Mass Effect Slipstream Book I: The Streamer's Edge

Rigger's Folly

Finn pushed open the door and entered the Rigger's Folly, Jake following at his heels. The office was a dingy affair, though it was larger than Finn expected. Aside from a few battered chairs lined up against the wall for customers, there was little else in the room other than the desk. A few parts were on display on shelves around the room, mostly ancient starship components.

There was a woman behind the counter. From her bright eyes, long black hair, and wavy lines running from the inside edges of her eyebrows to her forehead, Finn could tell she was a quarian. If that wasn't enough, the traditional silk wrappings visible around the shoulders and bodice of the sleeveless shirt she was wearing cinched it. He wondered idly if the pattern of the facial lines were as random as the facial markings of the asari.

She was busy reading a paperback book, her glowing eyes running across the pages without slowing. He couldn't help but grin when he noticed she was reading "The Crusade of Sir Tirager Vespere, Knight of Justice". She had kept much better care of her copy, too.

Finn waited patiently for her to realize he was there, but after watching her turn a few pages, he realized she was completely absorbed in reading.

"Pardon me, Miss-"


She jumped, the book flying out of her hands and bopping Finn in the face. Her hands flew up to her mouth as he caught it before it fell.

"Oh! Sorry, mister. I was-"

"Reading, I know." Finn handed her the book. "I'm on chapter twelve myself."

Her face brightened. "You're a Veegir fan too, huh? Not many people bother with him these days because of the whole paperback thing."

"They're missing out. The man's a genius. Last Call on Albrire was a masterpiece."

"I know!" She beamed at him. "I still get goose bumps when I imagine Mirea rushing that Fell-thresher while the world crumbled around her, convincing the Schrade to shatter itself so she could activate the worldstone, then breaking her indoctrination by destroying the ancestral guardian?" She let out a sigh. "And that epilogue … when I first read that scene where Jianus was grieving at the ruins, only for Mirea to appear in the wreckage like nothing had happened, I was in tears!"

"Tell me about it. I was worried for awhile when he wrote in the ancestral guardian; it seemed out of place, what with it being a machine in a universe of magic."

"Yeah, I was a bit worried myself. Thought he might do the ol' 'selfless sacrifice' cliché. I heard he considered it, but decided it was just silly to ruin such an action-packed climax with such a cheap and overdone ending." Shaking her head, she said, "Er, anyway, how can I help you today?"

"Huh? Oh, right. Well, a friend of mine told me to ask for you."

Her smile dropped instantly. "Ah. I see."

"I'm not sure what he told you, but I'd like to help out if I can." Finn told her.

"Look, you seem nice … you really do." She said, a light blush on her cheeks. "But I'm really not interested right now."

Finn raised an eyebrow. "You weren't expecting me?"

"I was, I just …" She let out a sigh and slunk down in her seat. "He's worried about me, I get it, but the more I think about it, the more I don't think I want to get involved right now."

"You don't?" Finn asked, surprised.

"No, I don't." She blushed again, adding, "It's not you, really. I just don't want to have to deal with all the relationship nonsense anymore."

"Relationship?" Finn asked, startled. "We are talking about-".

"Let me handle this, Finn." Jake nudged Finn aside and put his front paws on the counter. "Look, Miss, Finn's got boyfriend material written all over him! He can cook, he's a bang-up mechanic, and he's got stamina, if you know what I mean."

Narrowing his eyes, Finn grabbed Jake by the back of his display and dragged him away from the counter. "Thank you, Jake."

Finn turned back to the quarian. "Like I was trying to say before my friend interrupted-"

"Say," she asked, her luminescent eyes on Jake, "That's a KEI-9, isn't it? The VI must be impressive if it can speak with inflected emotions."

"Well-" Finn began, but Jake cut him off.

"VI? VI?! My intelligence ain't virtual, missy."

Finn sighed. "Calm down, Jake. She didn't mean any-"

"An AI? Really?" She looked intrigued. "Can I look at your programming? My people have been trying to restore the geth since the Reaper War, but with the Council's bans on creating new AIs, we haven't had much luck."

"If Jake's-" Finn began, stopping automatically when he realized that he wasn't part of the conversation anymore.

"Tell you what; you go on a date with Finn, and I'll think about it." Jake said, his tail end wagging.

"Really? You'd let the geth lie dormant just to get your friend a date?"

"Lady, I've never even seen a geth before. Why would I care?"

"But they were sentient synthetics too! Doesn't that make them like family?"

"Finn's my family. Poor kid would still be stuck on Earth if I hadn't found him. He's like my own brother!"

"But surely you'd like to meet more of your own kind."

"Are you kidding? My model's been out of commission for centuries."

"You know what I mean."

"I know my buddy Finn needs a special someone. C'mon, miss! It'll be great!"

She rolled her eyes, smiling nonetheless as she turned back to Finn. "Well … maybe. Do you like karaoke?"

By this point, Finn was sitting in one of the reception chairs. When she spoke to him, he pretended to look confused. "Huh? Oh, am I back in the conversation now?"

She blushed, again covering her mouth with the tip of her three-fingered hands. "Keelah, I'm sorry; you were trying to tell me something, and I completely ignored you. I'm Kyra, by the way."

"Nice to meet you." Finn gestured to Jake and said, "You've probably figured out I'm Finn by now, and this is Jake. Sorry if he embarrassed you."

"Oh, not at all!" She said kindly. "It's sweet the way he looks out for you. Anyway, back to … uh …what were we talking about again?"

"Krieger sent me here."

Her smile widened. "Uncle Krieger? Oh, so you weren't even … I'm sorry, Finn. My friends have been trying to hook me up with someone since my last boyfriend was killed by the Blue Suns."

"I'm sorry for your loss." Finn said respectfully. "How long ago did he pass?"

"Oh, about two years. To be honest, we were really just friends anyway. I miss him, though; he'd love playing with your little friend here." Shaking her head, she asked, "So, how is Uncle doing, anyway? I haven't seen him since I was heading back to Rannoch from my pilgrimage. Is he here on the station?"

Finn's face fell. "You don't know, do you?"

"Know what?" a look of worry crept across her face. "Is something wrong?"

"He was injured recently during an att-"

"Explosion." Jake interjected, the dog-like face on his screen glaring at Finn. "He was injured in an explosion. Big explosion, pretty much took the station with it."

"Right." Finn added. "I managed to get him out before his station was destroyed. He's at the Solus Clinic right now."

She wrung her hands anxiously. "How bad was he hurt? Was he still breathing when you put him in stasis? His suit wasn't breached, was it? I just can't believe he was … you said the Solus clinic, right?"

Finn nodded. "I was going to go check on him after I spoke with you."

"I'm going too." She hopped off her stool and grabbed a few things from behind the counter.

She was halfway to the door before she stopped and asked, "Er, that's all right, right? You don't mind if I go with you?"

Finn couldn't help but smile. "I don't mind. Krieger's my friend too."

The Solus Clinic was busy when they arrived via cab. Jake growled at the security mechs as he, Finn, and Kyra walked into the lobby.

"Keelah." Kyra whispered, staring around the waiting room at all the sick and injured. "All this just from today?"

The salarian behind the counter replied, "All within the hour. Some have already been here twice today. Can I help you?"

"Yes, we're here to check up on a friend of ours, a volus by the name of Krieger." Finn said, trying to sound calm.

"Ah, yes, the volus. We don't get many of them on the station, not in the long term anyway." He tapped at his console for a few moments before saying, "Looks like they stabilized him. He's in room 16-B."

"Thank you." Finn said automatically, activating his omni-tool.

The salarian raised his hand. "No need for payment; this is a free clinic."

"Consider it a donation then." Finn told him, authorizing the transfer of credits.

The salarian nodded gratefully. "It is appreciated. Have a pleasant day."

As they headed deeper into the clinic, Kyra commented, "That was kind of you."

"This isn't my first time here." He told her. "Last time, I had been shot through my right shoulder and I was nursing a sprained ankle."

"Keelah." She replied. "What happened?"

"I made a wrong turn in the Gozu District, right into a group of Blue Suns." He paused for a moment, reflecting on the incident. "Ankle hurt worse than the bullets, actually. Anyway, they fixed me up without so much as a single question. I was broke at the time, but I always meant to come back and give a little back."

They reached 16-B, only to find two heavily armed krogan standing outside the door.

"Move along." Said the one on the right, his partner hefting his assault rifle meaningfully.

"Actually, we're here to see Krieger." Finn said, Kyra nodding in agreement behind him.

The next think Finn knew, he was about a foot off the ground and pressing painfully into the wall opposite 16-B, the krogan's tree trunk of an arm dominating the bottom half of his vision.

"Here to finish him off?" the krogan snarled in his face.

Finn couldn't reply; the krogan's grip was effectively cutting off his air supply.

"Let him go!" Kyra shouted. "He didn't hurt Uncle Krieger! This is the guy who rescued him!"

Jake grabbed the leg of the krogan who was holding Finn. The krogan tried to kick him off, but Jake was quite stubborn.

"Then ask him to explain the bullet wounds!" The guard snapped.

Finn was starting to black out. In desperation, he started rummaging in his tool kit and quickly found a screwdriver. He stabbed wildly at the krogan's arm to little effect until by chance he managed to hit the narrow space between the elbow plate and the forearm armor.

The krogan dropped Finn with a roar. He yanked the screwdriver out and turned his attention back to Finn, his eyes red.

"That was a mistake, human!"

Finn, having collapsed on the floor gasping for breath, was in no condition to respond or react as the krogan lifted his rifle.

"Stop that at once!"

A volus, this one in a brown and red environment suit, stood near an intersecting hallway. There were two doctors with him, a human male and an asari.

"This … human tried to get in to see Krieger." The krogan on the right said. "You said-"

"I said to guard the door and not let anyone in. I said to watch anyone who came by and give me a full description later. I did not say to start shooting people!"

To Finn's surprise, the krogan backed down. The krogan on the left flashed Finn a dirty look before dropping the screwdriver on the ground and resuming his post. Jake quickly reclaimed it and brought it to Finn.

"Thanks." Finn said, slipping the tool back into his bag. Nodding at the volus, he added, "And thank you, too."

"I appreciate the courtesy, considering the situation." The volus looked at the krogan. It was impossible to tell with the suit, but from the way both krogan shuffled their feet uncomfortably, Finn had the impression that the volus was glaring at them.

Nodding at the door, Finn asked, "Is Krieger okay?"

"Your name, please?"

"Finnegan Cresste."

"Ah, you're the one who rescued him. You have my thanks."

"It's no problem." Finn told him. "Krieger's been my friend for years."

The volus sighed. "He always did have a way of making friends. I take it you and your friend are here to check up on him?"

"Yes, please." Kyra said, her eyes darting to the door. "Is he okay?"

"The good doctors here managed to stabilize him well enough for us to bring him back to Irune for proper treatment. Not that the doctors here haven't done a good job." He nodded at the two doctors flanking him. "But given the extent of injuries, it's really better if he is treated by his own kind."

"So he's going to be okay?" Kyra asked, wringing her hands.

"It'll take time for him to fully recover, and he'll walk with a limp for months, but yes; he'll be okay."

Finn and Kyra let out a collective sigh of relief.

Looking at Finn, the volus said, "I did speak with him briefly. While he refused to give me any details, he did wish to express his gratitude to you, Finn, for saving his life."

He pulled a small datapad from his belt and handed it to Finn, who read it for a few moments before realizing just what it was.

"He's giving me the Ulasomorf?" Finn asked, disbelievingly.

"That's correct. I've already taken the liberty of transferring ownership to you, as well as a small reward from the Mimosa family."

Now Finn's eyes really went wide. "The Mimosa Family? As in the leaders of the volus Merchant's Guild?"

"Indeed. We look after the family, and appreciate what you've done in saving one of our own."

Finn could only stare at the datapad for a few moments.

Coughing the volus asked, "As I mentioned, Krieger didn't tell me much of what happened. I don't suppose you could fill me in on the details?"

"We're still trying to find out ourselves." Finn admitted. "I stopped by yesterday morning to pick up some parts for outpost J-27, and on the way back he contacted me and told me he was under attack."

"Do you know who attacked him?"

Finn thought back to the black ship and Krieger's strange turian visitor. Something warned him that divulging this information would do no good; even worse, it might put Krieger in even more danger.

"Not a clue. We had some trouble with Eclipse in the past, but I can't say I saw anything implicating them."

The volus seemed to accept this answer. "We'll have a team sweep over what's left and see if we can't find some evidence while we salvage Krieger's belongings. In any event, the Mimosa family thanks you again for saving one of our own. Good luck in your future endeavors, Mister Finn."

"Thanks." Finn replied, shaking the volus's hand. "And tell Krieger to drop me a line as soon as he's feeling better, okay?"

They walked away quickly, as the krogan were still eyeing them with a fair amount of suspicion. Finn wasn't sure what to think; on one hand, he now owned the Ulasomorf. It wasn't his first ship; the Gradisian was technically his as well, but it was just a fighter. The Ulasomorf was practically a frigate with a large cargo bay.

On the other hand, he was no closer to figuring out why someone had blown up J-27. There was still the matter of Kyra, but he was getting the impression that she wasn't involved. Perhaps Krieger had intended to send her some message, but it was clear she had never received it.

Jake said cheerily, "Well, how about that? Krieger's gonna be fine, and we've got a shiny ship like no other in the galaxy. Things are looking up."

"Yeah. We're walking on sunshine, all right." Sighing, Finn said, "I can get you a cab, Kyra, if you-"

She grabbed his hand and pulled him into an empty alleyway. Finn stumbled behind her until she stopped, let go of his hand, and faced him. She did not look happy.

"You didn't mention he had been shot, you bosh'tet!" She said angrily.

"I didn't want to worry you." Finn replied, taken off-guard by her sudden aggression.

"Worry me? A dear friend of mine was shot and nearly killed! How could I not be worried?" She drew a gun out of nowhere, demanding, "Tell me what happened now, and don't even try to lie to me like you did to that volus."

Out of the corner of his eye, Finn noticed Jake slowly raising his energy blaster. Finn twitched his right hand, signaling to Jake that he didn't want him to attack.

Turning his eyes back to Kyra, he asked, "How much do you want to know?"

"Everything." She said. "And I mean everything! I don't care if you think it's unimportant, I want to hear it."

"Fair enough."

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