Chapter 1: Jaal's first report to Evfra.
He sat and watched as the rest of the Pathfinder’s crew gathered around the table on the deck, some relaxed and calm, others choosing to cast him a look filled with questions but said nothing to him, likely because they didn’t know what to say or because they didn’t know if his new translators worked just yet.
He felt the floor vibrate and cast a look at the ramps to se a huge human male walking up to them, huge muscles covered by his clothes though clearly the fit was not as well as the human would have liked.
“Is everyone here?” the Pathfinder asked casting a look over her crew, “Lexi still with Liam?”
The large male nodded. “Kosta’s still not ready to go planet side, that injury to his leg was pretty bad.”
The Pathfinder sighed. “Keep him on light duty with Gil and make sure he stays on his meds until his leg’s healed up.” She said, “In the meantime, we have made some progress.”
“But the Vault we wanted to see was on that planet, why are we leaving?” the Asari asked. “Is there an issue with it?”
“The only one who could help us get inside and learn about the vault is missing, Peebee.” The Pathfinder said and turned to him. “Jaal Ama Darav has been kind enough to offer us a means of proving we are not here to cause trouble for his people as the Kett have. But that means we have to do a bit more leg work.”
“Nothing is ever as easy as going to the front door and asking nicely, is it?” A human female with red hair asked.
“As nice as that would be Suvi, life would be far to easy if it was that simple.” The Turian smiled. “So, we have two planets on the holo map, I’m guessing both of them are something to do with this meeting?” She asked looking between him and the Pathfinder.
“Jaal?” The Pathfinder asked and moved to make a space for him to stand with them at the table.
He stood and walked over. “About eighty years ago, the Archon and the Kett arrived in Heleus and the horror began. After foolish us with lies and promises of friendship, my people began to go missing, no traces, no witnesses.”
“My God.” Suvi said shaking her head.
“The Resistance is stretched thin. I was tasked with traveling to two of our worlds at our briefing things morning. And you will accompany me.”
“Why?” a short haired blond woman snipped.
“Harper.” The Pathfinder snapped and the blond woman stiffened. “Interrupt anyone like that again on my ship and I will replace you.”
“Yes Pathfinder.” Cora nodded stiffly.
The Krogan and Turian collected an exchange of some kind of tokens from another human meber of the crew while the larger human made a mark on a data pad. Jaal blinked, keeping his face strictly blank for a moment, then looked to the Pathfinder for a moment.
“Please continue.” She said after the rest of the crew had settled again.
“Evfra has lead the resistance for some time now, and if you want him to trust you, you must prove you are worthy of that trust.” Jaal said, “These worlds are where our forces are in most need of help.” He went on as Ryder brought up the two worlds on a larger scale. “Before the Scourge disaster, Voeld was a thriving planet of billions, a shining center of technology and life. Now it’s the center of our ground war against the Kett, our Resistance base is fighting Kett Command for control of the planet.”
“And this one?” Vetra asked.
“Havarl is the birth place of the Angara.” Jaal said, “Its started to degrade, becoming wild and dangerous. We suspect Remnant.”
“Now we’re talking.” Peebee piped up and Grace gave the Asari a sideways look. “Ah sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt.”
“We’ve recently lost contact with our scientists on Havarl.” Jaal said, “My tasks were to go to Havarl first and assist the search for answers there, then travel to Voeld and help train the new recruits there.”
“And if we help you, we prove to Evfra we’re not here to pull a fast one.” The Pathfinder said. “Questions?”
“Whose going with you and where?” the large male asked. “Kosta’s on light duty, that means he’s not leaving this ship and I’m still not steady on my own feet.”
“Which is why you Damian, are staying here to protect the ship while I go planet side, since Jaal is the one they are expecting to show up he’s going to be there on both worlds.”
“Please, please, please, please.” Peebee pleaded.
Grace chuckled, “Havarl I’ll take Peebee.”
“And Voeld?” Vetra asked.
“Still working that part out.” The Pathfinder smiled. “Duck your head Suvi.”
Jaal blinked in confusion then watched as the red head obeyed and from behind her came a strange four legged creature with many toes and tiny claws jumping from the railings and then using the table as a spring board and jumped at the Pathfinder with a happy sounding cry as the woman braced her feet and caught the creature in a hug.
“How does he always know where you are?” Gil asked with a chuckle.
“Because he’s a smart boy.” Grace answered and let the creature climb up onto her shoulders and lean out from its new perch and sniff the air around Jaal. “Jaal, this is Chitters the Pyjak, the Tempest’s mascot. If you have any boxes I advise you keep them locked or weighted down, he likes to explore everything he finds and if he can fit inside it, chances are he will sleep in it. He’s harmless, but he might try and use your as a spring board to get to a higher ledge or to me if its feeding time.”
“And check under your pillow before you go to bed, sometimes he leaves a tool or shiny battery there as a gift.” Peebee added and Jaal watched the creature shift and wiggle around until it was comfortable, holding onto the Pathfinder’s back, its head over one shoulder and tail wrapped tightly around her waist.
“Any other Questions?” the Pathfinder asked.
There was a resounding no and the Pathfinder dismissed the gathering, smiling as the large male gently petted the Pyjak’s head with his fingers before heading down the ramps, the Pathfinder herself stayed by the table and began to type up something as her passenger searched her pockets and chittered happily after finding a packet of dried fruit, with a little fiddling the pack opened and the Pyjak chipped happily as it ate.
“A very intelligent creature.” He said.
“Pyjak. And they make good pets, as long as you can tame then early.” She smiled. “So, we go to Havarl and Voeld, do what we can, then what? I doubt Evfra will trust Humans much less me just because we helped you clear out for Kett from Voeld and help a team of Scientises on Havarl.”
“It may not be much. But it would be a starting point for Evfra. Too many of our people are lost or fighting losing battles against the Kett, your people’s presence here has not been much help as of yet to us.” Jaal stated.
“You want to say something else.” She stated.
He paused, How had she known that?
“Jaal, I ask my Crew to be open about they feel and what they say, if they don’t like something I want them to tell me and do it honestly. If you’re going to stay here, I ask that you do the same.” She stated. “Say what you want to say.”
“And if those words are harsh?” he asked.
The Pathfinder chuckled, “I came here with my father and brother to start a new life, instead of that I have lost my father, my brother is recovering from some kind of infection from the Scourge, my Second takes every chance she gets to second guess my actions and undermine my orders to the best of her ability. The leadership of the humans is in shambles because the current director of the ‘project’ is so far up his own ass and pretending to know what he is doing that you’d have to set an explosion off in his ears to make him see just how fucked up his ideas are. The Woman who is meant to be setting up Outposts and helping me find homes and resources to feed everyone can’t see past her own needs and has allowed no less than seven innocent families to be separated and lost amongst the cryo chambers on the Ark. The only two that know what they are doing and can help me are a Turian who took charge in the mess and kept the station alive, and a Krogan who has more sense in her head then any one I have ever known.”
“Right now Jaal, we need to hear the harsh words and we need to hear honesty, do not sweeten things or hold back just because you want to be polite.” The large male said as he returned, “My sister and I can handle harsh words and harsher beatings.” He added and then looked at the Pathfinder. “Coming sister?”
The Pathfinder nodded. “Find a place to settle in Jaal, I’ll stop by later and we’ll see what we can do about Havarl.” She said and followed her brother away.
Later that evening, when Jaal was sure everyone was asleep, he began to type carefully on the terminal in the Tech lab.
>>> To; Evfra.
These creatures are as strange to us as the Kett were our people when they first arrived, a mismatch of many abilities and behaviours but somehow, the Pathfinder makes it work. She has asked that I tell her honestly what I wish to say if anything and she has asked what else you would seek from her to earn your trust even though Havarl and Voeld will be all we can offer right now.
After arriving aboard the ship, the Pathfinder asked that I find a place that was comfortable to me and then see her medical and Science officer for a translator to be added to my Omni tool and to be added to the Crew log, as the Tempest has an advanced computer system named ‘SAM’ and when addressed it will answer any questions asked of it and also aid in any mathematical and scientific problems. It greeted me when I had been added to the crew log as a member and relayed that if I had any questions it would attempt to answer.
The Crew appears nice enough, polite if a little unsteady with my arrival, but as far as I can tell, they are not all combatants. Some of them are not even trained as fighters but they are clearly valuable to the ship.
It appears that leadership aboard the ship is shared between the Pathfinder, Grace Ryder and her twin brother Damian Ryder, a large muscular male with a visible intimidation in his size, standing taller even than the Krogan we have seen in reports from Kadara but he shows no outward aggression to anyone.
Grace Ryder is the older of the two by a few scant minutes and while she stands at a much shorter height and does not look powerful, her gaze holds something to it that keeps other crew mates from over stepping themselves, both are clearly respected and liked by other member of the crew.
The crew itself consists of eleven members and one pet. The second in command on the Tempest appears to be a human with incredible Biotic power named Cora Harper. She is clearly trained in some military ways but has thus far spoken only to question and attempt to sway the Pathfinder from her choices, though from what I have witnessed today, I doubt that she is in any position to be a threat or even of use to the Pathfinder besides her biotic abilities.
She is wary of me, I will have to give you more details on her when and if I earn any trust from her.
Another crew mate I have had better luck learning about is the Science officer, Suvi Anwar. She has a strange tone to her voice that she explains is an accent, inherited from her family back in the Milky Way, she has a very close relationship with Damian Ryder judging from how much time she spends around him and how easy it was to learn how he had become injured by the Scourge. She is not military trained and ins instead on the Tempest as a scientist, hoping to learn as much as she can about the worlds of Heleus and how it might help humanity cure illnesses that have been thus far incurable in the Milky Way.
When I asked why they would have to come so far away from home to find a cure, she told me of an illness Humans suffer that they call Cancer, a ailment that slowly kills the body from within and often causes great suffering upon its victims. Grace Ryder and Damien Ryder both lost their mother to this illness before leaving the Milky Way and that was a large part of the reason both agreed to leave with their father to come here.
I was unable to learn much more from her, but I have over heard a conversation between the Krogan crew member Drack and the Pathfinder herself, referring to some kind of condition the Pathfinder is suffering, but before I could hear more, they were interrupted by the medical officer and I was unable to listen further. For now this is all I can offer you, but tomorrow we land on Havarl hopefully I will have more to report to you when we are done there.
Stay strong and clear. <<<
He leant back and reread the message carefully before nodding and sending the message pausing when a scratching sound came from the tech lab doors.
He listened carefully and it came again. “Sam? What is making the scratching sound at the Tech lab door?” he asked quietly.
“Chitters is attempting to catch his own reflection in the shine of the door. Do you wish Grace to call him away?” the AI answered kindly.
“Stand by.” The AI said and then a few minutes later the scratching stopped and Jaal heard the Pathfinder lightly scold the Pyjak as she carried it away. “Do you require anything else, Jaal?”
“No, thank you Sam.” He dismissed and the AI gave a soft hum before it went silent again, allowing Jaal to settle on his bed and soon drift to sleep.
Evfra looked up as his terminal blinked with a new message and carefully read its contents, filing the important information away for later while dismissing the unneeded details before a second message arrived and he focused all his attention on that.
Jaal’s reports were to the point, and often held very little if any unimportant details, and this one was no different, yes is was short, but he could not ask for everything to be handed to him within only a few hours but what Jaal had learnt was enough to put some fears to rest.
He read the information carefully and sighed, it wasn’t much, but it was a start.
>>> To; Jaal
Continue to watch then Jaal and inform me for any further information you learn about this condition the Pathfinder suffers, I will not have illness spread through our people because of her ignorance.
Stay strong and clear. <<<
His replies would never be much more than that, but it was enough for his people to know he was there and he was listening.
Chapter 2: Havarl
On Havarl there aren't that many moments where you can set a romantic scene until after you do Jaal's loyalty mission. so for the chapter I went with a little more detail and explained the basics.
>>> texts <<< - This is e-mails.
~ " texts "~ - This is comms.
“Stay safe and please don’t go into the Vault without saying something first, you scared the hell out of me on Eos.” Damian said as he helped his sister fasten her armour. “And don’t pick a fight with the biggest damn Remnant bot you see.”
“I’ll make Sam remind me.” Grace assured her brother, “You keep the ship safe and make sure Chitters eats his food and doesn’t find his way into anything dangerous.”
“I will.” Damian smiled, “Helmet or breather?” he asked holding both to his sister.
“Breather.” Grace smiled and slipped the breather over her face. “Make sure Liam does as Lexi says and please keep Kallo and Gil from killing each other.”
“Got it.” He nodded. “Ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” Grace nodded and smiled as he gently tucked some loose strands of hair behind her ear. “Should we to tell Jaal?”
“If he asks, or it comes up in talks, we tell him,” Damian said, “either way we’ll explain it in detail when we have some trust from his people or at least from Evfra.”
“Are you sure you are the oldest?” Peebee asked as she came in, a huge smile on her face as Jaal followed her. “Because he acts so much more mature at times.”
“Says the Asari who threw herself head first into the Eos Vault.” Damian chuckled.
“After your sister jumped in first.” Peebee said.
Grace chuckled. “I’m allowed to be dumb, its my job.” She smiled, “So, where too first Jaal?”
“Once the ship lands we should be close to Pelaav Research Station, it was once part of a much larger Daar that was destroyed and now is covered with the regrowth of Havarl’s plants. Most of which are deadly or toxic.” Jaal explained.
“Sounds like a place to start.” Grace said. “Suvi, Kallo get us as close as you can without damaging any of the local wild life.”
~ “Rodger that Pathfinder.” ~
Jaal felt the ship twist slightly, and sway ever so gently before it settled on the surface, the gang plank lowering slowly.
“Wow.” Peebee said, “this place is… its so…”
“Beautiful.” Grace put it, kneeling and gently touching the earth ground wither hands. “Hmmm… Gil?”
“Yes Boss lady?” the man asked form the top of the ramp.
“While we are away, rig the Nomad up for snow and ice travel, we won’t be needing her here.” Grace said.
“You plan on walking everywhere?” Jaal asked.
“I’m not driving the Nomad around on a planet that is considered a birth place to another race, that would be rude.” Grace stated, “Plus, looking at this terrain, we’d end up pulling vines along with us if we got tangled in them. Walking is safer.”
“You can see the big flying things, right?” Peebee asked a little nervously.
“Mantas. If they were aggressive they’d have chased the Tempest down.” Grace remarked typing on her omni Tool. “Sam, what do we have?”
~ “According to planetary scans; Havarl has two active monoliths but I have not yet detected a third, also of note the plant life appears to be healthy on first glance but further scans show a rapid decaying of their cellular make up. I do not detect Kett anywhere on the surface.” ~
“Keep me updated on that last Monolith.” Grace said and then turned to Jaal, “Whose in charge of Pelaav?”
“We’ll meet up with Kiiran Dals. She is my contact here.” Jaal said as he led the way towards Pelaav, watching Grace scan a glowing plant with her scanner and then easily catch Peebee from falling over her own feet. It was strange, like Grace had seen Peebee about to fall, but that was impossible, Grace had her back to Peebee the whole time.
He’d have to keep a closer eye on her, though he saw nothing as he watched her jump the gaps of the path to Pelaav, or as she greeted and listened to what Kiiran had to say about the missing science team.
“Never heard of the Remnant having a stasis field before.” Peebee said.
“The team is alive, just unresponsive.” Kiiran said, “We have no idea how to get them out.”
“It could be that they put in the wrong code on the Remnant panels,” Grace offered, “Those things are a bit fickle with the codes you put in. Which way are they from here?” she asked.
“From here follow the road, or what’s left of it and it will lead you to them.” Kiiran said. “Be careful. We have reports of Roekaar in the area.”
“And those are?” Grace asked looking to Jaal.
“The Roekaar,” Jaal said with a slight growl, “Are a group of Angaran who believe all Aliens should be exterminated. They do not ask questions and they do not care what you are, if you are not Angaran or native to our home, you shouldn’t be alive.”
“Lovely, more people making this harder than it needs to be.” Peebee sighed.
“We’ll try and avoid shooting at them where possible, you’ve got a strong enough throwing arm with those Biotics to give us a chance to get past them if they start shooting first.” Grace said turning back to Kiiran. “Anything else we should keep any eyes out for?”
“Not for me, but Raashel Vier may have something you could help with.” Kiiran said nodding towards the other Angaran in the room, working at a terminal by the door. “She recently received some news that made her leave for a short time but she came back with nothing.”
Jaal waited for Ryder to move off to talk with Raashel to talk with Kiiran himself. “Are you sure about this Jaal?” She asked. “Letting a stranger onto Havarl? You know the dangers here.”
“The Pathfinder will not be going around on her own and I have been told that she has experience with Remnant, even reset a vault.” He told her.
“Ocean of fish one with a gem in its mouth. But if you think this alien can help, I will set scepticism aside.” She stated, “But be careful, we don’t know what triggered the stasis and it may happen again.” Jaal nodded and joined Ryder as she and Peebee waited outside for him.
“Ocean of fish one with a gem in its mouth?” Grace asked and Jaal blinked. “I have very good hearing.”
“Kiiran means that there is only a slim chance you can do the things you claim.” Jaal said, “Many Angaran have lost faith in other races due to the Kett and how easily we fell to their lies.”
“That I can understand,” Grace said. “But not ever stranger is out to kill and take over. No matter how secretive or strange they may seem.”
As before, Grace let him lead the way, though she was quick to spot dangers he had known would be around and asked what they were and how best to kill them without leaving them in pain and Peebee asked how best to drive them off without injuring them.
Strange, as Jaal had seen just had badly these creatures could injure his own people WITH their thickest and strongest armour. “Why care of the local wild life when it was out to kill you?” he asked as he looked at the Asari woman.
“Because its not fair to cull animals just because they try to kill you. We came here to learn and study, not murder and replace with our own.” Peebee remarked. “Plus, in the future who knows, sparing them might do us some good.”
“How?” he asked.
“Well, some animals are part of a careful balance that we and a higher ranked life form do not understand full, if we start killing and interfering with that system, it could create a whole host of disasters. For example, back home in the Milky Way the human home world of Earth had a reptile called a Crocodile, big four-legged scaly beast that lives in and around water ways with lots of teeth, a bite strong enough to snap some metals clean in half and a body built to survive the harshest conditions. General rule when and if you come face to face with one is that you never let your guard down, they look slow and they can’t climb but they can run faster then a human can and they can turn around faster than a blink.” Peebee explained, “Best way to deal with them in the wild, keep your eyes on it and slowly back away from it because where you see one, there are more you don’t. Once you feel you are safely away from it, you head away from the water and you don’t ever go back to that area.”
“Why?” Jaal asked.
“Crocodiles are very intelligent, they watch the water’s edge and they remember everything they see, they learn what time the birds come down to drink and bath, what time the fish retreat to the shallows, when someone comes to the edge to get a drink or wash. Once they know your habits they get in close and when you take your eyes of their area, they attack grab you in their jaws and the drag you into the water, once you’re in there, you’ve got no chance to get out unless you are lucky or you somehow manage to poke its eyes.”
Jaal blinked, “And they are allowed to live unchecked?” he asked Grace. “They sound very deadly.”
“People don’t tend to live near them, and those who do are often there to study the wildlife and learn so they have protection. Plus if we take away all the natural predators, nothing would be there to keep a natural cull effect on the prey animals, if the prey gets too many, the vegetation becomes endangered, plants make pollen for the insects, no insects, no new plants, eventually the little things in life become harder to find, and you run out of things to cure illness then the whole system breaks down. We need the big bad animals they can kill us and hurt us if we want to keep our home worlds in balance, same as we need good and bad experiences in life to shape us as we grow up. That’s why we have rules when we are children and why we are taught the difference between what is right and wrong, safe and unsafe, good and evil, so on and so forth-”
Jaal’s body reacted to the yell from Peebee with ease, rolling and grunting as his back finding the solid rock face as cover as bullets whizzed by them, Peebee hitting the dirt as Grace pressed herself against a tree.
“Roekaar?” Grace asked.
“Indeed.” Jaal nodded.
“I’m pinned!” the Asari yelled.
“Fuck.” Grace hissed and Jaal saw her eyes brighten for a moment. “Keep your head down Peebee, I’m coming!!”
“What are you going to do?” Jaal asked though he was already aiming his rifle at the nearest sharp shooter.
“Something only I can.” Grace said and Jaal watched the same blue light he’d seen Peebee use flicker around Grace’s hands, but there was something different about it. “Stay behind me.” She added and then broke cover, throwing a blue mist from her palms like a wave at the Roekaar as she rushed to Peebee, heaving the Asari up and dragging her back to cover as the shots peppered the ground around their feet.
A few shots later there was a pause and Grace broke cover again, this time tossing a grenade over the shielding the Roekaar had formed seconds before it erupted and showered them in falling tree branches and dirt.
“They aren’t leaving.” Peebee said.
“Well, we gave them a chance.” Grace said, ripping the armour from her arms off and closed her eyes, “Deep breath, both of you.” She ordered and Jaal watched in amazement as Grace broke over one last time and unleashed the same blueish mist like light from her palms and arms but this time as tendrils and each one struck home on an Roekaar target, knocking them to the ground easily and there they lay still as if dead though a quick scan showed they were in fact in a deep sleep.
“We’re clear,” He said after a short time of no shooting.
“Good.” Grace panted as Peebee lightly helped the Pathfinder back to her feet, gently dusting her off and offering her the arm plating to her armour. “Now let’s get this done with.”
“What was that?” Jaal asked.
“I’ll tell you later, when we have time to sit and have a proper conversation about it.” Grace assured.
Damian smiled as he carefully stirred the pot on the stove, smiling as Chitters clung to his back, nose going straight for the pocket of his shirt and nibbling the little biscuit that had been left there for him to find. “Good boy Chitters.” He praised softly.
Carefully, he added a palm sized scoop of red powder into the pot then while stirring slowly, lightly drizzled a yellowing oil like formula to the mix, stirring faster for a moment and then slowly dragging the spoon along the base of the pan, making sure the mix was even and well stirred before skinning a lemon and cutting it into four, squeezing two parts into the pot and cut the last two sliced into small strips and sprinkling them into a bowl, then he reached up and took a small bag from the back of the cupboard and used a pendulum and bowl to crush a small number of dried leaves, petals and seeds into powder before adding them to the pot as well.
“How can you two stand to eat that stuff?” Liam asked.
“It’s this stuff that keeps my sister going full out Mistress and put you and Gil in the medical bay after an hour.” The older man stated adding a small amount of a lilac liquid to the pot.
“What’s in that mix up of yours anyway?” Liam asked as he looked at the ingredients. “I can’t read this language, and it doesn’t smell very nice.”
“The language is old day Latin and the smell is meant to deter humans from eating it as it can make them sick, but to us it smells like a very mild curry mix. The dish is steak fillets stew with Gran’s broth. Powdered red lobster, distilled honey, lemon juice, coconut milk, crushed dried basil, parsley, bay leaf, almond nuts and coco beans, stirred in with any flavoured stock and slowly simmered over two hours, then add a tea spoon of rum. The lilac stuff is Lavender Rose, a sweetener Gran made that Grace loves with all her foods,” Damian listed and then placed the lid on the pot. “Now we leave this to slow cook and then when Drack serves you guys his dish, Grace and I will have this served with our stew.”
“It sounds horrid.” Cora said as she came in. “How can you stand to even cook it for her?” She added.
“It keeps Grace from feeding like a rabid dog on the whole crew.” Damian reminded, “And if you don’t like it then you shouldn’t have made yourself second to her.” He added as Suvi came in with a defrosted package of steak fillets. “Thank you Suvi.”
Chitters gave a happy whistling sound and jumped from Damian’s back and chased a small red dot along the floor. “Do you need anything restocking?” Vetra asked moving the laser pointer around for Chitters to chase
“Nah, we can get what we need from our sisters and Gran with a little meditation.” Damian smiled.
“Is that allowed?” Cora asked.
“Its none of your business.” Damian stated firmly and Cora went off to her Bio lab.
Suvi sighed. “Of all the crew, I thought I’d be the one with the issue about having a Succubus aboard.”
“How would that even work? I mean you are the partner of an Incubus,” Liam said sitting himself on the booth seat behind the table watching Chitters chase the red dot Vetra was slowly circling the hall with as she sat above them on the walk way. “I thought there were no secreted between the Family?”
“I had no idea about Grace and the others until I met them and Ellen asked me in passing how I felt about having a Succubus for a half-sister.” Suvi explained. “I admit I was a little scared to meet all of them at once, but they were all so kind and so understanding, I never really felt like they were any different from me. I admit it was strange to see her so relaxed around so many men at once, but after a little while I guess I just got used to it.”
“Well, we are covered by laws that forbid us harming humans.” Damian smiled. “Now, I say we all clear out and let Drack cook food while we wait for Grace to check in.”
“Well, we found the team.” Peebee said, “No idea how to get them out of this stasis though.”
“They are alive.” Grace said, “Sam’s reading breathing, heart beat and brain waves.”
“Can you get them out?” Jaal asked as Grace lightly brushed her finger tips against the shield.
“I can try, Sam, translate the glyphs into a readable language for me please,” Grace requested as she stepped up to the Remnant terminal. “Let’s see, this one here, then this one, followed by that- no, no, that one then this one, then this and that and our survey says?”
Theer was a light hum for a few seconds and then the stasis field around the team of Angara shattered open. “Reading of the monitors and-” one stated as if he had been speaking the moment he was completely unaware he had been frozen at all until he looked around and realized things were different. “Skkut! Skkuting Stars, What? Who are- How did?”
“In order.” Grace said calmly. “You were frozen in a stasis field. My name is Grace Ryder, a pathfinder with the Andromeda Initiative from the Milky Way Galaxy. I got you out of the fields with the help of a translation program.” She explained, “Take a moment and get your bearings.”
“More Aliens…? And Jaal?” the researcher asked.
“Do none of you remember being frozen?” Jaal asked.
“Frozen?” the other repeated in some confusion. “I don’t understand, we were just working on the monolith and then… you appeared.”
“Better head back to Kiiran at Pelaav, if you can’t remember what happened to you there may be other issues from the stasis she needs to know about.” Grace said.
“Maybe your right, Oh I feel a head splitter coming on.”
“We’ll come back with you, who knows what other effects might strike on the way.” Jaal offered.
It was a slow and steady walk back to Pelaav, the headaches making it difficult for each of the now freed scientists to walk straight without help but once they reached the remains of the Daar they left the Angaran in the care of their friends while Grace took a moment to head outside and make a comm call.
~ “Ryder, I have message for Jaal.” ~ Sam suddenly piped up and Grace smiled.
Evfra blinked, and then blinked again.
Jeoih;csav,hjerpojdsbhkewfv,h cv fweovfhjfew fvocdw pweoifv jdf o;kweodvs <<<
Was this a trick or just a joke from one of the young hackers? Surely it had to be, Jaal would never send him something as foolish as this.
Before he could contemplate further, a second message arrived.
>>> To: Evfra
The Tempest’s AI has informed me that you received a message sent from my terminal, I can assure you that was not sent by me, apparently the Tempest Pet Chitters found his way into the Tech lab and has been exploring the surfaces looking for a place to sleep while we were on Havarl’s surface.
I apologize, I will have to make sure I remember to log out of the terminal when I leave next time.
I will report more of my finding when I return to the Tempest later.
Stay Strong and Clear. <<<
Evfra sighed and resisted the urge to run a hand over his face. In any other situation such a lapse in concentration would be comical of Jaal or any of his soldiers, but this was not the time the relax.
He would have to remind Jaal of then when his message arrived.
The shout had everyone on edge the minute a young officer of the Resistance all but fall into HQ, barely able to speak for panting so hard.
“What’s the matter?” Evfra demanded.
“She was betrayed!” The other finally managed to gasp out, holding up a data pad. “The Moshae was betrayed!”
And the work load just increased tenfold.
Grace smiled as she looked out over Havarl from the roof tops of Pelaav. “Now this is a view Anna would love.”
“Anna?” Jaal asked.
“My cousin. She’s something of a thrill seeker, she’d climb anything just to get a better view of what was around her and she wasn’t afraid of speaking out when things were wrong, even if it didn’t involve her in anyway.”
“Did she come with you?” Jaal asked.
“No, she had other things she needed to do before she travelled around the galaxies.” Grace said, “But knowing her, she was finished up about mid-way through our trip here and now she’ll be waiting for the call to say we have a home here.”
“How long did you travel to reach this cluster?” He’d heard through Evfra that it had taken roughly six hundred years, but that had come from Kadara and Jaal doubted the humans there could be trusted with anything.
“Six hundred years, during which time most everyone slept. The Captain and a skeleton crew waking every few years to make sure we were one course and there were no issues.” Grace said.
“Humans live that long?” He asked, Evfra would need to know about this if it was true, as his contacts on Kadara had said humans only lives at most a to the age of one hundred and some scant years later.
Grace smiled. “Well no, but we aren’t-.”
“Are you two coming?” Peebee yelled from lower down. “Kiiran wants to talk to us.”
“Coming Peebee.” Grace called back, stepping of the roof calmly and landed on the railing with practiced ease while Jaal forced himself not to sigh, the Pathfinder had been about to tell him something important and thanks to Peebee, it seemed he would have to wait even longer to learn what it had been.
“What do you mean gray, spiker aliens, Torvar?” Kiiran asked. “Kett?”
“No, these were different, we were surveying the area and saw them, before the Freeze, then we got wind of a Roekaar signal and moved away to avoid any confrontation with them.”
“Turians?” Grace asked as she came in. “You saw Turians here?”
“Why don’t you are Torvar talk about that later, right now, I want to thank you for saving my team.” Kiiran said as she stepped forwards, “And I wanted to apologize for the rudeness I showed you earlier.”
“With everything your people have gone through, I wouldn’t have been took shocked if you’d shot at me.” Grace said.
“We are all glad that didn’t happen.” Torvar chuckled.
“With everything you have done here, Evfra should be convinced you are an asset.” Jaal nodded in agreement. “We should speak with him as soon as possible.”
“Back to the Tempest then?” Peebee asked with a smiled, “It’s about dinner time.”
Grace chuckled and waved Peebee off. “Go back ahead of us, I know how much you love Drack’s cooking. Just make sure Chitters doesn’t get off the ship!”
“Got it!” Peebee cheered racing off.
“Will you be coming back?” Kiiran asked.
“Yes, but with all the wildlife trying to kill us and the Remnant bots as well, I need to restock on ammo before I go searching for Turians.” Grace nodded then smiled, “Oh, Raashel,” She added and tapped her Omni tool. “Sam was able to access the network from an exposed terminal not far from here, it may not be all of your work, but it’s what we could gather.” She explained as the Angaran read over everything she was sent.
“Stars, this is everything I thought lost and more! Thank you, Pathfinder!” Raashel beamed, “I must alert all my collages,” she added and hurried off to her station.
Grace smiled. “Well, we’ll be off, and back in a little while.” She said and headed off back towards the Tempest Jaal followed after a few more words with Kiiran.
“Peebee mentioned you had a little moment.” Suvi said as Grace and Jaal arrived, Damian handing over a large bowl of food to Grace as the breather was all but tossed to Gil, “Do you need anything?”
“Lots of soft blankets and pillows?” Grace said after swallowing a mouthful of her food, making Suvi smile. “I’m fine Suvi, it wasn’t a bad thing and I didn’t hurt anyone.”
“Do you want me to help explain it?” Damian asked.
“Sure, then I can eat before it goes cold.” Grace smiled, “Jaal, I think it’s best we tell you what happened on the viewing deck, at least up there we can show you the images of what we’re talking about while explaining it.” She added taking another mouthful of her food while heading up to the viewing deck.
Jaal followed, feeling a small set of paws bounce off his shoulder as Chitters jumped on to Grace’s back with a happy whistling and chirping sound as he nuzzled against the woman’s cheek. “Has he ever not known where to find you?”
“No.” Grace smiled, holding her bowl out of Chitters’ reach, “Ah, not for you.” She said lightly. “That’s my food.” Chitters gave a sad chittering sound but settled on Grace’s back without further fuss and rested his head on her shoulder once again.
Once they were gathered around eth viewing deck, Damian typed at the controls while Grace finished her mouthful of food. “I guess the best way to start this is to ask if Angaran have such things as demons?” Damian asked.
“Demons?” Jaal asked.
“Creatures that can hide themselves as a normal Angaran, but hold an ability or power considered evil or sinister to others by religious grounds or common beliefs.” Grace said.
“No, we do not have such things.” He said.
“Well, humans do and they come in many shapes, sizes, races and levels.” Grace said, “Damian and I are what humans labelled a parasitic demon. Damian an Incubus and me a Succubus. According to human history we are sexual predators who take the life energy from young men and women while they sleep and in doing so, kill them.”
“That belief was however false and grossly exaggerated by fearful rumours and religious heads who sought to control the people of earth with superstition and false prophets.” Damian said showing Jaal several images of demonized Succubus and Incubus. “Both our kin are human in appearance, but the biggest difference is that we have natural skin marks and can also use a range of abilities such a telepathy, levitation and teleportation.”
“Why would humans create such fictional works of your kind?” Jaal asked after mulling it over.
“Because some of our kin in the early days chose to indulge in their powers and created Harems of lovers, often this meant some humans were jealous of our natural beauty and abilities that they accused us of being witches or warlocks, a completely different race of dark magic users who were wiped out after it was learnt they had been poisoning the Earth.” Grace stated. “There aren’t many of us left.”
“How many are you?” Jaal asked.
“Including us, six. I am the only Incubus left now, and Grace is the youngest of the five Succubus.” Damian sighed, “We were eight, but Miranda betrayed our laws and was put to death when we were still young and our Father Alec died when we arrived here.”
“So few, why leave your home if you were so few?”
“Humanity has no place for us any longer on the planet we called home.” Grace sighed. “We moved away from Earth to find new homes amongst the starts, but thanks to Miranda, we are no longer welcome in the Milky Way and so, Alec brought us, the last-born children of our race, to Andromeda in homes of finding a world where we could live with our chosen and maybe, start our race anew.”
“Is that wise?” Jaal asked.
“The Andromeda Initiative founders made a deal with our elders, if we helped the Humans establish a home in this cluster, we would be allowed to find our own home here and they would leave us be.” Damian said and brought up an document on screen to show Jaal. “This is the deed signed and authorized by the Human rulers of Earth. Once our father had finished his role as Pathfinder, we would leave humanity to itself and search out our own world.”
“But your father died?”
“And in his passing, the role was given to me.” Grace said, “He made me Pathfinder with his dying breath, bounding me to finish what he had started and then, search out a home for my kin. This, as you can imagine, made a huge impact on how the protocol should have gone, and it one of the reasons Cora and I do not get along.”
“We chose not to say anything sooner because we didn’t want to repeat everything, but now you’ve seen what Grace can do to an extent, it’s only fair that you know.” Damian explained and Jaal nodded, it was starting to make sense now, but there was so much he still did not understand.
“What else can you tell me?”
“We have a ranking system for our kind.” Grace said, “A child, or children, like Damian and me, are considered ease targets for sex traffickers and slavers, so we rely on each other and our parents to mask out auras, keeping us hidden from those who would abuse our abilities. Once we reach our first Century we are considered mature as that’s when our true skin marks start to grow in, usually starting at the centre of the back and spreading out and over the body, the marks are constantly moving and chance, acting as a sensory grid in effect, telling us who and what is around us at all times, this is most helpful for a Succubus as being naturally pleasing to the eyes we can draw in males of any kind usually leading to fight between males of all races for attention or even a place in a Succubus’s Harem.”
“However, only a Succubus can allow or disallow a male into her harem.” Damian said, “the same as only an Incubus can allow or disallow a female into his life. In my case, I found a woman I wish to stay with and so, we were joined in a Connection Ceremony and we now share half of my life energy and thus, as long as I live, so will she unless she chooses to leave my side.”
“You have only one love?” Jaal asked.
“For now,” Damian nodded. “Suvi and I share many things in common as she has asked to live at my side, as long as her heart may beat. And while it will hurt when she passes on, my life is long and she will be in my memories and thus, immortal in one small way.”
“Ever the romantic.” Grace smiled. “As for me, currently only Drack is been kind enough to offer his aid to me, Gil and Liam would offer, but Gil is not one for commitments and Liam is hurt, he needs all the energy he has.”
“And no one else on the Tempest can assist you?” Jaal asked.
“Salarian’s are short lived as it is, a night with me would likely shake Kallo’s life in half. And as good looking as my baby brother is, incest breeds illness.” Grace stated.
“And as much as she flirts, Grace is strictly males.” Damian chuckled. “Sadly for Vetra and Peebee.”
“Never let Kesh hear you say that.” Grace pleaded softly. “And speaking of Vetra, we need to get ready and head back to Pelaav and find out more about the Turians Torvar saw.”
Chitters gave a sad whine and tried to cling to Grace’s back as Damian lightly pull him off her. “You’re going to have to stay here with me again Chitters.” The large male said softly.” Grace has to go do hero stuffs.”
“Let him sleep on my bed.” Grace smiled, “Just make sure he doesn’t get into the snack box.”
Damian nodded and lightly petted Chitters head as Jaal and Grace headed to find Vetra and prepare to leave to find the Turians, once they were out of ear shot he turned to face Cora. “Feel free to tell Jaal about your stupid idea that my sister is an Demon of the Night Wind, I doubt that it will mean much to him until he and his people have properly met our kin and seen what we can do.”
“And you would let that happen?” Cora asked.
“You’re attitude towards her is not helping the chances of that situation being avoided.” Damian reminded, “Learn to keep your hatred towards my sister to yourself, or you will find yourself transferred out of this ship so fast and so far, you will be halfway back to the Milky Way before you realize what is happening.”
“Knocked them out?” He asked.
~ “That is their recollection, when they came too they were unharmed and nothing had been taken or stolen from them, it was as if the Alien somehow entered their minds and forced them into a dream like state.” ~
This was strange. No other Alien, not even the Kett had been able to use any kind of mind control, and for this one to do it so easily and so effectively but take nothing…?
He sank back into his seat, carefully thinking over what he had learnt and what his people in Evfra’s office had told him. This new Alien was a female and from what he could gather about her, she was young and held some place of authority amongst the rest of her people.
Beyond that, he knew nothing, Jaal had not sent any messages via any unsecure channels and thus he could not hack into Evfra’s channel and learn more. He was forced to wait and learn at a distance, like a predator learning its Prey’s movements before a kill.
“Monitor the situation as best you can, but if you are given the opportunity, kill them all.”
~ “Yes sir.” ~
“Why can we never just go out and do something without people getting in the way?” Grace asked as they came towards a gunfight between Roekaar and the small Turian group that had gathered on Havarl.
“Because that would be easy?” Vetra offered. “I’m guessing these are the Angaran Peebee mentioned?”
“Roekaar, yes.” Jaal nodded. “And more than before.”
“What’s the plan Grace?” Vetra asked.
“You can’t knock them out again?” Jaal asked.
“No… not unless I feed on them and we’ve not tested to see if Angaran have ill effects from a Succubus’s feeding on them.” Grace said.
“Given that they are not helping the Resistance and have been stealing supplies from them, I doubt Evfra would frown upon you using force.” Jaal said.
“If Evfra asked, I’m telling him you said this was ok.” Grace stated before drawing her rifle from her back. “Sam, ping the Turian’s let them know we’re friendlies.”
~ “Already done Pathfinder.” ~
Grace smiled and nodded to Vetra, “Let’s dance.”
He watched carefully, watching the Alien moved and fire each bullet easily into the Roekaar he had sent to keep these other Aliens at bay, reminding himself that he was there as they eyes and ears of another, to learn all he could about this strange Alien.
She had a strange look to her, a brightness of the eyes that was not shared by others of her kind and yet everything about her caught the eye and her body seemed to levitate and even dance in the air from unseen platforms as she unloaded her weapon into his people and-
Wait was that Jaal Ama Darav?!
Why was he with this Alien? Did Evfra know?
Akksul would need to know about this.
Jaal would have to ask later if Sam was helping Grace aim or if she was just that good with a gun later.
“Spirits are you a sight of sore eyes!” A voice called over the field when the shooting stopped, and Grace smiled, catching the arm of the Turian that had come over. “Grace Ryder.”
“Been a long time Avitus.” Grace smiled. “How’d you end up here? And where is the Natanus and Macen?” she asked.
“No idea, I had to claw my way out of my pod we’ve been trying to get a signal off for help, but then we had the wildlife, vines and the locals shooting at us.” The Turian, Avitus explained though Jaal heard a deep growl in his throat as several other Turians came over, each one backing off when they noticed Vetra had not put her guns away and Grace cast her gaze over them. “Would you happen to know what the fuck is happening?”
“I’ll get Damian to fill you in when we get you and your friends to the Tempest for a hot meal and a medical check-up.” She said, “Short version, we’re dropped in to the cluster mid-way through a war between the locals of an invading force.”
“Well shit.” Avitus sighed.
“Gather what shit you need and let’s go.” Grace said and her orders were followed. “Avitus-”
“I know what you are gonna ask, and I have to say no.” Avitus said. “Macen and I… I can’t betray that.” He said.
Grace smiled, “He’s lucky to have you. But I was gonna ask if you had spare ammo.” She said. “I kinda, ran out.”
Avitus laughed. “Same old Grace.” he said lightly petting Grace’s head.
As they moved to leave Grace paused and turned scanning the higher ledges suddenly. “Ryder?” Jaal asked.
“Its nothing.” She said, “thought I felt eyes on me from up there.” She added nodding upwards as they left.
They walked back to the Tempest slowly, mostly due to the heavy equipment they were carrying back and helping the still shaken Turians make the trip on their own two feet until they reached the gang plank, Lexi having already prepared her medical bay for them, gently checking each one over while Drack and Vetra cooked up some food.
“Kiiran wants to talk to us.” Jaal said.
“Peebee, catch up with us at Pelaav.” Grace called, grabbing several clips of ammo before following Jaal.
“You are sure about all of this?” Evfra asked. “You’ve checked everything?”
“I’ve run the numbers, checked eth channel and decrypted everything three times! Its not a mistake and it is not a trick of our systems! Moshae Sjefa was betrayed!!”
“Keep your voice down.” Evfra hissed, “I ask because we have to be sure this is not a trick, some plot to weaken us further by the Kett.” He added, though he knew it was also hard to believe that one of his trusted officers would betray the one woman who meant so much to his people.
How had he not seen this?! How had it slipped past him so easily and for so long… How could he had lapsed?
“Run the scans and checks one last time and then send me everything.” Evfra said, “I will inform Jaal of your findings when he contacts me again.”
“Akksul! Come in, Akksul!” Taavos called over the comms, hearing the gunshots echo outside as the Alien and her team swarmed his base. “Anyone! We’re under attack!” Taavos continued until at the door opened and he turned to face them.
The Alien Akksul had asked him to watch stood in the middle, her arm and face covered in golden marks that moved and swayed slowly as blue flames licked at the edges of her eyes, whatever she had done had hopefully been caught on the cameras of the base and would be sent to Akksul for study he survived this attack.
“You’ve killed the men under my charge, and now you’ll crown that achievement by killing me too.” He stated. “Does that please you, savage?”
“They attacked up first.” Peebee pointed out.
“Savagery is frowned upon by my kin. Your men are out cold or injured, not dead. Now, its late in the day, my head hurts and I am in no mood for games. Give me straight answers and we’ll be out of each other’s way sooner rather than later.” Grace said and showed Taavos the gauntlet they had found earlier. “Do you recognize this heirloom?”
Taavos blinked, shocked that she hadn’t just killed him and left, though he was reluctant to answer her he took the gauntlet from her and looked it over. “Wait… there are things like this in the museum on Aya. Ancient Angaran Technology lost because of the Scourge or from the times before it.” He explained, “This fits on a hand… contacts on the inside for myoelectric control of-” he suddenly gasped and the gauntlet almost hit the floor. “What did you do to me?!”
Grace caught the heirloom in the same bluish mist that had covered her hands before. “Where is the third Monolith?”
“I... I don’t understand how I know…”
“I need to know where it is or Havarl will continued to decline and die.” Grace stated firmly.
“How can I trust an Alien’s word?” Taavos asked.
“How can I earn trust if no one gives me a chance?”
Taavos took a moment to think over her words and then nodded. “Deep beneath the surface, but not far.” He said, “Meet me at these coordinates and I will guild you the rest of the way. I need to compose myself first.”
Grace nodded. “We’ll wait for you there.” She said.
Taavos watched them leave, then sank back against the terminal behind him with a shaky breath. So much to think, so much he’d forgotten and once known now swirling in his mind like fish in an ever-shrinking net.
And now, so many choices that he had to make.
~ “Taavos. Respond.” ~ Akksul ordered over the comms.
Chapter 3: To Voeld
Evfra has questions that he wants answered. Akksul is plotting away in his little hiding hole and Jaal... well he's not quite sure where he sits in this whole mess just yet.
~ " Text " ~ comms.
>>> text <<< Emails
~ “We have a slow but steady increase in food and water supplies thanks to the outpost you placed down on Eos Ryder and the people of that outpost sing nothing but praise about you.” ~ A female Krogan said with a calm smile as she spoke.
“Thank you, Kesh.” Grace nodded.
~ “But, as I am sure you know there is need for more Outposts and we have noticed that one has not been placed on Havarl, though we have been asked to send help to them.” ~ The Turian stated. ~ “Is Havarl safe?” ~
“It’s safe and the air breathable now, but there is just so much plant growth to put down an outpost would be impossible, and it is the birth place of the Angaran people, us putting down an outpost there would be like the Humans putting a city on Palaven.” Damian explained. “I will not be putting down an Outpost on someone else’s home world Kandros, no matter what Tann and Addison want.”
~ “But we need outposts.” ~
“And you will have them, Addison. Just not at the cost of ruining the birth place of another race because you couldn’t get your head our of your ass and do something before there was a mess.” Grace stated firmly. “Now, Kandros, I found Avitus Rix on Havarl and some salvage wreckage from the Natanus. Has there been any sightings of the Turian Ark at all?”
~ “Nothing, I’ve had my teams up and down the Cluster looking. But with the Scourge a constant threat we’re not getting very good results.” ~
“The others?” Damian asked.
~ “We have heard nothing.” ~ The Salarian finally spoke up. ~ “And what of these Angaran? Are they friends or just helping you for now?” ~
“And to translate, that means are you going to shoot us in the back.” Peebee whispered to Jaal. “Tann hates not knowing everything about everyone else.”
“Unlike you Tann, the Angaran have manners and have so far proven to be FAR more capable of helping my crew and I than you were, or is that just because you can’t stand that I’m not head over heels for you?” Grace asked and Gil handed Liam a credit.
~ “This is nothing to do with your condition.” ~
“Condition?!” Damian snapped, a familiar blue flame licking at his eyes as he slammed his hands down on the table. “We are not some plague ridden, self-centred bureaucratical swine like you, Salarian!”
“Easy.” Grace soothed softly. “Tann if you can’t say something nice, go sulk off in your corner. “We are out here doing the job you failed to do as a Director because we know that lives are counting on us doing a good job of finding homes and making peace with the locals, not crunching numbers and pretending we’re in charge.” She added with a stern glare at the Salarian as her eyes flared with blue flames as well.
Tann quickly signed off and everyone handed over a few credits to Suvi who smiled brightly.
~ “While I disapprove of Tann’s choice of words, I must ask. Do the Angaran know about you?” ~ Kesh asked. ~ “Do they know that you have this ability?” ~
“We believe that the Resistance leader has been informed by the Angaran crew mate we took aboard, but we also plan on talking to him in person about what we are and our plans when the initiative is settled.” Grace said, “We are all fighting against the Kett, and if we are to make friends and allies here we must be honest.”
~ “Spoken like your father.” ~ Addison huffed, ~ “And while I also disagree with Tann, I must stress that we need another outpost soon, the water and food is good, but we need more if we are to keep feeding people.” ~
“We will talk about outposts when we have resolved other matters here.” Grace said.
~ “Thank you. Addison out.” ~
Grace sighed. “Anything else I should add to my endless ‘fix this mess’ list?”
Kesh and Kandros shared a chuckle. ~ “Nothing from us Pathfinder.” ~ Kandros nodded. ~ “Sam has automatically been sending us scan results and we have a growing list of targets for our Apex teams, thanks to you we are making head way against eth Kett and have been able to protect Eos since Prodromos was established.” ~
~ “We will keep you up to date with anything we find.” ~ Kesh added and the two signed off.
Grace sighed. “Well, that went better than last time.”
“Can you believe that swine? Condition?! Oh, so help me-
“You’re better than that Damian.” Grace reminded lightly squeezing her brother’s shoulder. “Tann can’t have what he wants, so everyone else has to suffer for it. Ignore him.”
Damian sighed and shook his head. “It’s not right. He would never say such things if Alec was here, or Gran.”
“No one said being the only ones here would be easy.” Grace reminded, then smiled. “Go hug Suvi, we’ll go see what there is to see on Voeld and get this mess sorted out.”
“She says.” Damian huffed though he was smiling. “Who are you taking with you?”
“Jaal and Drack.” Grace smiled. “The cold air might help cool him off.”
“I didn’t hear your brother complaining last night.” Drack called up.
“I’m not complaining Drack, but I’m sure Suvi can tenderize Damian for herself.” Grace smiled ducking the swat from her brother easily. “Kallo to Voeld!” she yelled and rushed off as Damian gave chase.
“Get back here!” Damian ordered.
“No!” Grace laughed and ducked behind Gil who quickly held up his hands in surrender as Damian charged him. “Run away!”
Jaal side stepped easily as the familiar chase between siblings played out before him, he remembered days when he and his own siblings had been the same before they had been forced to grow up fast. He shook his head lightly and excused himself to the Tech lab, ready to send a report to Evfra as they headed towards Voeld.
When he had first laid eyes on her, he’d known something was different. She stood before him, relaxed and calm despite being in a strange place and surrounded by strangers. She didn’t flinch when he snapped or barked orders, she didn’t speak out until he spoke to her and she made a point to look at him and Jaal when they spoke to her.
The Kett hadn’t done that and few of his own people knew how to do it unless they were desperate for him to help them or trying to get out of trouble. To look one in the eyes was to see the soul as his mother had once said, any who could look you in the eye were worth keeping as friends. He’d believed that for so long held onto it as long as he could by eventually the War against eth Kett had forced him to let it go and focus on other things and yet these Alien, this stranger had looked right into his eyes without fear or worry and for a moment, just a moment, he’d looked back before forcing the wall up again and focusing on the task at hand.
He’d sent Jaal to watch this strange Alien, to be his eyes and ears amongst them and report back all he could find and at first Jaal’s messages from the Tempest had been basic, names, ranks, abilities and race of all the Tempest Crew mates but Evfra had known there was little chance that he would get a lot of detail from the first few hours of being around them.
Having witness via recorded footage and heard for himself what she had done on Havarl from Kiiran and her team and watching what she had done to the Roekaar via the footage Taavos has handed over, he was lost on just what to think of her, now having been told by Jaal’s reports that the Pathfinder of the Humans Grace Ryder was not a human at all.
She was a Succubus, a being of natural attractive beauty and alluring air that according to Humans, ALL men and even some women struggled to resist, years before humans came to know space travel however, Succubus and Incubus along with many other creatures had been killed off in a mass culling during the Dark Ages of Humanity, a time few humans wanted to recall. This had left the number of Succubus and Incubus at a record low, only six of them lived to this day.
They fed on the energy and tensions of other races, taking the most nourishment and strength from arousal and pent up sexual frustrations that all Humans seemed to have, though this often left humans with aches, pains and lacking any kind of desire at all for a few days, leading to many accusing them of being evil demons and witches, this had led to the Succubus weening themselves off humans as a food group and instead sought out the aid of Turians, Drell, Krogan and Quarians as these races could not only feed the Succubus’s needs, but also were far more open and understanding of their behaviours and needs.
It had left Evfra in a state of confusion. He had to know more about her and those like her and while he trusted Jaal to defend his people, he also knew Jaal wouldn’t press for answers unless he thought the Pathfinder was a threat.
Akksul stared at the communication he had received from Taavos, not only stating his reasons for leaving the Roekaar but also detailing something that had happened between the Alien another of her kind at the Monolith.
>>> To: Akksul.
I followed you because I believed all Aliens were the same as the Kett, murdering monsters who sought only our deaths so that they could steal out home. But I see now that I was wrong. I do not expect you to understand why I have changed or why I leave the Roekaar, but I will do my best to explain my reasons.
By now you have seen the footage of the fight at Old Pelaav and seen what this Alien can do. But what the images fail to show is her compassion and they fail to show her motives, I have learnt much in such a short time because of her determination to aid our people and save Havarl from its decline. She brought me a Gauntlet she had recovered from a long dead Angaran Warrior, and through it I was able to remember a past life.
Reincarnation the Sages call it. And can you believe even Kiiran is impressed with it all.
With the memories of my past life I was able to find the Third Monolith and the Alien was able to activate it and then reset Havarl’s vault, repairing the damage done to Havarl so far and resorting the balance. This Alien who has no connection to our people, to our birthplace, risked her life to help save it, where others, even you, chose to ignore the problem.
I have been so blind in following you, killing without question that I never thought to wonder if all life beyond ours is the same as the Kett or if it is just your own believe because of what you suffered. I am leaving the Roekaar Akksul and returning to my family. I do not expect you to be pleased by this, but I can not continue this way when so many promises you made me have not been filled.
Stay Strong and Clear. <<<
He studied the message again and again. Letting the words sink in as he thought about the chance this was a trick, a lie by the Alien, no, it would be impossible for the human to have known about Reincarnation or the Sages, and for her to have just accidently stumbled over this gauntlet of the past that restored memories made no sense.
No, this was really a message from Taavos, he was loyal to a fault, never did anything without first thinking it over with great care and consideration and once his mind was made it was hard to change it.
It was a loss, but not one he couldn’t recover from.
He leant back in his chair and thought carefully about his next moves, planning carefully as his sources told him more and more about these Aliens.
Five groups had arrived so far, Humans the soft organic lifeforms like his own, but much shorter and with many strange and odd-looking features that never seemed to be alike in any way with the others, Asari, another blue skinned life form with strong bioelectricities similar to Angaran yet they seemed a mostly female dominate race. Turians, a race of naturally thickly plated military influenced group. Salarians, though there were very few of them around and lastly the Krogan, the biggest and clearly most powerful of the Aliens who had come to their home.
He had ordered his spies to learn all they could and the findings had been useful so far, there was long burning tension between the Krogan, Turians and Salarians, making fights between them common, though the Asari and Humans seemed to skirt those arguments unless forced to step in and calm things down. The Asari were diplomatic, wise and of the groups, they appeared to be the longest living race. Holding true to some kind of label that ranked them in age. The Turians, Humans and Salarian were short lives, none of them living longer than one hundred years at the most and the Krogan lived for centuries.
And yet, despite the efforts of his hackers to learn more about the Human Pathfinder as she had been called, he could find nothing specific other than her name.
It was frustrating knowing so little about his enemy, but he could not dwell on it for long. He needed his focus to be on finding clues about where the Moshae was and how to save her, if he could do that, he could win more followers to his cause and insure that all Aliens were killed.
“Chitters? Come out, come out Chitters?”
Jaal looked up at the voice of the pathfinder near his door, searching for her missing pet, then as he had expected she tapped on the Tech lab door. “It is open.” He assured.
And in she came, “Have you seen Chitters anywhere?”
“I have.” Jaal nodded and pointed to a small pointed tail poking out from under the bend he had made for himself.
Grace smiled and clicked her fingers twice, instantly the Pyjak responded and came out from under Jaal’s bed and climbed up onto her back. “You had me worried,” she scalded lightly.
“You talk to him as if he will respond in words,” Jaal said.
“Pyjaks are smart and while they don’t use words like you or me, they have their own ways of showing what they want or what they need.” Grace smiled. “Don’t Angaran have pets?”
“Adhi and sometimes we are able to tame other small creature of our home worlds.” Jaal nodded, “But none of them small enough to be carried around like your Pyjak.”
Grace smiled, “Remind me to someday show you images of all our domestic animals, maybe we can find one that Angaran’s will like that is like a pyjak.” She said.
“You have many pets?”
“Humans do. Cats, dogs, birds, mice, rabbits, lots of animals that are hand raised to keep their breeds safe or to help teach young children how to care for wildlife and how to be responsible.” Grace smiled. “Sometimes though, the pet became a companion.”
“Such a strong bond can be formed with animals?” Jaal said smiling, “Humans seem more like Angaran than I first thought.”
Grace smiled. “Gran use to say that no matter how different we look to each other on eth outside, inside we are all the same. We have hearts, we have emotions, we have beliefs and dreams, no matter who or what we are.”
“She sounds very wise.” Jaal nodded.
“She’s the oldest Succubus of us all, she is the one who has final say over anything. Without her blessing to come here we’d never have left the Milky Way.” Grace said, “She taught me how to read and write long dead languages of earth and she taught me there was no shame in being open and honest about the way I felt or the way I think.”
“Your kind seems similar to our own.” Jaal said.
“We are?” Grace asked.
“Yes, you are open about what you feel around those you trust,” Jaal said, “We Angaran are the same, we do not hide our emotions well because we are taught that feelings and beliefs should live on the outside where they can be dealt with openly and honestly.”
“And when people get hurt everyone deals with it and moves on.” Grace asked and Jaal nodded. “If Gran comes by, she’s going to love it. So, on the subject of wise people, can you tell me more about Moshae Sjefa, what is her role to the Angaran?”
“She’s our greatest mind on the Remnant and for a time I was her student. I was terrible and so I quit, or she threw me out one of those, but we remained very close.” Jaal explained, “She is the heart of our community, a calm determined head to keep our people from fighting amongst themselves, with her gone, many turned to Evfra for help, and while he is good with soldiers, he is not able to calm civilians the way she could.”
“At least he’s trying.” Grace said, “I have known men too scared to even attempt and make plans for fear of looking foolish.”
“You mean Tann?” Jaal asked and she nodded. “Why doesn’t he trust you as Kesh and Kandros do?”
“Because I do not stand with him.” Grace said. “As a Succubus, I have a political standing on arguments, not just in Andromeda, but also in the Milky Way, to have the friendship of one of us was seen as an honour and great privilege. One only a few high standing authorities ever had. For Tann to not have my approval and to call my abilities a ‘condition’ is not only shameful on him personally, but it can also be seen as collected view of my kind by all Salarians, if not for the fact I know Kallo does not share that view and that most Salarians who are on eth Nexus are sending me messages, I could by Succubus law have Tann removed from his standing as director and put a person of my choosing in his place.”
“Does Tann know that?”
“He does, but it seemed he is confident no one would support my efforts to remove him.” Grace said. “I’m waiting for the day he pushes too far before I throw him out an airlock.”
~ “We’re coming up on Voeld.” ~
“Thanks Kallo.” Grace smiled, “Coming?”
Jaal nodded and followed her to the bridge as they began their decent onto Voeld. “Our original readings suggested it had a breathable, nitrogen-rich atmosphere and oceans of H2O. But now…” Suvi shook her head. “All H2O is ice, and the Oceans are frozen over completely.”
“Well, there goes a seaside property.” Grace said. “And that is one hell of a blizzard we’re flying into.”
“LZ is on the windward side of the mountains. Conditions are bad and I’m tracking gale force squalls.” Suvi said.
“Ok, take us in slow and careful, read outs and patterns just take it slow and do rush.” Kallo muttered to himself as he began to work, slowing the ship to a hover even as the winds slightly tilted the ship, “compensating for wind movements and speed, slowly… and we’re do-WHAO!!” The ship gave a light groan as it landed then suddenly jerked and bounced on the suspension for a moment or two.
“What the blazes was that!?”
“Is everyone alright?”
“We’re good!” Kallo yelled, “We’re good.”
“You sure? We don’t have to get out a push?” Grace asked.
“Very funny, Ryder.” The pilot chuckled lightly.
“Wrap up warm.” Suvi said, “Its minus fifty-two out there.”
“Damian, I’m stealing your coat.” Grace called taking the large leather jacket off the back of Suvi’s chair and heading down to the cargo bay to suit up.
Within minutes they were outside in the snowy blizzard, following the lights that had been set up as the wind forced them to sway and bend. “Oh I hope Vetra has some hot chocolate for when we get back.” Grace said.
“You call this cold?” Drack asked as he walked easily though the waist high snow. “What’s the matter with you?” he asked helping Grace and Jaal climb over an ice covered ledge near a heater.
“I’m thin skinned and I didn’t pack thermal undies.” Grace stated, huddling behind he Krogan as they walked, reaching a tall heater she smiled and dusted the snow off her legs and shoulders. “I’m impressed that your people have a base set up on an Ice mountain though.” She added to Jaal as he dusted the snow off his own legs.
“It took a lot of work, but it’s the best we have to fight the Kett.” Jaal nodded.
“Well, if Voeld has storms like this in all places, I can think of a few tactics that will help fighting the Kett.” Drack said with a smirk, “How much further?”
“Almost there, we just need to cross the gap,” Jaal said nodding to the gap in the ice ahead of them, “We’ll need to speak with Commander Anjik when we arrive.”
“Thank stars for jump jets.” Grace said and then took of in a quick run and activated her jump jets seconds after she jumped the gap, landing in the deep snow with a light yelp as lose snow fell atop her head. “Shit that’s cold!”
Drack chuckled, “That’s what you get for rushing off.” He said as he and Jaal joined her.
Jaal smiled, “This way.” He said leading then up a cleared path way towards another heater. “Roshev?” he asked as they approached seeing two Angaran guards stood near the heater.
“Jaal. You finally back?” one asked.
“Not for long.” Jaal said, “We’re here to see the Commander. She’s expecting us.”
The guards nodded and let them pass, “You’ve been here before?” Grace asked.
“My sister was stationed here, when she was injured I was sent to cover her position before returning to Aya, its why I was tasked with helping train recruits here.” Jaal explained.
“How bad is the Kett hold here?” Drack asked.
“It’s getting stringer by the day but were not so easily removed.” A new voice stated.
“Good to see you again, Commander Do Xeel.” Jaal greeted as they reached the speaker, a female Angaran who had been deep in talks with other Angaran around her moments ago.
“And you Jaal. You must be Ryder. Jaal told us what you did for Kiiran’s team on Havarl.” The woman greeted. “I’m Anjik Do Xeel, commander of this encampment, you are welcome here as an ally of the Angara,” She added.
“Thank you.” Grace nodded.
“Your actions display your soul’s intentions. I hope you will join the fight against the Kett here.” She said, “We’ve held the Kett at bay here for as long as we can but we haven’t been able to deal a decisive blow and the longer things drag on, the greater our disadvantage and we have a lack of fighters.”
“How bad are things here?” Grace asked.
“Bad. It hasn’t been easy, we’ve had our victories, but we are a small force, too small even with the recruits Evfra sent us. Most of then are young and untrained, if we want to beat the Kett we need medics, technicians and skilled fighters.” Do Xeel said. “Anyone you can find would be welcomed here.”
“I’d like to help but how can I convince any Angaran to join the resistance? I’m as much an outsider here as my crew mates.” Grace said.
“You may be an outsider, but Jaal is well known and trusted by many as is his family. He has inspired passion and the will to keep fighting in many of us.” Do Xeel stated. “If you want to know where you can make a difference, go to the post that overlooks the valley at the end of this cave. Nothing happens on Voeld without our lookouts knowing about it.”
“Looks like we’re getting cold again.” Drack chuckled.
“I will turn you into a Krogan sized snow man.” Grace warned and the Krogan laughed as they moved off.
Six hours he had been in this meeting, listening to the concerns and worries of his people, the annoyed demands that he do SOMETHING about Akksul’s raids on the supply chains, that more training be given to the recruits before they arrived on site, they more help be sent.
It was endless and Evfra hated to admit, but the Pathfinder’s people might just be able to help them out more than he had realized. “We are all stretched thinly. I know many of you are having trouble with eth Roekaar and once again I stress that if they become such an issue you are free to deal with them as you would Kett.” He stated. “We have enough to deal with without Akksul’s men making it worse for us all-.”
“We found her!” Evfra looked up from his desk as the young recruit came rushing in to his office in the middle of his meeting with his Commanders. “We found Moshae Sjefa!”
~ “Are you sure it’s her?” ~
~ “Where is she?” ~
~ “How did you find her?” ~
“We’ve been monitoring the Kett signals. They have the Moshae on Voeld! She’s inside that blasted facility!”
“Jaal and the Pathfinder are on Voeld right now.” Evfra said. “I will send word to Jaal immediately.” He added abruptly ending the meeting. This would be an opportunity to see just how far he could push the Pathfinder before she snapped at him and test her true resolve to help him and his people.
And to speak with her about what she planned to do with the knowledge she learnt from within the vault. He typed a message swiftly on his terminal and typed the message, simple and to the point but just as he was about to hit send, a thought came to him.
Akksul was also searching for the Moshae, but despite his efforts the Roekaar leader had refused his help before and was even reportedly stealing the supplies from Voeld, Havarl and even Aya herself.
Evfra shook his head. No, Akksul would not aid this mission, he would only make it worse. This would be done by Jaal and the Pathfinder.
He hit send and after a moment, as was normal it seemed with the Tempest email system an automated response came back. Stating Jaal was not aboard the ship at present, but the A.I would inform him of the message waiting for him at once.
Now all he could do was wait and prey that the Moshae could hold out just a little longer.
~ “Pathfinder.” ~
“Just a sec’.” Grace said kicking the Kett Chosen in the face as it tried to grab her throat. “Yes Sam?”
~ “Jaal has been sent a message from Evfra. It is marked as urgent.” ~
“Jaal! Evfra sent you a message!” She yelled over eth gunfire back flipping over the railing and unloading a clip of bullets into the Anointed below her. “Drack behind you!”
The Krogan howled and slammed his fists down on the Chosen’s head. “Duck kid!”
Grace rolled forwards and felt the burn of the Anointed’s bullets race over her back before the shots stopped and everything went quiet. “Jaal? Drack?”
“We’re clear for now!” Jaal called struggling to open the container holding his fellow Angaran inside. “the locks are jammed.” He added as Grace came over.
“All of you cover your eyes.” Grace said and placed her hands against the shield like field around the Angaran, for a moment nothing happened then with a sudden surge the shielding fell like broken glass and Grace staggered back.
“Are you all alright?” Jaal asked. “Is this all of you?”
“Yes, yes this is all of us,” one shivered, clearly cold from the long time in the containment he’d been in. “Everyone else was… they were moved a few days go.”
“They’re not going to last long in this cold.” Drack said, “and this storm is getting worse.”
“We can fit everyone in the Nomad and head back to the mountain.” Grace said already working on her omni tool to send words ahead.
Jaal had to admit he was amazed just how well things had gone for them so far. They had managed to free several labour camps. And with the help of some risk loving pilots, they had gotten most everyone back to the mountain or home to the Daar safely where they could be treated for any ill effects the Kett had left them with. And they had managed to stop the Roekaar taking supplies from Voeld’s base. When a need for extra medical care came in. Lexi had offered up all she could give, bandages, needles, thread, clean water, pain killers and even thermal blankets.
With everyone strapped in to the warm Nomad, Grace began the drive back, keeping a steady pace to avoid sliding on the icy snow and keeping practiced control over eth wheel while going up the mountain just as she had going down, though this time it was harder with the snow causing a white out.
“You are sure we can get back?” one Angaran asked.
“I’ve driven smaller and harder to control vehicals in far worse storms than this.” Grace assured, “Just have to go slow and follow the map the Nomad is showing me.” She added slowly turning the wheel as they crawled around the last corner and parked up in the little shelter of the outpost overlooking the valley. “And home.”
The door opened and Commander Do Xeel greeted them and the returning Angaran with a relieved smile. “You continue to impress me Pathfinder.”
“You should have met my father.” Grace said, “He was better at this then me.”
“You must be tired after all that.” The Commander said.
“Evfra wants to talk to Jaal, so we’ll be heading back to the Tempest.” Grace said.
“Please give your medical officer our thanks.” The commander bid as they left.
Getting back to the Tempest had ben somewhat easier to do going down hill rather than up and Suvi had been waiting with a large mug of steaming brown liquid for Grace which was soon gone and Grace with a very pleased smile on her face as she slipped off to shower and warm up, leaving Jaal to his emails.
She was hardly out of her cold under suit when Sam informed her that Evfra had wanted to speak with both Jaal and her on vid comms as soon as possible. With a light huff, she quickly pulled on her warmer clothes and headed up to the viewing deck.
“Commander.” She greeted evenly as Evfra’s holo image appeared, Jaal standing behind and to the left of her.
~ “Pathfinder.” ~ Evfra said though there was some static that made his image flicker lightly. ~ “Jaal’s been keeping me updated on your ‘adventures’ and ‘good deeds’. But your true agenda is clear – to explore Aya’s vault.” ~
“My agenda is to find humanity a home and get on with my own plans, as I am sure Jaal has informed you of in whatever e-mails he’s been sending you. The only way to make humanity a home here is to learn what I can about the vaults and if that means I have to sit though hours of you judging every word and action I make without first understanding the whole truth about my kin then go right on ahead and keep pushing. You’ll get the same responses Tann and Addison get from me.” Grace said.
There was silence for a moment, then Evfra nodded. ~ “I have news about the Moshae, but before I share it I want your word that when you have rescued her you will come to Aya and we will speak face to face about everything.” ~
“You have my word Evfra de Tershaav.” Grace stated. “And I will bring my brother with me.”
~ “Very well.” ~ Evfra nodded. ~ “Despite the difficulty and contact distractions of the Roekaar, we’ve managed to track the Moshae to a special Kett facility on Voeld.” ~
“Special?” Grace asked.
~ “This facility and others like it are protected by a dynamic shield tech we haven’t yet been able to crack. We’re close, but its ability to adapt outstrips the speed of our current processors.” ~
“Sam can help with that.” Grace said, “As an AI he can out think and out do any system.”
~ “Isn’t your AI Computer locked into your ship?” ~ Evfra asked.
“Sam is connected to my brother and I as he was our father, it’s both physically and mentally beneficial to us all, Sam learns and develops with every day he is a part of me and in return he insures that my body is not broken by the strains or stresses of being a Pathfinder.” Grace said.
~ “A mutually benefiting relationship between AI and Organic?” ~ Evfra asked.
“Long story.” Grace said, “I can guarantee the shield hack with Sam’s help, but I have to go on the mission to do that.”
~ “Would you have told me that if I hadn’t been ready to let you go on a mission to rescue one of the most important people to the Angaran race?” ~
“Oh for the love of… If I want to make a home for my kin, small as we are, I need people to trust me and trust isn’t born from lying to people.” Grace stated her eyes flickering with blue flames. “Now, either tell me what the plan is to get your Moshae out of the Kett hands and home to Aya safe or I will ask Sam to hack in to your network and take the information by force, then when I have gotten her out, I will send her and Jaal back to you in a shuttle and start playing by my own damn rules. Trust me Evfra, that is the last thing you and your people want.”
A heavy hand caught her shoulder ad Grace turned to see Damian at her side, the same blue flames glaring into hers. “We are not monsters.” Grace looked at her brother a moment longer then sighed and let her shoulders sag in defeat. “We have given you our word we will explain everything to you when we are face to face Evfra, your attempts to anger my sister will only lead to you losing any have of learning about our kind and also result in your people instead having to deal with Tann directly.”
Evfra was quiet for a while then shook his head. ~ “It was risky of you to be honest about your link to your AI. And honesty makes you different from the Kett.” ~ He said evenly. ~ “Commander Heckt and a team will meet you at the base on Voeld in a few hours, they will take you to the facility. Stay strong and clear.” ~ And with that said, Evfra signed off.
Chapter 4: The Facility
We see Grace's true ability when angry and we learn a little more about things as we go.
Also food is better when eating with friends close by. even if you happen to be stuck in a medical ward.
“So, you’ve gained Evfra’s trust.” Jaal said, “No easy feat.”
“I doubt he likes us though.” Grace sighed fastening the breather to her face as Damian tightened her armour.
“That’s just his way,” Jaal assured, loading his rifle. “You should be more worried about the Roekaar. I know their leader, Akksul. We studied together under the Moshae, but unlike me he was a good student. The best actually.”
“What happened to him?” Damian asked as Grace checked the seal on his own armour.
“He was captured by the Kett and spent a year in their forced labour camp before he escaped, he… suffered greatly, and when he returned he no longer cared about the remnant or anything except destroying the Kett.” Jaal explained, “Rather than joining the resistance where he would have to follow orders, he formed the Roekaar. I think he was bitter that we weren’t able to rescue him. At first the resistance didn’t give them much thought, but since you and the others of your home worlds arrive, his cause has grown.”
“We convinced you and Evfra we aren’t a threat to the Angara, could we do the same with Akksul?” Grace asked.
“I admire your courage, but Akksul is dangerous and he lacks Evfra pragmatism.” Jaal warned. “He will make you want to kill him.”
“Still have to try.” Grace said.
“If Heleus is to be your home, I guess you will have to deal with the Roekaar one way or another.” Jaal said, “I will make some calls and see about finding Thaldyr, an Angaran who escaped with Akksul. Maybe she can help us.”
“We ready to move?” Drack asked.
“We are.” Grace nodded, kneeling and gently petting Chitters. “You stay here and behave for Suvi and Kallo.”
Chitters gave a sad chip but did not follow as Grace, Jaal and Drack vanished into the snow, giving a light whine as he was lifted up and hugged by Suvi as Damian, Peebee and Liam left the ship also to go and see about the Monoliths and Vault on Voeld.
“Be safe.” Suvi pleaded softly.
The Storm finally let up enough to allow them to leave for the Facility, a huge building the Kett had placed down seemingly overnight and would house many Kett within its walls. While that was happening, Lexi had finally cleared Liam and Damian for duty again and Damian had taken the job of fixing the Voeld Vault.
It would be the first time Both Ryders were off on their own and it felt Suvi feeling unsure about what to feel about the whole situation.
“They’ll be ok.” Lexi assured softly. “As Harry keeps telling me, the Ryders are a stubborn bunch.”
“I hope you’re right Lexi.” Suvi nodded.
“No one has ever seen the inside of these places?” Grace asked checking her guns carefully as they travelled through the storm.
“None who lived to tell. Prisoners who go in and never seen again.” Jaal explained, “To us they are now ‘the disappeared’.”
“What about the slaves you freed?” Drack asked.
“We’ve liberated the camps. But never these facilities, we lost so many trying, the price was too high.” Heckt stated.
“Some believe the Kett take important Angara back to their home cluster.” Owwin stated.
“As slaves?” Jaal asked and the younger Angara nodded. “Death is better.”
“We’re here. And let’s be quick. This storm is starting to get worse again.” Their pilot called back.
“Once we get through the shield Jaal take point, we’ll look for Moshae Sjefa.” Grace said.
Drack smiled. “This is gonna be fun.”
“Cool it big guy, you can smash Kett heads in when we get inside.” Grace assured as the Pilot flew low and let them out a few feet from the shield. “Ok Sam, make with the hacking and create us a door.”
“Hacking systems, please stand by.” Sam said and Grace felt eyes on her as Sam ran the programs over her omni tool. Then the tool went blank.
“I have created a small hole in the shield.” Sam stated as the shield opened before them.
“Thank you.” Grace smiled and stepped through the hole. And then un-holstered and fired her pistol into the snow seconds before a Wraith could charge her. “Bad dog.”
“How did she see that!” Owwin asked.
“I have very good eyes.” Grace shrugged. “Sam, by the time we leave, I want to know everything about this place.”
“So how do we get inside?” Skealv asked.
“Drack.” Grace said sweetly and the Krogan cracked his knuckled before punching the cover of a vent shaft out of its place. “Thank you.”
“Alright, lets go. Owwin, Skealv you’re on me.” Heckt ordered as they made their way inside.
“The room ahead of you is full of Kett.” Sam stated quietly.
Grace smiled. “Sam, don’t tell Damian about this.”
“I make no promises.” The AI said indifferently as Grace jumped out of the vent, guns a blazing.
Damian paused his work and blinked.
“What is it?” Liam asked.
“I think Grace just did a fun thing without me.” Damian said.
“Aww, poor baby.” Peebee chuckled as Damian pouted but continued to lead them down into the vault. “So… Damian?”
“Your sister seems kinda reluctant to ask Jaal about feeding on him… is that normal for her or is it a rule that she can’t until the others get here?” Peebee asked.
“Its just Grace.” Damian said, “She’s crushing. But she doesn’t realize it yet.”
“Really? How can you tell?” Liam asked.
“Her eyes shine more when he’s around and he hasn’t reacted in a bad way to being told what we are and what we do to live.” Damian said then unloaded three rounded from his pistol into the optics of two Assemblers and an Observer.
“Lucky shots.” Peebee huffed.
After splitting up from Heckt and his team after a decontamination protocol chamber and searching several rooms, killing what few Kett they came across, Sam had located a data terminal he could download information from. “This place to the Kett, is in some way sacred. It is controlled by a Prefect Kett female known as the Cardinal, she reports daily to the Archon and oversees what the Kett call Exaltation.” The AI explained.
“Jaal, Ryder,” Drack called over as he looked out a large window showing some kind of gathering below, multiple Destined Kett surrounding four Angara as they stood before a Prefect.
“That must be the Cardinal.” Grace said looking around, watching the Angara slowly walk into four pods that were waiting for them. “Those Angara look like they are in a trance…”
“I know the Moshae, she’s not down there,” Jaal said, “But she might be in one of those pods.”
“It’s a lead.” Grace said.
~ “You wanted a distraction.” ~ Owwin asked over the comms, ~ “We just set out plan on fire.” ~ he added and suddenly the whole building began to shake and rumble with explosions.
“Impossible!” the Cardinal exclaimed before a holo image of the Archon appeared behind her and she quickly knelt. “Archon.”
~ “Explain.” ~
“We have been breached!” the Cardinal stated. “I will defend the temple-”
~ “Wait.” ~ The Archon ordered, cutting the Cardinal off. ~ “Is the Moshae amongst these?” ~
“No, it awaits final exaltation.” The Cardinal said.
~ “Then proceed immediately and bring it to me.” ~
The Cardinal nodded and quickly hurried off as the holo image vanished.
“Final exaltation? What’s Final?!” Jaal asked. “We have to save all the Angara!”
“We’ll do what we can, but our priority is the Moshae.” Grace said and Jaal nodded.
“That wasn’t the plan Grace,” Drack reminded.
“Plans change.” Grace stated. “Lets go. Whatever is going on here, we need to get the Moshae out of it.”
“Heavy Kett forces ahead.” Sam warned.
“Good, more things to shoot at.” Drack said.
~ “Pathfinder, we contacted Commander Do Xeel.” ~ Heckt stated, ~ “We’re getting reinforcements.” ~
“Get as many of your people out of here as you can, Sam is already hacking and downloading everything he can,” Grace said as they moved through eth halls of the facility, shooting and killing Kett without pause. “We have a lead on the Moshae.”
“We think she is alive!” Jaal added.
~ “Star’s strength. That’s good news.” ~
“We’ll keep in touch.” Grace assured as they came to a corridor and Grace froze, her back stiff and her eyes wide.
“Wait,” Drack said, watching the woman for a moment and then pulled Jaal back a few steps. “This might not be good.” He added as Grace turned and walked to a door at the far end of the corridor and forced it open.
“What is she doing?” Jaal asked.
“Hunting.” Drack explained, “Succubus and Incubus do this when they catch the raw sent of something that can hurt them.”
“But there is nothing in this room” Jaal said.
Grace hissed and spoke in a language the translator couldn’t understand, glaring down at a strange syringe like device and then with a powerful sweep of her arm, she knocked the many syringes off the table and into the wall where they shattered, mist and flames surging around her for a moment before she seemed to regain some control and forced herself to take deep breaths.
“Ryder?” Jaal asked.
“We have to go.” Grace said, “If this place is what I think it is, we have to find the Moshae and get everyone out of here fast.” She added and headed towards the central door of the hall.
“Another decontamination proto-”
“Down.” Grace said, cutting Drack off as the three of them ducked below the window to avoid being seen by the Kett inside the room ahead of them. “Sam, can you do anything about these things?”
“Working on it Pathfinder.”
Jaal saw movement and watched as a Kett Prefect levitated up with two of the same syringe devices that had been in the room they had just left and injected their contents into an Angara from one of the pods, turning the once purple skin black and forcing it to chance and shape itself more like a Kett Chosen.
Then they were seen and a gunfight began. “No! Wait! Save the Angara!” Jaal pleaded, “Don’t kill him!”
“He’s shooting at us Jaal!” Grace yelled over the gunfire. “I don’t think he’ll stop if we ask nicely!”
“Monsters!” Jaal cursed, “Villains! Time to die!”
“We got your back!” Drack yelled.
Grace hissed and snapped out something in that strange tongue again, lifting a hand up and clenching it into a tight fist and yanked it aside, causing the Kett to fall lifeless to the ground.
Jaal hurried to the fallen body that had been transformed before their eyes, hoping that maybe he was still alive and could be saved. But one glace told him otherwise, thanks to his own shot.
“They are us…” he said a loud, feeling tears slip from his eyes. “They are… they are us…”
“We don’t have much time.” Drack said.
“Go, search for the next room and see what you can find,” Grace said and Drack’s heavy foot falls left the room.
“They’re us.” Jaal said again.
“Yes.” Grace said kneeling beside him and Jaal saw the same mist as before, coiling back and away from the fallen body, as if trying to show respect to the Angara it had once been.
“How many have I killed now knowing?” Jaal asked. “Fathers, brothers... sisters, sons… mothers, daughters… how many have I killed… Ryder I didn’t know.” He said.
“How can I help?” Grace asked, “What do you need?”
“That is kind but I… I don’t know.” Jaal admitted slowly getting to his feet again. “I don’t know what to think or do.”
“Then we’ll start by finding the Moshae and getting out of here.” Grace said also standing, the flames at the edges of her eyes growing larger as the mist coiled densely around her arms.
~ “Down here!” ~ Drack called. ~ “the Cardinal just ran off with her through a door way and locked it behind her!” ~
“Sam unlock every fucking door in this facility and jam it open!” Grace ordered. “Release all energy locks. I am done playing safe.”
“Ryder I must caution you against this action.” Sam remarked, “due to lack of proper feeding you have not retained the needed energy to properly control-” Grace snapped something at Sam and the AI went quiet before responding. “Activating all internal receptors and preparing for energy release.”
“You will not take it!” the Cardinal snarled as her orb circled her, creating a shield as she levitated and prepared to fight. “You flawed ignoran-!”
Grace moved with speed Jaal had never seen before, blue sparks of energy lashing widely from her body as they armour she had been wearing shattered outwards, reviling a much lighter, flowing blue and white robe of sorts that did nothing to hide the golden marks that coiled around her body, the mist that had once covered her body fell like free flowing water around her, snaring Kett within itself and forcing them to be still as she clutched the Cardinal’s throat in her hand.
Whatever Grace said, it was missed by the sudden scream of the Kett forces.
“Sam translate!” Drack yelled. “What the fuck is she saying?!”
“A moment.” Sam pleaded and then at last Jaal heard what Grace was saying in his own language.
“-No one and nothing excuses this mockery of repopulation. NOTHING gives you or anyone the right to alter the genetics of others to your own likings! We will not stand for it! Not here! Not anywhere!” Grace decreed. “I will show you perfection Cardinal, for one moment I will grace you with that, and then you and all your kind here will know only eternal pain!”
“Kett life signatures depleting on all levels.” Sam stated. “87%... 76%... 65%...”
“Grace! Stop!” Drack yelled, “You’ll burn out!!”
“Burn out?” Jaal asked.
“She’s not feeding.” Drack explained. “Every Kett in this place is trapped in the mist, it’s like a spider’s web to trap their life energy but she’s not feeding on the energy she takes.”
“You!” The Cardinal gasped. “What are you!?”
“I am your judge and your jury.” Grace hissed in her own tongue. “And you will not live beyond this day.”
“Wait...” A weak voice called out and all eyes fell upon the Moshae as she staggered to her feet. “I want to know why the Archon-”
“Moshae!” Jaal cried and hurried forwards to catch her before she could fall, taking note that the mist quickly parted to allow him past. “Moshae Sjefa…?”
“Arrogant simpletons. This is a gift! Who are you to deny it?” the Cardinal hissed.
“A Gift?” Grace repeated in a venomous hiss. “You force your DNA into their bodies and you force their very soul to change! This is no gift! This is butchery!”
“These Chosen join with us to become great!” The Cardinal defied, “The exalted DNA of our great Archon entwines with mine. I stand on the shoulders of his greatness. As they do, as one day you will.”
“Great?” Grace squeezed hard on the Cardinal’s throat. “What does a lie know of Greatness? Or power? Of LIFE!? You are a mockery of rebirth! A lie of continuation! You are NOTHING!!”
“Grace!” Drack yelled only to watch the Cardinal arch in pain as the mist that swarmed the area suddenly crashed into her body, causing it to convulse and shake violently before it fell lifeless to the ground in a heap and the mist surged into Grace with ease, making the marks glow brightly as if suddenly energized.
“Pathfinder, I am tracking multiple in bound Kett cruisers.” Sam reported.
“This place must be destroyed.” The Moshae said. “Even if I die here this place must not remain.”
“But our people are here, our strength.” Jaal said. “With respect we cannot abandon them.”
“And if your plan fails, they will only fill this place again.” The Moshae reminded.
“We don’t have time to open every pod in this place.” Drack said then stopped as the golden marks on Grace’s body began to pulsate.
~ “Jaal? Whatever you and the Pathfinder did it worked! All the pods are opening and the Kett are falling like targets!” ~ Heckt cheered into the comms.
“Get everyone out.” Grace stated as her body levitated up once again, “I am going to buy you as much time as I can.” And with no other words, Grace’s body burned golden bright until it was suddenly gone.
“Damian is gonna kill me.” Drack growled.
“We’re heading to the roof for extraction,” Jaal said into his comm as he helped the Moshae walk towards a lift. “Commander Do Xeel, take as many of our people out of here as possible and meet us on the roof.”
Angara were quickly helped into the shuttles, packed in tight and carried off as the snow began to come down heavily around them, shuttles flying away as quickly as they were arriving, all the while the to of the Facility was alive with a blinding lightshow, Kett and Fiend bodies falling from the edges, covered in gunshots and burn marks.
Grace twisted and turned violently, her marks glowing brightly with life as she ripped the energy from the Kett and their forces as they swarmed the roof, casting the energy aside in rage and anger as she continued to attack.
She would not feed from these monsters. She couldn’t! They were clones! Lowly, pathetic remakes of the same DNA, a false child of genetic experimentations! The Kett had stolen these souls from their people, their loved ones and homes and forced them to change, turned them by force into their own images with no thought or care for the loved ones of those they stole.
It went against everything she believed, everything her mother believed!
She would destroy it all.
“We are LEAVING!” Drack’s voice suddenly snarled and Grace gasped as the Krogan grabbed her and pulled her back into the shuttle.
“Get us out of here,” Jaal ordered of the pilot.
“Let go of me Drack!”
“You keep going like that you’ll burn out!” the Krogan snapped. “Let it go kid.”
“The hell I will! They-”
“You’re better than this.” Drack said, using on hand to retrieve a needle from his leg armour. “Now hold still.” He added jabbing the needle into her arm and emptying the small contents into her. The effect was instant, the flames that had licked at Grace’s eyes faded away and the golden marks faded back into her skin and leave her shivering and limp against Drack’s chest. “Sam?”
“I am reading below safe levels of nutrition and slow heart rate. As per Doctor T’Perro and Doctor Carlyle, I have informed Damian Ryder and am continuing to monitor all vitals. Please insure that the Pathfinder is kept warm as it will increase absorption rates of the hyper feed you gave her.” Sam stated from the omni tool that had somehow remained on Grace’s arm.
Drack nodded. “Anyone got a spare blanket?” he asked before Jaal offered his rofjinn.
Reports reached him in a steady stream usually, one after the other after the other from each of his commanders.
Now he had no less then twenty reports coming to him all at once. Each one filled with questions, worries, concerns and demands for answers while he stood trying very hard not to yell at everyone to simply shut up and let him think for a moment over all the noise,
Just keep calm steady breaths and-
“How do we even know she can be trusted!?”
“QUIET!!!!!” The room instantly fell into a silence and Evfra took a moment to at least calm his voice before he continued. “I will be speaking with the Pathfinder and her sibling when they arrive here with our Moshae, thus far, the Pathfinder has been honest about her abilities to Jaal and to myself in the few times we have spoken to one another. I will tell all of you what becomes of that talk after I have spoken to the Moshae and thought it through very carefully and that is the end of this discussion.”
The room remained quiet after that, but no one would dare to speak against him now he had made it clear he intended to deal with this matter.
Slowly, everyone returned to their work though there were still any hushed whispers about what had been reported and sent to them via video footage. They were right to be worried, they like him did not know the whole truth behind the power the human Pathfinder held, but Jaal insisted that she wasn’t a threat.
And judging by the images he had seen of her after her Krogan team mate had pulled her aboard the shuttle, he believed it. The Pathfinder was shaking from cold and according to the AI, she was on the verge of passing out.
There was a lot to talk about and a lot to learn from her before he made his mind up about Grace Ryder.
The Moshae and Grace were swiftly brought to the Tempest, Damian taking Grace from Drack while Lexi tended to the Moshae, working around Jaal with practiced ease while Damian wrapped his sister in his jacket and spoke in that same odd tongue Grace had used before.
“What in the Goddesses name did they do?” Lexi asked looking over her read outs, “I have never seen so much damage to someone’s immune system and their body.”
“The Archon would demand answers about Remnant and beat me when I refused to speak.” The Angara woman explained, “He is obsessed, and his obsession makes him dangerous.”
“But why?” Jaal asked, “What is so important about the Remnant that he must learn about them?”
“Let her rest Jaal.” Lexi said, “There will be time to talk about all this and that later, what she needs right now is rest, fluids and a good meal.”
“Brother…?” Grace asked weakly and the Moshae realized the Pathfinder’s eyes were dull and she could not see those around her for the moment. “Damian…?”
“I’m here, Grace.” Damian assured lightly taking her hand and gently squeezing it. “Your eyesight will come back in a while, but you’ve pushed your limits and your marks are showing so I’m gonna guess its not going to be long until Gran contacts us.” He explained, gently covering her with a blanket.
“Are we moving?” She asked.
“Kallo’s got a course set for Aya, the Moshae’s safe, Drack’s cooking food and Cora’s being her normal self and locked the Bio lab again.” Suvi said and carefully placed a cup in Grace’s hands, “Here, caramel tea with two spoons of honey and a drizzle of orange juice.” She said.
“Thank you Suvi,” Grace smiled and drank to cup in one long pull, resting against Damian as her body shivered. “Did I hurt anyone?”
“Just the Kett.” Jaal assured. “The Resistance has managed to free all the Angara who were trapped there, and Commander Do Xeel has already sent plans to destroy that facility and others like it.”
“Tell her I’ll help as soon as my body stops aching.” Grace winced. “I feel like I went a round with a Krogan without padding…”
“You haven’t been feeding like you promised you were and over reaching yourself like that pushed your body to its limits.” Lexi said sternly. “You haven’t taken from Drack at all in the entire time you’ve been on the Tempest.”
“Because you and Drack have been eyeing each other since he joined the crew Lexi.” Damian said, “We’ve seen the way you look at him and the rules of our kin are clear, no feeding on people who already have a lover or who seek a lover somewhere else.”
“But without feeding on Drack she’ll die.” Lexi said.
“Not so long as I live.” Damian said firmly. “Hands.” He said to Grace.
“Now stubborn big sister or I will make you listen to Elcor music.” Damian said firmly, and Grace slumped in defeat and held her hands out to Damian, palms up. “Good girl.” He said and placed his hand against hers, palms down.
“What are you doing?” Jaal asked.
“As siblings we can feed on one another. The nutrition she gains is lacking but the energy is enough to keep her alive. For now.” Damian explained.
“Don’t like it but it’s better than starving.” Grace said.
Jaal watched as their palms gave a strange bluish green glow, and slowly a similar mist cascaded down from Damian’s lips and was swiftly drank from the air by Grace, soon brining colour and warmth back to Grace’s skin.
“The mist is part of their aura.” Suvi explained seeing Jaal’s confused expression. “it’s how they gather energy and digest it.”
“A strange method of feeding.” The Moshae said as the feeding continued for a few minutes until at last Grace pulled away and smiled.
“I need to go make a call-” She said.
“Oh, no, no, no. You are staying in bed young lady.” Damian said lightly putting a hand to her shoulder. “I will call Kandros and talk to him about all this and I am more than sure that when Jaal has a moment he will contact Evfra. You need to rest and that is what you are going to do.”
“Bossy little brother.” Grace smiled and let her brother cover her again with a blanket before he headed off with Suvi. “wake me if it involves Kett, food or death.” She added before her body relaxed and she slipped into sleep.
Lexi sighed but there was a small smile on her face, quietly going about her work to help the Moshae recover while Jaal explained all he could to the Moshae.
Akksul was beyond furious, beyond enraged.
How DARE Evfra send an Alien news of the Moshae and allow her to aid in the rescue mission!? How DARE Jaal go along with them! How DARE they keep it from him!
He’d paced back and forth, waiting and praying that word would come that she was safe, that she was unharmed and all Kett had died at Angara hands, prayed that this Alien had no huge part to play in this Shameful show of weakness on Evfra’s behalf.
His prayers were only partly answered, the Moshae was safe, carried out of that place by Jaal while the alien was brought out, changed, a strange new look to her that seemed normal by the reaction of the Krogan on her crew.
Somehow, this Alien had done what none of his or Evfra’s forces could do and now, she would have leverage to ask anything she wanted of the Angara people because SHE had saved the Moshae.
“WHAT!?” he snarled turning to glare at the Angara before him as he was offered a data pad.
“New members to the Roekaar.” The younger male said and quickly left the room.
Akksul growled and would have tossed the pad to the side to read later had he not caught sight of a familiar family name on the list. Swiftly a plan formed in his mind and he nodded to himself. Jaal wanted to play games, fine, Akksul would play his own games and force this Alien to show her true colours.
First he would need to distract the Alien and Jaal, keep them away from Havarl and Aya for a while. That would be the easy part. The hard part would getting to these three Angara who would become pawns in his game as Jaal so clearly had become pawn to this Alien.
And then, he would have all he needed to finally make his push against the Kett and all Aliens.
It was late in the evening time, according to Sam when Grace woke again, though admittedly, she might have slept longer, had it not been for Chitters jumping up onto her bed and gently patting her face with his front paws, making a worried little chirping sound.
Grace smiled and lightly poked the creature’s nose, making the tiny creature cheer in joy and press itself into her chest, snuggling into her for warmth and attention as she gently hugged and petted its back and head. “Did you behave for everyone?” She asked it and smiled as Chitters gave a long whistling sound and a few clicks before lightly butting its head against her chin.
“He helped me stack all the tins, jars and cans and he tried to set the table with Peebee.” Vetra chuckled as she came in with two trays of food. “Even if he did only put spoons on the table.”
Grace chuckled and gently squeezed the creature close, “At least you tried.” She praised as the creature whistled happily and curled up beside her as Vetra handed over a tray with a hot meal and drink on it. “Roast Beef?”
“With extra fluffy mash potatoes, fresh made Yorkshire puddings and helping of gravy.” Vetra nodded, “Suvi insisted on cooking for you.”
“God bless Suvi.” Grace smiled as she began to eat. “Mmm, she makes the best roast.”
“Lexi, I brought you some too. Drack’s orders are that you at least eat something today before you go to bed.” Vetra added as Lexi checked Grace over with a scanner.
“Your crew gives orders to one another without your authority?” the Moshae asked with a raised brow.
“No, they make polite requests that should be followed by those asked to do something because the person asking it is right.” Grace said, “Lexi hasn’t eaten at all since you and I came aboard and I’m also going to assume that since she was in here when we arrived, she also didn’t eat any breakfast again.”
“Alright, alright I’ll take a break and eat.” Lexi smiled. “But you are in no place to lecture me of such things.”
“And no one will say a bad word about it because, as always I did a stupid thing and now I’m dealing with the consequences.” Grace said.
“Mark that down in the book Suvi, my sister just admitted she made a mistake.” Damian said from somewhere.
“Admitting a mistake is part of growing up and it means I’m more mature than you.” Grace smiled, and as expected Damian could be heard stammering for a moment. “Suvi got your tongue?”
“Leave me out of this one.” Suvi pleaded softly as she passed the medical bay from the walk way above the door.
“Chitters’s food.” Peebee said as she came in, smiling as Chitters gave a click at his name and sat up, reaching for the bowl.
“Manners.” Grace said and Chitters quickly sat very proudly and gave a soft whistle as if saying please. “Good boy.”
“Wow,” Peebee said, “Can you train all men to do that? Or just cute little ones?” she asked placing the bowl down before Chitters and held up a finger for a moment before nodding and Chitters gave a happy purr as he ate from the bowl.
“Got a crush I should know about?” Grace joked.
“Funny.” Peebee snipped but smiled, “So… new fashion statement?” She asked lightly tugging the blue and white robe. “I mean its pretty, but it doesn’t look very practical.”
“They are traditional robes, made of the same fabric my grandmother and all my kin wear, its strong enough to withstand everything.” Grace said, “They are with us always, usually we don’t show them, but the armour was too shattered by my anger to be formed again so the robes are all I have until I either change or I make alterations,” she explained looking at her hands and sighed softly, “the skin marks will fade away again when I do find someone willing to let me feed on them, but until then, I think it best to stop hiding them.”
“Tann and Addison will not approve of that.” Cora stated.
“Tann and Addison can go find a dark hole to sulk in.” Grace said. “I’m sure by now the Archon has heard about what happened and what I became, no reason to hide it anymore and if the exiles get wind of this they might think twice about trying to do anything stupid when we do finally bump into them.”
“And the others?” Liam asked from outside the hall. “I mean I know you and Damian are on good terms with Kandros and Kesh and a few others, but the rest of the Nexus might not be so ok when they find out you’re not humans.”
“As our father would say, ‘they can deal with it’. We’re here to find them a planet to live on, then go our own way and find ourselves a home away from everyone else.” Damian said.
“Do you always eat your meals in the hall way?” The Moshae asked with a slight smile
“Not always, normally we are up on the viewing deck,” Grace said, “But since I’m in here and the medical bay is only so big, I’m going to guess Liam suggested a Hall way meal and a lot of talking about what’s happening next.”
“It was Gil’s idea, but I’ve never seen you lose your temper like that before.” Liam admitted. “You sure you’re ok?”
“I’ll be ok when the Kett are gone, my job as Pathfinder is over and I can call home with the all clear.” Grace sighed. “But at the moment, yes, I’m ok.”
“And just how do you plan on doing such a task alone?” the Moshae asked. “Finding a home for so many can not be an easy bourdon to carry.”
“I’m not alone.” Grace said, “I have my brother, Sam and Chitters.” She added. “Humanity asked us along because my father designed, built and calibrated the Simulated Adaptive Matrix, if they don’t like that I’m Pathfinder they should have thought about that before they got themselves into the mess.”
“Is that why you are hoping to see the inside of Aya’s vault?”
Grace shook her head. “No, I am hoping that by going into the Vault on Aya, I can learn why the ones on Eos, Havarl and Voeld are different and also learn how they are connected to the decline or preservation of the planets they are one. Beyond that anything I learn is a bonus.”
“For you or for the humans?” the Moshae asked.
“Has Jaal told you the difference between humans and me?” Grace asked.
“He has told me you are not a human though you appear like them.” The Moshae nodded.
“Then let me state it clearly as I can. I am bound by a deal made between my father as the Human Director of the Andromeda Initiative from the Milky Way Galaxy to help humanity find a suitable home in this cluster so we can study and hopefully find new and more effective cures to illnesses and learn new ways to live better lives. Once that deal is done, and humanity has a steady home on a plant where they can sustain themselves, the role of Pathfinder ends and I am free to search out a little world, far away from humans and if need be far away from the Angara, settle down and call my elders here.” Grace explained, “Anything I learn that the humans can’t be bothered to ask about stays between me and whomever is sharing with me.”
“Do you not care for the humans?”
“I care about those who have tried and are still trying to make good and bad situation by actually trying, not the idiots that assumed control because they have a scrap of paper that says they are in charge.” Grace said. “Eos has an outpost, its small, but it’s a start, they’ve begun farming attempts and they are already gathering information and data on new martials that could help us build better stronger homes, but it takes more than that just to make a home, we need foods, water sources and safety.”
“And if you can’t get those yourself?” the Angara woman asked.
“We go without and say we failed, or we use our heads and ask very nicely if the locals can help.” Damian stated. “Humans can forget at times that just because they are the top race on earth does not mean that they are the top of the Universal chain.”
“No one is.” Grace stated. “And this brings us nicely to my next question.” She added turning to the Moshae again. “Jaal has said you are the best teacher about the Remnant, but the Archon doesn’t strike me as the kind to listen to wisdom. What is it about the Remnant he wants so badly that he would capture you only to beat you into such a state?”
“Meridian.” The Moshae sighed. “He thought I could somehow all ow him to use a device to help him find it, when I refused I was beaten and left without food or water, he tried and failed to break my spirits and no doubt many Angara lives were lost because of my stubbornness.”
“Lives that would have been given again, had the Kett not-”
“Do not finish that sentence Jaal.” Grace said. “The Kett have robbed your people of their will, but not their beliefs and spirits.”
“I do not understand.” Jaal said.
“We can sense spirits,” Damian stated. “You said the Kett just stopped and then dropped dead after screaming when the mist touched them?” he asked and Jaal nodded. “The mist grows with us as we age to increase our awareness of others around us and also acts as an unseen protection until we need it. But it can also serve as a spiritual link between us and those around us, when the mist touched the Kett in that Facility, Grace ripped their life energy away, but also pulled free their true spirits. The Reincarnation of your people, by my understanding is that only the soul is needed for someone to be reborn, much like flowers.”
“How is a plant like a person?” Liam asked.
“Everything in a forest has a season, where one thing falls another grows, maybe not what was there before but something new and wonderful just the same.” Lexi stated. “The same can be said of reincarnation, your soul comes back, but you aren’t the person you were when you died, you are new and different to all that is around you, just as the world is new and strange to you.”
“It didn’t hurt them?” Jaal asked.
“They might have a little longer to wait before they are reborn. But beyond that, no.” Grace said. “Succubus don’t hurt others unless first hurt by them. Kett who were once Angara don’t know they were once Angara only that they were ‘wretched’, they two races are different.”
“You can tell that just from what happened?”
“There are a lot of thing about us you don’t know yet Jaal. Like we said, we’ll explain everything when all the needed persons are gathered, and we can talk about it like adults, not petty insulting children.” Damian reminded. “Now, I’m done eating and I know Grace is to, so who wants to help wash the dishes?”
“I have Rem-tech to study.” Peebee quickly stated and hurried off.
“I cooked it.” Suvi stated.
“And I am going to add you to the list of people allowed to cook because of it.” Grace smiled. “Vetra, Liam, Gil, your turns to help with the dishes, Peebee, you, me and Lexi are on kitchen duty tomorrow and that mean you will have to put your rem-tech away.”
“Yes Grace.” Peebee assured.
“Good, now you young man.” Grace smiled and lightly heaved Chitters up in her arms as she slipped of the bed onto her own feet, “Are coming with me, it’s time for your exercises.”
The Moshae watched her leave and then turned to Jaal with a knowing smile. “And you said you were a bad student.”
“I was. I never understood why you chose me to be your student.” Jaal asserted.
“And yet you took the chance to learn all you could about the Pathfinder and have shared more than any intelligence gathering request ever needed. You have a brilliant mind Jaal, and while I could not focus into remnant study, you have found something new to focus on.” She smiled. “Are you happy here?”
“I am.” Jaal nodded after a time, “Though... I admit I feel confused at times, the humans seem so relaxed and calm around Grace and her brother yet, I feel I am not being given a whole truth from Grace or her brother.”
“I have a feeling that will be resolved when we reach Aya.” The Moshae assured. “She has carried a heavy weight with her for a long time, I see it in her eyes. She doesn’t feel she can tell you everything for fear it will not be understood.”
Jaal nodded, unable to think of any other words.
Soon enough, they would reach Aya, and from there, he could only hope that Evfra and the commanders would not judge until they have heard the whole truth and story from Grace and Damian about their kin and their duty to humanity.
And that Akksul stayed FAR away.
Chapter 5: Learning
And here be the reasons why Grace and Damian are not as colourful as their fellow Succubus and a spoiler for what happens in the coming story Diary of a Succubus that will focus on Succubus Anna Shepard.
Now that we have that all explained, the NSFW chapters will make a little more sense.
The return to Aya was simple enough, even with so many Angara wanting to see their beloved Moshae return and catch a look at the strange Alien that had helped save her. And while most had been kept from the most direct route to the Resistance HQ, news had brought many young children from their shelter of their homes to witness such a wonderful and historical moment.
Evfra could almost pretended there wasn’t another, more pressing issue to come when they reached the safety and calm of HQ, and while Jaal and the Moshae seemed relaxed about the now visible differences to both the Pathfinder and her brother, Evfra found himself unsure about the change in appearance. Grace had been completely covered when he had first met her, only the hands and part of her neck showing besides her face because of the clothes she had been dressed in before.
The robes she wore were designed to show the skin marks that still shone from her shoulders, parts of her face and neck and also some parts of her back in the sunlight. Her eyes also had small blueish flames licking at their edges and whenever she blinked the flames would fall of and become petal like shapes that vanished away before they hit the floor.
The two walked calmly and Evfra noticed that when they passed a gathering of younger males who seemed to stare just that little too long at Grace, Damian’s eyes flared ever so slightly and he lightly tugged his sister to the opposite side of him as they walked, effectively hiding her from the staring.
“This is how you normally appear to others?” Evfra asked when they were all at last settled in his office at Resistance HQ.
“It should be.” Grace said, “But humans find such a look to be either too reviling or inappropriate for a lady. When we joined the Initiative to come here they made it a rule that women couldn’t wear certain clothes because it looked unprofessional.”
“They clearly had not met Aunt Tara before.” Damian chuckled softly.
“And you?” The Moshae asked looking at Damian, who took a deep breath and then slowly released it, the jacket, shirt and jeans he wore melting away into his skin as their replacement attire burned into life around him.
Damian’s attire was more concealing that Grace’s, a long flowing coat that brushed the floor slightly, over a pair of tight pants and a low v-cut shirt with a high collar. The golden marks over his face were far more defined and clear and when he opened his eyes again the flames were constantly flickering and were much deeper than before.
“Humans are unsettled by the eyes.” He answered the unspoken question.
“Suvi likes them.” Grace reminded with a smile.
“You and the human are-?”
“Married.” Damian said, “She knows what we are, as do the whole crew and the leadership of the Nexus.”
“Lucky you.” Grace sighed.
Evfra cleared his throat. “As you are both likely aware, we have had many reports, many questions and many worried brought out by your little out burst on Voeld.” He said, hoping to get to the point. “Jaal has told me what you have explained to him, but there are still many questions we do not understand about you.”
“So ask.” Grace said.
It went from there, every question was given an answer, honestly and as simply as possible and those questions that couldn’t be answered by Grace, Damian answered.
“Only six?” the Moshae asked. “How?”
“Mass murders, self-harm, old age, nd the most reason two, judgement and Heroism.” Grace said.
“Our kin were misunderstood by humanity in the early days, leading to the mass murder of many Incubus and Succubus during the countless witch trials and hunts, those how survived that were then accused of helping to spread the plague, leading to another mass culling, this lead to many young ones not having families to teach them how to live and many of the blood lines died out when depression was too much to bare. Then in the mid nineteenth century, the oldest Incubus, Marcus died at the age of sixteen million, five thousand three hundred and ninety… eight?” Damian said looking to Grace.
“Sixteen million, five thousand three hundred and ninety-nine.” Grace corrected. “After that, only the Ryder, the Brown, the Shepard and the Lawson blood lines remained strong, Granma Cassie Ryder was named the elder of our Kin, Dad was still in his prime years and hadn’t met our mother, Aunts Tara and Hannah were working on their own lives and Miranda was off doing whatever she was trying to do.”
“How old are you both?” Evfra asked.
“One hundred and fifteen years. Not counting the six hundred years we spent in Cryo.” Grace said. “Damian and Suvi are the youngest marriage in our history.”
“And how long will that last?” Evfra asked, “Humans, as you have said already, do not live long, in your life span, Suvi will die before you even reach your prime years.”
“And loving her now when I have the chance and the time to spare is better than ignoring it and leaving her to fall for some fool who would abuse her or worse.” Damian stated. “It lasts as long as we want it to, and as a member of the family by Marriage Suvi will live longer, sustained by my own powers for as long as she chooses.”
“He meant no insult.” The Moshae said with a light glare at Evfra. “But that does beg the question of just what powers and abilities you have over others.”
“It depends on who and why.” Grace said, “What I did, what you saw, was an out burst of rage focused at the Kett for their mockery of life. What I did is called a Death feed or Death burst, the feeding is so rapid and so sudden the organs are literally burst, shattered and imploded inside the body as the life energy is yanked out. What Damian did when I was in medical bay is known as ‘opening a debt’ meaning if I am ever able too, I will feed him in the same way which we call ‘closing a debt’.”
“And the mist itself? It doesn’t hurt anyone when you are not feeding?” Jaal asked.
“The mist isn’t just to help us feed,” Damian said, “Its part of us, without it we’d be far more vulnerable to others when we are alone and its how a Succubus marks her home to others of her kin.”
“If the others were here, my mist would act as a marker, harmlessly following Suvi and my sister around like a shadow as a sign that they are connected to my family, if another Incubus was to come near Suvi, the mist would thicken and also give off a scent that to another Incubus would be very displeasing. If that’s not enough warning to keep his hands off my wife, then he will be struck by the mist and forced against a wall until Suvi was back at my side or my sister was with her.” Damian explained and Grace chuckled.
“What Damian means is that while I have a wider range and uses for the mists as a Succubus, his abilities are limited because an Incubus isn’t as heavily reliant on a lover or mate to maintain his strength.” She explained.
“And what does that mean for you?” the Moshae asked.
“It means that unless I can find a Turian, Krogan or even a human willing to help me, I will have to keep feeding on Damian to survive here. The energy will keep me alive, but it will not increase my abilities as a feeding would, so I will not be as strong or as powerful as I was in the facility.”
~ “Grace, Damian, incoming.” ~
Suvi’s sudden call was the only warning Evfra got before the door opened and with a happy chirp and whistle, a four-pawed creature charged in, ran up Damian’s back and jumped into Grace’s waiting arms.
“How does he know where to find you?” Jaal asked.
“Like I said, Pyjaks are smart.” Grace smiled as Chitters laid himself over her shoulders.
“This is the mascot Jaal mentioned?” Evfra asked.
“He is. Chitters say hello.” Grace said and the Pyjak gave a small wave of his paw and then chirped lightly. “Good boy.” She prised and offered the pyjak a small round berry from her palm that the creature took eagerly and nibbled on. “He’s normally restricted to the tempest and if he’s off the ship then that means someone isn’t at her post.”
“What?” Evfra asked.
“There are some, even now who believe that my kin are nothing more that parasites and monsters, who trick and bewitch others into becoming our food source, they think that despite the proof that Suvi was not forced and that she is free to leave the marriage whenever she wishes, the millions of former lovers our elders have seen leave their lives and find new love with others, that we are vindictive and evil.” Damian said. “Cora Harper is one such being.”
“And she takes every chance she can to speak ill of you for it?” the Moshae asked.
“Not him.” Grace said, “Just me.”
“Why?” Evfra asked.
“Because I was chosen in her place to be Pathfinder and instead of doing things by the book like she was trained to do for years on end, I do things my way, I allowed Jaal to join the crew without first clearing it with Tann and Addison and I still haven’t filled in any reports to state why I’m not including them in my talks with you.” Grace said. “I have more pressing matters to deal with, the first being getting rid of the Kett and making Heleus safe for everyone to live in again, that means going out into the thick of it all and fighting not sitting at a desk and filling in millions of data pads with the same information repeatedly.”
“And Cora disapproves of this method?”
“She disapproves of me, thus anything I do in her eyes is in some way only done to benefit me and what I want. I wouldn’t be shocked if she thought that this meeting was just an excuse for me to try and seduce you into letting us set up Outposts on planets where the Angara are settled.” Grace said with a shrug.
“That is not a very pleasing idea.” Evfra assured. “But if what you say is true, you would need consent and trust to feed, but how do you know an Angara could feed you?”
“At the moment we don’t.” Damian said, “Without a test we have no idea if Angara can feed us or if like Salarians they can but there is an ill effect for one of the two sides.”
“A test?” Jaal asked.
“It’s harmless,” Damian assured, “For example. If Grace was to test the Angara, she would need both a male and female, then Grace would hold her hands palm up and the mist would slowly gather around the two, searching for energy and taking a small sample, and giving it a visible colour, that colour determines what eth energy is and if it would be harmful or helpful to us. At the same time, the mist makes Grace’s energy visible, showing if her abilities are helpful or hurtful to the Angara.”
“You can help others?” The Moshae asked.
“Sometimes.” Grace sighed, “We can prolong lives heal internal injuries and some external, we can thin blood and prevent blood clots, detect infections and slow them until they are cured or even prevent them happening again. The older we get and the more of us there were together, the more we could do, clean water, clean pollution from the air, even clear radiation from any location in a matter of hours.” She said then shook her head, “But after the murders and culling’s, there were rules and laws laid out for all of us and those rules were followed to prevent disasters or worse. We had so much power and so much ability as a race of energy feeders humanity saw us as a threat.”
“Grace,” Damian said softly. “Don’t do this to yourself again.”
“Why not?” Grace asked and Chitters gave a sad whistle and made a bee line to hide behind Jaal’s foot, peeking out as Grace’s mist began to show. “We can detect cancers or genetic defects, we can cure plague and we can heal injuries, we can sustain lives, but we can’t save our own mother from death or prolong the days she had to live because such things make us selfish and heartless?!”
“Grace,” Damian said softly. “Don’t do this to yourself again.”
“Why not?” Grace asked and Chitters gave a sad whistle and made a bee line to hide behind Jaal’s foot, peeking out as Grace’s mist began to show. “We can detect cancers or genetic defects, we can cure plague and we can heal injuries, we can sustain lives, but we can’t save our own mother from death or prolong the days she had to live because such things make us selfish and heartless?!”
“Stop it.” Damian said firmly though he put both hands on her shoulders and made her look at him, the mists recoiling tightly around her. “We can’t change the laws Grace, if we did it would make us no better than the ones who ruined life for all of us. She held on for us for three years, we had almost one hundred and ten years with her in our lives and they were good long and happy years, remember them and we’ll always have her.”
“She should still be here.” Grace insisted. “If I’d been stronger, if I had tried harder she’d still be-”
“She’d be in no better state now then she was then.” Damian reminded. “Dad’s gone and with him his power to sustain her, it would have faded by now and she’d be a frail old lady in wheelchair. She was ready to go Grace and no matter how much it hurts, we aren’t gods and we aren’t monsters. We can’t cheat death forever.”
“It’s not fair.” Grace said after a time.
“Life never is.” Damian said. “Enough now. You’ve scared Chitters.”
“The woman you are talking about.” Jaal began. “She was your mother?”
Damian nodded, “She was the first human to birth twin with the gene to continue our blood line, for that half her life energy was converted to match that of a Succubus, making her live longer, she saw our child hoods and our maturing ceremonies, she saw me marry Suvi and she promised she’d see Grace’s first love. Then, on January 26th 2213 she collapsed suddenly and was bed ridden for a week. Dad came home, I dropped out of N7 training and Grace left her job. Four hours later Gran told us that mom had developed AEND.”
“AEND?” Evfra asked as Chitters climbed up into Grace’s arms again, nuzzling her face and neck softly with a soft chirping sound.
“A rare terminal neurodegenerative disorder with no known cure.” Grace explained, tightly clutching Chitters, “It attacks slowly and by the time you realize something is wrong it’s too late, you become bed ridden and depended on those around you for help doing everything, washing, eating, you can’t do anything for yourself.”
“Mom didn’t us to see her that way, not after we’d gone our whole lives thus far seeing her so strong.” Damian said, “So after she lost the ability to walk, she called us all together and she said goodbye, then after Gran and cousin Anna had taken us out of the room, Aunts Tara and Hannah removed the Succubus energy from her and left her with Dad, she passed away in her sleep a few hours later. We didn’t have time to grieve but as a show of respect, neither of us has changed out robes back to their true colours.”
“They should be different?” Jaal asked.
“They should be blue, purple, black and gold, the Ryder family colours. These are the colours of mourning of our kin.” Damian explained nodding to their robes.
“How do you all look in your true forms?” The Moshae asked and Grace smiled a little, typing on her Omni tool.
“Sam, project family photo.” She requested, and Sam obeyed, projecting an image onto the wall. It looked to have been taken without anyone noticing it.
There were two older looking women at the back of the photo, both dressed elegantly and beautifully, one sat in an rocking chair, the other stood with the aid of a cane, gentle smiled on their faces as they watched the three younger ones playing a game of some kind, while sat on a large sofa two more woman and a man sat, talking away in some conversation.
They all showed a skin mark over their arms and faces, though the elders of the image clearly had a larger and more intricate mark, as it broke and swirled in delicate shapes around the fingers and around the shoulders and necks.
“The lady in the chair is Grandma Cassie Ryder. The lady stood next to her is Aunt Tara Brown. The lady in the blue suit is Aunt Hannah Shepard, the older man is our father Alec Ryder, the lady at his side is our mother Ellen Ryder. And the girl with me and Damian is Cousin Anna Shepard.”
“Suvi took this picture a week before mom collapsed.” Damian said with a small smile. “It’s the last time we were all together in once place.”
“You look as any human, just with strange marks.” Evfra said, “Why hide them?”
“Because very few humans trust different or strange things.” Damian said, “Think of it Evfra, a child of your people born with the abilities we have, a child who would grow up to feed on energy and have a higher sex drive than anyone around them no matter their gender and the chance that if they chose, they could kill someone with just a kiss. How would your people react?”
For a time Evfra was quiet as he thought about it.
Angara had no such things as Succubus or Incubus and they were open about everything they felt and believed, they had no trouble letting one another know who was and was not liked and who trusted who and visa versa, but the know that one amongst them was different and held such abilities as these two did.
How would they react…?
“There are still some questions I would like to ask, but I am sure that they can wait for a while until everything so far has settle in.” The Moshae said. “You saved my life from that Facility and freed many others who had been thought lost by their families. For that if nothing else, I owe you the chance to study the Aya Vault.” She smiled. “Come, we will go now and see what we can learn from it and when we return we will talk about what to do next.”
“Thank you Moshae Sjefa.” Damian nodded.
Everything calmed for a while after the trip to Aya’s Vault, Grace had chosen to see what she could see in Aya, Chitters happily perched on her shoulders as she and Peebee stopped by the Museum, though he did give an odd sound at the holo projections they passed when his paws went right through them. Liam, Gil, Drack and Damian enjoyed some time at the Tavataan, just enjoying a moment to rest without worrying about the Kett. While Vetra and Suvi helped Kallo and Lexi with restocking the ship, no one knew where Cora had gone off too though when she did reappear it was with a slight daze for a few minutes.
Evfra was nothing if not careful in his choices, taking everything into consideration and weighing the good and bad things equally and thought about what could become of allowing the Succubus and Incubus their freedom after the Kett were dealt with.
He couldn’t deny that they could between them or alone, be a threat to his people, and yet, Grace had been presented with equal and ample opportunity to kill Jaal, even the Moshae! And yet she had not acted on the chance and had instead become a friend to Jaal and it seemed that the Moshae had apparently liked her so far.
They had come here to find a home, a safe home where no one could judge them for what they were and try to regain some strength in numbers, something they clearly needed as the loss of their mother had clearly been as harsh and raw to Grace as the loss of any parent to an Angara child and clearly, it still hung like a dark cloud over Grace that had only grown with the death of her father and the strained of her new found place as Pathfinder had not given her time to stop and take it all in. This had lead to some slips in her behaviour, her temper was short, her attention focused on getting the job done and she had not according to Jaal’s latest report, had any kind of feeding since arriving in this cluster meaning she was in fact in a weaken stated. Damian was also still suffering but clearly he had been able to accept the loss with a little more ease that his sister and now did what he could to keep her steady in her choices and keep her from slipping into a state that would result in a bad outcome for their kin and also for the humans of the Tempest crew and while his efforts were helping they clearly could only go so far.
His mind made up, he took a breath and nodded to himself. Grace Ryder the Pathfinder of the Humans, Evfra decided, needed help but before he agreed to it, there was one matter that needed addressing and so, he called the Ryders, the Moshae, Jaal and Paaran Shie to his office to share his plan.
“You want to be part of the test to see if the Angara can feed us?” Grace asked.
“You said it was harmless and if you are to stay in Heleus, you must know who you can and cannot feed from, correct?” Evfra said.
“We do it’s just, usually people don’t volunteer to be part of the test,” Damian admitted with a chuckle as Chitters busied himself with stacking data pads up on the table.
The Moshae chuckled. “Would I be suited to the test as well?” she asked.
“No, with what the Kett did to you its not fair to take a sample from you.” Damian said. “And its rude to ask a lady who has already given us help for more.”
“are all your kin so strict in their rules?” the Moshae asked with a smile.
“Cousin Anna would be more relaxed, but Damian’s always been a by the book boy.” Grace smiled.
“A true gentleman never asked anything from a woman that he would not ask of his own kin.” Damian remarked with a light huff.
“Maybe not, but you have earned a place in this Galaxy. Voeld will welcome an outpost of your people and assist in anyway we can to help ease your people’s needs for as long as we can.” The Moshae said.
Damian smiled and nodded, “Thank you Moshae.”
“And this test, it is done how?” Paaran asked.
“All you and Evfra have to do is stand still and hold one of my hands each. I do the work.” Grace said holding out both her hands, palms up. “You may feel a slight chill in the air, but that is normal.”
Paaran nodded and lightly took Grace’s offered hand, Evfra taking the other, slowly just as Damian had said, the same mist seeped out of Grace’s body and slowly gathered around them. After a moment or two, four small different coloured balls appeared in the mist around them both. Around Paaran the coloured balls were ivory white, pale green, light blue, yellow and pale gold and around Evfra they were another pale gold and blue ball, a slightly darker green and yellow and another ivory white ball.
“Well, that’s a shock.” Damian said.
“What is?” Jaal asked.
“Golden aura.” Grace said, “It means Angara share a trait with our kin. The only other race that has golden aura were the Protheans.”
“And the rest.” Jaal asked.
“White means that we can feed from Angara, yellows mean we can heal you but you might still suffer some pains, greens are a sign of high excess energy, meaning the energy we do take from feeding is high is all basic protein, nutrition and fibres for us and blues mean not only are there no ill effect to the feeding for anyone, but the Angara could actually help us with repopulation. Similar to the Turians and Drell.” Grace said as the mist faded away.
“How would that work?” Evfra asked.
“Given that the orbs were only pale, there’s only a slightly higher chance of it happening but the general rule is that the brighter the blue aura, the better chance a succubus body has of conceiving a child. Though that in its self is a one in a billion chance every time a succubus mates.” Damian explained. “Only humans, Drell and Turian had blue auras, but the brightest of the three are the Turians until now.”
“Does that change anything?” Grace asked.
Evfra shook his head. “No. You have made it clear you have no intention of ruining what little is left of our home worlds and while I admit, the future is not going to be ease for any of our races while the Kett are around, we can at least try and help each other.” He assured.
The look of relief that fell over Grace’s face and the weight it lifted from her shoulders was clear.
The news of Evfra’s choice spread quickly through out the Angara and eventually word reached Akksul as he had expected it too and with it, came the information that Akksul had sought and it came in a full uncut release of what had been said, what had been seen and what had been agreed in a long report from his spies on Aya.
He read it carefully, taking in every detail he could and carefully plotting his next moves now he was better informed of this Alien’s abilities. It would take some work, but his plans would still be achievable with a few small changes where and there.
It would be the perfect way to show that all Aliens were the same and should be destroyed on sight.
But first he had to make sure that other key parts of his plans were in place and so, after making sure he was presentable, he stepped off his shuttle on Kadara and set his plans into motion.
Kesh smiled as the levels of resources suddenly grew vastly and widened with new found resources and foods and nodded to herself. Despite it all, Grace had done it again and made good on a deal and promise Tann and Addison had forgotten.
“She has potential to be as grate as her cousin.” She said.
“Maybe.” Kandros said as he brought her a data pad. “But its not gonna be easy to walk that path as she is now.”
“She’s not feeding?”
“Not on Drack, and she’s not taking form the humans on her crew either. She’s turned down my offer and I’m not going to insult her brother by asking if she’s fed on him.” Kandros said.
“Maybe the Angara?” Kesh asked and Kandros shrugged. “Things may get harder for her if Tann keeps trying to push for her to do more.”
Kandros nodded in understanding.
Between the four leaders, only Kesh and Kandros stood on solid ground with the Ryders, willing to give and take equally to insure they had what they needed to protect their people and the means to fight in the Kett came to the Nexus. Addison gave nothing only took and Tann pretended he knew what the war beyond the doors was like but he had no real clue.
Fancy words did nothing to feed the hungry, rest the weary or fix the damages that left them weak and exposed. And yet, here was Grace Ryder working herself to death without a care for her own health or safety as she went about trying to do her duty as she was contracted to do because of the contract her father had signed all those years ago in the Milky Way to make sure humanity had a home.
And then, she’d have to do it all again for her own people.
Kesh was not pleased with this deal. But she could do nothing to change it as she was not the voice of her people and while Kandros has sway, he also could not speak against this contract as he was not the Turian Pathfinder.
It was unfair, but they would make it as easy and smooth a duty for Grace as they could, Tann and Addison be dammed.
“Pathfinder, may I speak to you?” the Moshae asked as she waved Grace over from a small door way.
“Of cause.” Grace said and headed over, smiling as Chitters gave a curious whistle and carefully looked around the many shelves of the Moshae’s study. “Don’t knock anything over.” She warned him.
“He is clearly very inquisitive,” the Moshae smiled as the pyjak carefully sniffed and lightly poked some artefacts with his little paws to see if they did anything before moving on to the next one. “I wanted to talk about what you said on Voeld.”
“I said many things on Voeld.” Grace said.
~“No one and nothing excuses this mockery of repopulation. NOTHING gives you or anyone the right to alter the genetics of others to your own likings!”~
“Oh.” Grace said and ducked her head. “Sam translated that.”
“It has confused me since you said it,” the teacher admitted, “My people have a reason to be so hateful of the Kett for this, but you acted and spoke as if the insult was towards you personally.”
“It’s foolish and I was rash.” Grace sighed softly, “The Kett are clones, copies of copies of copies, they aren’t true life, they are made, not born… They have nothing that makes a true life. No organic has the right to continue their race in such a way.” She hissed, “What the Kett do is no better than what the Reapers did.”
“Sam.” Grace requested, and Sam gave a soft click as he projected an image for the Moshae as he explained.
“Reapers; a race of giant beings who lived in the dark reached of space, using a state of hypnoses called Indoctrination the plant Sleeper agents into a race and then slowly harvest that race as material to create more of themselves in the image of the races they harvest, Reapers were marked as Universal enemies and were stopped in part due to the actions of Succubus Anna Shepard and the SSV Normandy a few weeks after the Arks left the Milky Way.”
“Cousin Anna went through a lot when she was still young, but of the three of us, she at least has a chance of conceiving a child now she has Javik.” Grace sighed.
“You wish to conceive a child?” the Moshae asked, “I doubt that would be hard for you.”
Grace chuckled, but it was not a happy sound as eth Moshae had thought it would be. “Moshae Sjefa, Succubus can’t conceive children easily. We can’t just sleep with a man when we mature and then wait for the baby to be born, we have find a mate who can keep up with us, willing to sire a child and also willing to take time off and protect us during our season.” She explained. “To a Succubus, even if the child does not grow into another Succubus or Incubus, they were born of our wombs and we are proven to be worthy of such a gift in the eyes of our elders. Until the mass murders and culling destroyed us in so many ways.”
“What do you mean?” the Moshae asked.
“The majority of those killed off in those days were considered children, babies who couldn’t use their powers to flee the danger, millions of young ones killed because of others and their selfishness and those who were older couldn’t bring themselves to breed when in season after that, afraid that they would lose their children again even as we began to decline. When Humanity became part of the Citadel races, Gran called on the Council and the Succubus race was separately added to the Council races as well. When it was discovered that Turians, Drell and even some Quarians could sire children with a Succubus and carry the child of an Incubus, we thought we had a chance to slowly bring our numbers back up.” Grace said and then shook her head. “Then Miranda…”
“What did Miranda do?” The old teacher asked though she doubted she would like to hear it, judging how quickly Grace shied away from trying to talk about the woman behind the name.
“She used what she called ‘the Cure’ and injected our mother with mutated strain of the Genophage in an attempt to stop her conceiving a Succubus or Incubus child. It failed to stop our birth and we thought it was the end of it, but after Anna was taken and then broke free, we learnt that it had not been as easy as that.” Grace shook her head. “The strain mutated and combine with us on a genetic level in the womb, Damian has a one in fifty chances of siring a child with a Human, a one in forty chance in siring with a Turian and a one in twenty five chance of siring a child with a Drell. I have a zero point zero, zero, zero, one chance of conceiving a child with any race. Effetely, I can’t have a child of my own and so I will never be a mother.”
“Why would she do such an awful thing?”
“Because she hated what she was.” Grace stated, “She didn’t want to be a Succubus, so she dedicated her life to try and end the Succubus gene forever. Until the find away to undo what Miranda did to us, the chances are against me ever having a child.”
“What about with the Angara?” the Moshae asked after a while and Grace looked at her in shock. “You said that we share a trait with you, something only one other race has ever shared, could that increase your chances of conceiving a child?”
“I… I don’t know.” Grace said then typed at her omni tool. “Sam?”
“I would require a DNA sample from an Angara male to answer that question accurately. However, given that the Angara share a trait and have a brighter blue aura than Turians, Drell and Quarians, logic dictates that the chances of conceiving or siring through a mating during seasons, are likely higher than others.” The AI stated calmly from her omni-tool.
The Moshae smiled. “I am sure Jaal would help you with acquiring a DNA sample.” She said as Chitters climbed up onto Grace’s back and then gave a startled yip as Grace took off like a shot from her room.
Evfra wasn’t shocked he had asked to stay with the Pathfinder and her crew. Jaal was many things, but not at hiding his intentions.
Once a student always a student, he heard the Moshae say that often when she spoke of Jaal and having witnessed how quickly and easily he settled into to hear and listen when Grace or Damian spoke of their kin, he had to agree.
So he had allowed Jaal to stay with the Pathfinder and after having explained the truth about the Moshae’s capture to everyone who needed to know, Jaal, the Moshae, Grace and Damian, they had left for Kadara port to continue their work while he had been left with a few nasty words to heal from after the Moshae had verbally ripped his head off.
With all that was happening, he had almost forgotten about Akksul, until a Roekaar report landed on his desk and he read the list of recruits who had suddenly stopped coming to training.
The Ama Darav family name was marked down and he rushed out of HQ to try and catch Jaal before he left, arriving just in time to see the Tempest leave the docks.
“What’s the matter?” the Moshae asked.
“Three of Jaal’s siblings have been listed as recent members to join the Roekaar.” Evfra said.
Chapter 6: Feeding the Need. NSFW.
the need to feed is becoming too much stress for Grace, and Lexi knows it, so she gives a light push for Grace to take a break and Damian, been the responsible and loving big baby brother that he is takes the duty of Pathfinder leaving Grace with time to rest, relax and indulge in a little Angara energy.
Feeding the Need. NSFW.
Jaal had been happy to offer a sample of his DNA to Lexi for the test when he had learnt what it could mean for Grace and her fellow Succubus if the results were positive.
Lexi gently pushed the needle under his skin and drew a minimal amount of his blood for the test and sent it off with a little help from Sam before she turned her attention to Grace. “You look awful.”
“Thanks.” Grace smiled weakly and tried to slip out of the room. “I’ll just go and-”
“Oh no, not this time, you are in no fit state to go off and play hero anymore Grace, I’m putting you on medical leave and putting Damian in charge until you are fit for duty again.” Lexi said catching Grace’s arm. “You need to rest Grace and I mean rest, not just sit and read reports and take a nap.”
“No buts young lady.” Lexi stated firmly, “I will make this a medical order if I have too Grace. You are off duty until you have slept and your energy levels are back up. And I will ask Sam to monitor you.” She added.
Grace sighed softly “Fine I’ll take a break,” she said.
“Effective immediately.” Lexi said sternly.
Grace sighed again and nodded. “Sam, transfer all Pathfinder duties to Damian and clear my rota under medical orders.”
“Yes Ryder.” Sam nodded.
“It’s late,” Suvi said evenly though she was smiling. “I say we all get some sleep before we reach Kadara. Damian and I can sleep in crew bunks, so Grace gets a good rest.”
“An excellent suggestion.” Damian nodded, offering Suvi his hand and leading her off for the night. “Night Grace.”
“Night Damian,” Grace smiled, lightly lifting a sleeping Chitters from the medical bed and headed down the hall with Jaal. “I know Lexi’s right, but I don’t know if I can sleep.” She sighed.
“Well,” Jaal smiled. “Lexi didn’t say you had to go to bed straight away.” He said. “My family often spends time just sitting and talking amongst ourselves when we were too energized to sleep, often telling old stories and just being with those we trust and love. It isn’t often, but it helps us get through the darker times.”
“We have a yearly gathering, everyone would come and it was once the most lively event of the year, dancing, singing, stories and tales, I never saw the bigger gatherings, but Gran has a book full of pictures and stories from those days. Its like a bible to us now.”
“Bible?” he asked as they entered her quarters.
“A holy book the human have that is said to hold the words and laws of God. Suvi would be the best person to ask about it for all the facts, but I’m not a believer.” Grace said, setting Chitters down on a soft plush cushion and covered him with a blanket. “Gran calls the book ‘Memories’ and every gathering we all add to it. Even if its just pictures and little details, the book never seems to get filled.”
Jaal smiled. “Tell me about your family?” he asked.
And she did, she told him everything she remembered from her younger days, how her mother and father had been there as often as they could, how Damian had always protected her from the scary monsters at night when they were just little kids, how she’d been introduced to her Grandmother, Aunts and Cousin for the first time as a pre-teen, how she’d been scared they wouldn’t like her because she was small and looked frail, only to be scooped up and hugged tightly by the older Succubuses and welcomed with nothing but love and understanding.
She’d told him about Grandma Cassie’s loving embrace, the hours that had been lost listening to the older woman’s stories and learning so many things from her, the cooking lessons from Aunt Tata, the self defence classes from all her elders and even the parties she’d been to with cousin Anna to learn what to look for in a good man and a bad man.
How her father had explained that he would have to leave and go to work for a long time and sometimes that meant he’d miss birthdays and holidays with them, but he would always try and come home and be there when it was important and that it was her job as the big sister to help mother around the house and never let the cruel people’s words upset her. People judged her and those like her because they heard terrible stories and blamed others for the terrible things that happened because it was easier that way. She told him about the day she’d come home to find her mother on the floor, struggling to breath and in such pain it was effecting Grace herself, and the nightmares that had followed those darker days when her mother was diagnosed with her illness and the still raw loss of her mother and now her father.
Jaal listened and while he asked questions he was also aware of how relaxed talking seemed to make Grace, eventually she was curled up on the sofa, her voice quiet as she told one last story and Jaal carefully placed a blanket over her, letting her use his lap as a pillow as she finally slipped into sleep.
Akksul was not happy that one of his units had taken to murdering other Angara but he let it slide if only because he knew if he stepped in he would lose supporters.
Then he saw the Pathfinder’s ship docking at Kadara port in the early hours of the morning.
He stayed back, watching carefully as the brother, Damian Ryder stepped off the ship and net to speak with the human leader of the Port, though judging by how quiet the port suddenly got when Damian walked by, the Roekaar leader doubted that this was a meeting he wanted to be part of.
But where was the girl? Was she no longer in good health? Could the Kett assault have done something to her? He didn’t truly care about why or what had happened, but if she was the Pathfinder, why was she not leaving the ship…?
Could something on Kadara hurt her?
He had to know.
Quietly. He waited and watched, studying Damian’s effect on the port and those around him as he spoke to a human man, then moved on and vanished down the back of a small building that Sloane was using as a prison from what he had heard tell.
Sloane Kelly they called her, but he thought little about her, she was a blind fool to think she could keep a port such as Kadara to herself and not suffer for how she treated the people around her.
He would have loved to kill her himself, but he had bigger plans to see to first.
“I wondered why Chitters hadn’t come to find me for food.” Damian said as the door opened to the Pathfinders quarters to find Jaal sat on eth sofa with Chitters rolling around on the floor at the Angara’s feet, sniffling and crawling under the blue fabric of his rofjinn.
“He woke me up instead and has been exploring my rofjinn.” Jaal explained as Damian smiled and quietly set a tray of drinks and bowls of food down on the coffee table. “Thank you.”
“No, thank you, for making sure she rests.” Damian said nodding to his still sleeping sister beside Jaal, “She’s been running around trying to fix the mess everyone else made before we arrived and with the bear minimal help from the people who are meant to be the best in the business.” Her brother sighed. “I don’t know how she hasn’t snapped yet.”
“Aren’t you twins?” Jaal asked.
“Yes, but its not so easy to read your twin when she’s closed off to you.” Damian said, “She’s older than me by five minutes and she learnt a long time ago how to shut me out of her feelings so I didn’t feel any echo effects from her when she was stressing out over tests and studying for school. She’s started cutting me out again recently because of the stress, but she forgets that we’re both able to use Sam the same way Dad did.”
“She is however the primary link to Sam.” Jaal reminded. “She told me last night.”
“Yea, but that doesn’t mean she has to do this job alone.” Damian said, “Thanks again Jaal.” And with that said, he left the room again, and Jaal smiled as Chitters gently climbed up onto the sofa and helped himself to the smallest bowl on the tray.
Grace woke with a light yawn and blinked a few times, “When did I fall asleep?” She asked.
“Seven hours ago.” Sam replied.
“Your brother has left to attend matters on Kadara, he brought you breakfast.” Jaal added and Grace blinked at him.
“You stayed with me?” Grace asked.
“You did fall asleep leant against me.” He admitted.
“Sorry.” Grace said, “I didn’t even realize I was falling asleep.”
“It is understandable that you need time to rest and recover after what you have been though.” Jaal smiled softly. “And as Lexi keeps reminding you, you haven’t fed from anyone else since you arrived here, even after being told we could help you.” He added, and Grace shook her head slightly.
“It’s not that I don’t want Jaal, its just been so long that I don’t want to rush in and end up hurting you because I didn’t take the time to make sure you were sure about this. You’ve helped us, helped me so much already I feel bad asking for more so soon,” She admitted. “That you stayed on my crew was enough even when you have a place in the resistance to go back to.”
“My place with the Resistance is not what I would like. But you are going to do something special Grace, I feel it.” Jaal said. “And I can’t deny I enjoy spending time with you, you fascinate me.”
“I enjoy spending time with you too,” Grace smiled, “I’m glad you stayed Jaal. No one besides my mother, father and brother have ever been so kind to me, willing to listen and just talk to me rather than keeping at a distance and insulting me. When we came here everyone knew I was the daughter of the Pathfinder and that meant they either liked me or hated me before they even knew me as a person. You didn’t judge me when we met on Aya.”
“I can understand that, I’m sure I seem confident in my skills, but I’m not.” Jaal admitted. “My family is well known and our lineage is respected. Many of my kin have achieved great things. I’ve never been one of them, with so many older siblings and cousins who succeeded at everything I stopped trying to keep up.”
“Well, I think you’ve done something great already.” Grace said, “You saved the Moshae and made it possible for a dying race to come to Heleus to find a new home.”
“You’re making me blush.” He admitted.
“I can’t tell.” Grace smiled and Jaal realized the flames of her eyes had started to flicker. “This is gonna take a while, so I have to ask just to be sure. Are you sure that you want to do this?”
Jaal nodded. “I am sure.”
“Sam, lock and sound proof the room.” Grace requested.
“Privacy mode activated,” Sam assured.
The kiss started soft, gentle and left Jaal with every chance to pull away if he chose, though within a matter of minutes it was clear he had no intentions of leaving, bringing his arms around Grace as she moved to sit across his lap, the gentle warmth of her mist slowly covering them both.
There was a soft tug deep inside Jaal, a sort of pull he’d never felt before but it wasn’t uncomfortable or painful, instead it felt strangely calming and soothing, he chose to let it be and enjoy the moment as it unfolded, letting his hands wonder and learn her body as she feed from him, a strange but wonderful feeling he had to admit.
And at the same time, it seemed to leave her in a state of hyper sensitivity, every touch causing trembles to wash over her body despite the warmth they were both sharing as he allowed himself to relax as he brought her closer, growing bolder in his explorations as their kiss broke and he instead focused on her neck as she clutched his armour.
Jaal’s hands felt heavenly against her skin, dragging feels of desire long since buried away to the surface once again as she tipped her head back to grant him better access to her neck as his hands found their way to her rear, pulling her flush against him as he kissed and gently bit at her neck.
Cora’s stomach felt tight. A gut wrenching feeling that something was happening she shouldn’t allow. Her training as an Asari Commander told her that it was wrong. That it was against everything she should believe in.
But there was little she could do about that while she was on Kadara with Damian and Liam, fixing the monoliths and helping the people of Kadara rather than staying on the Tempest while Grace was alone with several easy meals to seduce and feed on.
“Eyes sharp Harper,” Damian said as he moved slowly through the tunnels of Kadara.
“Your sister is alone on a ship full of men and women she could easily over power and feed on, and you are allowing it to go unchecked.” She stated.
“Yes I am. Because all the men on that ship, including Jaal, are adults and have more than enough strength to fight my sister off if they so chose. If you are going to take us down this same conversation path again I will hurt you.” Damian said. “Dad may have put up with your shit but I’m in no mood for it.”
“She’s a threat to every living being!” Cora hissed then gagged as Damian grabbed her throat and lifted her easily.
“My sister is not a senseless, murdering whore like some Demon of the Night winds you so clearly believe her to be.” He hissed as he squeezed her neck tighter. “Continue to insinuate such faul ideas about my sister and I will show you just how much of a hell I can make your life.”
“You’re bound by laws!” Cora gagged.
“Succubus laws do not apply to me.” Damian stated coldly.
Liam shook his head at Cora’s shocked gasp. “Harper, Damian’s an Incubus, his code is to protect the Succubus by all and any means.”
“In other words,” Damian said, “I can kill you and no one, not even my elders would bat an eye lid.” He warned and then tossed Cora to the ground. “I will not remind you of that again.”
Liam sighed and followed Damian deeper into the caves. Hopefully this business with the Charlatan and his people would be easily dealt with once the Vault was fixed up, but honestly speaking, he would be glad to just be away from the brewing argument between Cora and the Ryder twins.
None of them saw the eyes watching them.
Jaal knew, given how open Grace was about what she was and what had been said around the ship that she was not inexperienced in intimacy, and clearly she enjoyed being praised and giving someone else the control even though she did have moments when she fought for some control back, which he gave her as they moved from the sofa to the bed, but soon enough he took control again, keeping Grace pinned as they kissed again, one hand teasing the slick heat between her thighs as she arched into the touch.
He’d expected her to be widened, what with the talk of her and Drack having spent time together, but instead she was tight even around his fingers and her body clutched and squeezed around his fingers like a vice, eager for more. He continued to tease, taking it slow to let her enjoy the attention and to let her feed as much as possible, now and then he could feel the now familiar tug of her mist, gentle and soothing in his chest as her eyes burned bright and her skin marks gave of a soft pulse. He caught her breast softly between his teeth and sucked as she moaned beneath him, trembling and gasping as he pushed his fused digits into her heat, pumping them slowly as she clung to him.
“Jaal…” She panted softly.
“Too much?” he asked, stilling his hand to give her a chance to speak.
She shook her head, “Not enough.” She panted a light blush to her cheeks. “You can’t hurt me Jaal, not like this.” She assured.
“Are you sure?” He asked though he removed his fingers and stood to let his pants fall as Grace shifted slightly higher up the bed to make more room for him. “You’ve not done this with any other Angara. And we are not all the same.”
Grace smiled and shook her head. “Maybe not, but I know several shapes and sizes that can’t hurt me thanks to Anna. And while I’m sure Drack’s bigger that anyone on the ship, he’s smooth.” She said, “Plus, all Succubus have a sort of sixth sense, we know who is and isn’t able to mate with us physically, it’s just a case of we chose weather or not we join them on that level rather than dream walking.”
“Dream walking?” Jaal asked.
Grace smiled, “I’ll explain it later.” She promised as he climbed atop her again, the swollen head of his length pushing against her eager heat as she caught his face in her hands, the mist easily seeping into his willing mouth as he pressed his lips to hers again, pushing into her rippling heat with ease.
The haze she left him in made it harder to focus then he’d thought, he knew somehow, she wasn’t trying to control him and yet it was new to him, not entirely different from how his own people mated, and yet his body was eager for more. She wasn’t as tight as he’d thought she’d be given her size but the clench and squeeze of her core was more intense than anything he’d felt before and each movement, from the push of his hips to the throbbing twitch of his length inside her left him struggling to focus and keep his pace steady.
Not that Grace seemed to mind, she clung to his shoulders and back, words lost in a mess of sweet moans and gasps as he claimed her neck with his lips again, leaving light marks on her skin as her body reacted to his in ways he had never thought possible for any woman.
The intense sensations, mixed with the soothing feel of her feeding on him was beyond euphoric, it left his body shaking from the build up to release and at the same time, he could feel every squeeze, clench and shift of her insides around his length. Making his vison haze lightly at eth edges like a dream until it was too much and with a sharp gasp, Jaal felt himself release inside Grace.
She caught his face in her hands again, and Jaal felt a light tug at his lips as the mist he had been breathing in during their time together was slowly pulled out and returned to Grace, bringing colour back to her skin and eyes before her body sagged beneath him and she was left panting and trembling slightly.
“I’m ok.” She assured softly. “Just… need a minute…” She added as the skin marks burned brilliantly with new power and Jaal watched them move and shift around her body, as if painting her skin with a clean coat of paint and focusing the energy she had just taken from him into the places it was needed most. “Are you alright?” She asked.
“Yes.” He nodded, rolling them so they were resting on their sides, lightly wrapping in his arms and pulling the blanket up around them. “You’re shivering.”
“Trembling.” She corrected softly, “Normal for Succubus after feeding during intimacy. Though, I guess since Its been so long, I’m a little slow to recover.” She smiled and snuggled closer. “Thank you. For trusting me.” She said softly.
Jaal smiled. “If you and your kin are to survive here, there must be someone willing to vouch that you have no intention of hurting us.” He said.
Grace smiled. “Should I be worried about Evfra yelling at me for ‘seducing’ you?” she asked with a small chuckle.
“I never said I was going to tell Evfra about this in detail.” Jaal smirked.
Damian smiled as he watched Grace sit on the viewing deck sofa, tossing a ball of Chitters to chase while she, Suvi, Peebee and Vetra chattered away over a drink. There was a shine to her eyes that hadn’t been there in a long time and she was actually smiling genuinely.
And judging by the matching smile on Jaal’s face, he knew why.
Cora wanted to speak, he knew that without needing to see her face, but she’d been silent since his warning and so he was glad to see her sulk off to her Bio lab after removing her armour and locking the door as Liam went off to find Gil and Drack while he went up to join his sister and wife.
“Ladies.” He greeted.
“So, how Kadara?” Grace asked, smiling as Chitters whistled and held up his ball to Damian.
“Smells like rotten apples, the bitch in charge thinks she Aria T’Loak just not as good looking or as intelligent. No offence love,” he quickly added when Suvi gave a hurt pout. “And she’s also too stupid to know when someone is playing her. Reyes Vidal seems an ok-ish guy, if a little bit of a dreamer. But he’s helpful.”
“So, it’s a very poor attempt to copy Omega.” Grace huffed, “Aunt Tara’s gonna hate it.”
“Oh yes.” Damian smiled. “Want to go down and crash a party with me?”
“Hell no, I don’t drink in cheap bars.” Grace stated with a smile, “I bet they don’t even serve Moonshine.”
“Not even a drop.” Damian nodded.
“Ok we are not drinking here until it either gets better or the Aria wanna-be is dead.” Grace stated.
“Amen to that.” Liam smiled as he and Gil came up the ramps, cards and chip in hands.
Grace smiled, “I’m busy with Chitters.”
“I’m saving my credits.” Damian chuckled, “But I’ll shuffle and deal the cards. Just so we all know Gil’s not cheating.”
“Sounds fair.” Liam smiled as everyone settled for a game. Grace smiled and relaxed into the sofa as Chitters laid on her stomach, purring as she absently rubbed his belly.
Things were going well, just for a moment. Jaal was willing to keep feeding her needs, both sexually and casually, Evfra was at least tolerating Humans around the cluster a little more even if it was just the aid to help keep the science teams safe. The Moshae was safe and thus far there had been no reports of any more Roekaar incidents on Havarl or Voeld.
Life it seemed had given them a moment to take a breath and relax.
And then Kallo told her there was an urgent call coming in from Nexus leadership.
“Want back up?” Damian asked.
“I think we all need to be part of this call.” Suvi said with a glare down at the Bio lab.
Grace nodded. And after handing Chitters to Peebee she opened the vid channels. “Yes?”
~ “Are you COMPLETELY OUT OF YOUR MIND!?” ~ Addison bellowed. ~ “You are here to complete the duty of the pathfinders first and foremost! Not feast yourself on an Angara crew mate!” ~
“And you are not in any position to remind me of my duties when you and yours have failed miserably to even make a foot hold here.” Grace stated. “Jaal, like others of my crew, was told shown and asked if he wished to be a part of this crew and what it entitled before he chose to stay here after we found the Moshae, the relationship between my kin and his will be down to US to discuss and explore when my kin arrives. Not humans, not Turians, Not Salarian or even Krogan. They have no say over my kind or me.”
~ “You are the Pathfinder.” ~ Tann reminded sternly.
~ “Correction.” ~ Kesh stated. ~ “She is one of four Pathfinders. And they are not bound to you Tann or any of the leader ship. It is their rights to choose and go where they like to find homes and it is to the crews of their ships to decide if they wish to follow or not. If the Angara wish to explore a relationship with the Succubus and Incubus race, then that is down to them.” ~
~ “Kesh is right. And the only reason the news of Gr ace feeding on her crew mates angers you two is because you both wanted Cora Harper as Pathfinder.” ~ Kandros remarked.
“Well, if you want Harper so much, you can have her.” Grace said, “Kallo set course of the Nexus. We’re dropping the dead weight off.” She added and turned to the vid channels again. “We’ll talk about this in person when I arrive.” She assured cutting the line.
Akksul looked over his reports and read carefully into everything he was able to find on the Succubus and their kind now his allies were able to access such information. For all his readings he could not see what was so alluring about them, they appeared so similar to humans and looked so strange it was hard for him to make any kind of link between then and the high number of accounts that stated a Succubus could grant a man or woman the best intimacy ever known.
He might have to alter his plans to meet the Pathfinder himself before he made a full judgement about her.
Another report came in and he opened it with a board click before instantly sitting up to read it more closely as the information brought a smile to his lips.
So, the humans didn’t entirely trust their Pathfinder and it seemed there was even a crew member how stood completely opposed to having her in any place of power, even stood against the idea of her having any chance to be around any man alone.
He thought carefully about how to use this information while watching the recruits train, some of them were skilled, others were not even close to the level of skill he needed, but they were here to fight and kill Aliens. That was enough.
At least for now.
His plans were simple enough for now, keep them busy with training and then send them home so as not to raise suspicions from their families, all the while, the older more capable soldiers were sent to Eos preparing his plans for that Outpost the Pathfinder had set down there.
If he was to make a show of just how untrustworthy these Aliens were and how deadly their Pathfinder was, he had to make her angry, he knew that from the reports on Voeld.
She would make him a hero to his cause in her anger, and his followers would do the rest.
It was so simple, he doubted anyone would even realize it was his intentions all along.
The Tempest docked and before anyone could say a word against the twins, they disembarked the ship, their robes and skin marks on full display and their flaming eyes alive as they walked to the tram, calmly set it for the main ops deck and headed to visit Tann, Kandros, Addison and Kesh with Suvi, Jaal, Lexi, Drack and Cora in tow.
The conversation behind Tann’s officer doors was loud enough that the sound proofing seemed useless, members of Kesh and Kandros’s teams trading credits now and then as bets were won and lost, members of Addison’s team were silent, choosing not to be a part of the whole situation as far as they could, though everyone knew when the twins were speaking, the air changed so quickly and the whole of the Nexus suddenly went cold and unwelcoming to many humans until at last after three hours of talks, the Ryder twins and their crew left the office, minus Cora and returned to the Tempest as Kallo reported they were fully restocked and refuelled.
Maybe it was the fact that right after they returned to the Tempest and left the Nexus air space Grace had sagged completely and sank into the sofa of her quarters with a curse in a language Jaal’s translator didn’t pick up that brought home just how little he understood the tension between the Succubus and the Humans.
“What language do you guys use?” Peebee asked.
“Gib.” Damian and Grace said.
“Gib?” Jaal asked.
“It’s a mixture of French, Latin, Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Mongolian and Greek. Spoken by all Succubus and Incubus.” Damian explained, “Because no one outside our race speak it or even understand it, they dubbed it as Gibberish or Gib.”
“So, wait, what are you saying when you say stuff like that?” Peebee asked. “It sounds like you’re cursing.”
“Mostly swearing, sometimes incantations of ill health and pain, and the occasional curse.” Suvi smiled proudly. “Damian’s been teaching me.”
Grace smiled. “We’ll head back to Havarl and see about trying to track down Akksul.” She said.
Harry was, if anyone asked, a very fair man. If you were hurt, he did everything in his power to heal and mend you, if you were feeling sick, he tried to make you feel better, but lord help you if you crossed him. Then, no matter who you might be, what rank you might hold, Harry would make your life hell.
This was of cause, how he met Alec, the Incubus was searching for a way to help his wife when she was struggling with a post pregnancy head aches and struggling to keep her food down, when the twins were still just babies Harry hadn’t minded them being around the clinic. They were quite children and hardly ever cried unless someone startled them and if he had been honest with himself, he was existed to be a part of their lives from such a young age, though it was still cute to see Grace, still small and frail clutching her dad’s pant leg tightly in her hand peeking out at the doctor with curious but wary eyes and Damian stood next to his small twin sister, trying to look bigger than he was but still staying just behind his father where it was safe.
They were good patients, really, Grace liked to make neat piles of coloured plasters, and making paper cranes and flowers as she sat waiting for him to see her, while Damian helped his mother and father carry things around. Then they came of age and Harry was almost slack jawed when Grace and Damian came to see him again, gone were the shy, freckled faced children he’d known from a young age and before him stood a perfectly healthy and developed young teenagers.
“Doctor Carlyle. The results you asked for are prepared.” Sam stated calmly from his console.
“Thank you, Sam.” He said, “Can you please contact the Tempest for me?”
“Right away.” Sam affirmed and after a moment, the call connected.
~ “Harry?” ~
“I am sorry if I woke you Grace, but this could be the first good news I have to give you in a long time. Just to be sure of the results I ran the test twice and I also has Sam triple check the results against other tests to be sure I was right.” He explained as he looked carefully at his results. “Angara DNA results are similar to your own results, so it’s a little hard to read accurately. But I think I’m correct in my assessments.” He added.
Grace wrung her hands knowing that Suvi was sat with Damian on the sofa’s behind her while Jaal stood to the side, all of them hoping to hear good news after Jaal had offered to let them draw a sample of his blood for the test.
~ “The chance of you conceiving a child with an Angaran are highly elevated.” ~
“Elevated by how much?” Suvi asked, “With Miranda’s work, its not enough to say elevated.” She added.
~“I’m sending you the results now, you need to read it yourselves to believe it.” ~
Grace looked over her e-mails and carefully read the results over and over again. “Am I… am I reading this right? Harry these results are…?” she added as Damian looked over the results himself.
~ “A double positive. Meaning that the Angara genetics are not only compatible with Succubus and Incubus DNA, the sample also shows that the chances of you conceiving a child with an Angara father is greatly increased when you are in season Grace. If I had to put a number on it, I’d say maybe five out of ten sexual encounters could result in a successful conception of a child when you are in season. Of cause I’m not the expert in your kin so we’d have to wait for your Grandmother to look at the results for an accurate number but- Grace? are you crying?” ~
Damian smiled, gently taking his sister in a tight hug as she clung to his shirt, crying into his chest though they were tears of joy and relief, rather than tears of grief. “Thank you, Harry.” He said as the call ended. “Hush now.”
“After all these years,” Grace said. “They said it was impossible… that the shit Miranda used… they said…”
“And we just proved them wrong.” Damian said, gently rubbing his sister’s back as she cried. “Come now, no more tears,” he pleaded softy as he held her, lightly swaying as she tried to stop her tears only to fail as the joy came over and over again.
Suvi smiled, it was the first good news for Grace in a long time and it was also a sign that just maybe someday there would be more Succubus and Incubus around and that was a light of hope none of them had though possible.
Chapter 7: A Moment’s Peace.
Stuff gets calmer and nice for Grace and Damian. but for Tann and the Nexus, shit is about ready to hit the fan and its not gonna be pretty.
A Moment’s Peace.
After a week, things had calmed down again. Despite not being able to find help from Thaldyr on Havarl, Jaal had been assured by the Moshae that as soon as she had Akksul on Aya, they could try and talk this out like sensible adults.
So, while they waited for news on Akksul, Grace and Damian spent their time sorting out the mess that was Kadara port, helping get the now disgraced body guard to the Moshae Vehn Terev out of the prison cell he was in with some help from Reyes Vidal, Damian had remained and begun cleaning out the last of the Kett that Sloane Kelly had missed and dealing with other issues the Port suffered under the Outcast’s rules while Grace and Gil worked on trying to fix and repair the damaged transponder Vehn had given them.
They were able to get some small fix on the location of the Archon’s flag ship, and while Evfra wasn’t pleased that one of his men had betrayed his trust, he didn’t have time to worry or dwell on the fact as a call from Commander Do Xeel came in requesting urgent help with a Remnant Archivist that had been seen around the area. Grace brought Peebee and Drack down to Voeld to deal with that little mess and after a few hours talking and thinking it through carefully, an Outpost was set up on Voeld, bringing the Angara and Humans together in a united attempt to learn more about why Voeld’s change had been so drastic, while a small group of human scientists had asked permission to help out on Havarl.
Evfra had been unsure how to feel about that, but his mind quickly moved on to the report from Jaal that Damian had helped stop a spree of murders in Kadara port committed by Roekaar.
Currently, the Tempest was docked in Aya’s port, restocking on basics while Grace spoke with Nexus leadership while Damian was on his way back with Liam and Jaal via an Angara transport.
Or rather, Grace tried to talk, only to be hounded about needing more of everything from the Salarian Evfra now knew was Tann, according to Jaal, he was a particularly unloved member of the leadership as he refused to give any kind of aid to Grace and her team despite the clear need his station suffered.
He had, in all honestly, expected to see Grace angry at this Salarian when she’d extended the invitation to Evfra allowing the resistance leader and several of his engineers to study the Tempest’s design in hopes that they could make a ship that could match the Tempest in speed for travel.
“I don’t care what deals or promises were made to you Harper! You lost any rights to stay on my crew when you started calling me a monster! My kin will have what was promised to us and if I have to personally come and rearrange the Leadership of the Nexus by force I will!! You have no right to insult my crew mates just because you couldn’t sway my father’s choice!”
He had not expected to see the human wife of Damian in a state of near tears as she ran past him with Vetra close on her tail while Grace yelled to the high heavens at the holo images of Cora Harper and Tann.
“We have given you a new outpost on Voeld and we have made an agreement with the Angara that allows our scientists to work together to study Havarl plant life, all of which is planned in my father’s deal with the Initiative’s, the fact it has taken so long is your own faults as you would not make a move to help when you had the opportunity to do so. Now, I have work to do that involves actually making life in this cluster easier for us all, so I suggest that you two look at your own sorry achievements since arriving in this cluster and START MAKING YOURSELVES USEFUL!!!!”
“What happened?” Evfra asked.
“Cora called Suvi a brainwashed slut.” Kallo said as worked on the lower table. “And then she had the nerve to insult Damian.”
“So help me, I’ll skin Cora if I see her again within the next week.” Grace hissed as she came down the ramp, her eyes burning with untold fury. “Lexi, go make sure Suvi is ok, Sam call Damian and tell him what happened.”
~ “Yes Pathfinder.” ~
“I take it this is common for you?” Evfra asked.
“Common for Damian.” Grace nodded, “I normally get it worse.” She admitted. “Now, ship designs.” She added quickly changing the subject.
Gil and Kallo get the hint and together they were able to explain and show the old prototype designs for the Tempest and her sister ships, the Beacon, the Heaven and the Warrior, had been based off.
“You say these ships is based on another like it?”
“The Normandy,” Kallo nodded, “The Normandy was designed to be the perfect balance of Turian and Human engineering, when the Mark 2 was made, she was larger but still held the same speed and stealth capabilities and her performance was greatly improved by an AI infusion.”
“An unshackled A.I.” Grace smiled.
“I’m still unsure of how effective that would have been here.” Kallo admitted. “Sam is helpful but unshackling him might not have the same effects.”
“It would not hold any effect to the ship at all.” Sam stated calmly. “My link to the Tempest is purely to maintain better contact with the Pathfinder, to unshackle me would result fatal sensory overload for both Damian and Grace.”
“And that would bring about a whole world of pain for the Nexus.” Gil chuckled. “I never want to meet your kin on a bad note.”
Evfra saw the slight flash of Grace’s eyes and blinked, but said nothing as Gil and Kallo explained and showed a few other examples and helped with a few smaller details for the Angara ships. The bigger ships that Evfra hoped for would be a very different designs from the Tempest and Normandy, but it would give them Angara the speed they needed to reach their people in dire need.
“Something tells me I should know something.” He said quietly while Grace sat on one of the sofa’s near him, Chitters curling up on her lap as she began to lightly scratch at his back with her finger tips.
“Only that if Damian and I die here, Grandma, Aunts Tara and Hannah and cousin Anna are going to be here in a matter of minutes and ripping into the Nexus leadership for answers.” Grace smiled. “What I did on Voeld will look like a child’s temper tantrum if that happens.”
“Would they harm the Angara?” he asked.
“Nope, might give them a bit of a scare when they just pop into existence, but they won’t hurt them.” Grace said.
“Your kind can teleport from one galaxy to another?” Evfra realized.
“We can, but usually it takes a lot of energy or a sudden sense of fear or loss that brings us all into one place.” Grace nodded. “Damian use to pop into life when we were children a lot, scared the life out of the kids that teased me, but it always made him tired that’s why cousin Anna taught me how to use my mist to travel from place to place. It’s not as tiring and it was a fun party trick.”
“With so many skills and abilities I am shocked humanity isn’t looking to try and learn from you. You skills could win many battles.” Evfra said.
“They tried.” Grace said, “The First Contact with the Turians lead to a mass capture of all none humans on Earth. Grandma Cassie was amongst those captured and she listened as humanity tried to justify their fears in all none humans on earth then demanded we help them fight the Turians because they were a threat to our home. That demand was met with laughter and human kind was told that no one and nothing controls fear and thus, humans had no right to use their greatest fears against Turians or any other Aliens.”
“And that is still true now?” Evfra asked.
Grace nodded. “There is a rule between none humans, we only help humans who have proven themselves worthy of our help, those who know what we are, either because we told them or because they found out on their own and haven’t changed the way they treat or react to us, humans who see us a just another person, not another race no matter who or what we are.” She smiled, lightly placing a finger to Chitters’ nose and the creature chirped and hurried off when Drack’s bellowing laughter echoed around the ship. “Sam?”
“Drack is retelling one of his stories.” The AI explained.
“Oh boy, please don’t let him get so into the tale he breaks the cooking utensils again.” Grace pleaded.
“Lexi has already taken over cooking duty.”
“You do not thank a higher being?” Evfra asked.
“Nope.” Grace said, “Gods and Deities are people who rule from a seat of power and authority and yet they can do nothing to help their people when they are in dire need, stars shine, no matter what you do or say to them, and every now and then, one falls from the sky to remind us all things are fallible and nothing is eternal.”
Evfra shook his head, “You sound like a woman I knew.”
He nodded, “She spoke like you, blunt and to the point, sometimes harshly putting everything into clear and unquestionable places for me and others, for a time I thought her words and actions cruel and hurtful, until I realized her motives were to be the voice of such harsh realities that we didn’t get lost in false hopes.” He shook his head, “She died saving Angara children from a Kett assault when I was still young.”
“You’re still young now.” Grace said, “A bit grumpy and short tempered from stress, but still young. And not too bad on the eyes either.”
Evfra gave her a look. “Are you trying to make me blush?”
“I made Jaal blush within ten minutes of talking to him privately, I want to see if it’s a trait all Angara share or if it’s just him.” She smiled. “Plus, you’re either frowning, growling, snapping orders or going over reports and glaring at something when I see you, so I want to know if there are any other expressions you can pull that look better on you.”
The Resistance leader gave her a smirk that screamed of challenge. “It takes more than sweet words to make me blush.”
“I was hoping you’d say that.” She smiled back, “How about a wager?”
“If I can beat you in a sparring match, and I mean a real sparring match, not a light dust up for show, you have to buy me a drink.” Grace offered. “And if I can’t, well, then I buy you a drink?”
“Just a drink?” Evfra asked.
“Well, whose to say that one drink won’t lead to a conversation that leads to more drinks and whatever the night may bring?” She added smiling offering him her hand. “Deal?”
“Deal.” Evfra nodded shaking her hand.
Damian found Suvi huggled in the back of the armoury, hugging her knees to her chest as she sniffled, trying so hard not to cry, he sighed softly and knelt beside her, gently wrapping her in his arms, hiding her as she broke down in to tears. “Do not heed them, my love, they’re beneath you.”
Suvi shook her head and clung to Damian tightly. “She isn’t the only one, every woman I know has said something like that to me… All of them! Addison, Cora, even back in the Milky way and I-”
“Hush,” Damian said softly as he held her close. “Grace and I will find a home for our kind when this is over, and you will never have to hear such harpies ever again. Nothing and no one will ever take me away from you Suvi, unless that is your desire.” He reminded. “I accepted you into my life as my bride because I love you, not because I want some one-night stand, I chose you to walk beside for a time because you came to me with genuine good intentions and pure honesty, something no other woman before or since has ever given me.”
“But… But what about when I’m old?” Suvi asked, “When I can’t-”
“Stop.” Damian stated calmly. “Don’t let yourself fall into that trap of thinking I want more from you than you are already giving me. I told you when we married that I would never ask for more of you than honesty, love and trust. If I ever need anything else, I will ask you for it when and if I ever feel the need for it and we will talk about it as husband and wife.”
Suvi smiled weakly and nodded, though she was still crying as he held her close, gently rubbing her back and humming softly. “How does Grace cope with all this?” She asked, knowing that Grace had suffered similar treatment all her adult life.
Damian smiled and quietly whispered the answer, chuckling as Suvi went a very bright shade of red from head to toe.
Grace felt someone’s arousal suddenly spike up and smiled, reminding herself to boop Damian later for telling Suvi her favourite method of stress relief. That or she could just tell Suvi Damian’s weakness and watch her brother melt faster than rich chocolate in the mouth.
“Hi Jaal.” She smiled waving a hand in the general direction of the voice as she went back to carefully working under the Nomad, “Everything good on Kadara?”
“For now, I believe they are.” Jaal nodded, “Why are you under the Nomad?”
“Since Gil did show and tell with the ship’s details and helped with the designs for your race. I promised I would do the Nomad checks.” Grace smiled.
“Ah,” Jaal nodded, “May I ask why Suvi is so upset?”
“Cora and Tann called and said some mean things to her, things that no one should ever say, because she was married to my brother, threatening to strip me of my crew and ship because I wasn’t for filling the contracts my father had signed, which is all lies since Kesh and Kandros have both called to thank me and Addison even sent a thank you e-mail.” Grace explained, “I’m use to being called horrid things, but Suvi’s only human and there are a lot of women who would say nasty things to and about her because she’s married to Damian.”
“Why?” Jaal asked.
“Jealousy.” Peebee said as she came in, carrying a funny looking device. “Grace and Damian, despite being seen as monsters by some humans, are two of the most desirable people in the galaxy at current, so the fact Damian is married and a taken man makes a lot of women very rude and horrid towards Suvi. Since she got him over everyone else.”
“And I am not one to just fall into bed with a man who just happens to look good.” Grace said as she wiggled free of the Nomad, “Any luck?”
“No, Sam and I have done what we can, but the signal is just well and truly fried. We’d need to go by Eos and see if there is anyone there who can help us.” The Asari sighed.
“I’ll add Eos to the stop list.” Grace smiled. “Damian with Suvi?”
“Yes, soon as he got back he went to go find her.” Peebee nodded. “What are you gonna do?” she asked.
Grace smiled so sweetly that Peebee shuddered, “I, my dear Peebee, will do nothing. My Gran on the other hand.”
Peebee blinked then smiled brightly. “Tell me she’s gonna make them squirm? Please, please, please, please, please, please, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease?!”
“I asked Kandros and Kesh to record it just in case we miss it.” Grace nodded.
“Yes!!” Peebee cheered.
Jaal blinked in confusion.
“Gran can use a very special type of telepathy. Not only can she communicate, she can also stimulate. So the body feels like its being touched, even when its not.” Grace explained. “To someone like me or Damian and even some Asari, it’s quite a soothing feeling, its helps relax the body and mind, but to a Salarian or even someone like Cora it’s like wearing the most uncomfortably tight, itchy clothing in the world and being struck with a hot and cold fever.”
“And that is something you want to happen to them?” Jaal asked.
“They made my sister in law cry and have been nothing but useless baggage since we got here.” Grace said, “Call me petty, but I have always enjoyed seeing people who are cruel to my family and friends suffer a little for their actions.”
“Plus, I have always wanted to meet The Lady Cassie Ryder, they say of all the Succubus she is the only one who could stand shoulder to shoulder with the greatest of the Asari Matriarchs.” Peebee smiled dreamily.
“Peebee has a crush~” Grace chuckled and ducked as Peebee gave her a light swat.
“Pathfinder, Damian has asked me to relay that you will not be sleeping in the Pathfinder quarters tonight.” Sam stated. “He has placed your preferred pillows and blanket in a neat pile by the door.”
“I’m sleeping on the viewing deck tonight.” Grace smiled, “I get to star gaze.”
Jaal smiled and chuckled as a familiar weight landed on his back, giving a happy chirp as small paws searched for a treat in his pockets. “Hello Chitters.”
The shuttle ride was slow, calm and deliberately took the longest path to reach Aya.
The Moshae had contacted him directly and asked him to come by her workshop at his soonest free moment to speak with her and the Pathfinder like civilized adults, rather than having his spies continue their pointless observations of her. He felt hurt that the Moshae had spoken to him as she would have when she scolded him in class, but then again, she had every right to be angry with him, he had failed to save her, and for that, he owed her at the very least his deepest and most sincere apologies.
And so, he had dropped everything at the end of her call and jumped into his shuttle to make the trip to Aya. His path would take at least three days, and he was already a day into traveling, but it was safest for him to take this path as it meant no Kett could follow him to Aya and thus, he couldn’t be blamed for bringing the Kett to their home world.
In truth, Akksul was interested to finally meet this Succubus face to face, it would finally give him a chance to properly study her and witness her ‘beauty’ for himself. He had noticed that his people had started to slip, referring to her with such terms as ‘beautiful’, ‘attractive’ and expressing desire to know her on a more intimate level.
It was frustrating that his people seemed to have forgotten just how Alien she was, even to the ones who had brought her to this cluster, but at the same time, he couldn’t deny that she fascinated him in some way and he would be lying if he didn’t admit that he hoped meeting her would grant him greater understanding of just how best to deal with her should his plans back fire.
Jaal had guessed that Chitters would be joining Grace for the evening, but he hadn’t expected the Pyjak to make himself a small bed using one of the now empty food crates Jaal’s snacks had once lived in, a spare pillow and a dust sheet for a blanket.
All of which Chitters had dragged up the ramps to the viewing deck after watching Grace set up her self a bed on one of the sofas there.
“Has he done that often?” he asked as the pyjak in question lay curled up in his new bed
“Yes, everyone has a Chitters box, space or pillow. Even Drack.” Grace smiled as she fluffed the pillow Damian had placed out for her. “He hates sleeping without me around, since he’s afraid of being put back in a cage.”
“He has a cage?” Jaal asked.
“Had.” Grace said, “I made Drack crush it under his foot when Cora tried to force Chitters back into it after he scratch her face.”
“Has she always been against you?” Jaal asked.
Grace nodded. “From the moment she knew I was a Succubus, I was her enemy.”
“Then why was she on your crew to begin with?”
“Because humanity placed her on my father’s team as assurance he wouldn’t forget his promise to complete the contract.” Grace sighed, leaning back against the railing as she looked out the windows over the darkening sky of Aya. “When he signed up as Pathfinder, the human leaders demanded he have a permanent human member of the crew and gave him Cora, Human Biotic, trained by the very best Asari commandos because she was too strong for the human and Turian teachers, they assumed wrongly that my father would seek Cora for sexual favours and abuse his place as a high ranked officer to gather himself a harem. This didn’t happen of course and so instead of trying to ruin my father’s image, Cora turned her sights to me and Damian. She thinks that she can defeat me in a fight, but what she hasn’t bothered to learn or understand is that while I am bound by the laws of my kin here because I am the Pathfinder, Damian is not.”
“Damian is a threat to humanity?” Jaal asked, standing beside her.
“He’s a threat to Cora.” Grace corrected. “By law, a Succubus can’t attack another woman unless she is in a life or death situation and even then, I can only cripple or disarm, I can’t kill. Damian however, can kill someone if they attack me as he is an Incubus and my brother thus, my protector as much as he is Suvi’s husband.”
“And that means he can do others harm in your name?” Jaal asked.
“No, it means that if Cora makes any kind of attempt on my life or the lives of my crew, Damian can kill her and there is nothing anyone can say or do about it.” Grace said with a small yawn.
“Sleepy?” Jaal smiled.
“A little, but then again, since I’ve been feeding, the Angara are helping and everyone that matters to me is in good health again, I feel safe sleeping again. But I always like to watch the stars before I go to sleep.” She admitted moving to sit on the railing. “Are you going to star gaze with me?” She asked.
“I will,” Jaal nodded, “But I am afraid many of the stars I knew as a child has either been lost to the Scourge or are simply no longer there, so I may not be able to answer many questions you have.”
Grace smiled. “Well, the fun about star gazing is that you don’t have to know them all to know they are endless numbers of them and that means I can use my imagination.”
Jaal chuckled. “You do that a lot more now.” He said and Grace blinked at him with a confused sound. “Smile.” He explained, “When you first arrived on Aya and during those first few missions we were on together I never saw you smile much unless you spoke to your brother, though even then, it seemed forced. Now you smile almost every time someone speaks to you.”
Grace blushed lightly. “Well, I have a reason to smile. My crew is safe, my efforts to help humanity get out of the mess they walked into are helping in better ways that I hoped, my chances of being a mother went up to near 90% success rate from 0.0001% and to top that all off nicely, you’re here.” She said and chuckled as Jaal gave her a familiar look. “You’re blushing again?”
“You are getting better at noticing it.” He nodded, lightly wrapping his arms around her waist as she lent against his chest.
An email bleeped from Grace’s omni tool and she smiled opening it to read as Jaal glanced down to see what the fuss was.
>>> To; Grace Ryder
About our deal, just to save myself any embracement, I would prefer we not attempt our wager around others who might take it the wrong way. In light of this, I would ask that we move our little challenge somewhere more privet.
I will meet you outside of Resistance HQ after I have finished my work for the day.
“You and Evfra?” Jaal asked.
Grace chuckled. “A Succubus does like variety, Jaal, but trust me. I won’t be trading you out for him anytime soon. Our deal is if I can beat him in a real sparring match tomorrow, he buys me a drink and if not then I have to buy him one, from there we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Jaal chuckled, “I would tell you it’s impossible to beat him, if I didn’t know him as I do.” He said, “But it has been a long time since anyone has made him such a challenge and he is not one to back down easily.”
Grace chuckled, “I do love a good challenge and it would give me a far better ” She admitted bringing her hand to his. “May I?”
Jaal didn’t need to ask what she meant and instead only nodded, leaning down to meet her halfway as she lent up to kiss him, lightly at first then deeper as he tightened his grip on her waist, gently pulling her from the railing and pinning her against it lightly as he held her. The feeling was soft, warm and welcomed instantly, and while once Grace might have worried about Cora hearing this and recording it from her Bio Lab, the biotic was no longer a problem as thus, she had no reason not to enjoy a little time with Jaal.
They’d just have to keep their activities quiet.
Suvi woke to find Damian curled protectively around her smaller body, one hand lightly petting her back and side as she lay still, softly placing gentle kisses to her neck and face.
He never woke her with a shake of the shoulders or by calling her name, he let her wake on her own, if she chose to curl closer to him, he would continue to kiss and pet her until she either asked him to stop or they were forced to get out of bed, if she rolled away, he would stop and let her sleep more.
She smiled and shuffled closer, lightly wrapping her arms around his neck and pressed a soft kiss to his nose. “Morning to you too.”
“Did you sleep well?” He asked, lightly cupping her face.
“I did, thanks to you.” She smiled, feeling her face burn slightly. “You didn’t have to do all that for me.”
“I know, but I felt like it was needed.” Damian smiled softly. “You were unhappy because of that hag’s words and I wanted you to remember just how worthy, gorgeous, beautiful, amazing and deserving you are of my love.” He confessed wrapping his arms around her waist and pulled her flush against him again. “Never let anyone tell you otherwise, mo ghràdh.”
Suvi smiled and nodded, letting him brush away the tears from her face with his thumb. “Mo chridhe.”
Damian nodded, “Forever.” He assured, then looked to the door as someone knocked twice and then a light scratching sound followed. “What is it Grace?”
“Akksul will be arriving late tomorrow morning at the latest according to the Moshae. Don’t make plans.” Grace warned. “I’m going out.”
“Alright.” He nodded. “Then I have the day to myself.”
“Yes, you do and Suvi is off shift until 16:00 hours.” Grace added before she hurried off hearing Suvi give a startled ‘ep’ followed by laughter. “Sam, engage sound proofing in Pathfinder quarters.”
“Yes Pathfinder.” Sam nodded as she left the ship.
The morning sun of Aya was always nice and the warmth it bathed her in was like being on Earth, but the air was so much cleaner and the water shimmered and glittered with purity never seen on earth, everything was so much cleaner and yet, there was still that taint of heat and natural fury that brought that hint of bitterness to the scent just enough to remind her this was not a dream. Then again, Grace smiled, pausing as she looked out over the horizon, watching the storm beyond rage. The planet itself was wild, untamed and free. Like something she had seen in dreams when she was just a child, reliving the stories her gran had told her before sleep tugged her away.
“Why are you smiling like that?” A voice asked, and Grace turned to see Peebee walking towards her.
“Remembering.” She said.
“Past loves?” The Asari asked.
“Stories Gran use to tell me.” Grace chuckled as Peebee joined her. “She could spin words so well I was never without a story for bed time when I was small and she filled five whole rooms with her own books and short stories.”
“You miss your family a lot.” Peebee said, “But from what I hear tell, you can still contact them if you need to,” she added.
“Just Gran.” Grace sighed. “To be honest, I’m not even sure how to start that conversation. I know she knows Alec’s dead, but I still have no idea how to tell her about the rest of this mess.”
“You could always tell her while holding Chitters. Your Grandma might be so distracted by his cuteness she doesn’t freak out about the mess?”
“If it was that easy Peebs, I would have done it by now.” Grace huffed, “Gran’s scary when she’s sad, because I never know how she’ll react, and if she comes here with the others with sadness clouding her mind… stars I don’t even want to know what would happen.”
“How bad can it be?”
“The last time someone made Gran angry, they were banished to wonder oblivion for all of eternity and hear the screams of banshees.” Grace shuddered. “Even Aunt Tara is scared of Banshees.”
“But I thought Succubus couldn’t be killed by anything but another Succubus or an Incubus?” Peebee asked.
Grace shook her head. “We’re hyper alert, hyper aware and we have multiple sensory advances that make us near impossible to sneak up on, but that doesn’t mean we are immortal or infallible. You’re this close to me because I let you get here, because I trust you, but all it takes is for me to make a mistake and let the wrong person close like this and I’m suddenly an easy target.”
Peebee blinked, slowly realizing just what Grace was saying to her. “So, I could hurt you just as easily as Cora said she could if she’d been this close to you at any point?”
Grace nodded, “Biotics are immune to the ill effects of a feeding and any strain I’d cause her would have been minor, even less so had she been in full ‘Commando’ mode. Its why Succubus as a whole try to avoid going near Asari ruled worlds and why we all as a group do not get involved in Asari business unless asked by a Matriach or by their Councillor.”
“Damn.” Peebee said.
“Enough of that now.” Grace said, “I have to try focus on besting Evfra in a sparring match so I get a free drink for the night.”
“Does Jaal know you’re out with Evfra on your mind?” Peebee smiled sweetly.
“Darling I’m a succubus, flirting with men and women is part of my nature.” Grace reminded with a wink, “Now go play nice with Lexi while I see about getting that drink.”
“Good luck.” Peebee bid as she wondered off, leaving Grace to smile after her before returning her attention to the horizon.
Kandros paused as something caught his nose, a familiar sweet fragrance that stirred an old memory. A woman who could stand tall and proud even with her cane at her side and who could give the Primarch of his people one glance and have him in a whimpering mess, a woman so old even the oldest Asari Matriarchs were seen as children to her and a woman so wise, she had offered her blood and genetics to the Krogan in hopes it would help them fight the Genophage in future.
He quickly messaged Kesh to meet him in Tann’s office and hurriedly called Addison and asked Sam to patch in the Tempest.
Moments later, he, Kesh and Addison were witness to the first time since arriving that Tann’s face went white as a sheet and Cora tried, oh she tried so hard to shrink away into the corner.
There, on the holo image, stood a very angry looking elderly woman, her cane firmly pressed into eth ground before her and her eyes burning with flames so powerful that they showed up on the holo image.
“Lady Cassie Ryder.” Kesh greeted with a respectful bow.
~ “Nakmor Kesh, I trust that you are well?” ~ The woman asked kindly.
“As well as can be expected.” The Krogan nodded, “I am sorry to inform you that your grandchildren are not here to speak with you.”
~ “Oh I am not calling to speak with them here, I know they are on another planet enjoying a moments rest after number eight chose to try and run them ragged.” ~
~ “Initiative Director Jarun Tann. You and I are going to have a VERY long talk about your behaviour and your manners towards my grandchildren and their crew when we arrive and if you so much as DARE to think I will not hunt you down and torment you to the ends of all the Heleus Cluster for the insults you have allowed that wretched Harper to speak to my daughter in law You are sorely mistaken.” ~ the woman said firmly as she cut the Salarian off. ~ “We will be arriving in five days, you have until then to prepare yourself.” ~
Kandros looked at Addison who had been silent the whole exchange so far and noticed she was starting to look very, very worried.
Grace ignored the feeling of a scanner passing over her back, the signal was too weak to give a real reading on her, but the sensation was enough to tell her that the Angara that had been trying so hard not to be noticed was now trying to complete their task without alerting her to it.
“You’ll only get a match to a human if you scan me at a distance.” She told them. “My kind have long since learnt to hide our true biology from scanners like yours, so if you have something you want to ask me, I’d prefer you just come over and asked it.”
After a moment, likely cursing the fact they’d been caught more than anything, the Angara stepped closer, “Curiosity doesn’t imply desire to interact.”
“And yet you’ve been trying to get a scan of me ever since Evfra let us stay on Aya. Distance implies caution and uncertainty, given what happened with the Kett, I can’t say I blame you. Daring to get closer, implies confidence and also shows boldness, meaning you aren’t trying to scan me for no reason so I am guessing you are either a researcher or scientist.”
“You are an Alien to my home world and an Alien to even the humans. Why wouldn’t I be interested in finding out more about you?” the Angara asked.
“Most people tend to avoid my kind.” Grace said, “Humanity turned us into monsters for stories to scare young men and women into fearing us because we were different. Over the years we learnt to hide ourselves to stop scanners finding out what we were like inside and out and we shaped our outward appearances to be more human.”
“And yet you share many external similarities with humans and even Angara. I want to learn is that is also true internally.” The Angara said, “My name is Daanfre, and you were right, I am a biological researcher. Will you submit to a full-spectrum analysis of you biology?”
“Sure.” Grace said and once again felt the light tickle of a scan over her body.
“I didn’t think you’d comply.” Daanfre admitted waiting for the results to come in.
“I’m young enough to know that not everyone is out to look for a way to kill us.” Grace said. “Had you tried to scan my grandmother or aunts, they would have refused out right.” She added, “Anna, me and Damian aren’t as reluctant to be scanned and studied so much since it’s the norm for us. Plus, we’re full of surprises.”
“That you are. When we face extinction, family is our final comfort. Do you understand that?” Daanfre asked.
“Far more than any human.” Grace nodded. “I am the youngest of five succubus alive in the universe today and Damian the last Incubus. Together the six of us are all that remains of a race that was once plentily and thriving. Now we are the last of our kind. We came here with my father to seek a home where we could try and repopulate away from humanity and live out what we could of our lives, we lost him on the first day we arrived and now I carry his legacy on.”
“What will your family look like in the next generations and how many will they be?” Daanfre asked.
Grace smiled. “If you are trying to nicely ask me if we’ll reproduce quickly and become a civilization like Angara or humanity you needn’t worry, a succubus can only become pregnant with a child in her seasons, and they are six to eight months apart and once a child is conceiving the seasons stop happening until the child is ten years of age.” She said, “likely, your grandchildren’s great, great, great grandchildren will only know of maybe nine or ten of my kind.”
“Ryder.” Both turned to see Evfra making his way over to them, a stern looking frown on his face.
“And now the fun starts.” Grace chuckled, “Goodbye Daanfre.” She added and moved to meet Evfra half way. “I thought I’d have to come drag you out of your office in Resistance HQ.”
“I was held up on a report.” He admitted watching Daanfre leave the area. “What did she want?”
“Just a scan.” Grace assured, “So, where are we going?”
Evfra’s lips twitched but the smile didn’t form and Grace pretended not to notice. “There are some small pools near here, sheltered from prying eyes and safe for us to spar in without someone misunderstanding our conflict.” He said casting a glance to the young Angara who were starting to mill around.
“Very well, lead the way.” She said, following Evfra away from the busying areas of the Daar to wards a lower area where the sunlight didn’t seem to reach quiet as much and the smell of weapon fire lingered in the air.
It wasn’t long before Grace noticed just how quiet the path they were walking had become and she smiled, likely, someone had figured out what was happening and while most younger Angara wouldn’t witness this, older, more battle hardened Angara would have found a way to watch this fight.
“Your brother?” Evfra asked.
“He’ll stay away, as long as I’m not fatally hurt.” Grace assured. “Rules?”
“No weapons, just abilities and hand to hand.” Evfra said, already removing his scarf.
“Fair enough.” Grace said. “Sam, go to dormant protocol.”
“You’re not going to let Sam help you?”
“It’s a test of my skill against yours, not Sam’s ability to increase my strength or numb my pains. Sparring with Turians is fun, but Lexi makes us use padding and she won’t let me or Damian spar without Sam keeping our abilities under constant watch.”
“So you plan on enjoying this?” Evfra asked.
“I’d say it was a win-win. You get to see a fraction of what I can do when I have fed, and I get to cut loose and not worry about killing someone.” Grace smiled, “And at the end of it, one of us is getting a free drink.”
Evfra smiled and after setting a large space as their ‘ring’ he let himself fall into a familiar stance, keeping his feet ready to push or brace against an on coming attack or deflect a blow with his hands while Grace chose a far more laxed stance that had he not seen and heard from Jaal what she could do, he would have mistaken for a beginners mistake.
“Fist to call yield.” He stated.
“Or get knocked out of the ring.” Grace nodded though her eyes never left him.
If Grace had been surprised by the command from outside the ring, she gave no sign that Evfra could see.
The fight started as most sparring matches did, a few quick strikes to test the other’s defences, searching the stance for weak spots, then the more serious attacks came, Evfra tried to knock Grace back with a palm to the face, only for her to bend back at the last minute and firmly drive her foot into his right side with enough force to make him shift with her, but when he moved to grab her foot and counter, she moved faster than he could grab her and she managed to duck and swing herself away from him, backing off with a few swift steps to get distance from him and also allow him the chance to regain his footing.
She wanted to drag this out as long as she could, knowing that it would be a long time before she got the chance to enjoy such a fight again. Their Audience watched in silence, some eager to witness just how good in a fight the Pathfinder was, others simply wanting to know if Evfra could still hold his own after being stuck behind a desk so long. Again and again, the two combatants came together and traded blows, each growing more bold and daring as they found tiny cracks in the defences, though Evfra knew she wasn’t using her mist, he’d caught glimpses of it beyond the designated ring but so far, he had not felt it over him and so he took it as Grace choosing to test her own abilities and skills rather than her powers as a Succubus just yet.
He managed to land a kick to her stomach, forcing her to back off but she recovered quickly and charged him once again, then just as one of his punches came inches from her face, she dropped from his sight line and he felt his whole body shake as her fist connected with the underside of his chin with such force he was lifted and thrown backwards, staggering back as Grace smiled.
“Having fun yet?” She asked.
“Done testing the waters, then are we?” he asked back.
Grace chuckled and Evfra felt as well as saw the mist gather around Grace’s body, making the robes she wore flutter as they charged one another again, the mist acting as an extra layer of protection as they traded blow for blow, ducking and weaving around each other to search for the next strike.
He had no idea when she landed a hit to his stomach, or when he’s caught her shoulder, but the bruising that was forming and the pain in his body told him that they were both doing well enough to be matched, even with her mist acting as a sort of shield from the true impact of his strikes he was hitting hard enough to cause marks and that was enough to tell him his people could at least injure her kind if needs ever came.
Just as they could easily hurt Angara.
Evenly matched and equally capable of winning this match, and yet at the same time, both enjoying the chance to cut lose too much to back down or submit and so they charged again and again until a heavy and almighty push to his back from Grace sent him face first into the raised bed of plants outside the ring.
“Evfra?” Grace asked after a moment.
“Your pyjak is on my head.”
“What?” Grace asked then laughed as Chitters used Evfra as a spring board and charged her with a happy whistling noise as she knelt to catch him mid jump. “What are you doing out here?”
“He wanted a hug and couldn’t find you, so he ran off the Tempest when Jaal left to talk with the Moshae and came here.” Damian said as he came from the shadows, looking rather impressed as Evfra managed to heave himself out of the plant bed. “I think you did a fair job planting Evfra, oh sister of mine, but I came with some news. Kesh called while you were busy,” he added.
“Did we miss Gran scaring Tann?” Grace asked as Chitters clambered all over her and chased small patches of her mist.
“We did, but Kandros was kind enough to record it for us and it seems they will be arriving sooner rather than later.”
“What?” Grace asked.
“They began their travels here after Anna defeated the Reapers. In five days, Gran, Aunts Tara and Hannah and Anna will be in Heleus and on the Nexus. And it sounded like Gran was in one hell of a bad mood with Tann and Cora.”
“Damn I wish I’d seen that.” Grace sighed then chuckled as Chitters clung to her back, resting his head on her shoulder as his tail coiled around her waist. “Well, at least I know what the movie is tonight.”
“Your kin are on their way here now?” Evfra repeated.
“They are, and likely that means the Kett problem will be dealt with faster,” Damian nodded, “This a privet match or can anyone spar?”
Grace smirked. “Did you beat Drack?”
“Lexi kicked me of the Tempest because apparently, we were over working his prosthetics.” Damian said.
“You spar with each other?” one of the Commanders asked.
“The humans of our crew can’t restrain Grace if she loses control, Voeld was low on the scale of anger but if Drack hadn’t been there, I’d have been the one to stop her, likely after a lot more damage and death.” Damian stated. “We spar as a way to keep each other ready for that ‘slight chance’ one of us will get so angry we don’t have control over the mist.”
“Plus, it’s just a more violent game of tag for us.” Grace chuckled. “And, while I fight close combat and fast strikes, Damian’s got more to him than good shots and a thick skull.”
“My skull is not-” Damian began only to stop as Chitters lent over from Grace’s back and lightly knocked his head lightly and the whole area echoed with a dull clunk.
The glare Damian gave Grace as she sniggered told Evfra that the Pyjak had no doubt learnt that trick from her.
“I hate you.”
“I know.” Grace smiled. “So. Who wants to spar next?”
Chapter 8: Those we’ve lost. NSFW.
Here be a scene with Evfra and the first meeting with Akksul.
Those we’ve lost. NSFW.
He would never admit that he had enjoyed the sparring match. Not even under torture. But Evfra found it far more taxing and tiring than he had anticipated, even when Grace and Damian took turns sparring with each of his Commander sand him personally, the fights were drawn out, deliberately giving both sides chance to learn and study the styles both Grace and Damian used to fight, how they compensated for they weakness against Biotics with speed, endurance and in Damian’s case, sheer damn stubbornness.
Needless to say, Grace was smiling rather proudly as she sat at the bar, enjoying her drink while Damian nursed one of his own as Suvi lightly scolded him for not being more careful.
When Liam asked why Damian let Suvi and Grace scald him like a child sometimes Damian only smiled and said, “Grace only scolds me when I do something to scare her, so I deserve it. As for Suvi.” He shrugged, “Rule one of loving a woman who shares your life, she’s allowed to yell, scream, berate and scold me for getting hurt because she worries about me and she can’t vent any other way.”
“And because if he doesn’t let Suvi tell him off for being an idiot and tend his little injuries, he sleeps on the floor.” Grace smiled then leant closer to Suvi and not so quietly continued. “That and he’s scared of Doctors.”
“I am not scared of Doctors.” Damian huffed poking his sister’s nose. “You’re the one who hid behind dad we went to see Harry for the first time.”
“He was the first human outside Uncle Shepard we met and all I’d heard up to that point was how humans didn’t like our kin, what did you expect me to do?” Grace chuckled, “Besides, he was bigger than me.”
“Everyone is bigger than you, little big sister.” Damian chuckled and ducked the swat Grace threw at him.
“Not everyone.” Suvi smiled as Chitters stood on his hind paws to reach Liam’s pocket, tugging at the opening to free a stray bag of treats.
“Chitters doesn’t count, he’s never going to grow bigger than he is now.” Grace smiled as Liam handed over the treats and Chitters quickly opened the pack and began to nibble the contents with a happy purr.
Peebee and Gil excused themselves to go finish working on some respective project they had, and soon after Jaal headed off to speak with some of his family while Damian and Suvi returned to the Tempest, Chitters happily following them while Liam and Drack got lost in a drinking game until Lexi came from seemingly nowhere and shooed them off.
“Is your medical officer always so…?”
“So mother hen-ish?” Grace asked and Evfra nodded. “Yes. As much as she loves her job, she hates seeing us get hurt so when we aren’t fighting, we let her worry and fuss over us. It’s a sign she cares.” She smiled.
“Even when she does so publicly?”
“Sometimes embarrassment is needed. It’s a way of learning as mother says.” Grace said and Evfra saw a small but clear pain in her eyes.
“Ryder. I mean no offence in my question, but, given how you have responded so far, I feel it is needed to ask.” He began. “Have you spoken to anyone about the loss of your mother and father?”
Grace’s shoulders sagged and she shook her head. “That’s a wound I can’t touch with many people here… and its better done privately.” She added, casting a glance back towards a group of Angara that had been hovering.
Evfra noticed them and nodded. “My apartment is not far from here.” He said and after paying the tab, he led her away. “I don’t live in HQ, the Moshae refused to let me stay there.”
Grace chuckled, “Well, sleeping on the floor or on a desk is not good for the back. Plus you’d have no privacy to wash or change clothes.” She smiled, making small talk as they passed other Angara. “and really, if you did sleep in there you’d get buried under paper work.”
“We’re at War, sleep is not something we can all enjoy regularly.” He reminded as they reached his apartment and he keyed in the codes.
“Sleep, nap, resting eyes, same thing to my kin, we’ve been known to go months without really sleeping when we have to, and when we do go to sleep its never for longer than six to eight hours at a time.” Grace smirked. “Security conscious?” she teased lightly.
“Only my family knew the codes to my apartment before… well, it never really kept close company besides them.” He admitted as the door opened and he let her enter first.
His apartment wasn’t as full as others he’d known, a comfortable sofa, a nice chair he’d inherited from his father, a few knick-knacks he’d gathered as a child that held fond memories and a few pictures of his family here and there, the kitchenet was stocked, and the views of Aya from his windows were breath-taking.
He’d not really taken the time to enjoy them since his sister’s death.
Grace reached up as if trying to take something off a high book shelf, then much to Evfra shock, a large leather-bound book dropped from the air and Grace caught it with one hand. “How did you-?”
“With Gran so close now, I can reach into her stash and bring things from her to me.” Grace explained opening the book and searching the pages carefully. “Ah, here we are. The laws of my kin and when they were written.” She said. “Hence forth, by order of the Succubus Ladies of the Second Era, no human mother or father shall be cured or healed of a fatal illness by their child or lover, they suffer enough for choosing to sire or bear the children of our kind, it is unfair to force them to suffer more.”
“Why?” Evfra asked.
“The Incubus who was curing his lovers was doing it against their will, they were old, old enough to have died long before they were discovered, it was a nightmare to them, to keep living on as their families and children grew old and died around them. And it was their testimonies that lead to this law and the one that follows it.” Grace explained, “Hence forth, by order of the Succubus Ladies of the Second Era, when a mother or father suffers a fatal illness, it shall be their choice weather they ask others for aid to remain or live out what was left of their lives as a mortal. Be they blessed or not.”
“So, you couldn’t have saved her?”
“I could.” Grace stated, closing the book and tapping it twice before it seemed to melt away into her own mist. “And I tried, I didn’t care what I’d suffer as consequence, I just didn’t want to lose her, so I lashed out, throwing my aunts and cousin and brother away from me and made to reach my mother at the hospital before she died after she’d said good bye.”
“What happened?” Evfra asked.
“Anna grabbed me, I don’t know how or where she leant the trick she pulled on me, but somehow she restrained my powers and carried me to a place far away from my mother and family and challenged me.”
“You fought with her.” Evfra surmised.
Grace nodded and Evfra saw the tear fall but said nothing. “I knew I shouldn’t ever challenge Anna, of the three of us she was the strongest, faster and most ruthless and she didn’t hold back. She made me hurt and I hurt her, we didn’t stop or give each other time to recover from any strike, she kept me there and she made me burn out. I didn’t realize she was trying help me at the time, I was just so angry I lash out over and over again until she hit me with all she had and I went down…” Grace sighed, “By the time dad found us, I was unconscious and despite all of it, Anna brought me home and she stayed with us until I was strong enough to walk again.”
“Yet you still blame yourself for the death of your mother.”
Grace chuckled softly, a hollow sound if ever Evfra heard one. “I was the one who was home most, being in training to be a C-sec officer and part time seamstress, I was the one who saw mum the most of all of us. I should have been the one who saw the signs earlier at least, that’s how it felt, she’d raised us and always knew when we weren’t feeling right but I didn’t even notice how sick she was getting until I came home to find her on the floor.”
Ah, that was it. It was easy to fall into the blaming game when you felt you had missed vital clues and hints that something was wrong with those you love.
“Sometimes, those closest to us hide their pains to try and spare us the worry.” He said, relaying the words he’d heard so many times as a child when the Kett were killing loved ones and children asked why no one had told them the truth.
Grace smiled. “Gran said that.”
“Doesn’t help much, does it?” he said knowingly.
“Not really. But, she was right.” Grace sighed. “Mom’s death reminded me that humans are frail compared to us, but in the back of my mind, I knew there was almost no illness that could kill a Succubus or Incubus now we were older. I grew up watching Anna and my aunts defy impossible odds in battles and fights that seemed doomed, and they always managed to pull it back and come home with a victory, my father always came home with a smile and a promise it was all ok again… then we came here, hoping to start a new life on a small world, away from humans and live what was left of our time out in peace.”
“And instead you found the Scourge, the Kett and a whole lot of trouble you didn’t plan on.” Evfra said in understanding.
“Pretty much.” Grace nodded, “They woke me up first because Harry’s rule has always been ladies first, then just as they began to wake up Damian, the Ark hit the Scourge and Damian’s pod was damaged, sensing danger and threat, Damian responded on instinct and went full Incubus, taking his true form and teleported out of his pod to me, but in doing so he was infected with some of the Scourge that left him weak and unable to focus. He was blind, numb and unable to control his mist.”
“Is that bad?” Evfra asked.
“Only if he had been hungry.” Grace said, “Harry told him he would need to sleep off the effects and Lexi mixed him up a cocktail to help his body recover, in the meantime, I want down to Habitat-7 with my father and the other members of the Pathfinder Team.” She smiled, “that was when Liam and I were properly introduced, about three seconds before the shuttle was struck by the storm and we both went for an unplanned sky dive.”
“A thrill sport for adrenalin seekers the humans came up with, you go up into the sky in a plane or shuttle and then jump out of it and let yourself fall, then, you open a parachute or wing suit and with the winds carry you around the sky for a while until you come into land on the ground.” Grace explained, “But, Liam and I didn’t have either of those, so before I hit the ground I activated my jump jets and with a little fast thinking I was able to teleport myself from the air to the ground, it wasn’t my most graceful landing, but I could at least walk away from it, so it wasn’t bad.”
Evfra listened as Grace told her about how they had encountered the Kett on Habitat-7, how she had unleashed all hell on them when they’d fired on her team mates and explored the areas carefully for anything that could help while helping Liam and the others of her team to safety. How Cora had tried to lecture her until Alec Ryder, he father had stepped in and reminded Cora that she was not in charge of the team and to get her ass to his co-ordinates, so they could deal with the real issue.
“Your father sounds like a man I would have liked to meet.” Evfra admitted.
“He’d have been more level than me.” Grace chuckled. “We got to him and well, to say the least he’d been busy, Kett everywhere around him dead and cooked extra crispy thanks to his incendiary rounds. We followed him to the Monolith where the storm seemed to be at its worst and found Kett everywhere again, setting up lightning rods to keep the storm away from them while they worked. So, he does what my dad always does when he has a plan and he goes off with a few teleports, and then comes back with this smirk on his lips that I know means he’s going to make a very big explosion so I shuffle forwards and after a minute, of goes this huge explosion and all the lightning rods fall down.”
“And with no lightning rods to protect them, the Kett were sitting ducks to the storm.” Evfra nodded. “Smart plan.”
“It worked to get their attention.” Grace smiled, “we let them run around for a bit, then dad and me go head first into the fray, guns blazing. Liam and Cora taking the rear while dad and Sam cut through the front. Me, I take the roof, storms have energy in them and now there were no lightning rods I didn’t have to worry about them draining the power away I was able to use that energy to take down the automated guns and bring down a few ships. The Kett tried to flank my dad while he and Sam worked on a console but thanks to Liam being good at close range combat and Cora’s shields, we were able to fight them off.”
Grace paused and sighed. “I didn’t know how deep the bond with Sam went with my father until I saw him interact with the Monolith, I could see the difference between dad’s mist and Sam’s data streams and thinking it was safe, we both took a moment and he said he would find us a world here and we’d find a nice place with a good view of the sunset and sunrise and make a little shrine for mum.”
“What happened?” Evfra asked when Grace went quiet.
“We didn’t know about the purging cloud that follows a vault reset back then. So, while we’d been standing there, talking at the entrance of the Monolith, the cloud had been coming and then it hit us, threw us both out of the monolith and across the ledge, I managed to grab the edge and tried to hang on but the force was strong enough it knocked a Kett crate from its place and it slammed into my helmet, shattering the glass front… I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t talk, couldn’t even think right. All I knew was I was in trouble and I couldn’t fix it, then my dad found me… He was limping and talking over comms, then when he realized what had happened to me, he took my helmet off and gave me his but by the time he did I was already blacking out. He told Sam to transfer into me rather than Cora to save my life and then used his mist to keep me alive while the shuttle took us back to the Ark.”
“He didn’t die on that world?”
“While the transfer was happening I technically died for twenty two seconds, Sam brought me back by fusing himself with me in the same way he was with my father, but this lead to a huge surge of data and information neither of us was ready for, so I slipped into a light coma, Dad and Damian got an aftershock and it helped speed up Damian’s recovery, but it made dad weaker.” Grace shook her head. “Damian was with him in his final moments. Dad made him promised he’d look after me, make sure I didn’t snap again like I had when mum died, he passed two days before I woke up. Since then, it’s been a mess of dealing with Tann’s fuck ups, Addison’s bitchness, Cora’s insults and a heap of other messes no one else wants to fix, one big fucked up mess after another and so I haven’t really stopped to talk to anyone about what happened.”
“You haven’t snapped yet.” Evfra stated, “So you must have had some help.”
“Shooting Kett is very good therapy.” Grace stated, “That and Drack was never too busy to spar with me, but I never talked about what happened to anyone but Damian.” She sighed softly. “And you, Evfra?” She asked.
“Have you talked with anyone since you lost your family?” She asked and Evfra shook his head, “then I guess we’re both very bad at talking about emotional turmoil.”
“We are at war.” Evfra defended weakly.
“As my Aunt Hannah would say, ‘Make the time. All things break with neglect,’.” Grace said with a small smile. “I told you my issues, seems only fair you tell me yours.” She offered.
Evfra sighed heavily, “There isn’t a drink strong enough on Aya to help me go through that. I lost so much so fast, without pause and then… well, you’ve seen how I am now. If I start down that path, I’d need at least a week to regather myself and get back to the resistance.”
Grace chuckled and Evfra saw her eyes flash lightly as she turned to face him. “Some humans believe that during sex, a Succubus can read the minds of her partner, learning their lives by watching the memories as they happened.”
“Is it true?” he asked, stepping closer and lightly cupping her face.
“Partly, we can share minds but only if the mind is willing to let us in, we only ever force the link on those who are either too destressed or hysterical to calm them and even then, its rare.” She admitted, leaning into his touch. “After the sharing you would sleep deeply and while you might have a little head ache when you wake up, you won’t be overwhelmed by raw emotions as you would be with drink.”
Evfra chuckled. “I’m starting to wonder just how much humanity really knows about you and yours.” He admitted.
“Most know us for our sexual indulgences and our abilities to seduce others because that is all humanity saw us do the most, only those closest to us know our true powers and our true natures.” She explained with a chuckle as small flames licked at the edges of her eyes. “Interested in finding out for yourself?”
“If only because I know I won’t hear the end of the whispers if I rejected you.” Evfra sniffed but there was no venom in his words or any truth to his excuse, given that he had her effectively trapped between his larger body and the breakfast bar of his kitchen. “Are you sure you want to keep going? I’m not as gentle as Jaal. And I am not one to give control up easily.”
“Who says I want control from you?” Grace asked with a sly smile. “As I told Jaal, a Succubus likes variety in her sex life.”
It was permission if Evfra ever heard it and it was enough to put an end to the chit chat they’d been stuck in since arriving at his apartment.
In the next moment, Evfra had her clutched against his body while her legs locked around his waist, letting him carry her to the bed room masterfully as they kissed, Evfra finding it easy to remove her robes than he’d suspected while Grace’s hands, likely having practiced with Jaal, undid the fastenings of his own clothes, though neither was willing to break the kiss to make removing the cloth between them and so they struggled out of it while getting tangled up in one another’s arms and the bedding.
Evfra ended up atop her though in the back of his mind he knew she could throw him off should she chose to at any point, he chose to instead worry about how best to enjoy the control she’d given him, barely aware of the mist that slowly coiled around them as they moved against and with each other, searching out sensitive spots that could be used to tease a response from one other before at last Evfra’s length rubbed against her core and Grace realized he was bigger and longer than Jaal.
He had expected her to shy away for a moment, after all not all Angara were as large and him, but instead of pulling away for a moment, Grace instead pressed closer, a clear sign she wasn’t scared of what he had to offer her and was instead eager to have him inside her as soon as possible. Evfra smiled around their kiss, slowly working his hand over her body until he had her arms pinned beside her head and without warning, he thrust into her.
If he’d expected her to show a sign of pain, he would be disappointed as she arched up into him, using her heels to pull him deeper in when he paused his movements to offer her time to adjust, the mist around them starting to slowly slip into his skin as he inhaled it directly from her mouth as they kissed again, moving with sharp rapid thrusts into her willing heat as she moaned and weakly clawed at his hands, refusing to let him go and trying to keep him as close as she could.
He couldn’t keep up his near savage pace long, having not sought out any kind of release for his lust since the loss of his family, the endurance he once prided himself on was gone for the moment and all he sought was release and Grace allowed him to use her for that, feeding him her mist as he moved with broken desperation over her and then reached his limit with a deep growl and pushed deep into her as his cock released.
Grace caught his face in her hands, bringing him a moment or confusion before she exhaled a thicker mist into his face and just like that, he understood and relaxed as her powers lightly covered him. With a gentle pull, he let the walls down and she saw it all, how his young life had been happy, shared with many siblings and idolizing his father, gentle teachings form his oldest sister when their mothers were busy, the rough housing between his brothers as they got older.
The Kett, their trickery and then betrayal to his people, the news of each lost brother, sister, cousin, nephew, niece, mother and then his father, over and over the loss hit and hit hard, but he never cried, he never gave the Kett the unseen victory of his tears, working hard to keep them away from his remaining family.
Evfra felt her lightly pull again and he tried to hide it. Showing her instead the times after the worst hit came. How he’d became cold and shunned his friends away, closing everyone out of his life to stop himself getting hurt again and eventually he was made Leader of the Angara Resistance. He continued to keep people at a distance, though some, like Jaal, the Moshae and now Grace, broken the outer wall and got just that little bit closer.
Grace gently gave another pull and Evfra released the memory she’d let him keep from her until then, feeling the tears fall for the first time as she held him. His sister, the last sibling he’d managed to keep safe, her comforting presence always seemed so close and so undefeatable that Evfra had, perhaps childishly seen her as invincible. Then she’d been hit, a shot from a Kett Chosen, a painful strike that left her bleeding from an injury he couldn’t patch up on his own. He’d lashed out, violent, enraged and swift, killing the Kett single handily and then carrying his still breathing sister to safety on Voeld, praying that she’s survive…
She’d died in his arms a few hours later and Evfra was alone. The last of his family.
Grace pulled her powers away from him, letting him sag against her as tears came without restraint and Evfra found he couldn’t stop them, no mater what he willed his body to do, the tears still came and Grace simply held him, letting his body rest against hers as the mist cocooned them in warmth.
“She was all I had left…” he said softly. “I miss them all so much…”
“Your family will always be with you, as long as you remember the things they taught you. In that way, you will never be apart, for you are all apart of each other.” Grace said, “Hush now, let the mist work its way from your body,” she added lightly rubbing his shoulders and back. “We’ll go from there.”
Evfra couldn’t bring himself to argue with her.
Damian knew that the Nexus would be calling them for help sooner or later, despite all Cora’s boasting and protests, she was worthless when it came to actually being a leader, having spent so long as a follower she had no idea how to lead others or even plan for herself and that lack of real experience had finally caught up with her.
The Asari Ark was in danger, and while Kandros wanted to send help, he couldn’t get any work to Cora and the team she’d taken with her to try and aid the missing Ark, then, for a time, the Ark had ben lost again and now it was just on the fringe of where Kandros’s best scanners could find it, badly damaged and in dire need of help.
So, against Tann’s better judgement and under pressure from Kesh, the Salarian had given in and allowed Kandros to call in the real Pathfinders and ask for their help.
“We’ll look into it,” He assured. “Right now, we have other business to deal with, Cora and the Asari will just have to hold out a little longer.”
~ “Thank you.” ~ Kesh nodded. ~ “We also have news of your Grandmother and fellow Succubus. They will be arriving on the Nexus during the night cycle then after they have spoken with us, they plan to visit Eos and see what they can do to help there.” ~
“Thank you.” He nodded in return.
~ “There is something else,” ~ Kandros said, ~ “Avitus Rix has been getting strange messages via his commlink, he thinks it’s the Natanus’ Sam trying to get a hold of him.” ~
“I’ll report it to Grace as soon as possible.” Damian nodded, “Do we know if the Turian Pathfinder is still alive?”
~ “We haven’t heard from him directly. Same with the Asari and Salarian Arks, only the Sam’s seem to be able to get through but its getting to us in a broken mess.” ~ Kesh explained. ~ “Maybe your Sam could help us? The lab techs and encoders are working as best they can but a Sam with a similar link to a Pathfinder would be of much greater use here.” ~
“We’ll head back when Grace returns.” Damian assured. “Anything else?”
~ “Nothing from us. Thank you, Damian.” ~ Kesh smiled, and the line cut off before anyone could demand more of the Incubus.
“Sam, keep an ear out for your brother units, if they are anything like Dad wanted them to be, they will be trying to get a direct link into your frequency channels to talk with you.”
“Understood Ryder.” Sam affirmed.
“So, What’s the plan?” Liam asked. “I mean, without Grace here we can’t do much, but we can still talk about this, right?”
“Relax Liam, we aren’t going to leave Grace alone.” Damian smiled, “And as for the mess Cora’s in on the Leusinia, we’ll deal with that when and If Grace says we go there, as far as I’m concerned our priority is the closest Ark and according to the information Kandros and Kesh gave us, that’s the Natanus.”
“And we still have no information on Ark Paarchero, so trying to charge in to that one would be like going into a fire fight blind.” Suvi said, “We’d be more likely to add to the trouble rather than fix it.”
“Or we’d end up winging it and getting people killed.” Drack said.
“We’ll make a solid plan when Grace is here, but for now, its late and everyone needs rest.” Lexi said with a motherly tone and everyone gave a mock sigh as they headed off to their rooms for the night, Suvi smiling as Damian gently tugged her into their shared bunk. Chitters, having no desire to be in the way, settled into his box in Peebee’s room, giving a soft whistle of good night as Peebee flopped onto her mattress. Vetra finished a last-minute stock count before laying on her bunk with a sigh, chuckling as Liam could be heard snoring already in his room while Gil and Kallo sat up trading details on some flight design or other.
It was a peaceful night for all.
Until the morning sunrise came with a shrill bleep of the e-mail Jaal had been dreading.
“Akksul has arrived.” Evfra said evenly as Grace redressed herself.
“I guessed with how the mood between you and Jaal changed.” She assured then paused to look in the mirror, “Mmm, might be time to change the colours back.”
“How?” Evfra asked then felt a slight silly as the mist swirled around Grace’s robes and slowly, the pale blue and white robes darkened, a golden mist spread over her shoulders and down her arms to form gossamer sleeves that still showed off her arms and then from her waist, purple and blue mist fell down and covered the now black skirt with splashes of colour that seemed to move on their own.
“My family colours.” Grace smiled as the mist faded away.
Grace chuckled. “Now, since you still have a headache, I’d suggest you stay in bed for a few more hours and sleep it off while I go see about Akksul.”
“I have work to do.” Evfra sighed however he was reluctant to get up.
“You can work from home for a few hours if you have too, but I wouldn’t advice going out until at least tonight. Sharing memories can leave you at least somewhat more emotional for at least twenty to twenty two hours after the event.” Grace explained.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He assured. “And, thank you, for giving me the chance to work through some of that pain. I doubt I’d have done so even after the fighting stops if you hadn’t offered.”
“Well, if you’d like I can make trips to visit from time to time and help out again if you need someone to talk too.” She offered.
Evfra smiled and nodded, “I would like that.” He agreed. “Good luck.”
Grace nodded and after adjusting the sleeves of her robes headed off to meet Akksul. The Moshae had agreed to let the meeting take place in her study, and while it was a little crowded, it would do for this little talk to begin with at least.
If only because she didn’t want to be seen to pull any kind of weight with the Angara’s people.
So far, everything she’d heard about Akksul had been taken with the smallest pinch of salt, after all, it was unfair to judge others before you had been given the chance to meet them face to face for yourself and get the first impressions with a clear mind, he mother had always taught her that and so far, it had ben a lesson that served her children well in their lives thus far.
The door to the Moshae’s office opened and Grace descended them quietly. “Moshae Sjefa?”
“I’m here Pathfinder.” The older woman assured, “New colours?”
“I can’t morn forever.” Grace said, “Plus, if Gran shows up and sees me in anything but the family best, she’d never stop fussing.”
“Is that a bad thing?” the Moshae asked as she came into view, holding a small pile of data pads.
“Only when she’s mad but being the oldest of our race, she shouldn’t have to fuss over me. That’s Lexi, Suvi and Damian’s job.” She chuckled.
The smile the Moshae gave her at that statement soon faded, and Grace knew why, she knew she was being watched, but chose not to say anything just yet.
The door opened again and Grace smiled as Damian let Chitters climb down his arm as he sniffed the room, giving a confused chip as he looked around, searching for the owner of the new scent. “Morning.”
“Morning to you too.” Damian smiled. “We got a message from Kesh, she wants to talk with you as soon as you get a minute free.”
“I’ll comm her when we’re done here.” Grace assured, watching Chitters go to the Moshae and lightly tug her leg and point at the corner with a questioning whistle.
“Akksul, you are scaring the Pyjak.” The older woman stated and from the shadow, the Roekaar leader stepped out.
“I was of the understanding this was a privet meeting?” He stated and Grace turned her attention to him, he was slightly taller than Jaal and was a darker colour, his eyes were cold, but there was something beneath them she couldn’t quiet seek to yet, black marks proudly painted on his face. The usually Roekaar armour and colours proudly dawned to insure he looked his best.
Chitters, either from fear or just for safety while learning about this new person, jumped back to Grace and climbers up into her back. “Shhhh, its ok.” Grace soothed softly.
“Chitters understands what is said to him?” the Moshae asked.
“He’s smart enough know you are saying something to him, but he doesn’t interpret words so much as tone and mood and he responds to that. He’ll never develop the ability to hold any kind of conversation with someone, so instead he mimics what he hears to the best of his ability and sometimes he will try and copy actions he sees to communicate, and if you asked him who someone was he would use an image of them to show you if they were in a different outfit or if they changed their appearance and voice somehow. He knows safe places from dangerous ones and he can defend himself from an attack by either running away or attacking. But beyond that, he’s just an adorable little bundle of fun.”
“And he’s never going to be without attention so long as he’s part of our crew.” Damian stated and offered Chitters a small round fruit, smiling as the Pyjak took the fruit and sat up on Grace’s shoulders, small teeth starting to nibble the fruit with a content purr. “Now, shall we return to business?”
“And what business would that be?” Akksul asked.
“Your people shooting at the wrong targets, stealing Resistance supplies and other small acts of stupidity that more often than not end up with the Resistance losing people to Kett due to lack of food, weapons and supplies.” Damian said. “Or did you think we hadn’t heard about the raids on Voeld, Kadara and Havarl?”
“Those supplies would have been wasted on humans.” The Roekaar snapped.
“While I would agree with you on that, Humans were not the ones who asked for the added supplies, nor where they ever aware that the shipments were coming in.” Damian reminded calmly. “If you want to kill humans, then kill the ones who deserve it, not the innocent who only came here to star a new life and live in peace.”
“Peace? Humans don’t know the meaning of the word, and they do not share well, they proved that with the Krogan.” Akksul sneered.
“Akksul, Ryder saved me from the Kett, risked her own life to-”
“Sloane Kelly saved Kadara, look how that turned out.” The Roekaar stated cutting the Moshae off.
“The Nexus leadership has a lot to answer for, and Kadara is a bad example of humanity.” Damian nodded, “But Humans are not Kett they did not make this trip just to be shoved into a war zone, shit went bad for everyone here, and if you hope to see it end without a number of meaningless deaths, you will do well to remember that your actions against the Resistance will have consequences reaching far beyond whatever personal goal you think you accomplish.”
“Why do you care for them? You are not humans and they shun you for it.”
“Your spies clearly do not hang around long enough to learn.” Damian agered. “Humanity hated what it does not understand, what it can not explain, we are such things and the only way they know how to respond to us is to fear and hate us.”
“Enough.” Grace said then shook her head. “You already knew all this and more, no doubt you started looking into us after Taavos left the Roekaar and by now you know all the horrors our kind were accused of on earth and have heard hand just how bad we are. So instead of trying to provoke a reaction like a spoilt child, drop the high and mighty attitude and lets get down to the real reason you are here.”
“And you assume to know that?” Akksul hissed.
“You are her because you are angry we saved your Moshae, not only that, we did so with the aid of the Resistance, that sent a message to the youngsters of your race telling them that the Resistance, not the Roekaar were the ones who cared about getting shit done. You lost a fair few followers from what I heard, and now you’re pissed because Evfra has allowed my crew and my kin to stay on Aya for a few days to refuel and rest before we go head first back into the fight with the Kett, while you and yours are struggling to even get a moments rest due to lacking supplies and weapons.”
The room suddenly got colder.
“I will also say that the longer you have your people wasting time with raid and attacks on humanity, the Kett get closer and closer to whatever goal they have here.” Grace went on. “So to be perfectly clear, there are two endings to this meeting Akksul. One you get over whatever false blame you place on humanity and start using your men to fight the real enemy. Or you leave now and when next we meet, it will not be with kind intentions.”
“Akksul.” The Moshe began.
“Do not trust them, shovaan.” Was all the Roekaar leader said as he left the room.
“He didn’t use to be like this.” Sjefa sighed, “He was curious, brilliant. Even without exaltation they change us.”
“True,” Grace said, “But he isn’t totally lost. Not yet. There is still time to bring him around.”
“I want to believe that Grace, but his hatred towards Aliens makes him a danger.” The Moshae said.
“no more than humanity is a danger to itself at time.” Damian said, “We’ll handle it. Without bloodshed if possible.”
“I hope so.” Sjefa nodded.
~ “Ryders. We just got an emergency call from Eos.” ~ Suvi said over the comms.
“We’re on our way.” Grace assured.
He wasn’t sure if he felt relived or insulted.
He had watched her, studied her every move and every word, recorded the meeting and now he played it back to himself and realized that she hadn’t used any kind of trick he had thought she’d use. No mist seeping into his skin, no form of contact or scent, nothing.
She had not tried to seduce him at all and every word he had spoken and every thought he’d had was his own. Every small desire that now dared to creep within the back of his mind were all his own. The Succubus had not attempted to affect him in anyway and yet, he found himself second guessing himself.
Her words, though harsh were true and she had struck too close to his personal struggles for him to admit, and while she did catch his eye the moment he saw her, he felt nothing beyond his own interest towards her. Was she afraid of him? Or was she truly as respectful as the Moshae had told him? Was she really not going to try and seduce him in an attempt to stop his plans?
He would have to be more careful.
His plans were hinged on her or even her brother doing something that would win his cause more members and prove that all Aliens couldn’t be trusted.
He contacted his people on Eos and set the plan into motion.
“Your move, Pathfinder.”
Chapter 9: The Ruin and a Reunion
we see Akksul's fall from grace and we also FINALLY meet the other four Succubus. Please see end notes.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The Ruin and a Reunion
The flight to Eos was quick, calm and for Grace, the trip was spent resting in Jaal’s arms, drifting between sleep and awareness as she enjoyed the last moments of rest, after arriving at Prodromos she saw a few new arrivals, Asari who had somehow escaped the Ark and begged her for help to save their people still trapped by the Kett.
It seemed that after hours of searching for the Ark Leusinia herself, Cora had chanced upon it and while she had brought some help, her efforts were not enough to free the Ark from its troubles and bring it back to the Nexus, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the Archon’s hunters, the Decimation.
Grace agreed to offer help but only after the Asari who had escaped took the time they needed to rest, wash and eat some real food before they reported their story to the Nexus leaders. While they did that, she went with Jaal and Vetra to see what could be found out about the Raids and attacks on Eos’ outpost, as expected Akksul’s Roekaar were behind the raids and with their defeat a message from Akksul arrived directed to Jaal, a poor attempt to rail the other up into making a mistake, while Grace simply stated that the Roekaar leader was jealous of Jaal for his better standing and because he had done what Akksul and his followers had not.
“He always was obsessed with hearing his own voice.” Jaal sighed.
“He does have a nice voice,” Grace admitted, “deeper than yours and Evfra’s but not quite deep enough to make the bone shake.”
“Sorry?” Jaal asked.
Grace smiled, “Make the bone shake, it’s an old saying Gran used, sometimes you meet someone who’s voice is so deep and so powerful in its own right that when they speak to you, the whole of the collar and breast bone in others vibrates with the words. Apparently, if a voice can do that to a Succubus, it’s considered an omen of good fortune.”
“Your kin have very odd omens.” Jaal smiled.
“I’m sure your people have some odd customs and omens of their own.” Grace chuckled. “Now, once we have this Asari mess cleared up, we’ll plan our next move.”
Of cause it was never that easy.
Cora made sure to make her dislike of this little ‘rescue’ clear and while the Tempest Crew ignored her, the Asari Ark captain and Pathfinder seemed to agree with her, though Grace gave them both the same cold attitude she’d always given Cora and reminded them all that this mess wouldn’t have happened if they had just called for help before the trouble got so out of hand.
Fighting the Kett was suddenly easy and bought Vederia Damali enough time to complete the tasks she had been struggling to even start because of their incursion of the Ark Leusinia, which had become worse since the first Asari Pathfinder, Matriarch Ishara had been killed and made Sarissa Theris the new Pathfinder. After a few short hours, Grace had managed to clear out the masses of Kett and free the Ark, then without pause she and Damian charged the Kett Warship and fought the Valiant in a tag team while the two S.A.Ms worked his magic on the Ark Leusinia systems, granting the huge Ark the power it needed to make the jump to safety with the Nexus.
During his efforts, Grace’s S.A.M was able to recover the final logs of Pathfinder Ishara, and with Grace’s permission, he played the recording loud and clear for the Nexus leadership, the Ark Hyperion and the Ark Leusinia to hear, shaming Sarissa for her failing to protect the first Pathfinder while also bringing Cora to shame for her own blind defence of the new Pathfinder just because they shared a distrust of the Succubus race, a hatred that was not shared by the Captain or the Asari Ark or by Vederia, who had been quickly promoted to the Asari Pathfinder rank at the request of Kesh, Kandros, the Asari captain and the vast majority of the Asari who were waking form stasis.
Avitus Rix came from his own search for the Turian ark and asked if he could help in anyway and with a few papers signed and a few speeches to appease the masses, Grace, Damian, Avitus and Vederia sat together around the Tempest viewing deck with Kandros, Kesh and also the scientist from the Nexus and their respected Ark Captains, Mayor Bradley, Mayoress Tate and Mayoress Blake were also attending the meeting with, Reyes Vidal, Keema Dohrgun, the Moshae and Evfra over the holo images.
~ “It’s a damn mess, is what it is my friends.” ~ Reyes stated, ~ “Tann and Addison make life hard enough with the restrictions on rations and equipment we can use, no matter how much security we provide on the shipment runs for the Outpost you set down here and they make every attempt to refuse the access whenever they can, even with the help from Eos, Voeld and the help from Aya, they are still refusing to allow more people out of stasis who have the skills and knowledge to help us with crops and energy.” ~
“They want everything done and ready to give the people, they haven’t worked out that in order to make the whole initiative idea work, we need to be the ones make the foundations and relationships with the locals before we even BEGIN trying to plan for such a vast future.” Kandros nodded. “I’ve been trying to reason with them, but its much like that saying humans have, water from a stone?”
“Blood from a stone.” Suvi corrected.
“We’d be better off with them both getting their heads bashed together and replacing them.” Kesh sighed. “We’re running on good numbers right now, we have enough to feed everyone and we have just enough water to last a few more weeks, but once that water is gone, we’re going to have trouble.”
~ “Couldn’t you fast melt the ice from Voeld?” ~ Keema asked.
~ “We’re trying, but solid ice takes time to filter and clean before it can be made drinkable and shipped out, we’re running in shifts but it’s not easy work and the lacking numbers isn’t helping.” ~ Blake explained. ~ “We’re doing what we can, but it’s not going to be enough if more people aren’t there to help.” ~
“Our rock samples are giving us a good idea of the crops we can and can’t grow on which worlds, and what we can use to help make and build homes and defences, but it’s not easy with Kett still jumping up now and then, or with the Roekaar and their shooting at us.”
“We’re dealing with that.” Grace assured. “You just have to give us a little more time.”
~ “Dear Lady, you have all the time you need if it means we get a home at the end of this mess Tann’s made for us.” ~ Reyes chuckled, and Grace made a show of cracking her knuckles. ~ “I meant no offence. But aside form Rix and now our Asari Pathfinder friend, you and your brother are the only ones who seem to be keeping their cool and making the effort to give us a home here rather than handing us half assed excuses.” ~
There was a mumble of agreement and Grace sighed. “Yea about that… Grandmother Ryder and the others are on their way here. Three more days and they’ll be on the Nexus so if the shipments start showing up and Tann and Addison start saying yes more than no, it’s Gran’s doing not mine.”
The silence was almost strange and then Reyes made a relieved sounding noise and muttered a pleased thanks to someone in his native tongue while the gathered Outpost leaders shared a glad and almost over joyed smile. Damian and Grace shared a smile at the welcome reaction to the news and after several long hours of talks, the meeting was at last called to an end when Chitters came rushing up the ramp with an empty bowl in his paws and offered it to Grace with a sad chirp.
A few hours later, after a long sleep and a good meal, the Tempest had just left the Nexus when Jaal sent Ryder a message asking to speak with her privately.
She left her room and headed for the tech lab, heading a woman speaking to Jaal over the comms, she paused at the table and waited.
~ “You more than anyone know how dangerous Akksul is.” ~
Jaal’s voice had a deep growl to it as he asked, “Why were they allowed to speak with him?!”
~ “They aren’t collider anymore, we can’t control their every move, you remember how you were.” ~ a second voice reminded softly, almost motherly and Grace realized that the two women she could hear were Jaal’s mothers.
~ “Please Jaal, they may not be children, but they are not ready or even prepared for the consequences Akksul’s actions will bring on them.” ~
Jaal heaved a heavy sigh. “I’ll bring them home.” He nodded and cut the call off.
“What’s happened?” Grace asked.
“Three of my brothers and sisters have joined the Roekaar.” He told her gravely. “Akksul has poisoned them with his hatred of Aliens.”
“And your mothers want you to bring them back.” Grace surmised as Jaal stood and began to pace slightly.
“The Roekaar have made camp at the Forge on Havarl, many consider it to be the birthplace of our civilization and Akksul likely believes that such a bold move will rally more followers to his course.” Jaal explained then shook his head, his shoulders sagging with heavy weight. “Grace, he has my family… I don’t think I can do this alone.”
“You don’t have too,” Grace assured, lightly taking his hand in hers. “We’ll go to Havarl now and put a stop to Akksul and his plans.”
“No hesitation.” Jaal smiled. “That is what I love about you,” He admitted, lightly squeezing her hand.
“Just that?” Grace teased softly.
“There will be time to find out more later,” he promised, “I will contact my friends on Havarl and set up a meeting with them, they’ll take us into the Forge.”
Grace nodded. “Peebee, we’re going to Havarl.” She added as Peebee passed the Tech lab.
Akksul waited patiently.
He knew she would come, he had Jaal’s family and Jaal would not face him alone. He never had before and he knew the other as well as he knew the Moshae. Or did he? He had noticed Jaal had not been present when Grace and Damian spoke to him and in fact Jaal had stayed out of the entire affair until Akksul had attacked Eos, had the Succubus somehow changed him? Or had Jaal simply obeyed an order to stay away?
He’d investigate it later, he had other matters to think on first.
Like why he felt such unnatural desires towards her.
She was Alien. A creature foreign even to the humans and yet, he found himself fascinated and attracted to her. He couldn’t deny she had something of a beauty to her, to do so would be foolish and she was clearly not against interspecies relations, he had heard from his sources that she had openly talked about relations with the Krogan and that her kin were not against Turians, Drell and some other races of their home Galaxy.
Yet, he was curious just how much Jaal could have taught her of his kind when it came to intimacy. Jaal was no virgin, Akksul knew that from the time they had been friends, but Jaal was a gentle soul, not at all versed in some of the more, adventures styles of intercourse as someone like Evfra or even Akksul himself had become accustomed to from a young age.
Not to say Jaal wasn’t adventures, it was just hard for Akksul to see the paler man being too dominate in the bedroom. But then, Akksul knew Evfra had also spent some time with Grace, likely she had spent some time with a more dominate man, so she wouldn’t be completely unversed in Angara intimacy. He doubted though that even Evfra had dared to use any kind of restraints on the Succubus or if anyone had, she seemed the kind to fight that kind of thing, but Akksul had no doubt it would be a chance to truly learn the ways to make a Succubus squirm.
His thoughts were interrupted by comm chatter, listening as his forces reported the arrival of the Succubus, Jaal and the Asari in the Forge. His plan was in motion and now it was all just a case of following his own plan and letting the Succubus make her mistakes. He turned to the screen and watched carefully as they trio made their way through his men, Grace using her mist to knock them out before they could even make their first shots while Peebee caught them in her Biotics and placed them in one of the buildings to recover at their own time
He had expected her to start shooting given he had given his people orders to kill on sight.
Then he watched as Jaal found his siblings, and rather than taking the lead, Grace stayed back with Peebee, keeping them covered while Jaal tried to talk reason into his siblings, it wasn’t how he planned the meeting going, but then again the Ama Darav family was famed for its peaceful diplomacy in times of stress or battle, a trait shared by the mothers of the family to insure none of the children became spoilt or felt that they were any better or less than the others.
It didn’t always work, Akksul could feel a small smile touch his lips as Teviint snapped and tried to show some bravado by intimidating the Pathfinder, only for Grace to completely ignore the bait and instead leave the talking to Jaal, though she did give the other female a small show of her power and remarked she was not human herself and if Akksul hadn’t mentioned that to them there was likely other things he hadn’t mentioned to many of his people.
As Akksul predicted Lathoul was the first to break from the plan and tell Jaal about the bombs in the forge, though it wasn’t planned for Teviint to shoot her brother in the back, Akksul knew it would be a breaking point for the younger Angara. He had not expected Grace to give Peebee the order to look after Lathoul while she and Jaal went on ahead to stop the bombs, but then again, he had not expected her to come without the intentions of killing Roekaar with the same ease she took down Kett.
He sent the order for the rest of the Roekaar to gather at the Forge and stop the Pathfinder from messing with the bombs, then paused to listen to the comm chatter between Jaal and Grace.
~ “We need to find those bombs. If Akksul is willing to blow up the Forge, there is nothing he won’t do.” ~
~ “And using Human bombs to do it will bring up even more hatred towards them and give the Roekaar a boost in numbers.” ~ Grace sighed.
~ “Grace is he shows up.” ~ Jaal began and Grace chuckled.
~ “If he shows up, I’ll follow your lead Jaal.” ~ she said, ~ “Now let’s get this done and make it fast, sooner we find and disable the bombs the sooner we can fix this mess and get your brothers and sister home.” ~
Roekaar reinforcements were soon swarming the Forge, and Grace was left no choice but to unholster her gun, aiming to incapacitate jure, rather than kill, all the while, using his mist to short out the explosives and prevent them exploding even as Peebee re-joined the fight.
“Lathoul?” Jaal asked.
“Your friend has him safe in her shuttle.” The Asari assured, throwing a few more Roekaar aside with enough force to knock them out. “Grace?”
“And done!” Grace smiled. “No more bombs.” She added then caught a bullet aimed at her head with ease and retaliated with a swift blast of her mist at the sharp shooter. “Good night.”
“Nice shot.” Peebee smiled then paused as a familiar voice called out to Jaal. “And that would be the sister.”
“Hush.” Grace hissed softly, following Jaal towards the echoing calls from his sister.
“Jaal!” Teviint gasped, stumbling over her own feet as Jaal caught her and held her steady. “I… I killed Lathoul! I’m so sorry!” she cried as Baranjj followed her, though he remained back a little ways.
“He isn’t dead.” Jaal told her firmly. “You’re lucky.” He added, seeing the relief and also fear in his sister’s eyes. “Now, you know what Akksul’s plan was, are you still so sure you can trust a word he tells you or are you going to listen to reason and common sense?”
“I lost my mind, Jaal.” Teviint said, unable to keep the once brave face she’d portrayed before. “I want to go home.”
“But the cause!” Baranjj gasped, “I joined because of you!”
“I shot out brother.” Teviint reminded, “I don’t want that to be how he or any of our family die.”
“Let her go.” Akksul said calmly stepping from the shadows, giving Baranjj and Teviint a scare while Jaal glared at him heatedly. “I only want soldiers who are committed to our cause, not weaklings who stand by and watch the destruction of our people at the hands of Aliens.”
“The humans didn’t plant those bombs in the Forge.” Teviint said.
“And your cause forces children to fight their families,” Grace stated, “I don’t recall any Human or other race for that matter in the Milky Way that stooped so low and so fast just to make a desperate bid for people to listen to a fool’s speeches.” She added though Akksul noticed she was drawing her mist back to herself, and she had put her guns back in their holster.
“I speak for our people.” He stated firmly. “And I say you’re done in Heleus.” He added and swiftly brought up his hand as if he held a gun.
Peebee drew her gun, only to stop as Grace put a hand to the barrel silently. “Don’t waste the bullet.” She said, “It’s better used on Kett.”
Akksul felt rage swell inside him as her words hit far too close for comfort.
“Human move onto our planets, take our resources and make us weak.”
“Eos is not one of our planets, it never was,” Jaal spoke up, “And I have watched Ryder make worlds we thought lost habitable again. Voeld will thaw now and return in time to its tropical state, Havarl will heal from its decline and Kadara is no longer toxic, it is ruled by Angara hands and the humans there now are using the resources from Kadara to improve our weapons and shield technology to keep our people safe from Kett.”
“And you will never let us forget it.” Akksul snapped.
“She rescued our beloved Moshae!” Jaal continued, cutting Akksul off. “She and millions of others were moments from being turned into the very same Kett that we fight and shoot every day, if Ryder had not saved her life, we would never have known or understood why the Kett take our people to their facilities.”
“I know…” Akksul growled, realizing the gathered Angara were starting to weaver and doubt him as jaal kept talking.
“The Moshae trusts Ryder, despite all she is and-”
“Enough!” Akksul’s gun was in his hand this time and his aimed it at Jaal. “We’ve been fighting the wrong enemy, Maybe the enemy is this traitor.”
“Easy.” Jaal warned.
“Jaal?” The flames at Grace’s eyes began to burn longer, and the mist suddenly darkened as it coiled behind her.
“Don’t.” Jaal told her calmly and while the mist faded the flames at her eyes remained as Jaal began his sentence again evenly, despite the gun pointed at him. “The Moshae trusts Ryder and her people. You Akksul have become a danger to your own people.” He said. “Walk away.”
“Or, I kill you and reveal the resistance for the traitors they are!” Akksul snapped and squeezed the trigger.
Damian paused in his steps and smiled brightly, gently putting a hand to his chest and with soft sigh, feeling a welcome warmth there again.
“Damian?” Suvi asked.
Suvi smiled. “Shall we go see her?”
Damian smiled, “We’ll wait for Grace to come home first then we will go see her and the others.” He said chuckling as a small flower appeared in Suvi’s hair, a gift and sign that family was close and changed were on the horizon.
Time slowed down.
Peebee stepped back out of reach as the mist flew from Grace and instead of attacking Akksul as the Roekaar thought she would, the mist covered the shot and instead of hitting Jaal’s face, leaving him with a fatal injury, the shot only cut the edge of his right cheek as its path followed Grace’s mist and embedded itself in the rocks behind Jaal, then, as the flames at Grace’s eyes turned from black to white, the burned edge of Jaal’s injury were soothed and the skin healed.
Baranjj and Teviint stood in shock and horror at what Akksul had done, as the Roekaar around them realized just how badly that could have ended for Jaal and just how unsteady their supposed leader was.
“Did you expect me to kill you before you pulled the trigger?” Grace asked. “That I wouldn’t have somehow, in my life time, faced this same situation? That I would make you a martyr for Alien haters?” she added, “I have been called a monster all my life, Akksul, hated and feared by millions of people who have never even met me and I know better than to give someone a reason believe the lies about my kind.”
“You aren’t the monster here.” Baranjj stated.
“I love my people.” Akksul heard himself say.
“Really?” Grace asked, and Akksul watched as the mists at last pulled away from Jaal and instead of attacking him as he had expected, it seeped back into Grace’s body. “You have been using kids to raid and steal supplies for the real fighters, the ones who spend days awake and alert trying to keep the Kett away from Aya, all the while you hide away like a coward and weaken the Angara Resistance from within. Some might think that the Archon had planned it this way from the start the way you’re going.”
There was a long silence and then the Roekaar began to move away and leave as Akksul stood there, unable to find words.
“Learn to fight for your people the right way, rather than blindly following hatred.” Grace stated.
“Come on.” Jaal said turning to his siblings. “Let’s get you home.” He added, gently ushering them out.
Akksul watched them leave, unable to stop them or others leaving now in shuttles to return home, unable to pin point when his plan fell apart in his own mind as he went over it all again slowly in his mind again and again.
How had he lost to that creature? More over why did her words hit so close to home so easily? How had he misjudged her so wrongly?
“You ok?” Grace asked Jaal as they walked.
Jaal would have smiled had the action not caused him pain. “Yeah, thanks.” He groaned.
“Sorry, I’m not good at healing burns like Gran is,” she said.
“It’ll heal on its own in time.” He assured as the shuttle came down for them, Lathoul sat up in his seat, his injury tended as he helped them aboard.
“I am so sorry Lathoul.” Teviint began to say.
“Couldn’t even kill me at short range.” The other chuckled lightly. “Let’s go home.”
The flight back to the Tempest was quite, while Grace and Peebee played a game with a deck of cards, Jaal called ahead to let their mothers know they were coming home safe.
By the time they had landed it was late in the Havarl evening hours, and most people were settling to sleep or take the night shift and as the shuttle came down to land, two Angara women were at the steps waiting to greet the three younger Angara that had been brought home.
“Let’s give them a minute.” Jaal said and Grace nodded, following him to eth side for a moment, smiling as the Mantra flew lazily over head and the night breeze tugged at her hair lightly. “Thank you, for trusting me the way you did. Killing Akksul would have made the Roekaar stronger.”
“He shot at you.” Grace stated.
“I’m glad he did; it exposed how far he’d fallen.” Jaal said then saw the flames at Grace’s eyes had not died away, “Grace?”
“He is lucky I cannot focus my mist into more than one action at once.” Grace said, and Jaal saw the shake in her hands even as she had then clenched at her sides.
“What is wrong?”
“I am not old enough to command the mist I have to do more than one task, I am not able to protect myself or others when I use the mist the way I did back there.” Jaal blinked then suddenly realized just what she meant, while her mist had been deflecting the bullet from him, Grace herself had been wide open to an attack, any attack, that could have killed her.
“You would have been hurt had Akksul known that.” He realized. “Had he realized just how limited you were…”
She nodded, “Though, I’m not a very good saviour.” She added looking at his face, “I couldn’t change the trajectory fast enough to void giving you a scar.”
“It will heal,” Jaal smiled gently reaching up and cupping her face. “All scars do.” He assured.
“Just… don’t go doing that again please? Not until I’m older…” she asked leaning into his touch.
Jaal chuckled, “I will try not to.”
Returning to the Tempest Grace suddenly felt a weight over her neck and looked down, smiling as a beautiful chain and jewel pendent appeared there. “Damian.”
“I know.” Damian smiled showing her the matching ring and hair flower Suvi and he now wore. “I think Aunt Tara missed us.”
“As do I.” Grace chuckled. “Kallo?”
“Nexus?” The Salarian asked with a knowing look.
“As fast as she’ll go.”
Akksul sat alone in his shuttle/home.
He had carefully spent the last few hours looking back over everything, not just the Roekaar but also his own time as a prisoner in the Kett Labour camp, how close he had been to becoming a Kett soldier, how he had fought for his freedom and won and then…
Then he had become foolish, blind and driven by anger and hatred rather than thinking carefully about everything.
Grace’s words hit so close to his true nature because she had been speaking the same words he would have spoken had he been thinking straight this whole time, she carried the true weight of a people on her shoulders, two peoples if he reminded himself that she was not only searching for Humanity a home but her own kin as well and despite the clear distrust of some and the outrage of others, she was simply getting on with the job.
Against all odd and against all that was thrown in her way, Grace was getting the job of Pathfinding Humanity a home and all the while, she was dealing with everyone else’s trouble and baggage. And for her to stay strong under that, to stay proud and steady…
How had she not cracked under the mess they’d made for her?
Then he’d taken a minute and seen why.
She stood strong because her crew and people who knew her worked their asses off to give her what she needed, made her tasks easier to face because they were there to help get shit done. Evfra hadn’t weakened the Angara by joining the Humans in their fight against the Kett, he had gained a powerful and willing ally who was willing to fight and kill Kett to bring the war to and end and keep everyone safe. The Moshae trusted her because she made no secretes of her intentions and her believes.
And as much as he had tried to deny it, he was fascinated and interested in her because she was, in some ways, a mirror of his own life, the why he SHOULD have been after escaping the Kett labour camp…
She was everything he failed to be and at the same time, she was everything he couldn’t be.
“Learn to fight for your people the right way, rather than blindly following hatred.”
She’d meant it.
The whole of the Nexus was tuned in to the live news feed from Addison’s observation deck.
Kandros was recording the whole event, Kesh was stood back collecting the winnings of her bets while Avitus and Vederia helped explain a few details to the Angara ambassador about what was going on with matching grins.
As expected the Four older Succubus had arrived a day early and they had come with documents, Audio instructions and even a personal recommendation from the Citadel Council of the Milky Way and they had brought all of their respected harem members with them, including the only Prothean alive and a Geth unit. They had also brought with them the cure of the Genophage, the blessings of the Asari leaders and the Turian Primarch’s personal thanks for saving them from the Reaper threat.
Tann, who had once been so confident and sure he would not be spoken down to by the four Succubus was trying not to cower, while Addison was simply stood with her shoulders sagged and her head low, feeling much like a child being scalded for doing wrong, even though the four women before her were silent as they watched the recorded footage from Kandros’s files and the security feeds on how their Youngest members were treated, on top of how poorly the whole situation had been handled, how the Krogan had been treated for their attempts to help and then on to how things had been left before Grace and Damian saved the Asari ark.
The youngest of the four turned to them first, her green eyes burning with rage as she levelled the two with a dark glare. “How DARE you!! Sending my cousins to clean up the mess and mistakes YOU made and allowed to become so tangled! How DARE YOU Insult Alec’s name! And you, you pathetic excuse for a Director! How dare you stand by and watch families suffer because of YOUR LACKING SKILLS, so help me I will skin the both of you alive and leave you for BAIT!!!!!”
“Anna that is enough.”
“Enough.” The second, older woman repeated turning her own emerald glare on the two. “Grace and Damian are not your blood siblings, they are not yours to defend.”
“They hell they aren’t, these two wretches have left them with the bear minimal to fix a god damn CRISIS!” Anna snarled. “They shouldn’t even have their positions here as it is!”
“They will be dealt with, young one.” the third one stated, leaning heavily on her cane as she turned around and gently put a frail looking hand to Anna’s shoulder. “By the correct relation to the Ryder twins.” She added and gently tugged Anna aside as the last, eldest woman of their group at last turned around in her hovering chair.
“Do either of you have any authentic and justifiable evidence to provide me with a reason not to formally rip you from your standings here and now?” she asked quietly, her voice broken with age and yet, everyone, even the Angara Ambassador felt the untold anger and power in her words.
She could follow through with every threat she made of stripping them of their ranks and places heck she could put them both back into stasis if she so chose.
“The Tempest has landed.” Kandros stated calmly. “Your grandchildren are on their way.”
“Thank you Kandros.” The elderly woman nodded and allowed her fellow Succubus to help her stand, Anna allowing the older woman to cling to her arms as she wobbled ever so slightly in her age before finding her bearings and nodded.
Grace was the first one to jump the steps, throwing all cares to the wind of how it might look as she embraced the elderly woman in a gentle but tight hold, Damian almost skidded on the floor and barely stopped in time to avoid tripping over his own two feet as he arrived, falling to his knees and hugging the woman about the waist.
Kesh smiled, Kandros pretended not to watch while others in the crowd either clapped or cheered at the sight, Suvi stepped forwards and after Damian slowly pulled away from his grandmother, the elderly woman offered her hand to the other woman and gently embraced her as well, while Damian bowed his head to his elders, only to be bonked by the youngest of the four and grabbed in a tight hug that was quickly returned.
“Now that is a nice scene.” Liam smiled as he leant against the rails to stay out of the way.
“Sure is,” Drack chuckled, watching Grace and her brother talk in their own tongue to their fellow Succubus, relaxing easily into the familiar warmth of those they trusted after so long without the guidance of their father was almost overwhelming, and yet the mist never strayed away from the gathering, each gentle colour curling and breathing around them with a gentle controlled ease that could only be the elders powerful focus to protect those she saw as her charges.
“We can talk more as a family later,” Lady Cassie Ryder assured softly as she settled back in her chair, “Let me deal with these two fools, in the meantime I am sure the others would like to know more about your travels thus far.” She added and lightly pressed a kiss to Grace’s hand, “Go now, be young and full of joy, we shall talk of the grief later.”
“Yes Gran.” Grace nodded, smiling as she was snatched from behind by the shoulders and given a gentle head bonk by her older cousin. “Anna.”
“You needed a hug.” Anna stated smiling.
“Tann, Addison, I am sure you have a privet room somewhere we may speak in privet about this fine mess you two have caused yourselves,” the elderly Succubus stated and reluctantly, Addison nodded and lead the way to Tann’s officer.
Grace watched them go and smiled before looking at Anna. “I have some stories for you, Cousin.” She assured.
“Good, I want to know all about how my dear cousin FINALLY found a decent man.” Anna teased lightly.
“More than one.” Grace smiled, and Anna smirked with a bright flash of her eyes.
“I want all the details.” She stated.
No one knew what Lady Cassie Ryder had planned for Tann and Addison, but it was clear that whatever her punishments they were enough to make Tann keep his mouth shut and Addison unable to look anyone in the eyes and both had made a formal apology to Damian and Grace. After a tour of the Nexus and then the Tempest, Grace and Damian settled with their kin on the viewing deck of the Tempest, Damian on the floor, allowing Tara to gently comb his hair while Anna sat behind Grace’s gently folding the younger woman’s hair into a braid, listening to Damian and Grace retell the whole story of their time in the Heleus cluster thus far.
It was, much to Jaal’s surprise, easy to tell the older four woman apart from one another, even at a distance. Lady Cassie Ryder was clearly highly respected by them all, treated with gentle and firm hands to help her stand when she desired it, and while she was soft spoken, her words carried a clear and undeniable power over her kin, Grace and Damian hung on her every word, and whenever they were given the chance, one or both of them would rest their head in the elder’s lap, allowing the frail hands to gently pet their hair.
Tara Brown, for all her natural skin marks, was also decorated in tattoos, each one intricate and gracefully detailed, depicting languages, places, names, people she’d known and loved over the years and all thirty-five of her children. Her greying red hair fell lose when Grace sat with her and the younger Succubus had spent hours carefully brushing and braiding the dulling flaming locks as she retold the story of Alec Ryder’s death.
Hannah Shepard had been reading over the reports and files Grace had given her, offering her advice freely as the two went on to tell of how they had come across Aya and the Angara who had been fighting the Kett far longer than they had and the aid they had given after a little game of ‘getting to trust you’ as the older Shepard named the whole Havarl first visit.
Then there was Anna Shepard. Where as the older three were clearly much older than Anna, the white haired green-eyed Shepard was only a few years older than Grace and Damian herself and she had no restraint in her insults towards Tann and Addison for their fuck ups, and she made her dislike of their behaviour known from the moment Grace began to talk about them, though a soft glance from Lady Cassie and her mother was enough to silence her words before she could completely dissolve into a rant.
“It’s not been so bad, every time we get an outpost down and we do a good job to help the Angara and Humans settle in, more and more people accepted us and we spent a few hours now and then resting to recover.” Damian said as Suvi brought up a large tray of drinks, offering the first to Lady Cassie with a small bow.
Lady Cassie smiled and gently took the offered cup of tea, listening quietly as Grace explained the missions on Voeld.
“And Voeld is where you had your little temper tantrum?” Anna asked, taking a cup of tea from the tray and smiling her thanks. “I felt one of you go wild all the way in the Milky Way.” She added then took a sip of her tea and winced, quickly swapping her cup for her mother’s before the older woman could take a drink, “Wrong flavour.”
“Yea… that was me.” Grace admitted, “I had just learned what the Kett called Exaltation was in fact their way of repopulating, using their own DNA to forcibly chance and alter other races, making them better and part of something great. I snapped.”
“Given the situation, I am not surprised.” Tara said gently lifting Grace’s face with her finger tips. “You gave us quite a scare my dear,” she added.
“I’m sorry.” Grace said, “It was so… after everything you and mother taught me, everything we go through for children even if they aren’t like us… it just got to me.”
“Given what was done to you,” Lady Cassie said and Grace felt the warmth of her Grandmother’s mist surround her, “That is understandable. But I sense something has changed, something that makes you very happy.”
Grace smiled and nodded, releasing her mist slowly and letting it interweave itself with her elders, feeling Anna gently press into the mist with her mother, seeking out the knowledge Grace had gathered that made her smile so much and in return, Grace searched Anna’s mist for her knowledge.
When they found it, Anna couldn’t help but chuckle fondly. “So, the Angara share traits with us as well as having the ability to grant us children.” She said.
“And you managed to bed a Prothean.” Grace chuckled.
The smirk that Anna gave her was far to sweet to be innocent. “Darling, need I remind you it was my willingness to be open to something at least once that brought out our dear Tara’s Turian fetish.”
“Says the one of us who has a long list of Turians at her beck and call.” Tara teased.
“Turians, Drell, a Prothean and a fair few desperate idiots.” Hannah chuckled as Anna tossed a sofa cushion at her.
“Tease all you want, at least I can say I was the first of us all to bed a Krogan.” she proclaimed proudly.
“Don’t let too many Krogan hear that, you’ll never be rid of us.” Drack chuckled from below them.
“I know a trick or two about keeping Krogan away. Your big and intimidating when you want to be, but I got tips on just where the poke to make you drop like a bag of wrenches.” Anna assured. “Nakmor right?” She asked.
“How’d you know?”
“Please, the bone decorations and the crest were a dead giveaway.” Anna chuckled.
“So, you have found the Asari and Turian Arks and you have done more than anyone could have asked to insure we have some kind of home here.” Lady Cassie said gently lightly petting Grace’s hair. “What is your next move my dear?”
“Once the Angara know that you are here and introductions have been properly done I plan on going after a signal we found from the Archon’s Ship after we rescued the Moshae. We go from there.” Grace said.
“Just like your father, never a plan to far ahead, just in case someone messed up.” The old woman smiled. “Should you need help, you know how to summon us.”
“I do.” Grace nodded and smiled. “Peebee, stop trying to sneak a picture.”
“How’d you know it was me?”
“Because you have the sweet smell of rem-tech on your skin.” Tara stated with a smile. “Singal?” She asked.
“Down girl.” Hannah smiled. “She’s far too young for you.”
“Says the woman who swept the Turian Councillor off his feet with one smile.” Tara remarked with a wink to Peebee.
“Please do not steal my crew mates before we are finished, Aunt Tara, I do need Peebee.” Grace pleaded.
“Do you need the Coffee bean and the Card shuffler too?” Tara asked with a smile back at Gil and Liam.
“This is a star ship, not an orgy bar.” Damian sighed softly.
“Given that you and Grace share this place, I’m amazed it doesn’t have nightly adventures.” Anna smirked and then fell over laughing as Damian gave her a small shove. “Oh hello! And who is this little cutie?” she asked as a soft chittering response from the ‘cutie’ in question.
“Chitters.” Grace smiled as the Pyjak came up the ramp, and shyly sniffed around the new comers to his home, chirping and whistling in wonder. “He’s our Mascot and pet.” She added.
“I never got a pet Pyjak.” Anna said, “Mother, I want one.”
“You have a hamster.”
“Not the same.” Anna, Grace and Damian all said together and smiled as Chitters climbed into Grace’s lap and nuzzled into her.
“D’awww, that’s adorable.” Hannah smiled.
“So, where too Pathfinder?” Kallo asked.
“Aya please Kallo,” Damian smiled.
“So, about these Angara.” Anna asked, “Anything we should be aware of kink wise?”
“I am not having that conversation in front of my brother. I have standers to keep.” Grace stated, and Anna cackled.
“When did you get modest?” She asked.
“I don’t want him stealing my tactics.” Grace said and Anna just laughed as Grace lightly poked her sides.
Lady Cassie smiled fondly and sipped her tea, it had been too long since her grand children could relax and just laugh amongst those who knew them, even longer since she and her kind could enjoy the company of those who did not judge them. It was a shame that Alec would not see his children mature into their primes, but in his own way, she knew he had given them the best future he could despite the trails and errors he had made in his own life.
“Are you going to tell them?” Tara asked softly and Lady Cassie shook her head slowly. “They should know.”
“And they will.” Lady Cassie smiled, “in time, when the turmoil is over.”
“Can you hold out that long?” Tara pressed, and the older woman chuckled fondly.
“My body will hold out a while yet.” The elder smiled. “I will be here to see their children, beyond that, it will fall to you and Hannah to watch over them.”
“As if they were mine.” Tara nodded and lifted her cup slightly. “To aging with grace and dignity.”
“You lost all dignity when you started playing strip poker with the Asari Matriarchs.” Lady Cassie reminded.
“You weren’t complaining after a night in bed with one.” Tara smiled and the two shared a laugh that only grew as Chitters, having found the empty cubs, was trying to make a cup tower.
I will add Akksul’s moment to this when my brain is less of a hectic hell hole.
I can’t say when that will be but I can tell you all that as soon as I have something that is worthy of the moody brute, I will post it. It will still be Succubus! Grace Ryder, but for now, this story is on Hold.
I will try and do the Drack/Ryder drabbles I have been promising those of you who have asked for them, but please, do not rush me, and please don’t demand them instantly, there is a situation happening here and it is just messing with my health.
Thank you to those of you who have given me such amazing feedback and who have chosen to stick with the series from the days of Anna Shepard through to now, and I promise it will be finished at some point.
Thanks for reading and see you next time.
Chapter 10: An End
This is the end, I am sorry it is short and I am sorry its not as detailed as others, but this is all I can give you right now, work and life stresses are zapping my creativity and thus, I am putting all my current works on a semi-hiatus.
I will come back and redo the scene with Akksul here, but for now, this is all I can offer you all.
Reaching Aya had been fun, the Angara were a little unsure of the new Succubus, but their fears were quickly dispelled as it was found that they were only staying on the Tempest until they passed a small uninhabited world that they could use as their home and the best way to do that, rather than borrowing from the Nexus was to stick with the Pathfinder and her crew as they were literally the first ones to see these galaxies and clusters and thus, had a far greater chance of finding them a home.
That was how the Moshae had come to help them search through the archive of none Angara claimed worlds that would be suitable for such a home while Anna and Grace looked over a few small plans and ideas for housing, eventually the Cubus found a world they liked, though the Moshae was amazed as the one that had chosen was in fact a highly toxic world that even with advanced terra forming, would take a long time to clear up.
Anna smiled. “As elders, Lady Cassie, Aunt Tara and Mother can cleanse the planet without needing to breath oxygen. And since I’m now technically in my prime, I can help as well.” She assured. “the only ones who have to use breathers are Grace and Damian, since they are still children.”
“Says the one who forgot she needed a breather and jumped out of the air lock to avoid her human crew mate and his bad flirting.” Tara teased lightly.
“Alenko didn’t take no for answer first time and it was that or snap his neck. I chose the lesser of two evils and got a really cool blue shade to my skin for a few days after that. Liara loved it.” Anna chuckled.
“So did Garrus.” Grace remarked from her place with Evfra looking over the star maps.
“Grace darling stop flirting and have that little pilot of yours set us a course for this little rock please,” Tara smiled and Grace let her head fall onto her arms. “You can play sex games later.”
“Aunt Tara I am not flirting I am planning the next move against the Archon.” She tried to defend.
The smirk on Anna’s face would have been scary had Evfra not known she was already very much aware of the whole situation. “If it helps I can lend you one of my corsets.”
“Made you blush.” Anna laughed.
“And they say I’m the tease.” Tara chuckled fondly.
“Nah you’re the best tease Aunt Tara, I just make it look easy.” Anna cackled ducking under the swat from Grace and then ducked behind Suvi for protection only for the game to continue for a few hours while somehow the two managed to maintain a professional conversation.
By the end of the day the Tempest was fueled and restocked for the long haul and while the Succubus were ready to format their chosen home.
It had not gone completely to plan as on the way, they had found the Salarian Ark connected and help prisoner against a Kett battle ship and it had been Anna who remarked that none of the Kett present were in fact Angara, their aura was different and thus, these Kett were pure.
The Archon’s cruelty to the Salarians had been relentless and Grace had been near savage in her retort upon learning what the Kett had been doing to the Salarians. Flooding the corridors and halls of the Ark with her mist and forcing the Kett back to their ship with a promise she was not going to stop until they were all dead.
Damian was no better, while he remained behind on the Ark to get the Sam back online and get the ship out of danger, Grace took Drack and Jaal aboard the Kett ship and while Jaal was use to Grace’s anger by now, he was still shocked as just how cold she could be and how easily the mist that brought him such pleasure could also be used to cause immense pain. She was merciless, ripping into the Kett with her mist easily and tearing their energy away form their bodies easily, though she did not feed on all of them.
The fact she stopped her own heart and let Sam revive her again scared Jaal more than anything else. But it was her ability to teleport the Ark and the Tempest to safety that brought Grace to her knees at last, her energy spent and her body shaking.
Grandma Ryder worried, but the elder could do no more than hold her grandchild until the shaking stopped while Jaal let the mist circle him, slowly feeding to regain what strength she could while Damian went over what Sam had found and helped Drack and Suvi with food. The stupidity of some Salarians was soon unveiled and after a long hard talk with the other Pathfinders, it was agreed that until the Kett were done with, anyone suspected of such betrayal as the Salarian crew had been taking would be handed over to the Succubus elders for interrogation if Grace didn’t get at them first.
After going to the Krogan colony on the planet of Elaaden and sorting out the mess Spender had made by betraying the Krogan from the start, Tara agreed to stay behind for a while and help with keeping the Colony and Outpost from killing one another, while Damian went back to the Nexus to help with the sudden surge of food, water, weapons, martials and other resources now that Tann and Addison were no longer refusing to help them. They found the Succubus would be home and after watching Lady Cassie expel her mist to its fullest, surrounding the planet with a warm array of colours and shapes Hannah and Anna also released their mists and together they began to chant in some lost language even Grace couldn’t understand, the toxic air slowly fading away and the constant shaking and tremors of earthquakes slowly coming to a stop.
Grace smiled and promised she would be back with Damian to help when she could be.
Meridian was so close and yet it seemed the Archon had formulated a plan to try and kill Grace and insure she did not accomplish her goals, cutting her link to Sam off at the source and stole the Human Ark from the Nexus. Damian reconnected Sam to his sister without hesitating and used his mist to create a thick shield around himself and the Ark Captain, and any Kett that came into contact with it was not stripped of their energy, but instead burst into flames.
The Archon had not planned for that it seemed and it bought Grace time to regain her strength and while she was still shaky on her feet, it seemed the loss of Sam and now the weaker connection to him had triggered Grace’s survival instincts and her mist had seeped into the Remnant structures around her and somehow found energy to feed her, granting her some ability to control the Remnant at will.
“Grace?” Lexi asked watching the blood drip from Grace’s nose as she hovered above the ground.
“Now.” Grace hissed, “I’m angry.” She said as the flames around her eyes grew larger and burned brighter.
When word got out that the Archon had attacked the Nexus and taken Damian, the other Pathfinders, the Apex Teams, the Outposts, the Krogan and the Angara packed themselves into ships, shuttles and all form of crafts and joined the Tempest as it flew after the stolen Ark.
The threat to her brother was perhaps the biggest mistake the Archon made, it was the final push that broke all Grace’s control, bringing a side to the Succubus Race to light that no human wished to see again as Grace dragged her hands through seemingly nothing, smiting the Kett lives down like some raging grim reaper as Drack held Jaal back as she left the Tempest and flooded the Ark with Mist, the Scourge and a promise she was no longer going to play nice.
“She’ll need help.” Jaal said.
“She’s got it. But we can’t help her if we can’t breathe.” Vetra said offering Jaal a breather mask.
Damian chuckled, feeling his sister’s aura seep around him. “And now,” he said, “We really cut lose.”
The Human captain’s move to hide behind Damian was suddenly understood in full as the shield expanded and burned the guarding Kett away with ease as the flames around Damian’s eyes grew and brightened, the mist coiling around his arms and torso tightly.
“Stay behind me Dunn!” he warned.
“I plan too!” the captain assured daring to peek out as Damian dragged his arms through the mist and crusted and grabbed at the colored aura, seeming to snuff out the lives of Kett around him easily. “Shots!”
The shield returned seconds before the first bullet touched Damian’s mist, burning it and the others that followed up without trouble as a familiar screech echoed around them, Damian laughed and answered his sister’s call with his own, using Gib to communicate everything as the ship rocked and shook around them.
Then the Ark had crashed, heavily into Meridian and it had bough the Archon time to escape the Succubus’s rage with Damian, who had been knocked out by the sudden crash, but it did not stop Grace chasing the Archon down, nor the united forces that had followed her attacking the Kett.
The fight took a small toll, but in the long run, the Kett were worse off as the sudden anger from Grace was enough to bring her fellow Succubus to the fight as well and while Cassie, Hannah and Tara were able to fight from a distance, their mists striking down Kett ships with ease and protecting others, Anna herself appeared on the field and was apparently happy to throw herself into the fight, easily unloading bullets into the Kett along side Evfra, Reyes, Kandros and Kesh and once the bullets ran out, she had no trouble getting her hands dirty with snapping neck and ripping limbs off.
Chitters left the Tempest and hurried after the scent of Grace, leading Drack, Jaal, Peebee and the others after the missing Pathfinder until they found her ripping the head off a Kett Chosen that was in her and going back into a fist fight with the Archon and his pet Architect.
According to Peebee’s story telling later that evening, it was an epic battle and the only reason it was won was because Damian and Grace were able to use their combined link with Sam to overload the Archon’s connection to the Remnant, though this left both of them weak for a few days.
Seven days in total, Grace and Damian were under medical orders to rest, enforced by a direct order from their Grandmother to sleep and get better before they came home and further enforced by Anna as she stayed behind to keep an eye on them while they rested in their father’s old quarters a few feet from Sam node, Damian holding Grace as they had when they were just babes, a habit that had been constant even when they were just little ones according to a picture Anna was never showing anyone but Jaal.
It was Anna who told Jaal why Grace and she seemed to much more savage and eager to be in the thick of fights rather than stay at a distance was a side effect they shared from the ‘Curing’ Miranda had done to them, it had not only reduced their chances to carry children, it had also messed with their mental state and brought out the more animalistic and aggressive side of their kin. It was more prominent in Anna, who had been kept prisoner to Miranda and thus given more of the Cure than Ellen Ryder had during her pregnancy and thus, Grace didn’t suffer the worst side effects in general.
“She gets nasty and she goes off to fight things she really shouldn’t. But she’s still got a sense of self preservation, that last minute escape to run and get away… I don’t have that anymore.” Anna told him, “That’s why I take it personally when people say bad things about Grace, she didn’t ask to have the wild side of our kind made stronger inside her, and she sure as hell didn’t ask to be made infertile.”
“But that changes when she is with an Angara.” Jaal reminded.
“True, but how will your people react to the first-born Succubus of your race?” Anna asked. “We don’t have a human look when we are born Jaal, we’re born through energy and love and power, it’s not until the mist places us in the womb of our mother that we take form, basing our appearance on how our mother and father look and feel and smell, how they appear to us when we are at our weakest is how we grow to look when we ourselves are grown.”
Jaal looked to where Grace and Damian were sleeping, it made sense now why Damian was so much bigger than a normal human, and why they seemed to alien to humans.
“It takes a lot of courage for a Succubus to carry a child.” Anna said, “But Grace will need time to think and plan for the eventuality of it all, just like Suvi and Damian will have to prepare for the chance that their child will carry the gene.”
“And if they do not?” Jaal asked.
“Then we’ll have a baby human to pamper and shower with love all the same.” Anna smiled, “Human or ‘Cubus, the children born here will be loved and cherished no matter their heritage.”
Eventually, the twins had woken up and been welcomed back with a HUGE party, a round of near crushing hugs and warnings that if they did that again Lexi would put them on medical leave for the rest of their lives.
Grace hadn’t even let Tann finish when he came to her with the rest of the Nexus leaders and asked about who she would name the head of the Initiative now that the fighting was over and made sure it was known she voted for the Moshae, reminding everyone that the Heleus cluster was the home of the Angara first and it was not the Initiative’s place to try and overshadow that fact with a big fancy space station.
When Tann looked ready to argue, Grace reminded him that she could just have her Grandmother make it so without his approval at all and then have him locked back into stasis.
Then, as she had promised her Grandmother, she and Damian came to the new Succubus home planet and joined the chanting with their own, flooding the planet and the near by stars with their join mists while their allies watched the lights dance and shift mesmerizingly through the blackness of space until clean fresh water flowed freely over the surface of their planet and brought forth lush greenery and tall trees, flowers that couldn’t be named, foods that couldn’t be grown anywhere else.
A small paradise that was just as unique and beautiful as the creatures who lived there and now at last, the Succubus could awaken their lovers from their sleeps and accomplish their goal of having a home all their own to enjoy and love without the judgement of others. Grace hadn’t been kidding when she’d said Anna had the most diverse Harem, Krogan, Turians, Drell, a Quarian and the last Prothean alive as her mate, whereas Tara had the largest counting both human and Alien lovers, whereas Hannah and Lady Cassie had large Harems they were not as diverse.
Damian and Suvi set up a small house for themselves easily enough but choice to stay on the Tempest and take Grace’s place at the Pathfinder, giving Grace time to rest and recover while Anna took just over a week to get her hands on what was meant to be a miniature lab facility that she converted and upgraded to make one huge open plan house with a view of the sunrise and sunset and a lot of comfy places to just sleep and relax in. Tara, Hannah and Lady Cassie parked their ship near the water and added a few smaller Prefabricated home buildings from the Outposts to make a cosy complex for themselves. Grace made a home for herself and Chitters in a little forested area, slightly hidden away from the others for some privacy and time to just enjoy peace, though Grace was still sometimes sent update e-mails by her fellow Pathfinders filled with pictures and videos of the crazy times they had finding new planets and homes for everyone.
Eventually, as with all new things, scientists from Aya, Nexus and Havarl started to ask if they could study the Succubus home world and after laying down a few ground rules it was agreed that it could happen, though only if those who came brought something for Chitters to play with and it was agreed, needless to say, Chitters was always happy to see ships coming in after the first box of shiny bars, light up balls and a few new blankets and pillows.
Time slowly passed and through the hard work and the right solutions being found to the problems and arguments, the cluster settled into something of a normal calm, Damian remaining as the Pathfinder to the Humans while Grace took time to enjoy the free time she had with Jaal and Evfra when the resistance leader turned head of Angara military forces came by to visit, between them, Kandros and the rare visit from Reyes, Grace was able to regain the natural beauty that had been lost from her fighting with the Archon, the flames of her eyes returning to their gentle shades and her golden markings growing and interweaving naturally to cover her body.
Then Damian had discovered the last gift from their father, nestled safely away from the dangers and Grace had both cursed and praised Alec for the hidden truth he’d kept from them both. Ellen Ryder, their mother, still alive and still sustained by Sam’s actions, waiting in stasis for the day they could find some way to save her…
It would take time, but just knowing she was still there, still breathing and still able to hear them… Oh the joy that news had brought to Grace and Damian was beyond words.
“He always said he’d do anything to see them smile,” Hannah chuckled. “Even after all they went through…”
“The humans may not like this.” Tara said.
“Damn what they think.” Anna stated. “We have lived under Human laws for too long because of the mistakes of others. It is time we returned to our ways,” she added holding a large book in her hands. “We have our own home, our own lives and our own future now. It is time we made the Laws work for us as they should have from the start.”
“I agree.” Cassie nodded.
Word of the Kett falling back to the furthest reaches of the system reached everyone after a month of long hard fighting against the Primus, unlike the Archon, she was not obsessed with the Remnant and thus, she was not as easy to predict, but they managed to up root and remove many of her well placed pockets of Kett and now at last, everyone was able to breath a sigh of relief and truly relax for the time being.
The Cubus, as they were now known amongst the races, were happy to stay on their little world, working carefully to maintain it and also offer advice and aid to the Angara, Asari, Turians, Krogan and Salarians though they were not so willing to help the humans who had first flocked to their world, trying to gain favour from them. Thus far, it was not working so well as the Cubus had chosen to shun the Humans who had not been helpful to their youngest and instead only shared their time with those who had earnt the Pathfinder’s trust.
Akksul was conflicted. His attraction to Grace, once little more that a fascination and curiousness, had grown into a deeper, nearly becoming an obsession with the Succubus as he debated whether or not he should visit Grace and if he did visit her would any intimacy be natural or would it be an after thought to her Cubus nature?
He sighed defeatedly and fell back onto his bunk, the idea of an intimate meeting was starting to affect him in ways he’d thought impossible, his body refused to let him rest whenever the image of Grace appeared in his mind and he couldn’t deny that he felt a twinge of jealousy towards Jaal and Evfra as Jaal had all but moved in with Grace, while Evfra was a regular visitor to the small planet along with the Turian Kaetus.
They knew what it was like to have her, to hold her and enjoy that warmth… His terminal beeped and he sighed opening the email and blinked, reading and re-reading the message before closing it down, restarting the terminal and then reopening the message just to double check it wasn’t a mistake.
From; G. Ryder.
I asked the Moshae for your contact since you’re desire is strong enough to be felt from my home from wherever it is you have hidden yourself, since you haven’t come by yet I’m assuming that you aren’t sure how to approach me or if you are even welcome, so allow me to clear up the details so you can make a decision.
You are welcome to come and visit me anytime you like, but if you are worried about being seen by someone, I have put the code to get by the barrier below the email, and if you would rather not face anyone else on the way in, Jaal and Evfra are both on missions and Kaetus isn’t due another session for another month so we would be completely alone.
I know that you’re thinking about me because like all races in the Milky Way, Angara have a scent to their desire and your desire is strong enough to be intoxicating and has caused me a few sleepless nights, no doubt it’s caused you some discomfort as well. You already know where I am and I’ve made sure to leave the window open for you, since I doubt you’d want to come in through the front door.
Code to the barrier. 09897 <<<
Reading the message one last time, Akksul set the shuttle into flight mode and kicked the engines to full power.
It hadn’t been difficult to get inside and land his shuttle away from the gaze of others, and once the sun had set and cast the planet into darkness, Akksul found the open window and found the house had a warm, cosy feeling to it, familiar scents and dimmed lighting giving him a sense of calmness he thought lost.
“Well, that didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” She said and he followed her voice to find her sat on a large sofa, reading a large book with a worn back in a pair of lose shorts and a low cut vest top, her skin marks giving off a soft constant glow. “I trust life has been treating you better?”
“I would have thought you knew it all, you seemed confident enough to admit some attraction to me.” He said, knowing that the dim light wouldn’t show he had removed the black Roekaar markings from his face and replaced them with his original marks, a softer blue colour that stood out against his skin.
“You’re the one with pent up arousal Akksul, I’m just the lucky one who feeds on the stuff to live.” She remarked, marking her page and placing the book down, “Not that I’m complaining, Jaal and Evfra are sweet, but neither of them is aggressive and as good as Kaetus is, he never totally restrains me.”
“You have no shame, do you?” he asked, watching the mist seep from her palms and form into a small ball that she lightly tossed between her palms.
“Just because sex makes feeding easier doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy trying new things and experimenting. And judging by the scent of you, you’re not one for basic sex and then leaving.” She smiled, “Now, are you going to let go of that fear and go with the flow or do you need some help?”
“How do you know I won’t hurt you?”
Grace smiled. “Because you’ve been stood in my house for five minutes and haven’t insulted me, you’re not carrying a weapon and while I know you have skills to kill with your hands, you know that my mist can and will strike with enough force to do you harm if you tried it.”
She was right, they both knew it and Akksul found the tension that had lingered in him finally slipped away as easily as the mist that he knew was ever present around Grace faded into view, lazily curling around the room.
Their first joining was slow, drawn out and gentle, learning each other by touch and becoming lost somewhere amongst heated passions that left both light headed and eager for more of everything until he came undone inside her heat, resting in a tangle of sheets and one another’s arms as Grace’s skin marks gave off a soft pulse, Akksul noticed it was like a heartbeat, though it did not match her own heartbeat, as he lay with his head against her chest, hearing the oddly soothing beat beneath her skin.
“How long do we have?” He asked as one hand slowly trailed along her back, his finger tips slowly tracing unseen lines over her body. Aware that she had not reached a peak as he had.
“Two weeks, three if something big comes up.” She assured, gentle hands petting his head and back softly, “The only one who will know you are here is Chitters, if that’s what you want.” She added.
“As long as he doesn’t attack me when I make you scream for my touch.” He said, smiling as she chuckled, shaking her head. “You doubt I can?”
“No, just the idea of Chitters trying to bite someone.” She smiled. “Pyjak teeth aren’t sharp enough to break skin. It would feel more like a baby’s gums rather than teeth. As for the restraints, we’ll have to wait a few hours, since Anna’s currently indulging herself with one of her Drell and they adore playing with ropes.”
Akksul felt a smile tug his lips, “Drell hold a toxin in their skin, yes?”
Grace nodded. “It doesn’t affect us in the same way as it does humans, but its still gives us a pleasant tingle and makes our mists hyper sensitive.”
“You’ve had some experience then?” Akksul asked. “Before you came here?”
“I was old enough to experiment before we left the Milky Way,” Grace nodded, “I just never formed a real connection with anyone.”
“But you have here, with Jaal and Evfra,” he stated softly, gently placing a soft kiss to her breast.
“I can add you to that list but if I do that, you’d have to stop hiding away in that stuffy shuttle and start making up for the wrongs you committed as a Roekaar.” Grace smiled and Akksul blinked as she lightly tapped his nose. “Nothing is free after all.”
“Is that your price for this?” He asked, softly kissing her finger tips.
“No, my price is that you come here and make sure I’m not hungry when you have time, even if we don’t end up having sex, I do enjoy casual visits with those I consider my friends.” She admitted, “and while Jaal and Evfra have unique voices, yours is the only one so far that actually makes my bones vibrate when you speak. A good omen to all Cubus.”
“Really?” He asked, genuinely surprised by the news. “Every time I speak?” he went on, moving to press his cock against her heat as her thighs spread wide to accommodate him as he pushed her hands into the pillows behind her head.
“Almost every time, right now the under tone is gone, so the feeling isn’t as strong but once you get your voice back you’ll have that effect on me again.” She assured smiling as she rocked against his length with a soft moan.
Akksul nodded, “I’ll have to remember that.” He said pushing into her willing heat easily as she arched and pushed herself against him, slowly moving to meet his thrusts as they rolled in a half hearted battle for dominance. It went back and forth between them most of the night, each one learning and mapping the other out with tender touches and gently kisses amidst countless eruptions of stars and broken sobs of pleasure until sleep claimed them both.