Joughin, Benning, Euler System
Of all the layover stops an interstellar ship could make, there were worse choices than Benning. A garden world with a booming shipping industry, it was a popular stop for ships to make to resupply, pick up shipments, and look for work. Given its close proximity to Arcturus Station, there was a fairly reinforced Alliance presence and a sense of security you rarely found in the Attican Traverse. It was comforting to know that at least on Benning, nobody was going to stab you for your shoes the second you walked off of a well-lit path.
With Tyrus docked for routine maintenance and to give the team some fresh air after being cooped up on a starship for weeks, food, medical supplies, new weapons, and other necessities were being prepped to load in the turian frigate’s cargo bay. Tyrus was a beautiful ship, with pleasing hard lines, wide, narrow wings, and a long, elegant fuselage. The turians knew what they were doing when they designed ships. They would have to, being the military arm of Council Space. Humanity had quite a bit to learn from not only them, but the asari and salarians as well. However, humans were a stubborn lot who were never content to settle for silver when gold was so much sweeter. In the all-too brief time following the First Contact War, humanity exploded in influence and spread like grenade fragmentation across whatever parts of the galaxy nobody else had settled yet. The danger be damned, humans were always pioneers.
And with the spirit of exploration came conflict.
It was no secret that the various alien species in the Citadel held quite a few grudges against the impatient, pushy upstarts on the galactic scene, but no other species in the galaxy seemed to have it out for humanity quite as much as the batarians. Growing resentment over humanity’s push into the stars and impeding on areas the batarians had claimed as their own had led to numerous political battles and some real ones over colonization rights.
It was a part of the reason Tanya Carson was so fucked up.
The human woman, 28 years old and recently a decorated Systems Alliance Marine found herself moving to the other side of a walkway to steer clear of a group of batarians who were approaching from the other direction. She felt her body tense up and her breathing grow shallow and rapid; irrational signs of fear and potential panic if she didn’t keep it under wraps. She stopped at a food kiosk and closed her eyes, taking a few slow, deep breaths. She knew it was stupid to judge an entire race for the actions of a few, after all, human history was the poster child for unspeakable atrocities being committed on the one hand and selfless acts of philanthropy and kindness on the other. The three men barely spared her a glance, and even then probably because of her unusual hair style, and otherwise took no interest. However, it was impossible to shake the encroaching feeling of dread when they approached, and Tanya’s mind conjured up the images responsible for her fear.
Blonde hair, torn pink dress. Wicked, toothy smile. Flash of a blade, crimson spray of blood.
“Shit.” She said, shaking the image from her head and instead breathing through her nose. The smell of a curious mixture of food caught her attention. She opened her eyes and a dark, South-Pacific looking man with hair, nose, and eyes more resembling central-African features. It was rare to find anyone without mixed ancestry in these days; it got to the point where natural blonde and red hair was almost non-existent and coloured eyes were somewhat uncommon without cosmetic surgery. Given how the Carson family resided in England for countless centuries and followed several old traditions, Tanya was one of the small percentage people who weren’t the by-product of a United Nations orgy. The vendor looked at her, concerned.
“You okay?” he asked, blinking slowly.
“Yeah. Fine.” Tanya replied, quickly glancing over the menu. It was a curious mix of Ukrainian, Caribbean, and Indonesian with some local Benning twists, like native vegetables and meats. “How much for the perogies and jerk chicken?”
A quick beep came from her omnitool, and with a movement that was more reflex than conscious effort, Tanya’s arm was level with her chest so she could look at it. A message floated in the air in front of her.
WE FOUND WORK. MEET BACK AT THE SHIP ASAP.
“About time.” Tanya muttered to herself before pulling out a credit chit and handing it to the vendor. Despite her dismissive attitude, she found herself quietly growing excited. Nobody would have sent a message if it wasn’t something worth getting excited for.
Shortly after, Tanya arrived back at the docking area where Tyrus awaited departure. The engineer glanced at her omni-tool; a small holographic clock appeared with the time. Twenty minutes before the scheduled departure. A few of Nova’s members were supervising the loading of supply crates into the cargo hold, a task nearing completion. A bookish looking man with a receding hairline and a bit of a paunch approached her, data pad in hand. “Excuse me, miss. Are you with the crew?”
“I am.” She said, her steel-grey eyes boring into the man’s own brown corneas. “What can I do for you?”
“I have here the manifest for your frigate’s supplies. We need somebody to sign off on it.”
“That’s Roland Teirs’ duty. He’s the requisition and financial officer aboard the ship.” She looked past the supplier at an approaching figure. “And here he comes now. Ask him; he loves counting. A bit daft at most things, but numbers are definitely his thing. Isn’t that right, Roland?” she asked, knowing the last question would be all he would hear.
Roland Tiers was a comely enough man, decent enough but practically dressed with neatly kept hair, bushy eye brows, and a body that had once been rigorously trained and honed but had recently seen a bought of neglect. He certainly wasn’t soft, but he made no special effort to maintain his physique. Perhaps it was from being stuck on a ship, apathy from getting out of his line of work, or something else entirely, she could never tell. He was a talented biotic; Tanya knew that much. There was a darkness to him that he didn’t hide nearly as well as he thought, even though he was a largely amiable individual and quick to joke. She certainly didn’t judge him for it, after all, she deliberately kept to herself most of the time and most of her interactions with the others were hardly chummy affairs. It wasn’t hard to tell Tanya Carson had some demons in her own closet, and the observant would probably have made a connection to batarians, but she didn’t speak a word of it to anybody.
And it was a way she intended to keep it.
“Sure.” Roland replied cautiously, glancing at the supplier and looking back at Tanya. “Manifest?” he asked.
Tanya held her index finger and thumb together, as if holding a pen or making an ‘okay’ sign, and made an air signature in front of her face before stepping back and walking towards the cargo hold, bag of hot food in her other hand. Roland shouted at her back. “You could have signed for this, you know.”
“I know.” She called back, waving her hand dismissively. “I love to watch you work.”
“I’ll keep that in mind the next time you try to call in a favour.”
Entering the cargo hold and setting down on a cargo crate, Tanya unpacked her lunch, having intentionally picked up some extra dishes that she set to the side to let the others pick at, placing them on a separate crate like a sacrificial alter. In her brief time with the team, she was painfully aware of how the vultures liked to peck at your food when you weren’t paying attention. Liquor was also becoming something of a currency, used as bartering pieces, gambling chips, and a way to earn favour amongst the others. Without vehicles to repair, Tanya had found herself occasionally bribed to repair weapons and armour and to fit in tricky upgrades that the technologically challenged would never be able to attempt. One of her tool boxes was becoming her dedicated liquour cabinet, it would seem.
But for now, dressed in Alliance-issue trousers and boots and wearing a nicely trimmed leather jacket, Tanya was content to watch as final preparations were made before Nova left Benning and a certain excited quarian would explain what exactly she found. As the crates of cargo and supplies were secured and the empty ones removed by the supply company’s workers, Tanya noted most of Nova was still among the cargo bay. As Kasyra approached, Tanya’s gaze met the quarian’s. “So, do you want to fill us in now or up in the CIC?” she asked.
Tanya was curious about Kasyra’Tala Vas Ryushei. Much of the quarian was an enigma; mechanically inclined like most quarians, but she carried herself in the matter of an experienced soldier, or mercenary. She never spoke of her past, at least not to Tanya, and the fact she was with Jeanna, a former Alliance Marine like herself, when they met the rest of the team in Flux on the Citadel further enhanced the mystery about her. She was nice enough, and a damn hard worker. Unlike a lot of people, Tanya quite liked quarians. They were technological savants like no other, and most were honest people. For some reason, the galaxy at large seemed to look down at them as some roaming band of gyspies and thieves. The truth was far more complicated; they were simply a people trying to make the most out of next to nothing.
The human engineer speared a chunk of grilled chicken with her knife and directed it to her mouth. After a few moments of chewing, she swallowed and continued. “Considering our run of bad luck finding anything worthwhile, it must be something pretty big if you called us all back like this.”