Mass Effect Digression

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Kif White
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:32 pm

Chapter 12


Lylanya had been very quiet during the whole trip back. Despite bursting through the gate to get out and having several guards shoot at them from the roof of the building as they made their escape, Lylanya was stern and silent the entire time; driving as if it was a casual cruise. As if signaling their success, the first bright glow of the morning sun peeked over the horizon only moments after they were clear of the place, erasing the darkness from their surroundings except where long shadows stretched from anything with some height to it. Slowing the vehicle's speed as to avoid attention in case any local authorities were on an early morning patrol or returning from a late night one, Lylanya casually backtracked until she brought the truck to where they had been dropped off. Yalo looked at her expectantly as they arrived and she just glanced at him with an emotionless expression.

"You call him," she said, her voice matching her visage. "After all, it's your victory."

Yalo cocked his head to one side, but she had already opened the door and leapt out before he could ask. Ignoring it, he contacted Intarr and told him to come and pick them up, then hopped out himself and went around the back to help Haedian unload their prize.

"Now remember, Intarr doesn't know what really happened back on Bersilius," Yalo warned. "He thinks you gassed everybody and escaped, and that Lylanya is an old mercenary buddy of mine from before I even joined him."

"I'll keep up your silly pretense, don't worry," Haedian muttered, but then he smiled. "It actually makes me look slightly better than I already am."

"And also keep in mind that he's not very fond of you, so don't push him and try to keep your observations to a minimum."

"That goes without saying," Haedian stated. "And, yes, I'll try my best not to accrue the krogan's wrath."

Intarr arrived a few minutes later, swooping down in Karina and touching down on an empty block with nothing but grass on it. He opened the main door and gave Yalo a nod as the quarian approached.

"Yalo," he said.

"Intarr," came the response with a returned nod.

"I've opened the cargo bay door on the other side," the krogan informed him, nudging his head back and to his left. "I trust all went well?"

Before Yalo answered, Doctor Haedian walked by with the mass-grav lift, heading around the back of the ship as he narrowed his eyes at Intarr. The krogan tracked his movement with his head, the massive plate on his forehead sliding down a bit as he scowled. "Well... about as well as can be expected given the circumstances," came his correction.

"Relax, its all been worked out," Yalo consoled. "Just remember: no skull crunching unless I say so."

"You're the boss," Intarr shrugged. "Was it clean, or did things get a bit messy?"

Yalo started to speak, but was interrupted by a familiar and irritated-sounding feminine voice.

"They got messy," Lylanya said, walking up to the door. She looked at Yalo, her already-present frown deepening. The early morning sun was reflecting in her eyes, making them seem to burn a bright yellow, while her skin looked slightly green. "Too messy, some might say," she added.

She ducked under Intarr's arm and stepped up onto her ship, disappearing in the direction of the cockpit. Intarr watched her for a while, then looked back at Yalo sideways, his one visible eye seeming like a miniature sun now itself.

"What's with her?" he asked. Yalo shrugged.

"I think she feels I was a little... overzealous in my shooting," he responded.

"I didn't know there was such a thing," Intarr commented. "Come on... if you caused that much of a fuss, the faster we're off this place the better."

Yalo nodded, hauling himself up into Karina and closing the door. Intarr noticed the doctor entering from the cargo bay so called out towards the cockpit that they were good to go. There was no response from Lylanya herself, but the engines roared to life and it wasn't long until the sleek blue ship was off the planet and back in the endless void of space. Yalo entered the cockpit to find Intarr and Haedian both sitting in seats on opposite sides of the compartment, while Lylanya was up front in the broken pilot's seat. Two sets of eyes met Yalo's visor as soon as he stepped in; one set krogan and the other salarian.

"So... what happened down there then?" Intarr asked.

Yalo took a seat and began to outline the events that transpired since Intarr had dropped them off, with Haedian filling in little bits once the story had made it to his involvement in things. Lylanya had remained silent the entire time, even when Intarr turned and made several praising comments about her actions during the mission, but as the story came to its end she got up from the pilot's seat and strode past them quickly, leaving the cockpit entirely. Yalo watched her pass through each room before opening the door of her own quarters in the distance, then disappearing as it snapped shut behind her.

"Pfft! Softhearted asari. Can't take a little bit of blood," Intarr snorted. Yalo sighed inside his helmet.

"I think I should go talk with her," he said. "I'm pretty sure I'm the one at fault here."

"She's too sensitive," Haedian uttered, as if an authority on the matter. "You did what had to be done... simple as that. We might not have escaped otherwise." A pause. "Besides, I never liked Chortan or Varinus anyway."

"I'll be back later," Yalo said, heading off to Lylanya's quarters. "We have a lot to discuss."

"If she throws a hissy fit and leaves can I have her cut?" Intarr called out.

Yalo didn't respond and Intarr just snorted, shaking his head. He looked up at Haedian who just smiled nervously. "What are you looking at?!"

"A non-sentient lifeform who belongs in a cage," the salarian answered.

"Shut up!" Intarr yelled in his face before stomping off towards the cargo bay. Haedian frowned in the krogan's direction.

"A cage that should be thrown into a volcano on a planet whose sun is about to go supernova," he mumbled to himself.

He sat there for a while, his large charcoal eyes darting around the cockpit as he twiddled his fingers on his knees restlessly. Eventually his gaze was drawn to the main console at the front of the section.

"I hope she put on the autopilot before leaving..."



"Yes?!"

That was the response Yalo got from behind the door as he tapped the control panel's chime to request entry to Lylanya's quarters.

"It's me. I got the feeling you wanted to talk with me."

"The term 'yell' would fit better than 'talk' I think, " came her answer.

"Fine. So can I come in so you can yell at me then?"

"Yes."

Yalo opened the door, entering Lylanya's quarters for the first time since he'd been on Karina. They were bigger than he expected considering the size of the rooms that would generally be considered more important, but then that kind of fit what he knew of Lylanya. There was a large bed with dark purple sheets on it, with matching curtains at the port-side window. There was a desk and chair, with shelves with various knickknacks on them, Yalo guessed from her various adventures over the past hundred-and-a-bit years she'd been a mercenary. There was a vanity with a large mirror, which was hardly surprising, and what looked like a closet with an asari mannequin nearby that he guessed was for her armour. A simple exercise machine lay on the floor, but aside from that the room was very spacious and there was a lot of empty space simply not used. Lylanya was standing in this space at the moment, looking out the window with her arms crossed at the small of her back, facing side-on to Yalo. As soon as the door closed behind him she have him an accusative glare.

"You went too far!"

"I did what I had to do," Yalo countered, coldly and instantly. It seemed to catch her off guard, as if she were expecting him to pause, apologise or at least sound guilty about it, even if he believed his claim.

"No, you didn't. The turian, yes... that I understand. But those salarians?! They weren't even armed, they were helpless."

"They would have alerted others and they would have tried to stop us."

"We were getting shot at as we escaped!" Lylanya said after an exasperated sigh of disbelief. "They were already trying to stop us."

"There could have been more... there probably would have been, and it would have slowed us down. There's no time to try and make an effort to make sure they survive."

"That doesn't make it right. I could have just knocked them out, like I did with the others before I got you out of that crate. But you had to just kill them in cold blood!"

Yalo paused, studying Lylanya for a moment.

"Why do you care?" he asked.

"What do you mean?"

"Why do you care?" the quarian repeated, crossing his arms and favouring one leg in a challenging pose. "You're a mercenary. Have been for, what... a few hundred years? You've probably killed dozens, if not hundreds more than I have. And you're telling me that I'm wrong and I went too far?"

"Yes I have," she said. "But I don't just treat life as meaningless. I've lived long enough to realise the value of life, and that a single person can effect the lives of others in ways we can't imagine."

"I know that!" Yalo yelled back. "The reason I'm doing this, in case you forgot, is to save my people."

"That doesn't give you the right to take their lives like that," Lylanya argued. "Not when you can find another way. When there's no option, then fine... that's another matter. But you could have found another way. I've always tried to find another way if I could."

She paused, her eyes drifting off a bit and her brow twisting with a mix of emotions.

"Or... at least I do now."

"You can't hesitate and think of alternatives in a situation like that," Yalo defended. "You go with the quickest and best option available at the time."

"Sure," Lylanya said, her eyes piercing through his visor to meet his. "You believe that now. But one day, you'll pull that trigger, or you'll activate that omni-tool or you'll do something else in the heat of the moment, and you'll end up regretting it for the rest of your life."

Lylanya turned away sharply, but not in time for Yalo to missed the tears beginning to stream from her eyes. She stormed over to the back wall beside her bed, crossing her arms and then let out a heavy sigh. Yalo cocked his head to one side, then slowly approached.

"I sense there's more to this than just you objecting based on your principles," he said.

"In a way," she said, then sniffled. "Let me put it this way: I'm objecting because of one of the key moments in my life that founded my principles."

There was an awkward silence between them, save for the odd sniff from Lylanya, who was still facing away from him. Yalo broke it.

"Tell me."

She looked over her shoulder at him, and he couldn't tell if she was angry, sad, confused or something else entirely.

"Why? Why should I tell you a personal matter of my past when you won't even tell me what it is you're planning on doing?"

"Well, aside from the fact I intend to tell all of you very soon what my plans are, perhaps by telling me you can give me a perspective on things that I hadn't considered before. Perhaps I can learn from your example."

Lylanya's eyes looked away and she just stood there silently for what seemed like a long time. They narrowed briefly, as if she was battling her own conscience or something about whether to tell him or not, and then her face relaxed and she looked at him once more. "All right," she said, and it was almost a whisper.

Turning around fully, she gestured to the edge of her bed for Yalo to take a seat, and when he had she backed up against the wall behind her, clasping her hands before her nose as if in prayer. She took a deep breath, and began.

"It was almost seventy years ago now. Back before the humans were in and the batarians were out. I was hooked up with a band of mercs... the third one actually."

Lylanya paused for a moment, though it was more like the words had just left her. She gazed away at nothing, her eyes glazing over slightly, and then she said, "And the last" in a voice that wasn't hers. She blinked twice rapidly, her eyes darting to Yalo who was just sitting there. With an embarrassed cough and a downward glance she leant back against the wall, crossed her arms and continued on.

"There... there were seven of us in the group. There was the leader of the group, an asari twice my age named Sytheria. Or at least that's what we called her... I don't think it was her real name. Then she had two turians directly below her she referred to as 'The Pin Twins,' half because they actually were brothers and half because together they were experts at simply pinning an enemy down in one place and stopping them from either advancing or retreating. There was a batarian named Tagarn who was our tech expert, a drell named Arann and finally two young asari: myself and a pureblood ten years my junior named Dri'ala.

"We operated out of an old cargo ship that we'd just take from system to system and leave out in the middle of nowhere with most of its systems off-line as to avoid detection. Everything inside worked fine, so we had power and life support and everything, but we turned off all the things that would get us detected by another ship. The old barge was pretty much just our home and we had a faster ship of Sytheria's that we used to strike at our targets with. Its sensors were specifically tweaked by Tagarn for a narrower but longer range, and we used it to detect ships from out of their own sensor range and would burst our engines and just use the inertia to get us to our targets, hopefully undetected, and then strike when we were right on them, preferably taking them by surprise and knocking out their weapons and engines before they could counterattack. Truth be told, we were actually closer to pirates than mercenaries. It didn't start out that way, but after basically pulling off some pirate raids as contracts Sytheria saw the profit in it and we began to just do it on our own between contracts for profit. We were already pretty much considered pirates by any authorities that knew about us, so we figured 'why the hell not?'

"Anyway, we were all one single unified group, but it still kind of split down the middle a bit. One one side there was Sytheria, The Twins and Tagarn, and on the other was the rest of us. Dri'ala and I started about the same time and hadn't been with the group as long, except for Arann who joined a little later than us, so the three of us kind of formed this tight knit group. It was a little like we were the little sisters and brother to the other big brothers with Sytheria as the mother at the top, who tended to trust the big brothers more because they had been around longer."

Lylanya looked distant again and a smile twitched to the surface.

"She was actually more like a mother than a boss in some ways come to think of it. Very strict, but also caring and fair. Never took sides or chose favourites, and everybody listened to her. I don't think I ever saw anybody question her decisions or orders. The Twins may have on rare occasion, but if their alternative or objection was denied they would never push the issue further."

Lylanya came back to reality, shaking her head a little before moving on.

"In either case, the point was that Dri'ala, Arann and I grew pretty close over time. We were the greener and less serious half to the more mature big brothers, and while they sometimes seemed to be irritated by our antics I remember Sytheria once telling them that she felt it made us a better team. Over time as our bond grew, another one began to form, specifically between Arann and myself. Dri'ala and I used to flirt with him and tease him jokingly, which embarrassed the hell out of him. Many don't think a drell can blush, but believe me... they can. Eventually I found that I was no longer just teasing him but actually flirting with him. I think it was because I'd heard stories of the drell being these deadly soldiers and assassins with hearts as cold as ice, but Arann was instead rather shy and a little awkward, and I found it cute. At least he was when things weren't happening anyway; while on the job he was like a different drell entirely. He could shoot a krogan's left front testicle with a pistol from a hundred metres away, and he'd enter a room, his eyes would twitch for a few seconds and he'd be able to tell us any holes in our defenses or places enemies may be able to use to their advantage based on the layout of the place. Gravity seemed to hold no sway over him either... without so much as a running start he could leap five times his own height, and he had no fear in a fight, even if he seemed to want to crawl into a dark corner and hide from the smallest tease from Dri'ala or myself.

"Eventually I ended up jumping him one night, since he couldn't seem to take a hint, or was too timid to do anything about it. We became a thing, and while we didn't blab it around we didn't keep it a secret either and soon everybody knew. Sytheria took us aside after finding out and I thought she was going to tell us to knock it off, but all she told us was to not let it get in the way during work. And we didn't, more due to Arann than myself, since he seemed to switch into his 'battle mode' whenever we were working and it was like there was nothing between us at all until we got back, which was fine as far as we were both concerned and seemed to please Sytheria as well. Things seemed to be going well, but at the time I hadn't noticed that the little group that was once the three of us had become the two of us and Dri'ala. Now it was Arann and I who were the talkers and Dri'ala was growing increasingly quiet and distanced. We used to share meals together, but more frequently she'd start leaving part the way through them. She and I shared a room, and if Arann ever came in she'd stop whatever she was doing and utter something about 'leaving us two alone' and up and leave. I just let it happen, not because I was intentionally being selfish, but because I actually didn't notice it at the time. Hindsight provided that little insight into my life unfortunately. And, hey... it didn't hurt that when she wasn't there we could get it on like varren in heat without being disturbed.

"One day, after this had been going on for months and months, a job came up. Sytheria told us that it wasn't a big one and so not all of us would be going. Usually at least one of us stayed behind anyway to look after the main ship, but this time it would just be her, one of The Twins, Arann and Dri'ala going. Apparently they weren't expecting much resistance and she thought the less of us involved, the less there would be to go wrong. I usually went on missions with Arann and asked Sytheria why Dri'ala was going instead of me. She simply told me that she'd made her choice, and like everybody else when it came to our mother's orders, I didn't question her decisions beyond that first time. So they left, and I stayed behind. For some reason things didn't seem right from the start, and I wasn't sure what instinct kicked in or why, but... it was there, and yet, at the same time... it wasn't enough to... to..."

Lylanya sniffled, and tears began to run down her cheeks. By this point she had slid down the wall into a sitting position on the floor. She cupped her nose and mouth in her hands and began to rock slightly. Something light touched her shoulder and rested there.

"What happened?" she heard Yalo's voice say, curious and reassuring at the same time. Lylanya breathed in deeply as her mind cast back to some of the moments that most defined who she was today.



In some ways, it was like time itself began at that very moment. The moment when Sytheria's voice crackled through the intercom and echoed off the dull metallic walls of her quarters was if The Goddess herself was proclaiming the dawn of a new age. Not an age of life and prosperity, but one of death and destruction. Everything before had seemed like a dream by comparison, and everything since would be permanently coloured by it.

"Mission failed," came the words. "Arann is dead."

Lylanya felt as if all her internal organs had vanished and been replaced by a void the size of the universe itself. For what seemed eons she just sat there, her eyes wide and refusing to blink. The datapad in her hand slipped to the floor as she finally tore from her bunk through the door and out into the main corridor. She was running through filtered air, but it felt like wading through water to her, and the more she wanted to get to the docking area the more it felt like it was fighting her back. She was a dozen metres or so away from the docking bay room doors when she saw one of The Twins emerge, followed soon by the other. Carried between them was a long black bag about two metres in length, and Lylanya knew exactly what was inside it. She froze, the only movement her eyes as they traced the movement of the bag coming towards her. She sidestepped to her left to let them past, more as an instinct than a conscious act, and as it passed by she didn't even turn her head to track it, instead looking up and to her right as blue entered the corner of her eye. There was Dri'ala, her large green eyes brimming with tears and a look of sorrow and something else Lylanya couldn't describe.

"What happened?" Lylanya asked her best friend.

Dri'ala stopped for a moment, looking directly into Lylanya's eyes. This only lasted a few seconds before the emerald orbs darted briefly towards Sytheria behind her and were finally concealed by her eyelids, squeezing out more liquid before she kept walking. Lylanya's gaze followed her friend's trudging steps before she was aware of Sytheria passing by her. Looking up at her leader she saw that there were no tears in her eyes or look of sadness on her face. Sytheria's emotional state was very clear: she was angry.

Lylanya shifted her gaze quickly, as if the rage from Sytheria was directed at her, even though she knew had nothing to do with whatever happened. She stared at the floor while Sytheria passed behind her, the only sense of any kind to her the sound of the ebbing footsteps behind her. A door creaked in the distance, jolting her back into reality and she turned around to see The Twins taking the bag into Arran's room.

Taking Arann into Arran's room, Lylanya's mind corrected.

Lylanya sniffed and blinked away her sadness, heading towards the turians as they disappeared into Arran's room.

"Wait," she called, but it was no more than a whisper for a start. "Wait!" she repeated louder.

She quickened her pace and found her way into the room blocked by one of The Twins: Garonis, the one with the darker complexion and facial markings around his mouth resembling jagged teeth. Behind him she could see his brother laying the bag on Arran's bed carefully. Lylanya moved to get past but Garonis shifted to block her again.

"Move, Garonis!" Lylanya insisted. His constant success at blocking her every attempt was frustrating her.

"Arran's body is to be undisturbed," the turian explained, his voice cold and direct. "Sytheria's orders."

"But I need to see him!" Lylanya argued, trying her damnedest to get through a gap under his left arm she knew wasn't going to be there long.

"He's dead, Lyl!" the turian snapped, using the shortened nickname she had become more used to hearing over her time there. "You seeing his bloodied corpse isn't going to change that!"

Lylanya was stunned by this and stopped her futile efforts to get past, just as a large gap opened up for the other turian to leave the room through. Garonis was always the least sensitive of the brothers, which was saying something since neither were particularly soft or sentimental, but he usually wasn't as blunt as this. Lylanya just sneered at him until she heard a creak from further down the hall and saw Dri'ala and Sytheria at Sytheria's quarters and about to enter.

"Sytheria! Dri'ala! Wait!" Lylanya called out to them, tearing towards them as if them disappearing into the door meant the universe itself ending. "I need to--"

Lylanya cut herself off as the door closed behind them. She heard the locking mechanism creaking and clicking into place. The same noise came from behind her and she looked over her shoulder to witness Garonis locking up Arran's quarters. It was as if she didn't even exist to them at the moment, but Lylanya wasn't going to stand for that.

"What happened?" the asari demanded, storming up to Garonis. "Tell me!"

"Arann got shot," the turian answered, not even making eye contact and in a manner so casual it was as if he couldn't decide what to eat.

"How?"

"With a gun, in the head," Garonis said as if the answer were obvious. "You'll have to talk to Sytheria for more than that."

Garonis checked his Crossfire assault rifle while Lylanya fumed at his insensitivity and complete lack of cooperation. The fact that he still hadn't even looked at her felt like salt in the wounds.

"You were there! Why can't you tell me?!"

"Because I was told not to," he said, turning his back to her and walking away towards the docking bay again. "Sytheria's orders."

Lylanya fumed for a while more, then punched the wall to the left of Arran's door in frustration, briefly pulsing with dark energy and leaving a small fist-sized dent behind as she stormed off to her quarters.



Lylanya lay there for what felt like eons, staring up at the ceiling above her bed with her pillow hugged to her chest. The datapad she'd dropped earlier was half-crushed at the foot of her bed where she'd stepped on it shortly before collapsing on her bunk. If she'd even acknowledged its destruction she'd have probably found it fitting, considering it had contained an asari romance novel she'd been reading before hearing the news.

Mission failed. Arann is dead.

Shit! Why did those words have to echo through her mind. She slapped right right palm against her forehead as if the act would drive them out, then tossed the pillow against the far wall as if casting it aside would remove all her pain and doubt. As the pillow made contact, a creaking noise sounded from the opposite wall and Lylanya craned her neck to see the door half-open and Dri'ala standing in it; staring at her with wide green eyes and frozen between the task of opening the door as if standing still would make her invisible.

"Lylanya..."

That's all she said, her eyes dropping to nothing on the floor. Then, as if time decided to unfreeze in her vicinity and make up for its lost existence, the door was fully open and Dri'ala was at her footlocker, opening it up.

"What's going on?" Lylanya asked, standing up now. "What happened? Why won't anybody tell me anything?"

Dri'ala froze again about halfway through Lylanya's questions, then eventually looked over he shoulder up at her friend. She had a clear complexion and was paler than most asari, with a hint of green in her skin, but now she seemed even paler than normal. Her mouth moved a little, but nothing came out. As if sinking under some pressure her eyes sank down to the floor and words eventually came.

"Arann got shot. He... got shot in the head." A pause, and then she turned away and spoke swiftly. "And I have to go."

Dri'ala's arms were a blur and the contents of her footlocker poured upwards onto her bed. It happened so fast, Lylanya didn't manage to get a word in until it was empty.

"What... what do you mean you have to go?!" Lylanya asked, stepping forward and finding it hard to evaluate the situation.

"I mean, I'm leaving," Dri'ala answered, trying to sound firm and in control, but failing. "I'm leaving now. Sytheria's taking me away and... and... I'm not coming back."

"You... you can't go!" Lylanya said, raising her voice. "By The Goddess... I don't even know what happened! Arran's dead and now you're going away?!"

"I have to go," Dri'ala said, this time sounding more convincing than before. She hauled a large bag from under her bed and tossed it up atop it beside the disorganised pile that once occupied the footlocker.

"You can't," Lylanya said, placing her hand on Dri'ala's shoulder. The younger asari slapped it away violently as if Lylanya was diseased, spinning around onto her feet.

"Don't touch me!" she hissed.

Lylanya took a step back, her eyes wide. But at that moment, as Dri'ala looked at her, she caught something, and wide eyes narrowed.

"You're hiding something from me," she said. Dri'ala took a step back and turned back around. "What did you do?"

"I'm leaving, Lylanya! Just let me pack and go!"

Dri'ala shoved her stuff into the case, but it would never fit properly given her lack if finesse. Lylanya grabbed her upper right arm and spun her around.

"No! You're not going anywhere until I find out what happened on that mission!"

"I told you!" Dri'ala yelled back into Lylanya's face, all emotional strength leaving her and tears flowing free. "He got shot!"

"How!" Lylanya demanded, grabbing her other arm now too, then swinging her around to pin her against the wall. "How did he get shot?!"

"I can't tell you!"

"Was it something you did?! Did he take a bullet for you?! Or did you do something stupid and get him shot?!"

"Let me go!"

"Not until you tell me! What happened?!"

Dri'ala remained silent save for struggling grunts.

"Fine! I'll find out the hard way then!"

She saw fear strike Dri'ala's features. The younger asari knew exactly what Lylanya meant, and she'd seen first hand how good Lylanya was at getting information from somebody that way.

"You won't," her voice quavered

"I'm going to find out what happened... one way or another." Lylanya was determined and Dri'ala could see that.

"You're going to have to dig deep," Dri'ala said, taking a deep breath and steeling herself for what was to come. "I'm not letting you in easily."

"Then that's what I'll do."

Lylanya leaned in close and closed her eyes. The room seemed to grow darker for a brief moment before lighting up around the dominant asari as her eyes blackened and the other jerked with a groan of resistance in her grasp. The younger asari's mind was dark to her and moving through it felt like wading thrrough a deep swamp. Lylanya had never been in a mind so closed off to her from the start, and it took a bit of effort for her to break the basic barriers and enable her to see anything. There were many memories there, though they were hazy and nothing stood out. Whether Dri'ala was trying to flood her mind with thoughts to keep her out or whether they were simply there because they were nothing secret Lylanya didn't know. In either case, she had to big deeper.

There was resistance for a moment, but things became clearer soon enough. More of the same, but more vivid now, until something drew her attention. It was shadows and sounds at first. She knew the sounds but couldn't recognise them, and the shadows resembled familiar shapes but placing them was hard. They tried to retreat further away, but this just encouraged her to chase them. It was getting harder to keep catch them, but she persisted, breaking any and all blocks that came her way. Clarity soon hit and resistance ebbed, as noise became voices and laughter and shadows became shapes with form and depth.

It was them she was hiding away and their time together. Lylanya was experiencing a moment between Dri'ala, Arann and herself from Dri'ala's perspective, just like any random moment they'd shared together when not on a job. It was a happy moment of them joking and laughing and telling stories. Why did Dri'ala want to hide this from her? What was so bad about a moment like this? No, wait... there was more to this. There's something there, yet to be uncovered somewhere in this seemingly innocent scene. Lylanya searched, sensing things out. She was right, there was something there. Something that didn't feel right. It was an emotion of some kind... definitely a negative one. It came from Dri'ala herself. It seemed to get stronger as she witnessed herself giving Arann a kiss. Hate? No, it wasn't quite that strong. Jealousy? Yes, it was. It was jealousy.

There had to be more than that though. Lylanya had to find her memory of what happened on the mission. Even with her hiding it away it shouldn't be too hard to find, since it clearly made her distraught. Dri'ala didn't have the training and mental discipline she did, and she'd invaded the minds of others who had without too many problems in the past. If she could get into the mind of an asari Matriarch, she could damn well get what she wanted from this comparatively young pup. She already knew there was jealousy there, so she could draw on that and it may just lead her to the answers. Dri'ala must have had a crush on Arann too, and seeing the two of them together must have been tough for her. But what did that have to do with the mission where Arann was killed? Was she so jealous that he wasn't with her that she'd rather see Arann killed than romantically involved with her best friend? Was there a moment where she could have saved his life, but she chose not to act out of spite? Lylanya knew there was more to this.

She delved further into the depths of Dri'ala's mind, trying to find that which was being concealed from her the most. It had to have only been seconds in reality, but the search felt agonisingly long within Dri'ala's consciousness, and resistance was growing. Lylanya eventually sensed something dark and evasive, which only drew her attention more to it. She charged her way against all resistance, and could soon hear voices and see shapes like before, though these were not as familiar. The voices sounded angry and she soon began to feel the tension as she once again began to live out the scene from Dri'ala's perspective. Sounds were muffled, and all was black silhouettes against white streaks. Perspective wasn't quite right, and she could feel Dri'ala fighting her harder as a voice once clear for a split second would muffle again, and an image that would seem to form a picture would be a garbled mystery once more. Lylanya wasn't going to let Dri'ala keep her out now though, not when she'd got this far. She fought hard again, so much so she could hear herself grunting in the real world, which sent shockwaves into the mental realm like earthquakes to crumble the last walls Dri'ala could muster to dust.

Things weren't all familiar here, but they were at least clear. She was inside a ship, or at least it seemed that way. Colours were more vivid than in real life and there was a bright contrast to everything. The edges of her vision were darker and blurred, but all that was in the centre was clear, which wasn't too dissimilar to how she had experienced the previous memory. The voices weren't entirely clear, but they were sharper than the muffled gibberish they had started as. Dri'ala was still resisting her a little, and Lylanya could feel it, but she was too far into it to be stopped now. She could recognise two figures: Garonis and Arann While the turian was nearby just to her right, Arann stood in the centre of her vision, facing and talking to somebody in the distance. He and the other figure were yelling at each other, and then Arann raised his gun at the figure. Dri'ala spoke, and it was the only word Lylanya clearly understood since she'd melded with her.

"No!"

It was spoken not as a sudden outburst of objection, but as a firm and confident declaration. Something blurred into view at the bottom portion of her vision and then flashed with a crisp, loud bang. Arran's head jerked just as Lylanya recognised the now still obstruction as Dri'ala's extended arm with a pistol at the end of it. There was a scream as the drell fell, twisting just in time for Lylanya to catch the final surprised expression that adorned his lifeless face. She saw Sytheria rush to the body shortly before Garonis' surprised visage entered her vision and a blinding light brought her back to reality.



Lylanya opened her eyes, and they met the tear-filled ones of Dri'ala, still pressed up against the wall before her. A trickle of blood had ran out of one nostril to coat her lips and slide down her chin where it met with the streams from her eyes. She looked exhausted, pale and grief-stricken, and Lylanya could tell that she knew she'd found what she was after.

"I'm... I'm sorry," Dri'ala breathed.

Shock left Lylanya to be replaced by pure rage. She gritted her teeth and her breathing accelerated. The meld had taken a lot out of her, but anger had given her a second wind. She let go of Dri'ala's arms, but her right hand clamped around the younger asari's neck like a vice. Dri'ala gasped, both at the strong pressure on her windpipe and in fear.

"Sorry?!" Lylanya hissed.

She drew her left arm back, a fist balling at the end of it, then brought it as hard as she could against Dri'ala's face. Her victim was knocked out of her own grasp to the floor, glancing off a metal filing cabinet that sat between each of their beds. She only had time to get off her stomach to her hands and knees before a second assault came.

"You bitch!" Lylanya growled, pulsing with blue energy. "You fucking bitch! You killed him!"

Dri'ala's body shimmered with biotic power too, but it was not her own. Her body was lifted into the air as Lylanya swept her hand up then propelled her into the far wall beyond the ends of their beds. Dri'ala hit the wall hard, making a nasty dent and fell to the ground. She groaned in pain on the floor, but Lylanya didn't stop there; storming towards her and sweeping her into the air again with her biotics.

"You were jealous! You wanted him and when you couldn't have him..."

Lylanya trailed off as she raised Dri'ala up again. "...You waited until I wasn't there and killed him!"

She heaved her into the wall just past her bed. This time Dri'ala's head struck the wall with a nasty thunk and she dropped behind Lylanya's bed to leave behind a bloody mark in her wake. Lylanya stepped closer and floated her former best friend's now limp body up. The fact that the upper right side of her head was a bloody mess didn't seem to bother Lylanya who screamed at her and swung her around behind her into the opposite wall.

Lylanya's rage had taken complete hold of her, and Dri'ala was slammed into various walls another five times before Sytheria came running in. When she saw the state of Dri'ala from suffering Lylanya's wrath, she was frozen. Her eyes drifted to Lylanya who stood there looking at her; breathing heavily in an almost primal pose with gritted teeth and eyes glazed with rage. Every wall had a smear or splatter of blood on it somewhere and Dri'ala's left arm poked at an unnatural angle.

"By The Goddess!" Sytheria eventually managed to say. "What have you done?"

She was too shocked to be angry, and her mouth seemed incapable of closing. Reality kicked back in and without keeping her eyes off Lylanya she slammed her hand against the door panel to activate the shipwide intercom.

"Tagarn, prep the shuttle. Garonis, get in here with a stretcher right away!"

Two acknowledgment came through the speaker in quick succession and Sytheria tapped the panel again before taking another step into the room towards Lylanya.

"I'm going to ask that you come with me to the brig without a fuss right now," Sytheria stated firmly. "Is that clear?"

All Lylanya did was nod.



"They rushed her to the nearest medical facility," Lylanya explained to Yalo, wiping some tears away. "I just waited in the brig for a week... nobody talked to me. Garonis shoved a bowl of food and a cup of water in through the door twice a day, but that was it as far as contact with the others went."

"She died, didn't she?" Yalo asked. Lylanya nodded, squeezing her eyes closed as if doing so would stop all future tears until the end of time.

"I understand," Yalo said reassuringly. You killed your best friend because she killed your lover out of jealousy, so you've been reluctant to kill since."

"Oh no," Lylanya said, shaking her head. "You don't understand. You don't understand at all."

Yalo twisted his head to one side and she turned to regard him. Sighing deeply and leaning back to stare at the ceiling, she proceeded to explain.

"Sytheria eventually came to me after that week was up."



Lylanya looked up from her bunk to see a familiar form standing in the doorway, wearing a long black and white dress rather than the bulky blue and red armour that normally adorned her.

"She's dying," Sytheria said solemnly, as if they'd last talked only moments earlier instead of more than seven days ago. There was no hint of blame or anger in her voice.

"How..." Lylanya started, before stopping as if speaking felt foreign to her. In truth speaking of Dri'ala made her feel empty and hollow. "How much time does she have?"

"A few days. A week at the most," Sytheria answered, and then there was silence for a long time. "She wants to see you."

Those words hit Lylanya like a tonne of bricks, and she noticed that even Sytheria seemed surprised to be saying them.

"Why?"

The obvious questions didn't always have obvious answers. Sytheria's gaze faltered briefly before returning to meet Lylanya's.

"She said that you didn't fully understand. She said that if... if..."

Sytheria looked away and up, half turning from the younger asari. Lylanya couldn't see the tears, but light gleamed off something near Sytheria's eyes as she moved. The band leader gathered herself up again.

"She said that if she was going to die anyway, she wanted to make sure that you understood."

"Understood what?"

"That's for her to tell you. Now come on... have a shower and get changed. We'll leave as soon as you're ready."

Lylanya nodded and got to her feet. As she went to walk past Sytheria on the way out, her chest hit something and she was halted. It was Sytheria's palm, and as she looked at the older asari she saw a cold seriousness in her eyes.

"I warn you now: if you harm that girl any further in any way... I will kill you."
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:33 pm

Chapter 12 contd...

Wearing more casual attire as opposed to her black commando armour, Lylanya walked into the bright, ultra-clean room where Dri'ala lay; Sytheria following closely behind her. She lay there alone in the centre of the room in a bed, attached to several machines that glowed and made subtle electronic noises now and then. Her right arm was in a cast and most of her head was wrapped in bandages, though one eye and most of her mouth were still visible. As Lylanya gazed down at her she expected to see fear in her eyes and a clear need to escape, but instead that half a mouth smiled and there was a warmth in that single eye that welcomed her. An asari nurse was there and had been in the room from the start, but Lylanya never acknowledged her until she approached.

"You must be Lylanya," she said softly, in a manner Lylanya may have considered condescending in any other environment. "Was Dri'ala's condition explained to you?"

Lylanya's eyes darted away from her injured friend for the first time since she'd entered the room. She didn't say anything, and the nurse looked to Sytheria who merely shook her head.

"To put it simply, she suffered a lot of brain damage," the nurse explained. "Severe brain damage in fact. She doesn't have much time left, and her condition will only continue to degrade as time goes on. Due to her injuries she suffers from speech problems, so you'll have to listen to her carefully when she speaks to you."

"Does...does she know who I am?" Lylanya asked, eyes shifting back to Dri'ala as she wondered if it had anything to do with her warm reception.

"Her memories don't seem to have been effected, despite the level of damage," the nurse assured. "Unfortunately its the other areas of the brain one needs to survive that she's either lost or is losing."

Dri'ala called out something to them, but Lylanya couldn't understand it. The young asari was only speaking out of half of her mouth and the words were clipped and forced, as well as being rather unclear. Lylanya's brow twitched in confusion and she turned to the nurse, who actually chuckled slightly.

"She said, she wouldn't have asked you here if she didn't know you," the nurse translated.

"I'm not so sure," Lylanya whispered, looking back at Dri'ala. It was the nurse's turn to look quizzical, but the only answer she got from anybody was a shake of the head and a stern look from Sytheria. Dri'ala patted the bed with her unbroken arm, inviting Lylanya to sit there. Reluctantly she complied, moving Dri'ala's hand and holding it in her own. Two puzzled eyes stared into one wide one.

"Do you... remember what I--"

Lylanya was cut off as she felt Dri'ala's fingertips touch her lips. Looking at her she saw the younger asari was slowly nodding her head. Lylanya took her hand within her own again.

"Then why are... why did you want me to--"

Dri'ala interrupted Lylanya again, though this time with words. "Need... Tell... You."

"Tell me what?"

"You... Meld... Me."

"You want me to meld with you?"

Dri'ala nodded. Lylanya didn't know how to react.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Sytheria objected from behind them.

"No!" Dri'ala insisted loudly. "Must... Meld. Must... Show."

"Nurse?" Sytheria asked sceptically.

"I have to agree, you're in no condition to be melded with. Even the slightest--"

"Must... Meld!" Dri'ala insisted again. "No... harm. Mind... Open."

She looked up at Lylanya, her single eye glossy with moisture. Lylanya gave her a nod.

"It's okay. If she is opening up to me entirely, then I shouldn't harm her." Lylanya looked over her shoulder at Sytheria. "I won't harm her," she promised.

Making sure that her friend was ready and receiving a nod, Lylanya proceeded to join minds with her, and noticed the ease of transition wildly contrasting the last time.



Lylanya found herself back on the ship where Arran's death took place, once again in Dri'ala's shoes. Things were clearer this time though, so much so that it was like actually being there. The situation was slightly different too, and it took a few moments for Lylanya to realise that it was because events were taking place at a slightly earlier time than when her previous foray into this moment had. The ship they were in seemed elegant in comparison to their own, both when it came to their home and the slightly better shuttle they cruised around in. It was asari in design, which Lylanya could tell instantly from the curves and colours, as well as the layout. There were no angry voices yet, but she got the feeling they'd be coming soon, because she and the others were approaching a room she'd seen before. Arann wandered up ahead upon entering, scanning the surroundings with his eyes as he always did. He indicated some cover in the form of two long couches on either side of the room, and she witnessed Sytheria taking the one on the right while she as Dri'ala hunkered down behind the left one. Garonis stuck by the entrance behind them and when they were all set Arann called out loudly towards the closed door at the opposite end of the room.

"Your guards are either all dead or incapacitated! Surrender yourself and your cargo freely and nobody else will be hurt."

It was good to hear his croaky voice once again, even more-so than it had been to see his dark eyes and dark green skin. For a while there was only silence, save for the uneasy shuffling from those in the room, but eventually a muffled voice responded from beyond the door. Lylanya swore she'd heard the voice before, but she couldn't quite place where, perhaps because it was far away and dampened. It was another asari, of that she was certain. The door slowly creaked open and out stepped a figure in a long, purple dress far more elegant than the items most space travelers would wear. She had deep blue eyes and sky-blue skin, with violet markings around her eyes and cheeks. If she wasn't living in a memory that she had no control over, Lylanya's jaw would have dropped.

Mother?

The thought hit her and the body she was experiencing this through seemed to act accordingly, as if she was in control after all. She sensed Dri'ala's realisation and concern, noticed that she blinked quickly and was looking around between the others wildly. Dri'ala had never met her mother, and Lylanya hadn't seen her herself for years, but she had told Dri'ala who her mother was, and being a young asari she knew exactly who her famous mother was. Dri'ala was the only one who she'd told out of the group in fact, and even then she had only found out due to a slip of the tongue in a pointless conversation about asari clothing. Lylanya didn't exactly want people to know her past.

"A wise choice," Sytheria said, standing up from behind her cover with a respectful nod. "I take it the entrance to the cargo bay is beyond the door behind you?"

"I'm not surrendering," Lylanya's mother answered, her eyes narrowing. "I just came to warn you that this entire section of the ship will be vented to space in less than a minute, and only I have the authorisation and ability to stop that from happening. I suggest you use that time wisely to return to your ship and leave."

"Close that door and I'll shoot!" warned Arann, gun pointed straight at her head. "Deactivate the venting countdown."

"Shoot me and any hope of you stopping it is gone," Lylanya's mother said firmly.

"Or we can just shoot you and get past you through that door where it's safe," Arann said, a glimmer of pride in his voice that the asari that just condescended him had missed a crucial factor.

"Don't hurt her!" Dri'ala's voice called out to the drell.

"That's not your decision to make," Arann called back over his shoulder. He then directed his voice towards Sytheria. "Boss?"

"We're not leaving without those clothes," Sytheria proclaimed firmly. "Those clothes are worth a lot, and we paid far too much for the information on your ship's flight plan to let this one slip through our fingers."

"They're just clothes, Sytheria," Dri'ala objected.

"Dri'ala, be quiet!" Sytheria ordered.

"You're running out of time," Lylanya's mother said.

"Shut up!" Arann yelled at her. "Don't. Move."

"Are you really going to shoot her over some stupid clothes, Arann?" Dri'ala called.

"Dri'ala, shut up!" Arann said, turning his head towards her. Lylanya's mother saw this and moved, not realising exactly how keen the drell's perceptions were. His eyes darted in her direction and his gun lowered down and to the left and fired. Lylanya's mother screamed in pain as there was a small explosion of fabric and blood just above her right knee. She stumbled but caught hold of the edge of the doorframe, pulling herself upright again.

"I warned you!" Arann challenged. "Now... shut the venting countdown off!"

"No way," came the response through gritted teeth. "I'll meet The Goddess before you get my work."

"Suit yourself," Arann said.

His arm raised up, and that's when Lylanya heard the objection and saw the blur of Dri'ala's own arm entering her vision and firing at the drell. The rest was pretty much exactly as she'd witnessed it the first time, as Sytheria rushed to Arran's body and Garonis rushed to Dri'ala with that look of shock on his face as he pulled the gun from her hand. The very last thing she witnessed was Dri'ala glancing towards the far door where Lylanya's mother was propped up in the door frame She was looking back at Dri'ala quizzically for a moment, then took a limp backwards and closed the door behind her. Then, it all faded away.

You did it to protect my mother, Lylanya realised. He was going to kill her, and you shot him to protect her.

Lylanya was left wondering about certain things, but soon heard answers from within Dri'ala's consciousness before she could even finish asking. She wondered about them getting off the ship, but it seemed either Lylanya's mother stopped the venting or the whole thing had been a bluff from the start. She wondered what Sytheria had spoken to Dri'ala about in her quarters when they returned and had locked her out, and it seems Sytheria was shocked and disappointed and wanted Dri'ala to simply leave. She wondered why she was left behind, and it turned out that Sytheria also knew who Lylanya's mother was and had discounted her from the mission for that very reason. She hadn't known that Dri'ala was aware of the fact though. Finally, she wondered if Dri'ala had only shot Arann to protect her mother or whether part of it was because of the jealousy she had sensed. For a while the answer didn't seem to come with that one, so Lylanya went to the most basic questions.

Were you jealous of us? Did you have feelings for him?

This time she got an answer. Two of them in fact.

Yes. A pause. And no.

Lylanya was left wondering again, but the response was already on its way. This time it was visual again, though it was no vision or scene she'd ever witnessed before, either through Dri'ala's memories or her own. Unlike the other memories, she actually saw Dri'ala before her this time rather than possessing her, and she soon realised that this wasn't a memory at all.. She also saw herself, and the scene taking place before her was both surprising and eye-opening at the same time. The two of them were face to face, pressed up against each other and engaged in a very sensual embrace. Everything around them was a black void, and their bare blue bodies seemed to glow to light up only themselves. Their arms roamed over each other's skin and their lips caressed each other softly and lovingly. The kiss broke, and Dri'ala turned her head to look at Lylanya; not the one she was kissing, but the real one witnessing it. The blissful smile she'd had after their lips parted disappeared, a tear rolled down her cheek, and the vision faded to black.



Lylanya opened her eyes to find herself back in the real world, with Dri'ala's large green eye staring back up at her. Lylanya didn't know what to say, and her vision began to blur from the rapidly forming tears.

"I... I didn't know you felt that way," she managed to choke out. "I didn't... Oh, by The Goddess... what have I done?"



The room was so quiet Yalo would have sworn that the void of space beyond the ship's hull would be louder. Lylanya was just leaning right back against the wall, her head hanging down limply with tear-streaked cheeks, as if telling the tale had sucked the very life out of her. Yalo didn't know what to say to what Lylanya had just told him, but he knew his question had been fully answered, and he now felt a little guilty that it had been. The air was uncomfortable, so much so that even Yalo's suit couldn't protect him from it. Whether to say something or just leave or simply wait, the quarian didn't know what was best. He looked away for a moment, then turned back as he heard the asari speak.

"I left the room after that," she continued. "I told Dri'ala that no apology from me would be enough to make up for what I had done, and she gave me this look that seemed to tell me she forgave me anyway, and I didn't feel I deserved it. I said nothing else to her... I just leant down and gently kissed her lips, then left her side, not turning back. I briefly stopped before Sytheria, and I couldn't read the emotions on her face. I simply told her I would be leaving, and I wouldn't be coming back. She seemed to understand and just nodded, and then we both left. I didn't speak to anybody when I had got back, and Sytheria seemed to usher anybody away from me who tried. I packed, and Sytheria took me to the nearest civilised planet. She wished me luck as she dropped me off, and that was the first time she'd spoken to me since we left the hospital. I just told her that I was going to do better for Dri'ala, and that was the last time we saw each other. I'm not sure she knew what I meant... I didn't even exactly know what I meant myself. I got a message from her a few days later telling me Dri'ala had passed away, along with a package. Inside it was Dri'ala's pistol, with a tag tied to the handle that simply said 'From somebody that loved you' on it."

Lylanya pointed wearily at the wall above her bed at the gun displayed there: black with the green stripe on the side angling down the handle. Yalo recognised the gun all too well.

"No wonder you came back for it," he commented. Lylanya managed to smile a little at that, if only for a split second.

"Yes. The gun that killed my lover and was owned by the best friend who loved me whom I killed. Ever since it's been with me."

"Except for the brief moment it was with me," Yalo said.

"No... that was my other gun. A replica," Lylanya explained. "The real one stays up there, above my bed. I would never risk it. But I needed to be reminded of what happened, so I had a replica made to use, so I always have it with me out there as well."

"I wouldn't have thought you'd need a gun to remind you of something like that," Yalo noted. Lylanya lifted her head and looked up at the ceiling with a sigh.

"It's ironic, but I kind of understand the drell a little better after that I think," she uttered. "I'm not sure exactly what their perfect memory is like, but I know that that week of my life is something that's permanently burned into my own. I can remember it all so clearly." Her eyes narrowed a bit. "I don't think I'd actually want to know what a memory like that would be for a drell."

She turned to Yalo, her head sagging and bouncing to the side as she regarded him.

"Moments like that colour you differently from then on, Yalo. Just remember that when it comes time for you to do whatever it is you feel you have to do."

"My feelings don't matter," Yalo responded. "What I'm going to to do must be done. I can't let any sense of guilt or doubt stop me from that."

"Just don't underestimate the price you may have to pay for it. That's all I'm saying. However hard you may think it is, it's going to be much harder."

"I hope so," Yalo answered. "Because I won't deserve anything less."
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Sun Jul 04, 2010 3:04 pm

Chapter 13


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

Now Watching: Babylon 5 - Season 3
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:23 pm

Chapter 14


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby c_nordlander » Sat Aug 07, 2010 9:37 pm

I'll be going away on holiday in a week, so here's a review of up to and including Chapter 13 while I'm still on the computer:

Typoes: “what me made it look” is an obvious typo for “he”. “he's stabbed” should be “he'd stabbed”. “effect you” should be “affect”. “ten minutes drive” should be “minutes'”. “he never expected to see in the Terminus Systems that was for certain” needs a comma after “Systems”. “Peering through the site” should be “sight”. “wearing a bulkier armour than most salarians Yalo had seen and appeared to be directing the others” should be “appearing”. “a modest sized slip” should be “ship”, I'm sure. “We can't afford to spend any more time here than we need to here” has “here” twice (the first one should go, since the second one is necessary for the context). “the creatures face” needs an apostrophe. “but it has seemed longer” should be “had”. “about going things the wrong way” is an obvious typo. “Briefly slammed” should be “briefly slamming”. “the face that was hidden from him in their previous encounter” should be “had been”. “holding onto” should be “holding on to”. “to know knows what fate” is an obvious typo. “for quarter of that” should be “for a quarter of that”. “that's to do with colonising planets I wonder?” needs a comma after “planets”. “before she added"I could get you to him."” needs a space. “it's surface” should be “its”. “that comprised of” should be “that consisted of” or “that comprised” (but I think the first alternative reads better). “an artificial beams”. “didn't used to” (unless that's supposed to be Intarr's pronunciation). “it's sheer size”. “One of the salarian's first three interstellar colonies” should be “salarians'”, since there are many of them. “a few hours time” should have an apostrophe. “non fatal” needs a hyphen. “let along” should be “let alone”. “he could her the sound”. “what happened on Bersilius” should be “what had happened”. “play out as they are meant to” should be “were” (in fact, that whole sentence should be in the past tense). “she was leaning on backrest” needs a “the”. Typo: “Lylannya”. “its likely” should be “it's”. “to admit what happened” should be “what had happened”. “and asari was going to be trusting it” needs a “the”. “the information Lylanya reaped” should be “had reaped”. “the turians mind” should be “turian's”. Typo: “amother”. “out the corner of his eye” should be “out of”. Typo: “with a dark grey stripe horizontal stripe”. “threw the titanium within into the flora then reloaded the container” needs a comma after “flora”. “a noise of content” should be “contentment”. “they said' you guys wouldn't care” seems to have a misplaced quotation mark. “about ones occupation” needs an apostrophe. “able to breath” should be “breathe”. “and the fact any that did exist” needs a “that” after “fact”. Typo: “a bring light” should be “bright”. “used an exclamation he tried not to” should be “he'd”. “he may as well risk it” should be “might”. Typo: “seeing at” should be “as”. “give the salarian's an edge” shouldn't have an apostrophe. “the guard he saw sitting at the desk” should be “had seen”. “despite the fact we have” should be “that we have”. Typo: “tarraform”. “mathematical formula's” shouldn't have an apostrophe. “So succeed we would need not only my data” looks like it's missing something. “so it hasn't taken long” should be “hadn't”. “as he felt Yalo's left arm warp around him” - is that a typo for “wrap”? “The Goddess” shouldn't have “the” capitalised. “even though she knew had nothing to do with whatever happened” should be “she knew she had” etc., and “had happened”. “Why did those words have to echo through her mind.” needs a question mark. “She slapped right right palm against her forehead”. “looked over he shoulder” should be “her”. “her lack if finesse” should be “of”. “she had to big deeper” should be “dig”. “Garonis and Arann While the turian” needs a full stop. “had ran” should be “had run”. “Lylanya may have considered condescending” should be “might”. Dri'ala's memories in Chapter 12 are “affected”, not “effected”. “Unfortunately its the other areas” should be “it's”. “Dri'ala was the only one who she'd told” should be “whom”. “and it seems Sytheria was shocked” should be “seemed”. “that may help one ship for a few years” should be “might”. “it may make up”, again, should be “might”. “staircases that lead” should be “led”.

You also spell Lylanya's old boyfriend's name both “Arann” and “Arran”.

'They know if they were late – this bit should have a double quotation mark rather than a single one.

Intarr keeps being an engaging character (I liked the bit where Yalo thought he was just going to get up on the mound and start shooting at the ship). He's fun and sympathetic. Lylanya is a little annoying, but that seems intentional, and she has a definite personality. The writing style is still good, though it feels a bit lacking in flow in some places. Descriptions are very good. There's some pretty excellent dialogue.

The trick for finding Haedian's location is very clever. I like it.

The unbelievably tautological salarian got a few grins from me. It's extra funny because I first thought you'd actually forgotten the start of his lines and repeated yourself. Joke's on me. :)

There's some very nice and quietly cutting dialogue here, like between Yalo and Haedian in the research building.

Lylanya's backstory works well, and the twist doesn't feel gratuitous.

The final revelation of Yalo's plan is suitably dark, and makes a lot of sense. You could definitely argue both for and against what he's doing.

In short, still a good story, readable and with many enjoyable twists and turns. I'm looking forward to continuing on Chapter 14.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Sun Aug 08, 2010 7:23 am

Just wanted to say "thanks" for finding all those typos, mistakes and errors, Chris. Some are embarrassingly bad, but it's good that you spotted them when I didn't. A lot of them I also recognise as being leftovers from sentences that I altered later... only to accidentally leave in some extra words in the process. That's what I get for editing late at night just before bed I guess. :doh:

The unbelievably tautological salarian got a few grins from me. It's extra funny because I first thought you'd actually forgotten the start of his lines and repeated yourself. Joke's on me.


More than you know. That's actually how I came up with the concept: Initially he spoke normally and I had one line of his where I accidentally had him repeating himself redundantly, which I caught reading through it again later. Since I was already looking to try and give a few more characters some little quirks as it was in order to make them memorable I ended up going back through and editing all his earlier dialogue to fit the "mistake" and then adjusted his future dialogue accordingly. ;D

Anyway, thanks again. I've made the above changes as you suggested at the FF.net and Mass Effect Fanfiction message board versions, and I'll probably post those versions here too when the story is complete (likely as an attached document rather than in the forum posts).

Have a nice holiday. And if you don't see this until you return, then... hope you had a nice holiday! ;D
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby c_nordlander » Fri Aug 13, 2010 9:23 pm

And my opinions on the latest chapter so far:

Chapter 14:

I don't think “plead” is a noun. Either way, I'd change it to “plea”.

Typoes: “was she was trying” should be “what”. “and trying guilt him” needs a “to”. “the once lustful eyes he regarded her with” should be “he had regarded”. You write “Salarian” with a capital S at one point, despite not usually doing that with the names of the races.

The conversation between Yalo and Lylanya is very good: dramatic without trying too hard. Especially the end, and the fact that they both respect each other enough to hear each other out.

This might seem odd, but... I like how you write out “Mister”. It brings home how this is an exotic form of address for Yalo. I also like how the human mannerisms are described in a rather detailed fashion, as they would seem

Bert Morton is a nice character, and the whole negotiation scene is well-written. Some genuinely funny lines too, despite the seriousness of the situation. (I like Haedian's early contribution to the discussion.)

All in all, a nice development of the situation. The style feels a little bland in a few places, but it's still an absorbing story, and the events in this chapter made a lot of sense. I'm looking forward to seeing what Yalo's original plan is.

Kudos, and by all means keep going!
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:16 pm

Thanks again for the feedback, Chris. Much appreciated. ;D

Chapter 15


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:30 pm

Chapter 16


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby c_nordlander » Sun Sep 26, 2010 9:08 pm

Typoes and nitpicks: “ It's not that he didn't like” would be better as “it was not that” etc. “it was still nonetheless” doesn't need both “still” and “nonetheless”. “your hiding” should be “you're”, and “will make be question whether I even want to follow him” seems to have one wrong word. “the lens of mounted camera” needs an “a”. “The rest of the room contrasted what prefaced it too” seems to need a “with”. “the old'boss and secretary affair cliché” needs a space, and another quotation mark at the end. “turn you into some authorities” is a bit of a funny typo (should be “in to”). “exchanges violence and weapons fire were likely going to take place” is missing something (“of”?). “the fact you betrayed me in the first place, or the fact you continued to drag me along” might not be incorrect, but would sound a lot better with “the fact that you” both times. “to cure something that probably never will be” would sound a lot better with “cured” at the end.

A guy with the surname “Ivanova”? Well, I guess it might work like that in the future.

The “caveman” joke made me laugh so much, as did the following fight.

Nice jab at the “ice planet” conventions of older SF. That thing annoys me to no end.

Yalo's character is starting to show a nice tinge of darkness.

I really like Haedian's dialogue at the start of chapter 16. It's pretty hilarious.

Well... I'm finding it increasingly hard to review this chapter-by-chapter, as the story is always in development. The plot is still great and original, with a nice turn at the end of the latest chapter (with some very nice dialogue, to boot). The writing remains good, even a bit better than before. I care about the character, and minor characters (like Talia and her brother) feel credible as well. Really, there is nothing bad about this story, but I'll probably need to read it all before I can review it more fully.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:21 am

c_nordlander wrote:A guy with the surname “Ivanova”? Well, I guess it might work like that in the future.


Good spot, I completely forgot about Russian naming conventions until you mentioned it. I'll change Gregory's last name when I make the rest of the edits. Thanks again. :)
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Sat Oct 02, 2010 6:57 am

Chapter 17


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby c_nordlander » Sat Oct 09, 2010 9:18 pm

Typoes and similar: “which is why” in the narration should be “which was why”; “he had immediately chose” should be “chosen”; “if he had more time” should be “if he'd had”; “had been empty of not”; “tore by dress” should be “my”; “that once adorned her drink” should be “that had once”.

When a character's dialogue goes on for more than one paragraph, there shouldn't be closing quotes at the end of the first paragraph (you have this at Haedian's line towards the end of the penultimate scene in Chapter 17).

This chapter starts on a very dramatic and well-written scene. Very tense.

Spoiler


Lylanya's and Talia's conversation is very good, though the prose gets a bit purple towards the end of that scene.

Interesting twist here with
Spoiler
I wonder if my theory about where this is going will turn out to be true...

The end of the chapter certainly caught my interest.

Still good, though the prose was a bit purple in a few places, and I can tell the plot is tightening up for the finale. I'm really intrigued as to what will happen to Yalo. Good luck writing the rest!
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"
User avatar
Kif White
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby Kif White » Sat Oct 16, 2010 4:06 am

Chapter 18


Spoiler
- Kenneth White

"Know the conflict within before facing the conflict without."

Now Watching: Babylon 5 - Season 3
Now Playing: Dragon Age Origins: Awakening, Pokemon Heart Gold
Now Reading: Catch 22
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Re: Mass Effect Digression

Postby c_nordlander » Sat Oct 23, 2010 7:58 pm

Nitpicks: “perhaps the thermoregulator was damaged in whatever he had been involved in” would be better as “perhaps the thermoregulator had been damaged”. “Me may have” should be “He”. “she could now make our” should be “out”.

Very nicely written first scene.

Yalo's dream has a great mood to it and is very powerful. It scared me quite a bit. A bit melodramatic in places, but that's just a few isolated sentences.

Very good dialogue with Lylanya. In fact, that whole scene is great.

I think a problem with your writing style in this chapter (and probably in a few other places) is this: it is very verbose. There is a time for lush description (in more moderate amounts, it does the job showing that Yalo is unfamiliar with things like soil and oceans), and I'm not saying that you should always write everything in the minimum number of words, but you need to watch out for unnecessary words. For example: “It was as blue as the sky above, only natural considering it was reflecting it perfectly off its flawless surface”. The second part of this sentence is verbose. A good exercise is to go through your writing, using the highlighting function to mark words that aren't absolutely necessary to the sentence, and think about whether they add anything to it, perhaps remove them and see if you end up with a better flow.

(To your credit, though, it seems limited to the dream sequence, at least in this chapter.)

“New Rannoch” in Yalo's title in his dream feels a bit off, considering the rest of the title is in the quarian language. At the same time, I'm not bothered by it. I guess I'm kind of fifty-fifty on whether it should be in English or in Quarian.

All in all, great chapter. A pretty creepy nightmare, and the last scene leaves me looking forward to what comes next. I feel quite sorry for Yalo, even though I don't sympathise with his goal. Keep up the good work.
The noose draws tighter;
This is the end;
I'm a good fighter
But a bad friend;
I've played the traitor
Over and over;
I'm a good hater
But a bad lover.


Elinor Wylie, "Peregrine"

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