Starting File Sequence… Thunderbird
Loading Digital Data… Chapter Three
Initializing Play Back… Purgatory
Galaxy: Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Serpent Nebula
Date: 2186 CE
An older man with brown hair was dressed in the blues and blacks of C-Sec, or Citadel Security. He mumbled to himself as he walked into the local C-Sec office. When he entered the reception, the receptionist scrambled and stood at attention.
“Commander Bailey!” she saluted, “The prisoner is ready for release. A-are you sure this is alright?”
Bailey sighed, “I don’t know why the Council has taken an interest in the drell, but what they say goes. Don’t get me wrong, if it were up to me the guy wouldn’t see the outside of a cell.”
The receptionist nodded, “He’s in the last holding cell.”
Bailey headed down one of the hallways toward holding. Three officers stood in front of one door. Bailey nodded and they stepped aside as he walked inside.
The holding room was small. Everything was dimly lit, a single light shown down from the ceiling. There was just enough room for one or two people. In the center, a drell sat in a metal reclined chair with his wrists, ankles and neck restrained by metal clasps.
The drell was reptilian in appearance, with scarlet frills. His eyes were closed in a kind of mediation. Unlike most of his kin, his skin tone was a dark shade of blue instead of the usual shades of green or teal. He wore black clothes, sleeveless and form fitting.
Bailey walked around the chair and stood in front of a computer screen. With a few clicks the restraints came apart, releasing the drell. Cautiously, the drell opened his eyes. He rubbed his wrists as he sat up and spoke.
“What is this?” the drell spoke, there was a resonating reverberation in his voice. “Some kind of new interrogation technique?”
“You’re being released, Koik,” Bailey answered.
The drell smirked, “The charges didn’t stick? Such a shame. And after you worked so hard.”
Bailey glared at the drell, “Now, get going before I find a reason to keep you longer.”
The drell stood. He blinked. A set of clear eyelids slid in and out from the corner of his eyes. His piercing gaze tracking Bailey’s every move. The drell spoke slowly, “My things?”
“Someone’s already picked up your things,” Bailey responded.
“That’s annoying. Who?” the drell clenched his fists.
Bailey pointed a finger at the drell, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. You’re lucky I told you that much.”
“You humans and your idioms,” the drell mused as he walked toward the door, “Does that one mean that you’re the horse?”
Bailey reached down on his belt and pulled out his weapon, “Give me a reason.”
He positioned it threateningly in his hand, showing that he wasn’t afraid to use it. The drell raised his hands in sarcastic surrender.
“No need,” he said slyly. “I’ll be going.”
“We’ll get you yet Koik,” Bailey threatened, “One day you’ll make a mistake! And we’ll be right there to arrest you when you do!”
The drell shrugged dismissively, “We’re all entitled to our dreams, Bailey. Doesn’t mean that they all come true.”
He walked out of the room. He received glares from the other officers in the station. Several officers talked quietly amongst themselves, their eyes full of questions. Casually, he walked out into streets where a skycar sat waiting. The car doors rose and two batarians stepped out and approached him. Another one stayed in the car.
The drell stood confidently, “I’m sorry, I always get this mixed up. Tell me, which set of eyes am I supposed to look at. I can never tell which.”
The batarians glanced at each other for a moment before one of them spoke, “Get in the car.”
The two batarians carried weapons, each one hiding a sidearm. They didn’t look at all comfortable in front of a C-Sec station. By their stance they were well trained in combat, one covering the blind spots of the other.
The drell smiled and shook his head, “Thanks, but I’m good.”
He started walking away, making sure to smile and wave at Bailey as he passed. The two batarians slowly followed him through one of the many skyscrapers of the Zakera Ward. The neon lights of the wards were always on, constantly flashing and pulsing. Cylindrical neon advertisements constantly tried selling you one thing or another. On top of that, people of every species walked through the large halls. It was impossible not to run into someone.
“Excuse me,” the drell apologized as he bumped into a human woman. He slipped his hand into her food to-go bag, pulling out a set of wooden chopsticks.
Glancing behind him, the batatians were still on his trail. He broke the sticks apart, tossing one and snapping the other in half crating a sharp edge. The drell closed his eyes. He breathed deeply. Time seems to move slowly. He focused on his breathing and his heart beat. The sounds of the chaos around him melted away.
When he found inner peace, he prayed, “Amonkira, bless me in this hunt today and that Arashu protect me. And if it is my time to fade into the sea, Kalahira take me into your depts.”
The drell moved quickly behind one of the many cylindrical advertisement stations. The batarians walked cautiously, losing sight of their target. As soon as one of the batarians passed, the drell leaped into action.
He grabbed the batarian by the neck, and forced him to slam into the glass cylidar. The second batarian tried frantically to reach for his gun. The drell kicked out. He knocked the batarian back and threw the chopstick at his shoulder. The batarian let out a pained cry. Quickly, the drell retracted his arm and struck the first batarian with his elbow. He grabbed the alien, took his gun, and threw him into his companion. Both of the batarians crashed through a glass divider. The drell approached them, readied the gun and aimed.
“Who do you work for?” he said emotionlessly.
Before they could answer, the drell ducked down. With a pivot, he turned and kicked for the head. Another batarian stood right behind him. With an effortless block, the batarian grabbed the drells leg and threw him. The drell landed on his hands and knees, sliding bac a few feet. He drew the gun and fired several shots, sending people running. The batarian ducked and hid behind an advertisement stand. The drell got up and ran to the other two batarians. He pulled one of them up and held the gun to their head.
“Come out or I’ll kill your friend!” the drell called.
The hidden batarian laughed, “Go ahead, I don’t even know the guy. You’d barely be giving the Pirate Queen an inconvenience.”
The drell stopped, “Aria? You work for her?” He smiled, putting down the gun as he threw the batarian to one side, “Then why didn’t you say so?”
The batarian walked out from behind cover. The skycar from earlier landed at a nearby sky port. The drell walked slowly past the batarians and sat in the rear seat of the car. The batarians climbed into the car, all except the one with the bleeding shoulder, and the doors closed after them. After a few moments, the car rose and sped off. All of the inhabitants sat in silence until the skycar landed in the VIP entrance to the Purgatory Bar, a popular dance club and bar on the Presidium. The car doors opened and everyone stepped out.
Bray, the leader of the batarians, led the way into the club to the VIP lounge. An asari sat with one leg crossed over the other. Beside her was a long black box. Across from her was a quarian and a turian stood a few feet away. A vorcha sat nearby drinking by the pint.
The drell smiled as he walked around the couch to sit beside her, “Hello Aria. Surprised to see you off Omega. I assume I have you to thank for my early release.”
“Yatka,” Aria glanced in his direction, “Still causing trouble, I see. Where’s your shadow?”
“What do you want?” Yatka asked.
Aria motioned toward the box, “I got you a present.”
Slowly, Yatka pulled the box onto his lap and opened it. Inside were his belongings confiscated by C-Sec. A single long sword took up most of the space. Beside it were two circle shaped daggers. Yatka picked one up and examined it. Underneath was black long-sleeved overcoat.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Yatka said.
Aria waved over the turian and quarian. The turian rolled her eyes and grabbed ahold of the vorcha by the shoulder and dragged him after them. They sat down across from Aria. The Asari turned slightly to speak with Yatka.
“Cerberus has Omega,” Aria stated, “And you’re going to help get it back.”
Yatka looked over at her, an expression of interest on his face, “Really? Doesn’t sound like you to let that happen. Who do I have to kill?”
“We’re not killing anyone,” Vicia said. She looked around at the others, “We don’t want anything to do with your crusade.”
Yatka leaned back, “Speak for yourself, Military.”
Aria shrugged, “Kill, don’t kill. I really don’t care. What I want is information on Cerberus. Petrovsky will regret ever taking Omega from me. The man likes his chess, so I’ll burn the whole board out from under him. Take it or leave it. Of course, anyone who decides to join will be well compensated. Just because I have lost temporarily lost Omega, doesn’t mean that I don’t have my resources.”
Yatka nodded slowly, “Vard.” Aria turned her head slightly in interest. Yatka continued, “Repurposed fuel-refining station near. Controlled by batarian slavers. You want my services, that’s my price. We go there first, then we go on your little crusade.”
“Fine,” Aria shrugged.
The vorcha leaned forward, “I suppose you think you can just use my ship without my permission.”
Aria smirked, “You could always just stay behind.”
“And let you take my ship joy ridin’ without me? Over my dead body,” the vorcha shook his head. “Someone has to make sure that you noobs don’t wreck her.”
Tasi spoke up, “You’ll get us whatever we want?”
Aria nodded, “Get me information that I can use, even take down a few Cerberus agents and you’ll be earning a hefty fortune.”
Tasi nodded, “Yeah, I’m in.”
“What about you?” Aria looked at Vicia, “The crew needs a leader and frankly, I think it would be good for you.”
Vicia was silent for a few moments. If she was aware of all the stares the others were giving her she didn’t show it. Her eyes were fixed on the Asari. Everyone was uncomfortably silent. Vicia glared at Aria, “What are you saying?”
Aria flicked her hand, “Did I say ‘you’? I meant them. You seem to have natural leadership skills. Skills that could help not getting yourselves killed.”
Vicia leaned back and smiled, “Stooping down to threats and flattery?” She glanced over at Tasi, “But I’m in. I just met you all a couple of hours ago but it’s just not in me to let you all go off and do something dangerous I could be of some help and do some good.”
“Meet the rest of your crew,” Aria turned her attention to Yatka. “This is Vicia. I know you aren’t much of the ‘take-orders’ type, but try not to be more trouble than you’re worth. The quarian is Tasi. The pilot, Kritt, is utterly useless in everything else but did decent work getting us out of Omega airspace. They’ve also got a handy medical VI. Looks handy with a gun in a pinch.”
“Fun,” Yatka stated.
Aria spoke to Vicia, “This is Yatka. Skilled fighter. Have hired him many times in the past. He’ll get the job done and do all the dirty work. Get your crew in order, you’re going to Vard.”
Vicia looked at Yatka, “You mean he’s an assassin.”
“That a problem, Military?” Yatka looked up.
Vicia clenched her fist, “Military?”
“Sorry, was that supposed to be a secret? It wasn’t that hard to figure out,” Yatka said.
“Looks like you’ll all get along just fine,” Aria clapped her hands. “If you’ll exuse me, I’ve got a few plans to make. Supplies for you mission are being sent to you ship now. Should be ready in a few hours.”
“I’ll be back at the ship later,” Yatka picked up his weapons box and started walking away.
Vicia immediately started after him, “Where are you going?”
Yatka continued to walk away without giving Vicia any heed. Vicia sighed.
“Well,” Kritt said as he stumbled back toward the bar, “This ‘as all been really enlightenin’ but I’d rather get back to drinkin’.”
Tasi turned to Vicia, “I’m heading back.”
Vicia smiled, “You don’t want to look around the Citadel?”
Tasi shook her head, “Quarians aren’t viewed highly in Council Space, not after the Geth War and the Council stripped us of our embassy for creating AI.”
The smile on Vicia’s face dropped, “Oh, that’s right, when the Geth chased you off your home planet Rannoch.”
Tasi looked away for a moment, “Yeah, right.” She turned to leave but stopped just stort of the door, “Oh, and thanks.”
Vicia leaned back and crossed her arms with a smile, “About what?”
“For getting me off the station,” Tasi said, “You said you would and you did, so…thanks.”
“Don’t thank me yet?” Vicia started to walk toward Kritt at the bar, “I’ve got to get us through this insanity first. See you on the ship.”
Tasi nodded and stepped out of Purgatory.