I keep saying I am going to write something. For the last week, I have and here it is. I am not sure what I want to title it just yet, and I might edit it a bit later. It’s a story set in the Mass Effect universe. I’ve been writing from the universe using OCs mostly because I wanted to explore different aspects and points in their lives during and before the Reaper invasion.
I hope you enjoy it in the mean time.
She remembers why she joined the military: to prove that she was just as good as the rest of the recruits from other colonies. Being raised in the fringe put her at a disadvantage, but at her rank she proved just how tough, and how much she wanted to be part of the military by fighting every chance she got to be top of her class. She wasn’t always, but her skills were noticed, she was dedicated to her squad and her ship, and she stood out. Reading faces gave her an edge when it came to accomplishments. It was a gift to read subtleties in emotion.
But it felt like a curse.
Variel sighed, watching her fellow officers walk the halls, talking in hushed voices as they mourned the loss of a great general. Dress Blues, as humans called them, have an entirely different meaning. Blue is both the colour of their blood - fierce warriors used to paint themselves in blues for the battle. There was a reason why Palaven tattooed blue on their faces. It was also a colour of deep sorrow and mourning, to bleed for life and love.
She stared at her paperwork, unable to focus on any of the tasks she was given. She could handle losing her friends and comrades on the battlefield, as they fought for a common goal. Not the general who she just saw laughing, smiling; not the man she was planning a future with. General Eriil Markko’s passing resonated deep with most of those who were from their home world, and even deeper with her. How could she lose the love of her life so quickly? She saw him just the other day, in his office where they spoke about their next move with her up coming promotion and he told her about what he wanted to do for their ceremony. Moving up into a family was a very difficult thing to do.
She looked up quickly, setting down the pen in haste. It wasn’t often she was startled by anyone, and she hoped it wasn’t registered in her face. She nodded, giving him a bit of a smile as he approached her desk and then sat across from him to her motioning. He sat silent, contemplating on what he was going to say to her. He didn’t know the General very well, but he served under him previously.
“Hard to know he’s gone, huh?” He started, shaking his head. He wasn’t sure how to really talk about General Markko. Most people in the military look up to him.
“He was an inspiration for many. One of the great leaders from Palaven.” She agreed, though if only he knew how deep that ran. “Did you know him well, Niaj?”
“Not really.” He shrugs, leaning back in the chair. “But everyone heard about his exploits, Riio. Kind of difficult to not hear about his accomplishments and everything he’s done for the military as a whole.” He looked nervous, glancing over his shoulder to the hall hoping not to be heard.
“What’s going on? You’re on edge about something.” Likely the worst thing about her profession and chosen abilities in the military: no one could really hide their emotions and lies from her no matter how hard they tried.
He looks back sharply, narrowing his green eyes at her briefly before he sighs. “Yeah.” He flanging in his voice, it was low and she knew that it wasn’t good. The way he looked down at his hands, his brow plates down, furrowed, thinking. “There’s rumours going around and it’s not good.”
There was silence, and she just stared at his face. He looked confused, hurt, worried… what could possibly have him so worried?
“They say General Markko was murdered in his office a few nights ago.”
Her heart dropped, and it took every ounce of strength not to show it in her face. She had thought he worked late and passed peacefully, to hear that he was murdered in his office? It tore open the wound more. His family was preparing for his funeral, his body being sent back to their home world. It should be her place to prepare his pyre, preparing his last rights and resting place to give to the spirits of their home. An old and ancient ritual that the Hierarchy gives to those who bring out the best spirit through their life - and because of a secret pact of marriage, she could not participate. What a shame.
“Spirits, I hope that their investigation goes well if it’s true.”
She snapped out of it, before nodding in agreement. “Of course it will. Our superiors are very thorough. Murder is never taken likely, if it was murder.”
Niaj crossed his arms in thought, before he nodded his head. “Let’s change the subject.” He wasn’t really certain how to talk about his feelings on the late General.
Variel had noticed it early on that he wasn’t really one to discuss feelings. Most turians didn’t, but Hanval Niaj was very particular about how he portrayed himself. Emotions were a weakness, a crutch, and he would rather be viewed lacking those emotions or being concerned enough to not betray his duty than displaying them publicly. There were subtle hints though, the way his mouth moved, how his brow plates were focused, the tonal difference in his voice and down to the small twitches of his mandibles: it was very obvious to her how deeply he was affected.
He must have looked up to him or idolized him in some way, much like the rest of their unit.
“How is your family on Nimines?” She changed the subject for him. “Your sister was celebrating the birth of her first child wasn’t she?”
“Yeah. She’s pretty excited. She works for the police force in Guenva, her leave is being extended a few weeks for their son. Her partner is rather happy. They’re already saving for his painting.” He laughs slightly. “It’s not for a few years and they’re talking about how vibrant they’re going to be.”
“Are they?” It seemed to calm him down, talking about his elder sister. “I don’t think I’ve seen the markings from Guenva on first setting.”
“It’s a deep purple. Very vibrant.” He points to his own, the two lines over his nose, one under each eye, a bit faded but still very noticeable. “It’ll be a little different, but that is because she married into a very well known family, so her service is well deserved.”
She always found it amazing how others talked about the painting (which is more like tattooing if there ever was a good human word for it since it was a permanent marking) in the Hierarchy. It was such a grand thing, a rite of passage for children to go through before their military training to recognise them in the society. It wasn’t like that where she was. Maybe it was a curse to grow up from a colony they shunned, but there were others like her who proved their worth. The stark white marks on her black hide were very distinguishable, and maybe that made her more determined to prove her worth like the very few who came before her.
And her thoughts began to drift. Eriil told her she had potential, that she had cunning and nerve he hadn’t seen in a long time. That she was dedicated to her unit, to the spirit of her team no matter how impossible it seemed. To be selfless was a compliment, and her commitment put her on the map.
The ping in the background caught her off guard, as well as Niaj’s “you should answer that, Riio.”
“Right, of course.” She snapped back into focus, before pulling up the call on the computer. “Yes sir?”
“Riio. My office. Now.” It was General Lyeel. She stood up, giving a salute (which her right hand went across her chest, talons closed against her palm. Humans swore by their head for some reason, turians swore by their body).
“Yes sir.” She replied, as there was nothing else to reply to. One never questions a commanding officer. “I suppose we’ll continue this conversation later, Niaj.” She smiles at him as she shuts off her comm-link.
“Yes ma’am.” He stands, then turns to leave. “Good luck, he didn’t sound happy.”
“He didn’t look happy either. Thank you.” She shrugged her shoulders, before walking past him down the hall to where the General was staying for right now.
A nagging feeling in the back of her head told her this was going to end badly. There was something in his face that she only caught a flash of, but it was enough to cause her to worry. Was it anger? Disgust? Her mandibles twitched at the thought, her stride quickening as she walked to the General’s office. Stopping at the door she hesitated, staring at it with a sinking feeling, but there was nothing she could do as it hissed open and she stepped inside.
They weren’t alone, as it were. General Lyeel was joined by her commanding officer from her previous unit, Jakeal, and one of the military investigators when it came to crimes within their branch. It was not the first time she was in the same room with the officers, but this time was different - it was written all over their faces.
“No.” She sucked in a breath, realising what she had been dreading the moment she was called to Lyeel’s office and spirits help her.
“Sit down, Officer Riio.” Jakeal said slowly, motioning for the chair before her. “We need to talk to you.”
No. It went through her head over and over. No, no, no, no, no, but she sat down, stealing herself for the accusations, the questions regarding her relationship with Eriil.
“We have your ID records for the last few weeks. We notice you were in General Markko’s office quiet a bit.” Jakeal started, leaning against Lyeel’s desk. “Can you explain that?”
“General Markko was discussing my position in the military. My rank and my future.” She stated plainly, her heart beating a mile a minute. They couldn’t know, it would drag his family down if they knew, and she would never smear his name in such a way.
“I see.” She wasn’t necessarily lying, and he must have realised this. “Why were you in his office on Monday?”
Monday, a human term. That was three nights ago, and she remembered it. “He called me into his office to discuss mission he was planning on passing on to you for our team.” A true point, but it was much more then that. So much more as she scuffed his armor trying to take it off in a hurry.
“Of course.” He was suspicious, not enough to really pin murder on her but the accusation would fly through the military.
She was as good as blacklisted.
It came out of her mouth before she could stop herself. “I did not kill him.” She almost regretted it, but the words seemed to cause them pause. They knew of her skills, and Kaliela, the investigator tilted her head curiously.
“Who did?” She asked.
Variel knew all about Kaliela Geril. Sharp witted, sharp tongued, and a tough investigator. If she was here, they either had all the evidence they needed, or none at all.
She remained silent for a moment, watching, waiting for something to give and when nothing came? She shook her head. “I don’t know. But I left his office and he was alive.”
“Officer Riio, you understand why you are here?”
“…Yes.” She wished she could be naive and young again.
“You are here-by dismissed from your service pending investigation.” Kaliela was formal, but everything from her mouth sounded like poison. “You are not to leave Citadel space should you choose to go there, or the colony you are from. If you do, we will place you under arrest for impeding on our investigation.”
Her heart was breaking again. “Yes ma’am.”
It was a dishonour to be dismissed so soon. Three more years and she would have completed her initial tour, but now? Who knew how long it would take for them to find Eriil justice. There must not be enough evidence to completely convict if she was on leave, but she dreaded it. Accused of murder, she would be blacklisted from turian services, from entering any armed force or aiding others in need, or even to be selected for spectre candidacy if she desired to go to the training.
The words haunted her, following her where ever she went. The halls were filled with hushed voices, some even turning their back on her. She broke their spirit, she failed and she was not really true to her people. The accusations of selfishness whispered behind her back because she was clearly not as dedicated as the rest of them. She did not have the work ethic sought by the military, her tell-tale markings branding her with as much distrust as those with barefaces.
She fought for everything, and lost it all.
She stood there, bewildered, stunned hearing him talk to her, lost in her thoughts of when it was announced that Eriil Markko was murdered. He was my father’s friend. How could you not know our family’s relationship with the General? Her breathing was tight, controlled, and her face stoic as she watched him talk, watched him yell. You’re lying! She doesn’t remember lying to him, barely registering the words as she spoke.
“Where are you going? Variel?”
She thought her luck turned around when the investigation went cold and she moved on. Now all she wanted to do was get away. She turned about fast, her strides long, quick as she walked to her room. She needed to leave, she needed space, she needed to breath and she couldn’t.
She turned to face him, hiding the hurt, the guilt, the pain that tore through her as he reopened a fresh wound.
“I’m sorry, Xuan.” She whispers, cradling their son in her arms, and walks past him. She can’t even look at him as she leaves.
Spirits help her.