Mass Effect Slipstream Book I: The Streamer's Edge

A Tumble through the Stars

Minutes continued to pass as Finn stared at Kyra's sleeping face. To say he was utterly and completely bewildered by this development would be a massive understatement.

What was she doing there? How did she get on board? How did no one realize she was there until now?

His eyes narrowed as his last conversation with Darsan popped back up in his mind. The elcor must've seen her onboard at some point, maybe after Aria had sent him away or when he escaped from the Blue Suns the first time. Jake probably told him about their 'date'; Jake was all about loyalty, but he couldn't keep a secret to save his life.

His mind racing, Finn considered what he should do. Wake her up? No, that was a bad idea; he was naked, and from the feel of her skin against his, she was unclothed as well. His best bet was to try and slip away unnoticed; he could deal with the situation a lot better once they were both awake and clothed. In the meantime, he would get to the bridge, explain the situation to Jake, and start heading back to Omega to bring her home.

As slowly and carefully as he could manage, he slipped under her arm and slowly started to move to the side of the bed. Unfortunately, when he tried to step out of the bed, he discovered his legs were tangled in the sheets and promptly fell to the floor with a loud thump, upsetting the nightstand on his side in the process.

Kyra awoke with a loud groan. She pushed herself up, letting the blanket fall to her waist as she brought a hand to her head and muttered, "Ugh … that's it. From now on, no more booze."

Her eyes flew open when she noticed Finn struggling to stand up. They both froze and stared at each other for a long moment, their gaze the only thing between them.

With a yelp and a shriek, Finn and Kyra both grabbed the nearest blanket and tried to cover themselves, Kyra stumbling over the other side of the bed in the process. Unfortunately, they both grabbed a different side of the same blanket.

They stood there, each trying to cover themselves with their respective bit of the blanket while tugging at the rest of it, their faces a match in terms of how red they were getting.

"What are you doing here?" Kyra demanded, clutching the blanket over her chest.

"Me?" Finn said incredulously. "This is my ship! What are you doing here?"

"Your ship? I helped build the damn thing!"

"So you just sneak aboard without even asking?"

"Hey, don't get mad at me! You're the one who climbed into bed with me!”

"I didn’t know you were even-" Finn stopped as the absurdity of the situation overcame him. The questioning stare Kyra gave him when he stopped talking just made it worse.

He started laughing. Kyra gave him a mystified look before she joined his laughter with an airy giggling. There was a palpable sense of relief in the room as they shared a laugh at their own expense.

As they stopped laughing with a combined sigh, an uncomfortable silence filled the room.

"Um …" Kyra began, sounding embarrassed. "Maybe we should continue this discussion after we get dressed."

"Yeah." Finn agreed, his cheeks burning as he relinquished his hold on the blanket and grabbed a different one. She covered her eyes as he hurried over to the autowash and pulled out his now-clean clothes. As soon as he had his pants on, he told her, "I'm gonna … er … go."

She nodded, her fingers parting slightly to reveal her bright eyes as he left the room.

After hurriedly throwing on his shirt and jacket, Finn stared around the common room; Darsan and Eri had finished unpacking; now the room was like a regular lounge. The furniture was a bit mismatched and the paintings ranged from boring to plain weird, but Finn had to agree that it gave the room a lot more personality.

Hearing the door to the Captain's Room slide open, Finn turned to see Kyra in the same sleeveless shirt and work pants she had been wearing when they met.

"Hi." She said awkwardly as she wrapped a blue silk strip around her shoulders and body. Once she finished, she asked, "Um, could you tie it for me? Normally, I have Becca do it, but I'm guessing that's not gonna be an option."

"Of course." Finn told her. She turned around and slipped the ends under her elbows.

"Not too tight." She told him, pulling her long hair over her shoulder so it wasn't in the way.

Finn nodded and tied the silk straps behind her in a small bow. Feeling that perhaps that was a bit silly, he moved to untie the bow and try something less showy, but she turned around before he could reach it.

"Whoa there, Finn!" She said, a teasing edge in her voice. "Just 'cause I was naked in bed with you doesn't mean you get to touch."

He blushed and pulled his hands back. "I was just-"

She laughed and ran a hand through her hair. "I'm kidding Finn. But seriously, touch me without permission, and you're going to lose a hand."

The alarm must've shown on his face, because she started laughing immediately. "You really get flustered easily, don't you?"

His cheeks burning, Finn said, "Well, it's not every morning I wake up the arms of a pretty lady. Seriously, what are you doing here? I thought you were going back to your apartment yesterday."

"I was." She told him, idly braiding her hair. "But then I remembered that the Ulasomorf was at Dock 12, and I thought I'd take a last look before you leave Omega. Everything after that's a bit hazy."

"Are you okay?" He asked her. "Is the hangover still bad?"

She waved him off, saying, "Bah. It's not the first time I've awoken with a headache. Not the first time I woke up in a strange place, either. It is the first time I woke up naked, though."

Finn wasn't quite sure what to say about that. Fortunately, at that moment, something made the ship shudder.

Steadying herself on the couch, Kyra asked, "What was that?"

"I dunno." Finn said, "Come on; we need to get to the bridge."

They rode the lift down to the first deck and hurried to the bridge, where Jake and Mannon were manning the helm. Eri was at the weapons console, frantically tapping at the controls.

"Finn!" Mannon called out. Her eyes widened when she saw Kyra behind him. "Who …"

"Mannon, Kyra. Kyra, Mannon." Finn said quickly. "What's going on?"

Eri shook his head. "Five bogeys closing in behind us. I'm detecting more on the way. No transponders, no identifying marks. I think these are the friends you were telling me about."

"They're moving fast!" Jake called out as another blast hit the ship. "We can't outrun them."

"Maybe you can show me that streaming thing you told me about." Mannon said, flashing him a glance.

Jake hopped aside so that Finn could take the controls, only for the ship to suddenly fall out of FTL.

"What the …" Finn muttered, trying to find the problem. "The FTL drive is down."

"On it!" Kyra was gone in a flash. Finn could've sworn that for a moment, there was a look of delight on her face.

Shaking his head, he stood up from the controls. "We're sitting ducks. Jake, take the helm!"

"Whoa!" Jake interrupted, blocking Finn's path, "Just what do you think you're doing?"

"We can't just keep taking fire." Finn gestured towards the cargo bay, saying, "We've got a perfectly good fighter stored away back there. Might as well use it."

"But that's just one fighter! There are five of them out there!"

"Good. That means they have a fair chance." Without another word, Finn leapt over Jake and ran from the bridge. Mannon and Eri called after him, but there wasn't time for a conversation.

Finn rushed into the cargo bay and climbed onto the side of the Gradisian. As he started to open the cockpit, his eyes caught on something in the back of the cargo bay; his boot hovering in midair.

Realization hit him with a wave of horror, followed by a surge of excitement. Slamming the Gradisian's cockpit door, he rushed across the bay to the floating boot. Activating his omni-tool, it didn't take him long to find the ship's cloaking program and deactivate it. A shimmer ran through the air as the mysterious spaceship Krieger had discovered rematerialized.

He stared at it until another blast shook the ship. Shaking his head, he muttered, "I'll worry about it later. Right now, there's work to do."

As soon as he sat in the seat, the controls of the sleek vessel burst to life around him. He quickly closed the door and strapped himself into the pilot’s chair.

Once he was secure, he opened a secure line to the bridge, saying, "Jake, you there?"

"Yeah. Listen, man; if you're gonna do this, you need to get moving."

"I'm heading out now. Tell Eri to mark my new ship's signature so that he doesn't shoot me outta the sky."

"Your new ship's signature? When did you get a new ship?"

"I'll tell you about it when I get back. Launching now!"

A containment screen activated as the cargo bays opened. With Finn at the helm, the prototype ship soon zoomed out of the hold and into the dark reaches of space.

The ship handled like a dream, even better than the Gradisian. At his slightest touch, it twisted and turned with a speed and precision that he had never experienced before in a space craft.

It didn't take long for the five fighters to converge on him. He wasn't surprised when his scans on the vessels were inconclusive.

To his surprise, one of the ships requested communications. Intrigued, he opened the channel and said, "How can I direct your call?"

"Surrender your vessels and prepare to be boarded."

"And to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking? The Blue Suns? Slavers? My student loan director?"

A shot fired past Finn's right wing.

"Surrender, or we will blast you out of the sky."

"All right." Finn replied with a grin. "Enough talk; let's dance!"

The five fighters were in a tight formation, at least until Finn blasted through them, missing the closest by mere inches. The formation crumbled as they moved to spread out, two of the ships crashing into each other during the process.

"Two down, three to go!" Finn shouted.

"Pat yourself on the back later, Finn!" Eri said through the intercom. "Don't forget, there are more on the way!"

"Good!" Finn said, his eyes on the three blips currently on his scanners. "Wouldn't want this to be too easy."

The three remaining ships spread out, attempting to flank Finn on either side. One thing they didn't count on, however, was for the ship they were chasing to suddenly vanish. They spread out immediately, no doubt checking their scanners to see where he had gone.

"Finn? Finn!" Jake's worried voice called out from the comm. "Tell me you aren't dead!"

Rolling his eyes, Finn said, "Yes, Jake; I'm dead. Now stop talking; you're gonna make me give away my position."

Finn lined up behind one of the fighters. He ghosted the ship for a short while, curious to see just how close he could get. Pretty damn close, it seems; he drew so close to the fighter that he could see a patch that had recently been welded onto some of the back plating of the ship.

"Right. Fun's over." Finn said as he readied the weapon systems, "This is for Krieger and J-27, asshole."

A burst of light fired from Finn's twin cannons and blasted through the ship like it wasn't even there. As the wings continued flying forward no longer attached to anything, Finn pulled up and started towards the next ship.

He didn't wait so long to shoot this time; once the targeting computer said he was in range, he fired. The blast hit the ship on the wing, shearing it neatly from the ship's body and sending the vessel spinning forward from the thrust of its one remaining thruster. The ship fired wildly as it continued to spin, one shot coming uncomfortably close. Finn quickly spun away and finished off the ship with another shot.

A bit annoyed at himself, he quickly drew a bead on the last fighter. By that time, however, the final fighter was on its guard; it managed to avoid the shot by a hair and quickly turned in Finn's direction.

Still, it wasn't like it could see him; Finn easily dodged the fighter's shots and quickly moved in for the kill. It swerved and ducked around randomly, but Finn managed to peg it as it tried to flip around behind him. As its remains floated past his ship, he said, "Five down! How far away are their reinforcements?"

A shot hit his shields, shaking the ship slightly.

Shaking his head, he muttered, "Never mind."

There were three of them, same kind as the previous five. They were spread out as they approached, likely because their sensors recorded the deaths of their comrades just as well as Finns. Unfortunately for them, Finn was still invisible.

Just as he started to edge forward, an alarm siren sounded from the console that controlled the engine. As Finn scanned the readout, he muttered, "Crap."

Like any normal ship, the mysterious craft could only take so much heat before there was a problem. Running the cloak for so long and pushing the engines had produced quite a figurative inferno under the ship's hood, which was now in danger of overloading the ship's systems.

An idea formed in his head. Grinning, he muttered, "Okay then. Let's vent the heat."

He deactivated the cloaking device and gunned it past the center starfighter. Almost instantly, the three remaining ships gave chase.

A few shots bounced off of his shields, but he remained calm. He had to put on a good show, or his plan wouldn't work.

After a few shots hit his aft shielding, he dropped speed. Keeping careful control on the thrust, he started feigning an engine problem.

The ships drew closer, preparing to finish him off. For a moment, he was worried that they might flank him, but apparently they thought they had him right where they wanted him.

"We'll see about that." He said with a grin, hitting the purge button on the engine controls.

A blast of coolant sprayed from the engines, catching all three of the starfighters in a superheated spray. To Finn's shock, the coolant started melting through the ships.

He glanced at the heat distribution monitor, muttering, "Just how much heat does this thing put off anyway?"

To their credit, the enemy pilots tried to veer away. It didn't matter though; Finn's scanners detected that the cockpits were breached. Sure enough, the thrusters on the enemy ships soon deactivated, the ships themselves drifting away on their momentum.

"Finn!" Said an excited voice Finn recognized as belonging to Kyra, "I've got the core fixed!"

"Awesome! Eri, how much time before the next wave gets here?"

"About five minutes."

"It's gonna be close then." He muttered.

Thrusters blazing, he shot back towards the Ulasomorf.

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