and pinning him in place.

"And this one's for my squad, you son of a whore!"

With one final mighty swing, she brought the axe down, cutting Morgi's head completely off.

For a few seconds, Lai simply stood there, panting slightly as she stood over he kills. This was brief though as she then raised her axe high above her head, letting out an almost deafening roar of triumph.

As she let herself calm down finally, she slowly walked over to the arena's edge and used her axe to climb back out. She also wiped away most of the blood on her face as she re-joined the others.

"You alright?" Scott asked with concern. "Your leg…"

Ali answered that question though by suddenly regurgitating some kind of green substance into her hand which she then applied to the wound in her leg. She winced ever so slightly as the stuff then hardened, sealing the wound.

In all that had happened, Scott had forgotten Arkane's could do that. If they had a serious bleeding wound, they could use a substance naturally produced by the bodies to cover the wound like a bandage in order to stop the bleeding. In fact, it pretty much served the same function as a human scab.

"That should take care of it. Lexi can handle the rest." Ali said. She then turned to Jaal to his and everyone's surprise, planted a light kiss on his forehead. "Thank you, Jaal."

"I wasn't about to let you fight an unfair battle." Jaal said, managing to keep his composure.

"Damn good fight, kid. Clan Urdnot would be proud of you." Drack smiled.

"As would my parents." Ai chuckled slightly. "I'd first intended this to be a clean-up… but now I think we've actually done some good here today. Without Graal and Morgi, the others stand a real chance at a better life. Especially with all you've done, Ryder. I wouldn't be surprised if your outposts got some new people."

At that moment, one Blood Rage Pack merc that had remained behind, walked up to them.

"What do you want?" Ali asked.

"Your armour's in there. Just thought you'd want to know." The merc said. He then left the same way the others had left.


The merc's indicated path had lead them into the brother's chambers. There was an obviously noticeable large safe at the far end. It was easily large enough to store a suit of armour designed for some at least 6 foot 6, so Ali's armour clearly had to be in there.

Scott tried to access it, but his suit was unable to bypass the lock.

"Locked. One of the brother's must've had a key card on them…"

He was interrupted however when Ali suddenly swung her axe right into the control panel, completely destroying it.

"Or we could try that." Scott finished with a sigh.

Putting her axe to one side, Ali then grabbed the door and forcibly pulled it right off its hinges.

There inside, sure enough, lay a fully intact set of Helldiver amour.

Surprisingly, it wasn't all the different compared to the armour Ali was wearing now. It had slightly more bulk than her normal one, but the overall style was till the same. It even had its own cloth hanging from the waist and back.

The helmet also shared similarities. The usual triangular shape remained the same, naturally. But it did have the addition of two small tusks on the lower part, and two short horns on the top. These were metal rather than pure bone like Ali's current helmet.

Being also custom made for her, it had extra arms to keep her secondary ones protected and naturally was made for her height. There was extra plating on the back designed to resemble a Krogan's torso, but it was very small at best so as to not prove impractical. Her suit's inactive shoulder cannon was also double barrel rather than the usual single barrel that most had.

A few markings were also present around the armour. If Scott remembered right, these were actually Krogan clan markings. Most likely a tribute to Ali being of Clan Urdnot, and also half Krogan.

Ali took a long look at the armour, and gently reached her hand out, running it along the metallic surface, her fingers tracings some the scratch marks or paint chips she'd collected from her battles.

"After all this time…" she said, a small smile appearing on her face.

That smile though soon vanished, replaced with a look that seemed, surprisingly, like regret. Ali just simply stood there, a very long silence following.

"Aren't you gonna put it back on?" Scott asked, finally breaking it.

"Why should I?" Ali asked in a very sad tone.

"That's why we came here. We came to get your armour back so you could wear it again…" Scott said. But then, the realization came to him. "You don't want to wear it again, do you?"

Ali gave a silent nod then let out a heavy sigh.

"I'm not worthy to wear this thing again." She said in regret. "My squad died because I failed them. When the scavengers took my armour… I fled when I should've fought. I don't deserve to call myself a Helldiver again."

"Ali, you can't keep punishing yourself for what happened. The past is the past. There's nothing we can do to change it. All we can do is try to move and learn from it." Scott said.

"I just…"

"Tell me something, Ali. How well did you know your squad?" Jaal interrupted.

"How well did I know them? They were like family to me!" Ali replied, with a bit more force this time.

"Do you think then that they'd want this? Would they want their deaths to stop you from being who you are?" Jaal asked.

Another long silence followed. From the look Ali was giving though, it seemed those words had gotten through to her and she was definitely thinking hard.

Finally, Scott spoke up.

"This is your choice, Ali. I can't decide it for you… but Jaal has a point. Your…"

"Enough!" Ali interrupted, making them both jump slightly. "I've made my decision."

For a third time, silence followed. But this time it was brief. The answer soon came in the form of movement as Ali reach up to the straps holding her current armour and place. Piece by piece, she shed the armour completely and let it fall at her feet until finally she revealed that underneath it all she still wore her Helldiver under armour.

Scott couldn't help but smile proudly as he watched.

Ali stepped up to the suit and took a deep breath.

"Open." She said.

A very light hum could be heard emanating from the suit before it gently opened up, armour plating shifting or readjusting until it was fully open, waiting to accept its user back in. Ali gently settled herself and closed her eyes, preparing herself for what was about to happen.

"Reseal."

Sure enough, the suit resealed itself. There was brief moment of nothing, but the hum from the suit intensified as it powered back. Then finally the optic lights representing eyes on the helmet came on.

Ali's helmet moved around a bit before she took some gentle steps forward. No balance issues, no movement impediments… nothing.

"Strange… I'd almost forgotten what it was like. The strength… the power…" she said, gently moving her arms, hands and fingers. "I… I've certainly missed it."

Clearly Ali had done some fiddling with her suit's voice changer since it made her voice sound far more deeper than any suit should. But it was hardly a bad thing. She obviously favoured intimidating her enemies when speaking… or friend as well.

She then looked to Scott and Jaal. At the same time, her helmet opened up to reveal her face again. For a brief minute, Scott thought he saw a happy tear in Ali's eye before she blinked.

"Thank you… both of you for helping me make this decision. I owe you a debt I can never repay." She said.

"You don't owe us anything, Ali. Your our friend and shipmate. We look out for our own." Scott said. He smiled under his own helmet as he then took up Ali's axe and handed it back to her.

As axe telescopically decreased its length, Ali holstered it on her armour's back where it belonged while her helmet also reassembled. Her overall stance and posture also changed to a more confident one.

"Well, why are we still standing around then? Let's find some more enemies to kill."


All four returned to the Tempest in good spirits over what had transpired today. Overall, it had bene a better outcome than anticipated. Already, Kadara's outpost had reported quite a few newcomers.

It also occurred to Scott that pretty much everyone now had had their own problems sorted out. Perhaps finally they were ready to go after the Archon's hip and resume their search for Meridian.

Before he made a final decision on that though, he decided to check on the crew to be sure. Ali especially hadn't been seen much since returning with her armour. Most likely she was just making sure it was fully up to date and everything. Being offline for almost a year, that suit probably had some catching up to do.

He found Ali once again in her usual spot. Her armour was currently just stood on display while she finished typing a few commands into her omni tool.

"Ryder." She said in acknowledgement.

Overall, her mood seemed even better than usual. She'd always been quite high spirited anyway, but now she just seemed all the more pleased. Mind you, who could blame her?

"How's the armour?" Scott asked.

"Currently in low power mode while it finishes some critical updates. The rest I can take care of when we next dock at the nexus." Ali replied. "I also spoke with Helldiver command. They were very surprised to hear from me again. Up till now, they assumed I'd died with my squad. But they were pleased to have me back, no loss of pay or social benefits."

"That's good. You've practically got your old life back."

"They've offered to assign me to a new squad as well. I'd be out in the field on the front lines again."

"Oh… uh, that's… also really great to hear. You'll be able to do a lot of good."

"Indeed."

"So when do you plan on leaving?"

"Leaving?" Ali said in surprise. "I'm not going anywhere just yet. They offered to assign me to a new squad, but I requested that I stay with you for now. They agreed. So for now my orders to remain with you on the Tempest until such a time comes when you no longer need me."

"Are you sure about that?"

"Of course I'm sure." Ali smiled. "You and this team have become like another family to me. I have a new squad now alongside you. I'm quite happy where I am. Besides, I'm still doing Helldiver duties by helping you."

"It means a lot to hear you say that, Ali. Thank you."

"It is I that should be thanking you, Ryder. You made me let go of my guilt and allowed me to embrace my calling again. For the first time in almost a year, I'm at peace again. I believe my squad can rest well now, knowing I've avenged them."

"You know, I've never asked…. Your squad, what were they like?"

"Fearless… brave… true… sometimes stubborn… but a good hearted bunch. You'd have gotten along very well with them."

"I'm sure I would."

"Ask me no more of them though, Ryder. I do not always wish to remember their faces."

"I understand." Scott nodded. "Sara and I know what it's like to lose those close to us."

"You do, don't you?" Ali said understandingly.

"We didn't always get along with our father, but we loved our mother so much. The day she died… a part of me feared we might never get over it. But time heals all wounds."

"To die in battle is one thing, but to die from an illness, an enemy you can't fight physically… no one should suffer that fate. I'm sure she was a good woman."

"She was."

"For what it's worth, I think they'd both be proud of you and Sara."

"Thanks, Ali."

"Don't mention it."

"I'll let you get back to work."

"Before you go, Ryder, I have a little proposal if you're interested."

"Proposal?"

"I was wondering if perhaps you might be interested in a little sparring match with me. It'd be nice for me to get used to my armour again and also fight an opponent equal to me."

"Isn't Drack better suited for that?"

"He's not a Helldiver. In armour, I'd whoop his ass in seconds. I'm not so sure Lexi would approve of that."

"Fair enough. When do you want to do this then?"

"Not just when… but where as well." Ali said with a smile. "Next time we're on Voeld, bring me along with you. I've got something fun in mind for us. I think you're gonna like it."

"Just please don't try to seduce me again." Scott said tiredly.

"That was fun while it lasted. But since you're with Peebee officially now, I see little point in it now. Don't worry. I'll stop making invitations." Ali said seriously.

"Oh I wasn't offended. Nor do I think you should stop at all. Admittedly, I myself did find it a bit funny. Just so long as we're clear nothing serious is ever going to happen."

"Works for me." Ali with slight laugh.

Scott then offered his hand to Ali… but she didn't take it.

"Oh no. Proper handshake. Come on." She said, holding up her own hand as though she was challenging him to arm wrestle.

Scott smiled back and firmly clasped his hand in hers.

"Give 'em hell, Soldier." She said with a confident smile.

"You got that right." Scott smiled back.

"For the first time in my life, I look forward to the future. Whatever comes, we'll meet it as a team."


With time to kill, Scott went to see how Drack was doing. He found however that the old Krogan wasn't in his usual spot. A quick comm call rom Lexi soon told him Drack was in the med bay.

Partly worried there might be something wrong, Scott headed over. When he arrived, he didn't notice anything that was of immediate concern. Drack was simply sat calmly on the edge of one of the tables while Lexi was finishing a scan on him.

"Move your arm again." She requested.

"Readings won't change, doc." Drack simply said as he moved his arm.

"Your prosthetics are syncing properly. Your neuropathy-induced pain levels are… consistent."

"Hey. I'm used to it. It's okay."

"Not. It's not okay!" Lexi said, louder this time. She then calmed down though. "You keep fighting smart, you hear me? You don't have much left in term of organ redundancies."

Drack was silent for a moment before he finally spoke again.

"Nah, its fine. I don't mind."

"What's all this about?" Scott asked.

"Follow up scans. I keep a close eye on him." Lexi replied.

"What do you mean?"

"He's fine, just… old. And missing too many parts. And too stubborn for his own good."

"You love me just the way I am, Doc." Drack said with a somewhat suggestive smile.

"Don't get off that table until the scan is done." Lexi with slight groan as she turned and left the med lab. She briefly paused though halfway through the door. "Scott, I'd like to see you and Sara later today if possible."

Scott nodded, then turned back to Drack.

"Can I ask what happened?" he asked gently.

"Arm, side, hip, part of my leg. Strain balancing threading across my spine. It's all prosthetics and implants." Drack explained.

"That's… a lot." Scott said in surprise.

He'd known some Helldiver who had lost limbs which were then replaced with prosthetics. But he'd never heard of anything this extreme.

"Made it through the Krogan rebellions, watched my culture disintegrate, survived centuries as a merc and all sorts of pirate shenanigans. A thousand years of combat experience. All it took was one idiot with a pack of frag grenades."

"It must have been hard."

"Yeah. It got… pretty bad."

"I hit some dark moments. Implant rejection after implant rejection. Prosthetics not syncing properly. Everything hurt… a lot. All the time. No purpose to anything."

"How did you deal with it?"

"I didn't. I fell right into that pit. Almost… but then some shaman shows up, drops the tiniest little baby girl in my lap. "This one' dying." He says. "Not worth the trouble." He says. "Useless" is what he meant."

"He wasn't just talking about the baby."

"Yeah. I was useless too, but…" "Wasn't just about me anymore, so I got help. Learned how to take care of myself, take care of her. And she took care of me."

"You found a way to live again."

"We sure did. Wasn't easy on either of us. I'm old, stuck in my ways. And Kesh? Kesh has always wanted to change everything since she could talk. Raising Kesh taught me an important lesson."

"What was it?"

"Took me a while to figure it out, but it's important." Drack replied seriously. "Parents aren't meant to be a goal or finish line. We're the starting line. Where you go from there? It's all you. Remember that."


Not long after, Scott got a message from Jaal asking to speak with him.

He found the Angara in his usual spot.

"Did you get my message? Doesn't matter. I have exciting news, and I wanted to tell you in person." Jaal said.

"Should I sit down?" Scott asked.

"Is that another idiom? Or… yes, of course… do what you like."

"Yeah, it's an idiom that means… never mind." Scott replied with a shake of his head.

"I've been offered an advancement in the Resistance and my own command."

"That makes complete sense. Congratulations."

Scott did his best though to hide the fact that he was a little disappointed to hear that. This meant Jaal was going to leave. He'd told Scott himself this was the sort of thing he'd always wanted. The chances of him saying no and staying with a bunch of aliens were almost non-existent.

"Thank you. My family is very proud. And so am I." Jaal smiled.

"So when did this happen?" Scott asked.

"Recently. You know that I wasn't satisfied with my position and direction in the Resistance." Jaal replied.

"Or life." Scott added.

"True… very true. Yes." Jaal nodded. "After my success with you, they see me with new eyes. But more importantly, so do I."

"So you get your own command?"

"It's a covert squad. Tech ops. Commanding a small group of elite specialists that infiltrate advanced Kett sites."

"High danger… high reward."

"Okay then. Should we head back to Aya?" Scott said unable to hold back a small sigh.

"What? Why? I'm not taking the position!" Jaal replied in surprise.

"But that's crazy. It's what you've wanted." Scott said, now greatly confused.

"What I wanted, yes… but not what I needed. Not what I need. With your help, I broke free of expectation. I found my better self."

"That's one of the nicest things anyone has said to me. Seriously." Scott smiled.

"Good."

"No, really."

"You've changed too, I think. More open… like a true Angara."

"Perfect."

"So you're stuck with me now, at least until this all plays out. Besides, you need me."

"Don't push your luck."

"But luck can't be pushed. It comes to us, and… ah, idiom."

"Yup."

"Shit."

"Ha!"


The rest of the day went off without anything major and the time soon came for Scott and Sara to see Lexi for what they probably guessed was another check-up.

Sure enough, the Asari was waiting for them, equipment prepped and everything.

"Ready for more tests?" she asked.

"Not again. Lexi, we're fine." Scott sighed.

"Sit now and I'll skip the bloodwork." Lexi ordered sternly and the twins sat on the bed, albeit a little reluctantly. "Now, is there anything I should know about? And don't try to hide anything. Because I will find out either way."

"Nothing that we're aware of." Sara shrugged.

She also cast a look at Scott as though expecting him to somehow report something. But nothing came, as expected.

"Good so far. Now I need the physical exam. Usual routine."

"I swear you enjoy me getting my shirt of sometimes." Scott sighed with a slight laugh as he and Sara removed their shirts.

When the twins had first started this whole thing, this sort of session would've made Sara feel very uncomfortable or very self-conscious. But these days, that was now a thing of the past. Being with Suvi with given Sara a massive boost in confidence. She no longer felt the need to hide herself. Plus, she wasn't worried about what other women might think. She only had eyes for Suvi.

Lexi had also made it clear at one point that she didn't harbour any attraction towards either of them and was not interested in a relationship at all. Her words had been that they weren't her type, "a patient" as she'd put it.

She'd been very clear on that when Scott had tried to flirt with her. He'd immediately apologised afterwards though, saying he'd only meant it as a playful joke. Lexi had simply shrugged it off.

"Inhale." The doctor requested.

Both twins did so.

"Exhale."

They let out a long breath and relaxed.

"All good. You can put you shirts back on now." Lexi said. "You should know. Professor Herik approached me about a transfer to the Nexus. Apparently my research on Kett anatomy has been useful to the militia.

"Guess we'll be telling our next doctor about our abandonment issues." Scott said as he and Sara finished putting their upper clothes back on.

"I declined." Lexi simply said.

"Really?" Sara asked in surprise.

"Didn't have a choice. No other doctor in the initiative would take you two." Lexi smiled.

For some reason, Scott seemed to try not to laugh at that. The reason why though eluded Sara and Lexi.

"What's so funny, Scott?" Sara asked.

"Well, Suvi's a doctor and… well… you and her…" Scott managed to say while trying to contain himself.

"Real mature, brother." Sara groaned, burying her face in her hand. "See what I have to live with?"

"I can barely imagine." Lexi sighed, sharing Sara's view.

"Still, we're lucky to have you here." Scott said, finally managing to regain his composure.

"Yes, you are. But I'm pretty lucky too."


The night shift would soon be upon the crew. But some of them still had a bit of time left before they turned in.

Two particular individuals were about to use the time well for a bit of exercise.

Cora and Vederia had recently felt that it was about time they do a sparring session again. They used to do it all the time back in their commando days, and although they did do it regularly today, it wasn't quite to the same extent. Fortunately, they were never in shortage of spar partners. The rest of the Tempest crew naturally did plenty of friendly sparring with each other from time to time. Ali especially was always happy to spar with anyone, despite the fact that some of them were afraid to spar with her due to her strength and aggressiveness, and the fact that she never held back. Anyone who fought with her did so at their own peril.

Since uniform wasn't the best for fighting in, both huntresses had changed into their Asari under armour for this.

"You ready?" Vederia asked, eagerly making a few light jumps to get her blood flowing.

"Don't hold back." Cora said, rolling her shoulders.

"Wouldn't think of it." Vederia smiled. "Permission to strike a superior officer, ma'am."

"Deenied!" Cora chuckled.

The two began to circle each other slowly, waiting patiently for one of them to make the first move.

Neither of them had noticed, but up above, leaning on the rail, was none other than Max. He was hardly spying on them. Neither had noticed, and he himself hadn't attempted to hide. He was simply an unintentional observer. He'd just finished having a small talk with Sara who'd now left for bed… most likely with Suvi.

As Cora and Vederia continued to circle, Max was almost tempted to cheer them on. But in the end he resisted to temptation to say anything out loud. A small little reference came into his mind though, he cracked a small smile at the thought.

"ROUND 1! FIGHT!" he said in his head.

Funnily enough, the moment he thought that sentence, the two opponents finally attacked. They began with simple bows, blocking kicks and dodging punches. Cora even managed a really good wide kick that would almost certainly have knocked someone out, but Vederia was able to lean back so much that the humans' foot went right over her head, missing her face completely.

"Not bad, Cora." The Asari smiled challengingly as she straightened back up again. But you still haven't hit…"

She was interrupted though when Cora suddenly made a swift lunge with her right hand, going right in-between Vederia's arms and catching her right in the chest.

Since this was purely sparring, they agreed that they would never use punches, nor go for the face unless they knew for certain that their opponent could block or counter a face attack. Otherwise, they went for the body and would either stop their hands before they hit if they had a clenched fist, or push an opponent with an open hand if they insisted on making contact.

In this case, Cora hit Vederia with an open hand thrust which pushed against Vederia with such force that it knocked her back and she staggered for a moment. After a few seconds, she regained her composure.

"My point?" Cora smiled.

"Fine. I'll give you that one." Vederia smiled back sinisterly. "But no more miss nice Asari after that."

"ROUND 2! FIGHT!"

Vederia then jumped high in the air, her knee aimed at Cora's face. Cora countered the knee away from her face, but the force of it knocked her back, dazing her for a second.

Vederia lunged and the two ended up locking arms as they tried to trip the other up. To Vederia's utter surprise, Cora then managed to actually haul her onto the floor and soon had her pinned as the human knelt herself on top of the Asari.

"Had enough?" she asked, unable to hide a slight smug.

"Still got it." Vederia smiled with a sigh, forced to admit defeat.

"FINISH HER!"

For a very long time though, nothing happened. The two simply stared at one another. Both looked into each other's eyes.

Vederia had every opening to suddenly turn the tables and flip them over so she was no on top. But she didn't want to. Not a single fibre in her being made her even want to move.

In the time that she had bene on board the Tempest since the Asari ark had been saved, she and Cora had spent so much time together. They'd been there for each other, helping whenever one of them got stressed, keeping each other strong… In fact, they'd probably spent more time together than they had in their commando days.

Not to mention also the occasional subtle flirts or sensual lures. Vederia couldn't deny it that she had fallen for Cora again. This time though it was different. It was deeper. She wanted the human… more than just a good friend. She truly was into her. She longed for the human to hold her close and intimately with those strong hands of hers.

Getting unexpectedly pinned like this in fact had made her heart flutter. And to be brutally honest with herself… she even felt a little bit turned on.

Only slight problem appeared to be though that Cora was a hard woman to read sometimes. Her seriousness and professionalism made it hard to know if she felt the same way. If she did, she certainly hit it very well.

Cora's point of view however held a slightly different story. In the past few weeks Vederia had been serving on the Tempest, she'd been feeling emotions she not only hadn't felt in a long time, but also some newer deeper feelings she hadn't felt before. She hated not being able to understand these feelings.

As the two opponents simply looked at one another, the closeness was affecting them at such an intimate range, stirring up passions that (unknown to Cora) was slowly drawing them closer and closer together.

Vederia was actually aware that Cora was slowly moving down towards her, but she didn't do anything. Deep down, she wanted this. Both their breathing became heavier as their lips edged closer to one another.

Both closed their eyes as their lips were mere millimetres from touching. But then…

"Didn't see that one coming." Max's voice suddenly said, causing both to look up right at him. The hunter quickly realized his mistake. "Oh. Said that out loud, didn't I?"

"Max! How long have you been standing there?" Cora said as she sat up, slightly cross.

"Since before you two even started. I promise though, I was not spying on you two. Was simply enjoying the fight. Very nicely done by the way." Max replied.

"I, uh… I should probably turn in after that. It was… fun." Vederia stuttered slightly as she managed to gently push Cora off, got up and quickly left.

A combination of both annoyance and guilt lingered inside the Asari. She'd been so ready to accept hat kiss, only for it to be interrupted right at that moment. What were the chances she'd get another chance like that again?!


As Cora herself got back up, she glared threateningly at Max.

"Tell anyone about this and I'll throw you out the airlock. Understand?" she said sternly.

"My lips are sealed, Lieutenant." Max said, raising his hands in a reassuring surrender.

As Max left, Cora looked back to where Vederia had gone. She was about to go after her, planning to apologise… but something stopped her: a question. What had just happened?

She had almost kissed Vederia right on the lips.

And it wasn't like Vederia had been the one trying to kiss her. After all, the huntress had had her pinned. It had been her that had almost caused the kiss. There was no other way of putting it.

This also made Cora realise that Vederia had had every opportunity to try and stop her or say something. But she hadn't. Why?

Could it have been that she was simply too nervous to say anything to her friend? Had she been in shock…

Cora though knew Vederia better than that. As nervous as the Asari had often been in the past, she'd never hidden anything from her dear friend. If ever something was wrong, or she felt uncomfortable, she'd always told Cora, every single time.

But then why hadn't she done anything. It was almost as if she'd wanted Cora to kiss her…

That thought lingered in Cora's head almost constantly now. Vederia had let her do it. She'd wanted to be kissed by her. But then… why?

Cora kept trying to think of some logical reason until finally she was forced to accept the truth. Vederia had developed feelings for her again. Even after all this time, she was still attracted to the human.

And then Cora's thoughts came back to why she'd gone for the kiss in the first place. It had been an instinct she hadn't been able to fight. She'd practically been drawn to the Asari like a magnet. What had compelled her to do this…

The answer was obvious. Cora never would've thought it would be, but it was. She was attracted to Vederia in turn. Not hard to see why admittedly. After all, they'd been drawn to each other once before, and this time there were far less things that risked getting in the way.

Cora did think about going to Vederia right now and be honest with her, but she felt perhaps wasn't the best time. After all, Vederia had looked both embarrassed and a little disappointed after that little incident.

Besides, Cora had something else in mind. Until now, she'd thought of bringing Scott along for it as her friend. But now… now she felt Vederia should be present for it also.


I had planned for the Archon's ship to be next, but my friend, Mastermind4892 convinced to rearrange the order slightly. Instead, the next chapter will feature Ryder hanging out with the crew, and some of the other couples finally get together. No sex scenes yet, I'm saving those for later.

In the meantime, hope you enjoyed this chapter and feel free to leave a review. :)

Chapter Text

Not that many chapter left to go.

One thing I'm definitely anticipating is your reactions to some of the plot twists that will soon follow near the end.

In the meantime, hope you enjoy this little "hanging out" chapter.


Chapter 18

Hanging out with the Crew

The decision had ultimately bene made that they would indeed resume their hunt for the Archon, but before that, Scott had given everyone a few days leave so that they could kick back, relax and be fully prepared for when they went back out there.

It seemed everyone had found something to do. And in fact, they all hoped to spend time with him.

Ali had already suggested the idea of a sparring match on Voeld, but since they were currently closer to Kadara, the Tempest headed there first.

Drack had asked Scott out for drinks in the bar, Vetra had invited both him and Max to a bit of rock climbing, and Max had also suggested a little shoot out session between the two of them.


Drack was waiting for Scott in Kralla's song. The bartender, Umi Henon had already poured him a drink. Surprisingly though, there also seemed to be a man passed out at his feet.

"Do I even want to know?" Scott asked.

"Eh? Oh, this." Drack replied, giving the man a slight kick. "Some idiot who got talked into a head-butting contest with me by his buddies."

"Some buddies."

"Hey! You!" a voice suddenly said from behind.

Another man, most likely an exile was stood behind them. He seemed to also have a few more exiles with him.

"Not in my bar!" said Umi.

"I know you, Nexus. Your people hurt my friends. Now we're going to hurt you!" the man said, ignoring Umi.

"Someone wants a fight. You up for it, Ryder?" Drack chuckled.

"Look, I came here to drink with friends, not fight you." Scott said, hoping to somehow try and clam the situation. He'd rather avoid this turning nasty, but he was by no means afraid of a fight if need be.

At the moment, it looked as though it was gonna come to that.

"You really think you can stop me?" the man said.

He then swung a punch which Scott leant back to avoid, the fist missing him completely. The Helldiver wasn't' about to let that stand though and made his own attack. His open hand went right for the man's throat, slamming into it with enough force that he was left choking as his windpipe was temporarily obstructed by Scott's hand hitting it.

Drack at the same time also put his glass down hard and turned to the face them, drawing himself up to his full height and flexing his shoulder intimidatingly.

"Just what do you think you're doing?"

"Unless you want this to get ugly, take my advice: Fuck… off." Scott said forcefully.

The man and his friends though seemed unfazed by this. He swung another punch, but Scott dodged this one too. He then grabbed the man and threw him right over the bar counter.

Another human tried to punch Scott, but he blocked it and then returned the attack with a punch of his own.

Another merc hit Drack in the face with bottle, only for the Krogan to then grab him and head butt him.

An Angara pushed Scott, knocking him against the counter, but the Helldiver managed to push back against the counter and turned it into a kick, knocking the Angara back and into some tables.

Drack meanwhile grabbed another attack and forced him against the counter, bringing his elbow down onto the man's head.

Another Angara swung several punches at Scott but he avoided then, forcing the Angara against the counter. Umi then suddenly appeared and smashed a bottle into the Angara's head.

Whilst Drack threw a female Turian to the floor, a wild Salarian then tackled Scott to the floor. He made several desperate attempts to hit Scott before Drack then throw him off and helped Scott up.

As the two took a moment to catch a break however, they could tell this was far from over. There were still more mercs left.

The two simply cast looks at one another before they charged…


By the time they'd finished, almost no one was left standing. Only ones that were, were the ones who hadn't been involved in the fight. Only Scott and Drack remained, with Umi also pouring them drinks. Her way of expressing gratitude for taking care of the trouble makers.

"And I thought Ali knew how to take care of idiots like them." She said.

"I'm getting too old for this shit." Drack sighed. "Hey, Ryder. Do me a favour? Don't tell Kesh about this."

"I got you covered." Scott simply smiled, his drink clinking with Drack's.

"That you do. I just… don't want her to worry."


Max was next, so Scott headed outside the port with the Hunter. Soon, they found a high enough point which had a large view overlooking most of the port's entrance, along with the once flammable pools of water.

Thanks to them fixing Kadara's vault however, that was no longer the case. Another reason why Kadara now had an outpost.

"Rules are simple. One has the sniper and has to try and find the other. Round ends either until the sniper shoots the prey, or runs out of ammo." Max explained, taking out a sniper rifle both of them could use. Unlike Max's personal one which was customized for him personally, this one was a standard issue unmodified one. Obviously so that both of them had a fair chance. "You can go first; I'll find a hiding spot."

"We allowed to move around if we think we've been spotted?" Scott asked, taking the sniper rifle.

"Yeah. Adds a bit more to the challenge." Max replied.

Securing his mask in place and raising his hood, Max soon vanished down into the ravine. As part of the rules, the one doing the hiding was allowed a 1 minute head start to find a place to cover.

"Ryder, if you like I can help you pinpoint Max's position." EDI offered.

"No. I'm gonna play this fairly." Scott said sternly.

At the same time, he also deactivated his suit's long range sensors so that it didn't automatically detect Max. Much as he knew in a real life scenario he'd always have the advantage, this was a game between friends and he was going to play it fairly just as Max was.

"Understood." EDI simply said.

This being a simple game of course, they were using something similar to laser tagging and not live ammunition. Both of them had tough armour, but it was still better to be safe. Four full rounds followed, with both of them switching back and forth between being the Hunter and the hunted. Both had managed to draw, having scored hits on both rounds.

Scott though had used up more ammo on his ones before finally getting the point whereas Max had always manged his shots on the first try. So now it came down to the final round. Whoever won their round, would be the winner, unless of course they drew again in which case they would keep going until one of them lost.

Scott's turn was first. With both his rounds taking more shots, he had a feeling he was going to lose this one. Max in turn had gotten better at avoiding his shots each time.

"Ryder, are you sure that…" EDI attempted to ask, but Scott interrupted her.

"I'm not cheating, EDI!"

To be honest, he didn't care if he lost. This was after all a friendly game and there was nothing to lose. Even he knew as well that Max was the better shot.

Sure enough, by the end of the round, Scott missed Max completely and his magazine went dry.

"Oh well." He simply shrugged modestly.

And then, unsurprisingly, when it came to Max's turn, he once again nailed Scott on the first try. The shot did only just hit him that time, but it was a hit none the less.

"Not bad, Ryder. Maybe you can use a sniper after all." Max said, once Scott had returned to the summit.

"When I need to." Scott simply said.

For a moment, Max simply gazed at the view of Kadara in silence before speaking again.

"I can't help but wonder these days, what am I gonna do after this? I mean, we won't be searching for Meridian forever. We're gonna find it eventually." He said.

"You're still welcome on the Tempest as long as you like." Scott said supportively.

"Thanks. I appreciate that." Max smiled. "It's just… I've spent almost an entire year hunting Kett. Yet now, I don't know if I can go back to that after all this, after all we've seen and done. I fear I've grown too used to you and the others.

"I'm sure you'll find something." Said Scott.

"One can only hope." Max smiled.


Vetra's rock climbing came next. The Turian and Max were having no problems at all scaling the rocks and were greatly enjoying themselves.

For Scott however, it wasn't the same story.

Being a Helldiver, his armour was very heavy. So heavy in fact that it was proving almost impossible to find a stone that didn't became dislodged from the cliff due to sheer amount of weight pushing or pulling down on it. The poor human was barely keeping up with the others.

He tried his best not to show it though. Last thing he needed was them gossiping to the crew about how he couldn't climb a simple rock wall.

"You're right. The view is great from up here." Scott said, managing to hide the fact that he was struggling beyond measure.

"I've seen quite a few in my time." Max said. As he did, his gaze fell upon Vetra. "But none of them compare… to…"

"We're not even to the top yet. Come on, I'll race you both." Vetra said enthusiastically. "And no jump jets! We're doing it the old fashioned way."

"What do we get if one of us wins?" Max asked.

"What would you like?"

"The bad guy defeated, a magic sword… and the girl?" Max replied.

"Good thing you're losing then. I don't have a magic sword." Vetra chuckled slightly.

Scott simply hung his head and sighed as he continued. Once again another possible place to put his foot was gone as it collapsed under his weight.

Vetra was already in the lead… until Max ultimately decided he did not want to lose. Before anyone could stop him, he activated his jump jet and shot up past Vetra.

"Wheeeeeeeee!"

"Hey!"

Once he'd reached the top, his jump jet cut out and he landed safely on the rocky surface.

As he lay on the ground letting his adrenaline and the excitement calm down. Shortly after, Vetra made it to the top as well.

"Having fun? You look like you're having fun." She panted slightly.

She then gently laid herself down next to Max and they both stared up at the sky.

"Max… is this real?" she asked.

"Yeah. I think the sky's real." Max replied.

"No, this. How you are towards me. It's like you… care… more than a friend." Vetra said, her hand unknowingly edging closer to Max's. "I don't mind if it's "no" I just want to be sure. It gets messy otherwise."

Max looked at Vetra for a moment. Both he and she had shared a somewhat flirting friendship in the time they'd bene working together. To begin with, max had just meant it as playful flirting and nothing serious.

But time it seemed had a way of changing things. As they'd spent more time together and got to know each other better, Max had indeed grown to care for her. Some humans might be put off by the fact that she was a Turian, but he wasn't. He didn't care that she was an alien at all. He liked her for who she was. And admittedly, he did find her beautiful as well. The purple markings, her tall and strong body, her clam and often optimistic personality… it was hard to find flaw with her.

He wasn't sure though if she felt the same way. Despite all the flirting, she seemed to remain pretty neutral on the subject, neither accepting nor rejecting him.

I the end though, Max felt he should be honest with her and just tell her that he did care. He owed that much after all. Even if they did ultimately just remain friends regardless of what he said, she had a right to know.

"I do care about you. More than a friend." Max said, gently intertwining Vetra's hand with his own.

To his surprise, Vetra didn't try to shrug him off. She just let him hold her hand.

"Really? I didn't want to assume. It seemed so unlikely. Me, you…"

In the end, Max threw caution to the wind and went with his gut instinct. Vetra was interrupted when Max suddenly sat up, rolled himself partly on top of her and then, to her surprise, kissed her full on the lips.

The Turian female was momentarily surprised for a moment, but she quickly eased into it. Once again, she did not make any attempt to reject. She just let the human kiss her.

When the two finally parted, both had a look of happiness in their eyes.

"And how's that for proving it?" Max asked, gently stroking the side of her face.

"I'm convinced." Vetra replied, gently pulling Max in for another kiss.

This next one was not like the first… it was better. It was longer, more passionate, and much deeper. Neither one of them had felt more at peace as they embraced each other. Max didn't even care that kissing Vetra felt very different to kissing a human or an Asari. He cared about her and nothing was going to change that.

Vetra in turn saw something more to Max than just a mercenary who killed for money. He had a code of honour he went by, he'd been willing to destroy the bioweapon he helped create in order protect innocents, and he'd said so himself that he cared about her and her sister.

And she had to admit, for a human, he wasn't bad looking at all. Shorter than her, yes. But then, almost everyone seemed short to her. Well, except for Arkanes who were actually taller than Turians.

As they continued kissing, they held each other tightly, neither of them wanting to let go or be separated. They'd gladly stay like this all day if they could.

Eventually, the sound of Scott approaching the top broke them apart. They simply smiled at each other and gave s light laugh as they watched the Helldiver finally appear. His left hand almost dislodging another rock as he finally managed to pull himself up.

"Did you have a bit of trouble?" Max asked as he got up and extended his hand out to Scott who had fallen to the ground on his back in exhaustion.

"Shut up." Scott panted.

He took Max's hand and the Hunter helped him up. The three of them then gazed out over the view of Kadara's plains, admiring their new beauty.

"It's all going to be like this, huh?" Vetra asked.

"No. Better." Scott said, smiling proudly at Kadara's view.

"For fourteen months, I wondered if I'd made a mistake coming here and dragging my sister with me." Vetra said. "I don't wonder anymore. Boarding the Tempest that day was the best decision I ever made."

"I'm glad you came aboard too. It wouldn't have been the same without you." Scott smiled.

He couldn't help but notice how Max and Vetra seemed to be holding hands as they stood side by side admiring the view. He was tempted to say something, but in the end felt it best not to.


Next came Ali's sparring match, which of course required them to go to Voeld. Although the vault for that planet had also been fixed, there was currently a snow storm going on right now.

No bother at all though for two Helldivers with internal temperature control.

"Why Voeld of all places?" Scott asked.

"The snow adds to the challenge. Why do you ask? Getting cold feet?" Ali teased.

"Funny." Scott chuckled, shaking his head.

Once the two found a spot they felt would be ideal because of the nearby view of the outpost, the large mountain off in the distance and frozen lake, they drew their melee weapons.

Scott had to admit, he was actually looking forward to using his sword again after so long. For a long time he hadn't yet met an opponent he'd been able to properly duel. Kett, Exiles and Pirates didn't really seem one for swords.

"Shall we then?" Ali grinned challengingly under her helmet.

"After you." Scott smiled back, bow his head slightly in respect of their fight, which Ali also returned.

They began with several light blows which either blocked or countered. They continued like this for nearly a minute before ending up in a blade lock.

As they tried to overpower each other however, they were suddenly interrupted as a Kett dropship suddenly flew in on them and dropped off a small squad of Kett troopers, all of whom aimed their guns at the two Helldivers.

"Truce?" Scott asked.

"Okay." Ali nodded.

The both of them quickly separated and turned their attention to the Kett.

The Kett fought hard, but against two Helldivers… it didn't take a genius to guess the odds of this fight.

They even tried to set two fiends on both of them. Scott though simply distracted them while Ali finished them off… in a rather bloody way in fact.

By the end of it, most of the surrounding area was covered in Kett blood. Ali simply looked at the sight with a proud smile as she stood over the dead body of one of the fiends, her axe embedded not only in it head but also in its nervous system, causing an occasional twitch every now and then.

"Not quite the field test I had in mind, but…"

"You looked like you were enjoying yourself at least." Scott said. "So… shall we continue then?"

Ali's head cocked to the side slightly in surprise before she spoke.

"You surprise me sometimes, Ryder. Thought you weren't keen on this." She said, gently hopping down from the fiend's body.

"Never leave a fight unfinished." Scott shrugged.

"You may regret saying that." Ali smiled slyly. "Have at you."

And with that, the two resumed their sparring duel.


Eos was the next port of call, with Cora, Gil and Peebee all having something they wished to do there.

Gil first of all hoped for Scott to meet Jill, a friend of his that he'd talked about often.

"Oh good. You're here. Yeah, so listen. She's only got a minute or two, and she's in rare form today, just to warn you. She's here kick-starting repopulation protocols reversing the chemical procreation blockers for colonists. Call it "boosting the batter". She's gonna talk your ear off about civic duties as a man." The engineer explained.

Scott had heard about those. It was designed as a way to prevent the Initiative's numbers from spreading until they had the necessary resources to support the extra numbers. Essentially, it made them temporarily sterile.

Most species in the initiative had this had this, save two…

Asari naturally could only get pregnant through Unions. The Arkanes meanwhile had a somewhat similar ability to control their pregnancy or impregnation. Females for example had a special muscle inside themselves allowing males of other species to not impregnate them if they chose by closing access to their wombs, and males could also choose whether their… "seed" would be potent or not.

Helldivers in general didn't have this either due to the Arkanes being against the whole idea. Instead they had just simply advised their soldiers to be mindful of the current situation if so chose to have children.

"That is what she's here to do. The woman takes her job seriously." Scott simply shrugged with a grin.

"Hey, if you're cool with it. It makes no never mind to me. No chance I'll ever oops a baby into the world." Gil said.

A nearby shuttle then touched down and a woman stepped out.

"Am I interrupting something?" she asked.

"Ah, Jill. About time. This is…"

"Save it. I asked you both to stop by, remember. Ryder, pleasure. I know we're all very busy, so I have only one question for you." Jill interrupted.

"Sure. Go ahead." Scott simply said.

"What the hell did you do to him? It's like he's an adult or something. He can even have a mature conversation without it degrading into pot shots… unless I take it there. What's your secret?" Jill asked.

"I have nothing to do with it. It's all him." Scott replied with a slight chuckle.

"I call bullshit on that. It's definitely your influence. Something." Jill laughed.

"Maybe all these years you thought you knew me, you were sadly mistaken." Gil said.

"You wish." Jill chuckled. "Okay, you're both off the hook. So glad I got to meet you, Ryder."

"Likewise."


Cora was next, having requested Scott come along to some kind of "mystery project."

It seemed she'd also invited Vederia as well. A slight surprise to Scott, but hardly unwelcome.

"So where's your mystery project?" Scott asked.

"Not far." Cora replied. "The old outpost sight. They left a few things behind."

As they neared the spot, Cora suddenly tripped on an unseen rise in the sandy terrain.

Vederia though reacted almost instinctively and caught her before she could fall.

"Whoa. Steady." She said.

"Thanks." Said Cora.

For a long moment, the two simply stared at one another.

"I... uh… can't lead the way unless you…" Cora finally said.

"Right… sorry." Said Vederia , quickly letting Cora back onto her feet.

"Don't be. Least I know you'll always be there to catch me." Cora smiled, causing Vederia to blush slightly.

She then walked up to what looked like a large crate of some kind and knelt down in front of it.

"Soil convertor. No Remnant terraformer, but it makes sandy dirt into something useful… eventually. Add seeds, some rain… and you've got a garden." She explained.

"That's right. You wanted a garden of your own." Scott said.

"It'll take years. I might not even see it. But that's okay. Asari think in centuries. Lay a foundation, then step away… let it grow into something you might never expect. Pathfinder training was my foundation. Gave me a whole galaxy of directions I could go. I don't need someone else's plan. Just a good beginning. The first seeds of a garden."

Cora then picked up a large handful of the seeds and stood up, walking over to Scott and Vederia.

"Or… someone I need in my life." She added.

Scott was completely caught off guard by this and struggled for the moment to find his words.

"Uh… Cora… you're a good friend, but…"

"I wasn't talking to you, Scott." Cora interrupted, trying to suppress a slight laugh.

Vederia's eyes widened

Had she really just heard right? Cora had just referred to her as someone she needed in her life. How had this happened?

Despite how happy she was to hear this though, Vederia couldn't help but feel a little uncomfortable.

After coming so dangerously close to each other last time, her body was acting up. Worse, the feeling of being pinned underneath Cora, which she had never felt before till now, had awakened desires that she'd never felt before.

The Asari had put herself to sleep more nights than she could count thinking about Cora holding her intimately, drawing pleasure from her body and she now wanted more than ever to experience these things for real. And her fantasises had only grown all the more vivid after the last encounter.

"I don't think either of us can deny it anymore, Vederia. This galaxy has given us a second chance at a lot of things. Even…" Cora said.

"I didn't think you…" Vederia stuttered.

"I know. And I sorry for what you've probably been through. I should've seen sooner." Cora said.

"We'll certainly have a lot to talk about when we get back to the Tempest." Vederia smiled, trying to hold back a few joyful tears.

"No kidding. But first…"

Cora handed the seeds to Vederia, then picked up another pile for Scott and finally one for herself.

"What seeds do you have exactly?" Scott asked.

"Desert flowers and grasses from across the Milky Way. Colours we don't even have names for. When they've prepared the ground… roses… someday." Cora replied. "Ready? One… two…"

All three of them threw their seeds into the air and let them flow around in the wind. As Cora and Vederia watched the whole thing, both their gazes fell on each other.

Scott could already tell where this was going and decided to give the two a moment to themselves. Quietly and discreetly, he left them and head back to the Nomad.

Almost oblivious to the fact that Scott had just left them, Cora and Vederia just continued to look at one another before they finally acted on instinct and both gently pulled each other into a kiss. As their lips finally touched for the first time in many years, both of them felt more happy than they had ever been before.

Being in each other's arms in this way was a feeling beyond their explanation. But they finally felt as though they were truly together. Not like their brief relationship as Commandos, now they really were together.

Vederia especially seemed to be the ager one as she held Cora close to her, almost refusing to let the human huntress break away from their kiss. Though it seemed she didn't want to anyway since she seemed to be holding Vederia just as tightly.

They remained like this for almost an entire minute before finally breaking apart for air.

"Second chance, huh?" Vederia smiled, a tear gently trickling down her cheek.

Cora simply smiled and wiped the tear away.

"And this time, we're going to do it properly." She said.


Peebee was next. Scott had a feeling this would probably be something Rem tech related.

But oh was he so wrong. The Asari told him to meet her on the top of the monument where they first met. What's more, shed said to meet her there at night.

When the both of them reached the top of the monument, Scott found Peebee had already laid a few things out for them. A cloth to sit on, some portable lights, and even a bottle and two glasses.

"I brought wine. And the lights should stop any of us falling off."

Scott simply smiled as he gently laid down next to Peebee. Both of them gazed up at the stars with a very relaxed feeling.

"We've all done it at some point, haven't we? Just looking up at the stars and wondering what's out there." She said.

"Yeah. And for the time in a long time we really can wonder what's out there. There's still so much of Andromeda we don't yet know about. Could be anything out there." Scott agreed.

A long, blissful, silence followed for a while before suddenly being broken by an odd noise. For a moment, Scott wondered what it was until he looked to his left. For some reason, Peebee was giggling.

"What's so funny?" Scott asked.

"Some of the constellations." Peebee sniggered. "Can't help but see a few funny things in them."

"Like what?" Scott asked.

"Well, that one there looks like a…"

Peebee knelt in close and whispered in his ear. The answer was a bit of a surprise.

"And then that one…"

As Peebee resumed her light laughter, Scott simply sighed and shook his head.

"You have a dirty mind sometimes, Peebee." He said.

"And you love it." Peebee laughed.

"Yeah, I do actually." Scott smiled.

Both simply smiled as their hands intertwined and clasped each other tightly.

"Hard to believe that this is where we met about a month or so ago." Peebee said.

"Feels like longer." Scott said, holding Peebee close. "I'm glad we did though."

"So am I." Peebee smiled. She then sat slightly and leant over Scott slightly, a suggestive look on her face. "Wanna make love?"

"Up here? Really?" Scott asked in surprise.

"We've had weirder spots." Peebee smiled.

Scott simply smiled and pulled Peebee into a kiss. He then rolled them over so that he was on top. This only lasted a few seconds though before Peebee suddenly forced him back over with a great deal of force so that she was on top again. And this time she kept him pinned in place.

"Oh no. I get to be on top this time. No buts." She said.

"Apart from yours." Scott said, giving Peebee's ass a playful smack.

"Just shut up and kiss me, Scott." Peebee sighed as they resumed kissing.


Jaal meanwhile had invited both Scott and Ali to visit his mother and his family on Havaral. As they arrived at the destination, a female Angara with a skin tone similar to Jaal approached them. When she saw Jaal she smiled and ran up to him.

"Jaal! Jaal!"

The female Angara hugged him and Jaal in turn hugged her back.

"Wait… Is there bad news?" she asked worriedly.

"No. My friends are interested in where I grew up." Jaal said reassuringly. "Ryder, Ali, this is my true mother, Sahuna Ama Darav.

Scott actually made sure to give her the full greeting and hugged Sahuna warmly just as Jaal had done.

"Nice to meet you. I know Angara like the hugging. He said, noting how Sahuna was smiling warmly at this.

Much to Jaal and Scott's surprise, Ali then did the same.

"Good to meet you as well, Sahuna. Jaal talks about you often." The Arkane said.

"Jaal's told me how much he admires you two as well." Sahuna said.

"Really?" Scott asked with a small smile in Jaal's direction.

"He's my favourite. Smart, loyal, kind. A great shot. Writes poetry… sews." Sahuna said proudly.

"Mother…" Jaal said, slightly embarrassed.

Sahuna seemed to understand and simply nodded.

"I'm late for Resistance meeting. Stay clear." She said.

"Your mother's in the Resistance?" Scott asked.

"Yes. And every child is her favourite." Jaal replied.

"Now I see where you get it from." Ali chuckled, giving Jaal a friendly nudge on the shoulder.

"Ali, please." Jaal chuckled.

For a moment, Scott thought Jaal was blushing, but it was difficult to tell.

They then made their way into the next room, which was filled with dozens of Angara. Even Tevint, Lothuul and Baranj were present.

"Everyone, this is Ryder and Ali." Jaal said out loud.

"Look who the Kaerkyn dragged in!" one of them said happily.

"Welcome back!"

"This is where I spent most of my days growing up. Me, my sister, Koana, our cousin, Etta, and brother, Finn. Then Basvil, Rollu…"

"So wonderful to have you back!"

"Hey, Jaal! Hey, human! Hey… tall one!"

"Jaal! You brought someone special to meet us?"

"Wow. Cosy." Scott commented.

"We like to live like this." Jaal simply said.

"Gonna give your friend some real food?" Tevint asked warmly.

"Good to see you!" Lothuul added.

Finally, they entered a much smaller room and the door closed behind them.

"And here's my room. My tiny sanctuary." Jaal said.

"We have a saying that I like. "Home is where the heart is." Scott simply said.

Ali in turn nodded approvingly at this.

"I like that." Jaal smiled,, sharing Ali's view. He then noted a crate of some kind that had been left on his desk. "Oh, no. Who put this here?"

A he sat down on the bed with the crate in his hands, Ali and Scott did the same and sat next to him.

"Schematics? Of…"

"When I was seven my aunt stole a Kett weapon for me. So I took it apart. To learn." Jaal explained.

"And that is… was… a kaerkyn." Ali said.

"Pet kaerkyn… Alfit. He died. So I also took him apart." Jaal said.

"To… learn?" Scott asked.

"Why not?" Jaal shrugged. "I don't show people these things. But I feel like we're… family."

"It's been good getting to know you." Scott smiled.

A brief silence followed as everyone simply smiled at the acknowledgment of their friendship until finally Ali broke it.

"Ryder, didn't you say you wanted to talk more to Jaal's family?" she suggested.

"Huh?"

For a brief moment, Scott was confused by this. But that changed when he noticed Ali's face. She had an expression of expectance along with the fact that she indicated to Jaal with her eyes and a slight movement of her head.

Scott quickly got the message. Being a Helldiver, he knew body language like that all too well.

"Oh. Yes. You're right." He said, trying to sound casual. He then got up and walked to the door. "I'll… be outside if you need me."

As the door closed, Jaal suddenly let out a small laugh, trying his best to contain it.

"That was the best you could come up with?" he said, managing to regain his composure.

"What are you talking about?" Ali asked innocently. She smiled though as she could tell what Jaal was implying.

"Don't think I didn't see that, Ali. You hoped for us to be alone." The Angara said.

"Maybe." Ali said, again with a mockingly innocent smile.

"In all my years, I've never known any female quite like you. I thought at first I'd be put off your… eccentric nature. But I find myself drawn to it. I… I want us to be together." Jaal said, this time in a more serious, but happy tone.

"I find myself drawn to you too, Jaal." Ali said, sharing Jaal's more serious tone. She then put her six fingered hand on top of his. "I want us to be together too."

"Yes!" Jaal said, almost sounding relived. "I adore you."

The two simply gazed lovingly at one another for a long moment before eventually leaning in. For the first time, Jaal finally felt the texture of Ali's dark green skin on his.

He was pleasantly surprised. Despite how rough her exterior looked, and how tough it was said to be, it felt unbelievably smooth to the touch. Even the skin on her mandibles felt surprisingly soft.

This was particularly noteworthy when, to Jaal's surprise, her upper two mandibles gently went forward and seemed to touch the outer parts of his face, as though looking for something to latch onto this.

Both of them quickly noticed this though and broke the kiss. Ali especially looked a little flushed as she tried to regain control of her now flaring mandibles. Controlling them to do that on purpose for acting was one thing, but real life… that was another matter.

"Oh. Sorry. That happens when I get a bit excited." She said, slightly embarrassed.

"I don't mind." Jaal simply smiled, which seemed to reassure Ali.

"Let me show you one more thing you might like. Lie down." He then said.

"Okay?"

Ali did as instructed and gently laid herself down, temporarily removing her axe so that she wasn't lying down on it by accident and making herself uncomfortable.

As Jaal pushed some nearby buttons, a holo project appeared near the ceiling, showing what looked like a galaxy. Ali thought at first I was Andromeda, but it didn't look the same.

"You made this?" she asked.

"Long ago. It's not accurate. More of a dream, really." Jaal replied a she laid down next to the Arkane. "Just one more thing I want to take apart and figure out."

The two gently locked their hands together and smiled as they admired the view.

"And now I have someone to do it with." Jaal added. "My Mother is going to love you."

Ali cast a slightly questioning look after he said that.

"I'm sorry."


Meanwhile, back at Havaral's main base, Suvi had disembarked from the Tempest in hopes of checking in with a science team stationed there. In particular, she was interested in seeing some of the fauna samples they'd collected.

As she set about viewing the reports, she suddenly heard heavy footsteps behind her. As she turned to see what he source was, she was pleasantly surprised to find none other than Sara walking up to her in her armour, save for her helmet.

"Thought you'd sneak off the ship without me?" the Helldiver smiled.

"Didn't think you'd be interested in plant samples." Suvi simply smiled back, happy to see her girlfriend again.

"I am when they involve being with you."

Suvi simply smiled and planted a light kiss on Sara's cheek.

The two then looked out over the lush landscape of Havaral, admiring the view of peace of the jungle environment.

"I've never witnessed such a lovely sight." Suvi said.

"Nor I." Sara said, looking solely at Suvi.

The scientist quickly got what Sara truly meant and was unable to hold back a slight blush.

"You're so sweet sometimes." She smiled, a little flustered.

"When I need to be."

The Helldiver then picked a tiny flower from a nearby branch and very gently placed it into Suvi's hair above her left ear.

Suvi couldn't help but blush even more at this gesture and she pulled Sara into her arms, holding her close and admiring the woman's natural beauty up close. Sara in turn held Suvi close, not wanting to let go.

"Suvi… I… I…"

She hesitated for a long moment until finally she found her courage.

"I love you."

Suvi was a silent for a moment, but then smiled back at Sara and placed her hand on the Helldiver's cheek.

"I love you too, Sara."

No more words need be said and the two women slowly drew themselves into a deep kiss as they held each other tightly. This moment couldn't' get more perfect for them. They had each other, they were standing near a view of a beautiful planet under the moon with the gentle noises of the jungle in the background… nothing could possibly ruin this… and nothing did.


Back on board the Tempest, Scott received a notification from Lexi regarding the Kett corpse she'd recently been studying.

The Asari was already at work scanning the body as he entered the medbay.

"Ah, Ryder. Sorry for the mess." She said.

"Who's your friend?" Scott said.

"An exalted Kett. I called Jaal to show him…" Lexi replied. She stopped though as Jaal then entered the med bay. "Oh, there he is. Jaal, look at this."

The holo image above the Kett body lit up as Lexi instructed it to highlight anything Angaran. Yet nothing came up.

"There's nothing Angara inside."

"The physical can be deceiving." Jaal said.

"I've run hundreds of tests. Only traits of the Angara genome remain. The exalted are Kett."

"There must be a way to fix them." Jaal said.

"Anything's possible. We just have to keep trying." Scott said, trying to sound supportive.

"Even from mistakes, we can learn. Thank you, Ryder." Jaal nodded.

As the Angara left, Lexi gave Scott a somewhat unimpressed look.

"What?"

"Jaal needs to accept that exaltation is permanent. You're making his grief worse." Lexi said.

"We don't know that. We've barely scratched the surface of what the Kett and The Dark One are capable of." Scott objected.

"The exalted are new beings. It's more than a transformation… it's a birth. There's no going back. Jaal is part of this crew. His welfare is my responsibility." Lexi said sternly.

"And you're taking good care of him. Just remember why you came here, too." Scott said. "There is a new alien species on your table."

"My hands actually shook when I made the first incision. See this bone like armour? It feels as strong as a Krogan's frontal plate." Lexi said with excitement.

"I'll take your word for it."

"I should probably clean this up before it starts to smell."


Story will now resume in the next chapter with the Salarian ark.

See you then. Hope you liked the chapter, don't forget to leave a review if you can. :)