Mass Effect: Corsair
The moon of Franklin isn’t a quiet posting for the Systems Alliance ships and fighters assigned there to protect the neighboring Alliance world of Watson, but it’s a different story for the crew of the Javelin interplanetary missile siloes sited there. Beyond splashing the occasional very, very confident (and stupid) pirate or warlord frigate, they have little to do. So for the Kowloon-class modular conveyor MSV Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus to set down on that moon to deliver a cargo of recreational game systems and food less bland than the standard rations was not suspicious. Any passing spies should have been more suspicious, however, because it was really an excuse for the crew of the Pompeius to meet with General Franklin Mendel, in charge of all Marine special forces assignments in the Terminus systems.
General Mendel is tall, tough and fit, still looking like the special forces operator he was despite his graying and thinning hair. He had an exceptional career, dating back to the First Contact war. He had fought Batarian terrorists and Geth after the battle of the Citadel, and was famous for both his skill as a commander and a combatant. His office is simply furnished, though he’d had chairs brought in for the Pompeius team (except Blasto, who had not been invited). A digital picture frame on his desk cycles through a series of images of the general, of a much younger Mendel with a trio of human mercenaries on the eve of the First Contact war, of Mendel on Arcturus station, of Mendel with his son on Terra Nova. One wall is covered in a large electronic map of the Terminus sytems and the Attican Traverse.
“Please, be seated. It’s good to see you again, Sean” General Mendel begins. He had fought with Sean in several anti-piracy actions, and considered him a friend.
“I thought I’d check in with your team before we begin operations in earnest, make sure that Sean doesn’t charge headlong into too many diplomatic incidents.” Mendel laughs, in truth he trusted Sean’s judgment or he’d never have given him such an independent command. “Any surviving Geth from the battle of the Citadel are lying low; still, standing orders are to drop everything and destroy them if you encounter any. Tensions in the Terminus Systems and the Attican Traverse became dangerously high after the destruction of the SSV Normandy death of Commander Shepard, and show no signs of lessening even after more than a year.” He glances over at the map of the Terminus sytems, focusing on the Amada system. “Obviously the Batarians were behind Commander Shepard’s death, if you ask me; they’d wanted him dead ever since the Skyllian Blitz.” General Mendel despised Batarians, not unlikely from a soldier who’d spent most of his career fighting Batarians. “But as much as I’d like to cause trouble for the Batarians, it’s actually the Geth I have to talk to you about.”
Soume looks uncomfortable to be sitting in front of the General without her dress uniform; instead she wears a blue qipao, the most formal civilian clothing she owns. She's far too nervous to speak.
"Geth?" Sean repeated, crossing his arms. "I thought the Geth went back to the Veil after that big squid ship of theirs got scrapped," he responded. In truth, he'd only gotten info on the Battle of the Citadel relatively recently, and the fine details of it were quite hazy since there was quite a few differing accounts of who blew up who not to mention that prototype Geth dreadnought that looked more at home in a giant aquarium than space. The Quarians really had to be nuts if their robots could make something like that. Of course, the Battle for the Citadel was old news at this point. Commander Shepard's death was the biggest news story. First human Spectre hadn't lasted long at all. At least he managed to accomplish something before he bit it. That was a lot more than what most soldiers got to say about it.
He turned to face the rest of his crew behind him, thankful they'd left that damned Varren behind. "They were neutralized weren't they? I'm not going crazy in my old age and imagined the report am I?"
Rasha T’Lan sat stiffly in her chair, looking rather out of place. This was clearly an Alliance mission, filled with humans, human customs, and human expectations. But here she was anyway, the lone Asari in the station, one hand drifted down past the edge of her chair to scratch Blasto behind the ears, the only sign she gave that she was not merely an emotionless mannequin in the room. The varren seemed to love it, though, his mouth hanging open and his tongue lolling out, completely unaware that he hadn’t been invited or welcome here.
Still, she was a part of the team, and as such, had a right to speak. “The Geth who were part of the attack on the Citadel were neutralized. However, that does not preclude them from causing trouble elsewhere or via other means. Though you may indeed be crazy, but in this particular case, you were not imagining things.” Glancing at her wife, who had been silent thus far, she shared a small smile. “Whatever the case may be, I’m sure we can handle some Geth. What is the situation, sir?”
General Mendel nodded at Rasha. “Miss Rasha is right. There are still Geth Holdouts; small Geth outposts on outlying worlds and surviving Geth ships which were involved in attacks elsewhere than the Citadel. The politicians back home say the Eden Prime War is over, but what would they know about it? Barely a one has ever been to the Terminus systems. But that's not directly related to this misson.”
“Actually, the Geth in this particular instance are already dead, or as dead as a machine can be, anyways” Seeing some confused looks, General Mendel proceeded to explain “A lot of Geth were disabled in the main fighting of the Eden Prime War, on the Citadel and elsewhere. Many fell into the hands of the Systems Alliance or Council forces, but not all of them. Some were found by private salvage or reconstruction companies, some were picked up by smugglers or sold on the black market by officials looking for a quick profit. We’ve discovered that a research facility on Hagalaz in the Sowilo system is buying up disabled Geth” The General touched a control of his desk, and a hologram of the Terminus systems appeared above his desk, with a focus on the Hourglass Nebula and Hagalaz.
“We don’t know why and we don’t know who might be behind the facility, but it goes without saying that the Systems Alliance is not thrilled by the implications. You are to gain access to that facility by whatever means you can- stealth, firepower, deception or any other means. We can help you out with some credits if you mean to pose as clients. But if that facility is producing Geth or Geth based VIs, or is otherwise a threat to the Alliance then it’s very important that I would never officially tell you to destroy that facility.” Which was a black ops way of saying ‘destroy the facility’.
Soume listened intently, already beginning the navigation calculations to get to Hagalaz in her head.
"Research Facility?" asks Karrean, "I've heard rumors about Geth on the black market, but after the trouble they caused I'd assumed any engineer would be smart enough not to tinker with that kind of AI. I wonder if I would know any of the scientists or engineers working there." He then starts muttering rapidly under his breath the different ways he could disable locks and recipes for pocket sized explosives to take along on the mission, among other useful gadgets in his toolbox.
"Greed often stumps intellect, Karrean," replied Evie. "Even if they're really smart. I suppose it would be best to pose as buyers. With our underworld reputation, we shouldn't be hassled too much and on the off-chance the facility is innocent of this particular crime then we can just walk away. Not that I'd really mind if the bastards died, I just don't want any unnecessary risks or a blow to our reputation."
"I think our reputation won't be that badly damaged even if you get an itchy amp," Sean noted, glancing back at Evie. "Worst comes to worst, we can just say they owed us a ton of credits over gambling or something. Pretty blanket excuse for any sort of indiscriminate shooting I find," he said before realizing he was still standing next to a group of superiors. "Not that we will indiscriminately start shooting," he said quickly, with a slight cough. "Only if they're bad guys. Standard procedure. Isn't that right?" he said turning to address his assembled crew. Sean gave them a look that very clearly stated that disagreeing with him would result in cleaning out the Magnus's Eezo core with a toothbrush and be stuck eating ready made rations for the foreseeable future. It was remarkable how he had mastered the ability to convey so much in a single look.
"Sir, yes sir," replied Evie wearily. She was a little annoyed at having her suggestion discarded out-of-hand but she knew when to follow orders and didn't make anything more of it. She tried to convey these feelings to Rasha in the vain hope that she might be telepathic and was simply hiding it from her.
Rasha had to bite the inside of her cheek to keep from smiling. Of course Evie would be the one who’d be singled out for having an “itchy amp.” As eager as she was for battle though, she was a great soldier, and would never put the mission at risk. “We’ll be careful, sir.” Blasto barked in agreement, as if he could actually understand the conversation. “Ssh, sweetie,” she said very quietly, and the varren calmed under her soothing touch.
It was still odd for her to call Sean ‘sir.’ He was a fraction of her age, after all, but that’s what she got for working with humans. Now wasn’t the time for this, though, and she turned her gaze back to General Mendel. “Is there any other information you have or us sir? Or may we begin to formulate our strategy?”
“It’s possible, Karreon. If you can identify any of the scientists or engineers working there, pass the information on to us; it will help us identify who is backing the facility” General Mendel said to Karreon. “Tactics on this mission are at your team’s discretion. Not all missions will be so hands-off, though” General Mendel gave no sign that he noticed the Pompeius Team’s looks back and forth. Soume looked like she was holding in a sarcastic crack at Sean’s expense, but wasn’t willing to risk it.
"Unless you have any questions, that's all. My aide will discuss the remaining details with the team. Dismissed" he replied to Rasha.