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Jacob Torx

Head of Security aboard the Marathon

0 · 298 views · located in The Marathon (Cruiser)

a character in “Mass Effect: On the Edge”, as played by Reaper2707

Description

Jacob is 36 and has snow white hair and a constant beard of the same color. On his left hand all of his fingers have been dismembered from an event long ago in his life and are now replaced by robotic stand ins. When off duty he wears modern shirts and pants but they are almost always covered by a long 19th century duster he wears along with a old Cowboy hat. When on duty and aboard the Marathon he wears the standard Alliance uniform, with a grey ballistic armor that is painted with two parallel dark blue stripes going vertically down it's center. On it's right breast it has the words "Military Police" and on the left is a alliance emblem. Across it's back in bold white letters it reads Police. His shin, forearm, and elbow guards are all the same silver decorated with the blue dark blue stripe.

His eyes are those of a man that have lost most emotion in their heart, dark and black with no light of mercy. He looks nothing like any human you would see walking around the modern streets of Earth or any of it's colonies. The hair under his hat is gangly and looks unwashed. His face is littered with scars each with it's own story and gloom seems to follow him around everywhere he goes.

Equipment

He carries an edge pistol and a military grade Thunder assault rifle. Over his shirt he wears a strap on ballistics armor that is complete with a kinetic barrier system. He wears light leg armor and forearm and elbow protection but prefers to not use full body suits.

History

Jacob is a 36 year old male with a passion for getting the job done. At the age of 25 he began his life as a outlaw, hunting criminals of all species alike and turning them in for a huge profit. Problem is he likes to play a little on the dark side as well. He has a son of whom he doesn't have a good relationship with. He has a taste for the drink and cigarettes and can sometimes drink a little too much. He was hired aboard the Oracle, one because of his talent of searching people out and his combat experience but mostly because he has multiple contacts throughout both Citadel space and the Terminus Systems.

So begins...

Jacob Torx's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Commander Jonathan Titus Character Portrait: Braden Reynolds Character Portrait: Captain Azuric Villayn Character Portrait: Darcy Mansfield Character Portrait: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rikers Character Portrait: Stephen "Sentry" Valentine Character Portrait: Sibyl Carson Character Portrait: Adam Harrison Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Connor DeMarco

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Mass Effect
On the Edge
Season 3


Image


Jonathan Titus carefully stood just before the middle of the three large glass windows of the observation deck on what Oracle called “the Lookout”; a space station developed in secret, and masked by the bulk of the Alliance’s Fifth Fleet guarding Earth. This lone station served no military purpose, nor a diplomatic one; it was simply an outpost and small intelligence hub. In essence, it was just another dot among Oracle’s vast network of secret locations all throughout the Milky Way.

As Titus looked out over Earth, far below the Lookout, he wondered about his crew; or former crew. For the past two months he had simply been Jonathan Titus: former Alliance, former Cerberus, and now a simple civilian under the careful watch and custody of Oracle and the Alliance. In a sense, he was a prisoner; and he was waiting for the results of his commutation hearing.

Though Sibyl had personally vouched for Titus and his crew, the commutation board would have to render their unbiased ruling. Which of them would be deemed worthy to return to active duty for the Alliance? Which of them would be let go but barred from service? And which of them would be faced with war crimes, terrorism, dereliction of duty (had they been former Alliance); or charged with treason, espionage, sabotage, or anything else the board could dig up?

Whatever a price Jonathan would be forced to pay, if he must, he would gladly do so. He had no fear of what might happen to him, but he did fear for the men and women that had served Cerberus under his leadership. He had never, not once, given them an order thought to be malicious, or unbefitting of a soldier’s honor. He could not count a single moment when any of his crew had committed a criminal act, or done something that would be considered heinous or a war crime; save for the fact that they worked for Cerberus. That alone had been the whole reason for the stripping of his rank, and the detention under Oracle supervision. That alone was what the commutation board was dealing with right now. Yes, they had worked for a terrorist organization, and had carried out orders personally handed down by the galaxy’s most feared villain. Yet, in the process, they had managed to hold onto their dignity, their humanity.

As Jonathan stood there, with hands buried in his trouser pockets, he thought of Darcy and his witty jokes. The man’s careless bravado had pulled his ass out of the fire more times than one; and always a laughable punch line ready when he flew the Vindicator in for a daring rescue. Jonathan also thought of Lance, and how much he has grown and come to understand that hatred is a means only to the end of a man himself. Then there was Serena, her grace and professionalism always providing a worthy second opinion to any situation. If it wasn’t for her, Jonathan would lack in both the strength and wisdom he had come to gain over his time with Cerberus. And Veronica; oh, Veronica… Since he had been confined to the Lookout, Jonathan has only seen her but a few times. The entire crew had been separated and still remained apart from one another. He longed to look into her eyes again, to feel her breath against his lips, to embrace her in his arms.

And what of the children, Braden and Elizabeth? Would they be tried as war criminals despite their young age? Or the turians, Villayn and his lieutenants? There was also Sentry, who had just come aboard their mission, eager and ready to do the galaxy some good by putting his solidified knowledge of tech and weapons up against Reaper forces. And Elizabeth’s mother, Nina, who had been with them since the mission to Hephaestus, working alongside Terrance on upgrading some of the Vindicator’s more advanced tech.

These men and women were far more than just Cerberus grunts carrying out galactic crimes. They were and still are dignified, caring, and good-hearted people. During his own commutation hearing, their commander spoke for every single one of them. There was not a name on the Vindicator’s roster that he had not personally known and he had not vouched for. When the board asked what he thought of himself… He replied, “Ask my crew.”

Then there was Dianna Henricksen. Before picking her up on Omega, Titus had no idea that Dianna was actually an escaped convict and fugitive murderer wanted by the Alliance. This had come at little surprise to Titus. After all, she wouldn't be the only murderer on the Vindicator crew. But how would she fair in her own commutation hearing? Would the Alliance lock her back up?

Footsteps approached and stopped just beside him. He recognized Sibyl out of his peripherals and sighed before asking, “Well? What’s the verdict?”

He refused to look at her face, worried that the expression would only disappoint him, or give him the wrong idea. So, instead, he waited for her reply, clenching his fists in his pockets.

“Well…,” Sibyl quietly began, crossing her arms and looking out of the window at Earth with the same gloomy stance as her longtime friend, “…you’ll need a new uniform. I’m thinking one of blue and gold?”

Titus’s head jerked a full ninety degrees, so fast that he barely noticed the numbing pop in his neck. “Seriously?!”

Sibyl opened a clinched fist and revealed a brass pin in her palm, the Alliance’s arching “A” emblem. “You, and every one of your crew, have been cleared of all charges and offered a place in Oracle. While you aren’t officially apart of any of the Alliance’s fleet, you are Alliance again, nonetheless. You’re just working for me now.”

“Everyone?” Titus asked, still finding it hard to believe.

“Everyone,” Sibyl confirmed, nodding with a smile. “The two children you brought along were definitely a matter of debate for the board. But in light of your ability to teach, control, and above all, protect them; they deemed it okay for the kids to remain under your custody and supervision. However, you’re not Cerberus anymore. And while Oracle may or may not have skirted the lines of galactic treatise, we cannot condone child soldiers. Braden Reynolds is to no longer be used as a military asset. Is that clear?”

“Crystal, ma’am,” Titus nodded.

“Good. Welcome back, Captain.” Sibyl moved gracefully around and started walking toward the opposite end of the room that she had entered from.

“Captain?” Titus inquired, hastening to catch up to her.

Sibyl, again, smiled at his surprise. “You heard me right, Captain. The board cleared you of charges and handed you over to me; so to me falls the decision of your rank. I’ve decided to give you back the rank you had on your previous tour with the Alliance. Besides, a cruiser is better suited for a captain than a commander.”

“Oracle has a cruiser?”

“I see we’ve got a lot of talking to do,” Sibyl jested. “Come. Let’s take a walk.”




“Officer on deck!” one of the servicemen yelled to the top of his lungs as Sibyl Carson and Captain Titus boarded the Marathon. They had exited one of the portside airlocks and walked straight into the cruiser’s bridge; where every man and woman that had been working diligently at their stations stopped to stand at attention. The serviceman who had announced their presence was rendering a stiff and disciplined salute. “Ma’am. Sir,” he said in greeting.

Sibyl returned a salute of her own and shouted, “Carry on!” The bridge’s occupants returned to their work immediately.

Titus noted that the Marathon’s bridge was much larger than the CIC on the Vindicator. Then again, this was a cruiser; and a bridge is more than just a Combat Information Center. It’s the entire administration department of the ship. Communications, navigation, mission control, and warfare suites are all monitored and manipulated on the bridge. The helm, which was built in just below the bridge’s main deck, was ahead and to the left of the airlock, down a small ramp. That’s where Sibyl and Titus were headed to now.

“Darcy!” Jonathan said out of excitement to see his trusted helmsman and friend seated at the primary control terminal in the center of the stretched-out deck.

The man, who never looked better in a pristine Alliance uniform, jumped from his chair and bear hugged Titus. “Forgive the insubordination, Captain, but it’s damn good to see you! I was sure they were going to can you and put you in shackles.”

“Come on, Darcy,” Titus said. “If a control freak like the Illusive Man can’t hold me down, who is there that can?”

“True that.”

Titus nodded to Darcy’s controls. “So how does the Marathon compare to the Vindicator?”

“Well it’s like comparing a dog to a cat. Bigger, badder, and definitely a lot meaner; but not as quick and agile. However, where the Marathon lacks in mobility, it makes up for in flexibility. We’ve got four hangar bays with fighters and interceptors always ready to dish out some quick and deadly striking power in case we run up against frigates. And get this: our fighters are armed with new Thanix missiles capable of ripping a giant hole in ships the size of the Vindicator. Someone’s got to be pretty ballsy to take us on.”

Titus smiled, but more in response to seeing how happy and enthusiastic Darcy was. The man hadn’t lost a bit of his humorous charm since putting on that blue and white uniform. The two finished up their conversation and Titus let Darcy continue with whatever he was doing before he got there, and Sibyl led the way back into the bridge.

“Captain,” the familiar voice of Serena Taylor said over Titus’ shoulder.

Titus whirled around to find Taylor smiling at him; a datapad held down at her side. Her blond hair had been tied back into a neat ponytail and kept up and off her shoulders and the collar of her Alliance uniform.

“Taylor,” Titus said with a smile. “It’s good to see you again.”

“Likewise,” she responded.

“So are you still my second in command?” he asked.

“What else would I be?” she asked with a grin.

“Well I’m sure Sib can always assign you to the mess hall,” Titus joked.

Taylor laughed and replied, “You know damn well I can’t cook. Oh and since the Alliance didn’t exactly have a rank for me, your friend, Miss Carson, pinned on a Staff Commander medal.”

“Commander Taylor,” Titus said, getting the feel of the rank and name. “Now that’s hot.”

As Sibyl and Titus continued their tour of the Marathon, Titus took the time to ask her a few questions regarding the ship itself.

“The frigate that picked me up on Omega was also named the Marathon. Does Oracle have two Marathons, or what?”

“Correct,” Sib said. “The frigate is named after the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE, and the cruiser is named after the same city. Greek-Athenian history. The frigate uses the same stealth technology that the Normandy SR had. We tried to find ways to apply the same tech to a cruiser, but as it just happens, that’s a little out of our technological league right. But we haven’t given up on the idea. We wanted to give you the cruiser, rather than the frigate, because we’re well aware that the Illusive Man has several of his cronies looking for you right now and the extra muscle will help.”

“Thanks,” Titus mumbled, unsure just how eager Invaru and Ross must be to get their hands on him.

“All of your fighters, interceptors, and Kodiak shuttles are equipped with stealth tech, though. So don’t worry, you can still get the drop on your enemies planetside.”

“How many other ships does Oracle have?”

“Militarized ships? That’s it. One frigate, one cruiser; both named the Marathon. We have several recon frigates, but they aren’t built for combat and have only defensive weapon systems. If Oracle ever needs to use any heavy hitters, we call up Aurora.”

“The Aurora Initiative?” Titus stopped in the middle of the corridor they were walking through. “I remember running into them a couple of times.”

Sibyl stopped and turned to face her friend. “Yes; and I’m sorry about that, Jonathan. You’ll be pleased to know that I personally insured Captain Shire was replaced as the director of the Aurora Initiative.”

“Who’s in charge of it now?”

Sibyl grinned. “You’ll see soon enough.”

The ship was noticeably darker than the lighter, utilitarian environment of a Cerberus vessel. While the chrome and osmium was still there, as reflective and brilliant as ever, the corridors and main areas of the decks were kept in low light. This was typical of most Alliance warships. Even though a cruiser had enough power to light a city, much of that energy was reserved for emergency situations; thus non-essential systems, including unnecessary lights, were only used when they were actually needed.

The Marathon was comprised of ten decks and was currently home to two hundred and fifty souls. Not surprisingly, however, the decks weren’t all that crowded. With ten of them, more than twice the space the Vindicator had, there was plenty of room for the marines and servicemen to move about unhindered and not feel cramped.

The first deck was the bridge, helm, primary QEC chamber, and the Captain’s Quarters. Sibyl and Titus were now traversing the fifth deck, which held two of the enlisted ranks quarters, the gymnasium, lounge, mess hall, and an observation deck on each side of the ship.

Titus had to admit, he was greatly impressed with the Marathon. It had a bolstering amount of resources that rivaled Cerberus cruisers, and the technological upgrades that Oracle had installed made it a finally cut gem. The more he toured the ship, the wider his smile became and the more excited he was to be back in an Alliance uniform. As he moved throughout the decks and their corridors, he saw familiar faces. Veronica was as happy as ever to kiss him and whisper devious plans for the night in his ear; and the turian trio went out of their way to actually smile and slug his shoulder (all three of them). Lance, of course, was already talking up an egotistical storm about how he made his “new uniform shit look good”; and the timid Braden Reynolds grappled onto Titus’ torso without shame. Sentry wouldn’t shut up about all the new toys he’s able to play with now in the armory on deck seven; and Dianna set aside her moodiness long enough to actually nod in Titus’ direction.

Dianna simply being there meant good news. But curious as to why, Titus asked Sibyl, "Mind if I ask how Miss Henricksen survived her hearing?"

"She never had one," was all that Sibyl replied with. The neutral tone and obvious unwillingness to carry that conversation forward let Titus know that, that was all he needed to know. Besides, it wouldn't really surprise him too much if Oracle had other blacklisted or disavowed assets working for them.

Now on deck seven, Titus and Sibyl had just left the armory and were headed towards the hangar bays. Before they arrived, however, Sibyl took a detour and headed in a completely different direction. Titus noted that the sign on the bulkhead read “Training Chambers” next to the arrow pointed to wear Sibyl was heading for.

“What am I going to find down here?” Titus asked as they passed through the opening blast doors and into a large white chamber in the shape of a giant box. The lighting in the room was practically blinding compared to the darker environment of the rest of the ship and Titus’ eyes had to take a second or two to adjust.

When he could see clearly again, there was a man standing ahead of them wearing a black tank top, cargo pants, and combat boots. Sweat dripped down his face and forehead as he concentrated on the cushion-clad opponent before him. The two were holding what appeared to be katana.

“What in the…” Titus began.

“Captain, I’m sure you remember Agent Harrison,” Sibyl said, gesturing an open hand to the man in the tank top, who was now lashing out skillfully at his training opponent. The suited man deflected the swipes with ease, but Harrison used his free hand and struck his opponent with what Titus instantly recognized as a biotic push. The tell-tale violet hue and electric pulses were unmistakable.

“So he’s a spy, a ninja, and a biotic?”

“Agent Harrison,” Sibyl replied, “is one of the first recruits of a new initiative Oracle is heading off. You and I both know from experience in the field that the N7 program needs more than just muscle nowadays. It needs flexibility, ingenuity, and variety. I’m making sure they get that, and I’ll be the one to deliver. The recruits aren’t ready yet, but someday soon… they will be. You should see some of the other specialists we’re training up. Biotic ninja spies are only the beginning.” She finished her last sentence with a smirk.

Harrison relaxed his katana and walked over to where Carson and Titus were standing. “Sir,” he said, and offered a salute after transitioning the sword to his left hand. After the Captain returned his own salute, Harrison said, “If I may, it’s an honor to be serving under your command. I’ve read your dossier and you had quite the reputation in the N7 before you left. Even all the stuff you did when you worked with Cerberus is commendable.”

Titus never got to see the face agent that saved his life since he had never removed his visor, but now that he was looking the man in his brown eyes, he was quite surprised to see how young Harrison was. The first words out of his mouth were, “How old are you, kid?”

“Twenty, sir,” he instantly replied.

“You weren’t much older when you started hitting your stride, Jonathan,” Sibyl reminded. “Adam, here, in more ways than one, is a lot like you.”

“Adam, huh?” Titus extended an open hand and the young man took it with a firm shake. “Glad to have you on the team.”

“Glad to be here,” he replied. Adam’s handshake was relaxed, loose; the sign of a very timid young man. His physique was average, but that was typical of most biotics since it was hard to gain a lot of muscle when they constantly burned anything they ate within a matter of a few hours. His smile was wide, eyes soft, and his short brown hair a slight mess. He looked as though he should be in college, rather than be an N7 marine with a damn sword.




Braden’s room wasn’t as spacious as the one he had on the Vindicator, but it did come with more shelf space for personal effects, a bookcase filled with an assortment of novels for teens (courtesy of Sibyl Carson), and a private bathroom. The bathroom had to be the one thing that the boy was most thankful for, as Cerberus vessels hardly account for dependents of crew members to be aboard, especially minors. Braden had to take care of business in the latrine aboard the Vindicator like everyone else, but had to time his showers carefully, with an officer standing outside to hold off anyone until he was done; per Titus’ strict orders.

The room was still an officer’s quarters, however, and so he had the luxury of a double-windowed view of the galaxy, perfect ambient lighting for relaxation, carpeting soothing to tired feet, and cushioned furniture that one could fall asleep on instantaneously. Another accommodation that his new room had, that the one on the Vindicator didn’t, was a music system with hidden speakers in every wall.

Braden approached the small haptic interface on the wall that controlled his sound system and surfed through the many different tracks until he found a title that seemed familiar. When he pressed the play command, the speakers allowed the music to slowly fade in. He instantly recognized the opening beats and strings of the new age track and his mind raced back to his days on Omega. He remembered the song as one of many popular hits that entertained the various drug-induced, alcohol-poisoned, patron scum of Afterlife. In an instant, he was lost in painful memories.

“Who’s this?” one of Gavin’s clients asked. The constant flashing of red and orange club lights distorted the human’s facial expressions, but Braden knew the man was grinning by the malicious sound of his voice.

Gavin’s calloused hand tightened over Braden’s shoulder, sparking pain from a very recently inflicted wound, and barked, “Not for sale.”

“Is he at least available for rent?” the human asked, waving a credit chit in the air, further impressing the two asari glued to either side of him at his VIP booth.

Gavin’s silence meant that he was considering the offer, probably debating a price. Braden actually prayed that he would accept. One night, that’s all he asked for; one night to get away from his batarian owner. He wouldn’t technically be free, probably ever, but it would at least [i]feel
like freedom. Anything was better than being Gavin’s chikolah.

“Two thousand credits,” Gavin demanded. Braden’s hopes were instantly slashed to pieces. Two thousand was a steep price to pay for one night. Gavin always informed the client of his prices based on a nightly fee. The poor boy just knew that the human would refuse to pay that much for him. But yet, he still tried.

“Fifteen,” the human bartered.

“Nineteen,” Gavin countered.

“Make it seventeen, and I’ll buy some of your dust, too.” Braden was shocked. Whoever this man was, he wasn’t going to walk away without a fight. There was still hope after all.

“Fine,” Gavin grunted, shoving Braden so hard and so fast that he flopped over the table, knocking over one of the asari’s drinks. “Don’t be so clumsy, you idiot boy!” Gavin shouted, showing that, even though he was renting out his most prized possession, he still held authority over him. He then said to the human, “One night. That’s it. And the dust will be a thousand; or are you going to try and barter with me on that?”

“Of course not, my friend,” the man said. “And I’ll be sure to return the kid in pristine condition.”[/i]

Lizzie’s knocking dragged Braden back out of his horrible past. She was standing in his doorway, leaning partially inside; a gleeful smile on her face. But that smile quickly faded when she saw her boyfriend trying to fake one of his own. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

“Uhm, nothing,” Braden stuttered, instantly turning away to hide the tears welling up in his eyes. His free hand shot up to the interface to cut off the music, but before he could return it to his side, he felt Lizzie’s delicate fingers catch his wrist.

“Hey,” she said, her whispering voice soothing to his ears. “You can tell me.”

“You’d never understand.” As much as he hated to say that to her, he knew he was right. How would anyone ever know what he went through without having gone through the same torment themselves? How does one tell another that they were a slave; bidded on, used and abused over and over. He was nothing but a toy to sadistic psychopaths, drunkards, and drug addicts. He was a ruthless batarian’s pet and personal property.

“Maybe not,” Lizzie replied. “But you can still talk to me about it. I’m always willing to listen to you, no matter what or when.” Elizabeth’s hand tightened around Braden’s and they stood there for a moment, together in silence.

“Okay,” the boy finally said.




With the targeting reticule lined up for a perfect headshot, Villayn carefully squeezed his talon back on the Viper’s trigger until he felt the recoil of the round firing off and the subtle discharge ringing throughout the long range shooting gallery. Azuric remained peering down the rifle’s scope to observe the headshot in the target’s human-shaped silhouette.

“Very nice,” Sentry’s voice commented over the range’s intercom, coming from the safety of the control room behind Villayn. “Keep that up and you’ll be able to knock out one target per minute.”

“It would be easier for me to concentrate without the sarcasm,” the captain quipped. “Besides, perfect precision shots like that require patience. Something I doubt a loose-cannon like yourself would understand.”

Villayn heard Sentry’s happy chuckle before the armorer replied, “Is that a challenge?”

“Please,” Azuric said. “Don’t be so foolish. A turian can out-shoot a human any day.”

“Someone’s cocky.”

The hissing of the blast doors at the back of the gallery caught Villayn’s attention and he turned his head to see Darak walking inside. Thumbing a talon over his shoulder, the lieutenant said, “Have you checked out the gym yet? Two whole stories. Pretty nice.” Darak stopped next to Villayn and turned to look down the range at his captain’s target. After shrugging his shoulders he said, “Good, but... not your best.”

Sentry started balling in laughter over the intercom as Villayn leaned back, appearing to be visibly insulted his lieutenant’s observation. But he soon dropped the act and said, “I admit, maybe I’ve lost my touch after two months of not being allowed to handle a weapon. I didn’t think the Alliance would actually hold us in custody along with the rest of Titus’ crew. Not until the hierarchy officially gave us the cold shoulder, anyway.”

“Yes, but it was definitely for the best, sir,” Darak reminded him. “I much prefer what we’re doing now anyway.”




The main conference room on the Marathon was a lot larger than the one on the Vindicator, though not as dramatically perplexing; that is, it didn’t have a giant half-dome that looked out into the depths of space. Instead, it was enclosed by in an oval of glass, where the walls of the corridor wrapping around the outside had several mounted paintings from the late 21st century, a few more recent masterpieces; all of which were of a contemporary style. The glass surrounding the conference room doubled as both a sound barrier and a cradle for several screens of information. White lighting kept the area brightly lit, a nice contrast from the rest of the ship.

Captain Titus was seated at the head of the oval table, with many other faces, some new and some familiar, occupying the other seats. Titus held a blue datapad in his hand and quietly scanned through the briefs of each person at the table. After taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he placed the datapad on the surface of the black, marble-top table, leaned back in his chair, and said, “Well. It will definitely take me some time to memorize each of your names, but no more than a few days, tops. Anyway, let’s move on to the first order of business; which will be the cooperation between the ex-Cerberus personnel that served with me before and now, and the have-been Alliance personnel also serving aboard this ship. I want to make this perfectly clear: we are all in this fight together, through thick and thin. If anyone has a problem working with another individual aboard this ship, they are expected to speak up to their supervisor... with the proper paperwork in hand requesting a transfer to a new assignment. I have a very low tolerance for childish bickering.

“Now that I’ve made myself clear on that issue; let’s move on to something lighter. Security, for instance.” Titus looked down the table towards a man with strikingly white hair and a matching beard. Though his hair would make one assume the man is ready for retirement, he was enjoying a good stride in his mid thirties. “Staff Lieutenant Torx,” the Captain addressed.

“Sir.”

“How strong is your unit?”

As if expecting the question right from the start, the Marathon’s Chief of Security Operations replied with a slight Texan accent, “Twenty are ‘round-the-clock security specialists, Captain. They operate on rotating shifts. The rest of the one hundred and twenty-five marines aboard the Marathon are all capable of performing security tasks should we be boarded.”

“Sounds good.” Titus looked down one seat toward Sentry. “Weapons count, Sentry?”

With a smile, the armorer replied, “I’ve got 200 Avengers, 75 Mattocks, 20 Mantises and Vipers, 100 M-77’s, 100 Katanas - er, the shotgun kind, not the fancy sword kind that boy-wonder has.” Sentry nodded in Harrison’s direction, who was sitting right across from him. Adam only rolled his eyes and Sentry continued from where he left off. “200 Predators, 50 Phalanxes, and... well, a whole shit ton of other goodies. I even have a few Argus assault rifles down there.”

“So we have enough to start a Second Contact War,” Titus mused. “Good.”

Titus’s eyes moved to the opposite side of the table and he scanned down until he found a young first class serviceman with dark brown hair and a not-quite-five o’clock shadow. He had to be as young as Adam by the looks of it. “Connor... DeMarco, was it?”

The young serviceman nervously straightened his posture in his chair and stammered out a quick “Yes, sir!”

“Don’t be so skittish, kid,” Titus remarked. “You’re my comm specialist, correct?”

“That’s correct, sir. I monitor all in- and out-bound tactical communiques, maintain the QECs and Prophet’s connection, and I’m also your primary handler in the field.”

“And off the field?” Harrison asked aloud, looking right at Connor.

Everyone in the room found themselves glancing back and forth between the two men, wondering just what in the world Harrison was referring to, especially when Connor's blushing red face started to contrast with the white and blue of his uniform.

“Okay...,” Titus said, finally halting the awkward moment. “Well, DeMarco, welcome to the team. Moving on...”

[Begin playing Infinite, Immortal - from Fired Earth Music]

By the time Titus had briefly learned the job of everyone in the conference room, his heavy eyes beckoned sleep and he decided it was time to wrap up their little meet n’ greet. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, standing up from his seat, “this mission is not going to be an easy one. Our goals are many, and diverse. Cerberus is hell-bent on ensuring that I’m dead, and Oracle is buried. The Collectors are going to continue to try and abduct unsuspecting humans from fringe colonies. And, hell, I’m sure the Shadow Broker is planning on making a few plays, himself. But no matter who our enemy is, or what they throw at us, or how long we must travel the stars; nothing can stop us as long as we stick together. Lives are counting on our success, people. Let’s not let them down. Dismissed.”




"Are you ready, Captain?" Commander Taylor asked as Titus walked up to stand beside her at the galaxy map. "Way-points plotted and uploaded to the helm. Waiting on Alliance Naval Traffic Control to give us the green light."

Titus smiled and he held his shoulders back, taking in a deep breath as he glanced around the bridge. All eyes were now on him. Everyone had stopped what they were doing, waiting for the go-order from both the traffic controllers and Titus himself. Far ahead at the helm, Titus could see Darcy turning around in his seat to also join in on the dramatic stare, silhouetted by the full magnificent glow of Earth far below them all.

The speakers in the ceiling above crackled and a male's voice echoed through the bridge. "A-N-T-C to Marathon, standby for green light."

This was it.

Thirty seconds later, the voice came back. "A-N-T-C to Marathon, you are green in three.... two.... one. Clear to leave station. ... Good luck, Marathon."

Titus opened his mouth, but paused momentarily to savor this moment. It's not everyday you get launch off on a new mission with a new ship and new crew members. When he was ready, and when everyone had just about had enough of hanging onto the edge of their seats to hear the few simple words, the Captain bellowed, "You heard the man! Darcy! Put us on course to the Sol Relay!"

"Aye-Aye, Captain!" Darcy yelled back over the deafening sound of applause that filled the entirety of the command deck.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Commander Jonathan Titus Character Portrait: Braden Reynolds Character Portrait: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rikers Character Portrait: Stephen "Sentry" Valentine Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Jason Trox Character Portrait: Connor DeMarco

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Damn I look like my grandfather.” Jacob Trox muttered with his light Texan accent, as he starred deeply into the small mirror in his quarters. He kept stroking a palm through his thin hair white hair atop his head. He had been grey for a long time, though he was only in his thirties, but it was always covered up by his hat so the only hint of age you could see was the short white beard that sat on his chin like a mass of cotton on his face. Why did you have to go grey early dad you rat bastard , he thought silently to himself. He stopped fiddling with his old mans hair, before he decided to hang himself from depression. He instead began to depress himself with the attire that was forced upon him by the alliance. It wasn’t that he disliked looking official, he just disliked the lack of comfort that came with looking official. The clothing was always too loose in places you didn’t need it, and too tight in places you did. He sighed deeply to himself “Now I remember why I hated being a cop.”

He stepped away from the mirror and strode his way over to the bed that sat in the middle of the dimly quarters. As he did he admired the stirrups, saddles, and pictures of his him state of Texas that flanked the walls around the bed. They might have told him he can’t wear dusters or cowboy hats, but damn it he was going to bring some decoration for his room. He reached under the bed and retrieved a large metallic box that had been delivered to him just the other day by an Alliance requisitions officer. He set the box atop his bed and pressed the open button onto of its lid. The box made a smooth metallic grinding sound as the lid split into two separate sections that slid to either side of the box, revealing a set of armor and a large 1940s style wooden baton. “Perfect” Jacob grinned as he looked as his delivery. He picked up the chest plate that shinned like a diamond in the dim light of his quarters, across the right side of the chest plate it read “Military Police” and on the left, just above heart level, was an alliance emblem. The armor was split into separate sections, unlike the average set of military armor.

He ran his hand over the smooth grey metal of the chest armor, past the white lettering and the two dark blue lines that ran vertically down its center. He puffed some air, never thought I’d be a flat foot again , he thought to himself. He turned the armor around and looked at the large white lettering that read POLICE [/i] before slipping the armor over his head. After a few moments of fiddling with it’s positioning, he finally pressed the back and front halves together, making a sharp clank as the two linked together through the magnets hidden within its kinetically protected plates. He grabbed the rest of the armor, which consisted of elbow, forearm, shin, knee and fist guards, and strapped them on. Still uncomfortable as hell , he thought as he moved to the mirror to check that everything was in order. Yep, just as he thought, he looked exactly like a cop again, felt just as uncomfortable as one too. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, 20th century, tin Texas Ranger badge and looked at it with a sympathetic stare “At least I don’t have to wear that damn built that you did.” He said to the badge as if it were a person in the room with him.

He looked at the time displayed on the holographic clock next to his bed; it was almost time for his new boss’s group therapy session. He walked back to the box, grabbed the baton then hooked it to his built with the magnet implanted within the oak wood. Call him old fashioned, but he preferred a nice solid object to the fancy electronic batons they used today. He tried to get a stun gun, but the Requisitions officer said that he didn’t have a license for any company that sold them. Oh well he thought as he patted his giant wooden stick this would get the job done . He grabbed his pistol and attached it to his side as he walked towards the door, which he had hung a steer skull above. The doors slid open with a rush of chilled air that shook Jacob to his bones. He walked out into the dimly lit hall; the Marathon was so dark all the damn time. He didn’t like it, made him strain his eyes to see down the hall which just plain out pissed him off. He looked back at his quarters, at least I have my own room he thought as the doors slid shut.

He continued down the hall past countless barracks and quarters, all full of people he didn’t, or just barely, knew. He wasn’t sure if he would care to know them really, all these career alliance types were so prim and proper all the damn time made him a little sick to his stomach. Maybe he should have just turned down the offer and stuck to his own business out in the terminus systems. But the money was good, he smiled as he reached into his left side pocket and took out a small flask decorated with engravings of Asari, it let him afford some great hooch. He unscrewed the top and took a swig, “Yeah, that’s the stuff.” He whispered to himself as he replaced the cap and shoved back into his pocket. He continued down the shiny halls, past uptight marines and other crew members, before stopping at a door before the elevator leading that would take him to the deck where the boss had requested his presence. Oh what was that guys name again? Typo? Titanic? Tidies? Tummy Tickler? He didn’t remember but it was something like that. He knocked on the door

“Jason, you still in there?” he called out to the occupant of the room

“Yeah, what’s it too you?” Jason growled through the door

Jacob glared through the door “Don’t you use that tone with me boy, or I’ll come in there and whoop your ass!” he snarled

“Hmmm” Jason answered unconvincingly

“Get out here and met some of the other kids, I here they are somewhere around here.” He ordered

“I don’t want to meet the other kids, probably just a bunch of dumbasses.” Yep, he was his father’s son alright, that’s what worried him. He needed to get more social; even if he refused to talk to Jacob like a human he needed some interaction.

“Just do it, son or I’ll hogtie you and hang you from the hull!” Jacob snapped, this time there was no reply. That boy is going to be the death of me he thought as he headed for the elevator and started his way to the deck containing the conference room.

Jacob strutted into the conference room, his foot long baton knocking against his left leg guard, resting his right arm on his pistol like some sheriff from a Wild West movie. He was the last one too, that was never good. He must have heard the time wrong. Oh well, he saw that Commander Tummy Tickler, or whatever his name was, sat at the front of the table. The reason he could see him was thanks to the fact that this part of the ship actually had enough light to see your own hand in front of your face. The glass around the room acted like computer screens and lightly reflected the figures at the conference table. What a rag tag bunch they were. Commander, Tummy Tickler was scanning each of them over with his eyes and studying a small data pad, when suddenly he stopped, leaned back and began.

“Well. It will definitely take me some time to memorize each of your names, but no more than a few days, tops. Anyway, let’s move on to the first order of business; which will be the cooperation between the ex-Cerberus personnel that served with me before and now, and the have-been Alliance personnel also serving aboard this ship. I want to make this perfectly clear: we are all in this fight together, through thick and thin. If anyone has a problem working with another individual aboard this ship, they are expected to speak up to their supervisor... with the proper paperwork in hand requesting a transfer to a new assignment. I have a very low tolerance for childish bickering.” Sir, yes sir, Jacob said in a stereotypical marine voice within his own head.

“Now that I’ve made myself clear on that issue; let’s move on to something lighter. Security, for instance.” Captain, Tummy Tickler said. Jacob was already running through a series of questions he might ask in his mind. He wanted to make himself look good, and then he might get some slack around here and get some more Red Giant, Whiskey and Asari made cigars from Thessia when his supply ran short. “Staff Lieutenant Torx,” The boss addressed him by name and rank. Jacob couldn’t lie, being he was basically a gun for higher he couldn’t complain about the high rank they gave him.

“Sir.” Jacob responded, resisting the urge to call him Tummy Tickler

“How strong is your unit?” The captain inquired. Really that was it? Lighter then he had hoped and too uptight for his liking. He wanted men who were strictly disciplined but didn’t feel the need to point out every break of protocol.

“Twenty are ‘round the clock security specialists, Captain.” Tummy Tickler he thought to himself, fighting not to burst out laughing as he continued “They operate on rotating shifts. The rest of the one hundred and twenty-five marines aboard the Marathon are all capable of performing security tasks should we be boarded.” He had ordered that the security specialists paint over the words on their armor that read [b] SECURITY
and replace it with the big bold POLICE instead. In his experience security was somebody you feared would call the cops, but police you feared because you knew they would tack direct action and put foot to ass. Fear commands respect, men may hate us, but we do not ask for their love…only their fear.” He quoted Erwin Rommel from the 20th century. Probably a little harsh considering police are there to protect the people, but only two things command respect in this universe. Politeness and fear, and criminals didn’t respect politeness so obviously the latter was the only option. That was Jacob’s opinion.

“Sounds good.” Titus looked down one seat toward Sentry. “Weapons count, Sentry?” He addressed another man in the room. The guy looked like an asshole to Jacob, but hey if he did his job and stayed out of his way he could care less. Jacob kind of tuned out the weapons count since he already knew it for security purposes, but he did partially take notice when Captain called upon a boy by the name of Connor. The boy shot up straight like he had just seen a group of Asari strippers walk by “Yes, sir?” replied. This kid was new, he could tell. Probably nineteen or twenty, he was going to get on Jacobs nerves with all this nervous high and tight shit. Maybe he was just in a bad mood today; he needed a long drinking session. The kid blabbed his mouth for a bit, and Jacob just thought about the long drink he would have after this damn meeting….

*******

Jason opened the door into the dimly lit hallway; it was a nice change from the usual blinding lights of the Citadel. He stoked a hand through his short blonde hair and moved to the elevator. He pressed the button for a random deck; he had been locked away in his room since he got here, so it was time to take a look around. The door opened and he found himself starring right at a mess hall. Oh yeah baby, jack pot, just what he was looking for. He made his way over to the service section of the hall, ducking and weaving through tables and chairs, and grabbed himself a glass of water and a roll before continuing on his tour. This place was pretty amazing, the dim lights, the soldiers, and it was a lot less crowded then the Citadel where you bumped into some alien every step you took. Arm room was always a luxury for him on the Citadel, at least when he snuck out of the house. His uncle never let him go places, so that was another plus about being on this ship. No C-SEC uncle to tell him where he couldn’t go or what he couldn’t do, his father didn’t give a rat’s ass about him and the Marines just ignored him for the most part so he could do whatever he wanted.

He made his way down halls, and went from deck to deck trying to find something to keep his attention. Finally he found something that got his attention, a young blonde standing in the doorway to a room. He grinned to himself hubba, hubba, I knew this place had to have some kind of fun. he strode his way over like he was some smooth cat and stepped up right behind her.

“Maybe not,” The girl said to some guy inside the room. He looked like he was going to break down and cry or something. Huh, and this chick must have been into him. “But you can still talk to me about it. I’m always willing to listen to you, no matter what or when.” Seriously? Jason thought as the girl took the boys hand.

“Okay.” The boy replied. Seriously? This guy and her?

“Well hello there.” Jason said with a self righteous smirk on his face.

The girl turned around and faced Jason “Oh…hello, I didn’t see you there. Who are you?” she asked, with a slight irritation in her voice. The guy just glared at him from behind her like he had just come over and punched a baby in the face.
“Names Jason Trox.” He replied with a grin “And who are you lovely girl” he asked with arrogance overflowing in his words.

“Lizzie.” She answered “And this is Braden.” Branden huh? He looked like a push over. But, Jason thought that about everybody, who wasn’t him.

“Nice to meet you Lizzie” he said, totally ignoring Braden “Want to go somewhere and talk a little?” he said with so much self pride that it stunk.

Lizzie gave him a dirty look “If you don’t mind we are busy.” She snarled as she walked inside the room with Braden and closed the door in Jason’s face. Fine then, kind of an uppity chick wasn’t she? He grinned, in time he thought. He turned and walked for the elevator, maybe he would go find the pilot. Jason had heard he was some good fun.

*****

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Captain, Tummy Tickler said, standing up from his seat, “this mission is not going to be an easy one. Our goals are many, and diverse. Cerberus is hell-bent on ensuring that I’m dead, and Oracle is buried. The Collectors are going to continue to try and abduct unsuspecting humans from fringe colonies. And, hell, I’m sure the Shadow Broker is planning on making a few plays, himself. But no matter who our enemy is, or what they throw at us, or how long we must travel the stars; nothing can stop us as long as we stick together. Lives are counting on our success, people. Let’s not let them down. Dismissed.” Oh great, he was one of those “inspirational” bosses. He was going to be one of those people who would make an inspirational speech on bowl movements if people could listen to it. He could just see it coming. Just like the Chief at the Police Department he worked at when he was in his early twenties.

He stood up and exited the room as fast as he could; he needed a stiff drink after that long and grueling waste of time. He made his way to the elevator with a purpose behind his steps and slammed on the button to take him to the deck containing his quarters. As soon as the doors closed he took his flask out and began to chug the last bit of Red Giant whiskey he had filled it with. That was the good stuff. Once the doors opened he shoved the flask back into his pocket and walked over to his son’s door and knocked.

“You still in there Jason?” there was no answer. “Jason?” He called again, but still no answer. That meant he either listened or he wasn’t talking to him yet again. Ever since he had gotten him from his brother on the Citadel, the kid hadn’t treated him like his father. Oh well, eventually he would come around, but right now it was drinking time. Jacob strode his way over to his quarters, opened the door and locked it tight behind him. He threw off his gear onto the bed, then made his way to his cabinet and opened the bottom drawer. In it was a safe with a fingerprint code and number code lock. He punched in the numbers 73301 the zip code for his home town of Austin, Texas. He then placed his thumb on the fingerprint scanner and the safe made a loud clank as it unlocked. Inside was a small box of “ Thessia Premium grade cigars those were for a special occasion, so he instead took a larger box marked “ Matriarch Zeena’s finest ” another good Asari made cigar, but nowhere the grade of the Thessia Premium. He took a cigar, then stuck the box back into the safe and locked it. He then made his way over to a small liquor cabinet next to his bed and took out one of his four bottles of Red Giant Whiskey, moving aside a bottle of Serrice Ice, Whiskey yet another special occasion item, and grabbed a glass, then poured himself a shot. He lit up his cigar with a lighter he kept inside a drawer at the top of the liquor cabinet and began his night of drinking. Soon he would be drunk enough to take out that data pad in the drawer with his lighter…and relive those painful memories.

The intercom in his quarters soon sparked to life and a male voice came through "A-N-T-C to Marathon, standby for green light." here we go Jacob thought “A-N-T-C to Marathon, you are green in three.... two.... one. Clear to leave station. ... Good luck, Marathon."

There was a moment of silence before Captain, Tummy Ticklers voice cracked over the intercom "You heard the man! Darcy! Put us on course to the Sol Relay!"

“Aye-Aye Captain” the pilots voice replied back.

Jacob raised his glass in the air “Yippee-ki-yay” he whispered under his breath, as the ship sped off for the SOL relay.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Commander Jonathan Titus Character Portrait: Braden Reynolds Character Portrait: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rikers Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Jason Trox

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“Attention crew, the Marathon has docked” a crackly voice boomed and threw Jacob out of an uneasy, alcohol induced slumber. He looked at his ceiling, right into to the lights that were as harsh to his eyes as looking straight at a sun. His head was pounding like a baby Thresher Maw was digging around his brain. His inebriation had worn off, and now the hours of post drinking fun was about to begin. Jacob slowly sat up on the bed, and as he did his data pad fell off his chest and onto the floor. He looked at it blankly for a few moments before what had happened registered in his mind. Jacob rubbed his eyes, then bent over and grabbed the data pad with a slight groan. He flipped it over to reveal the image of beautiful young blonde women, wearing a gorgeous smile along with an amazing white dress. The picture would have brought a feeling of warmth to most, but to Jacob it brought only anger and pain. He quickly threw the pad back into the drawer and slammed it shut, the drink would give him the courage to look at those memories another day.

Jacob slowly stood from the bed, trying hard not to let his wooziness get the better of him and cause him to crash to the floor. “Ahh, Prophet?” Jacob groaned, and prophets blue image appeared on a panel at the far side of the room in response.

“Hello, Staff Lieutenant Trox. Did you enjoy your nap?”

“Enjoyed the hooch before hand more, where in Sam hill did we dock?” Jacob asked as he scratched his head.

“The Marathon has docked with the Citadel, Staff Lieutenant.”

The Citadel huh, good timing he needed to speak to his brother about something. He knew that the alliance was keeping tabs on Cerberus, specifically the Oracle. It was one of the many benefits of having good contacts within criminal organizations and corporations, you always got nice intel. However, he didn’t have as good of contacts as his brother did; he knew some diplomats and big wigs up in the government office. If anyone he knew could get some dirt on Cerberus, it would be his brother and his friends. He would go see him, get some information and some help. He wouldn’t tell the boss quite yet, it was always better to ask for forgiveness rather then permission.

“Thank you Prophet.”

“Yes Staff Lieutenant” Prophet answered emotionlessly as its blue avatar vanished from the panel. With that Jacob removed his clothing and jumped into the shower so that he could attempt to make him look presentable to for the boss. After his shower was complete, he brushed his teeth and hoped that the strong smell of a quarter bottle of Red Giant would die off just enough so that he didn’t smell like a brewery. He got dressed and strapped on his armor; he didn’t like walking around public places without armor protection, especially in an alliance uniform. As he strapped his pistol to his right side, and attached the baton to his left side, at a slant, he threw to painkillers into his mouth and swallowed them down. Hopefully that would keep his headache at bay. He grabbed a pair of darkly tinted sunglasses and marched out of his bedroom door. He never thought he would be so glad to have these dimly lit hallways before. He walked to the elevator and slammed the button, figuring his son wouldn’t answer him or was already gone so what was the point of even knocking on his door?

The elevator opened to reveal two familiar faces, Captain Tummy Tickler and that government spook Harrison.

“Howdy, ‘boss.” Jacob said as he entered the elevator and gave a friendly look to the men, even that damn biotic.

“Hello Jacob, how are you?” Captain Tummy Tickler asked, and it was obvious by the look on his face that he noticed the strong sent of alcohol on his head of security.

“I’m doing jus’ fine sir.” He replied

“You smell like you had a bit of a party when you went back to your quarters, Staff Lieutenant.” The stinking biotic butted in.

“What’s it too you spook?” Jacob growled

“Staff Lieutenant. Is there a problem, any at all?” the Captain intervened

You damn military types Jacob thought as he turned his gaze to the Captain thinking you can push me around like you own me. [i] You better lift your weight…’boss. “None sir.” He then glared at Harrison and you…you fucking mutant, you just stay away from me “None at all.” He whispered.

******

Jason took the initiative and decided to try his luck with that Lizzie girl again. He found her on the lower decks just leaving her room.

“Hey, Lizzie!” Jason called out to her

“Oh…you again.” She huffed back

“Ah, don’t be like that.” He said with a cocky grin.

“I’ll be however I want, thank you.” She replied with aggravation

“Look.” Jason said “Maybe I made the wrong impression, but I ain’t that bad one you get to know me.”

“Some how I doubt that.” Lizzie repented

“Come on, you just need to hang with me, then you will see.” Jason urged with that same cockyness he seemed to always have floating around him

“See what? That you’re more then just ignorant and oblivious?” Lizzie asked sarcastically and crossed her arms

“Especially that I’m more then oblivious and Ignorant, I’m also arrogant and misunderstood.” He joked, taking the chance to look Lizzie over as she rolled her eyes.

“You just do not give up do you?”

“Come on, I used to live on the Citadel I know all the good places to have fun.”

“I don’t thin me and you are into the same kind of fun.” She replied

“Oh and why is that?” Jason inquired

“Because, I doubt you take the word of God very seriously.” She was right, but what did he care?

“Sure I do, but nowhere in the bible does it say you can’t have a little fun once in a while” at least he was pretty sure it didn’t “plus it will give us a chance to get to know each other. I mean we are going to be living here on the same ship for a long time, so it is probably a good idea wouldn’t you agree?”

She looked at him with her lips screwed up for a moment “I guess you’re right. But don’t think this means you can try anything on me.”

Jason raised his hands in a mock surrender “Would never dream of it.” yet

“Good. And if I don’t want to go somewhere, I’m not going to go understood?”

“Crystal, ma’am.” Ma’am? Well he still was his father’s son.

“Then let’s go.”

********

The harsh artificial sunlight of the Citadel damn near knocked Jacob’s lights out. Hangover and huge artificial lights were not a good mix. He had left Harrison and Captain Tummy Tickler at the ships dock port and was making his way through the crowds of aliens towards the C-SEC headquarters on the Kitohi Ward. His brother was the lead director of the C-SEC Special Response School that was located in the Kithoi Ward headquarters. Last Jacob heard, his brother was up for some kind of promotion but he wasn’t sure what exactly it was, or if he even got it.

Jacob didn’t like being in large crowds like this, especially in a place like Kithoi Ward, which tended to be filled with the most degenerate and disgusting of all life in Citadel space. That’s why the Special Response unit was based out of this Ward; it was the one that needed them most. The streets were littered with drugged out civilians, and it smelled like all the residence had taken their trash outside and started burning it. It confused Jacob how such a place could look so clean and orderly, yet be so disgusting at the same time. As he walked Jacob passed a small bar a turian came stumbling out in a drunken stupor and slammed right into Jacob like he wasn’t even there.

“Hey you ugly ass human, watch where your going!” the turian spat into Jacobs face.

“You just picked the wrong ‘ugly ass human’ to fuck with, on the wrong day. So just turn your ass around and walk away.” Jacob growled. He wasn’t in the mood to deal with drunken aliens, not with a hangover like this.

“The hell did you just say to me?” the turian snapped as he grabbed the handle of a blade he had at his side. Oh great, he just got here and he was going to have to kill an alien. How was he going to explain this?

“Look, just walk away before you get a new hole to breath through ‘partner” Jacob urged as he put a hand on his pistol. Just then, a group of three more turians emerged from the crowd in defense of their fellow alien.

“There a problem here...primate?” one of the new turian asked, cracking his knuckles as he moved to the illumination of a street lamp which revealed the white skull shaped face paint he wore.

“There is about to be.” Jacob answered calmly as he started calculations in his head. Four targets, two yards away with about a foot and a half spread between them. They would be easy targets for a quick shot.

“Oh really. I think I like the sound of that.” One of the sober aliens hissed as he reached behind his back, probably for a weapon “I don’t like Police, especially human ones.” He continued as he read the words on Jacobs vest.

“What the hell is going on here Sar.” A human, male, voice bellowed from behind Jacob. By this time the crowd around the situation had started to clear out of the area, leaving the street basically deserted except for the Jacob, his opponents and this new figure. The folks around these parts knew when to stay clear of something, because the last thing they wanted was to be there when C-SEC starting asking questions.

“Another human? Don’t you idiots know that your kind isn’t welcome on these streets?” Jacob looked to his right, just for a split second so he could see who owned this new voice. It was a tall, Indian man who bore a C-SEC uniform, and Jacob recognized him immediately.

“Sar,” the Indian spoke to the turian, with the skull face paint, in a thick Indian accent “You and your men have already been arrested for assault on humans two times, if there is a third you’ll be going away a long time.”

The turian grinned, “What if we make sure there aren’t any witnesses this time?” he started to laugh as his arm came out just half of the way from behind his body.

The Indian C-SEC officer looked to Jacobs gun arm “You still got those reflexes of yours Jacob?” Jacob smiled, that was a queue if he had ever gotten one. “Just no messes please.” The Indian finished and then without so much as a slight flinch to give away his actions, Jacob, grabbed the handle of his pistol, brought it up so it was at his hip and facing the turians, then fired four rounds with lightning speed. Each metal slug hitting within inches of his intended target, he had a hangover what could you expect? The drunkard got one to leg, while the other three took rounds right to their shoulders. The skull faced one took the round in the arm that was behind his back, and he dropped the grenade he had pulled out, and was planning to use to blow Jacob and the officer to hell.

“Ah! Son of a bitch!” The skull faced turian screamed as he grabbed his shoulder.

“Ha.” Jacob laughed “I still got e’m.” The turians held their limbs in pain, not even bothering to retaliate.

“You! I’ll kill you!” the turian screamed at Jacob as he continued to hold his shoulder.

“Oh, I don’t think that’s a good idea. He is an angry man, and if you make him any angrier…I think I was to busy eating a donut in my squad car to see the murder who killed four turians outside the Lowrides bar. So I suggest you pick up this drunk and get out of here…now” The C-SEC officer replied coldly. That’s what Jacob liked about this ward; the C-SEC officers knew how to deal with the local populace. It wasn’t like the other wards that were ‘high grade’. Here, everyone was a criminal and they had to be dealt with harshly.

The skull faced turian was just about to stay something when he supposed pack of loyal followers rushed over to the downed drunk and started pulling him off into a nearby alley. The skull faced turian looked genuinely shocked that the others were betraying him. “Stop! Where the hell do you think you’re going?” he tried to get his men to stop, but they paid him no mind. So, instead, the turian looked at the Indian and Jacob with a stare of pure disgust “This isn’t over.” He growled as he ran off into the alley after his men. Jacob holstered his weapon and turned towards the C-SEC officer.

“Umar! You son of a bitch how are ‘ya” Jacob exclaimed with cheer as he tuck his hand out to the C-SEC officer

“You are a crazy man.” Umar said as he shook Jacob’s hand “You should know better then to walk around these lower streets. You know the aliens don’t take kindly to us humans here.”

“I never got hired for my smarts.” Jacob replied. Umar was a good friend, and had been ever since Jacob met him during one of his bounties here on the Citadel a few years back. He knew Jacob’s brother as well.

“No kidding, my friend.” Umar chuckled “Here, come get in my patrol unit, we shouldn’t stick around too long.” The two ran their way over to Umar’s skycar patrol vehicle and hopped in. As soon as the car was off the ground and soaring through the skylanes, Umar began again “What brings you back here my friend? You finally decide to take up a job here?”

Jacob laughed as he rubbed his temples with index fingers, trying to calm his headache “Hell no. I told ‘ya the flatfoot life isn’t for me ‘partner” He thought about being a C-SEC officer and using his brother’s status to get him assigned to Kitohi Ward. However, even though the rules were able to be bent to extremes here, the rules and regulations still got in the way too many times. Jacob couldn’t go back to that life. Not now, at least while he was with Oracle. He was making good money, and helping defeat a great threat that nobody would complain to him if he broke moral ethics to do it.

Umar looked at him crookedly “You okay, my friend?”

“Yeah, just got a hell of a hangover.” Jacob replied

Umar shook his head “You have to stop drinking so much, my friend.”

“Makes me feel warm inside.” Jacob half joked

“You should try following the path of Hinduism my friend; it may help you find peace.”

Jacob looked at him with sympathetic eyes “I lost all faith a long time ago Umar, if you’re smart you will too.”

“Perhaps I do not wish to trade happiness for logic my friend.” Umar replied “Now, I suppose you are here to see your brother, yes?”

“That’d be right.” All the sudden the sky car took a nose dive, and then came to a complete stop outside the C-SEC headquarters building.

“Then get out.” Umar said with a joking tone. The man was good company, but he didn’t like to be held up when he was on duty.

“Thanks Umar.” Jacob said as he extended his hand and shook Umar’s “I’ll get in touch with you again soon.”

“I hope you do, my friend.” Umar said as Jacob opened the door of the skycar, and then slammed it shut when he was outside. Umar took off, probably to continue the rest of his shift, leaving Jacob outside the HQ alone. The C-SEC headquarters on Kitohi ward was its own independent building. Its metallic frame shone a magnificent starlight tint of white from the finish that covered the building. A massive C-SEC emblem was implanted right above the doorway and was illuminated from behind by a dark blue light, and a marvelous fountain circulated water between two massive stairways that led to the front doors. As Jacob made his way up the stairs he saw his reflection in the crystal clear water that rushed down a series of waves and small ramps before being sucked into drains at the bottom and then circulated to the top to restart the process. It was a beautiful building.

As Jacob approached the front doors, they slid open and led him into a small twenty foot by twenty foot room that contained six doors leading into the department, but each was locked. As the door to the outside closed behind him a female voice crackled over an intercom “Hello, welcome to the Kitohi Ward C-SEC Headquarters, how may I help you today?”

“I’m here to see Special Response Director Trox.” Jacob answered

“Okay, what is your business with Deputy Executor Trox?” Deputy Executor? So he did get promoted

“I’m his brother, Jacob Trox.”

“Okay, please wait there for me.” The female voice said so sweetly it was sickening then disappeared. Jacob waited a good five minuets before the voice returned “Your brother will be waiting for you in his office, please reference the map in the lobby to find it.”

“Thank you.” Jacob said as one of the doors unlocked. He walked through the door and found himself in a massive lobby. There were multiple black luxury couches spread around the room, and in the center was a thirty foot statue of four C-SEC officers, an asari, turian, salarian and a human. Engraved on the statue’s base were the words “A proud family, dedicated to protecting the citizens of the Citadel” The walls and floor tiles were white as pearls, and the lights were so harsh that Jacobs sunglasses barely helped to keep his hangover headache at bay. He tried his best to ignore the pain as he went over to a holomap located next to the doors. He activated it with a hand stroke and found his brothers office on the map. It was on the fifth floor, right below the roof level of the building. Jacob took the elevator to the fifth floor, and then walked down to his brother’s office at the end of a long, mind numbingly white hall. Why the Citadel government buildings insisted on being so damn bright and clean, he’d never know.

He walked right through the door, in too much pain to care about knocking, and found a man in a tidy C-SEC dress uniform; he had jet black hair and a clean shaven face. His cheeks caved in a little, and his nose was pointed, helping give notice to his dark eyes. Lucky bastard took after their mother; he didn’t have to deal with the early graying.

“Holy horse shit, Jacob! Your looking about as friendly as a Texas smile.” Jacob’s brother exclaimed as he stood from his seat and came around his desk to embrace his brother. After that, it became clear that his brother had gotten a little soggy around the mid section.

“Jack!” Jacob said with cheer as he returned his brother’s embrace. Once they parted, Jacob patted his brother’s stomach “What the hell happened to you? It looks like if I told you to haul ass it would take you two trips.”

“Oh ha, ha at least I don’t look old enough to have seen the baby Jesus born.” Jack repented. Jacob didn’t respond, he just threw his brother the bird and walked around him “So, Jason didn’t come with ‘ya I see.”

“Of course not, that boy is gonna drive me plumb crazy.” Jacob replied, he always got more country around his brother who liked to use the old country talk whenever he could.

“He still isn’t whipped into shape?” Jack asked

“Nope.”

“Just beat his ass like a red headed step child.” Jack suggested as Jacob examined the name plate on his brother’s desk that read “ Deputy Executor Trox

“Trust me, I’ve thought about it multiple times. So you got promoted?”

“Yep, I’m now one of the four Deputy Executors that control the four wards outside of the presidium, where the Executor has control.”

“So what, you just work with the Kitohi Ward?” Jacob asked with genuine curiosity

“It isn’t as easy as it sounds. I’m as a busy as a cat trying to hide shit on a marble floor.” Jack answered “But come now, Jacob there has to be a reason you came here looking for me. And what’s the deal with the Alliance uniform? Thought you were done with the formal things.”

“I was, until they offered me a shit load of money. That’s why I came and got Jason back from you a few months back. I’m posted on an alliance vessel, big secret mission stuff.” Jacob answered

“And this has something to do with me don’t it?” Jack said with a crooked smile

“Yes. I need your help. We are looking for a certain group of racist humans.”

“Are you now? Which one?” Jack asked

“Think Greek ‘partner” Jacob replied with cold eyes

“That’s one dangerous group you’re screwing with there Jacob.” His brother said with a sudden stroke of seriousness “What do you think I can do for you?”

Jacob got real quiet “I need you to call in some favors, some of my contacts in the pirate and mercenary communities have told me that the group that I’m currently employed with is tracking their movements all over the Terminus. I need to know what some of the higher ups know.”

“Who exactly?”

“Special Tactics and Reconnaissance level, high clearance stuff.”

“That’s a hell of an order.” Jack replied.

“Can you get it done Jack?”

Jack thought for a second, looking at his brother with a thoughtful glare, then sighed “Maybe, but I can’t promise anything. However, a little bird told me about a threat on the Citadel.”

“Cerberus?”

“One and only. Word is they have spies all around this place, some close enough to be a direct threat to the council. It’s so bad that a Specter paid me a visit the other day. A salarian called Tumak.”

“And?” Jacob said as he sat on the edge of his brother’s desk

“He thinks they may have gotten in as far as C-SEC. I’m supposed to start extensive background checks of all human officers and detectives. He also gave me orders to hit any possible terrorist safe houses as soon as solid leads come in.”

“Wouldn’t that cause a lot of attention?” Jacob asked, puzzled

“Said that he would issue me warrants on the premise that the safe houses are drug dens, a press release was already sent out to the media that says a major Red Sand problem is springing up, so when I do get leads they can be played off.”

“Then it’s worse then I thought. Can you get me more info?”

“Like I said, I’ll try. But, you know what you’re asking for is as big as hell and half of Texas.”

“I know, but I need that-

Just then the door to the office slid open and tall, red headed woman strutted in, wearing a blue dress. Her eyes were a brilliant green that reflected shear intelligence “Oh, I’m sorry am I interrupting Jack?”

“No! Of course not! Come her honey. Jacob, this is my girlfriend Margret, the most beautiful woman on the Citadel.” He said as he kissed her on the cheek.

“Oh you stop it!” she giggled playfully

Jacob got up and reached his hand out and shook Janet’s hand “Nice to meet you ma’am.” Jacob said with his sweetest Texan voice “My brother sure did find himself a looker.”

“Oh no, now I have to tell two of you I’m not all that great.” She said with a playful role of her eyes. Jack wrapped his arms around her waist from behind and kissed her neck

“Don’t be so modest.” He whispered

“Oh knock it off, your brother is here!” than, she did something that ruined the moment for Jacob. She used a small biotic push to playfully hit Jack, he smiled at first but then he remembered his brother.

Jacob didn’t say a word; he just stood up, walked around the two lovers, and out the door. “Jacob! Stay here Margret.” Jack let go of his girlfriend and ran after his brother “Jacob stop!”

“I’m leaving; please just get me my information.” He said as he stopped, still facing away from his brother.

“Jacob, you can’t keep doing this. I love her, so you’re going to have to learn to live with her.”

“She’s your problem, not mine.” Jacob said coldly

“You can’t blame all biotics for what happened-

Jacob interrupted with hissed words “Watch me.” Then he continued down the hall “Goodbye Jack, I’ll be in touch.” Jack watched as his brother get in the elevator and left, not looking back at him once as he did….


******

“See this place isn’t so bad.” Jason said as he sat with Lizzie on the side of a balcony overlooking the presidium reservoir. It was one of the nicer places he knew on the Citadel, he figured it would be a good place to start. He took a bite out of the Comet Ice crème bar that he had bought from a kiosk near the docking bays. He had paid for the cab ride here, then bought both him and Lizzie an Ice crème with hopes that it would make up for him pissing her off the other day.

“Yeah, it’s nice. I like the breeze, even though it’s fake.” Lizzie said

Jason laughed “Yeah, I kind of miss feeling that breeze everyday.”

“You used to live here?” Lizzie asked

“Yeah, my uncle works for C-SEC. I lived with him for all of my teenage years until recently”

Lizzie looked at him with puzzlement “But you’re with your dad now aren’t you?”

“Yeah, he just got me back a few months ago, when he got hired to be aboard the Marathon.”

Lizzie looked as if she was trying to tread softly, so not to upset Jason “Why did you not live with him?”

Jason stopped for a second, and just starred out over the waters “A long time ago…something bad happened in my family. My dad…he stopped being himself and then one day he just put me on a shuttle and sent me here. I hated it…so crowded, and my uncle never let me do anything.” He stopped for a second to remember back to how much he had hated the Citadel back then “But now that I’m back, I remember some things I miss.”

Lizzie looked at him with thoughtful eyes “I’m so sorry Jason.”

Jason shook his head “No, don’t be.” He said then slowly tried to put an arm around Lizzie. However, she shrugged his arm off and moved away

“What did I tell you? No funny business okay?!” She growled with irritation

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Damn it he thought this girl is going to be harder then I thought

“It’s okay…this time.” She warned. For the next few minutes the two sat in silence as the cool breeze brushed based them gently.

“Hey, I have somewhere more fun to show you.” Jason said

“Where?”

“Just trust me, come one.” Jason urged as he stood up. Lizzie looked at him with uncertain eyes “I know how to have fun here.” He said with that grin of arrogance.

“Okay…we will see.” Lizzie said as she stood up and they walked back towards the cab station…

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Commander Jonathan Titus Character Portrait: Braden Reynolds Character Portrait: Lance Williams Character Portrait: Vala Buchan Character Portrait: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rikers Character Portrait: Adam Harrison Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Jason Trox

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(music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYdSOCGBwLE )

“I don’t think I’m comfortable here.” Lizzie murmured as Jason led her into the dark club that’s only source of light were the flashing white and blue strobes that hung from the ceiling and illuminated the club like lightning strikes.

“Oh come on!” Jason urged as he pulled her through the door and over to the dance floor “It will be fun I promise.” The club was called Churoi’s and was owned by a volus of the same name. It wasn’t like most other bars and clubs on the Citadel that didn’t allow anybody below adult age in, here if you could pay you could play. Jason had paid the forty credit entry fee for both of them so he could guilt Lizzie into coming inside. She had a hesitant frown across her face as Jason practically threw her onto the dance floor and into the mesh of dancers, who were cramped into the dancing space with slightly more room than a sardine in a can. Lizzie looked extremely uncomfortable as she stood amongst the crowd, not even attempting to move with the rhythm of the heavy beat that thumped through the speakers.

“Come on get into a little.” Jason yelled over the music and started to pump his body in synchronization with the pounding beat of the techno music and the blinding flashes of the strobe lights. Lizzie slowly began to move her hips to the beat of the music, but her upper body was still stiff making her look like pendulum on a coco clock. Jason shook his head as he ran up next to her “No, no not like that come on!” he urged as he and began bobbing his head and snapping his body to the beat of the music.

Lizzie looked at him and tried to mimic his movements, but she gave up before even make a real attempt at it “Come on this is stupid! Let’s just go please.” She begged as Jason made his way behind her.

“You have to at least try!” he shouted over the pulsing beat “here let me help ya’.” Jason picked her arms up from her sides and brought them up just above here head and starting flailing them about in the air.

“What are you doing?” Lizzie giggled as Jason kept flailing her arms like she was some wacky cartoon character

“I’m trying to get you to dance! Come one if you don’t start moving your arms to the rhythm I’m just going to keep doing this!” Jason gave her one of his famous cocky smiles, and to his surprise Lizzie game a smile right back.

“I’ll dance, I’ll dance just stop that!” she laughed as Jason stepped back and she started to move her arms to the beat, her body began to sway with the rhythm but it all still seemed uncomfortable and unnatural.

“Put your body into it!” Jason said as he came over and grabbed the beautiful girl’s hips. She pulled away violently and turned to him with a little bit of irritation

“What do you think you’re doing? That’s not okay, okay?” She snapped at him

“Just relax; I’m only trying to help you get into the swing of thing!” He looked at her lustful eyes. He was speaking the truth; he was trying to help her dance since she moved like a dying sea turtle, but he trying to get his hands on her and move in a little closer as well. Who could blame him? Lizzie was a beautiful girl.

Lizzie looked at him, as she contemplated what to say. Then she turned back around and moved back into her original position “Okay, but no funny stuff.” She commanded. Jason smiled

“No funny stuff, I promise.”


******

The whiskey warmed Jacob’s blood as he took a swig from his silver flask then brought it back down between his legs and starred at his left hand. He closed the metallic fingers, then opened them, then closed them once more. The metallic fingers that were attached to his palm were just another reminder of the memories. Memories that he would rather have locked away forever, memories that required more whiskey to go away, he took another swig of whiskey and looked out over the small artificial lake he had found to sit by. Jillian would have loved the view, she always had a thing about water, said it reminded her of her home on Eden Prime long before the Geth invasion.

Jacob frowned, that day was the worst in his life…the day that she was ripped away from him. He looked at his hand and shook his head as a tear formed in the corner of his eye “I’m so sorry Jillian…I should have been able to stop them…I should have been able to save you” he held his tears back and leaned his head back and began to chug the last half of his whiskey. Still not enough alcohol, he would need to go back to the Marathon and refill, or maybe he would just find a bar somewhere and drown his sorrows there.

“Incoming transmission” a digitalized voice called out to Jacob from his Omni tool. He looked down to it and activated the communications array.

“Staff Lieutenant Trox.” Jacob recognized the voice as Connor DeMarco’s. Trox had talked to him a few times since he took the job as security specialist

“What is it Connor?” Jacob asked with irritation that was not meant to be directed at Connor.

“Captain Titus needs you to report to the cube immediately with a security detachment, they have a problem so go in with guns hot.” What? Captain Tummy Tickler was deploying the security force on the Citadel? There must be something big going on.

Trox’s old training kicked in and he began giving orders “I want six of my security officers, tell them to gear up with their High Risk Situations equipment make sure they have a sharp shooter and tell them to met me at the cube! Also warn C-SEC that an alliance Military Police team will be making a tactile entry into the cube arena.”

“Aye-aye sir.” DeMarco replied as Trox shoved he flask in his back pocket and bolted down the shining halls of the Citadel. As he ran he activated the map on his Omni tool so he could find his way to the Cube. He was forced to push pedestrians out of the way, since the streets were crowded with aliens and humans alike.

“Police! Police get out of the way, move your asses!” Trox was taken back to his day as a cop on Earth as he forced his way past people. He needed to get to the cube quick; he was in the mood to kick someone’s ass.


******

Lizzie tripped over her own feet laughing as her Jason made their way to a quiet corner of the dance club “So tell me I wasn’t right!” Jason yelled to Lizzie over the beating music.

“Okay, okay you were right!” Lizzie responded with a chuckle. She was a really good dancer when she got into it. Jason had been mesmerized by the way she had started moving her hips, and the way her body moved to the beat. The strobe lights had been bouncing off her hair, making her beauty even more defined in the harsh blue’s and whites of the club. When the two got over to the corner, where it was easier to hear once another, Lizzie inquired “How did you know about this place? It’s almost street level.”

Jason shrugged “Well my uncle was kinda’ strict so I spent a lot of time not doing what he said. He didn’t like me coming to these types of places, so I did and eventually I found all the good ones.”

“You know” Lizzie said with a serious look on her face “You shouldn’t have disobeyed him like that. It’s the fifth commandment ‘Honor thy father and thy mother, that your days may be long upon the Earth’.”

“Well I’m in luck.” Jason said with a know it all grin “He’s not my father; he’s my uncle so I’m in the clear.”

Lizzie gave him a crooked look “It’s talking about all your elders, plus if you spent most your life with him he is pretty much like your father so it would count anyway.”

Jason shook his head and his grin became a little less wide “Neither of my father figures were much of a father figure, so I think I’m safe.” Lizzie looked at him with a sympathetic stare like he was a hurt puppy, and it got his blood boiling. She was about to say something else but he interjected so that he wouldn’t go off on her “so, who was that guy you were with on the ship?’

She hesitated to answer, and just starred at Jason. She knew he was trying to avoid the subject so she decided not to chase it any longer “That was Braden, we have been friends a long time.”

“Oh really, so what’s your guy’s story? You two…” Jason brought his hands together in a joining gesture

Lizzie thought for a sec and smiled “yeah, I guess you could say that.”

“He looked kinda’ young, how old is he?” Jason asked with a shred of curiosity

“He is fifteen.”

“Fifteen? And you’re seventeen aren’t you?” fifteen! Fifteen! Jason thought to himself my competitions a goddamn fifteen year old!?

“Yeah, but he acts much older then he is. Plus it’s only two years so it’s not that big of a leap.” Lizzie answered with a shrug

“Hmm, well there must be more than meets the eye if he was able to snag a beautiful girl such as you.” Lizzie blushed a little, and Jason grinned yep, that’s right just working the magic he though arrogantly to himself

“Well, he’s smart, kind, good hearted.” She drifted off and Jason looked at her crookedly so he is a goodie two shoes?

“That’s it, nothing else spectacular that makes you like him? Because to be honest I think I could take him.” Jason made a mock muscle and showed off like he was some body builder.

Lizzie rolled her eyes “Yeah I don’t think so Jason.” She said with a grin

“And why not?” Jason arrogantly asked

“Because he is a biotic, I think he could handle you.” She said with a playful smile, but Jason’s grin dissipated like she had just punched him in the stomach

“He…he’s a biotic?” Jason asked, not sure if he had heard her right over the music

Lizzie looked at him strangely, wondering what had brought about this sudden behavior “Yeah…why is there something wrong with that?”

Jason cocked his head for a second and ran a hand past his mouth “Well, um no not with me I’m fine with biotics.”

“Then what is it?” Lizzie asked impatiently

“Well.” Jason rubbed the back of his neck “My dad doesn’t take to kindly to them, so you might want to keep Braden away from him.” He had seen his dad around biotics before, it wasn’t pretty.

“Your dad doesn’t like biotics?! I’ve seen him with that silver asari flask of his, they are biotics!” Lizzie growled, a little angered on Braden’s behalf

“It’s not all biotics he doesn’t like…just human ones.” He said cautiously

“What’s wrong with human biotics!?” Lizzie snapped, still with a tone of irritated anger in her voice

Jason didn’t answer, he looked to the floor, a feeling of utter emptiness started to overflow him and that aura reached Lizzie who starred at him awkwardly. The thought of what happened brought an unbearable pain to his heart, “A long time ago…when I was almost four…” he stopped and put a hand on his heart, the pain was still there “A biotic killed my mom.” Jason shook his head, he was so young but he could remember it so vividly like it was seared into his mind. He shook his head “It…was so long ago but I can remember it so clear.” He had to fight to hold back tears, that day tore his family apart. He grabbed onto his chest right above his heart and held it tight, and he and his dad had permanent reminders of it.

Lizzie looked at him with guilt written all over her face “I’m so sorry I didn’t mean too…” she trailed off, obviously in a little shock

“No...It’s fine. It was a long time ago.” Of course it wasn’t really fine, but he had learned to lock that pain away.

There were a few moments of silence, but then the strobe lights turned a light, red and a techno song meant for close dancing began to play over the speakers

(Music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W8Of04PvOI )

Jason started moving to the beat and looked at Lizzie with a smile that he forced himself to put on “Come on let’s dance”

Lizzie shook her head “but-” Jason didn’t give her a chance to answer as he put a hand on her back and started walking her to the dance floor “I don’t know about this.” She said as she looked at the other people in the club dancing extremely close to one another, but then Jason grabbed her hands

“Come on it will be fun.” He smirked as he pulled her over to the dance floor, she looked uncomfortable again so Jason did most the dancing at first “Come on move it! You were great before!” He egged her on, and with an unsure smile she began to dance with the boy. As Jason got closer in, to where their bodies were almost touching his smile became real, and hers became sure as they danced like they had no worries in the universe.

*****

By the time Jacob had made it to the entrance of the cube, his assembled team was just arriving. The team was decked out in bulky, grey, assault armor and totting assault rifles. They looked like a true force to be reckoned with. As Jacob got within a few dozen feet of the entrance he pulled his pistol, he knew he should have packed his Assault rifle.

“I want an assault entry! Clear the room for hostiles and for God sakes don’t shoot a civvie!” The team stacked up at the entrance and Jacob got at the end of the line right behind a woman with a sniper rifle “that you Jackson?” Jacob asked the women.

“Yes sir!” the women answered with an unhindered focus

“I want you as far back and high as possible, keep a look out for any hidden threats.” Jacob ordered

“Ready for entry?” the point man asked as civilians looked on in confusion. Jacob patted Jackson on the back, then she patted the officer in front of her and so on all the way up the line until the point man had been patted. Then as quick as a flash the point man hit the button to open the door and he rushed in going right, the man behind him going left and so on in that pattern as the whole team entered the arena seating area.

Each officer, including Jacob, yelled to the civilians around them “Military Police stay in your seats!” Jacob scanned the rows for any signs of a threat, but he couldn’t see anything he wouldn’t expect not the see there. In fact everyone seemed rather calm, except for the people who saw the alliance marines busting in with guns ready. Jacob scanned the seats for the captain and spotted him with some other Marathon crew members observing the security team’s entry. Quickly Jacob ran over to the captain and stopped when he was next to him, still searching for a threat in the seats.

“Where’s the threat boss’?” Jacob inquired to his commander, who pointed to the arena at a figure that wore a helmet but was obviously a women by her figure. She was standing, staring at Harrison and a kid that Jacob had seen once or twice on the ship but wasn’t sure who was. He looked a closely and saw the biotic energy extending from the woman’s hands…and his blood boiled to an absolute rage. “Team, the threat is a woman in the middle of the arena! Get to firing positions around the seating area and take aim, Jackson I want you aimed up for a clean head shot.” The team moved instantly, each member taking up a firing position at least forty feet away from one another.

“Orders boss’?” Jacob inquired, but in his mind he wasn’t looking for any other answer to the question besides ‘take the shot’. Let me kill her, let me kill her, you know you want to let me kill her . Jacob’s earlier reminiscence about his wife put him in a foul mood, and now all he wanted was to see a biotic dead.

“Hold your fire Trox.” Tummy Tickler said, What?!

“Sir?” Jacob asked with shock

“Hold your fire.” The Captain repeated

“Sir, with all do respect we can end whatever is happening now!” he got close to the captains ear “We can blow her fucking head off right now.”

The captain looked at Jacob with a look of irritation and slight anger “I said hold your fire, Staff Lieutenant.” Jacob shook his head and ran his metallic fingers through his beard. He then angrily pressed the communications button on his Omni tool so he could speak to his team

“Hold your fire. But Jackson, keep a bead on that bitch down there.”

“Aye-aye, sir.” Jackson replied.

Jacob looked on at the scene that was taking place, and then grunted with disgust at the captains orders as he continued to scan the arena for a secondary threat.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Braden Reynolds Character Portrait: Captain Azuric Villayn Character Portrait: Darcy Mansfield Character Portrait: Elizabeth "Lizzie" Rikers Character Portrait: Adam Harrison Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Jason Trox Character Portrait: Connor DeMarco

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Jason and Lizzie ran through the dimly lit, metallic hall of the Marathon as they made their way to the medical bay. While they were off having a good time there was apparently some craziness went down. Some people were in the medical bay, and one of them was Braden. Obviously when that went out over the comm it sent Lizzie running for the ship like the road runner from those old Looney Toons cartoons. She had barely slowed down the whole way through the Citadel, and it was near impossible to get her to sit still in the cab. Even now she was charging past people like getting there was going to somehow save his life.

“Lizzie! Slow down!” Jason called too her with a voice that was weak and choppy from the lack of breathe. As she reached the elevator that would take her down to the medical bay she was forced to stop for a second to wait for it to arrive. “Oh thank God.” Jason let out through gasped words as he caught up to the girl. Jason bent over at the waist and took a few short breathes so that he could slow his repertory rate down before moving over to Lizzie who seemed to be damn near hyper ventilating “Lizzie, I’m sure he is fine okay?” Jason reassured her.

“Oh God please let him be okay.” She prayed, basically ignoring anything Jason had said.

“Lizzie just calm down.” Jason urged, but it made no difference to the girl who had gotten red and was breathing hard from the marathon she just ran. Before anybody could get another word in, the elevator doors slid open and Lizzie hopped inside without a moment’s hesitation. Jason jumped in after her and waited as she frantically hit the down button. Jason continued to give words that were meant to calm the girl, but they just seemed to have the opposite effect. The elevator doors slid closed and shot off down towards the deck containing the medical bay of the Marathon. There was silence the whole way down, aside from Lizzie’s prayers which she said quietly under her breathe. This girl and her blind faith…it was sad to Jason really. He couldn’t understand with all the bad things in the universe how people could just give themselves over to such silly beliefs.

The doors slid back open with a hiss of air and Lizzie was off again. Well the moment of rest was fun while it lasted. Jason took off after her as she charged past the marines and medical crew who were walking silently in the halls. She took a sudden right through a set of double doors which opened before her. She looked around frantically for Braden who was nowhere in site “Excuse me miss.” Lizzie spoke to a passing nurse “Where is Braden Reynolds?” she asked with panic

“Oh yes the biotic boy” the nurse said aloud “He is in the back, examination room 3.” The women answered “Don’t worry he is just fine, barely a scratch on him.” She smiled reassuringly and Lizzie gave a sigh of relief. She turned to Jason with a smile on her face “He’s okay.” She said as if Jason wasn’t standing in the room when the nurse had said it.

“Yeah I heard.” He said, trying to fake the same amount of relief she was feeling.

“Let’s go see him.” She was more giving a command then a suggestion it would seem by the tone of her voice and the fact that she just walked off as soon as she said it. Jason followed her too a room in the back that was marked by an illuminated 3 on the wall. The two entered to find Braden sitting in a chair sipping juice through a straw and watching that Harrison guy hugging some boy that Jason didn’t recognize.

“Braden! I thought you were hurt!” Lizzie exclaimed as she ran over too the boy and threw her arms around his neck. He seemed shocked for a second before his mind realized what was happening and let his hands fall onto her back

“No, no I’m fine.” He said in soothing voice, he seemed rather happy to see the girl. Then his eyes fell on Jason, it was like an instant hatred filled his eyes for some reason unbeknownst to Jason. “Why is he here?” Braden asked defensively. Aren’t you just a bundle of joy? Jason thought himself as Lizzie leaned out of the embrace and looked to him

“Jason and I were just hanging out on the Citadel when we heard that you were in the medical bay.” She gave a sweet smile too Jason, and this seemed to set make Braden even more angry.

He looked to Jason with a look of irritation “I see.” He said bitterly. Jason let air leak from his lips as he gave an arrogant glare to Braden

“Yeah, I’m just going to go.” He said patronizingly, he turned on his heel and began his walk back to the elevator. Just as he reached the double doors of the medical bay he heard a voice call out from behind him

“Jason, wait up!” Jason spun his head and saw Lizzie running up to him with a smile across her face

“What is it Lizzie?” Jason asked as he turned to meet her.

She stopped a few feet from him and looked at him with those sparkling eyes of hers “I just wanted to say thank you.”

“For what?” Jason couldn’t imagine why she would be thanking him

“Well just for taking me out to that club and stuff. It was really fun.” She smiled with the cutest of smiles, and suddenly Jason felt a feeling rising from his stomach into his chest.

“Oh it was no problem.” Jason said with a grin, and then she came closer and wrapped her arms around Jason’s torso for a quick embrace. That was all it took for Jason’s heart to almost explode out of his chest cavity, it lasted only a few seconds but too Jason it lasted even less. He wanted it to last for a long time, minute’s maybe even hours but it seemed to end so quickly. She backed out of the embrace and backed up a bit with that same smile still across her face.

“I’ll talk to you later Jason.” She said as she turned and walked back towards the medical bay. Jason watched her until she was out of sight, then he smiled to himself and turned back for the elevator with a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Nothing was going to ruin this mood, not by a long shot. He hit the button next to the elevator and waited for it to arrive, thinking of Lizzie the whole time.

*******

“Motherfucking lazy ass C-SEC.” Jacob was grumbling to himself as he returned to the Marathon after having a long chat with the cop in charge of searching for that would be assassin. It was such a simple task, shut down the damn cab services and secure all the exits off the Citadel, but they couldn’t even do that. They were the protectors of the most important diplomatic location in council space and they couldn’t secure their own territory. Wastes of useful space was all those damn “Officers” were. He hated being a cop, but at least on Earth the cops could make a perimeter and keep someone from leaving a closed area.

He just wanted to go get some chow from the mess and then go back to his room and look through the personnel files. He needed to know more about these damn biotics that were taking up his breathing air. Jacob walked down the dimly lit halls of the ship, without his hangover the darkness was once again unwelcome to Jacob. He hated not being able to see down the hall, it made him feel vulnerable, weak and useless. He walked up too the elevator and slammed on the button to call the lift up to his level. The elevator doors slid open to reveal Jason, leaning against the wall of the elevator with a grin as wide as the Great Plains. It was shocking to say the least; his son hadn’t smiled since he picked him up from his Brother on the Citadel. “You seem…happy.” Jacob stated with caution as he entered the elevator.

“Do I?” Jason said in a matter of fact like tone

“Yes. You do…oh lord son what did you do?” Jacob asked with worry as the boy stepped in front of the elevator doors to stop them from closing

“Just because I’m happy doesn’t mean I’m fucking doing something wrong…” he turned and looked at his father “ Dad ” he said with irritation.

“Watch your mouth boy!” Jacob exclaimed as he took a step forward “I’m your father goddamn it.”

Jason was so angry at his father…he always was “Could have fooled me.” Like a bolt of lightning Jacob reached out and grabbed Jason’s shirt with his metallic fingers and brought him close like he was going to hit him. Jason’s fathers breathe smelled heavily of whiskey like always and it was sickening. It took that fuzzy feeling in Jason’s stomach and turned it into a turning mess of vomit that he had to struggle to keep down. “What are you going to do…hit me?” Jason growled

All of the sudden, as if he had come to some revelation, Jacob stopped and just looked at his son. The hate that filled Jason’s eyes gave Jacob a feeling of sorrow…one that he could feel deep in his heart. He sighed and his grip loosened until Jason was completely free from the metal fingers of his father’s hand “No son…I wouldn’t hit you.” He looked to Jason with guilty eyes “I could never hurt you.”

Jason didn’t know what to feel at first…he actually had to think about how he felt about what his father had just said. How messed up was that? He thought for a long while, just starring at his father and having an internal battle with himself over what his reaction should be. But as always, the angry little boy won over his reasoning and he just shook his head “Of course you wouldn’t…you’re weak that’s why mom is dead.” Then before his father could even register his words Jason moved from the elevators doors and they closed immediately. By the time the words finally made it through Jacobs mind his son was gone and his heart had dropped down into his stomach. weak the words rang in Jacob’s head like an echo in an deep cave. weak…you’re weak…that is why mom is dead. it was hard to hear those words, and as the elevator took him to the mess hall he kept repeating the words in his mind. He had been weak…he had been stupid and now his family was torn apart.

Jacob moved to the chief with an almost zombie like movement, his body was on the marathon but his mind was lost in a sea of thoughts and regrets. The guilt that flowed through his veins every moment of everyday came back in full force, he needed to eat this food and then it was drinking time. He needed it if he hoped to pull himself together ever. He took the plate of food the chief had prepared and sat at a table, alone besides a few marines who sat and spoke amongst themselves in hushed words. Jacob just sat and slowly nibbled on what food he had and continued to lose himself in guilt filled memories that continued to haunt him. His wife’s face was feeling his minds eye….so beautiful and then that arm…that arm that would change his life forever reaches out and grabs her face in the palm of its hand. Jacob shuttered as he relieved the moment…the moment when his wife’s head was crushed like an egg in the hand of that monstrosity.

Someone sat down across from Jacob and threw him back into reality. When Jacob looked up he saw that the person who had sat across from him was a turian who Jacob recognized from around the Marathon. “How are you Lieutenant?” obviously the alien knew him

“Been better.” He looked at the turian trying to place who he was, then it hit him “You’re that pirate aren’t you?”

“Ex-pirate.” The turian said “you’re that ex C-SEC officer aren’t you?”

“Nope, never was C-SEC. I was a cop back on Earth though.” Jacob said as he starred the turian down. Call him crazy but he didn’t trust criminals.
“Ah, then we should get along quite well.” The turian said as he leaned back in his chair

“What makes you say that ‘partner?” Jacob asked in his usual Texan accent

“Come now ‘officer’, you know as well as I do that your people are as dirty as mine. The difference is yours don’t like to admit it.” Jacob had to give it to the turian, he had an interesting way of starting a conversation.

“Interesting observation there, except not all of ‘my kind’ is dirty.” Jacob repented in a calm voice

“Aren’t they?” the turian said cynically

Jacob just stared at the turian for a moment before taking in a spoonful of the soup he had retrieved from the chief. He put the spoon back in the bowl and looked the turian dead in the eyes “What’s your name pirate?”

“Azuric. And I already know yours Jacob.” Azuric said as he returned the aging cops stare

“So what brings you over too me Azuric?” Jacob asked

“I heard about the happenings at the cube, heard you did a good job.”

“We lost the assassins, forgive me if I disagree.” Jacob said as he spooned some more soup into his mouth

“Yes but your tactics were solid as I hear.” The turian then got in closer “I also heard you fought with Titus over some orders.”

Jacob gave Azuric a crooked stare “Word spreads quickly around this ship doesn’t it?”

The turian shrugged “If you listen in the right places.”

“What of are little…argument?” Jacob asked with curiosity as he spooned more soup into his mouth

“I like Titus as much as the next guy on this ship. He spared my life a long time ago. But…” he got in a little closer and put his talons on the table “You fought with a commanding officer, showed that you were not just a pawn to be used for his will that is something to be admired amongst men and women who will follow orders blindly like many of these marines.”

Jacob looked at Azuric, trying to figure out what the alien was getting at “Some people may consider that a bad trait ‘partner.”

“Ah yes.” Azuric sat back in his seat with a grin “But not me, I find it something of great intelligence. I find it even better when it is a man in a position such as we were.”

”And what position would that be?”

“I was a soldier in my younger days; you were a man of the law. The two are not as different as one might think. Both require courage, bravery…sacrifice and most of all the willingness to follow orders to the letter.” The turian went on

“What is your point?” Jacob inquired

“My point Lieutenant is that I and you are not so different. I may have been a pirate, but I have the feeling you were not always the man you claim to be.” He looked at Jacob with seriousness across his face “I have the feeling that you once traveled a path not so different then mine. It is in your eyes Jacob…I can see it. That is why I have come too you now, I want to speak too you so that maybe we can help one another some day.”

“Help one another?” Jacob asked curiously

“We are on the same side now, are we not Jacob?”

Jacob leaned in “so what is it that you want to talk about?”

The turian grabbed a drink he had brought over with him and took a sip “For now let us speak of our exploits, you can tell a lot about a man from a story he tells and the battle scars he has to accompany them.” His mandibles twitched a little as he looked at Jacob, who stared right back at the turian’s face, covered in that metallic like skin of theirs. Eventually Jacob slightly nodded and sat back in his seat,

“Okay ‘partner, shoot.”


********

Jason continued to wonder the halls of the dimly lit space craft. He enjoyed walking the ship actually; it was the first time he had ever been on a military craft before. He eventually found his way up too the helm where Darcy, the ships helmsmen, was busy messing with some controls on the ships many panels. Jason walked up too the man who was paying no attention to what was behind him. When Jason was within a few feet Darcy suddenly realized there was somebody behind him and he jumped in his seat

“Holy hell, don’t sneak up on me like that Braden.” Darcy exclaimed as he looked at Jason “Oh wait, you’re not Braden; you don’t have that stupid look on your face.” Jason looked at the helmsman with crookedness in his eyes “It was a joke man.” The helmsman said as he spun around and continued to mess with the panels “So who are you kid?” Darcy asked

“My name is Jason.”

“Jason? Like the murderer from those old horror movies?” Darcy asked

“Ummm sure I guess.” Jason said, not knowing what the hell the man was talking about.

“Of course you don’t know what i'm talking about.” Darcy sighed “Just know that it is bad ass kid.”

Jason chuckled “I’ll try to keep that in mind.”

“Of course you will, I said it after all.” Darcy turned to look at Jason “So what brings you up here ski mask?”

“What?”

Darcy shook his head “Never mind. What’s up?”

“Nothing really.” Jason said as he got closer too the control panels “I uh, just wanted to see how the ship worked.”

Darcy looked a little surprised “You’re interested in star ships?”

“Yeah, actually this is the first warship I have ever been in; I’m interested in how it all works.”

Darcy grinned “Well kid, you have come to the right place. Come over here and you can learn a thing or two from the best.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Captain Azuric Villayn Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Sonya Marie Jackson Character Portrait: Petr Orlav

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The turian was a lot more pleasant to be around the Jacob had initially expected, and considering he was an ex-pirate, it was somewhat of miracle that Jacob could even stand the sight of him. However, there was something about Azuric that Jacob couldn’t help but like about the man. Maybe it was because they both had similar experiences with the slimy black undergrowth of the universe that most people are ignorant too or just pretend that they don’t see it. As Jacob had learned from Azuric, the turian had spent years as a Pirate after leaving the turian military and he had even been to many of the same places as Jacob and around the same time even. The two had sat for quite some time just sharing stories of their exploits with one another. It wasn’t long until two hours had gone by and Jacob had no idea until he got a call from Jackson.

“Hello?” Jacob said as he answered the communications hail his omni tool

“LT, you feel like coming down to the range and putting some holes in targets?” Sarah Jackson’s voice asked through the speakers of the tool

“Aren’t you supposed to be on duty Jackson?” Jacob inquired to the woman

“Um, no I was off duty an hour ago. Did you lose track of time old man?” Jackson teased her CO who she knew was not even in his forties. Jacob was baffled, had he talked to the alien that long? He thought it had been a half hour at most; apparently this was the best conversation he had, had in a long time because he never talked to anyone for two hours.

“Who you calling, old man? I ought to come down there a whoop your ass Jackson.”

“Then come get me Lieutenant.” Jackson said before hanging up the line. Jacob grinned, he had forgotten about his wanting to drink, for the time being at least. He looked at the turian with friendly eyes “How ‘bout it partner? You want to come down and smoke some targets?”

“No, I can’t. Not right now at least, but maybe another time.” The turian said apologetically. Jacob shrugged; he understood that the alien must have had other things to do, so he would not insist

“Suit yourself.” Jacob replied as he reached his hand out for the turian to shake “It was nice talking with you.” The turian reached his hand out and wrapped his talons around Jacob’s hand in a strong and firm grip

“The feeling is mutual Lieutenant.” Azuric said

With that Jacob left the company of the alien and headed in the direction of training room. The walk through the halls was as irritating to Jacob as ever, the dim lighting sabotaging his sight and nagging his mind with the fact that he couldn’t do a damn thing to fix it. He wasn’t a young man anymore and he just knew that the lighting on this ship was going to be a constant headache for him.

As Jacob approached the metallic door of the training area, the two halves of the door slid apart to reveal a man with graying blonde hair watching as a brunette woman starred down the scope of a long rifle. Neither of the two looked over as Jacob strode into the room, observing as the woman slowly breathed in and out. The blonde haired man was directly behind her, taking a long drag on his cigarette. His hair, though still noticeably blonde, was getting very light and had hints of gray brushed across it. His face did little to show his age aside from a few wrinkles and some crow’s feet.

The blonde blew a fog of smoke from his mouth before speaking to the woman in a Russian accented voice “Come on, I have seen hanar who can aim faster than you.” The man said in a voice that one might take seriously if they did not know him.

“Fuck you, Petr.” The woman said, not taking her eyes from the scope “at least I can walk faster than a drunken elcor.” She teased back

“Let us hope your target moves that slow, holy shit.” Petr replied with a grin of victory curled across his face

“I see you two are having fun.” Jacob observed as he walked over to Petr and starred down the range at the woman’s target

“Always.” Petr remarked as he continued to peer down at the snipers target. At the end of the long range he could make out the silhouette of a target hanging from a rafter. From the looks of it, it was in the shape of a human and displayed everything from the waist up.

“How long you been aiming, Jackson?” Jacob asked the woman as he stood over her, his long shadow cast over most of her body

“I just reloaded for this shot a few seconds before you walked in.” Jackson said in mock, angry tone.

“See, too fucking slow I told you.” Petr said without as much as a chuckle, but Jackson knew he was kidding. Petr then let some ash from his cigarette drop onto the sleek metal floor of the training room. Jacob looked at the ash, then back up to Petr with a disapproving glare “Somebody will pick it up I’m sure.” Jacob shrugged and looked back down range just as Jackson pulled the trigger of her rifle and put a metal slug right into the chest of the silhouette.

Before the roar of the first shot had even dissipated another round was unleashed, the metal projectile tearing down range before slamming violently into the target. The two holes were less than inches apart; each one was right on target where a human’s sternum would be. If the target were real, the rounds would have torn his chest apart and sent fragments of bone tearing into vital organs. If the shockwave from the impact didn’t kill them, the internal damage would unless they got to a good surgeon right away.

“Still haven’t lost my touch!” Jackson exclaimed as she picked her rifle up and shot up onto her feet. She spun around, and looked at her two comrades with a grin sparking from her plump lips.

“Luck and skill, are two different things, my dear.” Petr teased as if he were not impressed. He received nothing but a middle finger in his face from the woman.

“Now, now kids try to play nice.”

“Kids? I am older than you.” Petr remarked coldly as he flicked his cigarette into a far corner of the room

“He doesn’t look like it though. If I didn’t know him I’d guess he was old enough to have fought in world war two.” Jackson remarked, her oddly colored eyes watching Jacob with a soft and friendly stare. The woman’s eyes could only be described as stunning, small dark blue dots floating in a light blue sea where you could slightly make out the signs of cybernetic implants.

“Why do I come to hang out with you two?” Jacob said mockingly

“Because no one else can stand you.” Petr made a reply to which Jacob just rolled his eyes too

“What are you talking about?” Jackson giggled “No one can stand you either, that’s why you got stuck at a desk job.”

There was a silent pause before Petr said anything “I got stuck at a desk job, because I am good at what I do.” Petr rebutted, his grey, stormy eyes watching Jackson like humorless pits of bottled up emotion. The man was not above joking, but his utter inability to display any emotion even remotely resembling joy tended to take the fun out of situations to people who didn’t know him. Hell, when Jacob first met him he thought the man was just a plain out asshole because of how coldly he spoke to everyone. However, he soon came to realize the man was just an oddball when it came to displaying emotions.

“Uh huh. I think you like just staying there because you can’t shoot for shit.” Jackson said with eyes that longed for a challenge

“I could out shoot either of ya.” Jacob interrupted

“Well then, put your money where your mouth is LT!” Jackson flaunted “Let’s say…a hundred credits?” she smiled mischievously at the two men, one hand on her hip, the other on the rifle sling which hung over her standard military fatigues. Jacob stroked metallic fingers through his beard as he contemplated Jackson’s bet
“I’ll see your one hundred and raise ya another one.” Jacob said with a poker face as if he were in a game of Texas hold e’m.

“I’ll take that action.” Jackson accepted with a thick layer of excitement in her voice “How about you Orlav? You gonna walk the walk?”

Petr shook his head he lightly brushed passed his two comrades “As much as I want to play silly games with you two.” Petr said in that emotionless voice of his “I have real work to do.” Another joke said in a tone serious enough to sound insubordinate

“Don’t be a pussy!” Jackson called out to Petr as he shoved his hands in his slacks and continued to stride out of the room without so much as a flinch.

“I have to be prepared to run some security protocols, on the man Titus is bringing back to the ship.” Petr said sternly as the metal doors opened before him. Jackson tried to shout one last teasing remark at the man, but the doors slid shut before she could get it out.

A few moments of thick silence ensued, as Jacob and Jackson starred at the door for a moment. “That guy.” Jackson muttered, shaking her head in wandering thoughts “I will never understand him.”

“Don’t freight over it.” Jacob said as he turned to Jackson, his voice a little more country sounding in correspondence to his unusual level of happiness “Sometimes I reckon Petr doesn’t understand Petr.” He grinned wickedly at the woman “now, what about this bet of ours?”

Jackson licked her lips with anticipation, her cybernetic eyes starring right into his “Let’s say six shots, to hit six moving targets at six hundred meters?” she patted her custom built rifle “we can use this.” Jackson loved her snipers, when she first came aboard the Marathon she was in the finishing stages of creating the rifle she now uses. It resembles something of a cross between a Black Widow anti-material rifle and a Mantis sniper rifle. While it still has the overall bulk that a Black Widow possesses, Jackson was able to slim the rifle down and give it more of a Mantis shape. She claims that it is less heavy than a Black Widow rifle, but it still maintains the three shot capabilities of the rifle while having a kick almost equivalent to a Mantis and the destructive power of the BW.

“Sounds like a bet to me. But I go first.” Jacob said as he walked over and put a hand on the sling of Jackson’s rifle

She grinned as she slid the sling off her shoulder “As you wish lieutenant, it won’t make a difference I’m still going to get that four hundred credits.” She said slightly as she flowed around him to a slightly elevated platform not too far from where they stood.
“You’re going to be sorry Jackson!” Jacob called as he walked up onto the platform and began to set up shop. Jacob laid on the metal plate form, his jawbone pressed against the butt of the rifle and looking down the scope at the range, ready to fire.

"You ready?" Jackson said as she looked at Jacob who was just wrapping his right hand around the grip of the weapon while the metallic fingers of his left hand graced the stock of the rifle

"Start them up." Jacob called out. Jackson hit a button on a nearby control panel and six human shaped targets began to dance around down range. Jackson didn't require binoculars, her implants allowed her to zoom in slightly if she strained them enough. The zoom wasn't a hell of a lot but it was enough to see if Jacob was hitting or not.

Jacob took his time firing...his breath steady and calm as he squeezed his first round out. It slammed into the first target, hitting i near the stomach, he took aim at his second target and slowly stalked it's movements through the scope. He squeezed the trigger again and the round tore down range, but again it hit in the stomach. The rest of the rounds were no different, each was fired off only after a few long breaths, but always hit a little lower than what Jacob wanted.

Jackson smiled as Jacob stood from his prone position and allowed his comrade to take up her place behind the rifle. She smiled up at her CO and with unwavering confidence remarked "You ready to lose LT?"

"If you ever shut up and shoot." Jacob chuckled with a smile.

"Can't shoot until you press the button old man " she teased him a lot about his age, although he was not much older than she was, but he defiantly didn't look that young.

Jacob hit the button just as Jackson had for her and then he took out a pair of small binoculars from a small metal tray attached to the platform. He watched as Jackson took one short breath and fired a round straight into the heart of the first target. She readjusted, took a short breath and fired her second round into the next target. By the time she reached her first reload Jacob knew he had lost, the woman had fired off three rounds in a matter of about ten seconds and hit each target square in the chest. It took Jacob ten seconds to get off one round, let alone three.

As Jackson finished unloading her final round into the chest of the helpless target at the end of the range, she stood up with a modest look of victory spread across her lips "Looks like you lost LT." she grinned at him cynically as she held her hand out gently "Pay up."

Jacob screwed up his face. There was no way he could argue she had won, the woman had kicked his ass and there was no way around that "I let you win, you know." Jacob said as he walked past Jackson with a fake sternness across his face.

"Yeah, i'm sure." Jackson said as she followed close behind her CO "And I suppose that means I won't be getting my money?"

Jacob smiled "No, no you will. Just, you will have to wait until I get around to it. I said two hundred credits, I never said when I'd give it to ya."

Jackson smiled and rolled her eyes as she followed Jacob out of the range "Don't worry about it, I'll just steal the money from Petr when he is not at his desk." she joked as the doors shut behind them

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Darcy Mansfield Character Portrait: Jacob Torx Character Portrait: Jason Trox Character Portrait: Sonya Marie Jackson Character Portrait: Petr Orlav

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~Bing ~

There was a chime as the solid steel door retreated into the walls, revealing the bleak and personality deprived office of Petr. The walls, unlike the personal quarters of Jacob, were decorated with only the chrome coloring of the ships hull and only essential items lined the floor. A large metallic desk waited quietly in the center, Petr’s computer hummed silently atop of it, accompanied by nothing more than a lamp and a stack of files. A book shelf sat in the corner, lined with books in Russian and all of which were historical documentaries, mostly about old intelligence agencies from the 20th and 21st centuries, like the KGB, FSB, CIA and even the OSS. Aside from a bed, small reading table and a few chairs, that was all the decoration the room had.

Petr sighed, taking another cigarette from a pack slightly protruding from the charcoal black overcoat he was wearing. The man always had a tendency to dress formal, not because he was required to but because he enjoyed it. He disliked the looseness of casual clothing, so he wore the snug fitting formal wear instead since walking around with a muscle shirt wasn’t exactly his style.

Lighting up his cigarette, Petr removed his coat so that he was only wearing his white collard shirt on his torso. He gently placed the coat of his desk chair then took a seat, his fingers dancing across the holographic keyboard of his computer as a flurry of tobacco smoke lofted up over his head. “Let us see.” Petr murmured to himself as the screen lit up and showed him his home screen. He tapped a small icon in the top left corner and the computer instantly took him to a new screen with a text box that read “ Вызов храбрый ” (call of the brave). Petr began typing in the box, a poem, which he used for a security password.

Stand strong, for only brave men reside here
Here in the place, the place for men with no fear
For these men of powerful blood, no glory awaits
No matter the circumstance, they have chosen their fates

Selfless and strong, they live to fight our many enemies
Fighting in the shadows, never afraid, no matter the entities
No enemy is too big, for they are the best, the best God ever made
So as you lay down your head, remember these words so they never fade

Brothers stand tall, brothers stand proud
When we are done, our work will be a shroud
But we will always remember the brave who fall
The ones forever known as heroes, who died for us all.”


As Petr entered the last stanza the computer took him to yet another screen that depicted security camera footage on the left and a record of everyone who left or entered the ship on the right. He needed to run security checks on the man that Titus decided to bring on the ship, Benjamin Slatton. Petr didn’t even know what the man looked like, but it wouldn’t be hard finding him.
“Prophet, find me security footage of Benjamin Slatton.” Petr slurred the name a little in his Russian accent, but Prophet was smart enough to understand.

“Analyzing now Detective.” Prophet responded. Unlike Jacob and Sonya, who was technically a Gunnery Sergeant, Petr never received an official military ranking. They just shoved the title of Detective on him and told him he only had authority over the whole crew, aside from the captain and Jacob, if he had probable cause for security reasons. So pretty much, he was barely even a glorified cop for this ship. “Opening footage now Detective.”

Petr observed as his screen lit up with a video from the shuttle bay just as Titus had returned. The video depicted the Captain speaking with Ben as they exited the small shuttle, and Petr watched for the opportune moment to pause it. He watched as the two exited, followed by a few more crew members, and then as Ben turned toward the camera the Detective stopped the footage.

“Okay, run facial Identification on him and bring up his records.” It was probably a waste of time, but Petr had a process. He always checked backgrounds of new crew members, out of paranoia mostly. There was a few seconds of silence as Prophet completed the task that Petr had given to him. As soon as it was completed, another window glowed to life on Petr’s screen.

“Complete.” Prophet notified as the new window brought up the picture of Ben, followed by long pages of info. Instantly, Petr noticed something that struck him as problematic.

“You are sure this is the right profile Prophet?” Petr asked with his tone still as stale as it was in the training room.

“Yes, I too noticed the inconstancy Detective. However, I have already run the check 40,562 times and this is the only profile that appeared” Prophet chimed through the speakers in the walls.

“Interesting.” Petr, said with a slight intrigue breaking through his usual emotionless self. The face of the profile was correct, but the name that was written above it read Benjamin Pothier . “It appears that our friend is not who he says he is.”

Petr began to scroll through the pages of info that appeared next to the picture of Ben. According to the biography, Ben was born on Terra Nova to civilian parents. He had an average life of school and didn’t get into much trouble, and eventually found his way into Alliance Intelligence Operations as a consultant. Even there this guy didn’t look to be anything special, an average career of not doing shit that was overly important. “Well, well, well. Prophet, search the name Benjamin Slatton in the Alliance records database.” Petr observed his screen as the window for Ben Potheir disappeared and a list that looked infinite replaced it. “Ебать меня” Petr cussed in Russian as he looked at the massive list of names that had compiled on his screen like a digital river of text.
“Is there a problem Detective?” Prophet asked innocently

“No, I love shifting through billions of names.” Petr responded coldly as he began to shuffle through name after name.

[Benjamin Slatton, Gender: Male, Age: 45….occupation chef.]

[Benjamin Slatton, Gender: Male, Age 12…occupation: Not applicable]

[Benjamin Slatton. Gender: Female, Age 27…occupation: Exotic Dancer]

“What the fuck, were her parents thinking?” Petr murmured as he came across that last name. He continued to shift through page after page of Ben’s, all of which were defiantly not the man he was looking for. Perhaps he was looking in the wrong place.

“Prophet, search the name Benjamin Slatton under deceased in the ADB.” Petr ordered, as he sat back in his chair and waited for the AI to do his bidding. Again, a list as long as life appeared in front of Petr, so he decided to narrow the search again “Narrow the search to within the last ten years, and also search only for cases where no body was recovered.”

“Yes, Detective.” Prophet responded as the list was again shortened, this time to a much more manageable size. Petr began his grueling scan of the names, some people were lost at sea on various planets, and others lost in space or incinerated by explosions or fires. However, none of the circumstances seemed odd in any way that would catch his attention. Eventually, each name just began to look exactly like the last, normal and unworthy of any suspicion. Twenty names in, forty, fifty, eighty, one-hundred and still nothing that was of use.

Fire at chemical plant…ship crashed during landing…ship attacked by unknown mercenary faction? Petr stopped and looked at name number 106. He tapped the name and brought up the man’s profile, there was no picture available. However, there was some personal info there…Birth Place: Scott, Terra Nova. Petr grinned as he read the place of Ben’s birth “I think I have you now.” He continued to read down to see that under occupations it read that he was an ex-marine, and next to it there was a special note made by someone at an earlier time.

“Possibly affiliated with Cerberus operations, allegations still under investigation.” Somehow Petr doubted that they were still looking into that since the date of death on the profile was six years ago. According to the rest of the profile, Ben’s ship exploded when the element zero core went critical after an unknown group of raiders got a lucky shot off in battle. Bullshit Petr thought to himself, there is no way they raiders would take a risk of blowing the ship before looting it…somebody rigged that core to blow.

When Petr finally reached the end of the profile, he was met by small link to an external site. He couldn’t resist the urge, and he clicked it, sending him to a memorial page on some news site. The page had dozens of pictures, all of them depicting the ship before and after the supposed attack. None of them were of any interest to Petr…all except one. The last picture he came to was of the crew aboard this ship right before it left the day of the attack. All of the faces were smiling and happy as if it were going to be the best day of their lives.

Petr’s lips spread into a mischievous grin as he scanned the faces “Prophet, notify Benjamin that I would like to see him in the conference room for his interview…we have much to discuss.”

****

“Okay people, move your asses!” Jacob shouted as he watched his team gear up in the security armory “If we are going into any system where Cerberus is setting up camp, I don’t want my security team sitting around like a bunch of pansies!”

“Aye, sir!” the men replied as they suited up in their combat gear. Jacob had heard about the possible fight that they were heading into, so Jacob wanted to make sure he had a team ready to repel a boarding party if Cerberus got cocky.

“LT.” Sonya asked from behind as she walked up next to her superior “What do you want me to do?”

Jacob looked at the woman who was clad in her armor with her rifle over one shoulder “Take Alpha squad and go to the hanger. If anybody besides our people land there I want you ready to give them a dirt nap.”

“Aye, sir.” She gave a crisp salute, and then she walked into the fray of security officers to gather a team.

“Bravo squad, are you shiny yet?” Jacob shouted across the room, wanting to know if they were already prepared and ready to fight in their reflective armor.

“Aye, sir, shiny and dangerous!” A solider shouted back from across the room, his voice faint due to the sounds of armor being adjusted and snapped on.

“Good! You boys are coming with me to the Bridge; we are going to be the fast response team!” If something happened during the battle that needed an immediate response, he and Bravo would take care of it. Bravo team ran over to Jacob, who waited with his metallic fingers motioning them to hurry “Come on, I want to get up there before the fun starts.”

***

Jason watched as Darcy punched in some coordinates on the control panel of the Marathon. “Okay kid, watch this.” The helmsmen remarked with a grin as the blue streaks of light began swimming their way across the ship's window. The FTL drive had kicked in and sent the ship zipping through the void of space.

“Jesus, that looks amazing.” Jason remarked as admired the blue streaks out the window

“Eh, you get used to it.” Darcy replied with a shrug as he sat back in his seat “But it never gets old.” The helmsman looked at Jason with a cockiness that radiated throughout the bridge “So kid, are you going to try to be a pilot?” he asked, placing his hands behind his head and leaning into them.

Jason had to maul over the question, he had never really thought about it before. In fact…he had never really thought about what he was going to do with his life. What had he been doing all these years? He was almost eighteen and he had no plan, he had been living in the past so long that his future never occurred to him. He should have been looking ahead…it’s what his mom would have wanted. He grabbed at his chest, over his heart as he suppressed the tears that threatened to slip out of his eyes. He was thrown back into the moment when he felt Darcy’s eyes studying him; he didn’t want the pilot to ask any questions so he answered quickly “I don’t know. Maybe.”

Jason looked up to see the pilot looking at him, the look in his eyes making it obvious that he was trying to sort through the teens strange reaction to such a simple question. “I see. Well, let me tell you.” Darcy said, ignoring Jason’s actions “its well worth it kid.”

“It is?” Jason asked, slowly taking his hand away from his heart.

Like a bolt of lightening Darcy’s hand shot out in front of him, his finger pointing the star dotted abyss out the window “Look at this, who else gets to see stuff like that.” He said as he admired the stars zipping by like bullets “Seeing it from a view port and seeing it in the driver’s seat are way different kid.” Darcy remarked as he rested his hand back in place behind him.

“What about a home, don’t you miss being on a planet, or somewhere settled in?” Jason asked as his sad eyes observed the scene out the window “Somewhere…normal?”

There was a moment of silence, where the two just watched the stars go by outside the ship. Then, in a voice as sure as rain Darcy replied “Kid…this ship and all of this space out here is my home. It’s better than any house you could find anywhere.”

That hit Jason like a ton of bricks, space…a home? Jason contemplated the man’s words as he looked out the window. His eyes glided across the endless deep, his mind beginning to see a new light…a home.

“Plus if you’re lucky, you get to blow shit up too.” Darcy interjected, interrupting Jason’s thoughts “Which I think is a pretty good perk.”