Thunderbird: Chapter Eight

 

Starting File Sequence…  Thunderbird
Loading Digital Data…    Chapter Eight
Initializing Play Back…  Quiet Moments
Galaxy: Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Krogan DMZ
System: Nith
Location: Vard
Date: 2186 CE

Terminus_Systems

Milky Way Galaxy – Terminus Systems

Tasi walked into the crew quarters. The lights were dimmed simulating the night cycle but there was just enough lighting in the galley and bathroom to walk without bumping into anything. Vurtak sat at the bar, the strong scent of krogan alcohol wafted in the air. She headed forward toward the bow. The doors opened and she walked into a small office.

 

Vicia sat on a chair behind several holographic computer screens. On one side of the room was a glass display case showcasing several kinds of model ships. Whomever owned the Thunderbird beforehand, before Kritt presumably stole it, must have been a huge collector. On the other side of the room was a massive aquarium with several different kinds of exotic fish.

As Tasi walked in, Vicia closed the screens in front of her as she turned her attention to the quarian.

Tasi fiddled with her hands as she spoke, “I just wanted to report that the shuttle has been repaired, Captain.”

Vicia sat back, “Good. We’ll need that for when we get to the Far Rim.”

“You really want to do this?” Tasi asked, “Head into geth space? A lot can go wrong for not much to show for it.”

Vicia nodded slowly, “I know, but this is our only lead on Cerberus. It isn’t like they broadcast their secret facilities for anyone to stumble on. We need something to give Aria. Or else, she might think we’re not useful. And we don’t want that.”

“Do you think we’ll find something?” Tasi asked.

“Honestly,” Vicia shook her head, “I don’t think so. This sounds like a research facility, possibly researching the geth with it being so deep in geth space. I don’t think it had anything to do with the attack on Omega. But there might be a lead. It isn’t a lot to go on but this facility is all we’ve got.”

Tasi nodded, “Makes sense.”

Vicia paused a few moments before continuing. She smiled, “Why don’t you take a break. We’ve been nonstop for a while now. It’ll take us more than a day to get there so take some time to relax.”

Tasi bowed slightly, “Thank you.” Tasi turned to leave but paused. She looked at Vicia from over her shoulder, “From the looks of things, you should take some of your advice and relax too.”

Vicia smiled, “I’ll try.”

Tasi nodded and walked out of the office. She made her way to the galley. Sitting at the bar was the krogan, Vurtak. He sat drinking from a large curved bottle. The strong smell of Ryncol, a strong krogan liquor, wafted from the glass. Tasi walked passed and stood in front of the food fabricator. She waited for the machine to create a tube of dextro-protein edible paste. It wasn’t a glamorous meal, but it served its purpose and was all she could eat without having an upset stomach or accidental death.

“So,” the krogan turned to her, “What’s a quarian doing all the way out here? Your kind tend to stay out of the pirating-mercenary business. High risk for low reward when it come to your whole Pilgrimage deal.”

Tasi paused, “What do you know about the Pilgrimage?”

Vurtak shrugged, “It’s a whole comin’-of-age deal, right? Go out a kid, come back a useful member of society. We got one of those back on Tuchanka. Take down a thresher maw and you’re an adult. Anyway, you’re all closer nit than us krogan, thinking about the good of the many. Can’t do that if your dead.”

“Anything can happen,” Tasi said, “Even the simplest of missions can turn bad.”

Vurtak smirked, “So you’re an adventure seeker. Maybe. Maybe you decided not to go back. The word is more interesting than the rest of your life on a ship. Or maybe, you’re an exile.”

Tasi turned to look at Vurtak. She was quiet for several moments before getting up from the bar.

Vurtak didn’t even glance in her direction as she left. He took a long sip of Ryncol as Tasi walked aft toward the doors. With the glass empty, he tossed it to the fabrication platform and waited as it filled up again.

“Don’t mind me,” Vurtak muttered, “You don’t get to me my age without stepping on some toes. Just trying to figure out what kind of crew I’ve landed myself in.”

The doors slid shut as Tasi exited. As she approached the elevators, she heard the sound of scraping metal. Peering into the armory she saw Yatka sharpening his blades. He sat on the closest bench, his back toward her. His companion was nowhere in sight.

On the second floor, Tasi heard the sound of humming. It wasn’t quite organic but it wasn’t quite synthetic either. Scylla sat, legs crossed in the life support room. Green vegetation grew from the planters. Mist fell slightly from the sprinklers above keeping that section of the ship feel cooler than the rest.

Scylla stopped humming and looked up at Tasi. The girl stared at the quarian as Tasi approached.

“Good to see you’re doing well after all that happened on the Vard station,” Tasi smiled underneath her mask.

Scylla said nothing. She just stared at Tasi with an suspicious glare.

Tasi motioned to her right arm, “That is an old piece of tech. No wonder you’re looking to upgrade. Maybe if we get this job done you can use the money to buy yourself a new arm.”

Scylla rolled her eyes. She brought her right thumb underneath her chin and brought if forward then immediately brought it down to her left hand where she interlocked her fingers.

Not Fiends.

“Sign language?” Tasi asked, “You can’t speak?”

Scylla brought her hands up to her head then pulled in away as she brought her fingers together. In added emphasis she pointed to the door.

Get Out.

She turned her back to Tasi as the quarian stood in silence. With a sigh, Tasi walked out of the room. On the other side of the ship was the locked room that Tasi still had to enter. She walked up to the doors and pressed her ear against it. Tasi could barely hear the hum electronics on the other side.

“May I be of assistance?” AVI spoke from behind.

Tasi jumped and turned, “Keelah!”

“My apologies,” AVI bowed slightly, “It was not my intention to startle you.” AVI’s eyes darted to the closed door than back at Tasi, “May I be of any assistance?”

“Actually,” Tasi glanced over her shoulder at the cold steel door, “I was wondering what was behind this door? It’s been closed for as long as I have been on the ship—”

“Maintenance,” AVI spoke quickly. Her eyes darted back and forth momentarily before she composed herself, “This is where the ships fuel cells and fusion plant are located, providing power for the ship’s on-board electronics. It is locked simply to prevent any tampering or injury. Is there anything else you would like to know?”

Tasi shook her head, “No. Thanks, though.” She moved passed AVI and headed forward toward the bow.

AVI turned as Tasi walked away, “Ipone is requesting your presence in the Tech and Research Lab.”

Tasi nodded and headed toward the lab. Ip was darted between her different pieces of technology. She turned to Tasi as the quarian walked into the room. The excitable salarian smiled with a glint in her eye.

“Tasi! Just the quarian I wanted to see,” her high-pitched voice echoed among the electronic trills of her lab, “I’ve been working on this for the past fifteen hours. That whole ordeal about getting lost in space and having no idea where everyone is was soooo inconvenient. So! With AVI’s help, I’ve been working on imputing all of our information into the ships system; medical, physical, even mental.”

Ip walked over to the center display case. Inside were several small electronic pieces in the form of small pill sized cylinder.  Ip presented her creations, “I’ve developed these chips. After being injected into a living specimen these highly advanced medical chips monitor heart rate, physical injury, body temperature and other vitals. In addition, it tracks the individual even in the vacuum of space. All data is sent back to the ship allowing all of us to me monitored second by second while out in the field.”

Ip picked up one of the chips and placed it in a large needle case and prepped it for injection, “Just need to inject you and we’ll be all set.”

Tasi looked down at the tech Ip created, “You made all this? In only fifteen hours?”

Ip nodded, “You’d be amazed what you can get done without sleep! Oh, don’t worry about me, I got an hour of sleep nearly twenty-four hours ago. Anyway, I made ten organic based chips and five synthetic ones. I got a little carried away. Creative juices just kept flowing and I ended up making more than I needed.”

Tasi sighed and offered her right arm. Ip pressed a few buttons on her omni tool causing the doors to close. Mist started falling from the vents in the ceiling.

“The room is being decontaminated for your health and safety,” Ip stuck the needle in Tasi’s right shoulder. Once it was done, Ip smiled and nodded, “There! You won’t even be able to feel it.”

“Thanks, Ip,” Tasi said from behind her helmet, “This is going to help a lot in the future. Floating around in space wasn’t very enjoyable.”

“Yeah, no prob!” Ip said as she went to sit at her computer. The doors opened and Tasi left.

AVI was standing across in the Medical Bay. Tasi walked onto the bridge. Kritt sat in the pilot seat with his legs up on the dashboard. His eyes were closed and his breathing was even as he slept calmly.

Tasi sat at the raised CIC platform and brought up information about the Ma-at system. The system was likely named for the goddess of truth and justice in the ancient Egyptian pantheon on Earth. Only one planet orbited the sun, named Ammut. Located in the Terminus Systems and the beginning of geth space, beyond the space administration by the Citadel Council or the human System Alliance, the systems are populated by many species united by their refusal to acknowledge the political authority of the Council. One of these species were the geth.

The geth, or the Servant of the People in the quarian language of Khelish, were a race of networked artificial intelligences that reside beyond the Perseus Veil. Tasi sighed. A travel advisory popped up warning that the Thunderbird was headed into geth space and that all civilian traffic was prohibited.

Being a quarian, Tasi was familiar with the geth and their uprising. The geth were created by the quarians as laborers and tools of war. Over time, the geth became sentient and began to question their creators. Out of fear of what they had created, the quarians attempted to exterminate them. Unfortunately, the geth won the resulting war that followed and forced the quarians off their planet reducing the quarians to a nomadic race.

The geth were dangerous, Tasi knew that much. Going so close to geth space was unsettling to say the least. By the counter, they had about twelve more hours before they arrived.

Suddenly, Kritt jolted awake. He looked around groggily.

Tasi spoke up, “You know that you could sleep downstairs, right? In your bed.”

Kritt glanced at her and smirked, “And what ‘appens when I need to take over in an emergency? Huh? ‘Till I can trust one of you at the helm, I’ll be sittin’ right here.”

“You do know that I’m a quarian, right?” Tasi asked, “I was practically born a technician, mechanic, and a pilot.”

Kritt chuckled, “Over my dead body.”

“With your lifespan, that might be sooner than you think,” Tasi smiled behind her helmet.

“Well, well, you’ve got jokes,” Kritt raised an eyebrow. He brought down his legs and straightened his chair. With a yawn, he looked over the many instruments around his station. He brought up the countdown and the travel advisory. Slowly, he sat back in his chair. Eventually, he pressed a button on his chair and it spun around, “Well, I’ve got to take a leak.”

As he walked passed Tasi, he stopped, “Oi, we’ve got a fight ahead of us. Don’t die. I’d really be a pain if you did. The turian wouldn’t let us ‘ear the end o’ it.”

“Aww,” Tasi tilted her head, “You do care.”

Kritt smirked and continued walking, “Oi, don’t tell anyone. I’ve got a reputation to keep up.”

The door closed behind him leaving Tasi along on the bridge. She sat back in the chair, looking out at the swirling blue mass effect field that formed around the ship during the jump. The flickering blue light bathed the bridge. Tasi found herself calm, reclining back into the chair. Quietly, she enjoyed the remaining moments of calm.

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