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Martin Grien

Private Contractor on Commander Buchan's Payroll

0 · 125 views · located in Mass Effect Universe

a character in “Mass Effect: On the Edge - Redux”, as played by Guilty Carrion

Description

Known Aliases: 'Deadman'; 'Immortal'
Gender: Male
Species: Human
Age: 32
Height: 5'9
Weight: 179lbs
Group/Nation: Malina Topor and Commander Vala Buchan
Favorite Music: Rock
Favorite Color: White
Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual
Alignment: True Neutral - The Undecided

Description

It's not uncommon for people to feel uncomfortable around Martin, although most aren't entirely sure why. His eyes are a light shade of blue, with small flecks of green scattered within them, always tranquil and docile, even in the heat of a firefight. He always seems to have a perpetual case of five’ o’clock shadow, even if he tries to shave. His hair is light brown, kept short but not in any particular style. His features are neither strong nor particularly sharp, but the thick scars tend to make people's gaze linger on the 'Deadman', no matter how much they'd rather look away.

Martin has the body of a career solider, which isn't far from what he actually is, even if his career is less accepted. Notable about the 'Deadman', Martin's body is a road map of scarring and reconstructed tissue; a never ending list of violent injuries that likely should have killed him a couple times over. This disturbing ability to be seemingly mauled and simply keep on trucking earned Martin his less than ideal reputation as an 'immortal' merc. If he had any tattoos at any point in his life, they've been destroyed by his near constant abuse and seeming lack of concern for physical damage.

The gunman is often found in battered t-shirts and light tank-tops, favouring cargo pants and some aging combat boots and a small assortment of hoodies. The observant might notice that his hoodies are 'joint custody' with Malina, the smaller mercenary borrowing what she wants when she wants. Martin typically wears the gauntlets from his armour, even if he’s not wearing the rest of it. The exact reason for this isn’t really clear, but he's noticeably more relaxed when they're on.

Psychology Report

Martin is a short spoken man, not one for long winded conversation or any extensive social interaction. This combines with his natural neutrality to give him an almost...unearthly calm that can be quite unsettling when you're trying to shoot him and he's not even batting an eye. The Deadman doesn't let much phase him, which makes him incredibly tolerant of Mal's occasionally biting sense of humour. Few people try to approach Martin, but solitude seems to phase him little, even though he enjoys company when the few brave do try to engage him.

It's rather clear he gives his partner a noted preferential treatment, and it's in his interactions with Malina that many would say Martin is at his most 'human'. He enjoys her attention, and is never very far from her at any particular moment; although this 'hovering' can grate on her nerves at times. While he might try, he doesn't particularly have the same luck with Damien, who isn't as fond of the merc as his sister, and is perfectly happy to pointlessly antagonize the stoic man. Whether Martin simply has the patience of a saint, or would rather not upset Mal by breaking her brother's face remains to be seen. He's notably respectful of Vala as well, and the Commander seems comfortable around the silent man, despite his quirks.

Oddly enough, for all his control, Martin exhibits a hyper aggressive streak towards anything that threatens those he views as 'important'. Much less of a rampage, it's more akin to a 'tranquil fury' that often leaves the opposition in a bloody paste beneath his boots. This tends to make his habit of not dying all the more terrifying, since the merc seems perfectly un-phased by harm and will walk through bullet-storms to reach his foes. Also of note, he suffers from nyctophobia, otherwise know as the fear of the dark. While not exactly crippling, it's not unusual for him to express discomfort or unease when forced into dark areas.

Dossier

Cerberus Resources Compiling...

So begins...

Martin Grien's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vala Katarina Buchan Character Portrait: Malina Topor Character Portrait: Martin Grien

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"Attention all hands. Mission is a go. We are now Code: Blue. I say again... Mission is a go. We are now Code: Blue." The primary hangar, home of their impressive fleet of Kodiak transports, immediately dropped into the blue hue overtaking the majority of the vessel, silhouetting the the figures quickly approaching the lone Kodiak hovering just off the hangar floor.

Four of the figures were nearly identical in their armour, sleek, light-less black that nearly disappeared into the dim, leaving only the faintest trace of the orange designs carved into their equipment. While the actual designs on the armour differed, each of the helmets possessed the same snarling, fang-filled grin and sharp 'eyes' wrapped around the small sockets on the helms for their users to see through. Each belonged to the Nightmares, the Eye of Infinity's commando unit that handled tac-operations as well as the...more clandestine operations that even Cerberus needed some distance from.

Following close behind came the chosen 'squad' for the Commander herself, although neither particularly looked liked they belonged among the commandos that boarded before them. The woman lead the two, not wearing her helmet just yet as her pierced lip moved soundlessly in what was likely annoyance, pushing a hand through her dark, blue streaked hair as the larger figure followed in her wake.

There was little to discern about the man encased within the thick combat armour covering his frame, although the armour itself looked as if it had been sent through hell and patched up a dozen times over. His helmeted head bobbed in time with seemingly silent cues from his companion, hands tapping idly on the heavy pistol at his hip. The two stopped just short of the ship, the woman glancing back at the Commander who approached with fluid strides. "Why exactly am I here again?" She asked dryly once the officer was within ear shot.

"Because you're rather familiar with ships and the like, Malina." Came her even reply, the face-plate of her helmet retracted back up along the top of the helm to keep her face visible prior to the mission. "And while I can drag any number of technicians down to the surface with me, in the worst case scenario, you're at least a reliable shot with that handgun." She gestured lightly to the predator pistol on her hip. "Besides, I pay you, remember?"

"You pay me to fly, not to walk into ghost colonies." Mal grumbled in annoyance, but the mercenary dutifully climbed aboard the Kodiak with a grunt. The commander looked to the armoured figure, before his companion barked from inside. "Martin, get in! We're not getting any younger." He complied with a light shrug, hauling himself up and situating himself inside as Vala gave the hangar a quick once over.

Another Kodiak was boarding a few troops, likely Commander Horn's standby teams. One of them, clad fully in the curious armour the small team was uniformly wearing, noticed her attention, and while no time could be spared for pleasantries, she gave the trooper an affirmative nod which was quickly returned before she climbed into the transport and the door sealed itself shut. With nearly perfect timing, the Captain came over the mission comm channel.

"Commander," Titus said, his voice firm and resolute in her ear, "you're clear to execute. I'm counting on you to bring us back some answers. Good luck." She gave a quick glance down to the pilot, who wasted no further time pulling the ship out of the hangar and into the void of space.

"Executing now, Captain." She replied evenly, tapping a small indent on her helmet to close the visor. As it sealed shut, the HUD initialized and quickly brought the world back to her senses, as she continued into the comm link. "Stand-by teams, how copy?" A second later, several 'Good copy' came back from the marine teams. "Excellent. We'll keep you posted. Buchan out."

Her HUD brought up the status of her armour, and she gave it a cursory glance even though she'd already double checked prior to even putting the suit on. Her own personal set, the 'Nyx' as the armorers had once called it, was built and designed with her specifically in mind. Light-weight, it used traditional ceramic armour only in areas of low flexibility, such as the chest or shins. Beneath the plating, the suit's 'skin' was comprised of a reinforced synthetic weave, which offered the full range of motion heavy plating would restrict, while being far more resistant to weaponry than any squish skin could be.

The helmet's outer face was sleek and unadorned, with a slight indented ridge where it sealed when shut for the thin visor of orange running curved towards the helm's chin. The only real embellishment to the armour were thin, dim LED light stripes of orange that traced along the lines of the armour, barely noticeable but providing the smallest hint of colour along the frame of the gear. Satisfied everything was in perfect shape, she looked towards the forward view port as they drew closer to the colony world.

It didn't take long for Vala to notice the thick clouds rolling across the planet's sky. "What's the weather like down there?" She inquired, leaning partially over the pilot's shoulder as his helmet turned partially to her.

"Seems like a storm system is rolling in on the colony, Commander. The Kodiak won't have any troubles with any old storm, but judging by those clouds it's going to be a rather nasty one. Lots of rain and thunder, I'd bet." Visibility would likely be poor in a storm of that size, which would be beneficial to most of her normal operations, but not one that had her hunting for clues.

"I hope you like the rain then, Chekan."

"Love it." He grinned through his external speakers, before returning his full attention to the task at hand.

She looked back to her troops, giving them a once over out of habit. Operative Tachi looked practically unconscious, head leaning dully on the shoulder of Operative Arcsberg, who worked soundlessly on his omni-tool even as he leaned partially down to accommodate the shorter commando as a head rest. She gave the lightest of smiles beneath her helmet, before looking at the pair across from them, who were having a rather rapid conversation about the nature of colony systems.

Gravette and Marczak were technology experts, each more akin to a walking encyclopedia and always eager to discuss the deeper mechanics of their craft. She was content to let them continue their discussion, seeing as they'd likely just lose her if she tried to follow it any closer. She caught the ice blue of Malina's eyes staring at her from the rear of the transport, and the Commander moved closer as the shuttle began re-entry into the atmosphere with only a minor bump of turbulence. "I didn't let you fly..." She began knowingly.

"Don't act like you know what I'm thinking." The merc pilot shot back, even if her slightly raised voice betrayed that she'd hit the nail on the head.

"...because it's best to keep someone on board the transport on the off chance something is still down there." Mal's frown dulled slightly, knowing the logic behind the decision but still less than thrilled about having to ride in the back. "You can drive next time, I promise."

"You spoil her, Vala." Martin intoned softly, bringing the women's attention to him. Seated just beside his fellow mercenary, the soft-spoken man mechanically looked over the M-55 Argus in his grip, which looked just a beat to hell as his armour did. "It's good for her to ride every now and again. Makes her remember what it's like to be a passenger to someone else's whims." Despite the apparent edge to his words, there was no malice in his voice, and the pilot only gave him a warning look before pulling on her helmet and attaching it to the harness of her flight 'armor'.

"Maybe you're right." Buchan replied, unperturbed by the use of her first name by the man. Both Martin and Malina has long grown past that point with her, even if the officer was still technically paying them for their service to Cerberus. There was a soft chime in the cabin as they cleared through re-entry, indicating they'd be landing shortly. "You two stick with me once we land." She instructed, before looking over her shoulder and boomed to the commandos. "Nightmares, we'll have boots on shortly. We'll be dividing our efforts to recover as much information as we can, as quick as we can. Marczak, Gravette;"

"Commander." They acknowledged immediately, undivided attention upon their superior.

"Get into the colony administrative building and strip their mainframe. I want everything, unusual activity, security and maintenance logs, freighter shipments, mechanical failures; nothing slips the net. The colony systems are online, use their communication array to get the information up the the Eye ASAP so the analysts can get to work. Understood?"

"Perfectly, Commander."

"Tachi, Arcsberg; recon the colony, top to bottom. Scans aren't picking anything up, but sometimes machines miss what the eyes might catch. We're looking for anything that might tell us what happened here, so if something seems suspicious, check it out. If you find anything, make sure to sweep the whole scene; we're not going to miss something just because someone didn't check all the angles. If it needs analysis, secure it and we'll take it up with us." The two nodded an affirmative, and Vala continued. "We're not expecting resistance, but this colony went dark for a reason. Whatever did it could still be down there, so I expect you to proceed with due caution and prove why it is we call you Nightmares. Am I clear?"

"Crystal."

There was a slight lurch as the transport made planet-fall, opening it's side hatch to reveal the black storm front sweeping across the dark colony. Heavy rain pelted against the side of the hull, echoing in the small space as Vala motioned out into the downpour. "Let's get to it then."

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In the downpour, she could almost believe that the colony wasn't abandoned, it's residents instead tucked away into the prefab buildings to escape the chilling rain. Lights still shone from inside the various buildings, and the main boulevard she walked still had it's few streetlamps glowing like beacons in the storm. The commander slowed her stride for a brief moment, taking in her surroundings as the rain beat a steady rhythm on her helmet.

"Vala?" Malina whispered through her helmet, quiet and unsettled even though nothing outside could actually hear her words. "Why'd you stop? You find something..?" The mercenary strayed closer to the taller woman, although her gaze stayed focused on their surroundings.

After a moment, she replied softly, "No. Just taking it in." She looked up to the light illuminating her from above, before glancing to the mercenaries. "Hard to believe no one's here." She motioned forward with a flick of her head, resuming her stride. They quickly matched her pace, even as Mal wearily eyed the buildings they passed for any hidden surprises.

"You should relax." Martin remarked, earning a sharp look but continuing. "It's unlikely that there's anything here if the scans didn't pick anything up." She gave him the finger in response, earning a light chuckle from both him and the Commander. "I won't let the boogieman get you, alright?"

"I will beat that smile off your face, Martin." The threat was dulled by the way she jumped as a particular powerful boom of thunder rolled across the sky, but he made no further attempts to tease her as the trio approached the northern wall. It wasn't a massive structure, but provided a basic defense that the colonists could utilize. Approaching the gate, Vala entered the small empty gatehouse to flick the switch. "...the fuck is that?" She heard Malina exclaim incredulously.

Exiting quickly, the Commander was about to ask what was up when she noticed the unearthly glow coming from the coastline. Even with the great storm booming and blacking out the sky above them, it was impossible to miss the murky blue light rolling in on the turbulent waves whipped up by the downpour. It gave the entire coast an almost ghostly look, shrouded in darkness with only pale blue light stretched across the beach. "...I can't say I've seen that before. Some kind of...bio-luminescence?"

"Correct, Commander. Thanks to Sephoroy's nitrate and phosphorus rich environment and frequent storms blocking out sunlight, much of the oceans have giant algal blooms covering their surface. The bio-luminescence is unique to a rather durable species, and the colony even started exporting it recently. Quite popular for an algae among aquarium enthusiasts." CIP offered flawlessly, although she wasn't sure why it felt the need to answer her mostly meaningless statement. "It's largely harmless, so you don't need to worry about approaching it."

"The waves from the storm are much more of a concern, thank you, CIP." She acknowledged with a roll of her eyes. "Let's get this sample, Mal." Moving along the outer slope of the wall, it wasn't long before they came across the ignition burns. While the initial display had shown it's size, it took physically being near it to understand the actual scale of the area effect. "It's almost like a Dreadnought took off here."

"That'd almost be as impressive as managing to land the thing engine down." Malina retorted, moving further into the circle as she raised her omni-tool to do some scans. Martin followed a few steps behind her as Vala looked on. Some of the sand had even been glassed in the intense heat it seemed; little wet, shining patches amid the blackened ground. "The water is gonna make this that much more difficult..."

"We've got time, do what you need to." Shifting her weight onto one foot, the Commander shifted channels to the Nightmares. "Status update."

Gravette replied first. "We're uploading the database to the Eye right now, although the storm isn't helping matters any. It won't take long, then we'll see about tracking down any personal records that might have had some hints. Someone might have recorded something before...whatever happened to this place. We'll keep you updated if we stumble across anything." There was a light murmur of consensus from Marzcak, although he was obviously distracted by something so she gave it little mind.

Surprisingly, Tachi spoke next, instead of Arcsberg, sounding almost half asleep. "Spotted something in the southern quarter. Ran is checking it out now, but it looked like a couple of rifles just laying in the middle of the street." There was a light yawn from the sniper, but if Vala was bothered by it, she gave no sign. "Oh, he's sending me an update...a few discharges on the guns, judging by the heatsinks, and some big bugs laying nearby."

The last bit caught her attention. "Big bugs?" A moment later, an image popped up of a four legged bug that looked to be as large or perhaps larger than her fist. She stared at it for a long moment. "Collect those bugs, Arcsberg, I want the research teams on the Eye to have a look at them. I somehow doubt they're local."

"Of course, Commander." The operative replied, before the channel went quiet and Vala turned her attention back to the task at hand. Moving onto the burned area, she looked it over as she passed before noticing a surprisingly sleek looking patch of ground closer to the center of the pattern.

"Is that a rock?" She muttered, as the pilot stepped closer with her omni-tool. There was a flash of lightning, but in the brief moment of illumination, she saw thin ripples of electric-like energy ebb along the 'rocks' surface. "Malina!"

The mercenary jerked back as the 'rock' suddenly rose, pulsing with purple light that seemed almost biotic in nature. After a moment, twin lights shone on the floating constructs face, as long bladed limbs stabbed down into the charred ground. Malina fumbled back several steps, and it's front snapped to her immediately. The metallic skin of the construct shone lightly in the dull glow from the algae along the beach behind it, but in another flash of lightning, they saw the mound of skulls, human skulls, buried within it's 'maw'.

Thunder shattered the silence that had swallowed the team, as the construct screeched in a shrill, screaming choir; the noise a twisted blend of the maddening chitter of bugs and the grinding scrape of metal on metal. It drowned out even the constant pounding of the rain for a long moment, before the constructs eyes pulsed with thick purple light.

In the split second it took for the energy to collect, Vala lunged, throwing her arm forward as dark energy rippled up her frame and melded to her will. Martin, closer than her, was already moving himself in front of the startled pilot like a living shield as he swept his arm outward around her. The hexagonal shield of pale blue energy blinked into existence a second before the construct's eyes shot forth twin beams of light that slammed against the protective field. Pushing more energy into the shield, Vala grit her teeth as the machine pressed it's attack. "Martin!" She bellowed to the man, barely taking her attention from the construct to address him. "Get her back to the Kodiak, now!"

He nodded sharply, keeping himself between the strange construct and the pilot as he half picked her up half dragged her across the ground towards the colony. The construct stopped it's attack to turn it's gaze after them, but before it could fire it's blast again, twin lashes of pulsing blue energy slammed against it's side, making it wobble momentarily on it's feet before looking sharply to the source. The lashes grew out from Commander Buchan's wrists, powered by small amps hidden in the actual flesh of her arm, the dark energy coalescing into physical constructs that she gripped firmly in each hand.

"Nightmares, we have a confirmed hostile outside the Northern perimeter! Secure your current data and make sure Malina Topor reaches the Kodiak safely. She has the data." Whatever protests they might have had, she wasn't listening as the construct shrouded itself in the purple-blue glow of a biotic barrier. As if the armour on it's hide alone hadn't been bad enough.

It chittered almost curiously at her, ignoring the retreating mercs as it's new opponent squared her feet and calmly opened the line back to the Eye of Infinity. "Captain, I'm not sure if you're seeing this, but the scans were wrong." The construct drove it's long legs deep into the ground as it approached, the skulls inside it's mouth staring blankly at the woman before them. "There's definitely still something down here."

The setting changes from sephoroy to Mass Effect Universe

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Vala Katarina Buchan Character Portrait: Malina Topor Character Portrait: Martin Grien Character Portrait: Carly Loren Character Portrait: Linda Graves Character Portrait: Daniel Harrens

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So these were Commander Horn's 'Demons'. She watched them pepper the construct with fire, her own rifle, an M-96 Mattock, at the ready but not yet raised to fire as the thing seemed to just absorb the endless pile of fire they were dumping on it. She'd read over their profiles when she'd taken the position, as she had with the large majority of the crew as expected of someone in her 'department'. An interesting group, but before she could really afford them any attention, Buchan needed to deal with the monster that was currently ruining their entire operation.

"How close are you to the spaceport?" She inquired briskly, shouldering her rifle and feathering the trigger. The stronger rounds didn't phase the thing's shields, even as rockets and sniper fire pelted it.

"We're just about there, Chekan is ready to go the moment we get there." Malina replied shakily, clearly running out of breath and a little concerned about the monster she'd just barely gotten away from. "Are you alright?"

"Wouldn't be radioing if I wasn't." Vala assured her, gritting her teeth as the Mattock hissed it's overheat warning and jettisoned it's heat-sink past her shoulder. "Tachi, Arcsberg, I want you two to head back with the data. Gravette, Marczak, I'm going to need you on the edge of the colo-" She cut herself off mid-sentence as the creature looked to her for a moment and seemingly prepared to fire it's eye weaponry again. Just as she tensed to dive aside from the attack though, it stopped, turning partially before it's legs tucked under it's body and it hovered off into the air.

She shot after it briefly, but it's departure made no sense. Why would it disengage after being so focused on whatever was near it? Her eyes widened with realization. The shuttle was preparing to take off. Snapping to the operational comm, she barked hastily into the line. "You've got incoming Chekan! Get moving!" There was a panicked grunt of acknowledgement, as the Demon lead approached her, stopping a few steps away.

"Commander Buchan. Lieutenant Harrens, Sergeant Loren, and Sergeant Graves reporting. Our orders are to kill the creature but you hold tactical command. How do you want to proceed?" They were capable soldiers, and time was something she didn't have until her vulnerable personnel were safe. A battle plan would need to wait.

"Cautiously but quickly Lieutenant. That thing is heading straight for the space port, which is supposed to be extraction." If he was hoping for more instruction, there was no outward sign, and the Lieutenant turned towards the colony as he replied.

"Alright, we better get moving then...Ma'am." The two soldiers burst into a heavy run, but the officer quickly matched their pace, knowing she could go faster but it would be unwise to split from her reinforcements with such a dangerous foe before them. As they passed through the gate, the third demon, Graves, spoke through the comm line.

"Lieutenant, Commander, the...thing has hit the space port. Your primary extraction is down." Her stride quickened sharply at the news, pulling slightly ahead of the two. Chekan had been warned, but he had only a precious few moments, and the pilot likely would have tried to pull the ship out instead of abandoning it.

The mental race didn't show in her voice beyond the brief pause before she replied. "Did the pilot get out?"

"Yes ma'am, he and the others are heading towards the secondary extraction point with the marines. Currently it's preoccupied with ripping the Kodiak to shreds." She released a breath she didn't realize she was holding in relief, before Graves spoke again. "Scratch that, two spooks are on the other side of the space port and firing. Effect is negligible."

The Nightmares were splitting the work it seemed. Made sense, given the situation. The lack of mention of another sniper hinted that Tachi and Arcsberg were the ones handling the extraction, ideal given their recon skills. A secondary ambush would be hard to slip past them. She glanced partially as Sergeant Loren hit the thrusters on her jet-pack, peeling off into the darkened sky in search of vantage, leaving the Lieutenant with her.

Moments later, the two entered the spaceport, where the construct was brutally rending the Kodiak apart with bladed limbs. Well, that certainly made close quarters even more of a dangerous prospect, as the hull crumpled under it's onslaught. Sighting Gravette and Marczak, she noted with pleasure that neither had sustained any real injuries judging by feedback on her HUD. The Nightmare's SMGs would be helpful for dealing with the construct's damn barrier, but wouldn't help much with the actual armour protecting the damn thing.

"Incoming!" Her attention snapped to the horror, shifting her footing mid-stride to launch herself into a side aerial out of the attacks path, landing smoothly on the rain slick concrete with Mattock raised. She fired a few staggering shots, drawing it's attention from the cover it was blasting furiously.

It took several steps towards the Commander, while the others poured more and more fire onto the construct in seemingly futile effort to bring the monster down. It's barrier flickered briefly, before dissolving around it and letting one of the sniper rounds crash into it's armoured hide. Before they could capitalize further on the barrier's dissolution, it screamed in it's chittering choir before pulse erupted from it's body and swept across the ground. She back-pedaled several steps, but the attack dissipated a few steps before her harmlessly.

"See...pulse." The sniper commented dryly, her rounds still punishing the creature's shield. The thing was practically a living tank the way it was defended, without even considering it's defensive capabilities. Taking advantage of it's momentary distraction, Vala rushed across another patch of open ground, ignoring it's endless noise behind her. Leaping a toppled mound of shipping containers, she ducked into the cover as the creature raked its lasers of her position.

Random fire wasn't going to bring this thing down, and it would only leave them low on ammunition the longer it dragged on. Clearing her throat, Vala took control. "Sergeant Loren, Sergeant Graves. Ceasing firing on the construct." The effect was instant, the sniper shots no longer ringing like thunder to accompany the storm. "It's barrier is more than capable of handling the fire you're producing, and we'll need the heavy hits for the armour. Conserve your ammunition, wait for it's barrier to drop, then give it hell." A few affirmatives chimed in her ear.

There was a mechanical hiss on the far side of her cover, and Vala broke into another sprint as the construct clambered over her cover in search of the elusive commander. "Nightmares, you've got the guns and the offensive programs to get that thing's barriers down. Pelt it with everything you have, but don't waste your ammo when it's down, leave it's hide to the Demons." She slide along the slick ground as another blast nicked her shields, the heat of the energy seeping through the hardened weave like a miniature sun.

The slide carried her straight into the cover the Lieutenant had occupied, and she pressed her back to the battered shipping containers as she looked at the man through the small rivers of rain running down her visor. "Lieutenant, I hear you're something of an engineer."

"Only on Tuesdays Ma'am...luckily it's a Tuesday."

She grinned at his joke, even if he couldn't see it. "It's my lucky day, isn't it? We're going to get you some time, Lieutenant, and I want you to re-purpose my mulched Kodiak. We spent good money on it, and I want some bang for our buck." There was only a brief pause before he replied.

"I'm going to assume that you want me to make the Kodiak into a massive grenade. I am incredibly OK with this. I need cover."

"Cover I can provide. Martin!" As if on cue, the hulking armour of the mercenary gunman came barreling into the space port, his Argus barking furiously as the construct swerved to face the new target. It arced it's legs in preparation to fire, but Vala leaped her cover in one fluid motion, dark energy materializing along her arms and arcing out into dozens of dark blue strands. As her hands snapped tight on the base of the energy, the strands coalesced into two whips, which she brought smashing into the construct's face with a full swing of her body.

The durable creature rolled backwards from the unexpected hit, catching itself in midair and righting quickly to retaliate. The commander gave the merc a quick glance, nodding to the right before breaking left as the two split apart to avoid it's return fire. The Lieutenant didn't need any further incentive, hopping his cover and hauling across the space port to the mangled shuttle.

"All forces!" Vala barked as she rolled roughly across the ground to dodge a sudden lunge from the hulking monster. "We need to keep this thing occupied so the Lieutenant can jury-rig our finale. It gets near him, give it hell to get it's attention so he can work. Otherwise, only fire when it's effective. I have no intentions of-" The creature's bladed limb sliced down near her; air whistling as it passed and she contorted to avoid the second limb.

Smashing the base of one of the whips into it's barrier, the biotic fields reacted to each other's presence, detonating violently and flinging her back from the construct several feet. She skidded to a stop on her heels, shields flickering from the sudden force they'd been exposed. "...I have no intentions of repeating myself. Am I clear?"

"Affirmative."

Nothing more needed said, as the Tac-Commander weaved back from another of the construct's swiping limbs, gritting her teeth in annoyance even as Martin blasted it's barrier from behind relentlessly. The Nightmares were peppering it with fire, one of the two dropping from the window into the spaceport to move to another firing vantage as the other fired numerous overloads from their omni-tool. She had to give it credit, whatever it was. This thing was relentless.

With feline grace, Vala back-flipped neatly away from the crashing claws, her landing immediately twisting into a butterfly twist as her feet touched the ground, neatly weaving over a sweep of one of it's legs like it's every move was telegraphed to the commander before it even tried. Its assault was interrupted by a sudden impact crashing into it's side; the construct's gaze shifting to Martin as the mercenary deftly slipped another concussive shot into the launcher on his Argus. It blasted at him, but the thickly plated mercenary made no effort to move as his shields flared in defense of his bulky frame.

Vala's HUD fed her an alert on the shield status, and she looked to the merc cautiously as she gained some distance from the construct, biotic lashes still trailing in glowing arcs through the rainfall in her wake. As his shields collapsed , Martin stepped from it's beam, raising his gun just as the barriers collapsed under the endless barrage from the Nightmare pair. The Concussive shot blasted out even as he pumped the trigger of the rifle, pounding the constructs body as the boom of the sniper rifle roared back into the fray.

It's hide withstood the onslaught, even as thin rivulets of strange blue liquid trailed from the small damage the construct took. It lunged forward with a screech at the mercenary, but caught a rocket mid-flight and lost it's momentum in a howl of fury and perhaps 'pain'. Martin took several steps forward, hammering the trigger relentlessly as his rounds set small fires to it's hide, undaunted by the danger the creature posed even as he closed on it.

His aim shifted to the constructs 'maw', pumping the various skulls with rounds before they howled in unison and it reared up into the air like it had before. He tilted his head back to see it, before something immaterial took hold of his armour and ripped him backwards like he was no more than a feather. The pulse tore through the ground as the construct brought it's body crashing down, barrier once more pulsing along it's unnatural hide. The sudden tug dumped him like a toy behind Vala, who quickly raised a barrier before her as the pulse collided with the energy.

The energy nearly shredded the barrier, the pulse barely pushing around the confines of the protective dark energy before flickering and leaving the Commander largely untouched save for more laboured breaths. "Calm down, Martin." She muttered through her external speakers, barely looking back at the gunman. "I don't need a corpse at the moment."

The merc hauled himself up with a barely dignified grunt, one hand still firmly locked on his rifle even as the construct focused it's attention on the suddenly renewed fire from the Nightmares. "Right." He replied curtly, his neutral tone betraying little of his own thoughts. He resumed firing without much delay, quickly earning the construct's ire once more as he popped a spent heatsink and slammed another home.

Rifle fire began to echo from the rooftops, likely Sergeant Loren growing tired of waiting for shots with her ML-77, which would see the barriers down even faster if they kept it occupied. "Lieutenant! How long?"

"It's pretty much ready, Commander!" He replied quickly. "I can trigger it on your go." She looked back to the ruined Kodiak before over to the construct that was blasting it's eye weapons at anything that moved in much less methodical patterns.

"Get it's barriers down!" She ordered, crossing the star-port and hauling herself up onto the Kodiak. The Infinity forces wasted no time pounding the machine with everything at their disposal, nearly matching the rain in the amount of rounds racing towards the construct. It's barriers, formidable though they were, didn't hold long under such concentrated fire and as they flickered, Vala raised her biotic whips and lashed them at the machine. The energy collided with the hull of the construct, but instead of smashing, the dark energy molded itself to the smooth surface and gripped it.

It screeched furiously, as the Tac-Commander dug her heels into the mangled remains of the shuttle and willed the energy to pull. The bladed limbs scratched and dug into the concrete to stop the movement, but before they could find proper purchase, a sniper round shattered through one of the slender legs at the joint. Suddenly unbalanced, the construct didn't have time to right itself as a rocket smashed into it's side, tilting it even further off center, before one last concussive shot shattered another of it's slender limbs to send it's bulk crashing to the concrete.

Digging up whatever she could find, Vala dragged the construct forward, inch by inch across the pavement even as it's remaining claws scratched fruitlessly for purchase. With a pulse of dark energy, she ripped it the last few feet into the Kodiak's side, burying it's head into the brutalized passenger cabin. "Lieutenant! Now!"

There was a blast of the engineer's jet-pack, before she felt his arms catch her under her shoulders and the two rocketed up and away from the shuttle. Dissolving her whips, Vala threw on last blast of energy at the construct to slam it back into the ground as it tried fruitlessly to rise, before Daniel hit the detonator flashing on his omni-tool. There was only a split second delay before the core of the ship exploded, engulfing the construct and most of the spaceport in fire.

"A sizable blast for just a few minutes work, Lieutenant." She commented idly, eyes straying from the blast zone to ensure that the teams had cleared the blast alright. It didn't take much to see that they'd managed to avoid the thick of the explosion, but they seemed on edge still. As they neared the ground, she understood why immediately. The maddening chitter hadn't stopped. "Set me down."
She dropped from his grip as they drew close to the ground, landing in a half jog as she crossed back towards the crater where her shuttle had once been. The heat of the scorched ground was sweltering, but she ignored it as she approached the mangled wreck that had once been the construct. Most of it's hull was blasted apart, splaying the twisted remains of what looked like it might have been human once across the concrete, but the 'face' of it remained partially intact.

It's chittering quieted as she approached, eyes flickering with light she assumed was supposed to be an attempt to blast her again. Drawing her pistol, a Phalanx, she calmly aimed into the cluster of heads. "Infinity, this is Commander Buchan. The threat has been neutralized, and I've got some remains we can likely analyze." She squeezed a trio of rounds into the mass, and the chittering finally quieted completely, but as soon as it did, the battered hull simply crumpled like ash.

In mere seconds, there was nothing left of the construct but the vanishing fragments of it's body, which soon vanished into the flames licking the air around her against the steady beat of the rain. "...cancel that. It seems to have dissolved." She ground out, inwardly furious that such valuable resources had literally just melted away right in front of her. "We're heading for extraction, Infinity."

Stepping out of the ruined spaceport, Vala glanced at the troops for a moment. "We're moving out. Time for exfil." She instructed, looking partially to the Demon's after she spoke. "And thank you for your assistance." She didn't wait for a reply, already moving off towards the marker on her HUD for the rendezvous with the shuttles. Her mind already swam with possibilities, but those would have to wait for later. "Major O'Ryan, we're en-route to your position. I've had more than my fill of this colony." The commander spared the empty buildings one last, distance glance, before trudging out into the mud after the troops. True to her trade, there were no prints left in her wake, just the dying embers of the flames to mark their passage, and soon those too would fade.

Forgotten, as it should be.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Vala Katarina Buchan Character Portrait: Sparrow Oberacker Character Portrait: Roger Pollard Character Portrait: Edward Johnson Stevenson Character Portrait: Maya Salazar Character Portrait: Logan Fischer Character Portrait: Malina Topor Character Portrait: Martin Grien

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2 Hours Later...

Deck 2 of the Eye of Infinity was one of it's quieter portions, predominantly occupied by offices and quarters for the many junior officers aboard the cruiser. What few amenities it had were predominantly restricted for officer use, so it kept the deck largely free of unnecessary personnel. She enjoyed the peace and quiet it provided, away from the bustle of the crew. Vala passed by a few of the ship's MAs, sparing them a brief glance out of the corner of her eye as she went, but neither seemed to pay her any heed. Not that they needed to.

Following the mission, she'd retreated to her quarters for a well deserved shower and a change of clothes, opting for something casual instead of her officer's uniform. She fiddled with the phoenix pin affixed to the lapel of her double-breasted, charcoal grey coat, left open to reveal her light white blouse and the small black choker round her neck. With soft black slacks and leather boots that extended up much of her shin, she didn't look like she was the Tac-Operations Commander, and in her down time, she preferred it that way.

Brushing a few strands of her loose hair from her vision, she slowed to a stop before one of the many bulkhead doors along the deck. It was polished and smooth, with the words 'Serket's Sting' emblazoned upon the metal with the image of a scorpion just beneath the text. With a quick swipe of her hand, the red haptic interface hovering above the surface turned green, and the door slid open, the interior greeting her with soft lighting and gentle ambient music.

Crossing the threshold, she gave the room a curious once-over as she approached the long, polished bar that stretched along the entirety of the lounge's left wall. Countless bottles lined the glass-faced fridges behind the counter, beers and liqueurs collected from all corners of the galaxy for the enjoyment of it's patrons. Across from it, sat a series of booths built into the bulkhead of the wall; open but still providing seclusion if so desired. Slightly elevated beyond the main area, there was a small recreational area with pool tables as well as a few tables for cards. A familiar face sat behind one such table, but she gave the figure little more than a wave as she took one of the seats at the bar.

"Howdy, Ivory." The even drawl drew her eyes to the source, who grinned at her from behind the bar. The bartender wasn't a very tall woman, standing a few inches shorter than the commander herself, with a much more relaxed posture than the military patrons who frequented her lounge. Her dark brown eyes were friendly, and the lopsided grin on her pale face was welcoming even if it hinted at the slight threat of venom. "Nice of you to finally visit my fine establishment."

"I've been busy, Alexis." Vala replied lightly, returning the woman's smile as she tapped a nail on the smooth counter. "It looks great. Did they let you design it?" Alexis glanced out at the room, nodding slightly. "Who knew you could actually put something cohesive together aside from a raid?"

"Bite me." The bartender shot back, laughing at the jab nonetheless. "It's my second bar, I got all the stupid things worked out when I made the first one." She glanced through her black bangs pointedly. "More than I can say for some people."

"Point taken." Vala slipped off her coat, handing it to Alexis as her eyes flicked over the various drinks. "Seen much of the staff yet?"

"Nah. First bit on a new ship is pretty chaotic as everyone finds their groove. No one has time to kick back and enjoy some booze." She explained, moving down the bar to place the coat in the small closet hidden behind it. The commander took the brief chance to examine the white dress shirt and smooth black vest her friend had donned as her uniform, chuckling lightly at the sloppily rolled sleeves that exposed her heavily scarred arms. "Something funny?"

"Nope. Hopefully you start getting some business soon. I can't imagine it's fun being in here all day with only Nulfem for company." An amused laugh echoed from the rec-area, earning a grin from Vala as the bartender rooted through one of the fridges for a drink. "Although it's restricted access so I'm not sure if you're going to get too many."

"Restricted to Officers." Alexis placed a bottle of beer down before her, popping off the cap with practiced ease before continuing. "And I don't know if you checked the rosters, but this ship has enough officers to fill this place a couple times over with how many divisions it has. Not that it matters. I get paid even if all I do is stand here all day."

"Which would bore you to tears."

"Makes the prosthetic itch too." She knocked against her left leg, which echoed with a metallic ring softly. "I miss the days of just the cane."

"All you did was complain about being tired when you had the cane." Vala retorted, taking a tentative first sip of her drink. "...that's not bad."

"Almost as if I know you or something." Alexis joked, leaning her hip on the counter with an arm out as her brace. "Its a popular brand in the colonies right now, so I snagged a few crates to see what the fuss was about. Can't say it's too my tastes, but at least someone likes it." There was a brief pause before she continued. "So, since the ship went all blue earlier..."

"That was for me, yes. And I'm of the impression everything is likely classified in 16 different ways." The two shared knowing looks, before Vala sighed into her drink. "It was stressful, let's say. Hence why I'm here."

"And I was hoping it was for my company." The entrance hissed open, and the two glanced to the new patrons. Alexis cocked an eyebrow. "I don't remember you two being officers." Malina stuck out her tongue, piercing glinting briefly in the dim light before the mercenary trudged over to the bar and dropped into a stool beside Vala. "By all means, make yourself at home."

"Thanks, 'Scorpion'." Mal remarked, leaning her elbows on the counter and letting her head hang back with a heavy sigh. Martin stood for a moment, before his partner jerked her head at the stool next to hers. "Park it." The quiet man complied, lowering himself into his seat slowly. "Moron got a burn from his little 'bad-ass' moment. Had to get some cooling gel from the med-bay." She explained, shooting him a sideways glare that the gunman only acknowledge with a half-glance.

"Charming. What's your poison?" Alexis inquired dryly, getting a soft 'water' from Martin and a demand for something hard from the pilot. "Coming right up." The bartender moved off to fill the order, leaving the three in a companionable silence.

Not that Mal was one for quiet. "...so have the eggheads found anything worthwhile?"

Vala chuckled as she took a small sip of her drink. "It's been what? 2 hours at most, Mal? They're scientists, not miracle workers." The mercenary grunted irritably. "It didn't even hit you, I made sure of that. No need to be so grumpy."

"You fought a death bug the size of a shuttle filled with skulls. Why aren't you grumpy? Or at least stressed?" Malina fired back, sitting straight and spinning her seat slightly to face the commander fully. "If I had had Deadra-"

"That thing would have tried to mulch it as well. As soon as it got up, it would have noticed it just like it did the shuttle and come to mulch it. Guns or no, we don't know if we'd have been able to stop it before it got to the gunship." Vala stated evenly, eyes sharply sliding to her friend. "I'm not prepared to make that kind of gamble on your life for a few bits of data, Malina." As if to emphasize the end of the conversation, Alexis returned, placing down the mercenaries' drinks.

"Man, I wish I had been a merc back in my field days. I didn't know it gave me sassing rights." The bartender smirked, earning a muttered grumble from the pilot as she took her drink. Vala simply chuckled at the two, sparing a glance up towards the recreation area.

"Sounds like you had quite the day." A smooth voice intoned, and she turned her seat 180 to look at the suited figure addressing her. She knew who it was the moment she saw the designer suit, glancing up to the perfect smile and neutral eyes of the man, ignoring the cards he shuffled idly in his hands. "Commander Buchan. A pleasure as always."

"Nulfem. What brings you down from your table?" She replied respectfully, setting her drink aside while the others looked to the man curiously. "I hope it's not too challenge me to a game, since we both know I've learnt my lesson by now."

His smile shifted into a grin, his shuffling coming to a perfect stop. "A man can dream, can he not? It's so difficult to find someone to play with these days." Slipping the deck into his pocket smoothly, Nulfem looked to Alexis briefly. "Another whiskey if you don't mind." She turned to the fridges, as he continued. "But perhaps there are more to my motives. I thought I might congratulate you," He motioned to the mercenaries with one hand, "and your team on your successful operation. Minus perhaps the kodiak destruction."

"I can't say I was thrilled with destroying a shuttle on my first operation aboard the cruiser myself." Vala admitted. "But thank you, Keagan. Have you seen anything recently in your network that might have pertained to Sephoroy?"

"Nothing, I'm afraid. I would have brought it to your attention otherwise."

"I figured as much. Well, keep me informed if anything happens to come up. I doubt we've gotten anything conclusive out of this yet, so I'm not taking anything off the table." She looked to her bottle, mostly empty. "But I'm not here for much work. Relaxation is my objective for tonight."

"Heaven forbid." Alexis muttered, placing a fresh bottle down for her and sliding Nulfem's whiskey to him on a coaster. "I'm still amazed you even took time to come see me, let alone actually chill out."

"You make it sound like I'm still a workaholic, Alexis."

The bartender snorted. "You are. Just a recovering one."

"Allow me to prove you wrong. Nulfem, how about a game?" He raised a brow, but she held up a finger sharply. "Pool. Not a card game. I've got War-Games with Commander Horn tomorrow, I don't need the stress of trying to make you not cheat."

"I don't cheat." He explained casually, collecting his drink. "I just happen to always win."

"Sure." She looked to the others. "You interested in a round? You too, Alexis, I don't think you have much to worry about clientele wise."

"Ignoring that last bit, sure, I think I can take some time to put you in your place." Scorpion answered, her grin betraying her interest in the game. "Maybe if you win I won't charge you."

"Hell, that's enough to get me on board." Malina butted in, rubbing her hands together eagerly. "Martin will play too." If he gave any mind to her just deciding his participation, Martin didn't show it, simply smiling and shaking his head. "No crying when I win though!"

"I'll hold back the tears somehow, I'm sure." Alexis replied, rounding the bar. "Let's get this going, people. I don't have all night." Vala chuckled, grabbing her drink and following after them.

"Alright, so who's playing first?"

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
10 Hours Later...

If there was one thing that Sparrow hated more than paperwork, it was alarms. Predominantly alarm clocks, since it was difficult to hate fire alarms, impact alarms, and shield alarms since they were just trying to make her aware to stay not dead. Alarms clocks on the other hand, existed purely to ruin perfectly good sleep, and that was just sick and wrong on so many levels.

Analyzing her hate though, did not make the damn thing shut up. Pushing herself up with a light groan, the redhead tugged the covers off and shot a menacing, but groggy, glare at the haptic alarm happily screeching beside her bed. A quick slap from her hand stopped it's cacophony, but the damage was done, and she was awake. Why had she not turned the damn thing off when it was her only 'sleep-in' day?

There was a light breath beside her, and the reason came back with sudden clarity. Ah, yes. Preoccupied. She thought, glancing to the source which was still sound asleep despite the awful racket. He...really can sleep through just about anything, huh? Her emerald eyes softened lightly as she leaned partially down over the slipping man, a gentle smile on her face as she touched the stubble along his jaw. Her skin looked much paler next to his natural tan, even feeling warmer to the touch. "Hey, Roger." She murmured, half-tempted to simply go right back to sleep in the very welcoming warmth.

After a moment, his hazel eyes flickered open, half-asleep but they found her own and settled there. After a moment, he yawned out. "Mornin', Lieuten-" Her hand smacked him gently on the side of the face, her smile flickering briefly into a tight, displeased line. "...sorry. Morning, Sparrow." She pulled back as he sat up, rubbing his eyes wearily. "I haven't slept like that in awhile..."

"Can't say I have either." She replied, rising from the mattress with a stretch and a crack of her neck. "But then, I have a fairly good idea as to why, and I hope it can be a more regular thing." The lieutenant grinned back at Roger, who diverted his gaze with a slight blush. "That aside, it's our first free day together on-board this tub. I say we see what she's got to offer, take a bit of a grand tour."

The younger man nodded. "Sounds good to me. I'll have to head back to my room for...ah, change of clothes." He glanced to the scattered uniforms on the floor, before a pair of jeans promptly collided with his face. "I'm not going to wear one of you-these are mine. Why do you..?"

"Seriously? You really think I don't keep a few spares in your size kicking around?" She laughed, grinning at him as she rummaged through her closet. "It's easier to have some on hand, just in case." Easier if you just stayed here, honestly. She added mentally, glancing at him in her peripheries as he got out of bed.

"Yeah, that makes sense." Roger agreed, eyeing the jeans before looking to her. "Do I get a shirt too? Or am I supposed to just wander the ship half-dressed?" Sparrow paused, a t-shirt in hand as she rubbed her chin in thought.

"I was going to give you one, but now that you mention it..." Her grin turned impish, as he paled slightly. "I wouldn't be entirely opposed to the idea."

"Uh...you might approve but I think I might get skinned alive if it gets to O'Ryan or the Commander..." The private mumbled, looking far more concerned than was likely warranted. "I'm kind of attached to it where it is, you know..?"

"I suppose I am as well. I might have trained you a little...too good." The lieutenant tossed him the shirt, before tugging off her own and grabbing a few random items from her closet. "Hurry up, I want to get moving!" The door to her personal bathroom open sharply as she stepped over, glancing at him with a raised brow. "Shower time, c'mon."

"Uh..."

"I have a water budget, so you either get in now, or you wait and go to the public use ones later." She stated, gesturing sharply to the open door. After a moment, he tentatively crossed the room to her, earning a grin. "Actually got the hint? I am training you well." Placing a quick kiss on his cheek, she stuck her tongue out as she pulled him in. "It's just a shower, Private, so relax."

-------------

"I still can't really get over the fact that the food in the Mess actually tastes like food." Sparrow rambled happily, earning a smile from her partner as he tried to keep pace with her stride. The two moved along the marine deck, her arm wrapped around his with fingers laced, actually looking the part of a couple despite being on a massive warship.

"It's a little surprising, yeah. Better than the stuff they gave us back in the old cell." The private's cheeks held the slightest tint of red, she noted, but Roger had somehow managed to remain somewhat shy about their relationship despite her...less than subtle handling. "I guess that's just a perk of being in a combat outfit?"

"They have to make it up to us, since we have to run at bullets more now." They shared a light laugh, their pace slowing as she considered where next to head. "What should we do now? There's bound to be a few observation bays around, we could see what the views like...or I heard we have a pool. Could be worth checking out." He gave her a skeptical look. "You don't believe me?"

"How could they justify a pool on a cruiser? I mean, yeah, it's huge, but that just seems...ridiculous?" Before Sparrow could respond, another voice cut into their conversation.

"Cerberus has more cash than they know what to do with, obviously." A rough hand slapped Roger's shoulder, as the source stepped up beside him. "For a rich kid, you sure lack imagination." The woman's light grey eyes flicked to Sparrow, dulling with poorly hidden dislike, an expression the lieutenant mirrored. "Lieutenant."

"Salazar." The two shared a cold gaze for a moment longer, before two more men appeared on Salazar's flank. "Hey, Ed, Logan." Roger gave the three a slight wave with his free hand, face noticeably redder at their presence. "I hope you aren't planning on snatching him for some fire-team stuff. I'm not above pulling rank."

Salazar opened her mouth quickly, but Ed beat her to the punch. "I was more wondering where he was, Ma'am. I should have guessed he was with you. Day off, finally?" His tone was friendly, but respectful, and it made the sergeant an agreeable man.

"Yup. Taking a proper tour, seeing the sights. Did you know the food here is edible? Amazing!" Ed chuckled, hazel eyes friendly as the Lieutenant grinned. "Nice beard, by the way. Amazed the Major hasn't made you shave it." She leaned out partially, looking up at Logan. "Yours too, big guy." The tall black man nodded politely, his neatly trimmed beard turning slightly salt and pepper with age.

Ed touched his 5'o'clock shadow for a moment, chuckling lightly. "I think he has a bit of trust that I'm not trying to grow a biker beard or anything. And I've heard we have quite the few oddities on the Eye, facilities wise." He looked to Roger with a friendly smile. "A bigger firing range so our marksmen can work on their shots, for example."

"My aim is fine." The private retorted, shooting his team lead an annoyed look. "I can shoot better than you can, and Maya can't even hit in the same area as me." The dark haired woman jabbed her elbow into his ribs. "Hey, don't hit me just because it's true!"

"And yet I'm the one who stitches up your bullet holes, so watch the sass, punk." She fired back, although the banter wasn't hostile; more akin to siblings bickering over nothing than actual conflict. "You guys gonna check out the war-game today?" Sparrow perked up slightly at the mention.

"They're doing one today? With who?"

"Some marines from Pantheon, last I checked." Ed offered, drumming a finger on his cheek while he searched his memory. "I heard they got some of the spec ops teams from S-2 involved, though. A bit of a competition between divisions, I guess."

"Pantheon better stomp those spooks, or they'll make us all look bad." Maya remarked, cracking her knuckles habitually. "Course, how hard can it be to beat up a bunch of guys who just hide all day?"

Logan shook his head, giving his team-mate a knowing look. "I somehow doubt they're just good at hiding, Maya." His deep bass rumbled softly, and she glanced up at him. "Perhaps we should go so you can see what exactly special forces are..."

"Hey, no skin off my back. It'll probably be over in five minutes anyway."

"Would you two care to join us?" Ed inquired, looking to Sparrow. "Or are you more interested in just doing your own thing?"

"I don't see why we can't take some time to watch a bit of violence." The lieutenant looked to Roger, who provided no resistance beyond a slight shrug. "We can go explore after it's done. Not like the ship is going anywhere."

"You're the boss."

Maya shot the young marksman a disapproving frown. "You're not supposed to admit it, Roger." Sparrow puffed her chest out a bit, grinning triumphantly.

"Don't waste your breath, I am clearly wearing the pants here." She shot him an impish look. "Hell, he's wearing one of my pairs right now."

"You said these pants were MINE!" He fired back immediately, only to freeze the moment it left his mouth. "...I walked into that." The group shared a laugh at his expense, as he placed his head in his free hand. "...these are mine, right? Please tell me they are."

"A girl has to keep her secrets."

"Sparrow..."

"Later, alright? Let's catch the war-game first, and then maybe I'll tell you." She tugged him along, even though he wanted to drag his feet in protest to her teasing. "Maybe." He did his best to ignore the whipping sounds Maya was making behind his back, relenting and giving the redhead a soft smile despite himself.

"Alright fine...but I better not be wearing girl pants."