Aria looked down from her aerie as Shepard and her crew headed down the stairs into the merc recruiting room. “Bray.” She waited as he made his way up the stairs and stood behind her. “Follow them. Quietly. Understood?” She turned, and gave him a hard stare.
“Yes, Aria.” He turned and started down the stairs, he was halfway, when Aria called out. “Bray. You are not to be seen. You are not to do anything. And, … Make sure those three idiot's know you're there for me. Observe and report only, Bray”
“Understood.” He said, and headed out to the car port.
Aria turned and looked out over Afterlife. Spotting Shepard come up from the stairs, “OK, Shepard, let's see if you can get your turian out of there.” She said to herself. There were times when she wished there was video throughout the station.
“Anto. Patch me into the Blue Suns comm.” As she sat back down on the couch. Today was certainly perking up, she smiled to herself.
“You should have it in a minute, Aria.” Called out Anto as he typed into his Omni-Tool.
Bray moved quickly through the merc compounds. What a clusterfuck, he thought. Three heavily armed and financed merc bands pinned down by one man with a single action rifle. A very talented man, mind you, but still just one man. Bray had to cough in order to cover his laugh when he heard Archangel had shot down a gunship. Bray had setup on the upper balcony while Shepard made her way through the camps.
When she went in to talk to Cathka, another officious idiot in Bray's opinion, he called Aria. “She's here. Looks like she's just getting the lay of the land right now. My guess is, she'll go in with the mercs, and then make a move towards Archangel.”
“How're they getting out?” Aria asked. Shaking his head. “No idea. There's only one way in and out, so I'll just watch and see.” “Keep me informed.” She replied.
Interesting or suicidal, Bray couldn't decide, or, maybe both. Most people after being shot by Archangel moved to cover, if they survived. Shepard just got back up and stared at the parapet across the bridge. Huh, when Bray thought about it, she's been the only one to survive being shot by Archangel. He was wondering on the implications of that, when an alarm went off. The freelancer's gathered at the last barricade, only then did Shepard move back, signaling her crew to join her.
As the freelancer's headed over the barricade, Shepard and crew double-checked each other's armor, when satisfied that they were good to go, she gave one last look around, and vaulted over the barricade.
Bray decided to stay where he was for now, as long as he kept low, he was reasonably safe, and had a view of most of the bridge. He watched as Shepard handed her pistol to a squad-mate, taking their SMG in return. Between her twin SMG's spewing inferno rounds, and her squad-mates assault rifle and heavy pistol combo, the freelancer's went down quickly. She swapped out the SMG's for a shotgun, and started to run for the far side, transitioning into a biotic charge. He no longer had the angle to see anything, but by the sounds of screams and shouts, he was reasonably sure she was successfully continuing her rendezvous with Archangel. After the sounds of gunfire ceased, Bray realized he wasn't able to see what was happening, and headed downstairs.
She's in. Freelancers decimated. Eclipse making their move, Aria's OT flashed. She erased it, and went back to business.
By the time Bray arrived at the last barricade, the last of the mech's were deployed. Bray watched Jaroth, wondering how the sniveling dolt had become the local Eclipse leader. It certainly wasn't tactics if the sounds from the other side of the barricade were any clue. Jaroth ordered more troopers to join the fray, adding missile troopers to the barricades. One went down right away to a snipers bullet, the other two firing rapidly as possible through the gunholes in the barricade.
Shouts for a medic were being screamed from all across the bridge, only to be silenced by a variety of weapons fire. He heard a sickening thump against the barricade, then watched in horror as the middle missile troopers head exploded from a shotgun blast through the gunhole. The remaining missile trooper just started to change her angle when her head exploded with a roar. Bray saw a jacket lying on the ground, he picked it up and wiped the troopers brains off his pants, swearing.
Shaking his head, Bray decided to move back to the second barricade when Jaroth's ace in the hole, the YMIR mech opened fire on the Eclipse instead. Ah, so that's what she'd been doing earlier, running in and out of storerooms. Well Jaroth, you should've guarded those doors, he thought.
Bray studied the Blood pack as they milled around, shouting, head-butting, and pumping themselves up. He frowned, thinking that their numbers had been higher earlier. Defections? No, couldn't be. They were made up by krogan and vorcha, both too stupid retreat and fight another day. As Garm passed him, he overheard him tell someone that they'd found a way into the garage. Explained where the rest of the Blood Pack were. He turned back to watch the battle, noticing that none of the Eclipse had got more than 10-15 meters past the barricade before being cut down.
Even though it was the fiercest battle Bray had ever seen, it was in a way, boring. Merc's ran across the bridge, they died. Sure, the Blood Pack tried coming in through the garage, the result was the same. Hours of gunfire, screaming, yelling, then quiet. Only to start up again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Tarak thought he was being clever, having his troops repel from the roof. You're not clever if your enemy knows what your doing. There were a lot of dead Blue Suns hanging from the side of the building, swaying back and forth, a surreal sight. Bray had never been in a war, some terrible firefights, sure, but never an actual war. Aria had called him as the final battle intensified, he couldn't hear most of what she was saying, and he just cut off the comm.
If this wasn't a war, then it was damn close. He was ducked as far into a corner as possible, the concussions from the explosions across the bridge were rattling the buildings around him. Glass was everywhere, from the explosions, or stray rounds, he wasn't sure. He could see his OT was demanding attention, fine he thought, turned it on, and held his arm up. Let her hear it for herself.
Then it was quiet. Deathly quiet. The only sound was the ringing in his ears. He got up, put on his gloves, and tried to brush all the glass off. When the ringing in his ears let up, he walked over to the last barricade, the only sounds the glass crunching under his feet, and the environmental fans. Smoke and blood. That was his vision as he looked across the bridge. Light was reflecting off the rainbow of colors, it was almost beautiful. He tried to see what was happening across the bridge, but he couldn't make anything out.
The smoke thinned out, a light, acrid fog. He heard them before he saw them. Words and phrases floating in and out. “... stay with me... dammit, just ...” a female voice. “... a mess. … a shuttle would,..” a male voice. “NO... over that … too much attention.” the same female voice. Must be Shepard, he thought. The voices were becoming clearer, they must be getting close. He moved back towards the boulevard.
All three down. They're coming out now. He had sent. Well it seems the rumors about Shepard's loyalty were true, Aria thought. Or was it something more?
Let me know when to send a cleanup crew, she responded. Send more than one, he replied.
Days later Bray realized he should've filmed it. They had emerged from the smoke like a scene from an action vid, carrying the stretcher. The two females up front, the male the rear. They even looked like action stars. Bruised, bloodied, armor splattered with blue and red blood. Shepard had thermal clips taped to the front of her armor, a ring of throwing knives around her right thigh, and an SMG in her right hand. Her male companion had twin criss-crossing bandeleros of grenades and thermal clips.
They set the stretcher down behind a pile of bodies, the male moved up and placed something, most likely a shaped charge, on the barricade. Shepard leaned over and covering whoever was on the stretcher, the other two just ducking behind cover. The right side of the barricade blew inward. They moved to pickup the stretcher, when the male spoke up.
“Shepard.” Pointing to the ground. She walked up and looked down to where he was pointing, simply replying. “Shit'” Shepard looked around, then said. “OK, You two take him and head down the street. I'll take care of this.” They complied, then Shepard grabbed a salarian body. She swept it back and forth behind her as she pulled it towards the barricade. She stopped, arranged the body, looked around, and headed down the boulevard.
Unlike most of the people around him, Bray knew what Archangel meant. A warrior sent to push back the forces of evil, an avenging angel. No one knew who he was, where he came from, or why he was here. The only thing they knew was, you hurt someone, you died. At first, he was a shadow that was nothing more than an annoyance. As time went by, that annoyance was replaced by fear. A cold, dark fear that the local gang lords felt, and now that fear was spreading throughout the Terminus systems. That's when the word came down from on high, eliminate Archangel at all costs.
They were at the top of steps leading into the car park, when the brunette said something to Shepard that he couldn't hear. She swung her SMG up towards one of the windows overlooking the boulevard, then brought it back down, holstering it. She gave a small nod and saluted.
Bray shifted himself in the van, finally able to see what she was looking at. For a moment confusion reigned, then blinding clarity. They couldn't leave, most likely everything they had was in that apartment. They couldn't take a chance with the gangs or looters, and had hunkered down during the siege. And hoped that Archangel would protect them one last time.
His mind was racing. He hadn't come to Omega to start a war with the mercs and gangs. It's wasn't about what Archangel was fighting, it was what he had fought for. He fought the darker elements to give the people a chance. Not hope, there was no hope on Omega, but he could give them a chance. Bray shook his head, it had taken a small gesture for him to see it. He would never forget the sight of that scared batarian family saluting the mortally wounded turian as he left Omega. He made his decision.
When they were abreast of the van, he popped open the doors and stood with hands up. Shepard drew and pointed her SMG with a speed he didn't think possible. “Get in the van. He doesn't have much time." He said, looking at Shepard. “Look, you're not all going to fit in that skycar. Come on.”
The brunette spoke up. “It's a trap. Don't even think about it.” Shepard frowned, then shook her head. “No. If she wanted us dead, we'd be dead. Get in the van.”
He drove quickly. Miranda, the brunette, up front with him. Shepard was hunched over the turian, talking to him the whole time. Miranda had told him that Archangel's identity had been a pleasant surprise. For Shepard, at least, if he had interpreted the Cerberus agent's tone correctly. He made arrangements while driving, stopping once to pick up a vorcha and a stack of boxes.
They arrived at the dock, he had the vorcha get out on the side facing the square, grabbing the boxes he had brought with him, the others got out on the other side. They had gotten the stretcher out when Bray tapped Shepard on the shoulder. She told the other two to get him into the med-bay and she would join them momentarily. The vorcha followed with the boxes, as far as the public was concerned, it was just a resupply run.
“Why?” She asked. “The family” He replied. She looked at him for a second, then said. “Thank you.” He nodded, and moved to close the panel door. She started down the corridor. “Shepard.” He called out. She stopped and looked back. “He did good. Real good. But, … he can never come back. Never. Understood?” Expecting her to be angry, surprised when she gave him a smile. “Archangel's dead. He can't.” Then sprinted down the corridor.
“OK. They're off the station.” When he called Aria. “Observe, I said” She replied. Then a minute later adding. “And Bray. Burn the van.”