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Zaeed Space: A Mass Effect and Dead Space Crossover

Jan 23rd, 2014
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  1. ((I’m doing this mostly off the crack simply because I just wanted to do write something Mass Dead Space. Someone stop me if no one gives a shit.))
  2.  
  3. “Listen you paper boned ship monkey, I don’t give a damn if Shepard’s planet side, I’ve been paid, I’m moving on.”
  4.  
  5. “Gee can’t you cool it for a day or two Zaeed? You can walk out the airlock if you want out so bad. Second shuttle’s already prepping for a trip down to get supplies and you can swing the commander later…”
  6.  
  7. “You’re right kid, we blew up the boogiemen, and some of us get to relax. But if you don’t want to bring the Alliance a cruiser with a hull crack, you’ll swing the gates open when I fly it out of here.”
  8.  
  9. “The Normandy’s hull can’t be penetrated in the manner described Mr. Masani.” The vaguely anthropomorphic projection of EDI materialized. At her appearance, Zaeed slid a small stack of binders onto the projector, making her representation disappear.
  10.  
  11. “Well maybe all I’ll do is lower the property value, but I’ll warn you, my blood needs three kinds of industrial cleaner before it fully washes out.” Zaeed hardly looked like an old man as he walked away, but whatever was on his mind made him one.
  12. ===
  13. Zaeed stopped in the armory to pick up Jessie. He knew he’d need her, even if no one in the world could understand why he’d need a rusted up gun. And that’s just what Zaeed was used to, people not having clue about doing things that felt right.
  14.  
  15. When he cracked the bay doors there was a swarm of crew members working the shuttle bay. They scuttled like ants, making the most of the time their gracious Batarian hosts had given them to work in their solar jurisdiction.
  16.  
  17. Five months of treaties, six of repealing anti-xeno laws, a few billion credits, and 52 press conferences. That’s what it took to get to the Normandy in orbit around Khar’Shan.
  18.  
  19. And the killer was that the Normandy wasn’t even re-instated yet as an official Alliance ship. This whole fucking trip was composed of two parts, Shepards goodwill, and Batarian arrogance. Simple merchant vessels wouldn’t cut it for whatever the Hegemony were selling the Alliance.
  20.  
  21. But who gave a shit about Batarian solar space? The dead space was what caught his attention. Outside of the gravity well of the Harsa system, Zaeed picked up a signal on one of his antique devices. He’d lifted it off a vintage dealer on Shanxi. It was a piece of shit that no one in their right mind would ever use, that’s why his contact had gotten it to give him his instructions. It was ingenious as hell, and he kept it for the story.
  22. ===
  23.  
  24. The bay doors slowly retracted to the confusion of the many dock workers. Lucky for them that the shields stopped the vacuum or there’d be a lot of bad things happening just about now.
  25.  
  26. The docking clamps released and the shuttle dropped into space.
  27.  
  28. “Why now Zaeed? You could have left for Omega the second the collectors were dealt with and we’d never have seen each other again.” Shepard sounded stern, and he was still using his commander voice like Zaeed was obligated to connect the dots for him.
  29.  
  30. “And thrown out the opportunity to take the most advanced ship humanity has ever glued together to Vido’s door? You must think that being a mercenary makes me an idiot Shepard. To be honest I half wished we never went, at least then I could have had that little shit in my hands and given him the same chance he gave me.”
  31.  
  32. “You mean a bullet to the face? I guess being a mercenary just meant that you were going to let the colonists burn, am I right?”
  33.  
  34. “Piss off Shepard.” He flipped off the comm’s unit, and then actually flipped it off.
  35.  
  36. He marked down the coordinates he’d got from his antique and waited. There was enough fuel in the shuttle to make it to the coordinates and back. The fuel draw was nominal when you didn’t need the Kodiak’s mass effect fields, so Zaeed’s last concern was the shuttle.
  37. ===
  38. He couldn’t stop thinking of the message he got in the dead of night though. A piece of equipment that hadn’t transmitted a single signal for fifteen years simply decided to send a message like that. From Batarian dead space. His curiosity hadn’t gotten the better of him in a long time.
  39.  
  40. It felt good to be a clueless idiot again, doing things on half-hunches and gut feelings. Zaeed was less sure that he was doing these things for money every day. Maybe he’d finally cracked and become one of those adventure craving types.
  41.  
  42. But the message was what disturbed Zaeed most. The nightmare is over but it won’t end.
  43.  
  44. He swung Jessie into his gut and started to choke him with his robotic arm, before Zaeed himself realized what he was doing.
  45.  
  46. ===
  47. “I guess I picked up a hitchhiker, and my does he have the itchy trigger finger. Now listen here you goddam piece of shit, do you know what’s choking you right now?
  48.  
  49. “What’s that? You can’t answer me, with this magnificent piece of engineering in you windpipe? Let me give you the brief then. The base structure is pretty simple, a carbon fiber casing with steel pistons inside, and guess what? Those steel pistons can move independently of the rest of my body, so I could pull back the weights and punch you without even moving my hand. By the way, it’s coated in the same material as the most expensive of starships, Silaris armor. “
  50. He dropped his victim to the floor. He waited a few seconds while the Batarian he’d choked gasped for air.
  51.  
  52. Maybe he monologued a bit too long, poor man was still on the ground but it gave Zaeed a chance to have a good look at him. He was a bit underweight for a batarian, but exceptionally toned. He had light brown highlights on his face while the rest of his skin was a faded ashen color. He wore ivory colored armor, decorated with golden orange highlights.
  53.  
  54. “I yield, I yield.”
  55.  
  56. “Good. What’re you still doing on this shuttle? Last I checked they were prepping it for launch with cargo down to Khar’Shan. You’re not telling me you’re the cargo and that the Alliance is suddenly into slavery are you?”
  57.  
  58. ===
  59.  
  60. “No… I was *cough*, slacking off in the shuttle. I’m Alliance goddammit.”
  61.  
  62. “Now I know I choked you too hard, that or you’re a shitty liar. A Batarian Alliance soldier? I’ve been around this galaxy more than twice over, and this is a first even for me.”
  63.  
  64. The batarian had to fight through another fit of coughs before he replied. “It’s hard being a Batarian, but on Khar’Shan it’s even worse. I just took the best to get as far as I could.”
  65.  
  66. “You’re doing a shit job of it. I’ll do you a favor.” Zaeed slammed the Batarian into a seat and omni-handcuffed him to a hand railing nearby. “Don’t follow me and you won’t die.”
  67.  
  68. His head pounded but he tried to keep his focus. He uttered a groan and tried to speak. “Ugh…. You can’t leave me out here. Where are we?”
  69.  
  70. ===
  71. Zaeed kept his silence as he checked the scans and came up nothing. Even though his coordinates should be in range to mark down any sort of large object out in space. Zaeed kept the ship going, unwilling to believe his gut was wrong. It took awhile, but finally he got visual on what looked like a ship. Not just any ship, a regular sized dreadnought! On it the words, USG Rasputin, accompanied by a picture of a roaring bear swallowing a small circle that could have been a planet of some sort, were visible from a glowing projection on its mid section.
  72.  
  73. “Bloody hell, you’d think a ship this size would be on every scan Batarian satellite buoys could come up with.”
  74.  
  75. The struggling batarian suddenly fell silent; he was starring out at the ship with a deep pondering look.
  76.  
  77. “USG Rasputin, this is the Normandy SR2 Transport Shuttle do you read me?” “Come in USG Rasputin. No response of course. Whatever they have that’s blocking the Hegemonies scanners is probably what’s blocking the comms. That’s always a bad sign.”
  78.  
  79. “The door will seal itself after me, but for the second or two of vacuum you should still wear this.” Zaeed handed a helmet off to the batarian who hadn’t said a word to protest his situation.
  80.  
  81. “What do you suppose is down there? I’ve never seen a design like this on a ship before, maybe it’s a new species?”
  82.  
  83. “And you suppose they write their ship signs in Russian?”
  84.  
  85. “That’s just a different kind of human right?”
  86.  
  87. “That’s debatable, sons a bitches are always rude to me and handle their vodka like Krogan handle anything else.”
  88.  
  89. Zaeed sealed his own suit, and the shuttle doors opened upward, revealing the USG Rasputin’s massive size.
  90.  
  91. “Aren’t you gonna find a place for the shuttle to land?”
  92.  
  93. “For all I know the gravity tethers might be broken, or who’s gonna open up for us?”
  94. ===
  95. The Kodyak came with a harpoon gun that a shuttle could use for covert ship insertions, without having to even dock on the hull’s surface.
  96.  
  97. Zaeed used it more than once during his career, and he loved the ride every time. The line left between the shuttle and the USG Rasputin was stiff and rigid, so that when Zaeed created an omni-tool zipline, all he needed was the shove from the shuttle and the air in his boots to guide him to the hull. He felt light as a feather, and was gliding on the rail at the same speed you’d ride a bike at.
  98.  
  99. If the view from space won’t ever impress you, then the silence of it will. Khar’Shan was the size of a tennis ball out in the distance, and its sun was barely poking out from behind it. His breathing was the only thing that rung out in his ears.
  100.  
  101. Then his mag-lock boots touched and the wonder of it all was lost on Zaeed, who was too firmly fixed on getting to the bottom of this mystery. He’d landed near the ships primary thrusters, and Zaeed could see the engines were cold. He just assumed the engines were his most reliable bet. Usually you could count on the engines frying any would be boarding party, but on a cold ship it meant an easy way to bypass virtually all security measures.
  102.  
  103. He hustled as fast as he could, hoping that the engines wouldn’t suddenly flare on him. The exhaust stretched out for what could easily have been a city block. By the time Zaeed reached the end he had a good huff to his breath.
  104.  
  105. He finally arrived at a gargantuan door that wrote ENGINE ROOM & FUEL CHAMBERS. There didn’t seem to be a maintenance door, just two scaffolds, with two interfaces on either side.
  106. ===
  107. So Omni-Handcuffs were resistant to the Omni-tools torch. “Fuck that kwarsan!” Quoros gritted his teeth, this might be the roughest patch of his pirate career yet. It didn’t help that two of his eyes were covered by this helmet too. He tried to be delicate about it, last thing he needed was a hole in his armor.
  108.  
  109. After a good while he gave up, and gave himself a breather. Anyone with more brains than a vorcha would make omni-cuffs resistant to torches. He’d sooner chop his hand off before he did anything significant. His head still pounded, and he could almost feel that hand clasping his throat.
  110.  
  111. “Let’s go Scorch, think outside of the box. You’re batarian, we always have the element of surprise! What do you have that he doesn’t?”
  112.  
  113. Scrolling through his Omni-tool programs he finally found something. It was highly illegal, provided solely by Batarian State Arms, and nearly outside of the Terminus, no one used it. Working Alliance for a time almost drove the configuration from his mind, but this most certainly did the trick.
  114.  
  115. The bindings snapped as Quoros popped on his Blade Armor and the wrist blades dug into the cuffs as they expanded.
  116.  
  117. “Now you’ve got an easy choice here Scorch, do what the Hegemony always told you and alert the authorities , do what being in the Terminus taught you and steal the ship and run, or just go and harp over to the Aliance.”
  118.  
  119. “Decisions, decisions.”
  120.  
  121. “Why would you ever go there, there’s probably nothing worth your life down there. There’s a crazy old kwarsan making like an archeologist and a strangely shaped human vessel at the edge of space. Isn’t this how every gwymberin starts?”
  122.  
  123. “But doesn’t a gwymberin always have an unexpected hero willing to save the day in an extremely stupid and explosive manner?” An intelligent, drawling and languishing voice said.
  124.  
  125. “Who said that?!”
  126.  
  127. Silence rung out, and the only thing that stared back was a security mech, who was curled up in a ball.
  128.  
  129. “Well it never hurts to seize glory as long as you have a backup plan…”
  130. ===
  131.  
  132. Equipped with a katana shotgun, a predator pistol, no grenades, one detonation charge, and only one application of medigel. And a spare helmet. A spare helmet made for batarian faces.
  133.  
  134. That’s how “Scorch” Quoros Shar’dan planned to enter a derelict ship.
  135.  
  136. “If I make it out of here I’m giving myself a medal.”
  137.  
  138. “FS-72 has made note of this comment, and will remind you upon your safe return, Private Shar’dan.” The singular Cyclops eye stared in his direction from the pilots seat.
  139.  
  140. “You do me honor FS-72, match speed and keep the comm’s open, monitor things out here and tell me if you get visual on anyone coming in.”
  141.  
  142. “Shall I not check the radar sir?”
  143.  
  144. “No chance 72, this whole place is like a small nebula, whatever is causing it is on that ship, and its masking all radar and heat signature detection equipment.”
  145.  
  146. “Understood, Private Shar’dan.”
  147.  
  148. “Here goes nothing, WAHOOOOOOOOOOOO.”
  149.  
  150. Scorch cannon balled into the vacuum.
  151.  
  152. ===
  153.  
  154. “Please wait for your partner CEC Engineer.” Was the message that flashed on the holo screen. The silence was deafening, as if the universe had to expound on the moment where Zaeed Masani, mercenary for over sixty years was about to be beat by a door interface.
  155.  
  156. “Dogs balls, I need to be at BOTH scaffolds, well now I have to go and find myself a vent to crawl in. What a shitty day I’m having.”
  157.  
  158. “Not as shitty as mine human.”
  159.  
  160. The pistol met no one, but he could see the tiny figure of the batarian walking towards him.
  161.  
  162. “I swear if you were about fifty paces closer I could make batarian salsa with your brain matter.”
  163.  
  164. The figure stopped dead in its tracks.
  165.  
  166. “They used to call me an idiot back on my freighter, but someone marching in alone into a ghost ship may have just taken my duncecap from me.”
  167.  
  168. “Is THAT how you want to convince me to let you tag along?”
  169.  
  170. “Oh why of course, because appealing to your sense of kindness will get me plenty of places.” His voice started to quaver, ever so slightly. “The last thing I expected was a trip with the safety wheels on. “ He steadied his breath. “Consider us… as working in the same space, not as a squad. “
  171.  
  172. Zaeed holstered his pistol, and waved the batarian over.
  173.  
  174. “You can Zero-G jump over here, there’s flat metal for your grav-boots on the wall.”
  175. ===
  176. “Well to start, you’ve got me at a bloody disadvantage don’t you? If you know my name that means I have to know yours.” The Batarian’s maneuvered himself such that he jumped once onto the airlock door and then to the scaffold, his echoing breath, the only sound in a world of incomparable silence.
  177.  
  178. “My name’s Quoros. But people who’ve seen me blow up buildings call me Scorch.”
  179.  
  180. “Got the knack for demolitions then? If I had a penny for every batarian who had a fetish for brutality and explosives I’d have my own frigate by now.”
  181.  
  182. Scorch drew breath to speak, but Zaeed held up three fingers and started counting. On the third count Quoros tapped the holo-interface and the airlock started to whir slowly, and the vibrations in the metal around them made a feeling that could almost be described as noise the pair could hear.
  183.  
  184. “Yeah..” “That’s not the first time I’ve heard similar...”
  185. Scorch stood silently willing the doors to open faster. Zaeed took cover behind the scaffold, a Carnifex at the ready. Unable to hold back the resentment he took a great sigh, his annoyance saturating every word he spoke.
  186. ”Lemme guess, someone you knew died in the Skylian Blitz right?”
  187. Silence.
  188. “Batarian slave raid?”
  189. Silence.
  190. “Some guy gave you the short end of the stick on a deal?”
  191. Silence. Something broke inside Quoros, and words began to tumble out of his mouth.
  192. “It seems so clear cut from your side of the fence but you know what? For us the only choices are being the livestock, being the butcher, or muscling your way of the cage and running away. Yeah I chose being a pirate. It sure beat digging up ezo for three meals a week and a new set of rags every month.”
  193. Again, this time more deafening than ever. Silence.
  194.  
  195. ===
  196.  
  197. Scorch looked around, Zaeed was nowhere to be seen, and the great engine airlocks had finally opened. Feeling more than stung by his partners running off, Scorch followed inside to see if Zaeed was ahead.
  198.  
  199. Within were four great engines, each spaced five meters apart, all pointing to where Scorch had come from. Somewhere behind these elevators were several ladders and an elevator.
  200.  
  201. Still no sign of the old bastard, or any other life for that matter. Zaeed was either as fast as a lightning bolt or…
  202.  
  203. Scorch was suddenly on guard, his shotgun at the ready, highly aware of the other possibility. That Zaeed may have been snatched up by whatever was on this ship.
  204.  
  205. Looking back he saw that the bulkhead doors were already half-way through shutting, and that again the controls on this side also asked for two “CEC” engineers. “Just like the squad used to say. Keep a grin on your face until you’re luck runs out. Ship like this has a thousand exits, and with a detonator I can make a thousand more.”
  206.  
  207. Quoros advanced to the elevator and began the slow ascent to the scaffold where he could get a closer look at the engines, and hopefully the exit.
  208.  
  209. A quick glance revealed to Scorch, that he knew nothing about how to work an engine like this. Several signs had a weird magnet symbol over them, the word GRIP plastered over the neon blue. The holo-interfaces were all orange, and read ADMNISTRATIVE LOCKDOWN, but he could see the faded out settings and dials were far beyond Scorch’s basic piloting and repair skills.
  210.  
  211. The fascination Scorch felt for this place made him forget completely about the missing Zaeed, or his own predicament. It was a mistake a seasoned vet. like Zaeed would never make. When he thought of this Scorch tore himself away from the wonder, and looked around.
  212.  
  213. He found a door at the far end of the scaffold. Like most things in the ship it bore a holo-interface that shone blue, its flickering light catching the fan blades that circled in the vent over to the left of the door. He walked slowly towards the door, training his shotgun on the door, almost sure that at any moment whoever owned the ship would storm in to capture the stowaways.
  214.  
  215. Take slow deliberate steps,
  216. To catch your breath,
  217. Keep that aim steady,
  218. And you’ll be ready,
  219. Even when a Krogan charges,
  220. Steady feet give easy targets.
  221. “EXITING ZERO GRAVITY”
  222. ===
  223.  
  224. THAT… had scared him. The hissing air and the robotic voice had made him shoot off a round into the door without thinking.
  225.  
  226. Checking the Omni-readout of the room’s atmosphere did indeed reveal to Scorch that the pressure and atmosphere were in safe regions for batarians. He wasted no time in replacing his helmet to one that allowed all four of his eyes to peer out.
  227.  
  228. Before he could finish, the doors opened and for the second time Zaeed pointed a pistol at his head.
  229.  
  230. “Goddammit Rookie, are you trying to ring the dinner bell or does not having killed in five minutes make all your kind twitchy?”
  231.  
  232. “What the… where’d you come from? You just vanished on me a second ago!”
  233.  
  234. “The fuck are you talking about Rookie? I’ve been here the length of it, when you got quiet as a church mouse I figured I’d scout ahead. Now let’s go back to that before you stir up so much crazy I’ll have trouble handling it. “
  235.  
  236. A weight had been lifted off Scorch, now knowing that he wasn’t alone.
  237. ===
  238.  
  239. Zaeed woke up in a vent. It was cramped as could be and the air smelled like puke. As soon as he tried to move a splitting headache stopped him mid crawl.
  240. “Dogs balls, it feels like I had sex with a Krogan.” “Rookie, do you read me?” The static was the only reply in the earbud.
  241.  
  242. "Shit, now were in deep, how'd I even get here?" Zaeed took inventory and found himself in what looked like a ventilation shaft large enough for him to be able to crouch in.
  243.  
  244. Another attempt at crawling confirmed to Zaeed that his legs had been both dislocated.
  245.  
  246. “We’ll I couldn’t have picked a more cozy place for this if I’d tried.” With a great heave he was on his back, and could have a proper look. Zaeeds armor was all slimed up with what looked like meat and pus. He gripped his right leg tightly, took a deep breath, and grimaced. With a satisfying pop the leg came into place. But the pain was too much for him, and the world started to fade to black.
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