The Dragon Queens

Chapter 18

Cortana stared out at the ship and smiled, it was a beautiful example of Nirnian engineering. Sleek and gleaming, its hull was a similar golden hue that their ships were renowned for but the pattern of ward anchors was set to look like dragon scales, rather than the standard feathers. Long blue stripes that ran from bow to stern along the sides marred the otherwise typical surface and a space near the bow was reserved for the name once she picked it.

“Well she certainly is beautiful” Ava commented as she appeared from the mage-light emitter choker that Cortana still wore, this time as a full sized avatar rather than a nine inch tall hologram. Her feathers, dress and hair ruffled and shifted in a non-existent breeze, while her voice was actually audible to more than just Cortana.

“Yeah, though I’m still having trouble with coming up with a name” she sighed and Ava turned to look at her “I have access a large database of names, if you want some help I can start listing them” she offered but Cortana shook her head.

“No I can feel it, like it’s on the tip of my tongue but my brain doesn’t know how to say it.” She said narrowing her eyes in frustration.

“Maybe it will come to later” Ava offered in an attempt to placate Cortana.
“You’re right, come on, let’s head to the mess.” Cortana replied, turning and heading back through the silver corridors as Ava flickered and vanished. They arrived in the mess hall dedicated to the crew of the ship Cortana would command.

The whole thing functioned as if they were already deployed, they had their own quartermaster, cook, healer, Legion and most importantly their own Master of Crew, a person whose authority was regarded as a step below the captains as the managed the running of the bar, the sparring ring and all extracurricular activities. The idea behind this was that crews would get to know each other and learn how to work together before they were deployed, allowing for a faster crew integration and for any wrinkles to be ironed out before they were all confined to a small space for months on end.

This also ensured that the collection of personalities didn’t clash too horribly, already there had been some minor adjustments to the roster to allow for maximum group cohesion. It was an eclectic bunch that now sat in the mess before her, Nirnians, Quarians Geth and Krogan all working together to put the finishing touches on what would be their home and already she could see friendships forming.

The hall had long metal tables running down its length and several long stretches were occupied by groups, the legionnaire detachment were laughing loudly as a Krogan and an Orismer arm wrestled and several Geth and Automata were staring at each other as they exchanged data. At one table in the corner, a collection crew with the markings of engineers on their fatigues were gesturing vigorously over a magelight projector that they had rigged up.

As she walked past she listened as a young female Quarian ensign pointed avidly at a portion of the engine on the hologram. “No see if we try to reroute all of the energy through there then the plane stabilizer will go out of alignment and we’ll find ourselves flying through Cold Harbour or somewhere equally unpleasant! I say we distribute the power through these junctions here, here and here” she tapped the corresponding conduits causing them to turn red “to reduce the likelihood of overtaxing the stabilizer.”
Cortana watched as the others stared at the ensign in amazement.

“Holy Merida that’s brilliant!” Enginemaster Adams cried slapping the girl on the back “nice job Zorah. You have just save the ship!” the girl blushed a dark purple and smiled shyly before she looked over her superior’s shoulder and saw Cortana.

“Oh! Commander!” she gasped and tried to jump up and salute, her fellows did the same, though with more success than her. The young ensign unfortunately had been sitting cross legged on the table and so instead of leaping gracefully to her feet she ended up twitching and performing and clumsy half twist as she fell to the floor before she managed to untangle herself and stand, saluting Cortana, blushing deeply in embarrassment.

“At ease crewmen, though I would appreciate it if you didn’t salute me all the time, we’re all in this together” she told them easily, returning the salute and smiling kindly at the blushing ensign. “May I sit?” she asked and at their assent settled herself gracefully down on the bench and looked at her crew in curiosity “So what’s this I hear about ensign Zorah saving the ship? I didn’t know it was in danger” she asked with interest, smiling internally as the engineers slowly relaxed.

“We were running a simulation. One of us picks a random place on the ship to damage and the others try to figure out a way to prevent a systems failure and a way to repair or compensate enough to get back to port.” Adams explained proudly “Young Zorah there is a sorceress with technology. Oblivion, she even managed to rig her under-armour to give her fireball and ice spike capability. The girls just has a way with tech I’ve never seen. A real genius she is” The Enginemaster praised and the girl in question blushed even brighter.

“All I did was maximize the output of the aether gem, a lot of power can get lost in transfer when the subject is non magical so I just used a different collection of runes to optimize power flow” she mumbled and the others laughed.

“That’s our Tali” a red haired Cyrodiil grinned and slung her arm around the Quarian “brilliant as they come but too damn modest to let anyone know” she said fondly and Tali ducked her head muttering “Gabby!” at her friend trying to wriggle away.

Cortana laughed and Ava made an appearance in miniature standing on Cortana’s shoulders “Not to mention your file says you were top of you class for engineering, in fact you broke records and left experts astounded by your solution to your final exam. We’re lucky to have you with us Ensign Tali’Zorah” Everyone started at Ava’s appearance before they nodded and smiled.

“Yeah we are” Adams said with a smile. “Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss that with me” she thanked them, standing and heading over to where the chef was preceding over two large pots of something that smelt like stew.

Both were stainless steel but one had a ring of gold colour around the top and the other had a ring of purple, this was implemented in the empire to differentiate between levo and dextro foods, Gold stripe on the package or container indicated levo and purple meant dextro, served to ward off any unintended accidents as even children could tell the difference.

She grabbed a bowl of strew and hunkered down at a table to work her way through the hearty meal while her mind chewed over a name for her ship. “Hey Ava” Cortana mumbled to get her friends attention.

“Yes Tana?” the Spirit asked curiously.

“Do you remember the second Cult War?” when the neo Mythic Dawn and the Cult of Malog Bal joined forces and took Akavir?” she asked and Ava made a sound of agreement “well the imperial army and navy had to gain a foot hold on Akavir in order to reclaim it, you know that five prong landing they performed that led to the turning point on D-day? Well my ancestress fought in one of those battles, Ellyn Shepard was a centurion in the twenty second legion and she won a medal of valor for her actions that day. She was the first of my family to join the military and now here I am a skald for the queens. She fought on Normandy beach, I think I want to name the ship The Victory of Normandy” she finished and waited for Ava to comment.

“The Victory of Normandy, Normandy for short. I think its perfect Tana” The spirit replied sending the impression of a smile. Cortana grinned and pulled up her Palm comp submitting her name choice to the ship Builders before looking out a nearby spell window to her ship who waited, full of silent promise.
“Hello Normandy” she murmured.


On board

“Download complete” the Geth reported sliding out from under a console near the front of the ship and turning its single glowing eye to the nervous looking imperial male who sat nearby “Testing may commence” it added. The imperial nodded and stood gingerly, sliding into the pilot’s seat and smiling as the interface sprang up, showing the status of the various systems.

“Hey Edi you there?” he called and a plinth to his right flared, showing the figure of a lady in what appeared to be a non-descript body suit, all of which was blue.

“I’m here Jeff” she replied “I must say I never thought the transplant would work, I am thankful that the Geth have figured out how to shift us so we can change bodies” she admitted turning to smile at the Geth that had done the installation.

The Geth nodded its head “it was appropriate for us to find a way to repay the Empire” the unit answered before turning and returning to the station. Jeff or as he preferred to be called, Joker turned back to the screen “she’s lovely isn’t she” he observed, flicking across the various screens as he observed the new ships systems.

“Indeed” Edi replied “and I have just recived an update that Commander Shepard has chosen a name for the ship.” She reported staring into the middle distance as she read the incoming data feed.
“Oh?” Joker asked raising an eyebrow.

“According to the records this ship was named the NIV Victory of Normandy, or simply Normandy in conversation.”

Joker smiled and ran his hands over the leather of his seat “hello Normandy he crooned “let’s have some adventure shall we?”


Citadel

“Vakarian, Barrus, Clovis take a squad down to Korus Ward now, bring some of the watch too this involves them, we have a civil disturbance involving a Nirnian” the commander’s voice barked cross the Atrium of the C-sec academy and the named officers took off at a dead sprint, coming for back up as they went with Garrus sending a message to the watch Captain.

“What do you think it is?” Garrus asked Jorus as they barreled through the halls “dunno we’ll find out when we get there” he growled. They burst into the ward and followed the shouts to the source.
“Traitor!” a voice yelled out from the general hubbub. “Imperial whore!” another yelled and Garrus could feel the blood drain from his facial plates, this could get ugly really quickly.

They skidded to a stop at the edges of the mob and Garrus almost gasped at the sight. The crowd was surrounding a male Turian who was on the ground, covered in bruises and a Nirnian female in a long red tunic and brown breeches with a black eye and a split lip was standing in front of the downed Turian defending him from the crowd with a long green dagger.

Several members of the attack lay on the ground with bruises and one with a broken arm. “Fucking Milk drinkers the lot of you!” the blond haired Nord screamed at them, her icy blue eyes flashing with rage “cowards, you have no Honour!” she bellowed as she glared at them.

“Shut up Whore! You caused this you and your filthy mind tricks!” a Turian snarled at her to the agreement of his fellows.

“Talos as my witness I would have you in the arenas for that insult you bastard son of an Apocrypha Lurker!” The woman snarled at the Turian who had shouted that. At this moment Garrus and Jorus pushed their way through.

“What is happening!” Demanded Jorus as Garrus slowly approached the Nord.

She glared at him “My betrothed and I were heading to the embassy to apply for his citizenship when we were attacked.” She spat and Garrus looked from her to the Turian on the ground then back up to her.
“Lady Warrior may I know your name?” he asked, deciding that formal was the best way to handle this. The woman was a Nord and had just been defending her betrothed so he felt that acknowledging her as a warrior would help calm her down some.

“Ana Tobarsen” she replied, slowly growing calmer though she had yet to sheath her dagger.

“Ms. Tobarsen I’m going to have to ask you to come to the station” Jorus said authoritatively before turning to the mob members confidence growing as more C-sec officers joined them, ringing the crowd “you too, this is the citadel people not Old Omega we don’t mug people based on their beliefs” Jorus said glaring at the instigators.

There was a round of denials and some tried to escape only to be turned back by the C-sec now ringing them. Silence fell when they hear the heavy clatter of boots as a group of six Bronze Quarter Guards came pelting down the corridor, and slid to a halt in a circling formation, joining the C-sec in their barrier “What in Oblivion is happening?!” demanded the one without a helmet, Captain Coppercroft himself.

“They were heading to the embassy and were attacked for being in a relationship.” Garrus reported with a proper Nirnian salute out of respect for the captain who turned an angry red at this statement. He turned his eyes to Ana who slowly sheathed her dagger before she turned and knelt down by her bruised and batter betrothed, placing a hand on his cheek and murmuring to him quietly.

Garrus watched it all with a hollow feeling inside. This pair simply wanted to be together and because of
that they were attacked. As he did his part in sorting through the mess he pondered. Memories from his childhood surfaced, fights he had gotten into over his opinion that Nirnians were just as civilized and cultured as the Citadel, concerned letters from his teachers home that spoke of the teacher’s concern over his radical behavior.

Most importantly, how two races who were so similar could hate each other so much? Later that evening he wandered into the Spoon after duty and slid into an empty space at one of the long tables.

Marcus the tavern keeper walked passed and deposited a large tankard of Quarian ale and a plate of dextro meat skewers in front of him without a word except for a comforting pat of the shoulder. Mechanically he took a swig and began to pick at his meal. Was this what he wanted for his life? He wondered morosely.


Omega

“Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear. Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear.” The chant filled the dark room as the child stabbed at the heart in the ritual circles center.

Thane Krios assassin, father and widowed husband paused in his skulking through the vents of the renovated Omega. Quiet as a thought he slithered closer to the grill and looked down upon the scene. A small Nirnian child, Argonian he believed with deep maroon, almost purple scales and dark purple feathers stabbed at a piece of pulverised tissue in the middle of a circle of candles with a skull and a thighbone overlaid with a dark purple flower. His voice was hoarse and weak. “Please how long must I do this?” he whispered, voice weak and faltering before he began chanting again.

Thane could bare it no longer and slid off the vent cover and into the room. “What are you doing little one? He asked curiously and gently.

The child spun with a gasp, large violet eyes wide with shock. “You… You came! I knew you would. I knew the sacrament would work!” he cried happily running forward to kneel at the astounded Drell’s feet. “I performed the sacrament just like it said to and now you’re here. I have a contract for you dark one” he said hurriedly.

Thane was literally speechless as he stared at the child though one word penetrated “contract?” he asked uncertainly “yes! My family…. My family was killed a week ago, murdered.” The boy began, tears forming in his large eyes “I am being sent to the Pale Star Orphanage tomorrow, but first I need to get revenge. So I performed the black sacrament to call an assassin from the Dark brotherhood to kill the man who murdered my parents.” The boy said firmly looking up at Thane his eyes shining with conviction. “I have my father’s dagger and mother’s silk cloak to pay for it. Please, will you accept?” he asked hopefully Thane stared down at the child and felt a steely resolve flow over him.

“Who is this man you wish dead?” he demanded. “Olvig the Fat, he is the leader of a marauder group in the lower levels. He makes forays up to the residential districts sometimes to break and enter. The watch have been trying to find him but they haven’t been able to.” The boy’s tail twitched “will you take the
contract?” he asked quietly, looking down as if afraid.

Thane looked down at the boy with a gentle expression, memories of his own son flashing past his eyes. “Yes. I do not require payment young one. But I will kill this man for you. What is your name?” he decided and the boy leapt forward to hug his knees.

“Watches-Dark-Moons” he replied, his voice a little muffled by Thanes trousers. The assassin smiled and returned the hug before he gently disentangled himself from the boys grip and slithered into the ducts quietly puling the cover back over his entry. Now he had a mission.


Ayrenn sat bolt upright in her bed as the raspy voice of the night mother filled her mind. “Yet another child has called to their mother. But another has taken the contract. Send the Omega listener to find the one named Thane Krios after the kill and recruit him.” She commanded. Ayrenn sighed and rubbed her eyes before reaching for her palm comp and typed a message off to Babette before falling back into the cotton sheets, turned over and promptly fell asleep again.


Unknown Location on the Citadel (Much to C-Secs annoyance)

“And that’s the last of it!” she finished reporting happily looking at the dark magelight viewer.

“Excellent work Rose. You have represented the guild well. I believe you should have a promotion.” The hooded form of the Grand master complemented, shifting so her mouth was a little more visible.

Kasumi Nightbrook, code named Rose smiled “I don’t think there is anywhere left for me to go save guildmaster and I don’t want to leave the field.” She answered shaking her head, she was a beautiful specimen with wide amber eyes set in a slanted face. Dark bronze skin and long black hair added to the allure, two hair ornaments that doubled as both picks and weapons sat in her hair, holding it up in an elegant bun and a thick purple stripe decorated her chin, starting at her bottom lip and running down her chin and under her armour where it stopped at the hollow at the base of her throat.

“Oh there is one more place for you to go if you wanted” the grand master said, a smile playing under her hood “Celia Kamros, one of the three true Nightingales has recently passed to the Evergloam. Leaving a vacancy. Nocturnal has been extremely pleased with your service and skill. So I offer to you this chance. Join the Nightingales?”

Kasumi was floored by the statement, sure she was a good thief, maybe even one of the best, but to join the nightingales? To have the blessing of Lady Luck herself? That was a daunting possibility. Ever since her partner and lover Keji had passed she had felt a little unbalanced, like one of her fingers was missing. But now a chance unlike any had opened to her.

She made her choice “yes, I would be honoured.” She answered and the Grand master smiled.

“Good, then you had better catch a shuttle to Imperial territory and then to Riften. My advice is to hurry, after your induction I have some assignments for you. Grandmaster out” The magelight viewer shimmered and deactivated. Kasumi smiled and plucked the small sphere containing her communication receiver from the shelf she had placed it on and stored it in one of the thousands of pockets that littered her armour.

She then reached back and pulled the black hood up and over her face sliding the mask of her under armour into place before she crouched down and crept through one of the many escape routes that lead from her bolthole, aiming for the Nirnian controlled dock. It was time to stow away.


Eye Headquarters.

Some days Miranda Law really hated her superiors. Days, like today in fact, she stared at the heavily muscled Khajiit in front of her and blinked. “I beg your pardon?” she asked through gritted teeth.
“You heard this one Law, you and your partner are too violent. Your last mission ended with a body count in the double digits. Therefore you are both on your final warning, clean up your acts or you’ll be transferred to one of the other divisions. Is this one clear?” he demanded glaring at her balefully.

“Crystal sir” she replied stiffly.

The Khajiit sighed and rubbed his eyes “Listen Law, you and Nought are an excellent team, one of our best in fact, but the truth is that you two tend to leave more dead bodies than is necessary. We are Eyes, Not the Brotherhood. Please try to see that. If Nought is still having troubles with control, then we may have to send her to Magnus’ blessing again, she is far too valuable an asset to be lost, as are you. So try to leave the lower level missions with as few casualties as possible” he explained tiredly.

Miranda nodded and saluted before stalking down the halls toward were she and her partner bunked. As the door slid open on the small two bunk room she was treated to the sight of a Dunmer woman with black hair shaved at the sides that showed a line of tattooed symbols and the top held in a ponytail hovering as she sat cross legged, an ethereal blue glow emanating from her.

“How’d it go?” the Dunmer asked, not opening her eyes.

Miranda sighed and threw herself onto her bunk. “We’re on our last warning before they send you back to Blessing to work on your control, they said our body count on the last mission was too high, pulled the “we’re eyes not brotherhood” card again. On the plus side he said that we are his best team so… I’d say the usual.” She explained her arm thrown over her eyes.

The Dunmer opened her eyes and groaned “really? It’s not easy having all this magica running around in here, I’d like to see him try to handle it, I can barely do a magelight spell without blinding everyone when I’m worked up.” She complained as she began pacing, her form starting to glow a fiery blue as she got worked up.

“Yeah, but you’re one of four people in the empire who can match the queens in terms of raw power, so maybe you should just focus on that, not to mention you can be seriously scary with even novice level spells and your bound weapons are by far some of the longest lasting.” Miranda placated, lifting her arm and turning her head to look at her companion.

“Jack, breathe or you’ll blow out the lights again.” She commanded gently, and Jack stopped closing her eyes and taking several deep meditative breaths, causing the glow to dissipate.

“I wanna kill something” she muttered when she opened her eyes, Miranda shook her head and smiled at her friend.

“I think that could be arranged, let’s check the assignment board” she offered. Jack nodded and walked over to her closet, pulling out her iconic black leather jacket with its quicksilver studs that she slid over her dark grey under armour.

Miranda simply flipped her long legs of the edge of her bunk, she was clad in only her under armour, a skin tight piece of white ebony weave that left nothing to the imagination and showed everyone just how blessed by Dibella, or rather her father (and she used that term lightly) she was.

Black geometric likes ran down the sides with pale orange lights, its unassuming colour often had people mistaking it for a civilian model, belaying its true strength. Together the unlikely pair walked through the tone halls of the Eye’s base until the stood in front of a massive viewer screen.

Several assignments were highlighted in red signaling they were open, a few easy ones were highlighted in green, a few blinked gold to show they were in progress, one had a blue exclamation mark signaling reinforcements needed and one black showed a death mission.

Each colour had a number from one to ten in the upper right hand corner displaying the rank of skill needed to perform it. All except the black one, it need no explanation.

Death missions were volunteer only and were considered so dangerous that only the best would consider them and could be considered suicide to attempt. Miranda looked at Jack who now had a feral grin on her face, her crimson eyes flashing.

Miranda smirked and after quickly reading through the mission selected the death mission. After all, they were nicknamed the Black Sisters for a reason.


Shanxi

Liara fidgeted nervously as she waited for the Asari at the desk to approve her visa. “Dr. Liara T’soni, with the University of Thessia. Here on a cultural exchange to study Dwemer, Falmer and Akaviri ruins in a joint study with the Tamrielic Institute of Archeology.” She declared to the secretary who typed the information and examined the results on the monitor.

“Everything seems to be in order Dr. T’soni, all that remains is for you to take your suit safety course and get issued one for the entirety of your journey…Hold on” she paused tapping on the blue screen a few times and typing in a few more items. “It seems that a full suit and outer garments for it have been purchased by one Matriarch Benezia T’soni for you trip. The suit will be yours as opposed to a rental.”

She tapped the monitor and a sheet of white paper like material lit up as black words began to scroll across its surface, this was then handed to Liara “show this to the quartermaster here and she’ll make sure you have everything.” She then handed Liara a silver amulet with a glowing blue gem in the center “this is your visa, wear it on the outside of the suit, the glow will fade when your visa expires, your slated for three years so don’t worry. Have a pleasant journey Dr. T’soni.”

Liara took the amulet and followed the signs through the door to what looked like one of her old classrooms except the tables were high and on each was a suit, all the pieces disassembled and waiting, Also in the room waiting in front of the suit laden tables stood nine other Asari, two Turian biotics and three Salarian Biotics, All of whom were shuffling nervously as they waited for their instructor.

After Liara had taken her place a far door opened and a pale lavender Asari wearing one of the suits save for the helmet strode through the door. The black material was overlaid with a similar wrap to those worn by Quarians back in the days when the Migrant fleet existed.

“Welcome to your suit tutorial ladies and gentlemen.” The Instructor said with a large smile. “It’s good to see that more and more Citadel biotics are willing to visit the Empire.” Her face then turned serious. “Now then, your suit is all that stands between you and death, a very nasty and painful death, were all the eezo nodules in your body explode due to it coming into contact with the ambient Magika that infuses the planet of Nirn. There are three rule one must remember when going into a magika rich environment.”
The instructor pulled up a presentation on the wall behind her, it showed a diagram of the suit with each piece carefully labelled.

“Rule number one: never take off your suit unless in a nullifying chamber, those are far and few between, so a rule of thumb is simply don’t do it. Rule number two: Never, ever under any circumstance try to meld with a Nirnian, or else you will end up looking like this sorry soul” She changed the projection to show the image of a mangled corpse that only the blood and shredded remains of blue flesh could even tell that it had been an Asari.

“This was once an Asari named Morinth, she was an Ardat-Yakshi that tried to meld with an off duty legionnaire on New Omega. This is the result. The legionnaire…” she changed the slide to reveal a pile of ash on stone flags “wasn’t fortunate either. For us Eezo is in small clusters throughout our body, hence the localized explosion, the Nirnians meanwhile have magika infused into their very DNA. Not pretty.” The instructor summarised. Liara felt sick looking at the images and she knew that they would haunt her sleep for a while to come.

“Finally Rule number three: Never use Biotics whilst on Nirn. The very air will combust around you and make a lovely you sized smear suit or no.” The instructor turned her eyes to the class. “Therefore we go with the nice mantra Eezo and Magika go boom. Let’s have no one go boom whilst you stay on Nirn. It looks bad on my resume.”

She ran her eyes over her class “What is rule one?” she demanded and there was some murmuring.
“Not good enough! What. Is. Rule. One?” she demanded again, enunciating the question in a dangerous voice.
“Never take off your suit” they all recited, “good, rule two?”

Liara thought of the pictures again and shuddered “Never meld with a Nirnian” she responded, along with the others.

The instructor raised her left brow this act emphasised the fact that she had a pair of lines similar to a Nirnian eyebrow was tattooed “and rule three?” she asked.

“Never use Biotics” they all chanted.

The instructor nodded “Remember all of you “Eezo and Magika go Boom.”
She smiled at them and turned to another slide displaying a long list “these are the symptoms that can indicate a suit malfunction or accidental Magika exposure. The main ones are sore joints, unexplainable blisters, extreme upset stomachs, feelings of pressure behind the eyes, sudden muscle spasms, high fever, dehydration, excess vomiting, blood in vomit, urine, stool, sudden and profuse nose bleeds that won’t stop and blood coming from the eyes, aural canals or pores.”

She pause looking at them “If you begin to experience any of these symptoms then contact emergency serveries immediately, they can be called by either entering the digits 661 into the common communicator on your palm comp or at a white cylindrical kiosk that bears a black bird with a blue gem in the middle. Medical response personnel wear bright red jumpsuits and healers wear green. Pale means a nurse, forest green means general practitioner or Doctor and white means a surgeon. Guards are easily identifiable by their round shields with their Hold symbol and surcoat in their holds colour.”

There was general nodding all around and the Instructor nodded to herself before gesturing to the suits. “Form up into pairs and we’ll begin going over your suit and how to repair and maintain it” she commanded. They obediently shuffled into position and the lesson began.”


Edenus Primus

Centurion Ashely Williams stood on a high tower on the wall and looked out over the colony she had been sent to protect. Edenus Primus or simply Primus to the inhabitants was the newest colony in the empire, so new that it didn’t even have a civilian population yet, just builders and defenders. The planet was situated near a newly discovered relay, though it was not destroyed or activated in accordance with the Citadel-Imperial treaty it was still guarded by an Aetherium fortress and enough mines and traps to make even the most explosion happy grenadier to blink. She shook her head and turned her attention to the newly forming joint colony the third in the empire.

She gazed with pride at the half built buildings and the nearly completed wall that extended around the colony. Nirnians had taken to building in rings. As the area within the wall became too cramped then they would build another wall to accommodate the new inhabitants. This habit, coupled with the street layout made the older cities into multi layered heavily defended fortresses with natural choke points and kill zones.

She breathed in deeply and savoured the scent of stone dust, hot metal, sawdust and fresh loam that drifted through the air from both the colony and its fields where massive automata toiled to prepare the ground for its first seeding.

The sound of machinery filled the air along with the shouts of the builders as they directed their tools, metal clinked on stone as roads were laid and substructures built, she smiled as she took it all in. The heavy crunch of boots on gravel alerted her to the presence of another. “Hail Centurion” a deep voice
growled and she turned to see a truly massive Krogan legionnaire standing next to her.

“Quintar Urdnot Grunt reporting for service Centurion” he said gruffly, thumping his chest in salute.
Ashely returned the salute with a smile “Hail Quintar Grunt, it is good to meet you. Your record is truly impressive. Welcome to the 327th” She replied, remembering the file and looking the young Krogan over, thinking that she had heard the name Urdnot Grunt before.

He stood a little over seven feet with a broad head and silver plates lacking the usual crest his hind were famous for. His colouring was an unusual trait among old Krogan but had been seen among the first born of a female’s first brood after the curing of the Genophage, his pale blue eyes stared at her and were filled with a keen intelligence.

His armour was the standard gold and crystal of the legion and under his arm was tucked his helmet, the razor sharp brow crest gleaming from a recent sharpening as did the megalithic broadsword that hung from his back. A Liz Strum IX sat in his back holster and glittered with a rather nasty fire mod.

In a flash she recognized him, Grunt son of Wrex and Bakara, first child born after the cure and the unofficial prince of Tuchanka. Scan complete she grinned at him and held out her hand in a warrior greeting.

Grunt grasped her forearm and returned her smile, revealing a mouth full of razor sharp teeth. After they broke the grip she turned back to the view “impressive isn’t it” she murmured looking over the scene and heard a deep grunt from her companion.

“Yes it’s amazing how quickly the engineers can put up buildings and walls, soon the colonists will start arriving.” He rumbled in his deep voice.

“And we shall be ready to defend them” Ashely agreed conviction ringing in her voice. She turned and began to walk along the wall toward one of the stairs that led back down to the city.

“So Grunt, mind if I ask what the firstborn of Wrex is doing in this legion? I thought you would have joined the Nightingale ranks.” She asked him, curiosity showing in her eyes.

The Krogan let out a small growl “everyone expects great things from me because of my father. I want to make a mark based on my own merits and strength. The legion will let me do that. Here I can be another heavy hitter and work through the ranks on my own.” His eyes glittered with ambition “and when I’m Praetor I can say that I got there through my own skill” he added with a grin a shark would have approved of.
She could hear the conviction in his voice and grinned at him, leading the way down into the developing streets towards their barracks. “I can respect that, Oblivion, it’s the same for me. Father beat off the Turians so now I am saddled with the expectations of brilliance because I’m a Williams.” She turned and looked at her companion.

“I’ll treat Grunt for Grunt’s achievements if you do the same for me.” She held out her hand “Deal?”
Grunt looked at her hand, then up at her before grinning “Deal” he rumbled taking her hand.

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