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Nebulas and Stars

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       It was a normal day. Began like any other, drill after breakfast, rec time, lunch. But somehow it was different. 


        Nova noticed the soldiers seemed hurried. Soldiers in a hurry was never a good sign. Especially since Shepard was locked up on level 12 on house arrest. 


        It took them by surprise, but did it really? Shepard had told the Council, Anderson and Udina for years that this would happen. Nova ducked under a couch with her hands over her face as glass shattered, littering her cropped chocolate hair. She could feel the blood dripping from her hands as the building shook violently.


         Wake up. A far away voice said in a whisper as more glass exploded.


        "Prisoner Vorner, wake up!" Their Turian corrections officer shouted as the prison ship shook violently. 


         Nova blinked away the sleep in her eyes. The emergency warnings blaringly loud to her still-swimming brain. 


         "Vee, you okay?" Nova asked, trying to turn in her seat to see her sister. Their friend Illyna strapped between them, a terrified expression on her pretty face. 


         "Something is pulling us into the atmosphere! Targus, belt in!" The pilot screeched over the comm as the small ship lurched uneasily, yanking them through the atmosphere of some backwater planet in an unexplored system of the Krogan DMZ. 


         The prison ship wasn't large enough to get out of this pickle, with only three inmates and six crew excluding the five armed officers. It was practically a shuttle. Nova didn't feel the impact as her ears popped and her head lolled.




         "Nova! Shit. Targus?" Davina tried fruitlessly to wriggle her tiny body from the constrictive straps as water began to fill the small cargo hold of the ship. They were sinking, and fast, into some kind of body of water. Targus, their Turian C.O., was lying face down in the small bit of water. Illyna was quietly crying, wrestling herself against the magcuffs and seatbelts keeping them pinned to their seats. 


         Davina kicked water at Targus, who groaned, and sputtered as he sat up. "Spirits! Linc? Linc, do you copy?" He hit the comm with an armored fist before the ship lurched once more, water pouring in from a broken window. Looking between the three dishonorably discharged Alliance soldiers he shook his head. "Fuck this, you're not going to die here. None of us are." He grumbled, pulling the keys to their restraints from his magbelt. 


         "Thank you Targus." Davina whispered between panic attacks as the water steadily rose now to their seated hips. Targus unlocked Davina, then Illyna, who had a long gash across her pale forehead and blood running down her otherwise unmarred face. But Nova was still unconscious. Davina waded through the water loudly, she could feel her feet squelching in her boots and the feeling made her stomach lurch. Targus got Nova free just as the ship lurched, yet again.


        "We need to get out of this hold or we'll drown." Illyna whimpered, clutching the small blue Alliance duffel with her personal effects in it to her chest and hanging Davina and Nova's in the crook of her elbow. Her golden locks plastered to her bloody forehead. 


        "I have to get to the cockpit, can you carry your sister? Can you swim?" Targus' blue eyes searched Davina's grey ones wildly, pleading. Davina knew the turian crew and guards wouldn't make it… Turians couldn't swim, their exoskeleton was too heavy. 


         "We could get you to the surface, Targus. Come with us." Davina begged, grabbing his arm and watching his mandibles flair as she and Illyna kept her sister's head above water. 


         "No, your sister needs you." He said, sadness in his undertones as he lifted Illyna to the window pouring in water. Then Nova's limp body, and then Davina. The shift in weight dropped the ship off the precarious ledge it had been tipping on. It pulled the three women down further. 


        It felt like ages before Davina pulled Nova to the shore in front of a tall, grassy hill. Illyna dropping next to her, taking sharp full breaths. But Nova's chest didn't rise and that sent Davina into a panic. "Nova? Nova, wake up!" She rubbed her sister's chest. Then remembered something in an old vid before climbing atop her to begin restarting her sister's weak heart with pumps of her hands. "Illyna, tip her head back, and breathe into her mouth." She urged, loudly. Illyna was deaf and could only hear out of her right ear thanks to a cybernetic implant. But she did as she was asked. 


        It felt like hours, days even, but Nova finally coughed up a lungful of water. "Davina, Illyna? What happened?" She rasped, holding her chest. Davina had felt her sister's sternum and a couple ribs give when she was getting her heart going, but they didn't have an auto-defib disc on hand. 


       CPR was an archaic form of starting a heart or to get someone to breathe since every Soldier had an auto-defib in their armor now. Or carried one with them. A tiny disc placed over the heart that electrically coaxes it to start. But they were on an uncharted planet. And were prisoners headed to Krona Women's Prison an hour ago. 


         Davina stood with help, looking around. Pieces of their ship floated on the surface of the endless lake in front of them. An island with a broken bridge and decrepit castle stood opposite them, far across the water. Davina only noticed it because of her cybernetic eye. She was sure her sister and Illyna couldn't make it out in the dimming sun.


        "Where are we? What planet is this?" Davina commanded answers. She was the Commander of their regiment before 68 of her men and women were destroyed in one beam of a Reaper in Los Angeles, and the three women were trapped beneath a fallen skyscraper.


         Deserters. Even though they were trapped under a building for two weeks before the Reapers fell, Commander Davina Vorner, Lieutenant-Commander Nova Vorner, and Weapons Specialist Illyna Gregor were stripped of all rank and sent on the first ship to the planet Krona, a prison planet deep in one of the Nebulas of the Krogan DMZ. 


        "Commander." Illyna's diminutive voice sounded terrified as she nudged Davina and pointed at the sky west of their current location where a green vortex swirled in the sky. 


         "Holy shit! What is that!" Nova asked, astonished at the sight. "Knew we should've gone to Andromeda. This galaxy is going to hell."


         Davina dropped to her knees, Nova handing her her duffle bag. Unzipping it, she found the few changes of clothes left in their barracks, a pair of boots, her omni-tool, dog tags and a hairbrush. Quickly stripping out of the soaked prison jumper, she pulled on a pair of jeans, her only alliance tank, and her black N7 leather biker jacket. 


         Illyna was in black leggings and a too-large sweatshirt. Nova had changed into her drill sweats. They were at least dry thanks to the duffle bags waterproofing. But they had no food, no currency if this planet even had a currency system. 


         Packing their things back into their bags, Illyna handed Davina a pistol and four clips. "How in the world… you know what, I don't even want to know how you assembled it so quickly." Illyna just gave a curt nod and a small smile. Illyna handed one to Nova and pulled a third out of a secret pocket of her bag and assembled it with haste. They were old Phalanx pistols that were based with a heat sink system but also took thermal clips in a pinch.


          It wasn't until the next sunrise that the three women had any kind of human interaction with anyone but each other. 


        "Halt! Haven is full. Turn around outlander." The man, in full plate armor, had a hand on his shiney pommel, ready for any kind of attack. The night had been so cold, that the three women looked exhausted, wrapped in roughspun blankets they found inside a half-torched home where they had slept a few hours. 


         "Matthias! What do you think you're doing?" A commanding voice made Illyna jump, cowering behind Nova. A blonde man in lion armor stood beside a red-haired woman who had her arms crossed. 


         "We are not turning away refugees, send Rylen to relieve you." The blonde man said, a scowl marring what could be handsome features as he glowered at the guard who nearly tripped over his own feet to do as his commanding officer bid.


         "We apologize, my ladies. Please, come. We will find you some warm clothes and food." The woman said, stepping aside to let them pass as all three soldiers shivered beneath their blankets, which hid their modern clothing and weapons. 


        The redhead led them to a medium-sized canvas tent, bowed, and left without another word, but a judgemental eye.