Mass Effect Slipstream Book I: The Streamer's Edge

Old Friends

The Lucky 57 bar wasn't nearly as big as Afterlife, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. The design was completely different to that of Afterlife; there were no flashing neon lights, no loud dance music, and no throngs of people waiting outside or milling about inside. It was the kind of bar frequented by the thoughtful drunk trying to figure out the universe one glass at a time. There was an ancient jukebox in the corner that still functioned, but it was the open microphone on the small stage that drew the more sociable crowd.

There was a hanar on the stage when Finn and Kyra entered, the latter looking a bit shaken. The hanar was in the middle of a stand-up act, but the sparse crowd and the bored looks on their faces made it clear that the Jelly wasn't seeing too much success that night.

Finn and Kyra sat at a booth in the far corner of the bar. A human waitress in a sleek black dress approached.

"Welcome to the Lucky 57." She said in a silky voice. "What would you like to drink?"

"Do you have any Crystallic Cider?" Finn asked hopefully.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "Interesting choice. Red, blue, or purple?"

"Blue, please." Finn said, pleasantly surprised.

"Okay. And you, Kyra?"

"That'll be fine." She said waving a hand dismissively.

The waitress gave Finn a knowing smirk as she turned away and headed towards the bartender.

"Is that going to be okay?" Finn asked with some concern. "I thought …"

"I'm sorry." She blurted out.

Finn blinked, surprised. "Excuse me?"

"For the gun thing." She said, her cheeks darkening, "and getting mad."

"Don't worry about it." Finn said. "Completely understandable, given the situation."

She sighed and slouched against the back of the booth. "No it's not. You saved Krieger's life, and I pulled a weapon on you like some slum thug."

"I should've told you about the attack earlier. I just … it seemed harsh to tell someone I had only just met that one of her friends had been shot, maimed, and left for dead."

She sighed again and shook her head. "I just don't get it; Uncle Krieger's the nicest guy in the world. Why would anyone want to hurt him?"

Finn didn't have an answer. They sat in silence until the waitress returned with two glasses of a light blue liquid. Finn started to raise his omnitool arm to pay, but the waitress said, "Don't worry about it, hun; first drink for my baby girl's new boyfriend is on the house."

"Becca!" Kyra said, blushing. "It's not like that."

"Of course not. Let me know if you need anything, hon."

As she walked off, Kyra muttered, "You see what I've been dealing with? Ugh."

She grabbed her drink and took a big swallow, much to Finn's alarm.

"Isn't it dangerous for a dextro to eat or drink leva food?" He asked.

She put the glass down, her eyes even brighter than usual. "It would be if I was a dextro. My family's been omni for years."

"Omni?” Finn had heard of omni food, even omni-medicine, but he had never heard of a person with the universal chirality. “Is that even possible?"

"Well, I hope so!" She replied with a laugh. "My family's been natural omni for at least five generations. My ancestors were part of a commune that experimented with gene therapy to make omni-fruits and vegetables. It worked a little too well; they didn't even realize that the effect had spread to them until my ancestor became pregnant by her husband. He was human."

"So you're part human?" Finn asked, intrigued (and honestly amazed) by her story.

"Guilty as charged!" She took another sip of her drink and said, "This is pretty good. What did you call it again?"

"Crystallic Cider. To be honest, I didn't expect them to have any; I've only had it once before on a bar back on Earth, and the bartender wasn't sure where he got it." Shaking his head, he said, "Did Krieger send you any messages? Maybe he …"

He paused as she drained the rest of her glass. "Liked it that much, huh?"

"It reminds me of something." She stared at the empty glass, her brow furrowed. "Was it … yes, it was the birthday cake my mother made me the day before I headed out on my pilgrimage. That's weird, isn't it?"

"It's quarian tradition, isn't it?"

"No, no!" She said, laughing. "I mean, it tastes like really sweet cake icing. It's just kinda weird. Anyway, you were saying?"

"Did Krieger contact you at all recently? When he messaged me during the attack, he said you'd know what to do with … er, something."

"Something?" She asked curiously.

"He didn't get to say; whoever it was had just broken past his defenses. To be honest, I kinda hoped you'd know."

"Sorry. I never got a message from him. Hey, Becca! Could you get me another one of these?"

The barmaid came over a moment later with a fresh blue glass, saying, "Be careful, sweetie; it's potent stuff."

"I'll be fine." Kyra said dismissively. As her friend walked away, she took a long drink and let out a satisfied sigh. "By the ancestor's that's good."

"She's right you know; this stuff'll knock you off your feet if you're not careful."

"Pssh. Can't even taste the alcohol." Shaking her head, she asked, "What were we talking about again?"


"Ah, yes … poor Uncle Krieger." She took another drink. When she put the glass down, there was a definite bleariness in her eyes. "I helped him build the Ulasomorf, y'know. Beautiful ship. Wish I could see it again."

"It's at dock twelve." Finn told her.

"Tha's right. He just gave it to you. Guess the ol' memory's going again."

He watched as she drained another glass with a sort of morbid fascination; he had one glass on Earth, and it had hit him like a bottle of whisky.

"I'd like to see it." She proclaimed. "I helped build it, you know."

"I've heard as much, yes." Finn said, smiling at her.

She brought her hands up and rested her head on her interlaced fingers. "You're nice. I can see why Krieger liked you."

"He mentioned me before?"

"Yup. Jake the dog and Finn the human." She giggled as though at some unseen joke. "Where did Jake go, anyway?"

"He went to let my friends know about Krieger. Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, I'm fine. It's just …" She let out a sigh with melancholy that somehow managed to be even more blue than Finn's drink. "This place, y'know? Omega. When I was a girl, my dad told me stories about my great-great-great- ..." She waved her hand, continuing, "My ancestors coming here, and the adventures they had. S'why I ended up here; I thought I'd have an adventure of my very own."

She snorted and pulled Finn's drink towards her. "Some adventure. I'm a mechanic in a garage. The most adventure I get is when I have to go to the extranet terminals to place a part order. Sometimes, I wish I had stayed with my sisters."

Shaking her head, she looked Finn in the general direction of Finn's eyes, saying, "You're lucky, y'know. Mysterious soldiers and top secret space ships and narrow escapes … that's the way to live."

"That's an optimistic way to look at it." Finn agreed begrudgingly.

"Damn right." She took a swallow of his drink. "Can't just hang around and be safe all the time. Look what happened to my people and the geth! I mean, we created life! Fully intelligent robots! I know programmers who would be overjoyed to see their work reach that level, but what did we do? We tried to kill them so we'd be safe. Weren't you happy when Jake developed an AI?"

"He was already an AI when I found him." Finn told her.

She gave him a confused look. "I thought he found you?"

Finn chuckled. "It's a matter of perspective. We found each other, really."

"Aww!" Kyra crooned before taking another drink. "That's sweet. You really do act like brothers, you know."

"Yeah, I guess we do."

She finished the glass and immediately stood up, her cheeks flushed.

"I'm gonna sing." She said simply. Before Finn could respond, she headed towards the stage; to her credit, she was still mostly steady on her feet.

"My turn, Mister." She said, climbing up on stage. "Solace in Dreams, Jeffrey!"

The bartender nodded and tapped at a console behind the bar, no doubt loading up the song she requested.

The hanar quavered like a floating mass of jelly. "But this one has not finished entertaining the-"

The crowd cheered as Kyra took the microphone off the stand. The hanar hesitated for a moment before floating off the stage and out of the bar.

To Finn's surprise, a few people in the small crowd actually called out her name as the music started. Curious, Finn sat down at one of the tables closer to the stage so he could hear better.

As she began to sing, Finn found himself mesmerized by the sound of her voice. Despite holding the contents of three crystallic ciders, her voice was clear and steady. He assumed she was singing in quarian, as he didn't understand the words. It didn't matter, though; the song was optimistic in tone, yet there was a note of sadness in her voice as she finished.

The crowd cheered when the music stopped. She smiled at the crowd and walked towards the edge of the stage. Finn saw the coming problem and quickly moved forward to catch her as she ran out of stage and toppled forward.

She looked up at him, a sleepy look on her smiling face. "Oops. Clumsy me. I think I need another drink."

"Yeah, I'm thinking it's best for you not to die of alcohol poisoning on our first date. We'd better get you home." He looked around for Becca, only to find the waitress already on the way over to them.

"Again, Kyra?" She asked, a hint of exasperation in her voice.

Kyra blew a raspberry at her. "I'm fine; I just need a sec to steady my nerves."

Becca sighed and rolled her eyes. Looking to Finn, she asked, "I don't get off of work for another three hours. Can you bring her home?"

"I don't need anyone's help." She said, pushing away from Finn. She didn't even manage to turn away before she fell back into his waiting arms.

"Okay, fine." Kyra said, rolling her eyes. "I'll take a damn cab."

Being a bar, there was a cab waiting outside just waiting for patrons who needed a lift. As Finn helped her into the back seat, Kyra murmured, "C'mere for a sec."

"What is it?" Finn asked, concerned.

She glanced at the turian cabbie before whispering, "He might be listening."

Sighing, Finn moved closer. To his surprise, she gave him a kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks, Finn." She said, a small smile on her face. "I'm glad you're here. I know I'm a bit of a mess, but-"

"We're all a bit of a mess." He told her kindly. "It's what makes us who we are."

Her smile widened. "Stop by the shop tomorrow, okay?"

"I will. Now go home and get some sleep."

"Mmm." She said, resting her head against the backseat headrest.

As the cab lifted from the ground and flew away into the dark sky Finn stared after her, his mind a tangle of thoughts.

"So, how'd it go?"

Finn glanced back at Becca, who was watching him with arms crossed and an intrigued look on her face.

"What?" He asked, though he knew exactly what she was talking about.

She chuckled, saying, "That well, huh?"

"I don't understand."

"Oh, you will. Stop by again sometime; it's good to see Kyra singing again."

She walked back into the bar, leaving Finn alone with his confusion and her dark lipstick still on his cheek.

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