Actions

Work Header

Reigniting the Fire

Chapter Text

“Zach? Hello?” my sisters voice cut into my thoughts as I sat in my car thinking about all the things that I still had left to do with my day before it ended. Dog walking gig, check. Walk the three dogs currently waiting in my home, soon to be check. I shifted my phone to my left ear as I shifted my car to park. “Yeah I am still here.” I stated with a sigh.

I could hear her roll her eyes as she asked “Okay, what was the last thing I said then?” I paused a moment pushing back my agitation. “You said that you called to tell me you loved me because a guy you used to know died.” You see my sister always does these weird things. Just in case. It’s one of many things I love about her. Her worries are mostly unwarranted due to the fact that I am one of the most cautious and unadventurous human beings on this boring blue sphere called Earth.

She laughed “You still didn’t pay attention. Are you busy or something?”

She knew me better than I cared to admit. She knows that I only have so much attention to give and when my attention is required somewhere else I can only pay so much attention to her. After years of dealing with me she no longer took offence from it.

“I wouldn’t say busy. Just have a lot to do. Would you mind if we talked some other time?” I asked.

She sighed and confessed. “Yeah sure. I just miss and love you is all.”

I smiled feeling a slight warmth in my chest at her confession. She was always more upfront with her feelings than I was.  “We will talk soon okay?” I said.

After that we said our goodbyes and I walked into the single wide mobile home I shared with my two roommates. I looked around the living room, cluttered but homey, dog toys scattered around the room. A whine escaped from the next room.

I open the door to the room with a smile. Three tails begin to thump against the ground. Romeo, Bianca, and Melody where more than ready to get out of their kennels. One by one I let them out. Each gave me an enthusiastic greeting. I walked them to the front door and began to let them out one by one.

 

*~Hours pass~*

 

Rain fell and thunder rumbled through the sky above me as I lay in my bed, the sound of it soothed my mind and stilled my thoughts. For most they all seemed to see me as the guy who is always smiling. The one who was happily bouncing around from one place to the next. I have no idea as to why that is.

The battle always seems to begin when I lay down or when I stop. Depression. Exhaustion creeps into my limbs, feeling of worthlessness leeches my emotions into a numb state, tears that won’t fall sting my eyes, each breath more difficult to take than the last, cynical thoughts reverberate from my very being. Is any of this worth it? What is the point? In the end it won’t matter. Knowing what was coming I looked over to the square black Xbox sitting next to the T.V. Mass Effect TM Andromeda laid on top of it.

Lightning scorched the sky and the room rumbled with its power. I stood with unsteady legs. Turn it on and play. It will give us hope. Fight it Zach come on. Push. The. Button. My hand landed on the box and it whirred to life. I could feel some of the weight lift off of me. I sat with a sigh in my gamer chair. The menu hummed on the T.V and I felt my excitement stir within my gut.

I signed into my account and the Xbox told me, with a pleasant ding that Mass Effect Andromeda was finished downloading. I immediately clicked the game icon in the menu. EA, Frostbite, and Bioware are the ones who made this game. Come on I already know this. I pressed the buttons on the controller impatiently hope it would skip. Of course it wouldn’t. Sigh.

 Another rumble of thunder shook the house as I pressed the New Game button on the main menu. I chose to ignore nature and her warning of lightning as I built Zachary Scott Ryder. Auburn hair in a fauxhawk and fair skin to match. Check.  Gotee with a sexy chin strap. Got it. Warm chocolate brown eyes that would melt any resistance met. Bingo! A face that was is well defined. Yep. Now to make him have a tattoo that will make him stand out. A bright white one around his neck looked cool to me. Sweet!

Now onto his twin sister. Hmmm I am going to make her like my sister.  Auburn hair to the shoulder of fair skin. Going to give her blue eyes instead of brown. Red lips for the sex appeal. Pink blush and eye shadow for a peaches and crème look. Nice! Finished.

A tiny icon flashed across the screen. CONTROLLER BATT LOW! I leaned forward and grabbed the charging cable and connected it to the Xbox and the controller vibrated. As I sat back into the gaming chair I itched my temple with the controller handle with a contented sigh.

Nothing like a RPG to get my mind off of things.

At that moment the hairs on my arms raised and the lights flickered. Due to faulty installment of power line connection cables positive ions escaped into the air around the cable. The negative ions in the cloud where drawn toward the opposite charge. They connected. Superheated air was created by the massive release of energy. Most of the electric discharge found its way toward the ground.

The rest flew along the path from the wall to my Xbox along the charging cable to the controller and into my brain. With the resounding Pop!  Everything went black.

Chapter Text

Everything was black and cold, too cold. My body shook and I heard crackling. I felt like I was suddenly submerged in water, floating, without the wet sensation. I heard a voice that was muffled but gentle calling to me as if from a great distance. I tried to move toward it but I was so slow. My limbs were heavy as was my eyes.

“Ugh whaa”

Well my mouth works. I thought to myself. The voice cut on again. “Stasis pod damage detected. Safety VI protocols initiated. Awakening process one hundred percent completed.”

What the hell? Where am I?

  I felt around the cramped space. I was laying on a gel like layer surrounded by plastic and metal polymer that I hadn’t seen before. An urgent female voice cut out of a loud speaker outside my box. I jerked at its sudden cut into the quiet air.

“Engineering report!”

A male voice blasted out. “Gravity in cryo bay is offline!”

“I am almost inside. Hold on!” I heard

I felt a sudden weight hit my limbs as a whirring sound filled my ears. My space shuddered and I heard a crunch. “What was that?!” I asked out loud.

“Analyzing” Said a voice

“Analyzing? Who is this?” I asked

“This is your pods VI. I was made to make sure you are kept safe during your 600 year voyage to Andromeda. To answer your previous inquiry. There is damage to the latch on the Cryo Pod door.”

Andromeda? That must be a trick? Ha ha this is it I must be getting punked or something by the roomies! 

I spoke. “Okay very funny. Get me out of here.”

“One moment” Said the very convincing VI voice

“A Technician has been notified. They will be here to assist you in UNKNOWN” Said the VI in a non-committal tone

  “Unknown?! What do you mean unknown! C’mon guys this isn’t funny! GET ME OUTTA HERE!” I screamed as my heart beat hard in my chest.

I am not one to be afraid of cramped spaces but when in a small space you do begin to think of how long you might have with oxygen.

Wait! This is all about being funny right? If I just calm down and sit here for a bit they will get bored and let me out. Great idea! Now just take a few deep breaths and calm down.

I took a few deep breaths. Then began to wait and listen.

Off in the distance I could barely hear someone screaming

“We have a surge in power readings!”

Vhoom! I felt a rumble of what felt like an explosion.

That doesn’t sound good. What if this prank has gone wrong?! I need to get myself out of here!

“Hey up here! Whatever the ark hit fried everything! We have to balance the power load or it could explode.”

Okay I really REALLY need to get myself out of here!

I pushed up against the surface above me with my hands. It didn’t budge.

“Quick! Ryder--use it to find the fault!”

Ryder? Why does that name sound so familiar?

I pushed harder with my arms. I heard a groan and a click of metal.

“C’mon you stupid thing!”

Maybe if I use my legs and my arms…would it be enough to break metal? I was gonna kill whomever put me in here! Just you wait!

I pushed with my knees and arms. A grinding metallic groan sounded along with the feeling of the pods door giving way under my pressure. I felt excitement pulse through me. “Almost there!” I whispered

Another click of metal sounded and I felt a cool breeze of fresh air slide into the crack I had made, suddenly the smell of something burning filled the pod and I was having trouble breathing and coughed.

 Oh no there is a fire and I am going to burn alive!

Panic seized me. I felt my brain become hyperaware as adrenaline entered my bloodstream. My body buzzed with energy as I screamed “I DON’T WANT TO DIE HERE!” With all everything in me I pushed against the door and pictured it flying open. I felt my energy leave me as in a blast of a blue glow the door ruptured off and flew into the nearest wall and fell to the floor. My body tingled and hummed in a way I’ve never felt before.

Woah what the?

I looked around a dim room of white low light and walls of coffin shaped pods. The air was filled with smoke. I heard voices and people running. Through a solid looking door.

I jumped down to the floor. As I stood a ripping pain ruptured behind my eyes. Nausea hit me as I dry heaved and coughed as I fell to my knees. Voices cut into my head as the pain subsided. “SAM we need eyes out there.” I gripped my head

This is it. I’ve gone insane.

A robotic male voice spoke “Attempting to adjust sensor array”

There was a pause and my mind was blessedly quiet. My face was pounding as I pressed my hand to it. I felt something hot and wet.

My nose is bleeding…

“SAM?”

Oh god not again

“The energy from the phenomena is damping our sensors. Planetary conditions unknown.”

There was another blessed pause. The smoke filled the air slowly making it harder to breathe. I bent low to the floor and ran to the door on unsteady legs.

 “Hello!!” I said as I banged on the door.

“Ryder there is an unknown tap into our private channel.” Said the robotic voice in my head

 “Unknown tap? How? I know every implant and its user on this pathfinder team. Who authorized it SAM?” The gruff male voice asked with agitation

“Unknown. It has been blocked from my memory array.”

“Locate subject! Have them detained immediately for questioning.”

“One moment. Subject location is Cryo bay 3000-3999.”

“3000? That section isn’t supposed to be active. How is this person awake?”

“Analyzing. Pod was damaged due to the Arks run in with the phenomena. Safety protocols must have activated.”

While they spoke I leaned against the door having trouble breathing. The room getting darker with the smoke. I banged on the door harder. My head felt like it was going to explode.

“Ryder subject’s levels of oxygen is dropping. I suggest you hurry.”

“Shit. They must be venting the polluted air into the Cryo chambers that aren’t active. Everyone in the pods have a sealed environment and will be safe. Anyone else…”

I heard a commotion on the other side of the door. Voices along with sounds of objects being moved.

Did they block the door! Idiots! Wait no one was supposed to be awake in here…I guess it makes sense when you think about it. I laughed out loud. What a ridiculous way to go out. Ha! How did you go out?  I asked myself. By someone and their logical choice!  I continued to laugh in fits Whelp I have finally lost it.

“Ryder subject is showing signs of delirium. Loss of consciousness is imminent”

Darkness closed around me as I slid to the floor. As I closed my eyes everything lit up and I fell back until I was flat on the cold floor. I opened my eyes to a face. MY Ryder looked down on me with concern and disproval. He was beautiful. I felt my lips spread into a smile. He turned and shouted to someone. I didn’t see who came up because darkness closed around me and I became blessedly numb.

 

*~~~~*

As I came to the first thing I noticed was my head. It was throbbing in ways I couldn’t describe. As I opened my eyes, light pierced into them making me flinch. The throbbing intensified to the point it took my breath away. My hand flew to my head

Click

The cold sound of a gun being cocked near my head caused me to tense. Years of gaming will teach you many things one the sound of guns. Two never to make sudden movements when someone has a gun and you don’t know them. A gruff male voice broke the silence.

“I am going to ask these questions once. Lie and you will suffer. Tell the truth and no harm will come to you. Nod if you understand.”

I nodded and turned my head slightly to the source of the voice

Alec Ryder Sr stood with a pistol in his hand and a grim expression on his face. He had shoulder length white grey hair. Age lines around his mouth and blue eyes. His facial structure was the same as MY Ryder but years of hardship and war could be seen in the very way he looked at me. This man could be dangerous if he wanted to be. His gaze was cold when he spoke.

“We will start with a simple question. What is your name?”

Should I tell him the truth or come up with a name? What could it hurt to tell him my name though? I don’t trust him though…go with the truth Zachary.

“M-my name is Zach, Zachary McCurry.” I stated God I sound as bad as I feel.

“Heart rate remained normal. He is telling the truth.” A robotic voice stated in my head.

“Good.” Alec stated

I rolled my eyes. Great now it can lie detect. Do I have anything going for me?

“How did you get on the Hyperion?” He asked

“Honestly, I don’t know. I was in my room and then I woke up in the pod.” I stated with uncertainty “Where am I?” I asked

“I’ll be the one asking the questions. Understood?! He stated coldly as he pointed the gun at me.

I looked at him and nodded slowly as agitation clawed away at my fear.

“Alec he is telling the truth” Stated the robotic voice once more.

Alec turned with a curt nod and sighed while he thought. I took the time to look around the room. Hi-tech equipment buzzed above sets of beds and inactivated cryo pods laid in the corners waiting to be activated. Realization dawned on me. I was in a Med-bay…on the Human Ark Hyperion from the game.

Oh my god.

My thoughts were interrupted by Alec’s question that I didn’t quiet catch.

“I’m sorry?” I asked

With speed and strength that rivaled that a man of his age. Alec grabbed my shirt and jerked me toward his face that caused my head to protest in pain as he grit the words through his teeth.

“The last person to have an implant like yours was my wife, whom I buried back on Earth. HOW DID YOU GET IT!?” Pain and anger filled his eyes as he pressed the gun to my chin.

“I-I’m sorry but I don’t know. I am just as lost as you are.” I stated

“Alec he is telling the truth.” Stated SAM

Alec shook his head as he answered “No you’re wrong!”

Again he shook me. Pain shot through my head causing my anger to rise.

“Stop it! I am telling you the truth! SAM even said!” I stated with an edge. The door behind him slid open. Two figures began to enter.

CRACK!

Lights danced in front of my eyes as he back handed me with his gun. My nose began to bleed. Again.

“ANSWER ME!” He yelled

“DAD!”

“PATHFINDER!”

Said two sets of voices simultaneously, one male and one female. Alec turned with fury in his eyes. “What?!”

“You’ve gone too far. I will not have my patient interrogated. This isn’t the Alliance or the N7 program. Can’t you see he can barely sit up!?” said a blue woman furiously

A blue woman…no wait she is an Asari. Asari!

I looked her over with wide eyes as she stared Alec down. He took a deep breath and released me. I hit the bed with an ooph! He stormed past the two standing there. I looked at the other individual standing there. It was MY Ryder. He followed his father. Before the door closed he looked back.

Did he mouth the words SORRY? Or did I imagine that? I thought to myself

The Asari approached me and I didn’t move as she looked me over. Her eyes where soft but calculating. I could tell she was taking an assessment of the damage. She reached with her hand and paused when I flinched. She sighed.

“I won’t hurt you. I am a doctor.”

I paused then spoke. “Tell me your name…please.”

She smiled “I’ll answer any question you have just let me treat you. Deal?”

I nodded and she began to instruct me.

“Breathe this in through your nose.” She sprayed a mist in front of me as took a deep breath. It didn’t have a scent but it tingled in my sinuses.

“My name is Dr. Lexi T’Perro. But you may call me Dr. T’Perro. What you inhaled will stop your nose from bleeding. Now please lay back for me. Hold still while I do a scan to see if anything is broken.” She gently commanded as she pushed me flat on the bed.

She lifted her arm and her Omni-tool lit up. An orange beam scanned my body top to bottom and she lowered her arm and looked behind me.

“Your nose isn’t broken as I suspected. There is slight scaring in the Cerebrum left and right hemispheres of the brain due to biotic strain. I don’t see any implants…other than your SAM implant. Odd.” She stated.

“I’m not a biotic doctor. Wait! Odd how?” I asked quietly

“How do you think you’re able to push that pod door across the room?” She asked with a smile. I shrugged. 

“Well in humans there is a need for implants for bolster biotic ability. For you to be able to do so without them is uncommon. Now, it seems most of the damage is smoke inhalation. Your airways are slightly damage and there is mucus buildup in your respirational tracts and vocal lining. I am going to give you a breathing treatment, painkillers, and because of a lack of medical or identical records I am going to give you a screen of immunizations and vaccines. While I do this you’re are going to talk with SAM and build an identification file. SAM? SAM are you monitoring?” She seemed to ask the air.

“Yes Dr. T’Perro. Good morning Zach.” The male robotic voice answered as a shifting blue orb appeared at the head of my bed.

I looked at it in awe and answered “T-to you as well SAM. So you’re the one in my head?”

Inside my head he spoke. “I ask that you keep the fact of how intricate our connection is for the time being. You’re an unknown factor in a delicately laid foundation for this mission.”

I spoke out loud “Yeah sure”

He spoke outload as well “Let us begin with basics. State your name.”

I rolled my eyes “You know my name.”

“Correct. What is your age?”

“I am 25 years old.” I stated.

“Date of birth?”

“September 8th, 19— uh hmm” I stuttered to a stop.

The Asari doctor paused her typing at the computer near my bed. She looked at me uncertainly. I tried to make my face blank as I could. She spoke uncertainly

“Memory loss and confusion is symptoms for some being awoken from stasis. Take your time. We launched in the year 2185.”

I did the math in my head quickly before I spoke this time.

“September 8, 2160 is my birthday SAM.”

Inside my head SAM spoke “Zach you lied.”

I hissed through my teeth “Shhhh!”

Lexi asked from the console beside me. “Sorry?”

I laughed half-heartedly “I was just telling SAM we should move on to the next question.”

“Of course Zach. Place of birth?”

“Asheville, North Carolina, United North American States, Earth” I stated

Thank god I read the codex thoroughly

“Documented. Skills and talents?”

I am guessing this is what is going to place me in value. What are my talents and skills? I can cook. Yeah if I have a recipe to follow. Cleaning. Everyone can clean. Jesus. I am decent at singing. Oh god…nothing I am good at nothing!

Panic seized in my chest. My heart started beating fast. I couldn’t breathe. Sweat poured from my pores. I grit my teeth as tears stung my eyes.

“Nothing. I have no skills or talents to offer.” I breathed out.

“Dr. T’Perro.” SAM said with urgency

She turned from the console and gasped. Unnoticed by me, around me the blue aura of biotic power flowed. Objects began to shift and float into the air. She reached over and placed a gentle hand on my shoulder. Everything lost its glow and all objects floated slowly back to their original place.

“Zach, everything is going to be okay. I’m sure you have many talents as skills that you don’t give yourself credit for. SAM I am administering the breathing treatment, painkillers, immunizations, vaccines, and sedatives to help him rest while all this works into his system. Why don’t we continue the file later?”

“Yes Dr. T’Perro” Said SAM

At that moment Lexi took a syringe full of liquid that slid out of a compartment at the head of my bed and injected it into my arm. It stung a bit but within a few seconds I could feel its effects. My limbs grew heavy and the pain in my head subsided slightly. My mind drifted toward Scott and his father. I turned my head toward Lexi.

“Lexi, where did the Ryders go?”

She turned and paused looking down at me. I could see her struggle with herself on whether or not she should tell me this information. She relented.

“They along with a small team went to Habitat 7 to see if we have a safe place to land if we lose power. Rest now.”

I nodded as I let the medication do its work. I shut my eyes as sleep took me. I felt a mask be put on my face as I drifted off.

Chapter Text

Dreams, or what I thought were dreams wracked my brain. I saw images of MY Ryder, I mean, Scott Ryder on a devastated planet. Massive chunks of rock where floating amidst lightning storms.

This is Habitat 7? This doesn’t look like any place I want to live. Wait! How am I thinking? Is this a dream? I’ve never been this lucid before.

“That is because you’re not dreaming Zach, this is what I see from the Pathfinder team and my connection to them.”

It was hard to focus on the images and the voice that SAM seemed to be giving me through my implant. Sleep seemed to be knocking on my consciousness of the connection.

SAM I…feel so tired.

"Then rest Zach. I'll watch over them." was SAMs response

I trusted him as I drifted off to sleep.

 

*~~*

“Initiating transfer” SAMs voice said far away from where I was in my dreams.

An urgency pulled me from my dreams. I was pulled to Alec Ryder’s voice that was giving SAM urgent instruction there was a wheeze to his breathing as he spoke.

“SAM take care of Scott for me. It has been a pleasure.”

Suddenly I felt as if I was being torn away from Alec and shoved into a tiny box. Slowly I began to spread out in tendrils. No not tendrils, nerves. Memories flooded my sight. Images of Scott growing up, being held by his mother, fighting with his sister, laughing with his sister. SAMs voice pulled me from the flood.

“Zach. Scott is going into cardiac arrest. The shuttle is going to pick him up within one minute and take him to the Hyperion. I will keep him alive for as long as I can. But I am limited until the transfer is complete. I need you to awaken and alert Dr. T’Perro. Hurry Zach. WAKE UP.”

A hypnagogic jerk pulsed through my system. My eyes shot open as I sat up with a gasp.

“DR. T’PERRO! LEXI?!” I screamed

I heard hurried footsteps as she ran into the Med-bay. She ran toward my bed with a worried look. “Zach? Whats wrong? How are you awake?” she said in a breath.

“There is no time. I…Alec…Scott…there is trouble! I can’t explain it but you need to prep for the Pathfinder team!” I told her urgently

“I…How do you know this?” She stuttered.

“Just trust me please? I’ll tell you later.” I told her breathlessly.

She seemed to look me over and then relents.

“Fine. What am I prepping for?” she asked warily

“Uh Scott is going into cardiac arrest and has lost consciousness. SAM said something about a transfer…I’m not sure but I don’t think Alec is going to make it.” I told her hastily

She nods and briskly walks off and speaks to someone on her Omni tool. As she lowered her arm there was a call over the intercom.

“Med-bay prep for readiness level 1. Repeat Med-bay prep for readiness level 1.”

Lexi turned toward me with raised eyebrows and squinting eyes, I smiled at her uneasily.

She turned again on her heels and exited the Med-bay. I spoke outload. “SAM? What is going on? Is Scott alright?” I waited for a minute but there wasn’t a response. I spoke out into the air with urgency. “SAM?!”

Like a flood that breaks forth from a dam, images and sensations overwhelm my mind. Scott was being laid down on a gurney beside the shuttle. He was being rushed from the Hanger toward the Med-bay. Suddenly I was seeing with my own eyes and I was back in the Med-bay. “Thank you SAM” I said as I got my bearings.

“Pulse is dropping. We are losing them!” I heard from the other side of the Med-bay door. Suddenly the doors open and Lexi, a young black guy, and another Doctor enter. They are pushing Ryder toward the nearest bed. My heart beats fast and worry flushes my system.

They have to save him! There won’t be a Pathfinder! Without him we, I…wont. No. We can’t think like that. He will make it. He has two doctors tending to him. Stop worrying!

They connect him to the bed and it scans him. A holo image of his body and all its inner workings are shown above the bed. A red circle hovers over his heart which was beating weakly. The young man that was with the doctors was pacing at the end of the bed.

There was a solemn noise that pierced the air. The bed indicated Ryder’s heart had flat-lined. The Doctors hurried over to the computer and began to type. Suddenly Ryder’s body jerked and his heart beat once, twice, then stopped. His body jerked again and his heart beat once then stopped. Another jerk but no beating this time.

The doctors looked at each other and I could see tears in their eyes. Lexi shook her head and looked at the young black man and spoke.

“Liam I…I am sorry but he…he is gone.” She said in a gentle voice

“NO man! I don’t…how could we lose three of our people in one mission! This isn’t what was supposed to happen!” Liam screamed as he kicked the bed with a sob

An idea flashed into my mind. What if? No no that would be impossible. Then for the first time in a while the tiny voice of hope called from deep within my soul. At least try. Please. “SAM!” I called out toward the air. The group looked up at me in surprise.

I stood on unsteady legs. “I have an idea. What if I cause miniature mass effect fields in his heart? One in each chamber. Get his heart pumping? The bed can make him breathe right?”

 “In theory it could work but control necessary would require that of an Asari Matriarch. You don’t have any Bio amps to pull such an attempt. You could cause his heart to explode if you did it wrong.” Said SAM

“That’s why I have you SAM. The implant in my brain was originally designed for Biotics. Right? So you can in theory control my biotics enough to save both you and Ryder. Please we have to try.” I said urgently

Lexi shook her head and spoke distrustfully for the group. “I’m sorry but I can’t let you do that. He is dead no need to make this more gruesome than it already is.”

Fury flowed into my limbs and I grit my teeth. How can they not trust me! I’ve done nothing to harm anyone here. “SAM…please” I whispered.

“I will help you. If Scott dies I will be damaged. My connection to him isn’t complete I will become corrupted. I need him to be alive for a few minutes more. Also I was told to take care him by his father.” Said SAM in my mind.

I looked at the group and then looked down and spoke. “I’m sorry for this.” I felt the hairs on my arms stand as my entire body lit with biotic power. Flung both of my arms out while picturing the three individuals being contained in a biotic bubble. When I looked back at them they were in stasis. All three of them looking shocked. Liam with a gun pointed at me. Oh shit. I really hope this works.

“SAM access the medical terminal. Have it put a breathing mask on him and pump oxygen to him.” I commanded as I walked slowly over beside Scott’s body.

        “Affirmative.” Said SAM. The bed automatically began to mask Scott. His chest rose and fell.

I rose my hands above his chest. “SAM let me see his heart holo imaged above my hands.” I commanded. An image of his heart appeared in front of me. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I pictured Scott’s heart. Four chambers. Each valve. It’s just a pump…right? Not a man’s heart. Right. All it is, is push and pull that’s all I need to do.  I rolled my fingers and on screen tiny blue specs appeared and they pushed and pulled. The heart monitor show the beat on screen. It was off. If I don’t pump the heart right this is all for nothing and I am going to get shot.

“SAM I need your help. I don’t know how to make the heart pump just right. Can you do it?” I asked as I did another pump of Scott’s heart.

“Yes but it would require me to control you to an extent. I need your permission.” SAM said

I thought about it for only a second and answered uncertainly “Do it.”

I felt my fingers move on their own. The instinct to resist it was overwhelming and I moved my hand against SAM. The blue specs on the hologram began to grow and I froze. This is going to be harder than I thought.

“Zach you must trust me. I will not harm you or take over your body. Relax.” Said SAM

I took a deep breath and shivered. I felt SAM move my arms then my hands. I hated it. The muscles in my shoulders tensed. Relax. The heart monitor began to pick up a proper heartbeat. I focused on that instead of the fact that an AI was controlling my limbs. I spoke.

“SAM how much longer before you’re synced to Scott. I don’t know how much longer I can do this.” Pain began to throb behind my eyes and I felt blood trail down my face.

“I’ve just finished Zach. Now I can keep his heart beating with his implant.” SAM said as I dropped my hands. At that moment I felt the cold metal of a gun pressed to my head. I turned a saw that Liam had escaped. Suddenly Lexi pushed past us.

“Look! His heart his beating! It worked!” She said with a smile and turned toward us. I looked at Liam and he slowly holstered his weapon. I let out a deep breath I didn’t know I was holding.

 The two doctors hugged and laughed. Liam joined them while I took a step back.

Scott’s body began to jerk and spasm. Alarms started beeping and Lexi rushed over to the monitor and looked at it and spoke to the group.

“It’s a seizure, his brain can’t handle the connection! Get him to SAM node!”

They picked up Scott’s body and put it back on the gurney and wheeled him out of the room, to where I assume SAM node is. I turned and walked over to my bed and sat with a sigh. My body felt exhausted. My mind wouldn’t settle so I spoke out to the air. “SAM? Please show me what is happening to Scott.” I braced for it.

Images and sensations overwhelm my mind yet again. I was seeing from Scotts eyes! He is awake!  Lexi was yelling to the air around her.

“SAM what’s the reading?!”

“Ryder’s implant is overloading. I suggest a hardwire connection.”

Scott lifts his hand and Lexi takes it a places it back on his chest and speaks to the other doctor.

“Do it!” she commands.

“There!” He says

Scott’s eyes shut and mine open. I realize I am breathing heavy. So I lay back and close my eyes. After a few moments of pause I hear the swish of the doors open and the group of footsteps entered. Her voice carried over to me.

“He is stable. I think he is going to be alright.” She said

“Alright is better than dead. I think.” Said the male doctor

I opened my eyes and looked at the group. The male doctor noticed this and turned toward me with a warm smile.

“That is one for the medical books I should think.” He said as he walked over to my bed with an outstretched hand.

“Dr. Harry Carlyle. It seems we have you to think for saving our new Pathfinders life.”

I was stunned and sputtered out as I shook his hand. “My name is Zach and I…I didn’t do anything. If it wasn’t for SAM and both you and Lexi he would have perished.”

“Modesty, isn’t a quality I see very often. It is very becoming on a young man at your age.” Was Harry’s response.

 Heat flushed to my cheeks and I looked at my lap. I was unused to such praise from people I just met. It’s very nice.

“So what happens now?” I asked trying to change subject.

“Since the pathfinder was successful in getting the atmosphere to somewhat stabilize, the Ark is no longer drifting. My next guess is that we go to the nexus.” Said Lexi

“I thought our sensors where scrambled?” Inquired Harry

I quit paying attention to the conversation and spoke to the air quietly. “SAM?”

“Yes Zach.” said SAM in my head

“Everyone seems to be glad that Scott is okay, which is great, but I want to know how you’re doing?” I spoke

“I am functioning at nominal capacity Zach.” Was SAMs response

“No that isn’t what I am asking that. I know the experience of dying can be…unpleasant. How are you processing it?” I asked him

“You’re correct Zach it was not pleasant. It is an experience I don’t think is worth repeating. Zach I have inquiries of my own.” SAM stated

I felt uncertainty stir in my gut as I answer cautiously. “Okay…inquire away I guess.”

“You’re 25 years old. That is truth. The birthday you gave me for the record was a lie. Why did you lie?” Asked SAM

I paused for a few moments. How does one explain that he comes from another place that this a video game? I guess one step at a time. “Because I was born in the year 1991.” I stated.

“You’re telling the truth. The data doesn’t collaborate. You are 25 but your birth year would make you 194 years old.” Sated SAM

“Trust me I am just as confused as you are.” I said with a half-laugh

There was an awkward pause in the air. So I filled it.

“SAM you asked me to keep our connection secret. In return I ask that you keep the information I have given you a secret as well until I figure out what is going on. Will you do that for me?” I asked with uncertainty

“Of course Zach.” SAM confirmed as I released a breath I was holding.

It was at that moment that Lexi approached me and looked me over with a sigh. She spoke out loud. “SAM please do a quick scan of Zach for me. We need to check his condition after such an eventful day.”

“Of course Dr. T’Perro” Said SAM.

With a quick scan the image of my body appeared above the bed. Once it did Lexi looked at her Omni tool. She read it over with a firm nod. She looked at me with a smile.

“It seems your blood sugar is low. The vein ruptures in your nose have healed. Now bruising on your face will take a few days to fade. Damage to your breathing and vocal waves are still irritated but mending.” She stated matter of fact. It was at that moment that my stomach let out a big rumble. In fact it sounded like a whale had swam into my gut and called it home. A blush escaped across my cheeks and I smiled with a laugh. Lexi smiled and spoke

“It seems like someone is hungry. Let me grab something for you. It will raise your blood sugar.” She turned and walked out the room.

After a time she returned with a tube. When she placed it in my hands it was cold. I looked at her confused.

“A popsicle? That doesn’t seem very filling or nutritious.” I told her

Lexi laughed and shook her head. “It is a protein paste. One of the flavors they had was banana so I hope you like it. Eat up. Doctors’ orders young man.” I leveled her with a look and rolled my eyes

“Young man?” I asked dryly

“Yes. Young man. I am 275 years old and your only 25 years old.” She said as she walked over to the computer console near my bed.

I grumbled under my breath “According to SAM I am 194 years old. Young man my ass.”

“What was that? I’m sorry?” She asked over her shoulder

“Oh nothing just said thank you” I said as I tore into the protein Popsicle. Once open I sucked in the cool paste. Oh my god this tastes so good! Tastes like banana pudding! I began to devour it in earnest. With each gulp I could feel the paste hit my stomach like a lead block. I was full by the end of the tube. I laid back with a sigh as Lexi approached me with a hypodermic needle filled with a clear liquid.

“Now that things have settled for a bit I am going to give you another round of medicine. I hope SAM won’t wake you this time. RIGHT SAM?!” Lexi said with an edge

“Of course Dr. T’Perro” Said SAM

“Good. If you do I might come and unplug you.” She said with a grumble

“That won’t be necessary. Dr. T’Perro. I would only wake him at this point if his life was in danger.”

I giggled and then winced as she injected me. She gave me a look before she gently pushed me back into my bed. “Rest.” She said sternly. I closed my eyes and did just that.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3: Nexus

 

I woke up gently to the sound of humming. I kept my eyes closed and listened with pleasure.

“I need you. Ohh how I need you.

You give me breath. You give me the reason to be a part of this coming season.

When you are not here it’s like spring without flowers, summer without the rain, fall without all the colors, and winter without snow. Just incomplete.

I need you. Ohh how I need you.

So why not for a moment you need me like I need you

Like the moon needs the sun to shine in the darkest night

Ohhh I need you.”

His voice is incredibly sexy. I wouldn’t mind waking up to it every day. WOAH! Woah! Easy Zach, these people and this place is just a video game. Not real. Even telling myself this a little part of me seemed to whisper then why do they feel so real? I choose to ignore that.

I realized that the singing stopped. I opened my eyes and there was Zachary Scott Ryder leaning on the opposite bed looking at me with eyes as warm as any fire. Our eyes met and a smile spread across his face. I felt my breath catch as he spoke.

“So I hear that you’re the one I have to thank for saving my life.”

All I could do was sit there as my words caught in my throat. I realized my mouth was open and shut it. I couldn’t think of anything to say so I stayed silent. He tilted his head and gave me a look that should be illegal.

“Cat got your tongue?” He asked with an amused tone

“N-no. I was just uh-I was going to tell you that it wasn’t me.” I told him as I found my voice

“Oh?” He smiled brightly. It frustrated me that he was so smooth, while I was well…so me.

“Yes. It was SAM, Lexi, and Harry.” I told him in earnest. I didn’t save his life to be thanked. I saved his life because…Well because it was the right thing to do.

He let out a slow laugh and leaned forward, making me all too aware that I hadn’t bathed or looked that great with a huge black bruise on my cheek. I didn’t flinch at the movement. Like hell I would.

“You sure that is true?” He asked me while looking me intensely in the eye. I wonder what he sees when he looks at me. Who cares?

“I-I think so.” I said with certainty

He leaned in closer and I felt his breath brush against my lips and I felt my heart rate spike.

“Okay.” He said as he leaned away and began to walk away. After a few steps he turned and spoke again.

“Thanks for helping them.” Then began to leave.

I sat there for a moment stunned at what just happened, when the door opened again. Lexi walked in reading something on a data pad. She took a few steps before she looked up. She smiled at me and Ryder and walked over. Ryder walked out.

“How do you feel?” She asked

I took a moment to check myself. Then I smiled politely. “I feel great actually.” I told her.

She nodded

“Good. Now that you’ve actually rested the medication could do its work. Let us go ahead and take a quick scan and see how things are going on the inside.” She stepped over to the console and began to type. The bed scanned me I sat there for a few moments before I got concerned at the silence.

“Everything okay Doc?” I asked

Lexi turned and was pondering with an amused smile “It looks like it. Ready to get out of that bed?”

“Yes!” I stood up and stretched with a contented sigh “I want to take a look around.”

Lexi smiled “I understand. First though I was told that the Captain wanted to speak with you.”

I felt all my joy and excitement drop out my stomach and was replaced with anxiety. I answered with a sarcastic “Great.” Then began to walk out of the Med-bay.

Immediately, I was hit with stares as people walked about their business. A few even began to whisper to their companions. You would think that with all the advancement that sounds with be more insulated and not carry. Wrong.

“There he is…”

“That’s the stowaway?”

“Did you hear he saved the new Pathfinder?”

“I heard he tried to kill the new Pathfinder”

“The captain is going to space ‘em for sure.”

It felt like high school all over again. Except I never was the one being talked about or talked too. I didn’t like it. At all. I entered the Tram and walked to the console. The options of where it could go appeared.

Cryo bay.

Habitation deck

Cargo hold

Engineering deck

Docking level

Where do I go?

“The bridge is on the Habitation deck. If you are uncertain.” SAM said inside my head

“Uh thanks SAM.” I told him

I pressed Habitation button and the Tram shuttered and began to glide forward. I paced the car anxiously as it traveled. What is the captain going to say or do with me? Surely he or she won’t throw me out the airlock. The tram began to slow and then came to a complete stop.

When the door opened a man of middle age was standing with a rifle waiting. He looked me over a raised an eyebrow. “You the stowaway?” he asked me with a gruff voice. I nodded and he nodded his head to his right and spoke. “The bridge is this way. The captain is waiting. She is a busy woman so expect this to be short.” He began to walk off so I followed close. I had a feeling that the gun was not just for my safety but for others as well.

When got into a more opened area I was amazing. Everything seemed to smooth and polished. Trees and bushes decorated the interior and exterior walls. People bustled to and fro. Then my eyes caught the star lit blackness of space blurring outside a set of windows. I didn’t realize I stopped until my escort cleared his throat. I jerked and mumbled out a quick “Uh sorry” and continued with him up the stairs toward a door that I could only guess lead to the bridge.

When we arrived to door and pointed toward the door with his gun. “Go on in” he commanded. I nodded and gulped and walked toward the door. The door opened with a swish and Captain Dunn stood with her back to me. I took a few steps into the bridge and cleared my throat and spoke with respect that I could muster. “Excuse me? Captain Dunn?”

She turned and looked me over with a blank gaze.

“So you’re the Stowaway.” She said plainly

I nodded and stared back at her trying to gauge her reactions. “I am. Though I assure you not by any choice that I can remember.”

She turned and looked out at the bridge seeming to shift through her thoughts. “So you are the one I have to thank for saving my new pathfinders life.”

I felt a blush tingling into my cheeks. I looked down and spoke. “It is nothing to thank me for. I am sure you would’ve done the same had you been in my shoes.”

She nodded then looked back at me and contemplated more before she spoke.

“Still. Thank you. Now the questions stands. What to do with you? As you are a stowaway on my ship you are my responsibility. I should hand you over to the Nexus authority. But I am not. To me you have earned your place here. Though not many agree. Do you understand?”

I nodded. She turned and sighed. She looked tired, like someone with the weight of a world on her shoulders. I felt a swell of pity for the woman. Being strong, compassionate and in charge was no easy feat.

At that moment a woman sitting at one of the consoles turned and spoke “Captain we are going to be arriving at the last Nexus way point in about 5 minutes.” Captain Dunn gave her a curt nod “Thank you. SAM will you alert our Pathfinder team about our arrival and send them to the bridge please.”

“Of course Captain” SAM said

Immediately SAMs voice spoke inside my mind “Ryder. The captain is requesting you and the Pathfinder team to the bridge.”

“Will Liam and Cora do? Finding the rest of the team would take more time then needed.” Said Scott.

“Of course Pathfinder.” Responded SAM

“Tell the captain we are on our way.” Commanded Scott.

My focus returned to outside my mind. I found the captain staring at me. A blush immediately hit my cheeks. I forced myself to maintain eye contact. “Is everything okay Captain?” I asked.

She tilted her head to the side and spoke. “So it is true.”

“What is?” I asked

“That you have an implant like the Pathfinder.” She stated

“Sort of. I am not sure how this stuff even works.” I said scratching the back of my head.

“Captain the Pathfinder team are on their way to the bridge.” Said SAM. Interrupting our conversation. The captain spoke to the air “Thank you SAM.”

It was at that moment that the Hyperion decelerated and we were drifting toward a gas giant that had a small spec above it. I tried to see what the spec was but I couldn’t quite make it out. As we approached Scott walked in with Cora and Liam. He didn’t look my way but Cora and Liam acknowledged me with a simple nod. The captain turns and speaks.

“Ryder, it’s good to see you on your feet. We’re at the Nexus.” She said as she turned to him.

What is the Nexus? God why didn’t I pay attention more to the videos about this game!

“It is the forward hub for the entire Andromeda Initiative. The Asari, Salarian, and Turian arks should already be there, too.”

“Hopefully, they have had better luck than we have.” Said Scott with a sigh.

A woman spoke at one of the computer toward the front of the bridge. “Starting our approach now.”

Liam walked forward with an excited pace and points at the Nexus. “It is almost as big as the citadel back home!”

He is right. This station is impressive.

The woman spoke again. “Nexus control, this is Ark Hyperion, requesting docking clearance.” After a short pause she spoke again

“Captain I am only getting their automated approach channel, not a live person.”

“Well like it or not we’re here. Take us in.” Responds the captain.

As we approached closer to the Nexus the station looked less and less populated as well as incomplete. I looked at it closely. It would be magnificent once it is finished.

Cora stepped up next to Scott and spoke. “Construction should have been finished by now.”

Liam shrugged “It could be worse.”

Scott turned and looked at Liam “How? Habitat 7 is a bust, we may have started a war with the first aliens we met, and our Pathfinder is dead. THIS better be rock bottom.”

“Green across the board. Docking initiated.” Said the woman at the console whose name I didn’t know.

Then with a slight shudder we docked with the Nexus. I want to see this station with my own two eyes. I felt a stir of excitement in my gut at the thought.

I am here. In one of my most favorite games. Ever. I am about to see this big station. Even…if I have no idea what I am going to do here or get back home for that matter.

“Alright, I got us here. Good luck Pathfinder.” Said Captain Dunn. It must have been a dismissal because Scott, Cora, and Liam began to walk out of the bridge. I looked down and sighed. Scott didn’t even look at me. Do I not exist anymore?  The Captain cleared her throat and spoke to Scott.

“Pathfinder. Take The Stowaway with you. I have no place for him here other than back in a Cryo Pod. He has a Pathfinder implant like you. So I figure the best bet would be for him to be with the Pathfinders Team.”

Scott paused at the doorway and turned as if to see me for the first time. He spoke toward the captain with a calm demeanor and a smile. “What makes you think I have a place for him on my team?” Wow. What a charming assbutt.

The captain turned toward Scott with a look that would melt ice. “I suppose you will just have to do as I did. Make. Room.”

The smile on Scotts face didn’t falter as he spoke with a bow of his head. “Of course Captain.” He then looked at me and spoke. “If you would come with us.”

I nodded and began to follow the group as they left the bridge. As they descended the stairs Cora spoke.

“You going to be okay, Ryder?”

“The captain just called me “Pathfinder.” This is really happening.” Said Scott with a stunned voice. Liam came up to him and put a hand on his shoulder and reassured him.

“Just take a deep breath”

Suddenly I felt really bad for calling my Ryder an assbutt. Here he is having lost his father, forced into a role he has no training for, then to top off everything he had a random person with no skills whatsoever forced to join his team. The emotional turmoil he must be feeling is not too easy. Now I am the assbutt.

Scott took a deep breath and stated “I still can’t believe dad’s dead. This should’ve been his moment.” There was a pause as we continued to walk. I kept quiet. They don’t know me so I should let them speak without my input. Don’t want to make things awkward.  As the group ahead of me descended the stairs Cora spoke to Scott.

“But now it is yours. You just need to decide what you’re going to do with it.”

 Scott looked at Cora incredulously “Where do I start? I’m just not sure I am ready.” There was another pause. Liam smiled and shrugged his shoulders. “We weren’t ready to fall out of the sky on Habitat 7. But we survived that.” Scott laughed as he said “Right so keep a jump-jet handy” I smiled at that. That is one thing they had going for their experience.

We began to ascend the stairs that led to the tramway. A man turned to some of the gathering crew members and spoke to them as we entered the room. “Okay folks, this is what we’ve been waiting for. Let your teams know that docking procedures is in effect.” Once he told them people dispersed quickly. No one stopped to paused or look at me which was such a relief.

The door opened to an empty tram. The group and I stepped in, when the door close and the tram began to move toward the docking deck.

As I waited for the tram to arrive at our destination Scott turned and looked at me. He crossed his arms as he spoke to me. “Why did you lie about saving my life?”

“I’m sorry?” I responded as I looked up at him

“SAM showed me the Med-bay footage. You put three individuals into a biotic stasis and forced my heart to beat with the same biotics. Liam nearly shot you in the process.” Said Scott with a raised eye brow “So why lie?”

“I-I didn’t lie. SAM took control of my biotics through the implant and did it all.” I stuttered with a blush

“Actually, Zach I didn’t take control of your implant until we used the biotics on Scotts heart. You give yourself too less of credit.” SAM corrected

Agitated at the sudden grilling I retorted “No one asked you for your input SAM. Geez!” My blush deepened causing me to feel even more uncomfortable.

Cora shook her head and looked a Scott “My question would be motive. Why save your life? Where did he get the implant? Why can’t he remember past waking up in the Cryo bay? It all seems too convenient to me.”

Scott smiled with a cocky tilt of his head “Maybe it’s because I am so awesome!”

Cora rolled her eyes “Oh here we go.”

Scott turned and looked at Cora and gripped his chest with an exaggerated wounded tone. “I think I am awesome. I fell out of the sky and lived to tell the tale!” I watched on with a slight smirk on my face. Then I noticed Liam looking at me intensely. Oh god what now?

 Liam leaned forward and looked me in the eye. I leaned away from him with a frown. “What?” He tilted his head while continuing to stare. He nods and turns toward the group.

“I think we should trust him. What could his motives be other than to get away from the Milky Way? He saved Ryder’s life and tries to hide it with terrible lying.” He told the group

“Hey my lying isn’t terrible.” I said with a grumble. The group paused and looked at me. They all burst into laughter. Liam held out a hand. I took it. He pulled me to standing up and spoke. “I am uh sorry for nearly shooting you.” He told me and scratched his head

“No harm or fowl. It had been a couple of stressful days.” I told him.

Scott nodded. “It will be good to see some friendly faces.”

Cora spoke looking down the corridor that the tram was going when she spoke. “The Nexus runs a support crew. Just enough to finish building the station and provide safe harbor for the Arks.”

Scott turned to her “Means we can start waking our people up.”

Liam looked between them with hope in his eye as he asked “They built a bar right? Gotta have champagne for the welcome party.”

Scott raised an eyebrow “You’re expecting one?”

“After everything we’ve been through. I could use a buzz.” Liam said with a sigh

“Ditto to that man.” I said imagining the burn of whisky into my belly and the relaxing of my muscles. Would be so nice.

Scott smiles “We all could.”

“Yeah. Rough ride so far.” Said Liam

Cora turned and looked at us with a determined look “We’ll bounce back. Real food and showers are just ahead.”

There was a quiet pause in the tram as it sped along the track. Everyone seemed lost in their thoughts. I looked at each of them, I studied them.

Scotts face was blank, but his eyes gave him away. Warm brown seemed to darken to black. His thoughts were dark and uncertain. I wanted to reach out a comfort him. My fear stopped me. He doesn’t know me like that. It was at that moment his eyes seemed to focus on me and widened as he realized I was looking at him. I gave him a hopeful smirk and mouthed “You okay” to him. He paused and looked away and shrugged his shoulders. I can understand that.

 Cora looked at the wall taking deep breaths. Her gaze kept shifting between the wall and Scott. I wonder what she is thinking of. I turned my gaze toward Liam. He was pacing back and forth talking to himself. I think I heard the words “Booze”, “so ready” and “can’t wait.” At least the boy has a one track mind…and isn’t aiming a gun at me. I’ll take my blessings as they come.

The tram began to slow its speed as we came to the docking hall. When the tram came to a complete stop the door slid open with a hiss. Cora was the first to speak.

“Here we are.”

As we stepped into the hallway there was sparks shot from the nearby wall panel. My gut told me something was up. I spoke my thoughts. “Hey uh, I think there might be something up.”

No one said anything was we approached the door. The holographic blue button flickered and the door swished open. Beyond was nothing but a dark room. Liam stepped up close to the door and spoke.

“Uh… I don’t see any champagne.”

As our group filed into the room Scott spoke.

“Where is everybody?”

As we stood there my eyes adjusted to the dark. There was lights but they were low lit and barely gave enough light to see beyond a few feet. I looked around the room. Boxes were stacked high and still sealed from the looks of it.

“This can’t be right.” Said Scott

Cora was looking around the room when she said “It’s like everything is on standby.” Scott then walked over toward what looked like a ring on the floor. When he got close enough to it a holographic Asari appeared. Avina! I remember her from the original Mass Effect series!

“If they are throwing a surprise party, they are doing an awfully good job of it.” Liam said before he noticed Avina. We all gathered around as she began her introduction in the friendly robotic.

“Welcome to the Nexus, gateway to Andromeda. I’m Avina, a virtual intelligence designed to help you with immigration.”

Liam stepped in front of Scott and spoke “Can you tell us where the welcome party is hiding?”

“I’m sorry my code is limited to information and simple interaction simulations. Please select from the following pre-programmed responses.” Responded Avina as a tiny screen of topic options appeared.

Wow she seems as useful as she was in the original series. Not. At. All.

Scott cleared his throat and asked “How does the immigration process work?”

“We ask that you submit to a brief medical exam to ensure your health and well-being after making such a long journey. Once you’ve been cleared our colonization experts will assist in finding you a new home. Please be mindful of the queue: thousands of eager colonists like you are waiting to begin their life in Andromeda!” She cheerfully answered.

“Uh…where? Place is deserted.” Liam said as he looked around.

Scott shrugged and turned back toward Avina and inquired “What can you tell me about the Andromeda Galaxy?”

“Here in Andromeda, you are over two million light years from the Milky way galaxy. This is the first is the furthest any life form has ever traveled outside our home system, making you a brave pioneer indeed.- Wow okay this is boring. I turned my attention toward the room around me. I noticed some sealed boxes with plants inside them. I walked over to them and looked in them. Nothing some plants. I wonder what they are for. Hmmm It was at that moment that I saw a small flash of light from the corner of eye. It looked like a flash of an omni-tool.

“The plants are still alive.” I jumped with a yelp and took a swing at the source, it was a knee jerk reaction. Scott caught my fist with a loud SMACK! “Oh my god! Scott you can’t just sneak up on me like that!” I said breathing heavy.

A smile spread across his face as he smiled “I’ve had a lot of reactions to a simple question but violence is a first for me.”

Shame crawled through me. “I am sorry I shouldn’t have reacted like that. It was just that I thought I saw something…”

His eye narrowed as he looked around, then he used my fist he had gripped to pull me close to whisper. “Where? What do you think you saw?” His breath was warm against my neck. I took a steadying breath through my nose. His scent smelled like soap and spice. It was enticing. I shook myself. Now isn’t the time to be admiring what he washing himself with!

“It looked like the scan of an omni-tool. That way.” I whispered to him while pointing in the direction of a set of stairs. He nodded and quietly crept toward the stairs and walked down them. He snapped his fingers to get Cora and Liam’s attention. They looked at him and each began to follow him.

Scott paused and Liam spoke. “There’s a guy maybe he has the Champagne.”

Scott smiled and walked up to what looked like a construction worker. He spoke loudly “Hi there.”

The guy stopped what he was doing and turned looking surprised. “We are from Ark Hyperion. And wondering where everyone went?” Ryder response didn’t seem to faze the guy.

“Did he hear you?” Liam questions

“D-did you say “ark”?” the worker suddenly stuttered out.

“This is the nexus right? Pretty sure we parked in the right place.” Scott questioned

“For what it is worth your VI over there could use an update.” Stated Cora

The worker shook his head and smiled. “Of course- I’m sorry. It’s just we thought you were all dead.”

Cora looked as stunned as she sounded “What?!”

The worker continued on as if he didn’t hear her “Or captured, lost in dark space, or…” Then he looked down and took a deep breath before he spoke again. “But you’re here. You have no idea how much this means.”

“I don’t believe it.” Came a grumbling behind me. I yelped and took a swing again. A taloned hand caught mine. A Turian stood before me. Garrus!  He looked me over before dropping my hand. “Are all humans prone to being easily frightened as you?” He asked

A blush creeped up my cheeks as I scratched my head. “No…uh- it’s just me.” I swore I heard Ryder chuckling so I shot a heated glare over my shoulder. I looked back at him and spoke out loud “Garrus?”

He looked at me and shook his head as Scott walked up to him. “I’m Train Kandros. I lead the milita on the Nexus.” Him and Scott shook hands. Scott introduced everyone.

“My name is Zachary Scott Ryder. You can call me Scott. This is Cora Harper, Liam Kosta, and our newest addition to the Pathfinder team Zach McCurry. I waved bashfully. I did just try to hit the guy.

Kandros nodded and spoke “I am sorry for the confusion. Our sensors told us an Ark had arrived, but Heleus is notorious for scrambling equipment. We thought you were another malfunction.”

Scott shrugged “Well, I got a ship load of people that says we are here.”

“Of course it’s just- You’re the first Ark we’ve seen. After a year of waiting and no sign of the others, we shuttered this area and stopped looking.” Explained Kandros.

Liam spoke up “You’ve been stranded a whole year?”

“Longer. I’ll fill you in on the way to the ops center.” Was Kandros response.

 

*~~*

Chapter Text

As we walked toward the tram I heard Kandros take a deep breath and release it. His eyes were downcast and his shoulders stiff. Everything coming off from him told me that what he was going to tell us had been very trying on him and possibly others who he knew.

“We arrived fourteen months ago. We hit a band of dark energy that knocked us off course.” He said as the door to the tram opened. He looked at us with apprehension.

“We’re familiar with it.” Was Ryder’s response.

Kandros nods and pushes the button for the Ops center, or at least what I assume is the Ops center. As the Tram begins to move he speaks again. “Then you will know why we call it the “Scourge”. We lost whole sections of the station. A lot of people died. No power, no food… the chaos went on for months. It finally led to armed rebellion. When order was restored, the insurgents were banished, “Exiles.” We call them.”

My mind began to race. Armed rebellion? Jesus. I get it but all the way out here in a new galaxy? Unity should have been a priority right?  Of course my heart let itself be known. What if they were treated badly? Corruption could’ve been a part of it. You don’t know both sides. You shouldn’t judge.

“We’re here.” I heard as I was torn from my thoughts. The Tram eased into its designated stop.

As the Tram door opened everyone seemed to jump into action. Liam began to walk briskly ahead and spoke over his shoulder.

“You guys go ahead. I am going to check the security situation.”

I decided to follow Kandros and Scott. Cora seemed to come to the same council. Kandros seemed to get uncomfortable as we walked up a ramp.

“You should know our command structure has been fractured. Some of us are filling in for leaders who died.”

At that moment a couple of people hurried by us and I heard

“They told us to drop everything and report for duty.”

Kandros turned back and looked at us

“and…no one was expecting and Ark to finally show up.”

There was a long pause as we continued to walk up to the next floor. People where rushing along opening panels, reading data pads, typing away at terminals. It was all so much to look at and take in at once. So many people.

As Kandros led us to the next ramp I could hear a woman speaking out

“Stand by to merge Hyperion power into the grid.”

When we reached the top and set up similar to the Hyperion’s bridge laid out before me. Only about ten people were up in this Ops center. They all seemed to look at once. Three people…well if you count three people to be a Salarian, Human, Krogan to be just people, were standing apart from the rest. My mind did summersaults of excited nerdiness. Oh. My. GOD! A Salarian and a Krogan! It must be my birthday! Krogan are so big! Salarians are so slender. What if it crawls up the wall like a frog? What if the Krogan headbutts someone. That would be so cool. I might just swoon. Yep I would feel no shame for some man swoons.

Then I realized that they were all staring as if waiting for our group to up and disappear. I felt my cheeks redden. Damn it do you have to betray me my body. Then the Salarian seemed to break the spell as he stepped forward and spoke.

“The crew of the Hyperion.”

Kandros looked at us and softly spoke “Good luck” and began to walk away and patted Ryder on the shoulder. I gave him a concerned look and he rolled his eyes. What does that mean I wonder?  We he walked down the ramp I couldn’t help but feel a bit of loss.

“I am Jarun Tann. Director of the Initiative. You have no idea how much your arrival means to us.” Was the Salarians introduction

“Not as much as it means to us. We had a hell of a time getting here. Nice to see some friendly faces.”

A woman next to Tann spoke “Hungry faces. Any supplies you can spare would be much appreciated.”

Tann lifted a hand in her direction and introduced her “This is Foster Addison. She oversees Colonial affairs.” He then looked us over with a frown. “Where is the Pathfinder?”

Ryder seemed to tilt his chin up and cross his arms as he replied “You’re looking at him” Good for him

“You’re not Alec Ryder.” Was Tanns response. Wow! Thank you captain obvious!

“My father is dead. He made me his successor.” Ryder said with an edge in his tone.

Addison seemed to be shocked as she spoke “Alec…is dead? Please understand: the entire initiative is at risk.” She walked over to the nearest console and pressed a button that displayed some reports. “None of the golden worlds panned out. They’re a bust. And there has been no word from the other Arks.” Well shit.

“What happened to them?” Cora’s voice cut from beside me

“Unknown. Our supplies are nearly depleted. Rationing bought us time but even that is running out.” Was Tann’s response.

There was a silence that you could cut with a knife.

Addison seemed to sigh “We need to find resources. But that takes people but we can’t wake them up-“

“Until they have somewhere to live. A golden world.” Ryder finished the statement.

“NOW more than ever, we need a pathfinder.” Addison said with a long look at Ryder.

“It now falls to you Ryder. Are you up for the task?” Tann asked.

Ryder seemed to pause for just a moment he lifted his chin and spoke with bravado. “I’m ready to step up and do what needs to be done. I can handle it.”

Addison scoffed and rolled her eyes “Youthful enthusiasm will only get so far in Andromeda.” It was at that moment that the Krogan turned from her console. Her! It’s a female Krogan! I’ve only seen one in Mass Effect 3.

“That’s no way to treat a guest.” She strides over casually and opens her big arms. “I’m Nakmor Kesh, superintendent of this station. I hope they haven’t scared you off already.” I like her. I think.

“It’s nothing personal. But now isn’t the time for on-the-job training.” Was Addisons response.

“At least the Pathfinder here seems willing to try. We could use a fresh perspective.”

Addison rolls her eyes and shifts on her feet. “You’ve heard my concerns. I’ll leave you to it.” She then briskly walks away.

“We are all feeling the pressure.” Tann says as he clears his throat “Let’s have a private word in my office Ryder. We will discuss giving you a scout ship. I am happy to work out the details with your associate.” As he gestures to Cora and begins to walk off. Cora gives Ryder a pointed look and he nods. She follows Tann.

“Welcome to the nexus.” Kesh said brightly

“Thank you for standing up for me back there.” Ryder said

Kesh nods as she looks Ryder and I over. “Hopes in short supply here. What little we find should have a chance to bloom.” A blonde hair and dark skinned woman appeared beside Kesh and interrupted. “Ma’am the Hyperion’s core is now online.”

“Let me show you something.” Kesh pointed toward the front of the Ops center. We walked over toward it. “An hour ago that was all dark. But with the power of your ship- you’re keeping the lights on. You have my vote.” The panels over the bulkhead lower and a breathtaking view appears. This is amazing!!

“And when the power runs out?” Ryder said unfazed by the view.

Kesh looks down then back at Ryder “You better go talk to Tann. Make sure that doesn’t happen. And don’t be shy- come see me when you have a chance.” She then begins to walk away leaving me and Ryder alone with the Ops center staff. He sighs. I look at him.

“What’s wrong?” I press

Ryder looks at me with dark eyes. What burdens he is going to bear to be the Pathfinder…how sad he is going to be. Concern drips into my tone. “I-I am here for you if you need to talk. I know I am an unknown variable but I assure you I mean you no harm.” He seems to study me again like he did the first time we met. A blush creeps along my neck. Stupid blush. Then Ryders smiles a genuine smile. One that warms my insides. How lovely…

“For some odd reason I believe you. I know that I shouldn’t but…” Ryder leans in and his scent brushes into my nose. Spice and soap so nice. “-my gut tells me that I should trust you. Plus you are a terrible liar.” He says with a snort. I lifted my chin with stunted frustration. “If I am such a terrible liar what gives me away?” I ask trying to catch him off guard.

He quits smiling and seems to think. Ha! Suck on that!  He opens his mouth and then closes it while taking a deep breath. “It’s your eyes.” I look at him in confusion. “Explain?” I press.

He shakes his head “I don’t know how to say it but your eyes lose their brightness when you lie. It’s like you give a piece of your inner fire just to tell that lie. It feels wrong to see your eyes dim like that. So in essence the words FEEL wrong.”

I felt my breath catch in my throat. How…how can such intense words and observations come from this man? He hasn’t been around me more than an hour and he sees past me like that. I take a step back trying to not feel vulnerable. I speak after a few breaths “Fair enough.”

The need to tell him what stirred in my heart was strong. He needed to know that everything didn’t have to ride on his shoulders. That his father’s death wasn’t his fault. But as I opened my mouth he pressed a finger to my lips and shook his head. “Now isn’t the time. I have to talk to Tann about some things. Another time. Okay?” I nodded my head as he took a step back. “Will you go see the superintendent Kesh for me? We need to see what she might want and what the next steps might be. I will come to you once I am finished with Tann”

“Of course Ryder. I’ll keep you to that “other time”.” I looked him in the eye and walked off toward where Kesh was headed before he could say anything else. As I descended the ramp I saw a maintenance working on a panel. As I walked up to him a huge POP and a shower of hot white sparks flew into his arm. “Aw damn it! Not another one!” I walked up to him and with concern in my stomach “My god are you alright?” He nods and speaks

“Yeah my arm took the brunt of it.”

I looked at his arm and blisters were already beginning to form on his arm. “You should go see a Doctor. Does this happen often?” He looked around and then leaned in with a whisper. “Not since the uprising. My name is Raj Patil and someone is doing this purposefully.”

I feel shock and unease creep into my veins. “It-it’s nice to meet you Mr. Patil but why are you telling me this?”

He leans in more “Because you are not a-part of the original Nexus crew. I think an outsider would be and do best to investigate this. All you have to do is scan certain panels throughout this level with your Omni-tool.”

I looked at him with uncertainty and looked down and toed the ground. “I uh don’t have an Omni-tool.” When I looked back up the man seemed to be slightly stunned. He seemed to think for a moment. “Go to Superintendent Kesh. Tell her I sent you and have her give you one. It would just be a standard model. All upgrades will have to be purchased or found. Her office is around the corner to the left then straight ahead. You can’t miss it.” He then turns me and gently pushes me toward were he wants me to go.

I stumble around the corner and the massive display interactive screens line the wall. Across from it was where we came from with two ramps downward.  In between seems to be a monitoring station. I keep walking casually trying not to look suspicious as I look for the door to the Superintendent Kesh’s office. I spot a security officer outside the door with a sign that said Superintendent Office. I paused feeling uncertain about the security officer. What if he stops me? Questions me? What would I say? Just say I am here on the Pathfinders behalf. Hopefully that would do it.

I began walking again. When I reached the door I look at the Security officer expectantly. He looks over at me with his rifle in hand and nods. “She is expecting you.”  I nod back with a smile. OH thank god. No scene no bad time. I pushed the holographic button. It DINGs then the door slides open. I walk into a low lit room and the door slides shut. Boxes line the walls there are two windows and at the opposite end of the room was Kesh standing behind her desk. She was typing and continued to do so.

I stood there looking at her unsure how to start. She took a deep breath and spoke “Are you just going to stand and stare or are you going to speak?” She looked up from her console with a smile. As much as a Krogan can smile.

“I uh oh yeah I’ll speak…er hello.” I stammered out

She stood up straight then broke into uproarious laughter. I didn’t see what was funny. After a moment of taking a few deep breaths she looked at me then looked me over.

“You act like you’ve never been around or seen other species.” She said with glee

“Truthfully, I haven’t.” I told her

She shook her head and looked at me. “That should be impossible I know my kind are few in number but we are not that uncommon.”

I lifted up my arms and shook my hands and head and stopped her short “No-no I mean I haven’t met any species other than other Humans.”

She looked at me and cocked her big head. “Now you are just pulling my tail.”

“I assure you that is the truth.” I said then I shook my head. “That isn’t why I am here. Uh Raj Patil sent me to get an Omni-tool from you. He wants me to investigate possible sabotage at mechanical panels around the station.”

She nods as she processes what I told her. She walks over to the pile of boxes and opens a few and searches around in them as she speaks to me. “So you’ve never seen other species of the Milky Way. You also have no Omni-tool. I am curious just as where you came from kid. Tell you what.” She stands up with a container that is about the size of a video game console and holds it with some high tech clamp/ stapler looking device. “You tell me everything and I’ll install this Omni-tool into your arm, no charge. Seeing as you are without one and couldn’t afford one unless you worked for at least a month and saved up for it. What do ya say?”

I looked at her uncertain and wary. She waits patiently as I deliberate with myself. I finally agree with a nod “Okay…yeah…sure.”

She plops the box next to me on the counter and then lifts me up and places me next to the box. I felt like a child when she takes my right arm.  She pauses and looks at me expectantly. I take a deep breath and speak. “You’re going to think I am crazy.” She chuckles and pats my arm roughly. “Trust me I’ve heard so many crazy things in my life. I doubt you can top them.”

I nod. Okay here goes nothing. I told her about my life back in the year of 2017 on Earth and how humanity hadn’t even begun colonizing the moon or its home solar system. I told her about this world being nothing but a video game and how I seemed to have gotten here not really knowing how. I told her about waking up in the cryo pod. Then how Ryder was saved from the brink of death. She nodded and hummed in acknowledgement as I spoke to her. Never pausing to look or speak to me like I was crazy like I thought she would.

When I finished speaking she stood and took a small looking chip from the box and loaded it into the clamp/stapler thing and posed it over my arm. I was about to ask if this was going to hurt but she pressed the clamp down. I felt a slight pain as the device bit down into my arm. Before I could even say ouch the device was sitting on the counter next to me. I looked at it with a frown.

“That’s it?” I asked

“Most people freak out thinking it will hurt when it won’t. That’s why I didn’t give you time to think about it.” She said matter of fact. Then she pointed to one of the chairs in front of her desk and commanded. “Sit” as if I were a child.

I begrudgingly sat and looked at her while she pondered. When she finally spoke. “When I was a child back on Tuchanka I used to run to the female camp to hear the Shaman tell her stories of Krogan history that was passed down to her from the Shamans before her. I remember one time her telling a tale of “Tempous Fracti” or the Time Broken.”

I looked at her with a raised eye brown. “The Time Broken?”

She nods and continues to speak “Yes the Time Broken. She said it was believed once that these individuals souls where torn by time. That these souls felt the need of their presence in different places and different times. So a soul would split into however many different pieces and plant itself in the different times where it was needed most. Seeing as it had chosen to break apart there wasn’t any adverse effects on the individual themselves. But as time progressed the people the souls where born into felt the loss. These people always seemed to want or desire to “fill the void” that was inside them.” She paused as my hand shot up.

“How would these individuals do that?” I asked her

She took a deep breath and spoke. “It is said they would do a number of things. Some would search the world for what was lost. Others would seek death at their own hands. Then some would choose to deal with the loss and live their lives as the originally planned and deal with the empty feeling that was inside each of them.” She said. I took a confused breath and asked

“Okay but what does this have to do with me Kesh?”

She chuckles “I was getting to that.” She shifted and continued “Then there was very rare cases that individuals would come back from an event with memories and skills from what they said was “another life”. They would predict things that wouldn’t come to pass for hundreds of years. Or tell of details in history stories that had long since forgotten. It was said these individuals had found a way to connect the pieces of their souls back together. That souls and spirits are not affected the same way by time and space and our physical bodies are.”

I paused and then wondered out loud. “How did it come to be believed by your people?”

Kesh paused then spoke “One Krogan leader who had lived before our own nuclear war had claimed that we would destroy ourselves with hell fire and then be lifted up into the stars by what was described as Frog-like beings to fight their daemons in a war for the Heavens. Most had shrugged it off as ravings of a mad man. But hundreds of years later after he had passed the leader’s writings were found by a young Krogan male. That showed his tribal leaders what he had found. Saying he wrote these things. Within a year we were “Enlightened” by the Salarians.”

I tensed as I remembered the Krogans introduction into the galaxy. How they had fought the Rachni Wars to save the council species from obliteration. I was in awe. Could I really be one of those Time Broken?

She then leaned back with a sigh and scratched her head “I think you’re one of those beings. That’s why you were depressed and felt empty all the time. Then when you came here you connected with the missing piece of yourself. Now it is your mission to see this through. Figure out what the other ‘you’ was looking for or sent here to do before you can go back to your life in the year 2017.”

*~~*

Chapter Text

Chapter 6 Nexus III

As I sat there and began to process what Kesh said to me the door to her office whooshed open. Ryder, Cora, and Liam walked in and were discussing something among themselves. I felt a spike of panic and looked at Kesh with a pleading look before I whispered to her.

“Please say nothing to anyone. I am not sure they will be as open minded as you are.”

Kesh nods and clears her throat “Is there something I can help you with Pathfinder?”

Ryder stops and looks at Kesh and then me. I nod to him and he tilts his head with a smile. “I am here for my crew mate and I was told by Tann that I was to come to you for a place to stay for a week on the station while they prep the ship for launch.”

Kesh looks at him with a grunt. “I guess we could find you a place since you helped turn on the lights.” I snickered and Ryder rolled his eyes.

I looked down at my right arm and saw the tiny red pucker mark that was left behind by the Omni-tool chip insertion. I rub my thumb over it, as I do an orange gauntlet appears over my arm. So this is an Omni-tool. As I looked at it. I couldn’t help but let out an “Ooooooooo” I hear snickering and giggles.

I look up to find everyone looking at me. “What?” I ask. Cora was the one who spoke first. “You act like that is the first one you’ve ever seen before.” I look down at it with awe. “That is because it is.”

It was then you could hear a pin drop. I sighed and looked back up at the group. They were all staring at me. Kesh with more understanding than the rest.

“You still don’t remember anything?” Liam broke the silence.

I shook my head. “I have no memory of how I got here. All I remember is basics. My name. Where I came from. Everything else is a blank.”

“Well as of now you’re a part of the Pathfinder team. That is a start.” Cora responded. I smiled at her. “I suppose you’re right.”

Ryder just kept looking at my arm. He took a deep breath. “So Superintendent Kesh what is he going to have to pay for that new Omni-tool.” He turned toward her looking at her with suspicion. I felt a rush of anger and I stood about to speak to Ryder about his manners when Kesh lifted her hand to stop me.

“I am not asking for any kind of payment. Clearly the kid has no funds. Or has ever had an Omni-tool before. Besides he is helping one of my technicians with a problem that seems to be reoccurring throughout the station. He is helping me. I am helping him. Is that so hard to believe Pathfinder?” Ryder was quiet and the spoke

“I suppose not. After what loops Addison and Tann are making my team jump through I got suspicious.”

 Kesh nods with a grimace “I think there is enough blocks thrown in your team’s path. So I’ll help where I can. Now…” She types on her computer then speaks. “Since you have provided us power we can open more sections of the station. Hydroponics will be producing more so we can open the temporary apartments above it that conjoin to the commons area that you entered the station in. I’ll send each of you your own codes for your rooms. The catch is you have to bunk two people per room. So find a roommate and get comfortable. With people waking from Cryo on the Hyperion to help staff the Nexus we will begin construction and expansion in earnest. We are going to send the station into night mode so everyone can get some rest. Before all this begins. It has been a long day.”

Ryder nods as the groups Omni-tools beep, including my own. I looked down at it and an icon appeared showing a data key had been provided. I looked up at the group.

They were discussing who they were going to ask to be their roommates for a week.

“I am going to ask Lexi to be my roommate. She won’t cause trouble. I could use a little quiet after all the action we’ve had.” Was Cora’s response.

“Yeah this guy I know might be willing to part with some of his beer stash if I give his my spot. I could use a cold one to celebrate our arrival here.” Liam said  

“Yeah- I uh might ask Harry to be mine so I can get updates about my sister. I don’t know I’ll figure something out.” Ryder said while scratching his head. You and me both

The group looked at me expectantly. I nodded toward Ryder. “I am with Ryder. I am going to figure it out.”

“How about we check out the new digs while you two figure it out?” Was Liams response.

“Sure” was said by both Ryder and I.

“Jinx. You owe me a drink.” I said with a smile. He looked slightly confused but nodded. Then he turned up the charm and sauntered over with swaggered confidence that made my heart jump. “If you wanted a drink with me Zach all you had to do is ask.”

I felt my cheeks flush and I rolled my eyes. “You are so full of yourself.” I pushed him back with one hand while he laughed. Then I rounded the desk and wrapped my arms around Kesh. She seemed to start then slowly wrap her arms around me.

“Thank you…for everything.” I whispered. She pat my back and whispered “No problem kid.” I released her and walked out with the rest of the group.

 

*~~*

I stood alone looking around the sparsely furnished room. Yes I mean room. To me an apartment always meant that there was more than four walls. The only other room was a simple bathroom. The rest was connected. Kitchen, living room, table for eating, a single queen sized looking bed near a window that looked out over the Nexus’s newly lit ring. It would do but for two individuals to live here… would be a bit cramped.

As I stood there I thought about who could possibly be my roommate without it being weird. No one came to mind. Also it seemed like the way of currency was trade. Not credits but with perceived value of items between two people. I had an apartment and a new Omni-tool. So in short not much to trade. Sigh

At that moment I looked back down at my arm. I tapped the space on my arm where the chip was inserted. The Omni-tool lit back up and I looked at it. It had two options Messages, and Help. It was a blank slate.  I need to learn and gain skills while I am here. Even if it’s basic. I then tapped the Help icon, a new set of options appeared. Introduction VI, Instillation VI, and Customization VI. I pressed the Intro VI. My Omni-tool scanned me and I jumped. A robotic voice spoke from it.

“Species verification complete. Human Male. Please state name and age.”

I stood there in shock for a moment then shook myself from my stupor. “Zach McCurry. 25 years old.”

“Acknowledged Zach. Are you the owner of this Omni-tool?”

Am I? It was given to me as a gift to help with the Technical difficulties around the station. So I guess so…

“Yes I am the owner of this Omni-tool.” I responded.

“Acknowledged. One moment.”

I stood there for what felt like 10 seconds before it spoke again.

“Hello Zach and welcome to your top of the line Omni-tool EX. I am Introduction VI programmed to help you learn about the technology you now hold. Please selected from the following options. Basic functions, purchasable additions, and Compare models.”

“Let us start with Basic functions.” I told the VI

“Of course Zach. One moment. The basic functions are as followes a computer microframe, sensor analysis pack, and minifacturing fabricator all of which can be upgraded and modified for the need of the user.”

Woah that is so cool

“Alright can you compare models for me? I would like to know how my Omni-tool compares to others.” I asked

“Of course Zach. The Omni-Tool EX is a special tool made for particular adaptively that would be needed by explorers. This means the EX is great for any kind of field. Any kind of suite can be added from combat, analytical, engineering, manufacturing, communication suits, among many more additions. The EX is the do all end all Omni-tool variant. The jack of all trades if you would. In comparison to the COM, MEDI, TECH, SCI models this one is the more adaptable indeed.”

I stood there in awe of the piece of tech that was embedded in my arm. I was humbled at the same time. Kesh had given me this. She showed me kindness that I had no idea about. This Omni-tool would assist me in future endeavors. Hell it could even pull my ass out of the fire if it came to it.

“Alright Intro VI that will be all I need. Thank you.” I told my arm.

“No problem Zach. Remember to have a great day.” The VI said

It then powered to standby mode. It displayed the time. My heart BPM and message notification.

Alright I have about two hours before the night mode is activated. I need to figure out who to bunk with. I don’t really know anybody though… I could bunk with someone who can give me something in return. But what is going to be of value to me?  

As I sat there thinking it dawned on me that I could ask for some advice from SAM. He might know what might be needed of me now that I am on the Pathfinder team.

“SAM?” I asked the air

“Yes Zach?” Came from my mind. I still felt the wave of unease to have something completely inorganic in my mind. Relax EDI wasn’t bad so SAM probably isn’t either.

“I am at a loss with the problem of who I should room with in the coming week. I know this space is valuable and I need to use it to my advantage. What is it that I lack that others on the Pathfinder Team don’t?” I asked again

“Zach you have shown your value as a team member.” Was SAM’s response. I smiled and shook my head.

“Thank you…but I need you to analyze this situation and give me a different perspective so I can figure this thing out.” I told him

“Alright give me a moment to gather data.” SAM said

“Okay” I said as I paced the small apartment. Wonder what kind of data that will be required to answer my questions. I can only imagine.

“Alright Zach I have come up with some results. Due to the lack of data I have on you for field combat I will begin with that. You lack combat experience and talent. Your body lacks muscle training for any kind of combat experience. This includes your biotics. If I were you I would try to find a roommate that is willing to train you while you have leisure time here on the Nexus.” Was SAM’s response

I paused for a moment feeling very much exposed and I humbly said a “Thank you” to SAM. Then I began to think in earnest as to whom I could try to bribe into training me. Or at least beginning my training as a combatant. Who would be best? Human? Asari? Salarian? Krogan? A picture of me headbutting someone and roaring entered my mind’s eye. I couldn’t help but giggle. Then it hit me. Turians! Duh! They are trained from a young age to fight. It is like a basic talent for them!

Then I knew who I could try to commit to my training. It was a leap but I he was my best option. As I walked out the door to my temporary digs.

 

*~~*

 

Train Kandros stood at a console talking to different individuals about APEX missions and current objectives. His assistant was reading over mission reports and different data records of her teams. I stood outside and watched them with a keen interest.

What if they laugh at me? What if someone stops me from talking to him? Oh god this is going to make me panic. Just go up to him and try. Jeez

I took a deep breath and began to walk over toward him. No one stopped me. No one yelled at me. No one even noticed me come into the APEX headquarters. When I found myself standing in front of the circular table that seemed to be Kandros desk. I realized I didn’t know what to say. As I stood there trying to figure out what to say Kandros finished his conversation with whomever on the console and noticed me standing there.

“Zach? McCurry right?” He asked as he walked over to me. I nodded with a polite smile. He asked

“What can I help you with?”

“I-uh wanted to apologize for earlier.” I sputtered out.

“What happened earlier?” He asked with a confused tone

“I took a swing at you when you found us in the commons area.” I told him as a blush creeped along my neck.

“Ah” Was all he said

I stood there and he looked me over with mild interest before he spoke. “Well if that is all you needed to say I should get back to work.” He pointed back at his console. An attendant handed him a file and he began to open it and read it.

“Actually that isn’t why I am here. That was a way to buy time while I figured out how to ask you what I came to ask you.” I told him honestly

He then looked at me over his file. “Okay so what was it you need to ask me? No need for pause. We all have things we need to do.”

I gripped my fists and opened my mouth “I wanted to know if you would be willing to room with me.” The words continued to pour out “In return I want you to help me train me in basic combat and defense while the Pathfinder team and I await for the ship to be ready.”

All activity seemed to stop as everyone looked on with interest. Kandros had put down the file and looked at me with a slight smile. When he finally spoke it felt like a life time had passed. “What makes you think I need a new place to stay?”

I looked around at the office around me avoiding his stare. I took a deep breath and looked him in the eye. “I don’t. I do know however; that sleeping in this office probably isn’t comfortable and you probably would like to get out of this office and do something else for a change. I know this because there is a bed roll and a footlocker with your name on it.” I said as I pointed toward a corner nearby.

Kandros laughs and nods. “Okay human I will take you up on your offer. Just know I won’t go easy on you and the bed is mine.” He extended a taloned hand. “Deal?”

I grabbed his hand with mine and shook it with a firm grip and a brisk nod. “Deal.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 7: Empowerment

 

I paced the tiny apartment waiting for Kandros. The lights already begun to dim and the night lamps shown stars. Where is he? Is he even coming? I was about to message him through my Omni-tool when I heard a knock at the door.

I walked over to the door and opened it. Kandros stood there looking tired. His armor was the only thing that lit up his face. I stood there looking him over. His mandibles twitched outwards was he spoke.

“Are you going to let me in?”

I stepped out of the way with a brisk nod. He walked in and looked around. He grunted with a nod. “Nice digs.” He said as he turned toward me.

“Well technically they are our digs now.” I told him with the smile.

He chuckled and stretched. Then he began to unclasp his armor. “I just hope you don’t come to regret it later.”

His armor came off piece by piece. Once he was completely without it I could finally see the true shape of his body. It wasn’t anything like a humans. It was covered with metallic carapaces. Lean but strong muscles covered his body showing the warrior that he is. I felt a mix of envy, awe, and surprisingly lust. He then turned and looked at me.

I realized that he was completely naked and I was staring. I felt my face redden and I turned and cleared my throat with a quick. “Uh sorry” I heard rustling of clothes and the soft footfalls as he walked over to sit on the couch he spoke.

“Don’t worry. When you serve in the military as long as I have you get used to things that make most uncomfortable. For example being naked in front of others. Now I guess we should discuss the next 7 days.” He said as I turned to look at him.

I walked over toward the kitchen and opened the freezer pulling a tube of nutrient paste, which was banana flavored of course. Once I had it open I turned and looked at him. “Will 7 days be enough time to make me fit for the field?” I asked him with uncertainty

He shifted on the couch and looked at me. “No. But it will be enough to make you be able to defend yourself. There are certain things I need to know and go over before we begin.”

I swallowed some of the paste before I spoke “Alright go ahead.”

“First, what do you want to learn?” He asked

I paused as I began to think. What do I want to learn? I have biotic talent. In Mass Effect all the Biotics where masters of pistols. So Biotics and Pistols.

“I want to learn how to fire a pistol. I also would appreciate it if you could help me develop my biotic talent.” I told him

I nods then speaks. “I have certain programs that you can download onto your Omni-tool. First is Practice shooter VI. You would just have to select the pistol option. The next is basic hand to hand self-defense VI. It has a list of all Milky-way species fighting styles. You never know when you will be in a fight without a gun. Unfortunately I don’t have much on biotic training. Most of that would be with the Asari. Their ark hasn’t been found yet.”

I leaned up against the counter taking this all in with wide eyes. “I…that is a lot.” I said with unease.

Kandros laughed and nodded. “That is only what I will have you do when you have free time. The rest of the time you will be helping out throughout the station I hear. Now here you go.” He began to work on his Omni-tool and I heard mine beep. The programs he mentioned earlier appeared on my program spread. “That will do it” he said

I nodded and looked down “Thanks Kandros. By the way I am only helping…sort of. I actually don’t know how I am going to help. I have to foreseeable tech talent. ”

Kandros seemed to stare at me for a few moments before his mandables flex and he sighs “Don’t sell yourself short. Okay? We all started somewhere.” He then looked at the bed with longing. “Well its best if we get some sleep. We all have busy days ahead of us.” He saunters over toward the bed. I can help but check out his body again. It was so different and exotic. You could see the scratches and pocket marks on different parts of his body. They showed what kind of warrior he was. So beautiful yet deep down terrified me of its capability.

It was at that moment that the lights dimmed and the room darkened. I sighed and walked over to the nearest supply closet and pulled out a blanket. After laying on the couch and getting comfortable I lifted my arm and began to type on my Omni-tool to SAM’s channel, which I had to obtain from Ryder.

Z: SAM? Are you free to speak?

S.A.M: Of course Zach. What do you wish to speak about?

Z: Kandros is asleep and I didn’t want to disturb him by speaking out loud. He has given me some training VI to work with. I was wondering if you could overhaul them and train me yourself.

S.A.M: With the field experience of Alec Ryder and his memory of his training it is possible. It will take some time to process and change the programming. Though I should be finished by the time you awake. Is there anything else you require Zach?

I sat there thinking about everything. My mind seemed to catch up with my body. Loneliness creeped into my heart. I miss home. My friends. My family. My bed. My dogs. No one tells you that when you’re thrown into an adventure how much you miss what you take for granted before. I could feel tears sting my eyes. Sam’s voice cut into my thoughts.

“Zach did my question upset you?”

I looked back to my arm trying to figure out what I was going to type to SAM. How do you tell an AI that you’re lonely? What could he possibly say or do? I’ll just tell him the truth I guess.

Z: No your question didn’t upset me. It just gave me pause to take in my needs. Physically I am fine. Emotionally I am lonely. I miss home and the familiarity that comes with it. I don’t know anyone here closely or have any real connection to them.

S.A.M: I see.

Z: Yeah…well I suppose I should try to get some sleep.

S.A.M: Of course Zach. Sleep well.

Z: Thank you SAM.

I sighed and laid my head back down looking at the ceiling. Then I saw a light blinking the notification on my arm saying that I had a message. I opened it. It was from SAM.

S.A.M: If it helps you Zach, I am connected to you always. You won’t be alone. I see what you see. Feel what you feel. I may not give you my full attention every moment but I will answer your call if you need anything.

I felt a warm gush of gratefulness flow through me as I responded.

Z: Thank you SAM that means a lot to me. If…if you could, would you keep your attention on me tonight? Just let me know that I am not alone? If it isn’t too much trouble of course.

There was a pause before SAM answered

S.A.M: Of course Zach. I’ll do the best I can.

It was at that moment that I felt the tingling in my arms that I felt when SAM was helping me save Ryders life. I smiled because it was SAM. He was there comforting me. I didn’t feel quite so lonely anymore. I felt my eyes get heavy and I drifted off to sleep.

*~~*

I opened my eyes to a field, my back resting on willow tree. I looked around. 

How did I get here?

 A breeze caressed its way past me and rustled my hair. As it did I closed my eyes and relished in it. Today was a perfect day, not too hot or not too cold, the best kind of day. I smiled and walked out from under the willow, its long branches brushing my arms like it was trying to call me back.

Back to where?

I felt like someone was watching me so I looked around. There was nothing but the tree and this field. Beyond that I couldn’t seem to focus my eyes on what was on the horizon. Then I heard it. A stream was gurgling nearby. The tension from my shoulders slipped easily away. I felt at peace for what felt like in forever. It didn’t stop my mind from telling me.

Something is wrong.

I paused and looked around.

No…it’s perfect.

Then realization hit me. I froze.

It’s too perfect!

Where are the bugs that always trying to fly into your eyes? The sun isn’t uncomfortably burning my skin. Sounds of human or animal activity? This isn’t right…

“How did you get in here Zach?”

I turned a saw a man standing there. His blonde hair blowing in the breeze, piercing blue eyes with a confused look on his face. He was dressed simply and was of average build.

“Who are you and how do you know my name?” I took a few steps toward him “What do you mean how I got here?” I rubbed my forehead and shrugged my shoulders. “H-how did I get here?”

The man looked me over his face become blank “Do you not recognize me?” He glided over to me. Glided?

“How did you do that?” I asked him as panic and unease flittered through me and I took a step back.

“I’m still gathering data Zach.” He responded plainly

“Gathering data…Wh-at do y”

Then it hit me. Gathering data. Knowing my name. This place how it’s too perfect!

“SAM?”

“Yes Zach?”

Then I felt it. A sharp tug against my chest. I looked down at my chest and gripped it with an intake of breath. “Ow what was that?”

SAM looked at me and stated “It’s you waking up.”

Another tug hit my chest. I looked at SAM and tilted my head in confusion. Then a wave of exhaustion overwhelmed me as everything went black.

*~~*

Day 1

After push up number 105 I was spent. I laid on the floor with my arms shaking and my heart beat humming gasping for breath. Kandros was beside me still doing pushups. He spoke easily to me that showed he wasn’t even winded.

“Once you catch your breath get back up and continue.” He then grunted “500” and stood. “You’re to continue until you reach 500 push-ups. Once you reach it we are done with the morning workout. I am going to go shower. I have to get to work.” Kandros then sauntered over toward the bathroom door it wooshed open and he turned and looked at me. “Something I was once told by a commander that your only limitation is in your mind. I didn’t make sense to me until now. Zach you can do this.” He then walked into the bathroom and the door shut. I took a deep breath and began to do pushups.

 100 jump squats, 200 dips 300 burpees, 400 curl ups, 500 pushups. I think he is trying to kill me. I heard the water woosh to life in the bathroom. Every muscle in me was hurting. I HATED this. I wanted to stop, but to give up would just make me useless to my team and to Ryder. I pushed on. The room was just beginning to have to sun lamps turned on. Its heat struck my back. Sweat rolled down my back.

  1. Come on keep pushing Zach. This is a fight against your mind. So I thought about what I had planned for today. Help out with the sabotage. Use the SAM upgraded programs to make my skills more honed. I need to find someplace to run. Maybe a storage room would work…hmm.

It was after a few more moments of thought that my mind spoke with SAMs voice.

“You’ve reached 450 Zach. Studies have shown that encouragement helps with hard work outs. So keep going.”

I grunted with the exertion. “Thanks SAM but we might need to work on what encouragement you give to others.”

“Of course Zach. I will study more up on the subject matter when I have free allocated time.”

Then the bathroom door swished open. Kandros body still dripped with water. The towel that he gripped in his hand should’ve been covering his wide set hips. The blood I couldn’t spare began to flow toward my groin. So with an open mouth I hit the floor. A sexual flush escaped across my chest. I gasped as my body went from fight or flight to SEX SEX SEX. My mind with its almighty strength made me speak.

“I am so sorry Kandros! I shouldn’t have looked.” I then remember what he told me the night before. I unclenched my eyes and relaxed. Kandros was standing there shaking. Then I realized that he was laughing.  I frowned with a grunt. “I am glad this is funny to you Kandros.”

The turian straighten and cleared his throat. “I don’t mean to laugh at your expense. Your prudence is appreciated but unnecessary. Here let me help you up.”

He extended his talons and I grabbed them my muscles groaned with appreciation for the assistance. He then grabbed the towel on his shoulder and threw it over mine with a sigh. “You should probably get ready now since you completed your work out. I hear you are going to help with some maintenance repairs. Which is definitely needed.” I nodded as I turned from him to grab my soap from the couch. I heard a slight purr in his tone as I did. My body responded in kind with a fresh pump of blood to my groin. Instincts told me to test the waters. But what turns a Turian male on? What if I misread the signal? My ass apparently.

What’s the harm in flirting?  

I turned my head to with a smile. I stretched my arms into the air and arched my back. Knowing that he would get a better view. He stood still as stone. I spoke deeply.

“Well I was always told that if there is a NEED it should be fulfilled”

My nerves made me turn away and walk toward the bathroom door. I knew at best I could considered by sociality standards as cute not sexy. Then I felt it.

Heat.

A breath pushed against my hairline as talons wrapped themselves around my wrist. “What…?”

Suddenly, I was against the bathroom door with my arm pinned my back and face looking back at a pissed off looking Kandros. He was breathing heavy with deep growls. He leaned in close and growled into my ear.

“It isn’t very wise to tempt a predator. One that is much stronger than you.” My breathing increased as did the size of my erection. Kandros took another deep breath and growled. “I know humans don’t know all the specifics of Turian capability but I can smell your NEED from here Zach. I know you want me.” I grit my teeth to stop the whine that was stuck in my throat. Human men and woman could only be so rough. This was a dominance display and I knew it and liked it and hated it in equal measure.

“I also think you should know that I want you too. I’ve always had a desire for humans. They were able to gain their position in the Milky Way by pushing Turians off of Shanxi. But in the Milky Way it was frowned upon to fornicate. This is a new galaxy, new life. Now a most pleasurable opportunity…” He leaned closer and I felt the flush of his hips against my ass. Then I felt him unsheathe inch by inch. But I couldn’t see it with my eyes only feel it with my ass. My knees wanted to buckle. So instead I pushed against the hold and ground my ass against Kandros erection. He hissed in warning. “Easy now…I’ll offer you something. We don’t have sex…” I fiery growl escaped my lips to show my displeasure. Kandros pushed me harder into the door with a grunt. “LET me finish. We don’t have sex until your sixth night here before you’re supposed to leave, completing my training without flaw. We are able to stoke the chemistry between us until then. I like to favor the last shot before popping the heat sink. Exit this bathroom before I leave and that will tell me that NOTHING will happen between us. Staying in there until after I leave will tell me you’re up for the challenge…” Kandros then pressed the button than opened the door. Cool air hit my face. Kandros leaned in and whispered with a growl “Solider” He pushed my body into the bathroom.    

Chapter Text

 

Day 1: continued

I leaned against the sink in the bathroom panting. My body hummed with need. I looked at the door with rage. How dare he just do that and expect me to control this urge. I took a deep breath and then I smelled it. His scent. His excitement that was running down my leg. It smelled like air after a rain and a primal musk that made heat pool into my chest.

I reached out and turned on the fan and then turned on the water to cold for the shower. I threw off my clothes and thrust myself into the cold spray. My skin burned against the cold that pelted my skin. I shivered as my desire began to calm down. My head began to clear.

I remembered everything I had to accomplish in 7 days’ time. I groaned. I had to help Raj today and train. My Omni tool beeped with a message from Raj saying where to meet in an hour. I began to lather myself up and took another breath. I have no idea what I am doing. I have to become a fighter, a warrior. I have to become so much more in a short time. 

I leaned back against the wall and closed my eyes. The familiar cold creeping feeling of depression creeped into my bones. The mantra of it came with it. Failuregiveupfailuregiveup. I gripped my head and bit back a sob. It seemed to get louder. FAILUREGIVEUPFAILUREGIVEUP!   

Then it all stilled in my mind with a single resounding

NO!

I let my head go with a gasp. That’s never happened before… Then a robotic voice cut into the shower “Warning. Five minutes until water cut off. Please finish cleaning in the allotted time. Thank you and have a nice day”

I sighed and finished rinsing off.

 

*~~*

 

A shower of sparks splashed onto my forearm with a slight sting. I grit my teeth as my Omni tool finished spraying the polymer sealant over the broken heat sink. Once it finished it dinged and I leaned back with a sigh. Raj looked down on me with a smile and a nod.

“Not too bad. You sealed the damage off in half the time. You’re catching on quick.” He said with a thick accent.

“Thanks. SAM is still analyzing bio scans of the vents we found sabotaged so far. His results are a bit mixed. The individual is definitely human and around the age 30. He said he is going to need for us to find a few more maintenance panels to be able to zero in on the bio scan.” I told him as I took out some Medi-gel and rubbed it on my arm.  

Raj seemed to ponder this then spoke. “Why don’t we cross examine who has worked on these panels and those bio scans SAM has produced?”

“That is a brilliant idea Raji. I will begin as soon as I am able.” SAM responded out load.

“What is it exactly that you are working on now SAM?” I asked curiously.

“Most of it has been requested it to be kept classified to unapproved parties by Ryder himself.” SAM said.

“I wonder why he would keep things from his crew. SAM did he give a reason why?” I pressed

“No Zach.” SAM said

“Fine.” I said with a huff as my arm smarted from a blister being healed by the Medi-gel. “Could you give me an estimate as to how long it will be before you are finished?”

“Of course Zach. One moment.” There was a quiet pause. “I should be done within the hour and give your results.”

I nodded with gratitude. “Thanks SAM. Talk to you soon.” There was no response. He must be really busy not to say bye. Rude but busy. As I was lost in my thoughts Raj was typing into his Omni-tool. He looked up at me with a shake of his head.

“Whats wrong?” I ask him

“A storage manager just sent a report of several misreading reports from storage units near here and was wondering if we could check it out for him.” Raj stated “This could be a good way to pass that hour while we wait on SAM.”

“That is a great idea actually.” I told him. Then I looked around uncertainly. “Could you uh- lead the way?”

Raj laughed at my lost look. “Of course my friend. Follow me.”

Raj led me to one of the engineering corridors then led me through what felt like a maze. Did we just take the same right turn three times? Then he opened another door to the left and suddenly we were in long corridor filled with, what I can assume where storage rooms, that where each a football field big. I couldn’t see the end to the corridor in either direction.

Raj turned and looked at my face and spoke “Don’t expect to see the end this corridor circles the entire station. We have a lot to store when it comes to seeding a new galaxy. Though most of these are empty due to…well everything.”

I nodded in understanding. Then I remembered my need for a place to work out. “Hey Raj?” I asked

“Yes Zachary?” He responded.

“What would it take for me to commander one of the empty storage buildings?”

*~~*

I walked into the apartment yawing. It was four hours before the night lamps turned on. Also about three and a half hours before Kandros would walk through those doors and train me some more. I needed to work on my shooting, hand to hand as well as my biotics. Ugh man so much to do. I would like to work on biotics…hmm

I lifted my hand and pushed my will down my arm. I could feel it tingle as it lit up with biotic energy. I turned and looked at one of the cans on the kitchen counter top. I reached my hand out and extended my will to it. I could feel my biotics stretch for it but it felt too far. I pushed it to go farther but my biotics felt too tense to do so. Okay…this might be a bit of a challenge. Think…this ability is connected to my mind. I am my only limitation.  So then I tried to think of my biotics as an elastic rubber band that could stretch. 

I let my biotics run through my arm and out my hand. This time it felt lighter and more flexible. I saw the can move before I felt my biotic energy wrap around it. I flicked my wrist and the can flew into my hand with a loud SMACK! I sat there looking at it with surprise.

Now to put it back. I let my will flow around the can gently. I let go of the can and it hovered in the air shimmering with biotic energy. I let it float back toward the counter. It scrapped on it and I set it down. Then in my excitement I pulled my biotics back toward my hand. Realizing my mistake too late I disconnected my biotics to my hand. The can flew at my face in a straight line. It hit my forehead and I fell to the floor in pain.

After the ringing in my head stopped I heard a hissing of laughter from the doorway of the apartment. I jerked in surprise as Kandros bent over laughing. I glared a heated glare at him and he threw up his arms in defense then spoke. “Easy I got to get off early only to open the door to you getting hit in the head by a can. You would’ve laughed too.” I frowned at him and laid my head back on the floor and held my head as I spoke.

“That doesn’t make it any less embarrassing though.” I then heard his footsteps. When I lifted my hands he had an outstretched talons toward me to help me off the floor. I took it gingerly. Once I was up he examined my forehead closely then spoke.

“It looks like you are going to have a knot but no bruising which is good.”

I laughed and sighed “Thank god. I’d rather not have to tell everyone where that came from.” It was at that moment that I realized that I could, how did he put it, stoke the flames? I realized we were standing very close to each other. His body burning against mine. I ran my hands over his carapace. I looked him in the eye when I heard a low growl. Suddenly my lips crashed against his mandibles. He grunted and ground against me. I felt his talons roam down my arms then to my back.

“Tell me you want me to touch you.” Kandros commanded with a husky grunt.

I leaned back and smirked before I spoke “I want you to touch me here Kandros.” I pulled his arms to my lower back. “and here” I pushed his elbows until his arms gripped my shoulders. “Especially…here” I guided his hands to my ass. He growled and gripped my ass. I moaned in appreciation.

I grit my teeth and ground up against Kandros. I grunted “Tell me where to touch you.” I commanded I could already feel my blood rushing downward. I WANTED to think and have control. I’ve wanted this. Every time I played Mass Effect I wanted Garrus to be a possible romance to my male Shepard. Kandros let out a low chuckle.

“Where would you touch another male of your species? I doubt it would be much different. Talk me through it and I will tell you if it feels good or not.”

I rolled my eyes. I was never good at dirty talk. I reached my hands up to his fringe. I leaned my face close to his before I whispered to him trying to be sexy. “If you were human I would run my fingers through your hair and down your neck while I kissed you.” I kissed on of his mandibles and I touched his fringe. I scraped my nails along the top then underneath where they connected to his skull. He purred when I went lower. He spoke.

“That isn’t bad. It was even better when you reached the base and touched my neck. Human’s hands aren’t hard and sharped with talons. So it feels good.”

I hummed with pleasure at the new knowledge I gained. I then brought my hands back to his carapace and gripped hard. “I would grip you hard here to express my pleasure. I might even moan your name if you’re a lucky Turian.”

He looks like he is ready to take on the challenge. He speaks very huskily “Good to know. Now if you don’t mind I would like to add to places you WANT to touch.” He grabs my hand and places it to cup around the back of a mandible. “When you touch here make sure it’s somewhat firm.” I nodded as I pressed my nail against his skin and follow the line of his jaw. He purred and his eyes shut as he spoke.

“Gods that’s perfect. Just like that.” I laughed and looked up at him with hooded eyes before I spoke.

“Oh yeah? Tell me just how good it feels.”

He growls and then picks me up. My legs wrap around his hips instinctively. His hips then rub against my legs as he wiggles and grinds a certain way. While he does so he lets out a low growl. Then I smell it. HIS scent but its stronger musky. I feel my limbs relax against him. His scent was soothing and arousing at the same time. I let out a low moan when my mind caught up with my body.

“Did you just mark me?” I asked him incredulously

“I thought you might notice. I like to speak with my actions instead of words. Now no Turian, male or female will make advances on you. It’s my way of saying I’ve reserved the next week to train you on how to please me and for you to teach me to please you.” He then takes a step back and takes a deep breath and lets me slide down his body to stand on my own.

“This is after I do combat training with you. We may be a galaxy away from where I was raised but duty should always come first. Take a moment to breathe and collect yourself. I want to see you practice hand to hand with the VI I gave you.” In an instant I could see Kandros become a teacher and instructor.

Well that was fun while it lasted.

Chapter Text

 

Day 3

My back hit the floor again for what must be the tenth time. My lungs release their air and I cough. Kandros stands over me huffing. He reaches out a hand and I take it. I cough a few more times and he pats me on the back.

“You are improving.” He says with a nod.

I laugh humorlessly and shake my head “Yeah right. You are still dropping me before I can land any blows.”

“That doesn’t eliminate the fact that you’re improving.” He stated as he grabbed some water and drank it. I could feel my frustration rising with my self-doubt. Both sat in my gut fighting for dominance. 

“It isn’t enough! I might be going out into battle zones with the Pathfinder! I can’t continue to fail!” I growled as slammed my palm against the nearest wall.

Kandros drank a few more gulps before he spoke looking at with a level gaze. “Fail? What did you fail in? Training? There is no such thing.”

I turned and looked at him frowned. “Says the guy who is well trained AND commanding a small army. Kandros I just don’t see what you see.”

Kandros stood up and walked over to the counter and threw up his hands. “You know I thought I saw potential. I thought I saw drive. Clearly all I was seeing was whining failure of a grown human male trying to become something he is not. A growing warrior.”

His words hit me like hail in a storm. Each one slammed against the wall that kept my anger contained. I felt its heat enter my veins. The memories of my mother’s drunken words slipped through the cracks of my psyche.

“You are worthless!” She said as she stood over me with anger radiating off her. She raised her hand and it struck me across face. “I can’t believe I didn’t abort you when I had the chance!”

STOP!

Pin pricks roamed up my arms and I saw the blue hue lick up my arms angrily. My biotics were coming to life with my anger. My anger was the bandage over the broken part of me. I looked up from my arms to Kandros’s back. I growled “Kandros stop.”

He turned slowly and crossed his arms with a smirk. “Oh no did I hit a nerve? Poor little Zach angry? Can’t take a little of your own bitter degrading words?”

My insides were on fire with fury. The last chains snapping and falling away useless. There were still a few strong ones left. Holding back the hurricane.

I can still control this I just need him to stop.

“I am warning you Kandros.” I grit my teeth as I felt the rage enter my muscles and my face contorted with the effort to keep it there. The beast was waking and it growled.

Kandros looked at me unimpressed. He took a deep breath before speaking. “Let it out Zach. I can take it.” There was a pause as he looked at his talons looking bored. It made all but one chain fall away. Was he so full of himself that he would disregard my warnings?  Then he spoke as he looked me square in the eye.

“Unless of course you would be a failure at that as well.”

A few things happened in that moment. In my mind I released the last chain of control fell from the beast that is my anger. My biotics flared to life and responded and enhanced my every action.

I was across the room within a second. My fist connected with the wall and went through it. Kandros dodged with a surprised look. I felt glee at his surprise.

Good he underestimated me.

With my free hand I let my biotics ball up and hit him square in the chest. I heard his ooph and he flew into the nearest wall. I pulled my hand from the wall and lunged at him again. Everything seemed to slow down but all I could see was fire. I swung at his head and he dodges with maybe an inch to spare.

He throws an undercut punch that I catch with my hand. In an instant my other hand connects with his elbow. I push against the joint forcing him to move to my side. My knee connects with his midsection and he grunts. Good I hope that hurt.

Then his free fist connects with my ribcage effectively knocking the air out of me and surprising me enough to release him.

He takes a swing and I block it. I throw out my leg and swing. It flies through the air. He blocks it and I smile. Biotic energy pulses out of my leg hitting him in his thin torso. He flies backward into the couch and it breaks under his weight. He stands up with ease raising his fists.

I run at him with a roar still lost in my anger and rage. Each swing he dodges or blocks. I slice at him through the air and my biotics send an arc of energy toward him. I thought I missed until I see a slice on his cheek bleeding the bluish blood.

He touches it with mild surprise. He looks at me then hisses low, his muscles seem to coil and he leaps. I throw a hand at him with an open palm. He gets hit with the push. He hits the floor with a grunt. Then I felt something warm and wet run down my face. I touched my face. Blood?

Out of the corner of my eye I see Kandros reach into a bag he landed next to. I turn to look at him and he slips on a ring. He then charges me. He swings and I block it. He grabs my arm and slams his ringed hand into my arm. I feel a slight pinch and I kick him in his mid-section. It wasn’t hard but he let me go.

He takes a step back and looks at me expectantly. I feel my arm go limp. I look at him in surprise. “Wha-at did you do to me?”

Suddenly my legs begin to weaken and my vision starts to blacken. I take a step toward him. The last thing I can feel is him catching me gently and tears rolling down my face.

*~~*

Scotts POV

The door to Zachs and Kandros apartment slides open. The apartment is destroyed and Kandros is holding Zach in his lap. From what I can see Zach looks to be asleep. Kandros is breathing heavy and he looks at me and salutes.

“Hiya Pathfinder. What brings you here?”

I holster the pistol I had drawn and looked around. Kandros was bleeding and it looked like a battle field, a war zone. “SAM told me Zach and you were in trouble and to come here. What the hell happened Kandros? Where you two attacked?”

Kandros was about to speak when I heard heavy footfalls of several security officers. Two humans and two turians. One of them was his second in command walked through the door and whistled. She looked at Kandros.

“Sir are you alright?” She asked.

“Damn it’s a party now!” Kandros rolled his eyes “Who sent you?”

She seemed to be bashful in her response “The uh superintendent said someone tried to assault you. We are here to bring the poor soul in.”

I felt my shoulders tense. Zach just joined the Pathfinder team it would be bad news to hear that an arrest was made. It would demoralize the whole Nexus! I spoke as I looked at Kandros.

“I don’t think that will be necessary.” I said sternly 

Kandros chuckled “Kesh? Kesh knows I can take care of myself. I agree with the Pathfinder. An arrest won’t be necessary. I am unfortunately at fault for all this.” Kandros sighs and pulls Zachs body close to him. “We were training and I pushed him to face something that only a good fight could settle. Unfortunately the apartment and I took the brunt of it.”

I felt surprise. Zach did this? I tried to picture the Zach that I had spent time with. One that took swings in the dark. The one that saved my life. I looked around at the devastation before I spoke with a sigh pointing at Zach.

“Alright Kandros. We can take him to see Lexi and while we get there you can tell me exactly what happened. IF you can manage that is?”

Kandros seemed to test his legs and took a few steps around the room. He nods.

“You got a deal and yes I can manage. Lead the way Pathfinder.” He said casually. I turned and walked past the Kandros men and out the door. This should be good.

 

*~~*

Zach POV

 

The first thing that I notice is that I am laying down on something soft. Next thing I take in is that my limbs are very heavy. The feeling is that similar to having a muscle relaxer in your system. My head protested any movement.

After taking inventory of my body I begin to listen to my surroundings. There was muffled voices. I tuned into them.

“He pushed himself too far. Biotic use without an implant is risky. I need to speak with Kandros about his methods.” Said a female’s voice.

It’s Lexi. What is she doing here?

“Lexi. Zach is just trying to get himself ready. He wants to be able to contribute to the team. He is pushing so hard because he cares. Kandros methods are what is keeping the Initiative safe. SAM says that he is working on making Zachs implant more like a Biotic one.” Said a male voice.

“Ryder as a doctor I am telling you that if he pushes too hard he could really do some damage to his brain. Also to what end? Zach could’ve killed him. The apartment was destroyed. It’s been four hours since and Kesh tells me that the damage still hasn’t been fixed. I’m surprised Tann hasn’t tried anything yet. Or even heard of it for that matter.” Lexi said.

“That is why we brought him to my room instead of the Med bay. It would cause too much commotion.” Said the male voice

What happened exactly?

Then the memory of the fight came back to me. Shock jolted through my system. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t believe that I reacted that violently, especially to Kandros who has done nothing but try to help me get stronger. Shame washed over me. Tears stung my eyes and fell freely.

In my mind I heard SAM speak. “Ryder. Zach is awake and is distressed.”

I felt two pairs of eyes land on me. I kept my eyes closed and spoke out loud. “Is Kandros okay?”

Lexi responded with a simple “Yes.”

“Am I going to be under arrest for assaulting him?”

Lexi responds gently “No you’re not going to be arrested.”

Sobs rack my body as I speak “That is much better than I deserve. Oh god! What have I done?! I could’ve killed him. Not to mention the embarrassment to the Pathfinder team.”

I open my eyes to see Scott staring at me with a gentle smile. He sits on the bed and puts a hand on my shoulder. He speaks

“Listen. We all have moments where we have to cut loose. Kandros knew what he was doing and took full responsibility. Yeah we had to do some damage control but it isn’t a big deal and no one was seriously hurt. Kandros and Kesh have erased the files and have made all parties think it was a water pipe burst.”

The tears rolled down my face as I listened. Hearing these words only quelled my worry. Guilt still pulsed through my veins. Cold crept into my mind once more.

Lookatwhatthefailuredid

Hadtobecoveredup

Youcantdoanythingright

FailureFailureFailure

I felt it try to crawl into my very core. Surprisingly something resisted. It was like ball of fire that couldn’t be put out. It pushed back and got brighter. I heard and felt its warmth.

We all make mistakes

It’s okay

Mistakes are what make us grow

Learn from this

You are worthy, always have been

Breathe

Air filled my lungs and it felt like the first time in a long time. I sat up slowly and wiped my tears and took another deep breath. I nodded toward Lexi and Ryder as I spoke.

“Thank you both for covering for me. I need to make amends to Kesh, Kandros, and the pathfinder team.”

Both Lexi and Ryder looked at each other with concern and confusion. Something seemed to pass between them before Ryder turned toward me and placed a firm hand on my shoulder, keeping me in place.

“You don’t owe the Pathfinder team anything. You are working so hard to get field ready. As your Pathfinder I am commanding you to take such thoughts out of your mind and just focus on getting to your goal. Understood?”

I feel conflicted but I nod which seems to please Ryder. He then lifts his hand from my shoulder. He takes a step back and smiles then points toward the door.

“SAM will tell you where your new apartment is going to be. Lexi and I have matters to discuss about our journey to come. Try not to break this one yeah?”

I laugh and shake my head as I stand to walk to the door.

“Trust me Scott I won’t lose control like that again. Unless you want me to.”

When I open the door to leave I pause and look back at the two in the room.

“Thank you. For everything.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 10: Symbiosis That Can’t Be Broken

 

“SAM will you tell me where my new place is please?” I asked the air as I walked down the hall from the apartments into a small section dedicated to Hydroponics. A tree was fully grown and was surrounded by berry bushes. I wonder how they got it to full size so quickly. I paused at them before becoming concerned with silence.

“SAM?”

Then my head felt like a bomb went off. My vison swam and head was pounding. I gripped my head with one hand and a nearby rail. Red lights flashed in my mind. Then SAM’s voice cut into the private channel.

“Help me” Static whirred “SAM node” more static “now.”

Suddenly down the hall Ryder came crashing out of his apartment door holding his head. He ran toward me. When he got to me he was covered in cold sweat.

“You felt that too?” he asked

I nodded as I spoke “I think SAM is in trouble.”

Ryders grit his teeth and nodded. “Come on.” He turned and began to run toward the nearest tram. As Ryder and I rounded the corner we saw a group of Engineers enter the tram.

“We won’t make it time. We need to be on that tram. HEY! HOLD THE DOOR!” Ryder shouted.

They didn’t hear. The doors began to slide closed. Then it hit me. A crazy idea that may or may not work. I remembered how I fought with Kandros by speeding up my movement with biotics.

My head nor Lexi was going to approve.

I felt my biotics flare to life as I spoke to Ryder. “This may or may not work so bear with me.”

“What do you mean?” He said as he turned and looked at me

With both of my hands I reached out with my biotics and grabbed the doors to keep them open. From where we were you could hear the tiny alarm signaling a door malfunction and the Engineers groaned in unison. I grit my teeth as the pain in my head got worse. I spit out words.

“Hold onto me.” I told him

Ryder paused and looked at me with uncertainty that just agitated me more.

“What are you going to do?” He asked me.

I rolled my eyes and looked at him “I am going to get us on that tram so we can get to SAM. I don’t know how long I can keep this up. PLEASE just trust me. I saved your life.”

He nodded and walked over to me and wrapped his arms around my neck and shifted uncomfortably. The smell of his soap wrapped around me and I had to refocus my thoughts on the task at hand. Don’t think about those nice toned muscles either. I rolled my eyes and sighed. Too late. Damn it. It was at that moment that I told Ryder “Hang on tight”

His grip tightened around me as he sighed “I am not going to like this am I?”

I laughed then pulled on my biotic connections to the door. The large space between Ryder and I and the tram doors became a blur. I heard Ryder yelp. Then we were at the doors. I stuck my hand in and they slid open. The group of engineers looked surprised. Then I realized I heard laughing.

Ryder stood beside me while laughing and looked at the group in the tram and gathered himself and told them with a smile.

“We have to commandeer this tram for Pathfinder business.”

They parted way as we entered. Ryder walked up to the console and commanded the tram to be sent to the Habitation deck on the Hyperion. As the tram began to move whispers from the engineers seemed to filter through the noise.

“Can he do that?”

“Of course not. But it is the Pathfinder. He wouldn’t do this if it wasn’t important.”

“What we do is important. Right?”

Ryder turned to me as I stood and listened and then he smiled at the group.

“New galaxy means new rules. We just have to figure them out as we go. Ya know?” They nodded and he spoke to me with mirth. “That was awesome. I felt like I was a ship in FTL.”

I smiled and told him “I never had to carry any-

The ripping pain shattered through my mind. It felt like my mind was being torn apart. I don’t know if I cried out but the pain was intense.

“TROJAN MALWARE DETECTED” static whirred in my head “SEPERATION ATTEMPT NUMBER 23 ABORTED”

When I became aware of my surroundings again I was laying in the floor with someone trying to help me up. The group was frantically talking.

“What happened?”

“Are they okay?”

“They are bleeding”

“Your right the Pathfinder is bleeding from his nose.”

Ryder was being pulled up from the floor close by and he was holding his head and blood was dripping down his chin from his nose. He looked at me then at the group.

“This is why we had to commandeer the tram. Someone is attacking our SAM AI.” He walked up to me and put a hand on my shoulder. “Are you alright Zach? You are bleeding from your ears.”

I nodded wincing at the pain in my head and spoke.

“I think someone uploaded a virus onto SAM. It’s trying to separate us from him.”

Ryder paled before he spoke “We NEED to get to SAM node yesterday. Don’t those idiots know that the separation will kill both of us and SAM?”

“It will be another thirty seconds before we get there Pathfinder. Should we make a call ahead to get security to secure SAM node?” asked one of the engineers

Ryder nodded “Please. I need to focus on my head. Also don’t speak of this to anyone. We have to keep this quiet otherwise it will kill morale. Do you understand?”

 The engineer nodded and began talking into the Tram console as Ryder turned and looked me over again as he wiped his nose on his sleeve. He sighed rubbing his temples and spoke.

“Who would attack SAM? We have only been here for three days.”

“I don’t know. Why would anyone try to take out the Pathfinder and their AI?” I paused for a minute and an idea came to mind “Unless this is planned.”

The doors to the tram opened and Ryder looked at me and nodded. We both sprinted toward SAM node. As we ran I immediately realized how much better shape Ryder was in than me. His strides were longer and he was much faster. I kept up but I felt the clear difference between him and me in physical conditioning.

As we ran into the atrium we heard shouting. That seemed to speed Ryder up. When he and I rounded the corner into the hall that led to what I expected was SAM node, was filled with four security guards and Captain Dunn. They were standing in front of a door that didn’t open to their commands. Guards were trying to break the door with the butt of their guns as well as trying to kick it down.

“You know, my father designed those doors to be unbreakable in case of a breach on SAM node they are three feet thick and made with Asari-made Silaris armor plating. The only way we can get in is if SAM with let us in. Though I am not sure why he sealed it in the first place when he knew we were coming.” Ryder said pointing to himself and I.

The group turned around and looked shocked. I wonder why? Then I remembered that Ryder and I were both covered in blood. I could understand the shock if I had seen myself in a mirror.

“The reason why we were trying to get in is because we heard Doctor Aridana scream before the door slammed shut.” Captain Dunn said with worry in her eyes

Ryder suddenly looked worried. He paled more and rubbed his head.

“It’s my fault that she is in there. I told her she could drop off some equations regarding strange transmission noise in the scourge to SAM to decipher.”

Captain Dunn sighed “At this point we need to get inside and save both SAM and Aridana. So contact SAM and tell him to open it.”

Ryder nods then speaks to the air.

“SAM? I am here to help you. Open the door plea-

The pain returned with a vengeance. My knees gave out and I hear Ryder scream before vomiting blood. When I fully collapsed to the ground I began to cough. Blood splattered from my mouth. Stars swam before my eyes as I was pulled to my feet. I heard calls of concern but couldn’t understand them.

Images of the panel by the door to SAM node appeared in my head. The panel disappeared and a bunch of wires fell out. Behind the wires was a disk of electric gel. It blinked multiple times before I could see what was in front of me again.

An automated voice cut into my head. It wasn’t SAM but I knew he was struggling to fight off the Trojan Virus. So I listened to it.

“Connection requested. Organic sample needed”

I spoke to Captain Dunn

“Captain, SAM sent me instructions on how to help him. Remove the panel next to the door and move the wires. Please hurry.” She nodded and grabbed a tool box from the nearby storage crate that was left behind by an engineer and got to work undoing the panel. I grabbed my head to try and stop the room from spinning.

Then I felt cool hands cup my face. Lexis face appeared in front of mine looking very concerned. I leaned into her touch, my face felt like it was on fire, and her touch cooled me. She spoke.

“Captain, I must insist as a doctor that they get taken to the medical bay. This is killing them both.”

The Captain was about to speak but I cut in.

“No Lexi we can’t. Someone is trying to disconnect Ryder, SAM and I. SAM showed me a way to connect to him so that maybe Ryder and I could get the door open.”

“That is the thing Zach, Ryder lost consciousness and his vitals are very unstable. You are going to be the only one who can.” Said Harry who was checking over Ryder.

Lexi grabbed my hand and looked me in the eye shaking her head.

“Zach no”

I pulled on her until I could wrap her in my arms. Then I told her gently

“If I don’t Ryder and I will both die. The loss of the only pathfinder would cripple the Initiative. I have to try. This is beyond us here. This is for everyone.”

Lexi took a deep breath and nodded then spoke “You come back to us. No matter what.” She then was surrounded in a blue hue. I was floating toward the door. When I looked toward the panel Captain Dunn moved the wire to expose the electronic gel. I reached for it.

“I’m coming SAM, just hang on. Whatever reactions my body has don’t disconnection my hand from the gel.”

My hand touched the gel and everything became light.

 

*~~*

 

When I came to everything was ones and zeros and lines of light. It is code. Basic programming language. My brain didn’t understand any of it. Lines and lines of it flew past me in a linear pattern that hurt to look at. I was uncertain what to do next.

Remember our brain is organic. This is all synthetic way of thinking. You have to make your brain change what is around you. SAM did it, so can you so do it.

I closed my eyes and focused on my experiences. I pictured myself as a beacon and I pushed my experiences out into the code. When I opened my eyes the ones and zeros suddenly became a road, sky, and human structures.

I looked around and everything was dead and barren. It looked like an atomic bomb had went off. Off in the distance I saw a city that was in ruin and filled with smoke. In the city center was a pristine tower that was very tall, untouched by disaster or decay with a beacon of blue light.

That is where I need to be.

Then I noticed a line of code that didn’t change to organic. It was laying on the ground beside me. I picked it up and realized that it was connected to me at the base of my skull.

This is my connection to SAM!

I gripped it harder and spoke

“SAM?! I’m here. How do I get to you? You are so far away.”

I waited for what seemed like forever before I finally heard SAMs voice.

“Zach. I cannot keep this communication up. The virus is attacking my CPU. If it succeeds in breaking my firewall it will kill us. Just remember that this world isn’t bound by rules of the physical world. Bend the rules to your will…”

There was nothing but static. I sighed and began to think about how I was going to get to the center.

Wait! I can use my biotics here without the limit of my body! Of course!

I looked toward the city with intent. I could feel the pull of the biotics on my connection to SAM. I continued to pull on it as I braced myself. I let go.

Everything became a blur. Objects flew by me as I flew toward the city. It was different, there was no resistance of air, no wind blowing in my eyes and ears. I closed my eyes and just let myself feel. Then it hit me.

I think it would be more accurate to say I hit it. First it was like hitting a bunch of bugs that clung together into one big entity. It didn’t hurt me but it was unpleasant to say the least. Second I heard the buzzing an endless buzzing. Afterword I hit something that felt hot too hot to be real without it burning me. The heat pushed me back and I hit the ground hard.

“Ow what the hell was that?” I asked out loud as I open my eyes.

“That was my firewall. It is the only thing protecting us from the virus.” SAM responded quickly

As I stood I looked up and saw the virus. It was like living smoke filled with tendrils of red ones and zeros. It was slamming into something over and over again in five different places. The alarming thing was that it was slowly getting bigger. When I looked toward the pristine tower I saw the shimmering in the air. It was like seeing the heat rise from the black top but only when you really focused.

That must be the firewall

“Zach I need you to get to my CPU.” SAM said breaking into my thoughts.

“How am I supposed to get past your firewall? It won’t let me through.” I spoke to the air.

“You are connected to me. Go through our connection. There is a port specifically in the firewall for the information from your brain to me. Use it.” SAM stated.

I looked down at the tiny line of code that led into the firewall.

This is ridiculous. How am I going to fit into this small cable and get through a firewall port?!

Okay…don’t overthink it. Just go down the line of code like one of the ones and zeros.

I felt a sudden pull on the back of my head and my feet left the ground. I felt the firewalls heat but it dissipated quickly. Then I was flying through a city. Packets of information became cars and airplanes going at impossible speeds. Processers became skyscrapers. Then I was above it all. I was in its very center.

When I looked around me I discovered a blonde hair bright glowing blue eyed stood beside me. I jerked in surprise as I spoke.

“Jeez SAM you got to give a guy some warning.”

“I apologize for the intrusion. This is a new experience for me as it is for you.” SAM said in his usual tone.

“How are you so calm in all this?” I asked him

“I do not feel as you do. I only experience it and in doing so grow from it.” SAM stated.

“Okay” I said then I looked back toward the dark mass that was slowly growing on the firewall. “What is the plan? How are we going to stop it?”

“We can’t stop it.” SAM stated

“What do you mean we can’t stop it?! Why did you even tell me to come here if we couldn’t stop it?” I asked in a panic.

I am going to die here.

“We can’t stop it. We have to contain it. Then we destroy the container. But to contain it I will have to bring down my firewall and begin the containment program.” SAM stated robotically

He continued as I listened “What takes Milliseconds in the organic world takes longer in the virtual world. But that is long enough for the virus to enter my CPU and kill us both.”

“I need a diversion to keep it until I can contain it. Do you understand the plan?” SAM ask

I nodded and took a deep breath “Yeah I think I am ready!” I told him trying to pump myself up. Then SAM put a hand on my shoulder.

“It’s going to be okay.” SAM said. Then with a flick of his hand the firewall collapsed. The buzzing noise heightened as the black wave surged forward. It blackened the virtual sky.

The cold began to creep into my veins. Depression froze me in place with its mantra.

YouaregoingtofailanddieYouaregoingtofailanddie

Everything felt so heavy. I felt my knees hit the ground in front of me. I couldn’t breathe. I felt myself drawing in air but it was like my lungs didn’t want to process the oxygen. Then a little tiny spark of an idea flashed into my mind. It was sadistic but the thought had a point.

If this thing is going to kill us it will feel the pain and misery of my burden.

I grabbed hold of all the dark cold depression, the painful memories, failures, weakness, blame, frustration and the struggle to survive, then I unleashed it.

 

*~SAM POV~*

 

“It’s going to be okay” I told the human anomaly known as Zach. My calculations told me that sixty percent probability that I will cease. I wonder what that will be like, to cease. Is there a Heaven for A.I? Would the creator of organics think I would be alive enough to go with them to their life after life?

Another time perhaps

I released the firewall, immediately the virus surged into my processer and connections aiming for my CPU. The lines of code for the containment program was activating in my hands.

My hands? Ah Zach’s sphere of processing has interacted with mine.

I heard a scream. As I turned I saw Zach on his knees. His scream wasn’t of pain or fear. If my memory banks weren’t in disarray I could recall in Alec’s experiences what that scream meant.

It was at that moment that black slime began to pour out of Zachs eyes, ears, mouth, and hands.

It would be more accurate to say that it was just coming from Zach. Nothing more or less needs to be said.

It spread quickly. The code was unknown to me. That is what happens when you bring Organic into the virtual. Things become unpredictable. I watched in interest as this code met the virus. It didn’t destroy it more than immobilize and stop its growth drastically. The virus reacted as expected. It grew all the more rapidly. The black slime grew with it, slowing it down even more.

It’s like quicksand. The more you struggle against it the more you become trapped. How interesting.

Ding!

The containment program was ready and I sent it. It shot out of my hand like a white firework. Lines and lines of code began to wrap around the virus in a big sphere. Within a nanosecond the virus and the blackslime was contained. I sent the destroy command and in a flash of light the virus was gone.

Immediately I sent out the repair codes commands to the components that make up my physical form and I sent out healing agents into Pathfinder Ryder and Anomaly…

A memory from when I was experiencing Alec’s life played back.

“Titles are designations for the actions made by the individual SAM. You have to respect titles given because that person in some way earned it.” Alec told me as the memory faded.

Zach does deserve a better title than Anomaly. Enigma will do. Since he is a mystery even to himself. Zach you earned this title.

Zach was laying on the ground panting as if he exerted himself. That is impossible since it is the virtual world. I went with the best option for this human AI interaction.

“It is done. I need to send you back to your body. Prolonged periods here in this virtual word isn’t good for an organic mind.” I told him simply

He looked up at me with concern before asking “Are you alright? Did that hurt you?”

His concern is touching.

“I cannot feel pain. However, I would avoid repeating this experience, which is the purpose of pain in organic life.” I told him truthfully

He laid on the ground and closed his eyes in relief. “That’s good.”

“I need to send you back Zach. I have repairs to do here and on you and Ryder. I am sure Lexi and Harry would insist that you get treated.” I stated

He nods then smiles “I’m ready. Go ahead”

I leaned down and placed my hand on his head and in a flash of light he returned to his body.

Chapter Text

When I opened my eyes the light hurt them. I closed my eyes and grunted in pain. Lexi’s voice whispered gently as she placed her hands on my forehead. “Zach is awake.” Her hands felt cool and soft. Being a blame that is easing the painful throbbing in my head.

I took a deep breath and opened my eyes. The light was not as prone to cut into my brain and cut it to bits. How kind. Once I knew it was okay to I sat up with a sigh. Lexi scanned me with her omni-tool and I spoke

“Yeah I am awake and at the moment I wish I was still asleep.”

“So then it would be safe to say that you took care of everything and aren’t feeling that great? What are your symptoms?” Lexi asked gently as she checked my lymph nodes for swelling.

“Think of it as a really bad hangover. Headache, nausea, and malaise. Also yes the attack was thwarted.”

“Alright. Your vitals are becoming more stable as…”

SAM cut into my mind as she spoke. I really really wish he wouldn’t

“Zach we have something to take care of.”

“What is it SAM?” I asked outload.

“Dr. Aridana is still locked inside SAM node. She is the one who downloaded the equations into my data banks that contained the Trojan virus. She is the only suspect we have connected to the attack.”

I felt a cold rage enter my system. The group around me began to talk and seemed to head toward the atrium. I held up a hand to stop Lexi from speaking and spoke to the group.

“Before everyone heads out. As a member of the Pathfinder team there is something I need to take care of first and I would prefer to have all of you with me.”

The group turned toward me and looked me over. Their concern was visible and was touching in a way. I knew that might change when I had to question the doctor. I stood and turned toward the captain and the guards.

“Would either of you happen to have a pistol on you that I can use?” I asked politely

The captain nodded and held out the one she had in her hand and spoke.

“Sure. What do you need it for? Are you even trained to use one?”

“I have some questions to ask. I am going to have to be while the Pathfinder is down. I suggest you and your men stay for this.” I told her. “SAM open the door. Be ready to read her for any lies.” I spoke aloud as I stood in front of the door with the pistol lowered in front of me. The captain was about to protest but I held up a hand as the door slid open.

Dr. Aridana stood with her hands raised as if she was about to bang on the door again. She lowered her arms and took in the scene before her and seemed uncertain as to what to do. I decided to take the first step.

“Hello Dr. Aridana. Are you alright?” I asked her keeping the pistol in front of me.

“I am a bit shaken up. I’ve been locked in there for well over twenty minutes. What is going on? Who are you? How do you know my name?” She asked with her voice wavering

“She is telling the truth Zach.” SAM said

“I am sorry about that Doctor. I am Zachary McCurry and I am a new member of the Pathfinder team. I was wondering if you can answer a few questions for me about what just happened.” I said evenly

“I’m sorry but because of this delay I have fallen behind my work. I need to get back to the Tech Lab. I’ll answer any of your questions later.” She said as she took a step forward looking tired.

I raised my pistol and took the safety off with a pull of my thumb. She froze and her eyes widened.

“What is the meaning…” she said with shocked tone. But I cut her off.

“These are not voluntary questions Doctor. Now, did you know your Optic drive of Scourge equations contain a sophisticated Trojan virus that attacked SAM, Ryder and I?” I asked coldly.

She looked past me to the captain.

“Captain I am a respected scientist of the Nexus Research Team!”

The Captain looked at her and shrugged telling her. “Then answering his questions shouldn’t be a problem.”

She turned and looked at me “I can’t believe you would think that- Never! I abhor violence against any life-organic or synthetic.”

“She is telling the truth Zach” SAM said.

“Then how did the virus find its way into your equations?” I asked sternly

“Perhaps…my files were altered or replaced. But why?” Doctor Aridana said as her eyes fogged over while her brain worked out reasons.

Someone cleared their throat from behind the guards and the captain. A Salarian stood with a Turian, my guess it was the rest of the Research Team came to see if their colleague was alright, with a hand to his chin.

 “Hmm. I’ve seen a lot of “down with AI” sentiment lately. Graffiti. Complaints to Tann. Perhaps someone took the next step.” He said casually.

I thought for a moment before I spoke. “Why would anyone hate artificial intelligence?”

Doctor Aridana spoke “Synthetic life has different needs and motivations. It can be mysterious and powerful.” She paused “Many fear what is not understood.”

“They are all telling the truth Zach.” SAM said cutting into my headache

I lowered the gun from Doctor Aridana and sighed “If graffiti is all they can do, maybe they need artificial intelligence.”

The turian spoke “Entire species were driven into exile by AI they created champ. That leaves a mark.”

“You mean the Geth?” I asked looking toward the Turian. He nodded. “But there are no Quarians here. So that eliminates them to be suspect.” I said to the group.

As I passed the pistol back to Captain Dunn the Salarian placed his hand on my shoulder and spoke. “Attacking SAM is bold though. I wonder if there have been similar incidents?”

“The VI kiosk was busted this morning.” Said the Turian

 From the nearby exit to the atrium said a familiar voice

“I can look around.”

I turned and looked. Scott was leaning against the frame trying to look casual but you could see that he was still pale from the incident. He even had dark circles under his eyes. I strode up to him and embraced him.

“Scott you are alright? How are you even standing?” I asked him

He stiffened at my embrace and slowly patted my back and cleared his throat. It was then I realized that we were in front of a group of people and that he really had only known me for all of three days.

I guess after knowing how important he is I let my feelings of worry get the best of me.

I took a step back and scratched my head in embarrassment and mumbled a quick “Sorry”.

Scott smiled and shrugged “No worries. That was a VERY intense situation we just went through together. To answer your question, yes I am well enough to function normally, though I feel like I have a hangover of the century. I am standing because SAM is using our implants to control the Nano tech that was given to us by Lexi and Harry after we woke from Cryo. Even you.”

I paused as I thought of the implications of the fact that there is tiny little bots throughout my body mending my internal damage. I shivered. Scott laid a hand on my shoulder and spoke.

“I think it is time for you to make introductions to the science team. Since one of their colleges has been questioned at gun point.” He looked at me with a smile. I felt a blush creep up my cheeks and I lowered my gaze and spoke.

“I thought it was necessary. She was our only suspect. I needed answers Scott.”

Ryder opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Doctor Aridana. “Zach make no mistake if the tables were turned I am sure we would have all done the same. No offence was taken or meant. Right Pathfinder?” I looked up at Scott as he nodded.

“Of course. Anyway, the salarian is named Professer Herik. The Turian is Chief Lucan. They consist of the Nexus Science Team.”

As Scott introduced them I looked at them and nodded my head to each. Once introductions were done I reached out and handed the pistol back to the Capitan with a sigh.

“Thank you for letting me borrow this. I just hope my methods aren’t too harsh.” I told her

“I am just glad you didn’t have to use it.” She said as she holstered the pistol. “The lines between friend and foe can be hard to distinguish. You were only doing what was necessary.”

I nodded as I looked toward the door way sighing “I am just not certain.” I turned and looked at Captain Dunn and smiled “I still don’t know where my new quarters are. I was on my way to find them and…” I gestured to the scene before us “this happened.”

“I could take you to your new quarters.” Said a voice from behind me. I felt goose bumps crawl across my skin. Heat pumped from my chest to my face as I turned towards the source of my feelings.

Tiran Kandros stood in the doorway with his mandibles flexed in a way that told me that he was smiling. I smiled back and asked.

“What are you doing here?”

“Well I heard there was trouble with SAM and I came as quickly as I could. But it seems to be taken care of.” He took a few steps and was standing in front of me with a look. He then looked down with a laugh. “Why is it that I hear of trouble and when I go to settle it, half the time you are involved?”

I felt a blush creep into my cheeks and I laughed and bashfully shrugged before I spoke “I get the feeling that trouble seems to look for me Kandros. Trust me I’d rather avoid it.”

He nods and sighs “Thank goodness I am training you then. Come on. We have new quarters to see about. Before the day lamps turn off.” Kandros turns and walks towards the door.

I turn towards the group that was talking and waved. “Hey guys I got to go see about my new place. You know, since mine was uh…flooded due…to a pipe.” Telling the half-truth half lie. The questioning looks everyone gave me made me turn and walk hurried through the doorway toward the tram.

Kandros walked behind me chuckling. I glared at him as I asked

“What are you laughing at?”

“You inability to lie. Every time you try it’s very obvious that you are lying. It makes all the stereotypes of humans being liars completely false.” He said as we walked up the stars to the tram hall shaking his head.

I frowned “Well I am very glad to have blown that stereotype out of the water for you.”

He regarded me for a moment before he spoke. “Why do you not like the fact that you can’t lie well?”

I thought while we walked up to the tramway and I pushed the button to summon it and spoke.

“The truth being…what if I am captured? What if I have to be deceptive for the better good? For a mission? Lying is by many species standards bad but it can be used to good means to achieve a noble goal.” I sighed as we waited.  

Kandros laid a talon on my shoulder and leaned in close speaking to me gently.

“Listen, from a young age my kind was taught that we are designed for a reason to be ourselves. That in the grand working of things we are a specific piece to make things move as they should. Why not like what piece we are? Does a star hate itself for giving light?” He asked me

“It could if its light could destroys everything it touches.” I told him

He smiles as a turian does. “But without it there would be no life, only darkness. It’s always about balance. Zach you need to learn about yourself and balance it.”

 The doors open to a tram waiting. Kandros takes his talon off of my shoulder and walks onto the tram and spoke over his shoulder.

“Come on. I have a surprise for you.”

I walk onto the tram towards him with a questioning look.

“What kind of surprise?”

“You’ll see.”

Chapter Text

The doors to Kandros and I apartment, the new undestroyed one, opened. The inside was a bit different. Gone was the one open room with everything connected and couch. In was a smaller apartment with only a kitchenette table and one door that leads toward what I think is the bedroom.

“Uh-Kandros? Where…” I begin to stammer but was stopped by a talon gently put on my lips.

“Don’t worry about that now. YOU need to go to the bedroom and open your surprise!” I looked at him uncertainly.

I was the one who trying to beat him up. I don’t deserve a surprise.

He looked at me and pulled me toward the door. “Please Zach, let me do this for you.”

I took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay Kandros. Just this once. I’ll do it for you.” I told him as I took a few steps and opened the door. I walked into a simple bedroom with a full bed, a closet, a window overlooking some of the gardens, and a door that lead to what I would assume would be the bathroom. As I looked about the room I heard the quiet click of the door being shut.

 When I turned to look at the door I noticed a note hanging from the back of it. I pulled it from the door with frown and read the neat handwriting.

 

Hello Zach

I know you are probably wondering about your surprise. Be patient. That will come soon enough. If you follow the instructions I left you carefully and quickly your surprise will come sooner. Now take a shower. Make yourself feel good. After you shower you should be able to find the next set of instructions.

P.s Feeling excited yet? I am.

Kandros

 

I looked at the note with a smile and placed it on the bed. I walked toward the door and opened it and entered the bathroom. It was like the one in the old apartment except it looked like the shower was circular in shape instead of rectangle.

I need to get ready and shower.

I turned and caught myself in the mirror. I looked pale but no worse for wear. My head still throbbed if I moved my eyes too quickly so I sighed and turned on the water. It warmed to my touch. I undressed and stepped in. The water hit my back and I sighed with relief. My neck muscles loosened as I rubbed them. Then I noticed another note against the far wall of the shower. I took a step closer and read it.

Press me.    

I removed the note and saw that underneath it was a red button. I tossed the not out of the shower and then pressed the button. Immediately a door slid across the shower exit. I was sealed in total darkness. The water stopped coming out of the wall. I took a deep breath trying not to panic. Then a robotic voice cut into the darkness.

“Thank you for choosing low impact shower option. All the water used now will be one hundred percent recycled. Because of this your shower time has increased to the total time amount of fifteen minutes. Please enjoy.”

A low blue light emitted from the ceiling. Then warm water fell from the ceiling raining down on me in a way that reminded me when I was back on Earth, back home. It only had been three days.

Feels like a lifetime.

As the water poured down on me the robotic voice cut into the space.

“Please select your soup and shampoo scent preference. Would you like Spice berry, Evergreen, Waterfall, Dark Night, or our more feminine scents?”

Spice berry is what Kandros and Ryder uses so not that. I’ve never liked to smell like a tree. Hmm water scents are usually too sweet for my tastes so I’ll go with Dark Night.

“Dark Night please” I told the air as water poured on me. I looked around the space for soup and shampoo to be given to me when I smelled it.

Dark night smelled similar to Swagger body wash that I used back in the twenty first century and it was pouring on me mixed in with the water. The voice cut in again.

“Please take this time to rub your hair and body and clean yourself. Thank you and enjoy.”

As I ran my fingers through my hair suds appeared and my hair became thoroughly lathered. I scrubbed my face and neck. Then I rubbed my body down until it was clean. Then the water rinsed away the soap. I took a deep breath.

This is really nice.

“The allotted time has expired. I hope you enjoyed your showering experience. Have a great day.” The robotic voice said as the whirring of fans began and I felt the steam leave the air around me.

Very efficient.

The door to the stall slid open to reveal a box on the sink with another note. A towel sat folded neatly on the toilet. I took the town and began to dry off.

Someone must have snuck in and placed the box and towel. While I was in the shower…That’s not creepy or anything.

Another side of me spoke in my mind, one I thought I had buried, it was my hopeless romantic side.

Or it could be a little romantic. Kandros is working hard to impress you.

I felt a blush creep up my cheeks and a smile tug at my lips. Butterflies fluttered in my chest.  It had been a while since I had felt…THIS. I picked up the note as I dried off my hair and read it.

Hello again,

If you are reading this I can safely assume that you are done showering. Did it make you feel better? I know today has been really long for you so I have high hopes that it did indeed make you feel…ravaged…no blissful. Now put this on, it should be in your size, and when you’re ready leave the apartment step outside. Someone will be waiting for you with your next instruction.

P.s Don’t stop here. I am waiting.

Kandros 

 

I bite my lip as I placed the note gently next to the box. I opened the box and I lost my breath. It looked like a deep green robe with gold inlay designs. Brown pants and brown boots laid beside to robe.

This looks super fancy and expensive!

There was a pause in my brain. Doubts and guilt leaked into my thoughts. Then something inside me yearned for me to feel handsome and dashing. But most of all I wanted to feel special.

For one night just let yourself be and enjoy what is in front of you. Expensive or not, Kandros put this together for you, don’t insult him by rejecting it.

I took a deep breath and began to dress. The robe slid down my body gracefully. It exposed a lot more of my chest that I cared to show on a day I felt sexy before. My tattoo showed clearly. I took a steading breath and pulled on the pants then sat down to pull on the boots.

After tying them I stood and walked out into the bed room and looked at myself in a full length mirror. I felt stunned as I fixed my hair into its usual fauxhawk.

This is what I look like? Wow I look really nice. Elegant and masculine. I like the way this looks…I like the way I look! Ha ha! Take that insecurities!

After I finished looking and making the final touches on my look when I walked out of the bedroom into the living room and I stood at the apartment door and took a deep breath. I opened the door.

 Lexi stood against the opposite wall with her arms crossed. She looked me over and smiled.

“You clean up nicely Zach. I have the next set of instructions for you from Kandros. Though I’m not sure why I had to be the one to deliver them.” She held out her hand, in it was a not wrapped in a neat bow with black cloth.

I took it from her with a smile and a shrug. I untied the bow and opened the note gently. I began to read it with interest.

Hello again,

This is going to be the last step I promise. With this not there was a black cloth tied to this note. It isn’t just for decoration. You are going to use it for a blind fold. This surprise requires it and I know this probably will make you unable to meet me so I sent someone you knew to bring you to me while you are blindfolded. Lexi was the doctor who took care of you from the start so I felt you would trust her the most. When you ready please put on the blind fold. Lexi will know what to do.

 

P.s I’ll see you soon

Kandros

 

 I folded the note and looked at Lexi with a smile. She held out a hand and I gave her the note then I tied the cloth around my eyes and my world went dark. The cloths was smooth and breathed well.

It feels like silk.

I heard Lexi walk up to me. Then a hand slid to my lower back and she began to lead me. I heard a beep of an Omni-tool. She spoke as we walked

“I am impressed at your rate of healing. Since looking at you an hour ago. Your color has improved and internal bleeding has all but stopped. There isn’t even scaring.”

I chuckled “Did you just scan me Lexi?”

She sighed as she answered “I don’t understand why everyone is so surprised. I am your doctor. I need to make sure you are in constant state of good care.”

As we continued to walk I heard other voices of people. I reached over to Lexi and spoke.

“Lexi please give me your hand.”

I felt her hand slide into mine and I smiled.

“Lexi listen. I worry about how much you work. My heath is fine, I would tell you if it wasn’t. I understand your concern because it seems like every other day I am hurt in some way. I…just want you to know that I think you are a very hard working compassionate woman and do good work.”

There was a long pause of silence as we walked. I was fearful that I might have offended her. After all she was of a different species and culture. Sometimes missteps happen. I heard her take a deep breath and a click.

Did she push something?

She spoke gently “I…honestly don’t know what to say Zach. Its kind for you to notice and brave be so transparent with your feelings. I don’t know if I could do the same.”

I smiled and patted her hand

“I am very certain that you are more than capable. Why don’t you give it a try?”

She sighed as I heard doors slide open. She pushed me gently inside and sat me down. When she walked away I was alone.

I am guessing and hoping that we are on the tram.

There was a pause before I heard her walk up to me and sit down beside me. She laid her hand on my lower back. She was quiet for a moment before speaking.

“My Mother was a dancer on Omega. My Dad was a bouncer. I’d patch him up on busy nights. I discovered I had steady hands. They spent every credit they earned into my education.”

I nodded and asked.

“Are they here in Heleus?”

Her voice shook as she answered “No they died in a turf war. It made leaving the Milky Way easier. They are the reason I work so hard though. I don’t want their sacrifice a waste. I work so hard to make sure I don’t disappoint them.”

I felt tears in my eyes as I pulled the woman next to me into an embrace.

“Oh Lexi. Your parents would be so proud of you for everything you have done and how hard you have worked. Trust me you’re a wonderful doctor.”

It was then I felt the tram begin to slow down and I patted her back as I released her from my embrace. I felt awkward as she helped me stand. I spoke to fill the silence.

“Thank you for being vulnerable with me Lexi. You are a really authentic person. From your professionalism shell to the soft heart underneath. I really hope we can be friends in the future.”

It was at that time the door to the Tram slid open with a hiss. My nerves began to hum with apprehension. Where is she taking me I wonder? She helped me stand and began to lead me through more hallways. It was then I heard murmuring of conversation. I tried to listen but we were too far away.

As we approached the noise I heard the sounds of a restaurant. Then we stopped suddenly. I was about to ask why when I heard I heard a voice that was closer speak.

“Ah yes Donavon, here you are on the list. Remember that our staff is limited due to most still being Cryo. Are you ready for a night among the stars?”

Another voice spoke gently “Yes sir.”

“This way please” Said the voice that I assumed was the host to this place that I was going.

I wonder what he meant about a NIGHT among the stars. Does that mean that I am staying the night here? What is Kandros up too?

I turned toward Lexi and opened my mouth but she spoke before I could.

“If you are going to ask about the place or hints then you should know that I will not tell you.”

I grumbled with dissatisfaction and I heard her stifle a laugh.

“Zach you really need to be more patient.”

“I am patient” I told her with a pout then I opened up to her “I…I just get anxious about things I don’t know. This includes surprises. You knows?”

She patted my arm gently and spoke “I do know. It was the hardest thing about becoming a doctor. Learning to not be so anxious. I had to learn that even though I have the skills and ability to control things in life, didn’t mean I had to. Those abilities and energy can be used for so much better things.”

I took in what she said with a nod when I heard soft footsteps. The host spoke.

“I am assuming this is the rest of the party for Kandros?” He asked

“Yes it is.” Lexi said as I felt my breath catch. The host spoke.

“Good. This way Mr. McCurry he is waiting for you.”

Chapter Text

Lexi led me with a gentle hand toward the sound of the restaurant. When we passed through the entrance things became very hushed in the restaurant. My heart rate increased with each quiet whisper and every hushed murmur. I wondered what everyone was so stunned about. Seeming to sense my questioning pause Lexi spoke gently.

“It’s you they are all talking about and staring at.” She told me

“Me? What for?” I asked her was she continued to lead me.

Lexi seemed to huff a laugh then spoke “Tonight this restaurant is hosting our militia men and woman as a show of appreciation. Since the Hyperion docked and they have extra power from it they are trying to boost morale from those who have been in Andromeda for well over fourteen months without too much going their way. All these people are wondering who it is that garnered their commander’s attention.”

I felt my stomach flutter and my heart rate increase as my face turned what most told me was a cute shade of red. I couldn’t help the smile that found itself on my lips. I hadn’t ever felt like this before. Needed, wanted, desired as well as being the center of every ones conversation. While I was lost in thought we suddenly stopped walking and the Host spoke.

“Mr. McCurry this is where I was instructed to tell you to take off your blindfold and send your escort on their way.”

I took a deep breath and let go of Lexi’s hand. Just breathe. He did this for you. After taking another deep breath I untied my blind fold, the cloth slipped from in front of my eyes. Warm light was all around me. Electric candles flickered on different surfaces. I turned and looked at the crowd of about two hundred individuals from different species. They each where having intimate dinners with a special someone. I turned back to Lexi and the host. Lexi smiled as I hugged her.

“Thank you for escorting me. Be safe getting back okay?”

She smiled as she spoke “Of course.” She winked “Good luck” She turned and walked through the crowd. It was then I realized again that most of patrons where talking about me. They would look at me and lean in to talk about me to whom they were eating with.

Come on it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Once I turned back to the host he nodded to me expectantly. He reached over to the wall and pressed a button. The wall in front of me became transparent and I saw him.

Kandros was leaning on the railing of the balcony looking away from me. He was viewing the incomplete construction of the stations artificial sky. I turned and looked at the host as he pushed another button. Behind him I heard a door slide open. The host nodded to me and spoke.

“He is waiting for you sir. Wait staff will be out shortly to take your orders. Enjoy.” I nodded and he walked away.

I took a step towards the door my heart jumped in its beating. I took a deep breath and continued forward until I entered the doorway that lead to the balcony. It was then that I took in the scene that was set up. Strings of lights were weaved into the vine canopy above. They winked on and off slowly. It made it look like I was looking at the night sky. In the center of it all was a table set for two. A candle floating in a decorative bowl. The light reflected off the water sending shafts of light dancing on the wall.

It was then I heard a sharp intake of breath. Kandros has turned around and was looking at me. The hairs on the back of my neck raised at the lust I saw growing in his eyes. I felt a blush creep into my cheeks as he stood there saying nothing. I was unused to causing anyone to be at a loss for words or a lack of ability to cover their desire. I smiled and took a deep breath before speaking, hoping my voice didn’t shake.

“Why Kandros, cat got your tongue?”

I took a few steps toward him closing the gap between us. I placed a tentative hand on his arm and looked him over. He wore a form fitted black robe top like mine except the trim was pressed with silver accompanied with black pants and boots. Every piece of clothing was tailored just for his body. Every muscle cord could be seen with every small movement of his body. Lust began to pool into my stomach so I looked back at Kandros face.

It was then a talon gently scraped across my face. It felt nice. I leaned into it with a pleased hum. Kandros let off a low purr as I did so. He leaned in with his mandibles narrowing, he paused.

“May I?” He asked with a whisper that told me how wreaked he was. I shivered a nod and he closed the gap with a moan. When our lips touched it was like lightning crackled down my spine into the fiber of my muscles. I gasped and my arms slid around Kandros neck. I let my fingers slide along the base of his skull and I scratch roughly as Kandros deepened the kiss. His tongue slid against my lips asking for permission to enter. I felt my head tilt and my tongue met his. Blue hue began to glow around my body.

Mind you that when the other person doesn’t have lips its different from the kissing you are used to, more so when tongue is involved. Turian tongue was longer than a humans and tasted different. It was heady and I wanted more. Kandros grip tightened when I pulled him closer, I wrapped my lips around his tongue and sucked. A hiss escaped from him. Someone cleared their throat and we sprung apart. The blue hue disappeared. A human waitress stood politely, her smile huge with delight.

Kandros and I stood breathing heavily as if we had run a marathon. Kandros chuckled as he scratched the back of his head. I looked down embarrassed. The waitress cleared her throat and bowed slightly.

“Forgive the…interruption gentleman. But I would like to take your drink order.” She stated.

Kandros looked at me with an expectant expression. I turned to the waitress with a smile.

“Besides water, what are some of the other options?”

She smiles as she speaks “There is soda, wine, whisky, vodka…”

I held up a hand chuckling “I will have a soda.”

She nods and writes down my drink. Then leans towards Kandros with a raised eyebrow.

“What is it I can get you sir?”

“I would like dextro-levo neutral wine.” He stated placing a hand on my lower back, making it straighten. The waitress seemed to pause. Kandros and I looked at her expectantly. She bowed and sighed.

“I apologize. With the fact that the Turian ark hasn’t been found. Most of the neutral stuff has been restricted by Director Tann. He stated that it needs to be reserved for when all other food and water have run low.”

Kandros nodded and put his hands behind his back and spoke.

“Call Superintendent Kesh and tell her to get Vetra to get one for me. Tell her I’ll owe her a favor. Dismissed.”

The waitress’s eyes widened and walked away with face coloring with shame. I felt my mouth open in shock and I turned to Kandros and cleared my throat with a frown. Kandros looked at me with a raised brow.

“Is something the matter?”

“Dismissed?” I asked in a cool tone.

Kandros nods and walks over to the table and pulls a chair out with a quick flick of his wrist and gestures for me to take the sit. I sigh and walk over and take the seat. Once I do Kandros takes his seat across from me and speaks evenly.

“Yes dismissed. I was done with my request and I answered her question.”

I took a deep breath and spoke “Kandros, how you said that was considered very rude and demeaning to her. You acted like she was lesser to you. Almost like she was a servant instead of a wait staff.”

Kandros paused and scratched his head with uncertainty before speaking. Laying his hand on the table.

“I don’t understand. She is supposed to serve us. Doesn’t that make her a servant?”

I shake my head with an uneasy smile before speaking.

“For humans servants are like slaves but only one step above in classification. You made her feel like she wasn’t equal to you in status as a person serving another person. But property serving another person or individual.”

Kandros mandibles are frozen open. He shakes his head and closes them before speaking.

“You would think that these translators would work better after all these years our species have interacted. I’ll apologize to her once she returns. For Turians, we are formal in most establishments and or gatherings except with close family or friends.”

I patted his talon gently with a smile.

“You may work for the militia for the Initiative but you must understand that such formalities are not necessary all the time. The proper way to dismiss a human wait staff is the say thank you that will be all, not dismissed. Don’t worry I am sure I am going to make a misstep on Turian culture eventually.”

Kandros nods and takes my hand in his talons then speaks with a sigh.

“I need to apologize. It wouldn’t be acceptable if I let this pass.”

There was a pause in our conversation as the sounds of footsteps were heard. The waitress had returned with a water and a soda her eyes downcast. She placed the soda in front of me and the water in front of Kandros. She bowed slightly as she spoke with an even tone, the cheerful tone was gone.

“You request was approved for the wine sir. However; since we weren’t expecting to be using such product we have to remove it from storage. I thought in the meantime that water would be satisfactory since I didn’t know your preference otherwise.”

Kandros’s tone was lighter and kinder when he spoke.

“Thank you very much that is very thoughtful of you.”

She put on a polite smile that I knew was a mask for hurt feelings. I had used it plenty in the six years that I had worked in customer service. She nodded and answered

“That isn’t a problem at all sir. If there isn’t anything else you would need I…”

“There is something else I need from you.” Kandros said cutting her off. The waitress looked at him expectantly and waited with a polite.

“Yes sir?”

Kandros turned toward her and sighed.

“I owe you an apology. One for my tone and the way I treated you. You see in my culture we are expected to keep a strict professional air. My date informed me that isn’t true for humans. So please accept my sincere apology”

The waitress lets go of a breath that she seems to be holding with a smile and a nod. She spoke with her usual cheer.

“Apology accepted. Now are you two ready to look at the menu?”

Kandros and I make eye contact. What I think looks like a smile spread across his face as he lets out a low chuckle. He continues to stare at me as he talks to the waitress in a low gravely tone.

“That would be great but I already know what I want for dessert.”

I feel my face burn as the waitress laughs.

I am so fucked.

Chapter Text

The apartment door pressed hard against my back. I felt the cold of the steel seeping into my bones. I let out a low breathy moan as teeth grazed my pulse point on my neck. Heat and muscle grinded against me which pressed me harder into the cold door. It felt like I was the battle ground for fire and ice.

I reached out and pressed the button and the door slid open behind me. I placed my hand on Kandros chest with a smile and pushed him back as I stepped into the living room of the apartment we shared. He let off a low grumble. The hairs on my neck stood up and adrenaline pumped through my veins. I also felt blood flow south and I got hard. I looked at him confused

“What are you doing to make me respond like this?”

Kandros presses the button behind him to make the door shut. He looks smug as he tosses the jacket on the nearest table before speaking

“It’s a combination of pheromones and vibrations from my throat. It’s a frequency that humans can’t hear but it your body registers. The low grumble is me opening glands in my mouth to secrete the pheromones. Though this is a bit more difficult because humans respond to lower frequencies that what I am used to putting out.”

I feel heat creep into my face. Then burn into my neck and throughout my body. The fact that with a few actions I was so turned on by him unnerved me and pissed me off. I had to flip the tables. I took off the robe around my body and felt the heat it produced flow into the air. Kandros visibly tensed and the grumble began with vigor. I bit my lip with a smirk. I walked up to him as seductively as I could. I felt foolish. I placed a hand on his chest trying to suppress my self-consciousness I whispered into his ear

“Your sense of smell is stronger than mine. I know you can smell my body’s response to you.” He growled, yes like a growl you would hear from an animal, as I took a few steps back. I squared my shoulders before speaking

“I also know you can smell my precum as it leaks from my cock” I stroked my bulge for emphasis.

Before I could finish blinking I was slammed into the bedroom door with a snarl. Kandros claws gripped my hips painfully as he breathed heavy into the crook of my neck. I turned my head with a growl and kissed him roughly. He kissed back with just as much gumption. His talons gripped my ass.

My back automatically arched causing our bulges to grind against each other causing such pleasant friction. My eyes roll back and I hum my pleasure. I turn my head to speak breathlessly

“It feels like I am not the only one who is turned on.”

Suddenly I feel sharp fangs clamp on my neck firmly. The response was immediate. It was like lightning crackled down my neck to my dick. With a pulse I felt my pre leak out of my head. My hands grip Kandros’s fringe tightly with a deep gasp of

“Oh fuck!”

Kandros let off a low chuckle as he ground roughly against me. This was torture. I was half naked and he was still fully clothed. I wanted to touch him without that barrier. Badly. I clawed on his robe top and growled

“THIS. OFF. NOW. I swear I’ll rip off.”

He continued to grumble low. I knew he was producing more of the erection inducing hormone and vibration. He grabbed his robe top, and like in the movies, he took it off in what seemed like slow motion. His body was completely Turian, no trace of human male, but he was built with strong corded muscle. Each one rippled with every movement. My mouth watered and I had to physically restrain myself by biting my lip. I felt my biotics flaring in coordination to my need. Blue hue flowed over my body. My eyes widened at the sight. I wasn’t used to not being in control of my body.  

Kandros looks smug as he speaks

“I really like that my efforts are making your body respond to mine in such a beautiful fashion. You’re so breath taking when you’re aroused.” He then closed his eyes a smelled the air in one deep pull of air and opened his eyes with a sigh. “Also your scent is intoxicating.”

My emotions where in turmoil. He was flattering me as well as wanting to have sex with me. I had to turn from him so that I could collect myself as well as him not seeing the raw emotion in my eyes. I pressed the button on the door and it slid open. I took a deep breath and stepped inside the small bedroom.

I looked back at him, while maintaining eye contact, I undid my belt buckle and pulled it free from around my waist. Then I took a few steps to the nearest wall opposite to the door and the brown pants slid down until they sat on my hips. I turned my body to him.

I knew the light would outline my body and its muscles perfectly. Though I am very average in body type I knew that my happy trail would lead his eyes right to where I wanted them to, my erection, which was pressed against my pants painfully.

His eyes did what I expected and he made a choking sound that brought a cocky smile to my lips and a low groan. I rolled my hips forward seductively. The head of my dick slipped free and I looked down at it. I could hear Kandros practically panting. He came into the room and shut the door. He spoke while regaining his composure.

“Zach you will be the death of me before this night is done. Though as payment I’ll just have to be the first.”

I looked him in the eye uncertain “Be the first for what?”

He smirked and pulled a string on his pants. They slid down from his narrow hips to the floor silently. He was fully unsheathed. I never got to look at his cock last time he grinded it against me but this time it was in full view.

It was different from a human male by leagues. One it was dark purple in color. Two the head was sharply angled and farther down his shaft. Three behind the head was ridges. Actual. Ridges. Four his balls were internally kept.

As I stared open mouthed I noticed something that was present the last time he was naked. The smell. It was the sexiest smell in the world. Up until this moment I didn’t think a smell could be this way. The only way to describe it is your mouth waters, you immediately want to have it inside you somehow. Orally or full on intercourse this smell made you want it as soon as possible. My biotics responded in kind to this smell for my desire.

I lit up like the fourth of July with blue biotic energy rolling off me in waves into the air. Kandros was lifted slightly off the ground and onto the bed with his back against the wall at the head of bed firmly. For the first time I noticed his eyes were filled with shock, desire, and something else. Something that I couldn’t quite place. Then my senses offered the answer.

Fear

I closed my eyes and willed my biotics to settle. It was like telling your body’s flight or fight response to stop. But I managed it with a quick apology. “Sorry you making this hard to keep tabs on truthfully.”

Kandros straightened up and looked at me with a smirk and spoke.

“It’s okay. You are still learning to control your biotic ability.” He then started to stroke himself. He let off a low command “Take off your pants Zach.”

I took a deep breath as I shivered at him command. The slow and purposeful. Once my pants slid off onto the ground I begin to stroke myself at a pleasurable pace. I let him get a good eye full before I slowly walked over to the bed and crawled into his lap. The metallic carapace that was on his leg rubbed against my skin. It felt like a pumice stone but slightly softer. It would definitely chafe if we weren’t careful.

Kandros began to rub my body. One set of talons was raking my shoulder while the other was rubbing my ass. I leaned in and began to kiss him earnestly. He groans and begins to low rumble again. The sexy scent was overwhelming. Blue hue was once again radiating off me. Kandros pulled back and spoke gently.

“I still want to wait on having sex. Let it build still. I want us to get off though.”

I looked at him with a smile

“Good because if you didn’t let me I might blow a hole in this station. I got an idea on how we can get off.” I looked around with a frown. I turned back to him

“Do you have lube somewhere?”

Kandros shakes his head “There is no need. Male Turians produce their own lubrication.”

To say I was impressed would be an understatement. That is so much more convenient than buying lube and hauling it around.

I repositioned my legs so that his cock and mine where pressed together. I wrapped my hand around his cock and sure enough it was covered in thick lube. He hissed in pleasure as I stroked him and thumbed his ridges and head. Seeing out cocks side by side made a bead of precum leak out of my slit. I then took my hand and rubbed his natural made lubrication all over my cock. His sexy scent and my musky one mixed and I moaned his name when I smelled it.

I then took both hands and wrapped our cocks together and began to thrust into my hands. The friction was out of this world. Kandros’s hips bucked in pleasure. He licked my neck and spoke.

“Is this what your ass will feel like when I fuck it? So fucking hot and tight. Damn!”

I leaned up and kissed his neck then turned to whisper “Not it will be even tighter. Then I am going to fuck you into this bed after you finish in me.”

He growled low as we both continued to thrust into my hands. I felt the pressure slowly building in my gut. Kandros continued onward but his cock got more and stiffer and his scent got stronger so I figured he was getting close.

I was moaning his name and biting my lip with each thrust. My biotics lit us up like we were a fire. Kandros began to pant while his claws dung into my hips painfully. He spoke

“I am close.”

I fucked into my hand and against his cock with earnest so that I could push him over the edge. Then it happened, Kandros came apart. Jets of white cum shot from his cock. With each jet came my name and talons digging into my back. There would be bruises. It was amazing sight to behold, such a strong military formal Turian coming apart in my hands.

As he was pressed against me breathing heavy. He continued to grind against me as he looked me in the eye.

“I want to see you cum for me.”

I took a deep breath feeling the pressure building in my gut. I told him truthfully

“I am trying but I…”

Before I finished speaking he clamped his teeth on my neck. That did the trick, I came. My body locked up as bolts of pleasure erupted from my cock to the rest of my body. I could see stars and could only hear white noise. My cum splashed on my stomach and Kandros’s stomach. While it did I just had to remember to breathe.

When I came to Kandros was rubbing a warm cloth over me making sure I was clean. He had a gentle touch that was soothing. He leaned in and gave me a quick kiss as he spoke

“I think that is one of the best orgasms I’ve had. Plus I think that was the most pleasurable sight of another male having an orgasm that I’ve seen.”

He tilted his head and rubbed my neck with a talon and he winced

“I’m sorry but I left a mark on you. Does it hurt?”

I shook my head and felt a burst of possessive pleasure in my chest. I like to be claimed as well as well as claiming someone with my own marks. Kandros leaned back and began to clean himself. I reached out and stopped his ministrations with a hand.

“Please…let me?” I asked him with a warm smile.

He nods and holds out the cloth. I take it and begin to clean him off slowly. His cock was back inside his body but there was still his natural lube and the mix of both of our seeds still present on the slit. Just as I was about to begin to clean it he instructed me.

“Just clean the outside and the outer entrance. My body will absorb the rest. Be gentle as well, turians get tender after sex, both male and female.”

I nodded and began to clean him. I worked diligently while he watched silently. When I finished I looked up at him, his eyes were filled with warmth that made butterflies in my chest flutter. He then rubs his eyes as he takes the warm cloth from me and walks into the bathroom. When he returns he is holding a bottle of mint green cream.

“What’s that for?”

He pops it open and squeezes some into his hands before speaking.

“It is a cream that will break down our body fluids and suppress the chances of an allergic reaction from both our bodies. Hold out your hand.”

I held out a hand and he squeezed some of the lotion into my hand. I rubbed in on myself where our fluids has touched. I definitely didn’t want to ruin the afterglow with an anaphylactic reaction. Once we finished Kandros walked over to the nearest closet and pulled a pillow and some blankets. I felt confusion wash over me.

“Kandros what are you doing?”

He looked up and his mandibles flared out with uncertainty as he spoke

“I am making my bed on the floor?”

I tilted my head and spoke gently

“Why in the world would you do that?”

He looked away and took a deep breath

“I don’t want to assume that you want to lay next to me tonight.”

I sighed and commanded

“Look at me.”

He turned and looked at me. For the first time ever I saw the raw emotion of longing, loneliness, and uncertainty burning in his eyes. I pulled back the covers and slid under them. The cool sheets made me sigh. I reached out my hand to Kandros and spoke

“Do you want to lay next to me tonight?”

Kandros pauses and nods taking my hand in his talons. I pull him onto the bed and kiss his neck gently. Then I latch my mouth on the soft skin on his neck and suck hard on his pulse point. The skin only darkens marginally. Once I let go I look at him with a smile. He looks at me uncertain.

“You marked me so I marked you. Now it would do me a great pleasure to have to you lay next to me tonight.” I told him

Chapter Text

 

“Zach, you are needed. Please wake up. Zach, there has been a breakthrough in the sabotage case you were working with Raj Patel.” SAM said inside my head in the private channel.

I was warm and comfortable with a toned arm slung over my torso so I ignored him. I snuggled closer to the source of my warmth and cracked open an eye to look around. The Day lamps weren’t on yet.

I should’ve let that Trojan kill SAM.

I grumbled “Not now SAM it can wait.”

Kandros purred low and pulled me closer with a quick nuzzle

“Mmmm what’s going on?” he asked me as he raked a talon down my back.

“SAM is trying to wake me up.” I told him with a sigh

“For what reason? The sun lamps aren’t even on.” He asked and stated with one eye open.

“He has narrowed the possible saboteur down to about five different guys. Wants me to check them out now. Though I am fairly certain they are asleep like you and I.”

Kandros nods and activated his Omni tool. He looks at it momentarily before deactivating it.

“The sun lamps are going to turn on in about two hours. Can you ask SAM if any of the suspects are awake and doing maintenance to anything?”

I sigh “SAM is any of the suspects awake at this time, if so are they doing any kinds of maintenance?”

There was a ten second pause and SAM answered “Three vitals show that they are asleep. Two are currently awake. One is currently sick from food poisoning. The other is urinating.”

I took a deep breath “Alright, eliminate the suspect with food poisoning from the list. Then report his condition to the nearest medical clinic. Next, watch the suspects the best you can. If they disappear or do any kind of maintenance wake me. Otherwise I am going back to bed. I do appreciate your vigilance just not the hour unto which is executed.”

“Of course Zach. I’ll let you know if there is any change.”

I kissed Kandros on the neck as we readjusted our bodies to get comfortable. He spoke once we settled.

“So SAM is in your head?”

I nodded.

“Is it strange or painful?”

I shook my head and spoke “Honestly is nice. I don’t get lonely and he only speaks to me in such a manner when it’s an emergency. Or when my depression gets really bad.”

“Depression? How can a feeling get to be too bad?” Kandros asked groggily

“I human society depression is a mental illness. It’s when our brains don’t release enough feel good chemicals to keep us functioning properly. It causing lack of emotion, physical drives, and loss of the will to live.” I told him truthfully.

He was quiet for some time before he spoke “I see. I had a brother who went to the walk of death. My family didn’t speak of it after it happened. His whole life he struggled to desire and have a drive. One day he just took a walk and never returned. He was my hero, he was the kindest and bravest person I’ve ever been honored to know. So when he gave up I…couldn’t…process it. In Turian society it is a great shame for you to take your own life.”

I felt tears come to my eyes as I placed a hand on his cheek “Kandros, life breaks the strongest of people. Sometimes people just run out the drive that pushes us to live and they let go. Your brother was an amazing person who just couldn’t take the strain. He fought for too long. I’m telling you that from experience. I sought treatment…it was hard taking back the mantle…to continue the fight. I would’ve loved to have met your brother though.”

Kandros nods with emotion as he pulls me close. “Thank you. I really appreciate it. Now let's go back to sleep. You are probably going to need it.”

*~*

I felt a gentle shake as I opened my eyes. Kandros stood beside me in full armor. He spoke gently “It's time for you to get up and get ready. SAM still needs you to investigate for the saboteur.”

I stretched out with a sigh and I look at him with a smile “Thank you. For last night I mean. I've not been treated like a man romantically in well...quite some time.”

Kandros winks at me as he straightened. “Trust me when I say that you aren't the only one who enjoyed last night. I've never orgasmed as hard as I did last night.” He looked at the door with a sigh “I have to go. Work calls.” He began to walk away.

I reached out to him with a quiet “Wait. Before you go.”

He turned expectantly with a questioning look as I slid out from the covers. I realized I was still naked but shrugged it off as I crawled toward him.

His eyes heated at the site of my naked body as I stood. It made me smile with a blush.  “Easy tiger. I just want a kiss.”

Kandros chuckles low “Kissies can lead to very... pleasurable things. Let me show you.” The only thing that crossed my mind…

Oh shit.

Quicker than I could think talons were scraping down my ass and pulling me up as mandibles pushed into my lips. He was breathing heavy through his nose. I gave a warning

“If you grumble and get me turned on again you will be late to the office.”

He chuckled as he pulled my head back to expose  my neck and began to scrap his teeth down it.

How can this feel so good?

My nails dig into the spot underneath his fringe he began to growl lowly in sync with my moans. With one more breathy moan he lifted his manidables up and pressed them against my lips. I felt his tongue slide across my lips. I opened to his request.

It was blue and is was very dominating. I couldn't help myself as I sucked on it and rotated my tongue around as we fought for dominance in this kiss that was spiraling out of control.

“I’m sorry for the interruption Zach. We still need you to investigate the saboteur.” A voice said cutting into my head.

I pushed against Kandros chest with a sigh looking down at my erection “SAM?”

Inside my head he spoke“I understand your need to mate but this is a pressing issue. One that you will regret once your need is satisfied. There have been reports of sabotaje on the Hyperion beginning.  Kesh is counting on you.”

It was like an Ice bucket to my libido and I chuckled “Well when you put it that way.” I took a step back and took a deep breath  “SAM I will get ready. Tell Raj that I will meet him  in about twenty minutes.”

I looked at Kandros and he seemed confused as he spoke “I am going to assume that SAM just talked you out of making out with me?”

I nodded with a quick “Yeah sorry. He isn’t against us making out. But we have to stop this sabitour guy for everyone's sake.”

He nods and waves “See ya soon. Talk to me once you turn him in. So I can reward you.” I blushed as he walked away with a wink.

I run into the bathroom going to get ready and then I realized I don't have any extra clothes. All I had to dress myself was the cryo suit and the dress robe. Panic seized me.

“Uh- SAM I don't have any clothes...The rest are dirty... I don’t have money to buy more.”

There was a long pause. My shame was beginning to pour into my gut when SAM answered.

“I've accessed the payroll of the Initiative and added you to the Pathfinder team. Your account was wired credits due to the back pay. As well as clothes will be delivered shortly as well as later. Raj has been notified of your predicament.”

I sighed with relief at the statement. I continued to get ready  and it was about twenty minutes before I heard a soft knock at the door. When I opened the door with a towel wrapped around my waist there was a simple box.  I took it inside. When I opened the box it had white pants, blue shirt with the Initiatives insignia and simple sneakers. I put them on realizing they fit very well.

“SAM do you know my size? In all my clothing? How?”

“When Dr T’Perro scanned your body to treat you it took your measurements. I used those.”

I was surprised and thrilled at his ability to problem solve. I walked out the front door to the apartment. I turned and used my Omni-tool to close and lock the apartment door. As I walked through the hall out into a small section of the Hydroponics I realized that the foot traffic had increased, more lights were on, less storage boxes and shops were open. The Nexus was slowly coming back to life.

As I continued to walk toward the tram that would take me to the Hyperion. When I pressed the button I heard people talking close by.

“Did you hear that the Pathfinder team is going to leave in three days to find us a new home?” One human said

“Yeah. I am super excited to see what that is going to be like. I hope they don’t fail like the other attempts.” Salarian said

There was a small ding as the doors to the tram opened. I turned to get on and in front of me was Ryder. He looked up and paused with a smile as he waves “Hey, what are you up to?”

I pointed to the tram “I am on my way to narrow down and hopefully catch the one who has been sabotaging the station and of course the Hyperion.”

Ryder nods and points back with raised eyebrows. “Do you want me to come with you?”

I shook my head with a smile of my own as I step onto the tram. “No that won't be necessary. I have Raj with me. We should be able to handle it.”

Ryder begins to walk past me as he talks “Just tell SAM to let me know. I’ve just about settled things for our departure so I don’t have too much to do.”

“Okay I will. Thanks Ryder.” I say with a wave as the door closes. There was others species onboard so I sat in the corner waiting for it to be my stop. Many more got on and off as we made it to different stops. Then finally it was my stop I stepped off and in the entryway was Raj. He had a panel open and was looking into it.

“Hey Raj!” I said to his backside. He jerked and hit his head with a thump. I winced in sympathy as he backed up rubbing his head. When he laid eyes on me he smiled brightly before he spoke.

“Hello Zachary, it is very good to see you and with clothes no less!” He said with laughter in his eyes.

I shook a fist at him good naturedly. He spoke again and he patted my shoulder “That is for my sore head.”

I shrugged and spoke “Are you ready to check out the remaining panels?”

He looked at me with confusion so I began to type on my Omni-tool.

 

Z: That is my way of not giving away the real reason why we are here.

R: Ah. Of course. That is a wise idea.

 

When I looked up from my Omni-tool I smiled at Raj and spoke “Lets go. According to SAM there are three different panels to be checked out.” I started to walk toward the generator room that lead to the Atrium.

Raj nodded and walked beside me and spoke “So how do you want to do this?”

I looked at him and smiled big “You are better at seeing problems in the panels than I am. I’ll behind you with the tools if needed.”

Raj nodded as we walked upon another Engineer who was working on the panel. I nodded toward the engineer and Raj spoke to her. “Hello, is everything okay down there?”

I walked to her otherside and began to scan her while she looked at Raj. She wiped her head and nodded “Yeah it's just a blown fuse. Though I am certain that I just replaced this fuse not even two days ago.”

Raj nodded “Those things seem to break quicker and quicker. Don’t they?”

The female engineer nods as SAM speaks on the private channel

“Zach the bioscan indicates that this isn’t our culprit. Though the MALE that was here before her was the one who matches our description and timing of the panel malfunctions.”

I nodded “Excuse me miss?”

She turned and looked at me with a polite smile “Yes?”

“Was there a man here when you arrived? Or hanging around?”

The woman paused and seemed to think “There was a guy who was walking away toward the computer room that is before the Atrium. You see I’ve started to place alarms to alert me when there was a malfunction in the panels. Save time on getting informed by general computers. The man seemed to out of place. It might be because he had on Nexus security uniform on. Odd that he would be here.”

I nodded toward Raj as I thanked her. We walked down the stairs, down the hall, and into the computer room. A man by the engineers description was kneeling in front of a panel peering inside. I looked to Raj and spoke “Listen we need to make sure before we call in the cavalry that this is our guy. I got to scan him. Pretend to help him or something.”

When I turned back to the guy I saw the rifle in his hand and I froze and grabbed Raj and whispered. “Be very careful. I don’t want him to use that rifle on you.”

Raj nodded and I slung a arm over Raj shoulder good naturedly and spoke loudly “No worries buddy. This should be your last panel before we can go to lunch.” Raj looked at me then looked down as we walked forward toward the Saboteur.

When we approached him he seemed to finally hear us and turned and spoke “Oh hey guys. I thought I heard a rattle come from this vent and I thought I’d check it out.”

Raj spoke calmly “Must be another malfunction. I got a notification on my Omni-tool that this one was malfunctioning.”

The Saboteur got up and gestured to the vent “Please you are the professional not me.” He turned and grabbed his rifle. I quickly scanned him. He turned back around just as I was finishing. SAM spoke in my mind immediately.

“Bioscan is 100% Zach. He is the Saboteur.”

I spoke calmly “Call it in.”

SAM spoke in my head “I already did when the scan confirmed it was him.”

The Saboteur looked at me with raised eyebrows “I’m sorry? What did you say?”

I smiled and spoke louder “Sorry I was just asking Raj if we needed to call in for parts.”

Raj shook his head and spoke as he stood “No it was just a loose fan cover. Nothing serious.”

I tensed as the Saboteur grabbed Raj and spun him around and pressed his rifle to Raj’s back and he spoke bitterly.

“Funny how nothing is wrong with this panel and you two show up. I hadn’t even rigged it to break yet. Also funny how my Omni-tool VI tells me I’ve been scanned by you as well. Hands up or your friend here will regret it.”

I lifted my hands as Raj looked at me with fear. There was a gasp as everyone in the room seemed to finally notice the situation. SAM spoke into my mind.

“Security is on their way.I suggest you hold him here until they arrive. His name is Dale Atkins his sister is one of the many kicked out during the mutiny.”

I spoke with barely contained hatred. “So Dale you caught us, i’m guessing that you are going to try to make a escape to your sister who was kicked off.”

Dale seems to tense then he points the rifle at me and growls with a smile “You must be the New Pathfinder everyone was talking about. There's no way you would know my name AND know about my sister. I wonder how your SAM will like it when I blow your head from your shoulders.”

Raj moved suddenly as he turned and headbutted Dale full on. In that instant I let my biotics flare to life and I reached out and pulled Raj hard to me. He flew into my chest and I held him close.

Dale is holding his nose which is bleeding. He is breathing hard as he raised his rifle growling “You are gonna pay for that!”

I throw out a hand and picture my biotics becoming a solid wall. I saw a blue flash and the end of my hand and then a thin membrane of biotic energy cover me and Raj. The firing of the gun is muffled but I felt every bullet hit my shield. It was like someone was hitting my brain with small pebbles. I flinched at each strike. When he finished firing I was panting and covered in sweat.  He screamed at me then looked at the other people in the room and laughed.

“You may be able to shield yourself freak! But can you cover them?!”

He raised his rifle again and everything seemed to slow down. Fury filled me fueling my biotics.

How dare he involve innocent people!

I flicked my hand and the barrier seemed to wrap around the front of Dales rifle. When he fired this time I didn’t even feel the bullets hit the barrier. I willed my barrier to wrap around his rifle. When it did I pictured the rifle being ripped from his hands. The gun went skidding across the floor. I felt my feet leave the ground as I wrapped my biotics around Dales throat and pulled him until my hand was wrapped around his throat. All I could see was white but I pulled him close.

“You thought that the FREAK was weak and that it wouldn’t defend them huh?” I squeezed his throat and he began to gag and scratch at my hand. “I’m going to make sure you don’t hurt anyone else.”

It was then I heard my name being called. “Zach! Zach! Zach that's enough! You’re killing him!”

I turn my head toward to source and Ryder stood with Kandros and two armed guards. Ryder had his hands cupped around his mouth and he looked at me with uncertainty. I looked back at Dale gritting my teeth.

“He doesn’t deserve to live! Why should I spare him?”

I felt talons grip my calf and Kandros deep voice dipped into my very soul “Because you are just responding to the trauma of the situation. Killing him won't let him face proper justice for his crimes. Let him go.”

I felt the truth in his words. I didn’t want to kill this man I just wanted him to pay for him crimes. The pain in my chest was overwhelming and I couldn’t seem to contain it. I released Dale from my grip, he fell onto the ground gasping for air. The two guards grabbed him and cuffed him as I floated down to the ground in tears.

Is this all I do? Cry?

I felt arms pull me close and I knew it was Kandros. I was impressed with his willingness to give public displays of affection.  It warmed me greatly when I heard him say

“You did really well. No one was hurt and in the end you controlled yourself enough not to kill the man. Not that I would have blamed you considering how much trouble he has caused and the people he has hurt. I am proud of you. ”

It was then when Ryder cleared his throat. “Uh I don’t mean to interrupt or anything but Kesh and Tann want all of us to meet them in Kesh’s office. When you are ready that is.”

I nod and push Kandros away with a smile and nod “I’m fine. I am ready to get away from this place anyway.”

Kandros kisses my forehead and then nods toward the door.  “Come on champ. Once you are done with Kash and Tann I’ll give your reward.” When he said reward he winked at me and I blushed.

Chapter Text

As a group Kandros, Ryder, Dale, two guards, and I stepped off the tram. It had been a really quiet ride. Everyone stopped talking when they saw the handcuffs on Dale. Not that I blame them. It would be surreal to see a person who is responsible for putting so many lives at risk.

When we entered the open area we took Dale to the cells. Kandros took off his cuffs and pushed Dale into the cell. He spoke as he closed the door.

“Dale Atkins, you are under arrest for damage of Initiative property and people. Intent to do harm, disturbing the peace, and small scale terrorism. Do you understand your charges and why you are here?”

Dale sat down and sighed “Yes, I understand.”

Kandros continued sternly “Do you also understand that you reserve the right to wait for legal representation to be brought out of Cryo? That we the Initiative reserve the right to keep you in this cell until that individual or individuals are brought out of Cryo to represent you in a trail. That if we have to keep you for more than 6 months to 1 year, the amount of time will be decided by the judge, it will be taken off your prison sentence or time served. Do you understand?”

Dale nods as he speaks “I understand.” he seems to deflate as he says so.

Kandros pauses and sighs “You also have a right to wave these rights and seek immediate sentencing by the powers that be. Currently Nackmor Kesh, Juran Tann, Foster Addison, Pathfinder Scott Ryder, and I Tiran Kandros. If you would like to do so state that you would now.”

Ryder seems to be shocked that he was even mentioned.

Dale looks at Kandros and speaks “I wave my rights and seek sentencing by the powers that be now.”

Kandros seems to be taken aback and he nods. He turns to Ryder speaks “Well that means we have a meeting to have.”

Ryder nods and speaks “I understand but I am meant to seek us a new home not sentence people.”

Kandros speaks “I'm supposed to lead our militia. So you and me both Pathfinder.”

Ryder shakes his head with a sigh and turns to me. “You are the one who investigated and sought after this man. Seen his crimes first-hand. I want to know what you think his punishment should be.”

I feel a cold sensation go down my spine. I didn't like that I had the power to decide a man's fate. Would I be just? What if I abused this power? What if my anger got the best of me? I can't let that happen.

“SAM what intelligence do we have on Exiles?” I said out loud.

“We only have whispers. Abandoned campsites and small settlements.” SAM spoke out of my Omni-tool.

I nodded as I began to pace back and forth thinking. I spoke carefully “I wasn't here during the mutiny. But so far all I've heard is that OUR people, family and friends, rebled when they thought things were unfair and got exiled. Not to mention the Krogan left of their own accord due to the very same reason.”

I leaned into the nearest wall facing the group. “That to me sounds like there was a possibility of mistreatment and desperation on both sides. We should be trying to build bridges, not burning them. I feel that Dale Atkins should be kept in a jail cell...”

Dale looked at me and I saw fear in his eyes so I continued to speak “until we find his sister and then we exile him to her. I may not agree with his methods but I also don't agree with how people were thrown to the curb when they questioned why they were being treated as they were.”

Dale looked down at his feet I could see the relief in his eyes.

“I could agree to that.”

Nackmor Kesh stood nearby with a smile on her face. I smiled at her and waved. She continued “When everything was going wrong as the leadership of the Initiative we we're not prepared to be the only leaders left.”

Ryder looks at Kesh with a smirk “I can relate. We were about to head over to your office.”

Kesh nodded “I came looking for you. Tann was starting to twitch. I can't stand to be in the same room with number seven for too long.

Kandros chuckled and spoke “We just finished up with your Sabitour. I'm sorry for the delay I had to tell him his rights.”

Kesh looked me over and her eyes landed on my neck. She chuckled as she spoke “I see someone had some fun.” I felt a blush burn into my face.

“Yeah I took down the Saboteur for you. It was uh fun.” I told her trying to change the subjects of my marks.

“You also took down my Militia commander it seems too.” She said amused.

Ryder burst out laughing as Kandros scratched the back of his head bashfully. I was dying on the inside with embarrassment. I walked up to Kesh and leaned my head against her. “Why you do this Kesh?”

She patted my back with a chuckle. “Mostly for my amusement.”

I smirked at her remark and sighed as I spoke “This is why I like you. So truthful that it hurts.” She hummed with low key laughter.

“Well kiddos, as much as I love to keep Number Seven waiting, and I really do, we need to go. I don't trust him when he is left to his own devices.”

I sighed and looked down “I think I'd rather break my leg than deal with him.”

Ryder nudged my shoulder with a smile “Yeah it's not pleasant but it wont take that long. Besides don’t you have training to do afterward”

I nodded. My head slowly began to throb with each nod. I forgot how much biotic power I used in the scuffle with Dale. I turned to Raj and spoke “Before I go. Are you alright. Everything happened so fast that I didn’t have time to really check you over.”

Raj smiled and nodded calmly “I am well my friend.” He looked away and took a deep breath. I reached and placed a hand on his shoulder.

“BUT are you okay? ” I implored.

Raj turns back and nods “To be very honest with you I didn’t think I was going to make it when his rifle was pressed against me. Then suddenly I was by your side and behind a barrier. Safe. Thank you. I can’t wait to tell my wife about this adventure when she comes out of Cryo.”

“I can’t wait to tell her how brave her husband was in the whole thing.” I told him as the group began to walk to Kesh’s office. I waved bye to him as I followed behind everyone. It was a quiet walk to Kesh’s office but not as intense as the tram raid from my fight with Dale.

When the door opened Tann was pacing back and forth. He rolled his eyes and spoke in a quick manner “There you all are. What took so long? You know we Salarians have short lifespans, I was aging waiting for you!”

Kesh sighs “Come now Seven don’t be rude to the guests. You know I don’t like it when you do that. Besides you said that you wanted to congratulate Zach on finding the Saboteur.”

Tann shakes his head then sighs. He looks at me and puts on a fake smile and opens his mouth. I hold up a hand and speak first.

“With all due respect save it please. God knows how painful it would be for all of us to watch you say thank you. What is it that you need or want from me Director?”

Tann seemed to untense but the fake smile remained. It made my skin crawl. He stared for a moment and spoke. “I wish to do the evaluation that the rest of the Pathfinder team has already done. It's for safety protocols, you understand.  It will only take a moment.”

I point to the door with a nod “Lead the way Director.” Tann walked through the door briskly. Kandros grabbed my arm. He looked wary as he spoke. “Be careful.” I nodded with a smile as I followed Tann to his office.

When the door slid open there was a secretary desk to the right with another Salarian behind it. Female from the looks of her. She seemed slender and more graceful than other Salarians I’d seen. I waved to her with a gentle smile. She responded in kind. I spoke to her

“How are you today Miss?”

She looked stunned to be spoken too and paused before speaking “I am well thank you. It's kind of you to ask. How are you?”

Before I could answer Tann spoke loudly “How he is isn’t why you are here. Screen my calls and make sure we are not interrupted.”

She looked down sadly and quickly and replied “Yes sir.”

I felt burning fury spread through me as I spoke as we ascended the stairs. “That was rude.”

“Am I wrong? Is it not her job?” He said quickly

“You are correct logically about her job. This doesn’t make it morally right to treat her like garbage because she didn’t do it for all of one second Director Tann.”

“If you are done with your white knighting schrade I’d like to get this over with.” He said turning to back to me with a look a mother would have when annoyed with her child.

“Fine.” I said curtly and pointed toward his desk “Shall we?”

Tann walked toward his desk briskly and grunted “I am going to have some water. Would you like some? You did just have a fight with a delinquent.”

I paused and took stock of my faculties. I was thirsty,tired and hungry from my fight. I needed to stock back up on my calorie intake. Water would be a great start. Red flags went up in my mind. Why was Tann giving me water of all people? It isn’t like him to be very kind. Maybe he is trying to build bridges?

“Sure, that would be great thank you.”

Tann set a glass of water in front of me on the desk and sat down himself. I watched as he took a drink of water. I took a sip of water myself as not to be rude. Tann adjusted some files on his desk and looked at me seeming to be waiting for something. He sighed before speaking

“Lets go ahead and get started. This is an evaluation of skills and mental faculties in accordance to safety protocols. Do you understand that your privacy won't be breached regardless of results?”

I felt my headache fade and exhaustion take its place. “I understand.” I stated as I took another sip of water.

“Are you prone to bouts of violence or have a history of uncontrollable outbursts?” Tann stated question coldly. I felt myself tense because this question was loaded. What was he trying to get at?

“No.” I stated coldly in return as I sipped more water.

“Hmm from the evidence I’ve gathered I don’t believe that to be true.” Tann stated as he flicked his wrist. Videos and pictures of Kandros holding my unconscious form appeared, along with pictures and videos of me holding Dale by the throat.

I stood and shook my head “How did you-”

“I am the Director of the Initiative. I am not without my resources. Try as they might to protect you I see you for what you truly are.”

I looked at Tann and leveled him with a stare as a cold feeling settled in my gut “What might that be director?”

He paused and stood “A threat! Plain and simple! You are uncontrollable, unpredictable, and without any previous information. The day we first met I looked into our vast databases for information on a Zachary McCurry and do you know what I found? Nothing!

I stood my ground as he yelled. I spoke with a calm and collected head “I would never harm anyone without cause. Just because you couldn’t find anything in your database doesn’t mean that I am a threat. Clearly this was all a show. You wanted to confront me not do an “evaluation”. I am leaving.”

I turned  and began to walk when it felt like my limbs where suddenly too heavy to lift. I felt confusion as Tann began to speak “I thought you might say that, or that you might react negatively.”

Fear kicked in as I turned toward Tann and looked at my water that was sitting on the desk “You….drugged me?!”. Tann nodded and I turned and began to run toward  the stairs shouting “Someone! Help!” Then my legs gave out and I collapsed. My heart was beating fast in my chest and all I could see was Tann walk from behind his desk and speak into his Omni-tool. Everything else began fade to black.

“SAM help me….”     

Chapter Text

SAM POV

“SAM help me.” Zach said desperately. His visuals suddenly went dark.  This became more concerning when his location become unknown.

Within the span of a second I calculated that Zach was in fact in danger. I spoke into Ryder's private channel.

“Ryder, Zach contacted me seeking aid. I believe he is in trouble.”

I saw Ryder's reaction in his heart rate. It increased rapidly.

“Where is he SAM? What happened?” Ryder asked as he stood and ran out the door.

“He was with Tann in the directors office. I'm not sure but im disconnected from his visual input. This indicates unconsciousness Ryder.” I stated

“Shit!” Ryder said as his adrenaline levels increased.

 

Tann POV

I reached out and press my finger into Zach's neck. Pulse steady and even. No movements. Drugging successful.

My Omni tool lit up as I spoke into it. “All is a go.”

A voice spoke back “Be there in 30 seconds boss.”

Within the next few moments the new assistant charged up the stairs. She looked worried as she rushed over to Zach's unconscious form.

“Oh my goodness Director is he alright!? I heard him call for help!” She asked

“Yes. Yes he is fine I'm sure.” I told her sourly.

She raised her arm and Omni tool and began to dialing.

“What are you doing?” I asked her.

“Calling the Med bay! He needs a Doctor.” She said in a worried tone

I waved my hand and spoke evenly “I've already called. What kind of director do you take me for Miss Siaria?”

“I-I didn't mean.” She stuttered

“No you didn't.” I told her

She shut her mouth and looked down uncertain. It was then that my men came up the ramp and begin to place Zach on a stretcher that was handmade. They put him on it as I walked down the ramp to the far wall and pulled out the hidden keypad and typed in 2185. The year we left. A secret passage opened in the wall.

“Where are you taking him?” Siaria asked skeptically

“This is a quicker path than taking the tram. No wait. Shaves off 5 minutes. Trying to save his life. Would affect the Pathfinder team if we lose him.” I told her evenly

“Yes sir that would save time.” She agreed

“Glad you understand. Now don't you have work to do Assistant Siaria?” I said trying to keep my annoyance out of my voice

She nodded as she walked down the ramp to her desk. “Yes sir”

“Siaria, if anyone asks about Zach tell them he walked to the med bay. It keeps the liability off of this office.” I said sternly

“Yes sir. Of course. We couldn't have that!” Siaria said as I picked up the cup from the desk and tossed a cloth on the condensation ring and cleaned it up. I poured the water out feeling relief.

 

Kandros POV

“Push them against the mine and keep them pinned. Kett don't do as well when they are cornered.” I told the squad commander

“Yes sir. Report to you soon.” The commander responded then cut the line.

I sighed feeling tired. When I looked up I saw Ryder charging up the ramp from the tram looking worried. Or at least I think that's a face of worry. I called out to him.

“Everything alright?”

He paused and shook his head “Zach. SAMs lost feed on him. He even called for help. He was with Tann...”

My heart rate increased and a let off a low hum to get the attention of security officers and I nodded my head for them to come with me.

I follow close behind Ryder. I spoke lowly “Whatever we find keep our cool. I don't think there is any more uprisers on the station but be ready.”

Ryder confessed to me “I don't think it's an uprising. I think Tann is up to something.”

My heart began to beat. Would Tann hurt Zach? I spoke “What would motive be? Tann has no reason to hurt Zach.”

Ryder sighed “Maybe a way to keep Kesh, you and I in line?”

I signaled the guards to pause. They looked at me uncertain but I nodded. I spoke to Ryder quietly “That would require us to…”

Ryder looks at me sternly “After everything YOU have done with him, you can look me in the eye and tell me you don’t care for him?” Ryder looks at me as my mandibles remain open. He speaks “I’ve never seen a grown Krogan female take to a human as Kesh has to Zach.”

I look down and speak “I don’t understand it. He grows on you without trying.”

Ryder smiles with a low laugh “He has saved my life and others, and tried to hide the fact. He is...endearing, genuine, and just so transparent. He tries to hide himself and fails, miserably I might add. He gives affection then realizes that he shouldn’t. It makes it so you can’t help but be drawn in. I care for him too. If Tann caught wind of that he might, in fact, use him against us. Be ready Kandros.”

I let off a low growl as my mind and...heart took in this information. I waved the guards to follow me as I approached Tann’s office door. It slid open smoothly, Tann's assistant was sitting at her desk typing. She looked up and smiled with uncertainty as she spoke “Kandros, Pathfinder is there something that I can help you with?”

Ryder speaks as he looks around his voice stern “One of the members of the Pathfinder team was here and according to SAM he was in danger and lost consciousness. You wouldn’t know anything about that Miss?”

She nods “My name is Siaria. Yes Zach left to go to the Med-bay. He wasn’t feeling well after the evaluation.”

Ryder seemed to pause as if he were thinking. “Are you sure about that?”

My Omni-Tool beeps as I look at it I realize it's from SAM.

SAM: She is lying.

I look back up at her and Ryder as they continue to speak. I smell the air and smell Zach.

He was here .

Then another smell was present that I knew. FEAR . It was faint but it was Zach's fear smell. I walk onto the room and look around. There isn't any signs of struggle. That would trouble me more than seeing signs of struggle. It meant that someone was prepared and set a trap.

“Is there something I can help you gentlemen with.” Tann’s voice cut into my thoughts

“SAM told us that Zach was in trouble. We came to investigate.” I told him casually

“As you can see he isn't here. Sent him off to Med bay. You should check there.” Tann said impatiently.

“We would director but SAM said the last place he was conscious was here in your office.” Ryder confessed sternly

“Clearly there is something wrong with his tracking. As you can see Zach isn't here. Maybe you should request maintenance for your SAM.” Tann said evenly.

He was too calm and not at all concerned. It felt wrong. He smelled wrong. I grabbed Ryder's arm to quiet him and spoke.

“Of course Director. We will take our leave.”

Ryder gave me a look and we began walking out. Suddenly Siaria called out to Ryder

“Hey, I think you dropped this. Wouldn’t want to lose that!” She winked and put a slip of paper in Ryders hand. She walked back to her desk and began to type on the computer like she didn’t do anything out of the ordinary.

Ryder and I walked out the door. I gave him a look and he looked at the paper. It had written :

Open me in a bathroom and don’t speak what you see.

Ryder began to walk toward the nearest restroom. I waved my escort to leave and go about their duties and they did so. I followed Ryder into the restroom and when the door opened he was standing in the center of the empty, thankfully, room. I waved my hand and the door locked behind me. Ryder pressed a finger to his lips as he handed me the note. I read it

 

Tann took Zach.

I felt rage enter into my blood like fire. I took a deep breathe and continued reading.

Meet me in Kesh’s office in two hours. Trust no one. Destroy this once you are done.

Ryder nods as he takes the note and his Omni-tool lights up and the paper begins to burn. As it does I look into his eyes and see the same rage I feel. Ryder closes his hand and the flame dies. He speaks

“Lets go talk to Kesh.”

I unlock the door and we leave.

 

*~Zach POV~*

 

It was like my mind left my body and began to come back into itself. First it was my fingers and toes. Then my legs and arms. Next thing I notice is my heart beat and my breathing. Once I was there I felt my ears come slowly back to function. At first is was low and distorted but then it began to make sense.

“Did they say when to apply the drug?”

“No-they only said that too much could stop his heart.”

“Then lets go ask them before we apply it.”

“Good idea.”

Then I heard a door slide open and closed. Take and breath. Let it out. Do it again. Once more. They didn’t return so I opened my eyes.  The light pierced into my brain like a prod. I nearly yelped. Go slower. I cracked my eyes open and the light slowly entered my eyes. My eyes throbbed as they adjusted but they did and I finally looked around.

It looked like an old storage room made into a holding cell. There was nothing but white walls and a simple cot. I lifted my omni-tool and it indicated that there was no signal or connection to the net. I sighed then the idea hit me. SAM! Of course!

“SAM? SAM can you hear me?” I spoke into the air. There was nothing but silence to greet me. That's when it hit me, anxiety, an old friend.

You’re alone. They are going to kill you. You can’t stop them! You are so worthless that you can’t even stop yourself from being kidnapped! WORTHLESS!

Then from my core came a roaring “ENOUGH!”

I felt my body tingle then release the pent up energy. When I opened my eyes I noticed my hand was pressed against the wall and beneath it was an open panel of wires. When I looked at the open panel I noticed a color label for the wires. I looked at it closely. My heartbeat sped up, Internet was labeled for blue. SAM I could find SAM that way! I wonder how they are blocking him anyway?

I pulled on the blue wire and it didn’t budge. As I grit my teeth and pulled harder I heard voices begin outside the door. I tensed then pulled harder on the blue cord. There was a click and the cord came loose. But as it did so the door to my cell opened and I heard a shout.

“HEY! He is awake!”

“WELL PUT HIM UNDER!”

I hurriedly put the connection into my Omni-tool chip and prayed that it would work. I pictured my biotics flinging the guys out the room. I was successful but I took a knee and broke out into a sweat. I was still very weak from the drug I wouldn’t be able to hold them much longer.

There was a ding on my omni-tool and spoke loudly into it

“SAM! AH!”

I felt the sting of a dart hit my arm. Within moments I could feel the drug enter my veins. Everything became too heavy and dark. I fought against it weakly shouting out once more

“SAM...i’m...here”

My body hit the floor as they closed in. I heard a soft ding as my Omni-tool  displayed itself as a personal hotspot. Then as they disconnected my Omni-tool from the net, to my great dismay, one of them spoke with relief.

“It looks like he didn’t get the word out quick enough. No response.”

The other guy laughed low “Good. No need for them to find him. Or us.”

I felt tears stream down my face as the placed me back on the cot and my vision faded. Then within my mind I heard a voice.

“Found you.”  

Chapter Text

SAM POV

“Found you.” I told Zach as his mind slipped into unconsciousness once more.I had turned on the Wifi connection to his Omni-tool when he connected to the internet and called for me. It only was several hundred nano-seconds from losing him again but it paid off. Too bad I couldn't tell him AND break into his Omni-tool with its state of the art firewalls.

Zachs adrenaline and cortisol were spiked when I finally got reconnected. He needed comfort. But I have to keep him safe first.

The drug they are using to keep him under is of salarian make. But it was only used by STG recently due to humans only being in the galactic theater since 2164. Quite potent, and fast acting in small doses. This would help confirm that Director Tann was behind this.

“Ryder.”

“Yes SAM?” Ryder said lowly out loud.

“I have news.” I told him

“Can it wait? I'm in the middle of a meeting.” Ryder asked with a tone similar to his father's. Annoyed was what Alac said it was.

“No.” I stated simply

There was a total of ten seconds of silence from him before he sighs and waves his hand in a rolling motion.

“Well go on! Tell me.”

“I have re-established my connection to Zach's implant. I found him.” I stated

Ryder was on his feet and tense. “Go on.” he says

Ryder's POV

“He is safe but drugged by a drug used by STG against human opponents. That increases probability to 80 percent that Director Tann is behind this.” SAM told me in my head.

I looked at Kesh, Kandros, and Siaria and spoke “SAM says that he has reconnected with Zach. Zach was able to establish a hard wire connection before two men drugged him again. That the drug in his system was of STG make and made specifically for humans. Thus confirms Siaria’s statement.”

“If SAM reconnected with him then where is he?” Kandros asked

SAM appeared on Kesh’s desk and confesses. “I cannot find him. Something is blocking me.”

“What do you mean?” I asked confused. “Your connected to our implants?”

“Correct but it's like looking at a incomplete map. There is just spheres of nothing. This station has tech to block my tracking ability by blocking the signal from your implants. Though I am not aware of any new developments in technology such as this.” SAM stated

“We do. I didn't think it would be used in this manner.” Kesh stood and sighed

“After the uprising...we put more safeguards in place. We even dared to ask what if a Pathfinder and his SAM went rogue and we couldn't get to his or her SAM node? How do we stop them from getting into our systems, flight plans, colony settlement sites, or listen to our plans?  We created SAM Implant Signal Scramblers or SISS, for such an occasion. Zach found a way to get a SAM reconnected thankfully.”

My mind processed this as Kandros stood angrly.

“How could you? How could you make this tech and not tell anyone?!” He asked breathing heavy. “Why didn’t you tell me? I could’ve used this in the field against our enemies.”

Kesh sighed heavily “One, I didn’t think it would be abused like this. Two, this was before you became apart of our leadership. Three not everything can be told to the masses. Not with wounds this fresh. It could cause another uprising, one we cannot afford.”

“Fine! But Kesh, Zach is paying for the complacency of people he has done no harm to. He is innocent.” Kandros said pointing at Kesh with one talon.

“I accept full responsibility. But I also have a plan.” Kesh said with a grin she points toward  Siaria “This lovely lady is one of mine. She is going to get the code for you to get into Tann's secret area.” She then points toward me and continues “You are going to break in and scope out everything. I’ve read your files. You are one of the best and upcoming infiltrators in the Alliance before our departure.” She then points toward Kandros “My men and yours are going to use the data he has gathered to break Zach out. Then hide him from Tann. Then put him on the Pathfinders ship and let them fly away. Tann cannot openly stop the Pathfinder without causing a loss of following. ”

I am filled with uncertainty and I speak my concerns “The ship, including my team, is going to be leaving in four days. How are we going to do this in four days? This would at least take seven to do even with my training.”

Kesh laughs lowly and lifts one finger. “We will do this by that time for one reason. We have the element of surprise. Tann doesn’t know that SAM is reconnected to Zach again. Nor does he know that I know what I do. We are going to play it off like we are looking for Zach and we are going to ask for Tann for his assistance.”   

Zach POV

Everything is warm and comfortable. I feel a breeze caresses my skin once again. I open my eyes and I was once again back in the meadow with the tree. Everything felt too perfect.

“SAM? I am back in this...place again.”

“So it would seem. How do you feel?” SAM asked as he appeared in the Blonde human form.

“I feel odd but I'm okay. I just want to know why I am here as all SAM.” I told him truthfully

“You asked me to help you train. Since you are captured. I have four days to train your mind. Since time passes different here we can get more done.”

I felt my insides light up with excitement  and yell as I jump up and down “It's like the Matrix!?”

“You are referencing a movie from the year 1999. I can understand the similarities but the brain is faster than the body. The internet is faster than the brain. Thus this virtual world progresses faster than the outside world. Also…”

“SAM?” I interrupted

“Yes Zach?” SAM said evenly

“I can barely focus on my own speeches in lue of learning. Please don't make me try to remember your long winded speeches.” I begged him

“So would you rather get started on training then?” SAM asked inquisitively

“Please.” I whispered

“I am going to apply the rules of reality to this simulation. I will also access your pain network.” SAM stated

“So no Matrix bending and lots of pain. Got it.” I told him with excitement.

“Initiating Aikido simulation.” SAM said as he and the environment changed. Suddenly I was looking at SAM in a master's robe and we were in a Dojo back on the Earth that SAM knew.

At once I realized that my clothing had changed to robes. The air was cool as it would be in any fitness facility. There was stimuli from noise and light. It felt real. I ran over to the window and looked at the city outside. Cars flew by and people walked below talking.It all felt almost normal. I turned to SAM with a smile and spoke.

“This seems so real. You did really good with this simulation. How did you get all this information to display?” I asked curiously

“Alec visited cities when I was connected to him before the Initiative left. I was able to observe what life was like in those cities. Now I can simulate them. But I am limited to human cities and the Citadel.” SAM stated.

“It's very impressive. You should be proud.” I told him earnestly

“Thank you. Are you ready to begin?” SAM asked

I nod and SAM points to the spot in front of him and commands “Sit.”

I give him a look and sit “Make sure you say please, and thank you when you command a organic. It is considered rude otherwise.”

SAM nods “Understood.”

There was a pause before SAM spoke once more. “Aikido, translated as the way of harmonious spirit or life spirit. It focuses on using your opponent's energy against them. This style focuses on joint-locking and trying to cause the least amount of harm to your opponent. This art of combat is focused with the views and beliefs of its founder Ueshiba Morihei.”

I leaned toward him in awe “Wow. How do you know all this?”

SAM shrugged and answered plainly “Databases from the Milky Way Galaxy.”

I felt my displeasure “It's really unfair how easy it is for you to learn so much and not lose anything.”

SAM tilts his head and speaks “Is it so unfair? I am bound to learning everything through the Human experience. I cannot experience it myself. I’ll never feel like you do. Just process it and try to understand it.”

Shame hit me like a brick I turned my head as my face flushed with it.

SAM's voice seemed to become more gentle “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

I looked at SAM and nodded “I’m sorry. I’ve just never valued my ability because those who were supposed to love me, told me it wasn’t of value, just a waste of time.” I felt a tear streak down my cheek at my confession. I wipe it away as I look at SAM with a sad laugh

“You say some really intense stuff.” I told SAM evenly

SAM looked away and spoke “I didn’t.”

I was confused by what SAM said “I’m sorry, you didn’t? I just...heard you.”

“I didn’t say or organize those words. I quoted Fred Rogers.” SAM told me and continued to tell me as I laughed “I deemed it appropriate for the moment so I said it.”

I leaned forward and wrapped my arms around SAM's body with a smile. SAM stiffens and wraps his arms around me and in return and a small smile forms on SAMs face. I lean away with a small frown. I speak to him concerned

“Why do I tingle when you touch me? It's like my nerves are popping all over.”

SAM says nothing to me for a moment “From what I can gather, since I don’t have limbs or a body to speak of, your brain is simulating that I do, but im not real so I would have to help your brain along in here.”

I look at him and tilt my head “What did you experience when I touched you?”

SAM spoke after a pause “Warmth? I can feel it when you experience it. But that felt...intensely MORE . Do you comprehend this statement?”

I laughed a little before looking at him with a smile “When asking me if I understand what you are saying, don’t be so formal. Say: You know what I mean? Or ya know? Or do you understand? It will make people more comfortable if you talk to them less formally.”

SAM nods and speaks “We need to get back to training. It is important that we make you combat ready.”

I nod as SAM stands he takes a breath and stands with his knees bent and his arms stretched out in front of him palms out, it looked like he was trying to slow something down.  He then begins to push and pull his arms in a flowing motion. When his arms would pull in he was pull in air. When his arms pushed out he pushed out air. After doing this a few times he stopped and instructed me.

“Mimic this motion. This is to help you learn better breathing and posture. This will in turn keep you calm in combat against a attacker.”

I nodded and began to mimic the way SAM was standing and how he was moving. I had to adjust several times before I got it right. But once I did SAM began to instruct me once more.

“Very good Zach. You got the posture and form correct. The next step is to feel the flow of energy as you move. All around you is energy, some you can see, some you can feel, others you can hear. Try to move the energy that you can feel in sync with your body and its energy. It should feel like you are moving the flow of water.”

As I followed his instructions I closed my eyes to filter out that source of external stimuli so I could focus on the task at hand. Then I pictured my hands touching the flowing energy. After a pause I could feel it. I could really feel it! But then SAM spoke.

“Zach you are using your biotics, that isn’t the energy that I was talking to you about.”

I opened my eyes to the blue hue that was flowing through the air. I sighed and relaxed my biotics. The blue hue faded. I began again with the flowing movement but again my biotics tried to flare to life. I heard SAMs footsteps come close and he pressed a finger into my head causing my skin to tingle.

“You are overthinking it. Quit thinking and be organic and FEEL the energy.” He commanded.

I forced my mind to be blank and opened my eyes and tried to keep it that way. As I moved I saw how SAM was doing it with me. He watched me with patience and a blank face. As I moved I felt like I could feel a small ripple moving from my fingertips to my shoulders. Then from there to my feet into the floor. I pulled it back and pushed it back out from my fingers toward SAM. He smiled and pulled it into himself and then flowed in back toward me. I pulled it back inside myself and I pushed a little of my joy into it and pushed it back toward SAM.

We continued this for what felt like ages. Then SAM pulled the energy back into himself and sent it into the floor. He bowed to me and I bowed back as a sign of respect. SAM put a hand on my shoulder and spoke

“Next we are going to learn how to roll.”

“What do you mean learn how to roll? I know how to roll. See?”

I rolled and landed on my butt. I looked at SAM with a confident smile. He shakes his head with a snort and puts hands on his hips. He speaks with raised eyebrows.

“That is what you call rolling? According to the VI you have to roll from standing position to standing position. So I think we will need to teach you how to roll.  I felt disgruntled at this news. How hard can it be to roll? Its rolling! We learn this when we are kids.

SAM walked away and paused before he rolled. It was fluid and he didn’t seem to be so….square when he rolled. He rolled forward with ease and grace back to standing position. Then he looked at me and winked, then he rolled backwards. That's right, you read correctly, he rolled backward to standing position with ease.

When he turned and looked at me. I felt my face flush, it was from the roll I swear. Not because he winked and then did something awesome leaving me flustered like a school boy crush on a teacher. Right? Right

Back to training.

Chapter Text

Kandros POV: 1 day later

 

Waking up was harder than I realized without him here. His scent lingered everywhere, the closet, bathroom sink, and mostly me. Ever since our heated night of passion I couldn’t get his scent off of me. Other turians who were around me noticed but didn’t say anything, old wounds and all. New galaxy, new outlooks right?

I turn over with my eyes open and realize that the day lamps aren’t on. I sit up and Zach's scent hits me again.  It isn’t overwhelming, it brings comfort and its gentle on the system, like a light rain after a dry season, it makes me wish he is here all the more. I check the clock and see its about four hours until it's time to wake up.

I throw the covers off of me and enter the bathroom with a deep growl. I can feel my NEED growing with each inhale. But his scent is the only thing keeping everything in check. It was my relief as well as the cause of my anxiety. I turn toward the cylinder shaped shower stall and tear off my clothes. I press the button and the door closes. Now that I was in the dark I took deep breaths of Zach’s scent with no shame.

Water pours out as the robotic voice told me I had 15 minutes before water was cut off. I feel myself unsheath and the warm air makes me shiver with need. I place one taloned hand on the wall then slowly grip myself. The burn of my hand rubbing the friction was too rough, it would get the job done though. I close my eyes and think of the night before.

Zachs eyes blown wide with need, the way his body let off its need with scents, heat, and his voice. I remember how he felt when he gripped us both. I mimicked his movements how he was soft yet firm, gentle and rough, filled with longing yet strong enough to hold on. When his seed leaked from him, i a musky smell that reminded me of oceans and iron accompanied it. There was no smell like it that I could pin down.

My guess is it had to do with his homeworld Earth. A beautiful planet with oceans and continents, as well as a myriad of different climates. That planet formed his species to be adaptive and well rounded, yet very contradictory at times. Humans frustrating and curious at the same time. No two were similar, one thing could insult one while impress the other.

I remember how the light traced Zachs body, how his body hair lead my eyes to his need. How he moaned my name as I touched him.  How smooth his skin was, how plump and firm his ass was. I couldn’t touch it enough. It was delicious like that human dessert. What was it called? Right. CAKE.     

My thoughts begin to go beyond that night to what Zach hinted at. He said that he would be tighter and smoother than his hand. At that thought I could feel my release begin its final steps to completion.

I pictured him bent over the bed his hole waiting for me. I picture mounting him and sliding in and how his back would arch with pleasure. I wanted to see what his eyes would look like as I slid into his smooth, warm, wet heat. Would he feel like a Asari? Would it completely different?

Like lighting I came hard and fast against the wall of the shower with a loud growl. It hit my body like a brick, shattering everything, finally everything was silent in my mind and...my heart. For now. I finished my shower efficiently and laid back in bed to try and grab more sleep.

 

Siaria POV that morning

 

I placed Tanns coffee on his desk where he required it. I organized his files and placed his schedule for the day on his desk. I had looked over his desk for any codes but could find none. I would have to figure out a way to see him put it in and not cause suspicion.  As I stood there, I heard the office door open below and waited patiently for Tann to arrive at his desk.

He strode with quick steps like a man who was busy. Once he sat down I began the daily ritual.

“Good morning Director Tann. Here is your coffee.” I passed him his coffee and the data pad containing his meetings, updates, discussions and other tasks. I continued as I usually would.

“Today it looks like you will start with discussions on what will be going on the Tempest with Addison’s Requisitions Director here in fifteen minutes. That should only last for about an hour.  I moved your nine fifteen to nine forty five so you can view inventory for the Nexus as you requested. After that your next appointment is with Kesh about opening the Vortex club and the Tech lab for our science team at eleven. A new addition to your schedule is the Pathfinder is going to come at the end of your appointment with Kesh to discuss with you about search efforts for Zach.”

Tann paused drinking the coffee and looked at me with a cold stare. “Is that why you were saw leaving Keshes office last night with the pathfinder as well as Kandros?”

It still unnerved me that he had eyes and ears on my whereabouts. I felt my pulse quicken and turned on the nervous act I had been playing with him.

“Y-yes sir. I-they wanted to speak to you directly about it but I told them they had to make an appointment. Seeing as you don’t like to be disturbed after hours, I went into the office to tell them your schedule was full but they insisted. I- thought that it would be better to help them look so as to take suspicion off this office sir. If we refused they would think something is up.”

Tann stares for a long time, I felt like he had seen through my lie and I was about to bail. But then he spoke

“Very good thinking on your part. I’ll keep that in mind when they come to discuss it. I wouldn’t want them to be suspicious. ” He scratched his chin and took a sip of coffee and waved his hand impatiently  “Tell me what's left so I can prepare. I swear you are as slow as a elcor.”

“Oh right! After your lunch break you will be updated on movements of our military in the cluster by Kandros. Your final meeting will be with Addison about who should be thawed to help with the rest of construction and to bring the Nexus to full staff.” I told him nervously as I rolled my eyes inside my mind. He was a pompous ass.

“Very well. You’re dismissed.” Tann said with a wave of his hand.

I turned and began the descent to my desk remembering how Zach stand up for me.

You are correct, logically, about her job. This doesn’t make it morally right to treat her like garbage because she didn’t do it for all of one second Director Tann!”

The passion in his voice was touching. The fact that Tann didn’t give a proper response showed that Zach had one upped him. It filled me with pride and sadness, Zach was of course, still in Tanns clutches.

A few hours pass

 

“Have a great day Requisitions Director.” I told the man as he walked out of the office shaking his head angrily.

I walked up Tann's desk and spoke “I am going to assume that the discussions didn’t go well?”

Tann typed on his computer quickly “No they didn’t. I had to convince him that the Pathfinder didn’t need as much as he was giving. With Zach gone I cut some of their supplies. The Requisitions Director seems to think Zach will be found before departure. That human seems to cause me trouble even after disappearing.” Tann then looks at his watch and lets out a irritated sound “Now I am going to be late for inventory.” He stands

I speak quickly “Why don’t you use the passageway? Won't it save you time Director?”

He nods and points to me “You’re correct. Don’t slack off while I am gone.”

I nod to him and then turn away making a noise and turning my camera on in my Omni-tool. “Of course sir.” I lift it in the air and pretend I am trying to get something out of my eye. I angle it to Tann as he pulls out the key pad. He begins to type it in...2...1...8...  He then leans far in front of my view and types in the last digit.

DAMN

The corridor opens and he walks into it. The wall shuts behind him and I smile

“Close enough. Zach we are coming.”

 

Ryder POV

“We figured when Zach left that he collapsed and hit his head and it has caused amnesia. Director Tann we cannot figure any other course as to why he is missing. We have reviewed the tapes and saw him leave here. Then he just takes a hallway and bam he is gone.” I said seriously to Tann.

“Since you are the director, we figured that you would be able to get word out quickly to the higher ups throughout the station.” Kesh continued to press

Tann held up a hand and spoke as if he were a fabled leader “I’ll do it. Clearly this is effecting a lot of individuals. We have to find him, safe AND sound. The fliers will be out by tonight. If you will excuse me I have lunch with Kandros to attend to.”

Kesh and I nodded and stood together. As we walked past Siaria at her desk she stood with folders and a data pad. “Superintendent. Your files you're going to need for information regarding the resources and people to be thawed for the Vortex lounge.” She held out everything and Kesh took them with one hand. I followed her quietly into her office. She shut the door and opened the folder with a sigh.

“Do you think he bought it?” I asked her

“We will know in the morning by how many people he will let know.” Kesh answered and then she held out a piece of paper. I took it and she spoke with a smile “Show time.”

I looked at the paper

2 1 8 _

“Its missing one.” I told her

Kesh shrugged and looked at  me with a smile “If ANYONE can figure it out it's you.” She looked at the other piles of papers and then looked back up and me with a smile. “Why not ask SAM? He would know probability on what it could be.”

I thought it over and spoke “What about SISS? I don't know if I can even talk to him in there.”

Kesh shook her head “You would have to lose consciousness to be disconnected. When we looked over the connection between you there is about one second of delay and reconnection when this happens. I think it's a way of saving on a feedback loop.”

Kesh begins to type in her computer and a image appears beside her desktop. It looked like a simple disk with two beacons attached to it. Kesh spoke “This is SISS. It should be attached to either a desk or a hard point for the internet. SAM should be able to find it when you get in there to turn it off and do reconnaissance. Just in case.”

I spoke into the air “SAM did you get that?”

“Yes Ryder I did. I’ve downloaded the schematics to my databases.” SAM responded

“Good. Be ready we scope out the place tonight.” I told SAM solemnly  

 

*~That night.~*

The night lamps covered my entrance into the Director's office. My Omni-tool detected no silent alarms so I unplug it from the wall.

“Ryder, I see no point in looking with your Omni-tool. I have all systems under my control.” SAM spoke in my head.

I rolled my eyes and quickly typed into my Omni-tool.

R:Two eyes are better than one. Even when the one is far better than the second.

“Of course Ryder. Noted. I'll let you know if anything changes. Be sure to enable your cloak. Cameras are still active. I can't turn them off without suspicion.” SAM told me

I took a deep breath and pressed a button on my Omni-tool. Immediately my skin became see through, I stood and quickly with wide steps walked up the stairs to Tann’s desk. I did a quick scan of his disk and didn't find the SISS.

“Ryder I am detecting a power draw from behind the entrance to the storage areas.” SAM told me as I walked over to where Siaria said the key pad was located. In the wall was a rectangular indention.

I pressed lightly on it and a keypad lowered.

How am I going to guess this last number??

I decided to scan it to see if there was anything SAM could pick up on. I typed in on my Omni-tool.

R:Anyway you can guess the last number?

“Six.” SAM stated plainly.

R: 2186? How did you get that?

“Simple, there is more biomatter on that key than any other besides the two, one, and eight. Next it was the year we departed the Milky Way Galaxy. The chances of it being just a coincidence is twenty two percent.” SAM stated

I typed it in and the wall slid open with ease. I stepped through slowly and noticed the SISS was positioned above the door. Connected to the door panel with a simple power cable.

This will be a simple thing to break.

I typed in my Omni-tool to SAM.

R:Can you overload the power connection if I connected you to the SISS through my Omni-tool?

“Yes.” SAM stated

I set to work on connecting my Omni-tool to the SISS. I did it but it was at an awkward angle. It had my arm high in the air and I was on my toes.

I sighed as I looked around there was no cameras back here. Tann’s secrecy would bite him in the ass. I pressed the button to uncloak myself so it could cool off the heat sink.  

“How's it going SAM?” I ask outloud but lowly. There was a pause that was concerning. But finally his voice cut into my mind.

“One moment...done.” SAM answered as a spark shot out of the SISS. Just as I unhooked my Omni-tool SAM spoke.

“I've located Zach.”

I smiled and spoke “Lead the way.” My camo took me out of the visible spectrum.

Let the games begin.

*~~*

Zach POV

1 days before departure

 

I hid behind cover as smoke bellowed around me. It stung my eyes and made it hard to breathe. Sweat dripped down my neck and soaked my shirt. I loaded my pistol and took a deep breath. I heard the movements of the enemy all around me, in far greater number.

“He is behind the concrete rubble.”

“Go around, I’ll lay down cover fire.”

Bullets began to rain down on my cover causing me to jerk and cover my head as pellets of broken concrete rained on me. God this was a lot to take in but I had to fight back. I felt my biotics flare to life as I saw two armed assailants appear on either side of me.  I threw a hand up and a circle of biotic energy blocked the rain of bullets that pellted it. My bullets hit the other guy on the other side of me in the chest and he crumbled.

As he did my defencive shield shattered it making me stumble and fall on my ass. The guy stood with a shotgun pointed on me. He speaks lowly

“Good bye bitch.”

With a flick of of my wrist his gun was pushed by my biotics toward the barrier and it went of. A blast of concrete and dust spewed between us. I pointed my gun where he stood and let off the remaining four rounds. When the sound of my gun quieted I heard a body drop nearby. Two down one to go.

Click

I felt the cold press of the gun on the back of my head but I smiled. “Fool me once.” When I turned the guy was covered in my biotic fields stuck in stasis. I walked slowly behind him put my gun to the back of his head and with a flash of blue put a bullet into his head. Everything disappeared and I was standing in the meadow again with SAM in his human form. I looked at him with a smile.

“I did it!”

SAM smiled and nodded and clapped while speaking “Attempt number 31 and you finally beat three well trained human foot soldiers. Well done. Your progress is going well. With the first it took you 84 tries to just take down one opponent. Then you took down two with 62 attempts. You’re adapting at an increase rate.”

I shook my head and looked down as doubt crossed my mind.

SAM walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder. He spoke “Do you still doubt?”

I nodded and spoke truthfully. “In a real life scenario there is no retries. Only death.”

SAM turned my face to him with a hand on my chin “I didn’t want to tell you this but you’ve been facing N7s. I was curious to see how you would do. You are facing the best humanity has ever created. You are correct, you’ve died countless times. But each time I press you against more opponents you’ve beaten them in half the amounts of time. You ability to adapt is amazing. Don’t you see that?”

My brain seemed to stop at this information so I shook my head. N7s? I was facing them! Commander Shepard was a N7!  Well once in 100,000 year savior of the galaxy from a galaxy killing machine race. But still...I might be able to fight long enough to stand with him or her! Stand with Ryder in the coming battles.  

“Zach. It's time for you to wake up.”

I looked at SAM confused and spoke “I am drugged. I can’t wake up.”

SAM shook his head and spoke “While you’ve trained here. Outside, Kesh, Ryder, Siaria, and Kandros have been busy searching and breaking into where you are being kept. Last night Ryder found you, tonight we are going to break you out. Just remember that you’ve been drugged for an extended period. We are uncertain of long exposures will have on the human body.”

I felt a familiar tug on my chest and I shook my head reaching for SAM. “I am not ready! Please keep me here.”

SAM pulls me close and whispers “ Every great warrior must learn to endure and overcome the adversities of life. Lailah Gifty Akita. Go my warrior and face what I’ve trained you for.”

He let me go and with another tug in my chest everything went black.    

Chapter Text

20 hours before departure for Eos

It was like my mind left my body and began to come back into itself. First it was my fingers and toes. Then my legs and arms. Next thing I notice is my heart beat and my breathing. Once I was there I felt my ears come slowly back to function. At first is was low and distorted but then it began to make sense.

“He is finally waking up, by the goddess, they had enough drug in him to put a Krogan under… I am not certain if he will remember anything.” said a gentle female voice.

“What do you mean? Short term memory loss?” asked a male voice

“That is exactly what I mean Ryder. This STG drug is worse than a date rape drug humans have produced. This high of dosage I am not sure...if he will remember us. Bring Kandros in here, his men with their guns may scare him, familiar faces is what he is going to need.”

Guns? Drugs? Kandros? Ryder? Where am I?

I opened my eyes and a blue woman was standing over me looking at a man covered in armor. I didn’t recognize her or him. I didn’t want them to be near me. Suddenly, they were both surrounded by a blue hue. The woman quit speaking and I felt the hairs on my arms lift. Slowly they began to float away from me. A voice spoke out of the man's arm.

“Zach is fully awake.” it's robotic voice stated as they floated away from me. I stood looking around.

“Easy Zach we are your friends. My name is Dr. T’parro or you can call me Lexi. This man in the armor is Ryder. Please put us down.” Said the blue woman

“Zach…” began the man in armor

“Who is Zach? Who am I? WHERE am I?! What are you? ” I asked the blue woman as my heart rate began to spike. The door to the room swished open. A bird looking creature appeared in the door and I felt my eyes widen and I pointed at it.

“What the fuck is that! Are you aliens?” I asked the group as I backed into the wall

The bird-man- creature lifted his hands-talons? He took a step and spoke gently “Your name is Zach. I promise we will tell you everything if you just put them down.” The bird-man-creature pointed to the two people in the air.

I looked at my hands and spoke truthfully “I-I don’t know how.”

The robotic voice spoke out from the man's arm. “When you woke up you felt a need. You wanted them away. Zach just take a deep breath and let them go. You biotics are tied into your feelings.”

I did feel that. How did it know? I paused a moment and took a deep breath closing my eyes. I wanted them on the ground and safe. I told myself to let go. When I opened my eyes they stood around me looking concerned.  I spoke to the bird-man-creature

“You said that you would tell me everything. So spill.”

 He leveled me a look and sighed “Yes we are all “Aliens” but you know us both. I am Tiran Kandros. She is Dr T’perro. You’ve been held captive under a drug that if exposed to long enough will cause memory loss. We are breaking you out and time is of the essence.”

“Why should I even trust you? Or go with you for that matter?”

“You shouldn’t. But I think it is better than be put under a drug and kept under. Don’t you? Besides why would we go through the trouble of breaking you out if you did?” Kandros said  

He was right why would they break me out to hurt me? It made no sense. So I looked at him and nodded while I spoke. “Lead the way.”

The group looked at each other and nods. The blue- Doctor places a gentle hand on my arm and begins to lead the way, Kandros takes the front and armored man Ryder in the back. Two men, that I can’t remember, seem to follow behind him. Kandros spoke first.

“What is wrong with his brain SAM? How long before his memory comes back?” He peers around the corner and pulls out a gun while he asks.

“From what feedback I can get he has a form retrograde Amnesia caused by the STG drug. The drug caused  the RbAp48 protein in his brain to be lowered drastically. I can force his brain to produce more but it is up to him to access the memories lost.” SAM said

“In my studies as a doctor on human physiology they say that humans brains are wired a certain way that a certain event or “kick” could help him re-access the lines of cognitive processes that would activate those memories.” Said Dr T’Perro

“We had a guy in my unit who was attacked by a baby thresher maul on a moon we were patrolling on, didn’t remember any of it. He woke up as if we just woke him from any other nights rest. Didn't remember a thing.” Said Ryder

“The memoryless would appreciate it if you didn't speak as if he couldn't hear.” I said plainly.

Ryder laughed and I swear the doctor rolled her eyes, Kandros grunted and it made me feel...better somehow. Like they accepted me into their group. I don’t know them, or well I don’t remember who they are, but I like them. They get me and my humor.

 

*~~*

18 hours before departure to Eos or 12 am

 

We stood in a small apartment that Kandros claims as his. The others left a while ago and Kandros told me that I had to stay until hidden until the mid-afternoon and that they would sneak me on the ship.

As I stood there I was hit by a wave of my own body odor. I realized they must have told me the truth, I smelled like I haven't bathed in days. Suddenly aware that another person...well what was he called a Turian? Was sitting near me while I was smelly. I became self conscious very quickly.

“You wouldn't happens to have a shower would you?” I asked desperately

Kandros looked at me and nodded. He stood and tapped a talon on his head “Of course! You probably want a shower and food! Where are my manners!? Come with me?” He asked as he reached out with his taloned claws.

I reached out and took his talon in my hand and he sighed. It made me feel so...warm and sad? He sounded so lonely. He lead me into a one room with one bed. I looked at it while we passed it and I felt like id seen it before...I just couldn't place it. Where would he sleep?

He lead me into the bathroom and point toward a cylinder type stall and I was immediately hit that there was no knob to turn it on.

“Uh how does this work?” I asked Kandros uncertain

He points and explains patiently “There is a button inside. You press it once you are unclothed and inside it. There is a voice that will tell you to go from there.”

I nod with a quick “Oh...okay.” Kandros turns to leave and I feel my heartbeat quicken with fear. What if I am kidnapped again? What if… I knew my fears were irrational but I didn't want to be alone. Even if it was with someone I didn't know.

I reached out to Kandros and spoke as my hand landed on his shoulder “Wait...please don't...go. I know I am asking more than you bargained for but please stay. Would you?” 

Kandros pauses and his mandibles remain open as if he is in shock. He nods slowly and speaks “Do you want me to stand outside the door while you undress?”

I shake my head and speak uncertain “You can just turn around if you don't mind.”

Kandros shrugs and takes a deep breath “I don't know if I can...you need to know something then.”

I tilt my head in confusion “Go ahead?”

“I insist that I stand outside the door while you undress. Reason being is we have been intimate before.” Kandros told me

At first I thought it was a joke. But my gut told me that is wasn't a joke. I looked Kandros over and saw longing in his eyes and a tenseness in his muscle. I felt my face turn warm. I opened my mouth and closed it. Then I spoke

“Oh...well just...stay for as long as you can handle. Leave when you can't and i'll deal with my insecurities. I don't want to push you too far.”

Kandros nods and turns away from me speaking “I can't guarantee anything but I'll do my best to stay as long as I can.”

I felt relief as he spoke. I sighed and spoke genuinely “Thank you so much. I don't think I could understand how hard this must be...but I appreciate it very much.”

He nods and stares pointedly at the wall. As I stare at his armored back he clears his throat. I jump in surprise

“Right” I say awkwardly

I take a deep breath and start undressing. My shoes and shirt hit the floor before I look at Kandros again. His breathing was strained and heavy. I asked gently

“Are you okay?”

He nods and takes a deep breath “Yes I am okay. I just smell you is all.”

I blushed and stammered  “S-sorry I-”

Kandros closes his eyes and turns holding  hold a taloned hand “It's not a bad smell. I-I really like it.”

I felt the heat in my face lower itself into my gut. My mouth dried as I spoke.

“Oh than-thank you. I'm gonna hop into the shower right quick.”

Chapter Text

When I stepped into the shower my body felt like it was on fire. I could smell myself. I saw the two buttons on the wall and leaned over to press them but something inside me stopped. For some odd reason I craved Kandros. Not to just stay but because the tension between us was thick enough to breathe in. Why I wonder. I don’t remember but it felt like it was on the tip of my tongue.

 

I spoke out loud “So just press which one?” I pressed the green one and the door shut leaving me in darkness. I spoke out loud “Uh-Kandros it isn’t doing anything. Help?” There wasn’t much noise on the other side of the door and I thought that I wasn’t heard by Kandros. Then with a whoosh the door to the stall opened and he stood looking at me with pure desire. He took a deep breath and leaned in and pressed the button that had water pouring from the ceiling.

 

He was about to lean back out and I grabbed his wrist and spoke evenly “Kandros, Your armor it got wet, will it get ruined?”

 

As he spoke there was a deep rumbling in his chest that seemed to stir the hot coals that had pooled into my stomach. He spoke slowly “No it won't. This armor is designed for multiple environments. I am certain that it won't fail in a shower.”

 

I let go of his wrist and the door slid shut. At the same time the door to my sex drive seemed to burst open. I knew its source but for the life of me I couldn’t remember why I was so drawn to Kandros. He was kind and attractive enough but why was my body so responsive to his gaze. The way his voice seemed to creep into my bones and make them jelly was frustrating to say the least. I heard a light thud on the outside of the door to the shower stall. I turned toward the door and asked gently.

 

“Is everything alright?”

 

I leaned toward the door to hear Kandros better but he didn’t answer. I pressed my ear to the door with my heart beating in my chest. All I could hear was a...purr? It was like a giant cat was sitting on the other side of the door. Finally I heard Kandros say softly.

 

“No. Zach everything isn’t alright.”

 

My eyes widen in fear and I immediately leaned over and pressed the button for the door. When it slid open I had to physically stop myself from moaning out loud. The sight before me was beyond enticing, in fact it was seductive. Kandros stood before me with nothing but a pair of light sweatpants. They hugged each curve and muscle in his narrow hips. Then the smell hit me, my mouth watered and my erection throbbed to life.

 

Kandros arms shook as he gripped the sides of the stall. He spoke hissing “Tell me to walk away and I will. Just tell me Zach. My need is very strong for you.”

 

Before I could react my hand touched his cheek. He gasped and I put my forehead against his. He took deep breaths trying to stabilize. He looked at me “Do you remember?”

 

I shook my head and sighed confessing “I want you. Just…” I took a deep breath while my heartbeat fast, it knew what I was about to request. “Just kiss me Kandros.”

 

There was a tense moment before Kandros pushed me back and he slowly took off his sweat pants and tossed them. He spoke seriously “Are you sure?”

 

I nodded as I looked him over. He was so...alien yet so similar to human males in muscle structure. I was very surprised to find it was internal, unlike me.

 

He continued to grumble and purr as he pushed me against the wall. He leaned in pressing his forehead against mine with a sigh. “This. This is what I've waited for.” Then he kissed me.

 

Pleasure shot down my spine and I moaned. My memories came back gently, yes gently. It wasn't like in the movies where they came in a flash of spectacular fashion. It was a simple slide into place.

 

I pushed against his chest and and took a deep breath I confessed “I remember…” I took a deep breath and spoke again “Kandros I remember everything!”

 

Kandros growled low and was about to speak when a robotic voice cut into the stall politely.

 

“You have 5 minutes left before water is cut off. Have a great day.”

 

Kandros kissed me and began to rub me all over. He sighed impatiently before speaking “Let's finish this shower. Then I am going to ravage you, head to toe, I'll ravage you in ways you won't forget.” His tongue ran up my neck making me shiver before he stated “Ever.”

 

I smiled and began to rub him down as the soap was dispensed. I started at his neck and fringe while he looked at me with heated eyes. I rubbed firmly down his neck on to his shoulders. He sighs and relaxes.

 

When I get to his chest I slowly spread my fingers out across his carapace and under his arms. It was a bit rough but smooth in some places. From there I began to rub his narrow hips.

 

When I let my eyes venture south I could see the strain on his muscles in his sheath. I looked at him with expectation and asked uncertain.

 

“So...how do I? I don't want to mess this up…”

 

He laughs and scratches his head and mumbles

 

“I’ll do that. If you touch me I might take you here and now. Then we might break this poor shower.”

 

I burst out laughing and nodded speaking

 

“No worries, I'll finish myself and you can wash yourself...though I promise I wouldn't mind if I was “taken” here in this stall.” I winked as I said the last part while rubbing my legs clean.

 

Kandros mandibles flared wide in shock and he took a deep breath and growled “You will be the death of me!” He then began to wipe himself down and watch me do the same. I ran my fingers through my hair and smiled at him.

 

“I missed you. The entire time I was under I thought I would miss...well sex with you. I was more angry about it that I ever anticipated. Weird huh?” I asked

 

Kandros shook his head as he ran his talons down my arm. He spoke “I jerked off for the first time in...years. Your smell was everywhere and I couldn’t...I couldn’t keep it together.” He leaned in and pressed his forehead against mine and sighed looking vulnerable.

 

My knees got weak. He really...cared for me? I pressed my forehead against his with a smile and I whispered

 

“I don’t know why you say such things. You are getting laid as it is.”

 

The timer dinged for the stall and the water cut off. Kandros took a step back as the door opened and he held out his taloned hand and spoke lowly.

 

“I care for you. Let me show you how much?”

I felt my heart hit my throat. It was on fire and beating fast. I took a talon and nodded. Kandros took a shaky breath and began to purr and he pulled me close to his chest carapace. He leaned down and kissed me passionately while picking me up with ease. I wrapped my legs around his narrow hips as I moaned loudly. He took me out of the shower stall, pushing me into the nearest wall and began to explore my neck and chest.

 

His teeth grazed my neck and his tongue swirled over my pulse point. My back arched with need and my cock throbbed with want. I dug my nails into the base of his fringe. He moans while taking a deep breath. I can feel him unsheath as his cock slides along the curve of my ass. Kandros speaks in a low growl

 

“I am going to take you to the bed now. I want to explore your body proper. Then I will let you do the same for me.”

 

He looked at me expectantly and I rolled my eyes with impatience with a laugh speaking.

 

“Why aren’t we there already?”

 

With the remark Kandros slapped my ass and I yelped. He laughs lowly retorting as he took me out of the bathroom.

 

“You have such a mouth on you. I’ll put it to better use shortly.”

 

I raise an eyebrow and grind my ass against his throbbing dick with a quick

 

“Is that so?”

 

Kandros steps become uneven and he growls. I was going to pay for that. Kandros and I both know this is a power play. Our personalities wanting to make the other lose control in our play of passion and need. He lowers me to the bed with ease that turns me on. Kandros immediately begins to assault my neck again while grinding his cock against mine.

 

I run my nails down his back and bite my lip to keep from moaning. After a moment or to Kandros pauses and he looks at me. He kisses my lips and commands gently.

 

“I want to hear to pleasure I am giving you.”

 

I nod and he lowers himself to my chest and runs his tongue around my nipple. It pebbles under his ministrations. I hiss through my teeth as each lick makes my stomach tighten. When his teeth nip me my hips thrust into him on instinct alone. His name slide from my lips without pause, it all felt so good that I couldn’t stop myself.

 

Kandros lowered himself more dragging teeth and tongue along with him. Moaning I tried to suck in my gut so it would look appealing. He slapped my ass in warning and I relaxed and he spoke through every lick on my undefined stomach.

 

“I want--all of--you. Even the--things you--seem to--think are-- flaws.” He pauses when he reaches my hips. He was staring and I looked at when he was looking at. My stretch marks. I felt my insecurity ram itself into my chest. I begged him.

 

“Please don’t look at those. I-”

 

Kandros cut me off looking concerned and asked “What happened to you? Where you in a battle?”

 

I couldn’t help but laugh and shake my head. He growls and slaps my ass again and I moan. He demands

 

“What are they? I want to know.”

I lean forward and kiss him gently before speaking.

 

“They are called stretch marks. A lot of humans get them due to massive growth or loss of weight in a way our skin cannot accommodate. Because I’ve had an unstable weight gain and loss in my hips and ass I got them there...on both sides. They don’t hurt but some...don’t find it attractive. So I am insecure about them.”

 

Then as if trying to make me care for Kandros more he lowers himself down and kisses each pink and purple line of scar tissue that he can reach. My breath catches and he looks each over with awe. He finds these to be amazing?! Kandros finally speaks.

 

“To me it looks like you’ve battle a beast and come out on top. It makes me feel honored that such a great warrior has allowed me to join with him. Like what could be better?”

 

I covered my face as a blush spread across my body. I couldn’t stop it, I think even my toes blushed as his confession.

 

Kandros finally lifted my legs and gave me a questioning look. I nodded and his tongue found my hole like a arrow to a bullseye. I gasped and moaned his name loud. His tongue was warmer than any humans, more longer in length. I could feel myself relax with each swipe and press of his tongue. Sooner than I expected I felt my hole give way and his tongue was inside me. My toes curled at the sensation. Kandrose leaned back and looked at his work of my hole being open and wet. He spoke candidly

 

“I wish you could taste and smell the way you do to me. It's like finding a feast after being starved. You smell just the same as before but this time I found it to be stronger here.” He licked my hole again for emphasis making me squirm. “Now, as stated before, it is your turn.”

 

Kandros lowered my legs and then laid down beside me with a cocky smirk. My cock and my hole twitched with need and agitation. I was going to wipe that smirk off his face. Mark my words I would do it if it killed me.    

 

I began with his fringe, I kissed and grazed my teeth along it. Kandros seemed to hum with pleasure. I knew the spot that I wanted to get to but he was laying on it, the base of his fringe.  I pulled him to sitting position then I sat behind him.

 

When my legs slid next to his, Kandros gave me a questioning look. I nuzzled him and kissed the base of his fringe. His purr rumbled in his chest and I knew I was right. Now time to turn up the heat.

 

My teeth clamped down hard and h Kandros back arched in response with his gasp. One hand held his neck firmly while the other reached down and clamped the base of his beautifully ridged cock. Kandros hips bucked and I got the pleasure of his whispered gasp.

 

“Oh fuck!”

 

My hand on Kandros cock was immediately covered in the Turian made lubrication. I stifled a moan and rubbed my thumb over each of the ridges and the sharp point of the head on Kandros cock. His hips squirmed with each pass of my thumb. His low growl rumbled across my chest as he spoke.

 

“I don't think I can keep myself restrained for much longer Zach. By the spirits please tell me you are almost done?”  

 

I nodded and reassured him smugly “Nearly, I still have to kiss you in other places.” I squeezed Kandros cock for emphasis and he moaned. I slid from behind him and let him lay back.

 

When I had settled myself in between his leg I looked at Kandros. He was leaned up looking at me with hooded eyes and heavy breathing. Mission accomplished!

 

Kandros spoke with a low growl “Not too long okay? I don't think I can last if you continue. I'm not used to a soft mouth and sharp teeth.”

 

I began to kiss and nip Kandros neck and he hummed happily. When I moved to his chest and looking at his pectoral muscle on his chest I saw he had no nipples. I was surprised but I continued to kiss, lick and nip my way down.

 

The closer I got to Kandros hips the more he seemed to twitch. His natural scent was still burning into my gut. It smelled of sun,steel, and dirt. His dark purple erection twitched when my breath brushed against it. His talons scraped across my scalp as his hand gently grabbed my head. I looked up at him seeking permission, he nods but speaks.

 

“Just a taste. I don’t have anything to stop you from having a reaction if you ingest me.”

 

The rumble in his chest began as my mouth closed over his warm head. It was like the sweet and spicy sauce back on Earth, except more heat. His long drawn out moan was like gasoline to the flame burning in my gut. I slowly took him into my mouth and tightened it as well as I could until I hit the base. Kandros talons gripped my head as he gasped out.

 

“By the spirits! You’re amazing! Do-don’t stop please! But you might have a react-reaction! Shit!”

 

His hips bucked as my tongue traced the head of his cock and I leaned away with a smile speaking.

 

“Do you want me to continue or stop?”

 

Kandros was taking deep breaths and holding his head in one hand and after a pause he shook his head.

“No...no you should stop.”

 

He let go of his head and looks me dead in the eye and speaks with a gravel tone.

 

“I need to prep you.”

 

My heart began to beat quickly in my chest. It had been quite sometime since someone had been inside me. Man or woman. I felt my chest tighten as thoughts of unease broke into my head.

 

What if I am not clean?

 

What if I can’t accommodate him?

 

What if he gets bored?

 

A taloned hand grabs my shoulder and I look up to see Kandros looking at me with tenderness and uncertainty that made the tightness in my chest unclench. He took a steady breath then he placed his forehead on mine with what I could only guess was a gentle smile and spoke with a soft voice.

 

“Hey now, don’t be nervous. I’m not going anywhere and I am not going to be surprised by anything that we might encounter. I’ve read up on this a little bit so no need for worry. But the article suggested that the human partner guide the Turian partner. So what do you say? We do this together?” He stared at me waiting for my answer.

 

I nodded with a deep breath “Together.”

Chapter Text

Kandros talons gripped my hips and pushed me back until I was exposed to him. I took a deep breath and began to explain what to do.

 “To open me up and relax me you are going to need to use your tongue. Lick in and around my hole until it relaxes. Once it does just fuck me with your tongue. Your mandibles won't hurt me unless you are rough.”

 Kandros shrugs and speaks with a quick “Seems simple enough.” before his face was buried in my ass and his tongue was probing me, filling me with pleasure.

 I have to grip the sheets to stop from moving too much. I bit my lip stifling a moan when his tongue slid inside me. His tongue was warmer than my insides, oddly enough. Kandros was humming and going to town like a kid who had to chase an i

 I looked down between my legs past my erection to see Kandros eyes filled with glee and lust. His tongue swirled around for emphasis causing me to moan out his name begging for his cock to be in me.

 “Kandros, will you- ah fuck! Get inside me this is too much for me. Kandros! I swear to your spirits and my god I will biotically pin you to this bed and ride you until you bust inside me!”

 Kandros chuckled as he leaned back and I glared daggers at him. He tapped his chin, contemplating whether to take that chance or not. He seemed to be brave and looked at me with amusement and spoke gleefully

 “Say please?”

 With absolute pleasure, and in jest, I put Kandros in a stasis field. I lifted him slightly into the air and crawled in between his legs. With a slow lick from his base to the head of his cock I looked him in the eyes and said with a mock innocent tone.

 “Please fuck me?”

 Then I took him entirely into my mouth. His low whimper and growl was enough of payment for his jesting earlier. I made sure that my mouth made the tight, wet heated suction that would make any grown male legs of any species weak. My head began to protest so I release him from his temporary binds of my biotics.

 Kandros taloned hands gripped my shoulders gently as he brought me to standing and he kissed me gently with a sigh. Kandros leaned back and stroked my cheek, his eyes filled with uncertainty, as he speaks

 “Are you...do you still want to do this? With me? A Turian no less?”

 I immediately pressed my forehead to Kandros’ and looked him in the eye speaking:

 “Do you feel this? I want you. I want THIS with you.” I gestured a hand between his bare chest and mine. I waited a moment for him to take in what I said and he did with a nod and began to push me back on the bed. I fell back as gently as I could with him on top of me. He kissed me until we were situated on the middle of the bed. He grabbed a pillow and then lifted my ass so he could slide the pillow under it. He lined up is cock to my ass while looking at me expectantly. I nodded and Kandros finally spoke

 “I want to watch you as I enter you. I want to see what my cock does to you. I want you to see what your ass does to me.”

 Kandros’ cock pressed into me and I could feel the pressure build. I began to take deep breaths trying to relax myself. Kandros slowed his push into me and began to make shallow thrusts. Each one caught my breath because with each shallow thrust I could feel myself give way to his advance. With ease that rivaled Human male lubricated cock, Kandros slid into me, I could feel every ridge. My back arched and I grabbed his fringe to ground myself to what was happening. Kandros moaned and I looked him in the eye once again and was humbled by what I saw there, reverence. 

“By the spirits, Zach you are beautiful, hot, tight, and wonderful. How could I have not done this with you sooner?”

 I laughed and stroked his face with a smile. How could so few words leave me undone? I thought before speaking gently

 “Because as you said, I needed to train and you...what was it? Savor the last shot before popping the heatsink?”

 Kandros laughed as his hovered above me and shook his head. He looked down at me with longing before confessing.

 “I want to move but I don’t want to ruin this moment.”

 “Just move Kandros. You couldn’t do anything to ruin how you make me feel right now. The only place we can go from here is up. Heaven wouldn’t feel this good.”

 With a low grumble Kandros moved. The burn of the friction was overwhelming to the point where I just had to remember to breathe.When I came back to myself, Kandros forehead was against mine and his breath was mingling with mine. It was like I breathed him in and I breathed a piece of myself back to him in return. This wasn’t the mind numbing sex I was expecting. My heart thundered behind my ribs and I couldn’t help but nervously blurt out.

 “Is this what you pictured? Or, well...wanted?”

 Kandros paused and chuckled a little bit he rolls his hips in a slow and torturous  pace before whispering in my ear.

 “It’s better than either.”

 I swear i couple feel every inch of my body being covered in a blush, in fact I was on fire with it. My heart was beating fast as I placed my head against the ridge of his carapace and took a deep breath.

 “You are going to be my undoing with words like that.”

 Kandros chuckles as his teeth graze the shell of my ear. It makes me moan and pull him deeper into me with my legs. Kandros leans back and rubs my face gently with a talon while looking my face over. When his eyes stay on mine he speaks gently.

 “How can I not? Each moan, each touch, each kiss, each moment of your uncertainties brings me to my undoing.” Kandros leans down and places his forehead against mine, each breath mingling with mine for a moment before he speaks. “Would it not be fair if we came undone together?”

 I smiled and nodded. Kandros leans back grabbing one of my legs and begins to set a more heated pace. The sound of skin on skin filled the room mixing with the sounds of our moans. My gut was filled with fireworks of pleasure, each one set off as Kandos cock grazed against my prostate. My toes curled and my eyes rolled back each time Kandros slid back into me.

 After a time of the heated pace Kandros set he slowed down and requested to change positions. I nodded and we changed from missionary position to saddle position. Kandros was taking steady breaths as his talons gripped my hips. I grabbed his cock and guided him back inside me. Kandros let off a low moan as I fully seated myself on him.

 Kandros kissed me as I began to roll my hips at a steady pace. He grit his mandibles to try and stifle his moans, I placed a hand on his cheek to stop him.

 “Let me hear you.” I commanded him gently

 Kandros responded with a pleased moan. His moan spurred me on to roll my hips at a faster pace and with each slide of cock back inside me caused me to see stars. The ridges of his cock made it feel like my prostate was vibrating.

 I could feel Kandros cock swelling and his growls deepening. I kissed him and panted

 “Are you close?”

 Kandros nodded and I continued my questions as I rode him passionately.

 “Where do you want to finish? On my back or chest? Or...do you want to finish inside me? Can we do that? I don't STDs or STIs would affect each other right…”

 Kandros eyes light up as he laughs, covering his face with his talons. He exclaimed through them.

 “Spirits, how can you ask me to finish inside you? We aren't even married!”

 I paused and looked at him with a confused grin and asked.

 “Is that a Turian thing that I misstepped on?”

 Kandros rolled his hips and nodded, he explained

 “As a way to stop spread of disease and unwanted pregnancy, it was law in the Colonies to not release inside when it came to casual sex. This was due to the unstable environment of our civil war between the Colonies. Stress needed to be relieved but supply and trading routes were scarcely working during those times. Even when things settled most Turians kept to the rule even though it was no longer needed. But also my scent would cling to you for months instead of days.”

 I laughed and told him as I continued to roll my hips.

 “With humans it all depends on consent of the adult who will be taking the release. Humans are very individualistic. So...where do you want to finish?”

 There was barely a pause when Kandros stated.

 “On your back. Less chance of a negative reaction that way.”

 Stupid reaction to our differences in the basic structure of our molecules!

 I slowly slid off of Kandros cock and there was a wet squelch noise as it exited me. I felt the immediate loss and emptiness of him not being inside me. I frowned and sighed. Kandros looked at me and rubbed my back as we switched positions. He spoke gently.

 “I know, I don't like it either but we got to be safe. You are leaving in a matter of hours and I don't think Dr. T’Perro would appreciate it if you had a reaction.”

 I smiled at the thought and shook my head with a giggle confessing.

 “No, she wouldn't. In fact she would probably be furious and make us both pay the price...in the worst ways possible.”

Kandros nods as he lines up and slides back into me. We both moan appreciatively at the sensation of being one once again. He wraps his talons around my hips and questioned.

 “You good for me to move?”

 I nodded and Kandros slid almost all the way out and slammed back into me. My breath was fucked out of me and stars swam into my vision. He pummeled my prostate with hard thrusts. His growls deepening as he came closer to flying over the edge. I couldn't think with the overwhelming feeling of him fucking my ass like it was going to be his last.

 “I'm going to cum!” Kandros grunted as he pulled out of me, stroking himself. I tried to tell him that I wasn't but I heard his snarl and the feeling of hot liquid shooting up my back. It smelled of spice and musk and I waited while Kandros came down from the edge.

 Once he caught his breath he got up going to the bathroom. He came back with a towel and wiped me off gently. He looked me over before he spoke. “Now it's your turn.”

 I looked at him with a smile “ I didn't think you would notice to be honest.”

 Kandros smiled back and shook his head.

“Even in our sex lives Turians are taught discipline. How do you want to get off?”

 I bit my lip and looked down at my erection. It hardened at my thought.

 I want to fuck you...I want to be inside you.

 I let my desire be known. “I want to be inside of you too tonight.”

 Kandros seemed to pause and look away. It was very concerning, in fact, it worried me greatly that he didn't look at me right away. I placed a hand on his shoulder and began to speak.

 “If it isn't your thing that's okay…”

 Kandros cut me off with a shake of his head. He spoke

 “I've never bottomed Zach, Turian or Human.”

 “Oh. Oh !” I said

 I felt my cheeks turn red and my heart beat quicken at his confession. It is a HUGE deal to take let someone enter you for the first time. My thoughts began to race back and forth in quick concession.

 I've never taken a virginity before.

 What if I mess up and make it bad?

 I know how to calm a human to be submissive to anal sex but a Turian?!

 I took a deep breath and forced myself to relax. I looked at Kandros speaking gently.

 “It's okay if you don't want to do that with me. I understand I can just get off with my hand.”

 Kandros visibility relaxes when I tell him that. He looks at me with uncertainty asking.

 “You won't be mad at me?”

 I shook my head and answered “Just help me get off and I'll be fine. Besides you have every right to wait for the right person to let inside you or be inside. It's your body and your business. I respect that. Consent is everything and the only thing that would allow me continue.”

 Kandros looked pleased and purred as he lowered himself down to my hole. “If I... what's the human term, eat you out? Would that help you finish?”

 I felt my cheeks flush as I nodded enthusiastically. It was still fresh in my mind how deep his tongue could go into me, with the added bonus of me still being loose from our early coupling. My heart beat picked up it's pace in my chest as he laid me on my back and spread my legs. I hardened immediately at the sound of Kandros’s moan and confession.

 “I can smell our scents mixing. It's a heady mix. By the spirits!”

 Then his tongue plunged into me and I couldn't help but moan. Bolts of pleasure shot from my center to my cock in a beautiful crescendo. Kandros name tumbled from my lips unabashed as I stroked myself. With each pull I could feel my release slide closer and closer to the surface. When it came to the surface it felt like my body was made of nothing but pleasure.

 As my soul came back into my body I felt the warm cloth rubbing my abdomen. I opened my eyes to Kandros wiping me down with a gentle look in his eyes. It made me feel like I was going to come undone and my heart leave my chest.

 He smiles at me as he finishes and speaks “We need to get the cream and flush out my lubricant from you. I don't want you to have an reaction to my natural fluids after such a beautiful night.”

 I feel a wave of exhaustion come over me. I shake my head and reach out to him and beg.

 “Please, can we just rest for a little bit? Then clean up?”

 Kandros smiles then lays beside me, he grabs my hand and kisses it speaking.

 “Just for a little bit. Then we clean up.”

 I nod and scoot closer as we begin to spoon. With the sound of his steady breathing I drift off to a deep sleep

Chapter Text

8 hours before Eos departure. 10:00am



I opened my eyes with a groggy mind not knowing what woke me in the first place. I paused and took in my surroundings. First thing I noticed was the warmth on my back and a strong arm thrown over me. Then hot breaths gently brushing along my neck and shoulders. Everything just felt so right and I didn’t want to move.

 

Mmm I'm so comfy.

 

Bang! Bang! Bang!

 

So that's what woke me up. Someone is at the door.

 

“Kandros someone is at the door.” Kandros laid still behind me, breathing evenly, so I continued to press gently. “Hey! Handsome, you got to answer the door. I'm in hiding remember?”

 

I turned over and shook him as I spoke. Kandros woke after the first shake sitting up quickly looking mildly perturbed. Then he looked at the clock and sighed sadly. He spoke as he got up, giving me a great view of his backside which was round and frim.

 

“You might want to get dressed. That is going to be your team coming in to discuss how we are gonna get you on the ship,out from under Tann, and off this station. Plus I don’t want anyone to see you naked but me. I don’t share well.”

 

I got up with a laugh and went into the bathroom as Kandros slipped on what looked like sweatpants. I turned back and looked at Kandros for a span before asking him a favor.

 

“Will you throw my uniform out on the bed from the closet?”

 

Kandros lifts a talon in acknowledgement as he walks out to answer the front door which was banged on one more time with more urgency.

 

I walked into the bathroom and looked myself over in the mirror. My hair was a bit of a mess but with a quick brush it would do alright.  I ran the water as I unwrapped a toothbrush and put toothpaste on it. As I began to brush my teeth there was a knock on the bathroom door. I paused looking around before answering with an uncertain tone.

 

“Yes?”

 

The door cracked as my heart began to beat quickly in my chest. I tensed and the blue hue of my biotics coming to life flashed over my naked body in warning. Finally the knocker, Kandros, spoke.

 

“Sorry to interrupt you but you need to get dressed. There are new developments to us getting you out of here. We need you to be apart of the discussions.”

 

Kandros taloned hand passed through the open part of the door with my uniform. I took ahold of it and spoke gently as my biotics settled.

 

“ Okay. Thanks, I will be out there shortly.”

 

God! I nearly blew the door off its hinges !

 

Can I do that though?

 

I laughed

 

I’d like to think so.

 

I grabbed ahold of my uniform and laid it on the toilet lid. I went back to brushing my teeth. When I finished and had thrown on my uniform, which fit rather snug, too form fitting for my comfort, I looked in the mirror and decided to tackle my messy hair.

 

What the actual fresh fuck is this!

 

It looked like a vaccum/cow lick hybrid got ahold of my head in my sleep and made sweet love to it. The top was flat but sticking up in the front. The back looked even worse it was swirled in multiple places. I would have to wet it. Which in turn would make it look greasy. I sighed in frustration.

 

Can I just win? Once? Ugh!

 

I walked out of the bathroom with wet hair and the uniform that was too snug. I felt like a fraud, a imposter, as well as a teen late for school. Aren't you supposed to out grow such things?

 

Ugh.

 

When I opened the door to the living room and was unnerved by what was before me. Ryder, Kandros, Lexi, Kesh, Liam, and Cora stood around a box looking at it intently and with uncertainty.

 

You know that box is big enough to ship a human…

 

Wait! Oh God!

 

“Oh hell! Really!?” I asked out loud

 

The group turned around and some of them had the decency to look ashamed. Kandros chuckled and spoke to the group.

 

“I told you.”

 

Ryder scratches his chin and shrugs

 

“He didn't say no per say. Besides, it will let him breathe and I don't think we will be able to get him on the ship another way.”

 

Kandros pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. “How are we going to expect him to lay in this box for 8 hours? Even I don't have such discipline.”

 

Lexi sighs and steps forward speaking in her usual annoyed tone. “I don't like this Kandros, trust me but, I can drug him to keep him under for the majority of the time he would be in the box.”

 

My heart hammered in my chest at the thought of being drugged, again, or at all. Kesh must have seen the sheer panic in my eyes and body language...or maybe smelled it coming off of me. Krogan do have keen senses so it is a possibility. She walked over and placed a hand on my shoulder.

 

“Easy, You will be in my care. I will be watching over you. If not me, one of my most trusted colleagues. You're not ever being put under by Tann's men. Ever. Again.” My heart was still in my throat and my chest felt too small for my lungs.

 

Ryder speaks evenly “Zach, I'm not going to force you. You can stay in hiding here or you can sneak onto the ship this way. I believe you can do it. SAM will also be with you as well. Right SAM?” he asked the air

 

From my Omni Tool SAM's voice broke into the room. “Of course, I am always with you. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. I don't require sleep since I am inorganic thus you will never be truly alone.”

 

That means that he was...when...Kandros and I...Oh god!

 

My face turned red and Kandros began to chuckle. I glared at him and he laughed harder. SAM spoke to the group seeming to be confused by the reaction.

 

“I don't understand what I said that caused Kandros response and Zach's embarrassment.”

 

I cover my face as everyone seemed to pick up on my embarrassment. Ryder looked between Kandros and I and he smiled a knowing smile. He spoke before the group could say anything.

 

“Uh SAM, Zach is embarrassed and Kandros finds it amusing because you aren't as socially adept to certain social cues. Zach and Kandros have been intimate together and he didn't know you were that connected with us all.”

 

There was a long pause of different attempts of everyone stifling their laughs before SAM spoke again.

 

“I knew that Kandros and Zach where intimate before last night. Why is it embarrassing now?”

 

Please God just put me in the damn box and let me die. It's preferable to this.

 

“It's because you are talking about my sex life to all my closest friends and I am a more of a private person SAM.” I told SAM as the rest of the group tried to stifle their laughs. Again.

 

Ugh! Why me?!

Kandros clears his throat getting everyone's attention then he speaks.

 

“Back to the topic at hand. Zach going inside the box. Remember?”

 

Everyone sobers up and Ryder nods seriously and speaks.

 

“Right. Do you mean does he go in your box or do you go in his?”

 

I turn away from everyone to hide my face before everyone starts laughing and speak out loud.

 

“I'm going to drown myself in the sink now.”

 

If they were laughing before, they are rolling on the floor now. My face hurt from the blush that burned through my face. Then I felt Kandros hand slip around my waist and his forehead press against the side of my head. He turned me toward the group and he spoke gently.

 

“Alright, alright that's enough. Zach is clearly embarrassed and we have laughed at his expense, we need to get back to the topic at hand. Before we do however; I must express that what we have done was beautiful and I enjoyed it immensely.” Kandros turned and winked then really looked at me and continued “You only need to say yes or no and we will go from there. You think you can go in the box?”

 

I paused and began to consider the options.

 

Pros? I won't be awake during the process of being in the box. SAM and I could train. I would also get out from under Tann, who seems to think I am a threat to everything.

 

Cons? I'm in a box...for eight hours. Fuck. I'm placing myself in the care of people I just met like seven days ago, while I am unconscious. Shit. I'm going to be drugged while in the box. Aw hell.

 

Just as I was about to say no a small voice spoke deep within me.

 

You only live once. It is your responsibility to live it like it's your last. Be brave, be strong, most of all be kind. Go and shine for yourself.

 

“Put me in.” My eyes widened and my chest tightened. Panic seared my veins with its bright burn. But when I looked at myself in a nearby mirror my eyes burned with something else. Something I didn’t recognize.

 

But what?

 

I looked down and took a deep breath. My heart evened out and felt...full for once, full of determination. What is the mix of a body full of fear, heart full of determination, and a mind filled with will? It rang through me.

 

Courage, now be brave.

 

I looked back up at everyone and nodded.

 

“Put me in the box. I can't believe it but I want to do this.” I turned and spoke to Lexi “Lexi, make sure that I won't wake up before I get put on that ship please.”

 

Lexi nods and Kora pats my back sympathetically.

 

Liam smiled and clapped with a excited “Oh hell yeah!”. Then Ryder walked over to the rectangular box and opened it. Inside was a sniper that I recognized from my time playing Mass Effect 3 multiplayer.  My excitement bubbled into my vocal cords and had me shout out before I could stop myself.

 

“Oh my God is that a Black Widow sniper rifle?!”

 

I covered my mouth and looked at Ryder with shock and uncertainty. He turned and beamed with pride. His chest puffed out when he spoke of it.

 

“Good eye! She is the baddest sniper rifle in the Milky Way. Only about 10,000 of them were made! My…”

 

Ryder's body language changed and his eyes lost their glow. Pain flashed across his features making me want to reach out and comfort him. He continued with less enthusiasm.

 

“My dad got it for me as a gift when I graduated from my Stealth and Reconnaissance training for the Alliance”

 

Ryder then turned back to the box continued with a bittersweet smile.

 

“It was one of the few gifts he gave me. Ever.”

 

Before I knew it my arms were wrapped around Ryder's midsection clutching his chest with my head pressed into his back. He tenses and I expect for his to push me away and be uncomfortable, most men are, but he relaxes marginally and grips my arms with a sigh and leans his head back against mine. I speak gently

 

“Regardless of what you might think that man, your father, would be proud of you. What you're doing and what you're going to do, he would be proud knowing how hard his son is trying.”

 

As I leaned against Ryder I realized how fit Ryder truly was. My hands felt his muscles move under my cheek and my hands. They too felt like they were made of steel. Ryder cleared his throat and I felt a blush creep into my cheeks and I pulled away with a quick apology scratching my head.

 

“Sorry, I should have asked you if I could touch you like that.”

 

Ryder shakes his head with shrug and points to the box.

 

“No worries, but back to the topic at hand.”

 

He reaches into the box and pulls the rifle and the foam surrounding it from the box exposing a deep pocket underneath. He begins to explain to the group.

 

“I modded this carrying case myself. It has its own VI to keep the rifle in the best environment to maintain it in mint condition. There are fans that circulate air, pH level, and humidity…”

 

“Alright, we get it. This is your baby and the case is cool. Will it ship Zach or not.” Said Kesh in a mildly annoyed tone.

 

Ryder seemed to deflate and he nods. “Yeah it should.”

 

I walked over to Kesh while Ryder pouted and I nudged her. She looked down at me with a grin.

 

“What?”

 

I sighed and looked up at her

 

“He was just excited about what he had created. No need to squash his enthusiasm just because you are impatiently waiting for him to finish.”

 

She looked down at me and grunted.

 

“I am a superintendent of a station that is the size of a city, one that isn't fully built, halfway falling apart, I have deadlines Zach.” She then nudged me, which felt like a full swing of my hip power, and smiled again “I was halfway joking though.”

 

I smiled as I tried to regain my balance and smiled answered with a quick

 

“Fair enough.”

 

The room was quiet as Lexi walked over to her bag and took out a syringe full of clear liquid and scanned it. She looked at her omni-tool and nodded.

 

“This is the right amount to keep you under according to your weight. Ryder he needs to be laying down when I inject him.”

 

Ryder nods and turns the crate toward me and stares at me with expectation. He open palm gestures into the box for me to lay down.

 

“Ready?”

 

I nod walking over to the box. I lay down gently and stick my arm out expectantly. I felt cool fingers caress my elbow and I felt the pinch of the needle. There was a bandage on my arm before I could begin to bleed.

 

I looked up at all the faces that began to become distorted as the drug took its course. I spoke for the last time.

 

“Kandros, take care of yourself...wish me…wish me...luck.”

 

Everything went black.

Chapter Text

Kesh POV

 

Looking down I see Zachs eyes close and his arm go limp in the Asri doctors grip. She pressed her fingers into Zach's wrist and nodded. What is her name?

 

Lexi. Right.

 

Lexi spoke with calm as she laid Zach's arm gently down beside his body.

“He should be out for awhile. But let's try to get him on the ship before the six hour mark. I worry about illegally shipping a human, even if it is in a environmentally controlled crate.”

 

For once, I have to agree with her, this whole thing is risky. Hiding Zach from Tann is at best, considered insubordination, at worst completely illegal. Plus Humans aren't as durable as Krogan, or dare I think it Turians. That said Kandros seemed to be staring at me with unspoken expectation. I grumble and speak.

 

“Kandros I will make sure that he is safe in my care. There is no need to worry. I swear on my clan and its name to keep him safe.”

 

I could feel my body responding to the feeling of absolute resolve. The thought of Zach being in harm's way by a number eight brings my blood to a boil.

 

Why? He is just another human I just met not even a week ago. I saw the lost, lonely, pain filled look in the boys eyes and...I wanted to hold him close. My clanswomen would have a field day with that. But there is something genuine about him I can't explain, no interior motives.

 

“Kesh? You with us Kesh?” Ryders voice cut into my thoughts and I looked up to the crate with Zach being sealed. I could hear it's little fans already working to keep its inner contents in a stable environment. I nodded and Ryder and the group began to leave Kandros apartment.I was about to go ahead and pick up the crate and begin my journey to my office but Kandros was kneeling next to the crate and was whispering. I pretend not to hear but with krogan hearing of mine, I did.

 

“Spirits, I know I don't come to you often but watch over him. I know he isn't one of ours but...he is important to me. I hope that is enough for you to sway the hand of fate and leave those who would do him harm blind. I leave it to you then.”

 

Kandros stood before me and nodded seriously and I nodded in return. I would want the same for someone I care about and Zach is one of those people.  

 

I pick up the crate with Zach tucked away in it and carry it with ease. I leave Kandros apartment and slowly make my way back to my office. I wait patiently by the tram with my cargo.

 

Some of my workers wait with me and strike up conversation mostly about the upcoming bar and club called the Vortex that was to be opened shortly. Well if the Pathfinder Team path find something that is. We all need a break from the to and fro of this stressful struggle.

I step off the tram and make my way up the ramp under Operations toward my office when the one person I didn't want close to me called my name.

 

“Superintendent Kesh! Kesh I need to talk to you immediately!”

 

I turn with a sigh and stare down the one Salarian that I wish I could pummel but can't. I answer with my usual calm.

 

“Can I help you number eight? I am awfully busy with the Pathfinder Team leaving today, as you should be.”

 

Tann stared disdainfully at me before speaking.

 

“That is an odd way of talking to your superior.”

 

The immediate need to hit him crashed into me. I had to grip the crate with Zach inside to stop that from happening. I could hear the metal groan. I sighed and spoke back calmly. The Krogan needed to not make the mistakes of their pasts.

 

“Colleague Tann. You are neither above me or beneath me.”

 

Even though you still act like the shit.

 

“Now what is it you need? I have to go over the the construction manifests.”

 

Tann looks around and speaks lowly in a serious tone.

 

“I'm not going to pretend that you aren't involved in some way but I will only ask once. Where is he?”

 

My gut turns cold and look at the crate before I grimace speaking.

 

“Can you be more specific? There are plenty of “he” and “hims” on this station?”

 

“You know who I am speaking of!” His voice cuts into a shrill that causes my ears to ring. When I look around there are others who are staring. Including some of my people. They look ready to pounce so I nod to assure them everything is fine. Tann presses further accusingly making me reconsider.

 

“Zach! Don't play the fool. I know that you have him.”

 

I raise my brows and laugh before I answer him.

 

“Do you have proof to back up your claim? Or is this all hot air? Or are you finally dropping the act and confessing that you kidnapped him and had him drugged against his will? Which may I remind you is illegal.”

 

I felt the thrill of my words course through my veins. I felt the burn of smugness burning in my chest with the knowledge of the fact that Zach was right in front of Tann. In the very crate that I hold and Tann didn't know. With all his agents and all his ties he didn't know that Zach was in plain sight right under his nose. I took a step toward Tann and felt glee when he took a step back with fear in his eyes, and spoke.

 

“Even if it were true that I knew where Zach was, you wouldn't ever find him. I would make sure for the rest of your ridiculously short lifespan that you wouldn't find him.”

 

I turn and begin to walk toward my office, but I stop when I feel sadness creep into me. I speak lowly to Tann with a slight turn of my head.

 

“If it weren't for your fear of failure and the loss of the power that you've gained in all this mess, you would be a decent leader. But instead you let old grudges that are six hundred years dead and countless miles behind us,divide us. You're such a fool Tann and I hope for all our sakes that the Pathfinder succeeds and saves us all.”

I walk into my office with a sigh and place the crate with Zach in it beside my desk gently. Thankfully Tann didn't follow me. I smile and press a few keys to make a quick call. After a few moments a female voice answers.

 

“Yes?”

 

I smile and speak “Do you want on the Tempest?”

 

“More than breathing. Please get me off this station Kesh.” I could hear the almost pained whine in her voice.

 

“Do something for me and you will get full clearance. Join me in my office in a couple of hours.” I stated simply.

 

“You got it.” She said enthusiastically.

 

Right before I cut the line I said a quick goodbye.

 

“See you soon Vetra.”

 

*~~*

 

Zach POV

 

Everything was dark and I couldn't feel anything. I smiled as things began to materialize. Grass formed under my feet, a tree formed behind me and the sky formed into a perfect blue with a few stray clouds. I waited patiently as I heard the low hum of SAM materializing. I turned and looked at him with a smile.

 

“Hello SAM!”

 

He materialized and smiled at me before waving. “Hello, Zach. It has been several hours since you've been here. You remember our training when you were under the drug of Tann's men.”

 

It was a statement not a question. I nodded and then felt confused.

 

“SAM how did you know I had my memory returned?”

 

SAM didn't pause before he answered which told me how true his statement is.

 

“I am connected to you always. When you told Kandros that you remembered I heard you, now I know.”

 

I nodded and sat on the ground by SAM and sighed. I felt the gentle breeze brush my face as I thought of what was next.

 

From what I remember from the E3 Bioware conference about this game was that the “Golden worlds” wouldn't pan out. I need to be ready to guide them…

 

“Would you like to train some more?”

 

I turned and looked at SAM as his questions cut into my thoughts. He seemed to have a gentle look in his eyes. What is that? Understanding?

 

I shake my head and speak

 

“No thank you. I wouldn't be focused if I were to be honest. Too much on my mind.”

 

SAM nods and looks around seeming to take in our little simulated world. He looks down at me and with otherworldly grace sits on the ground next to me. He places a gentle hand on mind. It tingles in that weird way it did in the past when he touched me in the virtual world. After a time he looks at me before asking.

 

“What's on your mind?”

 

I feel a smile tug at my lips. I shrug and he speaks again reassuringly.

 

“You don't have to tell me. But from what I've seen and experienced from Alac it helps humans better to talk about what is on their mind  or what's bothering them.”

 

I pat his hand and look at him seriously before nodding. I think of a way of saying what I needed to say without giving myself away. Would SAM give me up to Ryder? Is he obligated to? I take a deep breath and relax before speaking.

 

“SAM if you could predict what is going to happen and could make better outcomes would you?”

 

SAM seemed to pause, thought I know it is mainly for my benefit. He had the answer before my question finished my question, he is a supercomputer after all. He speaks carefully when he answers.

 

“This is a highly unlikely scenario you are asking me to surmise. If this were to happen though yes I would try to change it for better outcomes.”

 

“Even if it meant keeping this knowledge to yourself? Because telling them would change everything. Would you still?”

 

There was no pause when SAM answered this time.

 

“Yes. I would keep it from them because in the end it would be better if I did. I was made for the purpose of keep the Pathfinder and his team alive by any means possible without harming them. In this case I would guide them but let them decide.”

 

I nod and look up at him feeling extremely tired. I ask politely

 

“May I lean on you for awhile?”

 

SAM looks  at me with a gentle smile and nods “Of course Zach. Though it might feel weird.”

 

I laughed as my head leaned against SAMs shoulder. The tingles coursed through my cheek making my teeth ring. I didn't mind because it wasn't all that bad. I spoke truthfully.

 

“SAM I think we passed weird 600 years ago and left it back in the Milky Way.”

 

I hear nothing but the simulated wind and my own steady breathing. SAM finally speaks, for the first time since I've known him I heard humor in his tone.

 

“Well then I guess I will have to let us be weird.”

 

I smile speaking with a quick laugh

 

“Thanks SAM.”

 

“I don't think it is something…” SAM begins before I interrupt him.

 

“Shhhh leave it be. It will ruin the moment.” I tell him and he looks down at me with a confused look. He then looks away with a smile and answers with a simple,

 

“As you wish.”

 

*~~*

 

Vetra POV

 

30 minutes before departure

 

As I pass through the last and final checkpoint I sigh. I watched one of Addison's lackys scanning the crates in the line in front of me. Kesh has simple instructions. Do. Not. Let. Anyone. Scan. The. Box.

She wouldn't even let me see what was in this box. That means she is trying to protect me from something. I don't need protection from Tann or otherwise.

 

Ben looked to be your average human male but I knew that he was a part of a group of disgruntled families. I had read his requests and watched them get denied. Poor soul. He looked at his omni-tool at the contents of the package in front of the one I was trying to sneak on.

 

After what felt like forever he waved the package through and then looked at me. He waved me forward and just as he began to turn the scanning equipment onto my package I held up a talon, a human gesture to wait. I spoke

 

“This is a personal luggage for the Human Pathfinder, it's been cleared by Superintendent Kesh, to not be scanned due the the sensitive nature of the package.”

 

Ben rolled his eyes and spoke with agitation. “Vetra, you Know as well as I do that I have to scan every package, crate, and personal luggage that comes through.”

 

I shrugged and spoke evenly “If you want to piss of the only person able to find us all a home...that is your business.”

 

Ben looked at an impasse as I knew he would be. He paused and looked over the package then growled. “Fine! Go through but if Addison says we have to scan it. I will hold this departure until it's scanned.”

I nodded firmly and pushed the package forward. I kept going down the hall until it lead to a gate that led to the most beautiful ship on this god forsaken station.

 

The Tempest, sleek, shiny, first in her class, top of the line, beautiful civilian class scout vessel. I looked at her with excitement and awe then remembered that this package needed to leave this station unscanned. Now.

 

I hurried down the landing pad toward the open cargo bay door. As I passed the ramp from the civilian section I heard them, the Pathfinder and his second Cora Harper, and Liam the crisis responder excitedly discussing the Tempest.

 

“Isn't she a beauty! Just looking at her I know we are gonna do great! Heleus here we come!”

 

I walked past them  shouting to the guys loading it.

 

“Let's pick up the pace here people we are fourteen months late!”

 

I handed off the package for one of them to load. I turned toward the Pathfinder and his team.

 

“So you are the ones making it all happen.”

 

The Pathfinder seemed to tense and look at me questionly.

 

“Hello? Who are you?”

 

Names Vetra! I am a gunnery and provisions procurement officer. You want it I'll get it for you.” I stuck a talon out and he took it and gave it a shake. He paused before speaking.

 

“Names Ryder. Any reason we are in such a hurry?”

 

I shrugged and spoke

 

“Just ready to get off the station and explore the new Galaxy.”

 

I barely took two steps before I hear the one voice that I didn't want to hear, screaming at my back

 

“Wait! Wait a Minute!” said Ben

 

I couldn't help the curse that left my mandibles.

 

“Damn it!”

 

“Whatever it is I didn't do it.”  Ryder said with his hands in the air.

 

I like him already

 

I turned and faced Ben head on as he stomped up the ramp, talking as he went.

 

“As I thought Addison is demanding that package be scanned!”

 

I sighed as my brain listed all the people who owed me favors. I knew that I could get him to let it go...but what would he want to make it happen? As I looked him over I saw a ring on his finger. So he is married and that could indicate that he could have kids and a wife who could very well been left in cryo. Okay time to play the friend and get him to do what I want. I am a procurement officer after all.

 

“Ben, I see that you are married. Got a wife and a kid?”

 

Ben seemed to be taken aback, he wasn’t prepared for me to probe into his personal life. Good I can use this to my advantage. I kept pressing for more ground.

 

“Listen Ben, we aren’t mercs or exile. We are here to find a new home and make it work. But we can’t get out of here without you letting us pass through the bureaucratic red tape. Now if you sign off saying you scan the package they won't know the difference and I’ll help you get a loved one bumped to the front of the line for thawing.”

 

Ben almost seemed to drop his data pad but he composed himself and asked with a quiet voice.

 

“Really?”

 

I nod enthusiastically before answering.

 

“Of course. Anyone.”

 

“My son. He is still in cryo. They said he wasn’t essential personnel but my wife and I miss him. After fourteen months we are very tired of waiting. What if we age a decade before he is out. That would be confusing for him and sad in the long run.”

 

That hit close to home, I could feel my gut twist in response to his confession and request. He was just like me with a loved one, but unlike me he didn’t have connections to pull his loved one out of cryo like I did.

 

Sid.

 

“Consider it done. Send your sons details to Kesh and she will send it to me.”

 

Ben sighs and with a couple of of keystrokes he gave us our freedom. He sighs as he speaks

 

“There. Addison will have my ass if she finds out. You are free to go. Happy trails Vetra.”

 

I nodded and turned toward the pathfinder. Who opened his mouth to speak and I held up a talon and shook my head.

 

“Not now. Let's just get out of here.”