As soon as John heard Raven's message he started heading for the roof. "HEY OCARA!" He yelled, "I think your long gun and my launcher'll do best on the roof." I hope that Sandy won't get me killed.
Santius grabbed his gun and looked upwards, as if expecting a miracle to come along. Perhaps tell him that he's become famous and has screaming fans waiting for him at the Citadel.
Bah, he thought as he made his way to... anywhere he felt needed defense. I just hope John won't get me killed.
Ocara was already sprinting back to his room by the time he heard Athol shout after him and a couple moments later he was running back to join him, folded up Nag in his hand. Sitting pretty while a pissed off Krogan and god knows who else were after them wasn't what Ocara would have preferred to have done, but orders were orders. Besides, sentry duty wasn't the worst thing in the world, as long as you had good company.
'John and Santius... Hmm'
On hearing that Aegis would soon be under attack, Ethan considered his ship, if they were targeting Aegis members and could mount an assault sufficient to warrant Verahl battening down his hatches then it was not unreasonable to assume the Lienne could become a target. He brought up his omni tool and linked to the security systems. He brought up a security program he had installed into the ship. If anyone broke into the ship it would follow the automatic takeoff procedures and leave atmosphere, then open the doors but only by about a foot. It would not be a pleasant death.
"Alright, I'm heading to the Elixer." he announced to no one in particular. Before making his way up to the bar. He figured that anyone going after Aegis would probably make an assault on their public face.
He started moving tables and chairs to block the doors and most of windows. It wasn't the perfect barricade, a Krogan with sufficient motive and a few uninterrupted minutes could break through, but it was a fine first line of defense. Ethan then started moving the remaining tables to make a passage where they could move down it in cover back into the Aegis base if things got too heavy. There weren't enough tables remaining for total cover, but it should hold off the worst of it.
Ethan then took position behind the bar and extended his rifle. He had found a position that gave him a good view of street, and then he poured himself a drink (non-alcoholic) found some pretzels behind the bar, and waited.
John got to the roof, and surveying the area though the optical enhancers in his helmet. Although he didn't spot any snipers, he still stayed low just in case. Setting himself so he could see the main approach to Aegis/Elixr, he brought out his new ML-77 to make sure it was in operating condition.
Satisfied it was working, he lent it against a wall and pulled out his rifle. Scanning the street below for suspicious movement, he began to patrol the roof.
Terina saw Paladin head to the bar. He had a good strategy, she thought. But it was dangerous as well. If he got outnumbered, there would be nowhere to back up fast enough. She made her decision, standing up and heading to the bar shortly after he did. Once she made it there, she stood beside him, taking out her shotgun without a word. If his rifle didn't cut down the enemies breaking in, hopefully her shotgun would.
Paladin poured Terina a drink, the same Arnold Palmer he was drinking and walked it over to where she was holding position. Where he grabbed a chair, which he put behind the bar where he had taken position, he angled it in such a way that if things got hairy, he could quickly get out of the chair and into better cover or out of the Elixer, but still sit comfortably until then.
Paladin kept his eyes on the street as he started talking. "Well Terina, no point sitting here in silence while we wait for something to happen. We might as well chat. So... where are you from?"
"I came here from Illium. What about you?" She took the drink, sitting next to him in a separate chair.
"Illium huh, I've been there myself, beautiful planet. Anyway, I grew up on a ranch in a colony near the traverse by the name of 'Arcadia'."
"Colonist, hmm? Bit of a change from colonist to merc."
"Well, the first half's not that complicated, I grew up hearing stories about my great-great grandfather who served in World War two back on Earth, and my Grandfather who served during the first contact wars. And I heard about the Alliance soldiers who saved the colonies in the terminus, most of it was propaganda, but I still enlisted at 17, and since I was a biotic, they were more than happy to have me. But How I went from Alliance to merc, that's a different story, 's how I got my nickname too."
"Sounds like an intereating story. Probably moreso than mine."
"Hell, don't sell yourself short like that, what's your story?"
"I grew up on the dark side of Illium. Got into the criminal trade young, and wasn't much older when I became a gang member. After 50 years, I took over entirely, running the gang. And then it all went downhill."
Paladin and Terina conversation
"Things don't just go from zero to fucked for no reason, what happened?"
"It was all my fault. We were sent after a target. 30 years, I never lost anyone on my crew. That all changed after this mission. We were to go into the target building, plant a bomb, then leave. During the afterhours of the business, when the target would be checking her records, it would go off. That should have been a cakewalk."
"So what went wrong?"
"My job was to plant the bomb and set the timer. The other 4 with me were to keep guard, 'silencing' any witnesses. But the bomb went off prematurely."
"that doesn't sound like it was your fault, some bombs are faulty, hell we lost a few kids in basic to a grenade with a bad detonator."
"I was the only survivor in the group...and I hardly got out unscathed. We failed to kill the target, and I lost 3 good friends in the blast. The other, the one closest to me...was more than merely a friend."
"that's rough, I know what it's like to lose friends in action, and people you care about." Paladins voice wavered when he considered Lienne again.
"After that, we couldn't get any more jobs. Our reputation was wrecked, just like the building. I tried for 9 years, then gave up and left to start over here. Well, I've told you my story. Let's hear yours. 'Paladin'?"
"Yeah, my 'daughter' gave me the name"
"You have a daughter?"
"Well, sort of, back when I flew with the Corsairs, we were tracking down a group of Asari terrorists, they believed that since Asari were the only species born with biotic abilities, they were the only ones who deserved them. We had gone through a bunch of skirmishes, they picked us off, but we managed to take out most of the organization. Eventually only the leader was left. We tracked her to a small Asari colony where she had hidden out with her family, her sister and niece. Well, she struggled as we tried to take her into custody and we were forced to shoot her. We brought the family onto our ship, my CO needed someody to question, see if there were any hold outs. When I came later to check on them, I found my CO over the Asari woman with his pants around his ankles and a bullet in her brain, he had raped her, when she struggled, he shot her, and it looked like he was heading for the little girl next."
"I hope you killed that bastard. No one deserves that. Not even the family of terrorists."
"they were innocent in the whole thing as far as we knew, worst they could have done was harboring a fugitive, and they may not have even known that much. Anyway, I lost it, shot him and grabbed the girl, I stole a shuttle and flew out of there. "She called me her 'Knight in shining armor' I said I was a regular Paladin, and the name stuck. I raised Ashala for almost a decade as my own little girl."
"If you don't mind me asking, what happened to her?"
"While I was on Ilium I got a job as a bodyguard for a diplomat for the Asari Embassy, Quitana T'Roo. She was sterile, a fact she wasn't exactly proud of, and she just fell in love with Ashala. As much as it hurt me to let her go, I knew that drifting across the galaxy with a gun was hardly the lifestyle for a little girl, so when we parted ways, Quitana adopted her. Ashala's living on the Citadel now, working with the Asari Embassy, she still keeps in touch, in fact I got a letter from her a little while ago." Paladin brought up the video message he had watched earlier and showed it to Terina.
She watched it, smiling softly. "You did the right thing, for everyone involved."
"Yeah, I keep telling myself that, still miss her though."
"Makes me think, what would have happened if my partner had lived."
"Our lifestyles aren't exactly safe, for us or those close to us. People die, and we aren't helping anyone by asking 'what could have been', as much as we might want to know."
"But she didn't die. At least, not right away. Maybe it would have been easier if she had."
"You can't keep beating yourself up, I lost someone I loved too, I almost killed myself afterwards, it took me months to reach a point where I wasn't constantly drunk. Hell it's been two years and I still think about her. I keep going because I know she would want me to, to help people, to live."
"Did you deliver the finishing blow on her, Paladin."
"I didn't get the chance, she was a Quarian, Lienne, I had helped defend a colony from "corporate interests" and they hired a bounty hunter to go after me, a real sadistic bastard named Remus. After he beat out the information on my whereabouts, he'd send me the vids of him torturing and murdering people. Eventually I put Lienne on a ship heading for the Flotilla, I thought she'd be safe there... But Remus intercepted the ship, He cut on her, bad, ripping through her environment suit, 'death by a thousand cuts'. And then he sent me the vid..."
"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked you about it."
"No, it's alright, I got the bastard back. I hunted him down, I found him in a derelict cargo ship a few AU away from where I left Lienne, when I saw him, I lost my mind, literally, I blacked out, next thing I remember, the ship was a wreck around us, Remus had the knife he killed Lienne with sticking out of his skull, my biotic implant had overloaded, almost melted."
"I suppose we've had it rough in different ways. You had to watch her die without being able to do anything about it, and I had to deliver a mercy kill to my lover."
"Best we can do is keep moving" Paladin was silent after that, he didn't want to talk anymore.
She nodded, leaning back and holding her shotgun close by.
"Well, me and Keith got the loading area secure," Brooks said as he approached the bar. "The doors are all barricaded, systems on lockdown so over-ride access will be impossible, and we set up a small motion based security system up in there so we'd know if anyone's sneaking around in there."
He was almost at the counter before a loud banging could be heard on the outside of the door. Reflexively, Brooks reached for his rifle, and drew his aim to the main doors. He looked over and saw Paladin using the bar for cover and training his rifle on it as well, and Terina with her shotgun readied. Another banging was heard as Brooks steadied himself.
"Who is it?" Paladin yelled towards the door, as Brooks slowly moved forward towards it.
"I can't believe this," Haley said to herself from behind the door as she stopped banging.
"It's Saint god damn Nick!" she yelled as she rolled her eyes. "And I'm here with my little elf helper!"
She leaned her shoulder against the wall nearby the door as she waited for the reply. As she did, she let off a loud, annoyed sigh.
"We get an emergency call for security, and this is what we get?" Haley said. "I swear, someone better be dead in there or something, I am already fed up with this bullshit."
Triven stood there as he looked at confused at Haley, as if not exactly following what she was saying.
"What is it Tri? You're not as pissed as I am over this?"
"What exactly is an elf?"
Before Haley could start up again, the doors opened. One of the Aegis mercenaries ducked under the legs of one of the tables as he made his way outside.
"Oh, it's one of you," Haley said as she looked over his armour. "Just what the hell are you doing?"
"We're under threat, you didn't hear?"
Haley gave him a blank stare as she heard this, before clenching her fist.
"Great, you get in a shitstorm, we get called in to help clean it up. Fanfuckingtastic." Haley said as she pushed away from the wall. "Now, are you assholes going to let us in or not?"
"Depends, is anyone else with you?" Paladin asked as his view glanced from Haley to Triven.
"No, just me and my little elf friend here, the bats should be showing up later though, Knox and Bull as well I think," Haley said as she started impatiently tapping her foot.
"The hell do you mean bats?"
Haley sighed as she rolled her head, getting more and more annoyed with the conversation as it went on.
"You know, bats. Batarians? There's a group of them that work here. Almost always with each other as well. Hence why we call them the bats. It's like a family of them or something."
Triven raised his hand to his face and sighed as he looked to the ground.
"Only she calls them that," he muttered.
"Got it, then you two get in," Paladin said as he stepped back through the door, and into the club. He drew his pistol as he did, and kept it aimed at the two of them.
Haley continued to mutter to herself as she ducked her head under the barricade. She put no subtlety into her actions as she scratched her eye with her middle finger, as Triven followed them in. She then turned her gaze from Paladin to the bar, where she saw another human with his rifle drawn, and an Asari with a shotgun.
"Paranoid much?" Haley mumbled to herself as Paladin closed up the barricade behind them.
"Boss, you expecting friendlies?" Paladin said into his Comms as he redrew his pistol and turned back to the two of them. "We've got a woman and a..."
"He was the one that demanded they be called in!" Oleene said as she walked up behind Paladin. "They're my guards, and I can damn well vouch for them if that's what you need."
The mercenaries lowered their weapons as Oleene approached. Haley snickered as she watched. Even they were intimidated by her boss.
"Fantastic, Paladin, pleasure to meet you," he said as he turned back to Haley and Triven, extending his hand.
"Why, it's a pleasure to meet you Paladin! You've been so courteous to us so far, how can we thank you for your hospitality?" Haley sarcastically retorted, ignoring his outstretched hand. "Now, why don't you pour me a drink to make it up to me, and then leave me the hell alone?"
Knox was woken from a deep sleep by a shrill beeping from his Omni-Tool.
"Dammit...this was supposed to be my day off," He grumbled under his breath "What could be so Earth-shatteringly important that needs me too?"
His annoyance was cut short as he actally read the message on there, about the whole place being on lockdown and everyone needed at the bar.
He slapped on his normal uniform, and walked to Elixer while flicking his lighter on and off and mumbling under his breath about being woken up. He didn't smoke, but it was a nervous habit he picked up back on Earth.
He eventually got to the doors of the bar and tried to get in...locked.
"Oh great, this is JUST what I fucking needed... Hey! It's Knox!" He pounds on the door "Open up, I got the call!"
"Well, madame, why don't you go fuck yourself."
Almost as soon as he said so, another banging against rung out against his barricade. Paladin turned to Oleene, "You expecting anybody else?" as he moved to the barricade, unfolding his pistol, and standing against it, ready to movie it out of the way, either to shoot a few shots through or let whoever was on the other end through.
"It wouldn't be much of a security force if only had four guards," Oleene hissed as her eyes narrowed on Paladin.
"well, one can never be sure, and I'd rather not see someone put a bullet in your lovely in-the-line-of-fire face because I slacked keeping everyone safe." Paladin returned, while moving the Barricade to allow Knox through.
Knox walks through the door as it opens, grumbling about his lost day when he sees everyone in the room is armed.
"Uh...I miss something important?" He asked flicking his lighter one more time before pocketing it.
John swore when he heard the chatter about the arrival of the club guards. "Sorry about the lack of heads up on the meat shields," he commed. "I can't cover the whole roof by myself. On that note has anyone seen Ocara? I thought he was gonna join me up here." Swearing loudly, he walked back to cover the front of Elixr, "Fucking turians!"
"Hey! Fuck you man, needed to get my armor on" said the Turian defensively as he got to the roof, taking his sniper rifle from the holster on his back as he did so, while activating the IR mode of his eye with a quick tap on his left temple. A quick scan revealed nothing alarming, but Ocara knew that he would have to remain vigilant for as long as he could, for Meer was no pushover and from the sounds of it, neither were his friends.
And so, the Turian began to patrol along the edge of the Elixr roof, periodically flicking the IR function in his eye on and off so he could conserve battery, something told Ocara he'd need it, something also told Ocara that it would be a very long day.
"Uh...I miss something important?"
"Oh, nothing too much, some asshole is coming with his goons to kill everyone in the building, and now I'm getting chewed out for being cautious."
Ethan walked back into the fortified position he had taken earlier behind the bar after he moved the tables back into position to barricade the door.
"Ah hell, as long as nobody get's shot, I'm not going to hold any hard feelings."
Within the hour, all of the guards and mercenaries involved with Aegis had reported in, except for Rook and Esten. In that time though, the Elixir had gone from a club to a fortress. All of the doors and entries had either been barricaded with primitive alarms and traps set up around them. Getting into the club would be a difficult task, and going through undetected would be impossible. In addition to the barriers preventing entry, there were two shifts of guard duty created to monitor the base at all times. Three were to man the roof with rifles and rockets. Their task would be to eliminate any approaching hostiles from the streets, and to repel any craft that attempted a landing. Another four were left to protect the main doors to the club floor. They had been provided with extra close range weapons and an extra Shredder to rip apart whatever came through the doors. Lux had also managed to wire explosives around the ground floor of the club, hidden under tables and behind counters. The charges were powerful enough to clear the floor of anything standing, but still not strong enough to cause major structural damage to the building. These explosives were to be used as the final line of defence though, and the club was to be defended at all costs. After that, they'd be forced to withdraw back into the halls of the base, all the way down from the barracks to the clinic. The reminder sent a chill down Verahl's back.
As he rolled over the ideas on what to do next, he received a message from Yossar. He opened his comm's channel to the TUrian, wanting hear about his progress.
"Status update," Verahl demanded sternly, the time for formalities long since passing.
"The militia's been armed. Basic training, weaponry, and equipment has also been provided, at least from what can be spared," Yossar responded. "They're only lightly armed though, and only a few of them have any form of armour. I was able to find a few vests, and some shield units for each of them, but they'll only manage to take a couple rounds each."
"What about training?"
"Each knows how to handle and maintain what they've been given. Most have some experience with a weapon as well, but most are limited to pistols and SMGs. They'll need some more time in order to get experience with what they're handling.
"Understood," Verahl said as he paused for a moment to consider what to do with them. "Have half relieve those stationed on duty on the floor and roof. The rest are to continue practice."
"Will do sir," Yossar said as he closed the channel.
Verahl sighed as he removed his headpiece. He placed it lightly on the desk before leaning back in his chair. He wasn't certain on what Aegis's next move should be. He wanted above all else to smply storm out of the club and onto the streets. He wanted to place on his armour, and hunt Meer and his forces down like rabid Varren. He knew it'd be a waste though. Without proper intelligence, it'd be nothing more than a wild chase. He knew though that Meer was either up to one of three things. He had either withdrawn from Aegis territory, back to wherever he had come from to regroup and rearm. Or, he had set up another ambush or traps somewhere, and was waiting for Verahl, or someone else from the company to unknowingly spring it. The final possibility was that Meer was preparing for an all-out offensive, but Verahl knew to give a very low chance on that. If he had been capable, he'd have already done so, or perhaps even have opened with an assault. He would still need to wait though for more information before he could make his move. He refused to put another company member in jeopardy without fully knowing their risks. That meant that he'd need to wait until his contacts could get back to him with current information. That meant it'd be an uncertain, and very aggravating wait.
John paced the roof nervously, his fingers tapping against his rifle. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, I hate waiting like this" he muttered. So far he hadn't seen anything overly suspicious since he'd started his patrol, but that almost made it worse.
"Fuck I hate waiting like this," he said for the umpteenth time to no one in particular. What he really wanted was a smoke, but he'd run out awhile ago and the rest were in his bunk downstairs. Stopping for a moment to lift his helmet and rub his face, he sighed. "What I wouldn't give for a fuckin' kee of B.C. bud."
Terina looked over at Paladin. "What do you think the chances of this Meer guy are of attacking through the front door and trying to kill another member of this...group?"
Paladin looked over at Terina, he had been considering the exact same thing, and he figured he might as well share his conclusions.
"The way I figure it, he's got no choice. I made a point of looking around the place when I first showed up. And they've got three ways of getting in, if they've got a ship, they're going to hit the roof, if they've got heavy machinery, they're going to come into through the loading dock."
Paladin took another swig of this drink he had earlier, then resumed speaking.
"But, thinking about this bastards MO, he's going to make a show out of this, he'll want everyone to see him shoot his way through and walk out, and that means he'll come in through the street, right through here."
Paladin felt his hands tighten unconsciously against the grip of his rifle and his jaw tense. Thinking of the two girls the Krogan had shot in cold blood.
"And when he does, we'll make sure the murderous son of a bitch doesn't get a step farther."
"That is a good plan. I hope we don't have to make a sacrifice to do it, however. Sacrifices shouldn't be necessary for justice."
Sal sat on the small folding chair she had brought on roof tapping her foot anxiously. She hated knowing someone was going to attack but not when. Her people weren't meant for open warfare, a battle of attrition was not something she was really trained for. Sal checked the scope on her rifle for what must have been the third time in the past fifteen minutes.
You need to calm your self Sal'rena. You can wait for him to make his move you just have to be patient. She thought to her self as she stood from the chair and started to make another circuit around the rooftop.
"Shut up John, please shut up. You haven't stopped bitching since I started my shift" said an exasperated Ocara from his position lying on the floor of the roof, rapidly doing crunches to pass the time and distract him from his companions constant complaining. Ocara hated being trapped in the club as much as everyone else in the company, but he knew constantly complaining wouldn't help anything.
Though he did admit, he could go for a Human cigarette right about now.
"Look at Sal, your bored aren't you? You aren't complaining though, John could learn something from you"
"Sorry 'bout that" John sighed, "I'm just not a very patient person." Rubbing his face again, he continued patrolling. "Say Ocara," he said as he approached the turian. "You're heading down in a bit aren't you? Could you do me a huge favor and grab me another pack of cigarillos? They're in a tin beside my bunk."
The elevator doors opened up to the roof. Triven stepped out and quickly turned his glance to the three mercenaries up here. The Turian was the only one he had known by name of the lot of them. He had seen the human in the club a few times, and the Quarian perhaps once passing through.
Can't bust their asses this time for having weapons up here.
"I'm to relieve one of you," he said as the doors finally closed behind him, and the elevator descended back down into the building. "No one specified who, so take your pick."
"Look at Sal, your bored aren't you? You aren't complaining though, John could learn something from you" Sal smiled at the comment, he was right John complained a lot and it could be attributing to her nerves.
"Yeah, board might be one way to put it." She admitted sitting on her chair again. "I'm not used to this waiting for the enemy to attack thing. Bad view from a snipers point I know but hey what are you gonna do?" She said with a shrug.
She turned when Triven stepped onto the roof "I'm to relieve one of you, no one specified who, so take your pick." She thought about leaving for a minute but decided against it. "I'm good for a while longer, if either of you wanna go down fora few hours you can."
"You disappear for hours to get groceries," Lux grunted at Dray as he paced back and forth in front of the counter before stopping and slamming his fists down on the edge. "And you neglect to get a single damn slice of inian steak?! Exactly how long have you been working here Dray?!"
Dray was bent slightly over, trying to block Lux from his sight. He was cradling the back of his head with his hands. As the Krogan continued to yell at him, his fingers dug deeper and deeper, as he felt the pain of the scratches being scrapped along his skull.
"I, I forgot," he blurted between gasps of shallow breaths. "I, I heard Verahl and, and I had to get here. And, I had, I had, forgot. And I, I..."
His voice trailed off, his speech dribbling into little more than moans. He knew what he needed to get. He had made the list after all. It had everything he needed to get on it, including the inian steak that Lux loved.
"What is your exact fucking purpose here Dray?" Lux yelled. "I give you some extra credits, every, single time you go out for this sole reason, and yet you can't even get that right! I'm starting to understand Mayli's expectations for you!"
Dray now slid behind the counter of the kitchen between him and Lux. His moans were even more stiffled by his breathing. His fingers were now leaving visible marks from where they were being driven in.
Lux stared down on him for a minute before turning off and walking away from the kitchen. He still felt his rage coursing through him though. The uselessness he felt of himself of being trapped in the base, waiting for a slaughter one way or another was enough to set his mind into a storm.
"Fucking useless!" he yelled once more as he passed by the couches of the common room, and down the hall that the barracks were attached to.
"I'm to relieve one of you, no one specified who, so take your pick."
"I'll stay," John said as Triven spoke. "I'm far too twitchy to be stuck inside right now."
Getting bored of pacing, he walked back to where Sal was sitting. Smart girl he thought. Wish I'd remembered to bring a chair. "Hi" he said, "I don't think we were properly introduced, I'm John. So what brings you to the ass end of the galaxy?"