Thunderbird: Chapter Sixteen

Starting File Sequence…  Thunderbird
Loading Digital Data…    Chapter Sixteen
Initializing Play Back…  The Legend
Galaxy:   Milky Way Galaxy
Cluster: Serpent Nebula
System:   Widow
Location: Citadel
Date:     2186 CE

Omega: It’s Time

From: Aria T’Loak

Subject: It’s time

Shepard, I’m ready to discuss that pet project I mentioned when we spoke in Purgatory. Come to Dock 42 on the Citadel. A batarian named Bray will be waiting.

A human dressed in Alliance armor walked briskly down the halls of the Citadel. They took a left and found themselves at a door marked Dock 42. Two batarian guards stood on either side of the door and glared at the human as they approached. One of the batarians approached.

“Are you Bray?” the human asked. Their helmet masking their identity and voice.

The batarian nodded, “Ah, the great Commander Shepard. And me without my autograph book.”

“Save it,” Shepard said, getting down to business, “Just take me to Aria.”

Bray nodded and turned toward the door, “Follow me.”

Together they walked through the door. Bray led the way to the bridge between the main door and the door leading into the docking area of Dock 42. Shepard looked around, slightly confused.

“So where is she?” Shepard asked.

Bray crossed his arms as a black skycar rose behind him. The doors opened revealing another batarian and Aria lounging in the back seat. She looked slightly annoyed and disinterested as if it were Shepard’s idea to meet in person and not hers. When the skycar settled, Aria glanced in Shepard’s direction.

“Shepard,” she stated, almost with genuine respect.

Shepard looked at Bray. The batarian motioned with his head for Shepard to get into the skycar. Reluctantly, Shepard approached and sat beside from Aria. Bray hopped in and sat across from the two.

As the doors closed, Shepard chucked, “Aria. How dramatic.”

Aria responded factually, “There are to many eyes and ears in Purgatory.”

The skycar descended and started flying down the designated hallway, allowing the two to talk freely and in private. Shepard relaxed somewhat, leaning back and getting comfortable.

“I assume this is about retaking Omega?” Shepard asked.

Aria shrugged, “This is about your war Shepard. Cerberus controlling the Terminus Systems seriously bolstered their mobility. Since taking Omega, they’ve spread through the galaxy. Surely, the Alliance has noticed.”

“Cut to the chase,” Shepard said, having none of Aria’s manipulation, “What’s your plan?”

Aria sighed, “Kick them out!” Aria brought up a data pad listing the names of ships, supplies and weapons, “I’ve amassed a fleet of merc ships. We’re going to punch through enemy lines and invade. Once we’re on Omega, it’s a ground war. That’s why I want you—I only accept the best.”

Even with their mask on, it was obvious that Shepard’s eyebrow was raised in skepticism.

Aria continued, showing Shepard a picture of a Cerberus agent, “The leader of the Cerberus occupation in General Oleg Petrovsky. He’s the one who…ousted me.” She handed the data bad to Shepard.

“Don’t know him,” Shepard said, looking at the image.

Aria provided more information, “The Illusive Man’s top military strategist and best kept secret. But all you really need to know is that he’s a merciless bastard.”

Shepard seemed interested, “What’s your intel on the occupation?”

“Petrovsky’s army is massive and he’s got Omega locked tight. The information stops there.”

“So you’re winging it,” Shepard observed.

Aria smiled, “Not at all. There are secrets on Omega that only I know, secrets that will provide us a foothold. I can tell you this: Petrovsky’s invasion was precise and ruthless. He’ll stop at nothing to win.”

“Sounds familiar,” Shepard said.

Aria leaned in, “Shepard, I know my reputation. I know I’m hated. I ruled Omega with an iron fist. But the people were free. Their lives were theirs. I preserved that. This man took all that away. And now he is going to pay.” Aria took a deep breath before regaining her composure, “When Omega is mine again, I’ll give you everything. I’ve got ships, mercs, eezo—all yours for the war.”

Shepard’s head tilted slightly, “What’s the catch?”

“I have objections to some of the company you keep, so you’ll have to leave the Normandy and its crew behind.”

“My crew are professionals,” Shepard came to the defense their companions and friends. It this time of war and chaos, it was important to have people you could trust.

Aria glared at Shepard, “Let’s just say…I want you all to myself.”

She leaned forward and nodded to the driver. The batarian brought the skycar up to one of the walkways connecting the docks. When the skycar was stable the doors opened.

Aria sat back and spoke to Shepard once more, “Bray will provide coordinates to my fleet.” Shepard was about to get out of the skycar when Aria interjected, “Oh, and while we’re still on the Citadel, please be discreet.”

Both Bray and Shepard stepped out of the shuttle and onto the small bridge. The doors closed and the skycar descended back through the car tunnels. Shepard stood in front of Bray who brought up his omni-tool and send the coordinates that Aria referred to.

“The fleet is hidden in this system. Signal me when you’re on your way. Aria and I will meet you on the command ship,” Bray said. He chucked softly, “Can’t wait to see what all the fuss is about.”

Commander Shepard simply nodded and walked away, neither denying nor confirming their role to come. The legendary Commander did have more important things to do with the war going on. However, ships, mercs and eezo did sound like very useful things. Useful things that could be used against the Reapers.

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