There wasn’t much out in the Phoenix Massing. Once
geth-controlled space, the area was now a silent testament to the existence of
the race of synthetics who stood with the galaxy against the flawed logic of
the Reapers. Ships, bases, and millions of geth platforms lay still in the void
between the Salaheil and Chromos systems, monitored and protected by the
It was among the ancient vessels that Billy, the last
survivor of the geth, flew the prototype Cerberus starfighter that was now his
only platform. His pilot, Alliance fugitive and former J-27 repairman, Finn
Cresste, was busily checking the area for prying scanners.
“Nothing to indicate any Cerberus presence. Looks like we’re
clear.” Finn said, his eyes on the sensor screen. “Nice of Rannoch to let us
“Indeed.” Billy’s voice said in Finn’s head via neural
interface. “I admit, I was surprised they so readily accepted my existence.”
“It’s not that surprising.” Finn told him. “They had
reconciled with the geth before the whole Crucible thing. You’re like their
long lost child that they thought had died in the war with his brothers and
After a few moments of silence, Finn said, “Er, sorry. That
sounded better in my head.”
To his surprise, Billy chuckled. “I understand what you were
trying to say. I’m just surprised that the other quarians had even half the
excitement at meeting me as Kyra.”
“Yeah.” Finn tried to force a chuckle, but it just came out
as a sigh.
Billy’s concern was like a small cloud in his mind. “Is
“We had an argument yesterday. It was really stupid; I was
trying to help with some of the Ulasomorf’s upgrades, but I think she took it
as an insult. She kept telling me I was just messing things up.”
Sighing again, Finn said, “And she was right. Didn’t stop me
from arguing about it, though.”
“You’re really bothered by this, aren’t you?”
“Yeah.” Finn confessed. “We’ve had a few squabbles before,
but this was our first big fight. I don’t even know why I was so bothered at
the time; like I said, she was right. I guess part of me will always be the
brat I was back on Earth, but …"
“I don’t want to lose her.” He blushed. “I’m sorry, Billy. This
is my problem; I shouldn’t just be laying it on you like this.”
After a few moments of silence, Billy suggested, “Maybe you
should tell her that when you apologize. They say that honesty is important in
a lasting relationship, and I know you care as much about her as she does about
“She told you that?” Finn asked curiously.
“Not intentionally. She was talking about your fight to
Mannon while she was working on the Gradisian earlier. I believe her exact
words were, ‘Yeah, he’s a knucklehead, but he’s my knucklehead.’”
Finn couldn't help but chuckle at that. “Thanks, Billy. It
may sound strange, but it kinda helps to hear that.”
“Glad to be of assistance. Now, perhaps we should begin our exercises.
Javik insisted I return you on time for a change.”
“Fair enough.” Finn shoved the argument out of his mind along
with his future training session with the last Prothean and focused his
attention on Billy’s controls.
Three geth fighters fired up their thrusters and sped his
way under Billy’s remote control. As they zoomed past Billy, Finn fired up
Billy’s engines and gave chase.
The Graveyard was the perfect place for flight training;
plenty of vessels to dodge around and avoid, just as would be likely in a real fight.
They had outfitted the geth fighters with low-power lasers; they weren’t strong
enough to cause any damage, but Billy could detect the angle of the hit and
estimate the damage he would have received from standard weapons.
Finn had been humbled during his first few sessions;
although he prided himself on his skill as a pilot, Billy had managed to peg
him with a deadly shot within a minute. Always a quick study, Finn had brushed
off his old talents and made a point to learn from his mistakes.
Under Finn’s control, Billy spun, swerved, and slipped
through the inert ships as though the ship were merely an extension of his body.
Part of that was the neural interface; the ship responded equally to his
thoughts as it did to his manipulation of the controls, allowing him far more
control than the pilot of a typical vessel. Part of it was Billy as well; the
geth’s voice was always whispering in his ear, advising him on tactics and
flying tricks once shared by the best of geth fighter pilots.
It would be remiss to say that Finn’s natural skill wasn’t a
factor; Finn felt more alive in a cockpit than anywhere else, with the possible
exception of being in the company of Kyra. More often than not, he operated
purely on instinct. Where anyone else would’ve been blown to bits, he always
managed to fly through it.
It was nonsense, his instructors had told him. He merely was
able to filter sensor data and apply it to flying with very little response time.
Maybe they were right, but to Finn, he was flying on his own.
After pegging the final ship, Billy said, “Impressive. That
was even faster than yesterday.”
“Wanna do a live fire test?” Finn asked, grinning at his
“While I have no doubt you’d be victorious, I have no desire
to destroy the remains of my kind.”
“Oh.” Finn said, feeling very foolish. “I’m sorry, man; I
didn’t mean …”
“It isn’t important. With no way to restore their
programming, the geth are little more than empty husks, floating in the void
for eternity. Still, I hope that perhaps they might one day be restored.”
Finn knew it must have been tough for Billy, being the last
of his kind. He wished there was something he could do to help, but Kyra had
already gone over Billy and Jake’s programming extensively; if there was a way
to restore the geth, it was beyond her.
Sighing, Finn said, “Well, let’s get back. Hate to keep
There was a saying on the ocean world of Trident; everything
lost eventually will eventually wash up on Trident’s shores. There was big
money in combing the few beaches scattered across the planet, but the popular
saying was more focused on the people of trident. Widely considered one of the
most lawless places in the universe, Trident was home to many a corporation
wanting to act outside ethical guidelines. While private security firms kept
crime to a minimum, corruption was widespread on the bits of land both natural
Fortunately, there was one place on the planet where a quiet
pervasive order still existed. Swimming beneath the ocean like one of the
natural leviathans of trident, the Amonjana silently floated through the
currents, carefully avoiding the settlements as to remain unknown to all. The
Amonjana was home to the Shadow Broker, the master of secrets whispered across
the known galaxy and beyond. That the Broker was in fact Doctor Liara T’soni,
noted anthropologist and friend of galaxy hero John Shepard, was a secret known
only to a select few.
As Billy neared the current location of the Amonjana, Finn
transmitted the code that would extend the long passage that would allow them
to dock within the moving ship. Even knowing that the top of the tunnel was
disguised to look like the ocean, Finn still had a hard time seeing the passage
entrance when it slowly rose from the ocean, looking far more like a
particularly tall wave than a complex combination of design and holography.
The passage was well lit. The sight of the ocean above them
never ceased to amaze Finn, though the view was quickly covered by safety
bulkheads as the corridor began to retract. There was a large landing area at
the base of the corridor. There were only a few ships there, mostly short-range
fighters used by the Shadow Broker’s agents.
“Like me.” Finn thought to himself. It was a strange
thought; he had been a pilot, a repairman, a hacker, and an engineer, but an
agent of the Shadow Broker? It was hard to ignore the childish voice inside him
jumping up and down at being a secret agent working for one of the most
mysterious organizations in the galaxy.
Finn set Billy down by the Gradisian, the old quarian
fighter he had bought when he left Omega for J-27.Kyra had used some of the
Shadow Broker’s resources to upgrade the ship into a truly impressive fighter
with top-of-the-line armor plating and shield generators, some truly impressive
cutting-edge weaponry, and a more compact and powerful mass effect drive. He
had flown it a few times already; it was easily a match for Billy, though it
was missing that one thing that made the prototype Cerberus ship truly special.
“A shame you can’t upload onto the Gradisian.” Finn told
Billy. “I can only imagine how much trouble we could cause together in her.”
“Liara is researching the storage cells in this ship. If she
can figure out how Glaxe managed to lock me into this ship’s databanks, I might
yet be able to leave this prison of mine. I might even be able to move into one
of the geth platforms Liara has recovered.”
Something in Billy’s tone caught Finn’s ear. “I kinda
thought you’d be glad to be able to move around on your own.”
“Perhaps I’ve gotten used to this ship. The idea of being
compressed into a moving platform is, quite frankly, unappealing. Besides;
without this ship, we wouldn’t be able to converse as freely.”
“Ah.” Finn nodded. Billy was speaking of the neural
interface; he and Finn had spoken quite frequently in the recreation of Rannoch.
The interface was integrated into the Cerberus vessel; they’d have to tear the
ship apart to remove it, and there was no telling if it could be integrated
into the Gradisian.
Still, Finn was glad Billy valued their conversations; Finn
certainly did. “Well, maybe it’s all for the best, then. After all, the
Gradisian can’t cloak yet anyway.”
There was a slight tone of relief in Billy’s voice as he
said, “Indeed. Landing procedures are complete; are you departing?”
“Yeah.” Finn told him. “Don’t want to keep Javik waiting.”
Billy chuckled. “Any longer, anyway. Talk to you later,
As the neural interface retracted, Finn let out a sigh. It
didn’t hurt, not anymore; Billy had reinforced the original port he had installed
in Finn so that connecting was nearly seamless. It still left him feeling a bit
drained when disconnecting, though.
Billy’s hatch opened, only to reveal the pale, maroon-tinged
face of Kyra’Shor Nar Shepard. The sight of his girlfriend still made Finn’s
heart make a leap for his throat. Her gentle, beautiful face, her stark black
hair, and her luminescent eyes often followed him into his dreams. Even when
she was clearly annoyed, she still managed to look unbearably pretty in her
grease-smeared sleeveless shirt and denim overalls.
“About time you
dragged your lazy ass back here.” She told him as she helped him out of Billy.
“Javik’s been stomping around like a man possessed. Would it hurt you to be on
Her eyes widened as he pulled her close and kissed her. She
started to pull away for a moment before giving in and wrapping her arms around
When their lips separated, she stared at him for a moment
before asking breathlessly, “What was that for?”
“An apology.” Finn told her truthfully. “You were right; I
was just being stupid … y’know, on the Ulasomorf. If I had listened to you
instead of being a pig-headed jerk, you wouldn’t have had to spend all evening
fixing the sensor array.”
His apology seemed to take her by surprise. Looking a bit embarrassed,
she fidgeted with his hands and said, “I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean to snap at
you like that. I’ve just been so stressed with the upgrades to the Ulasomorf
and the Gradisian, and Katt keeps trying to pull me into helping her with the
cloaking generator …”
She sighed and smiled at him, her soft hand rubbing his
cheek. “I’ll forgive you if you forgive me, sweetie. Deal?”
“As you wish, milady.” Finn took her hand and kissed it
gently, making her giggle and blush.
Squeezing his hand, she said, “Meet me for lunch after
Javik’s finished running you through the ringer?”
“Depends. What are they serving in medical?” Finn told her,
making her laugh again.
As they kissed again, Finn found himself savoring the
ever-present taste of blackberries on Kyra’s lips. He wondered briefly if it
was her lipstick, or simply natural.
After they separated, they stared at each other for a moment.
Kyra seemed to be waiting for him to say something; Finn wished he knew what it
“Well.” He told her eventually, “I’d better get moving. See
“Later, sweetie.” She gave him a final kiss on the cheek
before slipping around him to get to Billy.
Finn stared at her for a long moment. How had someone like
him ended up with a wonderful woman like her after all of the mistakes he had
made in his life? If there was some deity keeping karmatic score, Finn couldn’t
help but feel that the numbers had gotten mixed up at some point.
Kyra glanced up at him, catching his stare. Smiling, she
said, “As much as I like being admired, I’m not kidding about Javik. You’d
better get moving, Finn.”
His cheeks feeling hot, Finn nodded and said, “Right. I’ll
just … right.”
As he walked off, he caught a hint of a giggle behind him.
Resisting the urge to turn, he headed for the nearest lift.
The Amonjana was a massive ship, though deceptively so; when
fully extended, the web of corridors and passages allowed the ocean to run
through parts of the ship, enabling the ship to naturally diffuse the engine
heat without harming the aquatic life of trident. It also gave the people
living on the ship many windows that looked out into the ocean, a truly
wondrous sight. Trident had a thriving underwater ecosystem that supported
everything from the tiny mirmba shrimp to the massive whale-like leviathans.
Finn and Kyra often went walking around the station to admire the ocean life.
The lift was actually a small pod designed to link to other
parts of the ship. Finn stared out of the windows as a school of bright red
fish swam around him, seemingly undisturbed by the pod’s presence.
As the pod slid between the numerous tunnels of the ship,
Finn caught a glimpse of Darsan walking towards the kitchen facilities. Some
may think it odd to recognize a specific elcor with just a passing glance, but
some hadn’t encountered an elcor with a love of fine clothing and ostentatious hats.
On that occasion, Darsan was wearing his usual wide-brim red velvet pimp hat
with leopard-skin band and a jaunty blue feather.
Finn smiled, thinking back to the first time he had seen
Darsan in that hat; cornered by the Blue Suns, Finn, Jake, and Mannon were as
good as dead until Darsan appeared from nowhere and saved their bacon; the
armor-mounted weapons had torn the Mercs to shreds, but it was that hat that
stuck in Finn’s mind more than anything.
Darsan wasn’t alone either; Eri and Xyn were walking beside him.
Eri was a turian Finn had met during his first stay on Omega; together, they
managed to drain one of the Blue Suns bank accounts and escape, though not
without losing the other two members of their little gang. He was quick with a
gun, but even quicker with a joke.
Xyn was another of Finn’s old friends, but whereas Finn and
Eri had been partners in crime, Xyn and Finn had aspired to something more. Xyn
was a scaal, a humanoid plant-based race known together with the flying glin
and the subterranean trusk as Neukaraans. Her tall, slender form was the very
epitome of grace. Beauty shone through every inch of her smooth dark skin and
her long green hair as she laughed along with Eri, her blue eyes seeming to
glow in the dim lighting of the corridor.
Finn couldn’t help but sigh; he and Xyn had been close once.
After rescuing her from the fire that took the life of her bond mate, he had
stayed by her side when her own people had given her up for dead. They quickly
grew close … a little too quickly. His insecurities and worries that she was
somehow transposing him over her former mate rather than loving him for who he
was led Finn to leave Xyn and New Elysia.
Seeing her laughing and talking with Eri and Darsan
certainly made it look like he had made the right choice. Of course, he
couldn’t help but feel a bit guilty at abandoning her, especially after she
kidnapped him and Kyra while under the influence of an overabundance of Nectar,
an emotion-amplifying drug that caused her to nearly kill the both of them in a
fit of jealous rage and loneliness.
Eri noticed Finn through the window and gave him a wave.
Finn waved at his friends as he passed, a wave of nostalgia passing over him
when he thought about everything they had gone through, only a scant few months
ago. It was hard to believe so many things had changed.
As the pod docked with the aft of the Amonjana, Finn shook
his head. He’d need a clear head for Javik’s training; the last of the
Protheans always seemed to know when his thoughts wandered, and never hesitated
to take advantage of it, much to Finn’s chagrin.
The aft of the ship held most of the Shadow Broker’s
weaponry; jokingly referred to by the crew as ‘The Forge’. The quartermaster
was a relentlessly cheery red-haired woman named Anna Muleen, but everyone just
referred to her as ‘little sis’, partly because of her friendly nature and
partly because she was just under four feet tall.
“Hey, hun.” She said as Finn approached her desk. “Javik’s
waiting for you in chamber seven.”
She held out a rifle. “Here; just got ‘em in. Completely
energy-based rapid-fire combat rifle; they call it the C-Brace.”
“The Geruda Corp’s been busy lately, haven’t they?” Finn
asked, hefting the surprisingly light rifle. It almost felt like a toy in his hands.
It certainly had an impressive look to it, but he couldn’t shake the feeling
that it would shatter if he dropped it.
Javik was waiting for him when he entered chamber seven. The
chambers were large holo-rooms programmed with a wide array of combat scenarios
(and more than one vacation Vista).As soon as the doors closed behind Finn,
they promptly vanished, leaving the two of them in a wide grassy area with a
few clusters of prefabricated colony ‘drop-boxes’. Ancient Prothean spires
jutted out of the earth and dense wildlife in the distance, a reminder of the
race that had last colonized the planet.
“You are late. Again.” Javik said flatly.
Normally, Finn would’ve rattled off some carefree response,
but to be honest, Javik kinda scared him. It wasn’t his appearance; the
four-eyed Prothean was hardly the strangest sapient Finn had ever encountered,
though he was undoubtedly one of the most intimidating. Javik was a warrior
from another age … two other ages, in fact. He had survived the Reapers twice,
and from how hard he drilled his military training into Finn, it was clear that
he intended to go for three.
That wasn’t the only thing that bothered Finn; he didn’t
know much about Protheans, but Finn could swear that Javik was psychic.
Whatever excuse he used, Javik seemed to see through it almost immediately.
Whenever he tried to lie about where he was, or what he had been doing, Javik
corrected him almost immediately, and that was downright unnerving.
Javik took Finn’s rifle and examined it for a moment before
nodding and tossing it back. “Begin!”
A shuttle marked with what Finn recognized as Cerberus’s
logo zoomed overhead to the far side of the settlement. Finn counted six
soldiers and an engineer leaving the shuttle before it zoomed off again.
Finn rushed forward, careful to stay close to crates and
other areas that could provide cover. Fortunately, his approach was not
noticed; the soldiers were out on the open and exposed.
Finn poked his head over the crate he was currently behind,
and fired a spray of energy bullets at the engineer and the two nearest soldiers.
Unfortunately, his aim was off, and not a single shot found its mark. The
soldiers leapt behind the nearest cover; unfortunately for some of the
soldiers, that cover included several small canisters of thermal capacitance gel.
Normally used to power small machinery, thermal gel was extremely combustible.
Finn activated his omni-tool and sent a burst of fire flying through the air
and directly into the pile of canisters, igniting them in a fireball that
engulfed all the soldiers and sent the remaining crates and non-combustible
canisters flying in all directions. After the explosion, Finn poked his head
over his crate, only to find the engineer’s arm sticking out from beneath part
of the pre-fabricated unit that had collapsed.
“Ha!” Finn said, raising his rifle in victory. “Record
Javik let out sigh and shook his head. “Impressive.”
“Really?” Finn asked. It was rare for Javik to give praise.
“Indeed. Twenty three shots in all, and you didn’t manage to
hit a single target.”
Finn’s face fell. “Well … I stopped them, didn’t I?”
Javik gave him an icy glare. “Your engineering skills may be
on par with Shepard’s, but like him, you must be a soldier as well as an
engineer if you intend to stand against Cerberus. If you spent half as much
time training here as you did flying through the stars with that machine-”
The entrance to the training chamber slid open, revealing a
woman in blue combat armor. Her feminine body structure was similar to that of
a turian, but her face and hair were more similar to that of a human.
Her name was Jan'Ce. Finn still knew very little about her,
other than that she had been created from the combined DNA of a human and a
turian, something he had thought impossible. Then again, the same had been said
of humans and quarians before omni-genetic conversion had been discovered.
She approached Javik. “You finished putting him through his
“We have scarcely begun.” Javik told her. Finn noticed an
almost imperceptible softening of the Prothean’s voice as he spoke to what was
for all intents and purposes his youngest daughter.“His lack of skill could be
described as legendary at this point.”
There was laughter in her eyes as she turned to Finn. “Well,
as much as I hate to take him away from training he desperately needs, Liara
asked me to bring him to her.”
Javik snorted. “Take him. We’ll continue our training
“Tomorrow?” Finn asked. “But I’m supposed to-”
“Tomorrow and the next day. I’m tripling your combat
training until you learn to hit your target.”
Finn suppressed an urge to groan as Jan led him out of the
“Now, Finn.” She said teasingly as she started walking. “It’s
all for the good of the galaxy.”
“Fat lot of good that does me if he ends up shooting me.”