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Societies are deeply interconnected systems. It takes more than just a few fields of (often looked down upon by natural scientists) study to encompass the complexity of multiple layers, countless variables and innumerable feedback loops, so much so that many would consider the very endeavour pointless. After all, even though the whole image may be complex, individual agents can often quite easily get by just following a simple set of principles.

During your studies you learned more than a few instances where even a small gesture can unleash a cascade of consequences, just as well as grand acts that ended up fizzling out, smothered by foam of minor circumstance. At times the two patterns clashed, sometimes more, sometimes less spectacularly.

Sometimes you catch yourself wondering whether you'd be able to guess where your actions would show up in this causal network. Right now, however, you feel like you may be on the better end of the wave.

Let nobody tell you that good deeds go unrewarded. Sometimes things just work out better than expected.

You are doctor Henri Ford, special consultant for Citadel Institute of Xenoarchaeology, captain of the modified Kowloon freighter MSV Chariot and currently engaged in a side business of politics and international relations. Tying together several strands of events you find yourself on a holocall with the Quarian admiral of the civilian fleet regarding commander Kang's pet project - the orbital shipyard.

You silently inhale to calm yourself. It occurs to you that you've made the leap in bringing this to Quarian admiralty and soon the matter will be out of your leagues when the brass discusses it in earnest. If you had any final input to be considered while admiral Koris is still making up his mind, now is the time.

"Respectfully, yes. There is. Admiral, I'm sure you can recognize that once finished this project will be quite prominent for the Alliance - first post-crisis orbital construction, and a spacecraft assembly yard. And considering its position in the heart of Alliance territory it is going to be both a pride and a sensitive location for Earth's military."

"Hmm... yes, I can see how that would be." The admiral comments in the pause as you draw breath.

"The point being I'd like to advise restraint in terms to public advertising and image building when discussing the terms of cooperation."

"What do you mean? Are you suggesting to not take this as an opportunity to showcase the spirit of cooperation between our people?"
>>
"That is exactly what I'm saying, admiral." You nod. "I understand the appeal of such a gesture and very much welcome what it represents, but there are downsides to it that can't be downplayed. Making the shipyard ostensibly a joint project would draw much of the domestic political benefit away from Alliance as a whole as well as from the agents within Alliance who came up with it in the first place. Additionally, diplomatic dimension of the project would draw attention and scrutiny not only from Earthlings but from the Citadel nations as well which would no doubt affect various aspects of shipyard's operations."

"I see. Not only we'd be 'stealing the thunder', I believe the expression goes, of your fleet, we'd also hamper their use of the installation. Very well, captain Ford, I will keep your arguments under consideration."

Of course, you think to yourself, that doesn't mean he actually has to adopt them. The man has reputation of a career politician, although one with actual heart, which is by no means a requirement.

"Thank you, sir. I hope the matter is resolved to everyone's satisfaction."

"I believe it will, captain Ford. Thank you for bringing it to our attention. Admiral Zaal'Koris, Civilian fleet, over and out."

The comm unit falls silent and you find yourself metaphorically returned from the stars to the laborer bunkhouse as it bathes in combination of artificial and late morning light.

"Well, that's this then." You mumble. Then something strikes you. "So, Lea, would the orbital shipyard count towards your pilgrimage gift?"

The quarian looks at you.

"Oh, eager to be rid of me already, captain Ford?" she asks.

"I-"

She chuckles. "Sorry, cap. I mean... yeah, it would probably be enough. I could easily board one of the ships when it's being serviced and offer my part in making that possible as my contribution, and it would be well received, I think. At the same time, it's not really how I wanted to complete my pilgrimage... or when."
>>
>"Don't worry. We will find you something special to bring back."
>"Oh, not so eager to leave my company, are you?"
>"You do realize that considering how our jobs are going further association with me may make it even dangerous for you down the line?"
>"Did you come up with something specific to look for yet?"
>other response

And then...

>Talk about something else (specify)
>End conversation, head over to check on the bishop
>End conversation, call Kris and get update from him
>End conversation, call Wong and arrange the interview
>End conversation, check the News
>End conversation, go do something else (specify)
>>
>>3984513

>"Oh, not so eager to leave my company, are you?"
Jokingly
And then
>"you know what I'm trying to do, and you know the risks, you've accepted them before and I'm grateful, and a space port would be very anticlimatic don't you think?

To continue the conversation.

>"so tell me, what places of the galaxy would you like me to take you to? When we are capable of leaving this system of course."

The pilgrimage is as much as to benefit the general quarian people as it is a learning and experience gathering situation foe the quarian in question, its too early for her to leave as she has seen too little too.
>>
>>3984554
+1
>>
>>3984554
+1


Nice!
>>
>>3986078
After speaking with her we could call kru├žis on the wsybto the bishop
>>
>>3984554
+1
Also, calling Kris is a good idea.

Glad to see you again, QM!
>>
"Oh, so maybe it's you who is not eager to give up on my company, miss Fari?" You ask with a smug grin.

Lea inclines her head, her eyes narrowing. You relax into a smile and raise hands in conciliatory gesture.

"Don't worry. I understand, or at least I think I do anyway. You signed up for an adventure, returning so soon would be anticlimactic."

She nods slowly. "Yes... I suppose you could put it that way. Although these few days have been quite..." she trails off. You begin to wonder whether you should say something when she breaks the silence again. "I expected adventure, though I did not expect to experience so much of it so quickly, before we're even allowed to travel. And there were other things that I... did not anticipate."

You keep yourself from frowning as your gaze drops to follow her arm. She was absently tracing her fingers on the sidearm at her side.

"Yeah, well... to be honest this pace is quite new to me as well. I did not think I'd ever find myself dealing with galactic politics on such personal level." You decide to change the topic. "Or that we'd..." You begin, then trail off as you attempt to look for words that would refer to some more esoteric matters you've been recently confronted with without giving away too much to an accidental listener.

"...end up dipping into holoentertainment business in the process." Eve helpfully finishes.

"...yeah." You flash your synthetic friend a smile, then turn back to Lea. "So, no regrets yet?"

"Rest assured cap, if you give me a reason to regret signing up, you'll know." The Quarian says, her voice firm and confident. "So far, I don't think I could've asked for better company." She adds, turning to Eve as well as she speaks.

You can't help but smile at that.

"So," You ask after a while. "Speaking of travels and adventures, once the Relays are up again, what parts of the galaxy would you like to see?"

"All of it." is the reply - from both ladies simultaneously. The three of you share a laugh over that.

"I'll put that on our flight plan, then." You say with a grin. "Anything specific, though? We're going to have to start somewhere."

"Well, we have a few leads, right?" Lea says. "The worlds my mother told you about. Maybe we'll find some mysteries there, waiting to be solved."

"Those are certainly good starting points." You nod. "But you don't need to restrict yourself to leads we have now. It may well be we find new one to follow around any of the stars we visit."
>>
"Well, in that case, what about more remote stars in Attican traverse? There's plenty of barely explored stars past the relays Alliance opened. There's going to be a lot in Terminus sector as well, but I'd expect these to be more dangerous."

"That is a possibility, but at this juncture not a quantifiable one." Eve says. "In the wake of Reaper attacks, all major population centers will have been obliterated. Anyone fortunate enough to escape immediate destruction would be hard pressed to simply survive in absence of merchant traffic and with destroyed infrastructure. New social structures are likely to emerge in any group large enough to support them with underlying values difficult to predict."

"So... we have no idea what to expect from the locals, assuming any are surviving." You translate for yourself.

"Do you really think Alliance colonists could turn into raiders comparable with Terminus pirates?" Lea asks.

"I do not know. But transition between the two are known to exist. There are some personality traits common between Attican colonists and Terminus outlaws, most prominently distrust towards central authorities."

You inhale. "Well, that was uplifting. Let's get back on topic of our future voyages." You pause to ponder. "There's the unlinked clusters..."

"Very impractical. The time spent on voyage alone could be better spent surveying multiple linked worlds." Eve states.

"On the other hand, there may be mysteries there outside of what any Citadel species has ever encountered." You point out.

"Are we prepared for what we might find there, though?" Lea asks, picking up.

"Fair point." You concede.

"I'd..." Lea says after a moment. "...maybe like to see Rannoch, but... I'm not sure if it would be possible."

"What should be the issue?"

"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to return until the pilgrimage's over. It's maybe not technically part of flotilla, but it's definitely part of our society."

"I guess you won't be the only one facing this question. Pilgrimage is after all a rite linked directly to the Quarian exile." You note.

She looks off into distance.

"Well, either way, the world's not going anywhere. We're not going to give it up again."
>>
"In any event I'm sure we'll be able to visit. And I think Kris will want to see how Tuchanka is faring."

Your thoughts wander briefly towards the Krogan homeworld, site of a significant symbolic victory over the Reapers, and unmaking of the Genophage - but at cost of the weather control system put in place by Salarians to temper the violent postapocalyptic climate of the ravaged, savage world. With Wrex isolated on Earth, it was anyone's guess what the situation was on its surface, or below...

"Speaking of, let's see how Kris is doing." You shake off the idle thoughts over matters well out of your control and bring up the comlink.

"Ford." Your friend and colleague. "Let me guess, you need me to bust your ass out of some mess."

"Very funny." You shake your head. "although admittedly you did take those words straight out of my mouth."

"Hrmm." The Krogan growls. "Well, as it happens, it did not take much and you wouldn't be too far off the mark. We've narrowly avoided an altercation with the vigilantes here."

"Wait, what?" You frown. "I thought you were going to go on one last hunt. There was an ambush?"

"Yeah, about that... ah, I suppose there's not much point dwelling on that now. Bottom line is, we're headed back to camp to have some serious talk with some of the vigilantes. I convinced them someone is feeding this conflict."

"You... did? That's actually pretty great!" You say. If Kris managed to get through to the environmentalist or the muscle sympathetic to their cause, he likely greatly reduced chance of an imminent crisis that could easily invalidate whatever you were working on here. Good thing you left him behind to keep watch over chief Kara and his men. If confrontation was imminent, things could've gone to toilet easily.

"I know." Kris says. "How are things on your end?"

"Too early to tell, but I'm hopeful. I think I got the local bishop on board with the plan at least, he's supposed to get back to me some time today."

"Can you repeat that, Ford? I think I have some interference here. Funny thing is, it sounded like you said you were talking to a bishop."

"Er... yes, that's exactly what I said."

"Warlord's ballsack, Ford, are you seriously saying you got religion involved in this?"

"It was the most promising option." You explain calmly. "They are in best position to help, with most compelling motivation that won't need Kara's men to sell themselves out to some corporate crony."

"I don't think you appreciate the hazards in dealing with an entity built around faith and philosophy, Ford. At least with corporates you can rely on their greed and self-preservation instincts. Oh, well, here's hoping this won't come around to bite us. And you say the local bigwig greenlit you?"

"That's what he said."

"Hrrm. Alright, fine, we'll see what comes out of this."

"Success." You say.
>>
"You keep that optimism. I'll keep the paranoia."

"Fair enough."

"Alright. What's next for us then? I think I can afford to leave here. In the end, the vigilantes and the hunters should be able to sort the rest by themselves. I believe you wanted to do some digging around regarding the mess up north at the Asari outpost."

"Yeah. There were people missing, possibly kidnapped. And a whole mess of conspiracies to untangle."

"Okay, but there's one more elephant in the room I wanted to address. Do you remember the special trophy?"

"That apparent lab monster?"

"The very same. I'm worried."

"It's dead." You say simply."

"And I hope it stays that way, but there may be more where that came from."

"I see..." You say, pondering your options.

>Let's look into it straight away. If there really is a breeding spot for the monsters like this one, you better find it quickly.
>Let's not take on more work until we're done with what we're already dealing with - and those missing people in Rouen may be counting on us!
>Let's split up. (who goes where)
>other plan.
>>
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In case I don't get to do so over the next days:

Merry Christmas, friends, and many blessings for the next year. Thanks for bearing with me.

May the stars illuminate your way through the void, and solar winds in your sails.
>>
>>3986919
Merry Chrimbo, QM.

>>Let's look into it straight away. If there really is a breeding spot for the monsters like this one, you better find it quickly.
Iirc, this was on church owned land, right? And the Krogans still want a hunt, yeah? Any chance we could get some of them in on this as a show of good faith?
>>
>>3986919
>Let's split up. (who goes where)
Ok, he can take a look at it, maybe get Eve along with him since she is prety useful in a fight and csn act as his tech specialist

And then Lea and Ford can take a look at the people of Rouen since they can be in danger.

>>3986922
Merry christmas qm, thank you for this awesome quest and have a nice holyday and new year
>>
>>3986919
Actually, >>3987016 has a pretty decent idea. Maybe somehow incorporate the plan I had >>3986941 to include some Krogan support for Kris into splitting up? I can be convinced otherwise if it's a bad idea, but it seems like a decent option to build some trust between the Krogans and the church.
>>
>>3987204
Sounds good
>>
No matter how you look at it, there was no good choice to pick from. Kris made a good point - if there were more of those abominations running around, or there was a breeding nest for them somewhere, they were going to cause trouble at some point. Hackett's legendary marines would no doubt contain the issue sooner or later, but how many lives would be lost before that?

On the other hand, you had this nagging sense of urgency every time your thoughts returned back to Rouen's shanty town and the missing people the girls brought to your attention earlier. Admittedly, crime and accidents happened. You couldn't be everywhere, nor would anyone expect you to. You were not quite that far gone into a messianic complex. Even so, a hotbed of conspiracies that worried Libella was not something you could sneeze at, especially after you skirted it dispersing that picket.

In the end you settle on a compromise - there was actually a way to be at two places at once, even if it came at cost of stretching yourself thin.

"Kris, you're right. But I'm also worried about the situation up in Normandy. Do you think you could take care of this threat by yourself?"

"Huh. Well, I'm pretty confident in my ability to take on anything a human monk would, military training or not." The Krogan says.

The mention set off another thought for you - last time you dealt with an artificial warbeast you were also interacting with the Church. Could there be a link?

You are quick to discard the notion, though. It could be more worth pondering had the Krogan trophy been captured in vicinity of Church lands, but this one was apparently slain far out in the natural preserve. It was too soon to point at a likely culprit until you found the facility these things were bred in.

"...however, considering how eager the folk around here are to shoot something I don't think I'll have trouble recruiting some volunteers to help me. Hell, maybe some of the vigilantes will be game as well."

"Good idea." You nod. "Although I was thinking Eve should go with you. If you find some corporate installation, you'll need her to crack their networks and have a shot at valuable intel."

Kris falls silent for a moment, considering the idea.

"Are you sure about that, Ford?" He asks. "If you plan on heading north by yourself, which by the way is another thing I have doubts about, you may need her help more, especially if you find another c- cell block there."

"I can formulate some utility subroutines for an omnitool based on encryption I've encountered so far to help you bypass security." Eve interjects. "However they will lack adaptability I could achieve with direct access and may be countered by sufficiently sophisticated security upgrade."

"Will that be enough?" Kris asks. "If it comes to worst, I can substitute subtlety for brute force. You will likely not have this luxury."

"I won't be entirely without backup. Asari outpost is right next door and Alliance forces are not much further."
>>
"Calling on either can end up ugly though. I know you well enough to know that you'll be on your own until you're in too deep before you even consider calling them."

"He won't be on his own." Lea pipes up.

"About that, I'm not sure if that's a good idea for you to go. You're not exactly a seasoned fighter, no offence, and if those Ambition crooks are involved, as a Quarian in a human slums you may be very recognizable." Kris warns.

You lean forward, brow furrowed. Some points have been raised that might bear consideration.

>Stick with the plan: You and Lea will head to Rouen to investigate the disappearances while Kris and Eve go hunting for xenomorphs
>Maybe you should focus on one task or other first - take whole team hunting, or slumming (pick one)
>Maybe you could attempt a solo infiltration and have Lea stay in Chariot, providing her tech experience at distance. Kris and Eve go hunting.
>Maybe Kris could make do with some volunteers from among Krogan and vigilantes in his hunting party. Eve can go with you to the slums.
>other arrangement

As you consider your options, you notice that your omnitool begins blipping with inbound message. It is from Monseigneur Pascal.

Smile spreads on your lips as you read it. It seems the Holy See has agreed to commit to a joint project with the rogue Krogan community. The Holographic Arena would become a reality. As soon as Quarian tugs take possession of the derelict reaper, that is. In any case, with the principal question now answered, technicalities would have to be settled next. Quite a lot of them, actually, and if the solution was to have any effect, this red tabe would have to be covered quickly.

Well, hopefully Kara wouldn't need you to babysit him here...

>No, he's got it. You trust him.
>Actually, maybe you should make sure to be present at the initial talks at least.
>Actually, maybe you could ask one of your crew to be present at the initial talks at least.
>You or someone from your crew should not leave his presence until the contract is sealed.

(Initial talks may take place tomorrow at earliest. If things go well, construction can start immediately after they are concluded, depending on outcome.)
>>
>>3989261

>Maybe you could attempt a solo infiltration and have Lea stay in Chariot, providing her tech experience at distance. Kris and Eve go hunting.

The bigots there would suspect anyone not human, but instead of the chariot keep Lea on a skycar, she can drop in and provide us with distraction/backup if needed.


>You or someone from your crew should not leave his presence until the contract is sealed.
Either Kris or Eve should be with him at all times, his stunt with the vigilantes did nothing to make me trusts his impulses
>>
>>3989261
>>Stick with the plan: You and Lea will head to Rouen to investigate the disappearances while Kris and Eve go hunting for xenomorphs
>Actually, maybe you could ask one of your crew to be present at the initial talks at least.
>>
>>3989261
Regardless of whether Lea comes with us, or stays aside in the sky car, she should be dressed like a hardcore Muslim woman. Can't tell anything except that she's humanoid and feminine. The volumous clothing of a burqa could also let her hide certain motions, like activating her omni-tool or readying a pistol.
>You or someone from your crew should not leave his presence until the contract is sealed.
Kris, unless Eve impresses Kara before then, in which case she might be better.
>>
>>3990111
This is a good idea, disguise her and ask her to follow in the car to provide tech support, overwatch, backup or an escape route if needed
>>
"Well, well, well." You mumble. "Good news, Kris. The Church has greenlit the project."

"Seriously? That quickly? Just like that?" The Krogan asks.

"Well, Apparently they're committed to see it through." You say, tapping the omnitool to forward him the message.

"Right..." Kris says "...well, I guess there's room for cautious optimism here. Though I won't celebrate until first game is over."

"That's fair. In fact I wanted to ask you to, uh, be available to serve Kara in the consultant capacity when they hammer out the details."

"You want me to babysit him so that he doesn't do or say something stupid." Kris clarifies.

"That's the gist of it, yes."

"Yeah, I'd be doing that anyway. Just be sure to let me know when and where I should be."

"Will do." You nod and take mental note to ask the Bishop to keep Kris in the loop.

"Okay... so I take it you don't intend to be around to handle that yourself?"

"That's right. I think I got an idea how to make Lea not stand out too much while we're infiltrating French slums."

The Quarian in question gives you a sideways glance. You try not to grin at your cleverness, and at memory of your parents telling you that applepunk cartoons will never ever help you advance in life.

"Uh oh." Kris comments. "Ford, I can imagine the smug grin you're making, but please promise me to think carefully before you do something unwise."

"Don't worry, Kris. See you at the camp." You say.

"Mhm." Kris replies and terminates the communication.

You look over your crewwomen. "Alright, looks like we have our work cut out for us."

"I've begun compiling the decryption package. I'll be refining it until we separate." Eve says. "Do you want to depart immediately?"

>Yes, no time like present. (To the Chariot to drop off Eve, then to Rouen by skycar, unless otherwise specified)
>No, let's maybe stop by the Bishop before we go.
>No, we need to do some shopping. (look for disguise for Lea, if you think highly specialised traditional garb will give her suitable freedom of movement)
>No, there was something else I wanted to do around here (specify)
>>
>>3991314
>>No, we need to do some shopping. (look for disguise for Lea, if you think highly specialised traditional garb will give her suitable freedom of movement)
a nice disguise only to be used in case we need it, a top to botton burka without much movement restriction if availible
try not to make too much fun of he

have we informed the bishop about the eezo incoming? if not we should deal with that before going
>>
>>3991323
Wouldn't her digitigrade legs be a giveaway?
>>
>>3991345
I envisioned it as a clasic ghost costume but black, I don't think the outline of her leg will be visible, but I could be wrong

maybe just skip it and keep her in the car flying above if you think it's a terrible idea
>>
>>3991314

>Yes, no time like present. (To the Chariot to drop off Eve, then to Rouen by skycar, unless otherwise specified)

Lets go
>>
Taking few moments to try and expand your wild thought into a plan you keep from answering as your mind races.

Firstly you would need to find either fabric or a complete article in Lea's size. That might be a challenge in itself, considering the piece of clothing tended to be more popular in other parts of the continent than here, owing to the more humid climate. Still, barring that you could find a pattern on Extranet and let the girls use the shipboard fabber to craft it. The difference in quality would likely show, though.

Another issue was how well the disguise would actually work. It would certainly cover Lea's alien features when she stood still, the problem could arise when she began to move. Her joints could protrude in a way that seemed unnatural. It was hard to imagine how bad or noticeable that would be, but a perceptive observer would no doubt be able to realize something anomalous was going on.

Finally there was the issue of context in which the disguise would be deployed. Women wearing this traditional tribal garb were rare enough to warrant attention as it were, already undermining purpose of the disguise. Furthermore, such clothing was more frequently found on families of better off individuals that traversed higher profile districts... at least that's what you remember from pre-Reaper times. Making appearance in extralegal slums might so rouse even more suspicion and attract even more unwanted attention. Even that was probably not the worst issue you'd have to navigate - that would be that woman dressed in such a garb would, to your understanding, be expected to have her husband around. Going alone could thus get Lea into additional choice of trouble. Not to mention that were you to accompany her, you'd have to disguise yourself further as well.

With all these considerations done you ultimately decide risk of the effort and time being wasted is too great to take.

"Yes. We're leaving." You say.

The girls nod in acknowledgment. You finish eating and clean up after yourselves, then head out towards the Skycar.
>>
On your way back you take the opportunity to resolve some clerical matters. In order to be able to devote your full attention to them you ask Lea to drive, which she gleefully accepts.

Maybe that was a mistake, you think to yourself as the car swerves between the trees, skimming the water surface, the whirl of scenery making you slightly dizzy even if the inertia dampeners keep your stomach from escaping your mouth. Still, somehow you're able to build up enough focus to compose messages to Monseigneur Pascal, chieftain Kara and admiral Zaal'Koris, catching them all up with whatever relevant information you can remember, ensuring they're all on the same page.

All three respond before you reach Chariot, thanking you for updates in their characteristic styles. Monosylabic acknowledgment from Kara, blessings from the clergyman and borderline pretentious essay from Korris's office.

You wonder what would your parents say, seeing you like this, as you swipe away the messaging client and bring up the file composed by Eve and Lea earlier. You allow your lips to twitch upward at the mental image.

Still, you had a plan to formulate. Where would you begin your investigation?

>Approach the woman from the job ad whose son was apparently missing.
>Contact Libella, maybe she has a lead for you to act on.
>Contact the Alliance (Graves, unless specified otherwise), maybe they have a lead for you to follow.
>Just walk

>Take Lea with you right away
>Keep Lea in the skycar until further notice

>Take whole kit (jetpack, shielded suit, one or both rifles, sidearm, omnitool) (will identify you as an Adventurer)
>Take holdout kit (sidearm, personal shield, omnitool) (may pass for a random civilian)

>Talk with Lea or Eve about something? (specify topic)
>Call someone? (specify who & topic)
>Review something, browse the net (specify topic)
>Beauty nap (timeskip)
>>
>>3994707

>Approach the woman from the job ad whose son was apparently missing.

>Keep Lea in the skycar until further notice

>Review something, browse the net (specify topic)
How are things in the citadel....our parents...

Maybe discuss it with Lea if Ford feels like it.
>>
>>3994741
+1
>>
>>3994707
>Approach the woman from the job ad whose son was apparently missing.

>Keep Lea in the skycar until further notice

>Take whole kit (jetpack, shielded suit, one or both rifles, sidearm, omnitool) (will identify you as an Adventurer)

>Review something, browse the net (specify topic)
How are things in the citadel....our parents...
>>
The path you should take seemed clear enough, you think to yourself as you review the files. First order of business should be seeing the lady that was missing her son. If she had any idea what he was doing she was your best shot at picking up the trail. Furthermore, approaching her as an Adventurer yourself would lend credence to your offer and provide justification for going around in your combat kit.

Doing so would maybe also provide a measure of cover for Lea, since Adventurers were known to include wayward Quarian marines and operatives as well, although a lot of them returned to the Flotilla after the fighting stopped due to inconvenient access to specialized foodstuff. Even so, keeping her as backup where she could safely work with Extranet at distance was probably best use of her abilities. For the investigation itself you would at least make an attempt at solo infiltration.

With the outline of your first step completed you let your mind wander back to background of the problem you were diving into. There was not much use in speculating who is responsible, since aside from agents you now knew were probably operating in the area, like Cerberus or Ambition, there was always possibility of "generic" crime, an unfortunate accident or some sort of misunderstanding. What was clear, however, was that the matter would be tough on the parent, presumably worried sick for their offspring. Unbidden, your mind draws a simile. Is that how your own parents felt when you flew off on an adventure, only vaguely telling them you're going on "an expedition"? There was certainly no way for them to know whether you would return, nor was there a way for them to lend you aid had you needed it.

Then again, you were equally unable to come to their aid despite knowing with fair amount of certainty where they are, you think bitterly.

On impulse you bring up the extranet browser and look for any news regarding the Citadel.

Official statements offered next to nothing. Citadel itself was off limits, handled exclusively by vessels mostly Alliance, with some help of other council races, put to work, illuminating the sky above London with column of buzzing wisps.

Media did not shy from the subject but had little to offer in terms of information on Citadel itself. Rather it was about protests in front of London Alliance base, groups of people demanding information on fate of their close ones, with very little to show for it. Alliance spokespeople kept informing that the site is subject to classified operations and that everything would be made public once the situation allowed to do so without compromising informational security. Whatever that meant.
>>
Well, you did already make peace with the likelihood that whoever you knew on the station was dead after you learned the Reapers seized it. It would no doubt have been completely overrun by reaper creatures and any skycar traffic promptly eyebeamed out of existence. Without supply lines and control of infrastructure the elementary provisioning would have been gone as well. Death toll would have been unimaginable, chances that someone you specifically knew survived insignificant.

Even so, every time you let thoughts meander into these realms, you find that perhaps you do after all cling to some sliver of hope. With a sigh at your own foolishness you make a query on the less savory portion of the extranet.

Unofficial channels turn out to be of little use, however. There is abundance of wild theories, from ongoing land war against Reapers that escaped destruction through Council sanctioned purge of survivors to keep them away from compromised archives all the way to containment of a swarm of automatons of unknown origin or suppression of a Keeper independence movement. Alongside those far fetched speculations you managed to dig up some amateur shots of the station as seen from Earth. Here too the results proved underwhelming - Mass effect fields surrounding the station have been deliberately configured to oscillate and so provide some limited optical barrier. At best you could make out sections of wards that were illuminated better than others, while majority seemed to be completely dark. What you could determine was that the chains of light suspended on the images were majority of small spacecraft currently present in the Sol system and part of the reason why Chariot's services were in such high demand.

With a sigh you swipe the images out of the display, checking back on the instruments.

"Lea, do you keep in touch with your family?" You ask, the topic still haunting you.

"No. That's frowned upon during pilgrimages unless it's on business or an emergency." She answers. "Under normal circumstances it's impossible as well, considering that the Fleet was usually slinking around far side of the Attican, between piracy and Geth raids communications tended to be spotty. Now..." She makes a wistful pause. "...the temptation grows with proximity, I guess."

"I see... sorry for bringing that up, then."

"It's fine, cap. It's also nice to know they're close by."

"What about you, Eve, did you try to get in touch with the lady engineer you mentioned?"

"Not yet. Interstellar connection is not available to me."

Right, of course. With the hypernet buoys destroyed by the Reapers and impossible to replace, the only reliable means of communication between stars were QEC devices which military kept close to their hearts. And who knows if Tyr even had a working one still...

"I did however resolve to make an attempt."

"You go, girl." You nod.
>>
You let the silence settle after that. It will not last long, however, as the skycar reaches Krogan settlement and it's time for you to land. You pick the free area in front of the Assembly cave this time. As the shuttle touches down you see several figures emerge from within and recognize one of them as Kris, another as Kara. Third one is a human in combat outfit that you don't recognize, presumably one of the vigilantes.

>Don't waste more time than necessary, just drop off Eve, exchange some greetings and continue for Rouen.
>Spend some time discussing with Kara and catching up with Kris
>Discuss something specific with one of the people present
>other course of action
>>
Happy New Year, friends.
>>
>>3997313

>Spend some time discussing with Kara and catching up with Kris

A sit rep and instructions about whats to come


Happy new year qm
>>
>>3997313
>>
>>3997845
Arg


>Spend some time discussing with Kara and catching up with Kris
>>
>>3997313
>Spend some time discussing with Kara and catching up with Kris
>>
Judging that it would be awkward and rude to just drop Eve off and fly off, not to mention a waste of opportunity to check that you're all on the same page, you get out of the skycar and walk towards the group, Eve and Lea in tow.

"Ford. Nice of you to drop in." Kris says.

"Chief Kara. Kris." You greet the two Krogan. "And..." you turn to the presumed vigilante.

"Nicholas Laish, Adventurers." The man says and offers a hand which you shake.

"Henri Ford, CIX." You return the courtesy.

"Not advertising being one of us, are you?" Nicholas says jovially.

"Force of habit. Perhaps it says something about me?" You shrug at him.

"I'm pretty sure I was deployed with your team at least once."

"That's entirely possible. At very least in London."

"Yeah. Nearly everyone was in London. Well, what was left of us."

You don't let the silence fall. "Well, looking forward now. I believe both of you have received the messages. Since I'm here, we could discuss the matter further if you have any questions I've neglected to mention." You say, unsure how candid you can be in front of the adventurer.

"Hrm. I'm guessing we'll be discussing the technicalities with that bishop of yours," Kara says, making your concerns irrelevant, "and that's where they'll actually stick. So I'm not sure if there's much point. And the nerd was very emphatic about being there to provide, I quote, on site consultancy."

"Bishop? Seriously, mate?" Nicholas asks. "Papists are going to be participating in that project I'm hearing about?"

"That's right. At least, I hope. The church has offered tentative support, with more details to be hammered out." You look at Kris.

"That seems... actually pretty damn brilliant. They certainly got the resources and they can provide support without taking a political hit. You into politics?"

"Not... really." You say, the words sounding hollow to yourself at this point. "Well, in fairness I'm doing what I've always been - trying to navigate the ruins without setting off a disaster."

"Hah! Good one."
>>
"Speaking of which, I'd appreciate it if you could be discreet about this matter until it's resolved. I have every reason to believe someone's out to sabotage whatever could stabilize the situation."

Nicholas's expression grows somber. "So I've been given to understand. You don't need to worry about me. I'll get the planet friends to hold back, especially after what we've seen here." He looks at Kara. "We really have been giving you too little credit."

"Just the way we like it." Chieftain says. "Not much feels better than surprise of enemy who underestimated you."

"Yeah, maybe you don't need to treat everyone else as enemies." You remark.

"It's part of our culture and usually it's vindicated." Kara shrugs.

"Talk about self fulfilling prophecy." Kris growls.

"Alright... moving on, I'm going to follow on a lead that could tie into this little xenophobic conspiracy. Before I do, however, I understand you're going on an expedition?"

"Yeah, I've already discussed it with Chief and Nick here. They both volunteered to tag along."

"Tag along? This is my show, nerd."

"Yeah, okay."

"Then, as discussed, our tech specialists will accompany you."

"Are you sure about that, Ford? I still think you could use her help more than I should. And Nick has a tech expert on retainer."

"Not one of this fine lady's caliber, I'm sure." Nicholas gives you a wink. He probably had the honor of working with another of Eve's sister... or maybe he just remembers Eve herself. "But he should get the job done."

>No, you're certain. If Kris and others come across a corporate black site, Eve offers best chance of finding and securing relevant intel, without relying on Nick's expert's skills... or integrity (though you won't say that aloud)
>On second thought, maybe you could use support of an infiltrator that's literally designed for the job. Kris should be able to tell if someone is pulling a fast one over him.

>Talk about something else (specify topic etc.)
>Enough talk, wrap up and it's time to mosey.
>>
>>3999273
Tough question.....I just feel that some shit will go down at the meeting and that Eve can get a hold of it but she would be hella useful if we had to infiltrate somewhere.
Ugh

>No, you're certain. If Kris and others come across a corporate black site, Eve offers best chance of finding and securing relevant intel, without relying on Nick's expert's skills... or integrity (though you won't say that aloud)

If we need some infiltrating we can't handle we can call and wait for her
>>
>>3999273

>On second thought, maybe you could use support of an infiltrator that's literally designed for the job. Kris should be able to tell if someone is pulling a fast one over him.
>>
>>3999273
>>On second thought, maybe you could use support of an infiltrator that's literally designed for the job. Kris should be able to tell if someone is pulling a fast one over him.
I can trust that Kris can keep a handle on the situation, and if the adventurers wanted a fight then we'd already have one with the Krogans. We, on the other hand, are a little under-manned. Lea can be good backup, but I get the sneaking suspicion that she alone won't be enough.
>>
You agonize over the issue for a moment longer and you end up deciding that Kris has a point - Eve was, after all, literally designed for the kind of thing you want to undertake. You might be giving up on some corporate dirt, but between the Krogan and the Vigilantes you were confident that short of actual Reaper-tier hazard the hunt was unlikely to run into anything they would have trouble handling.

"Actually, you have a point." You concede to Kris.

"Shall I accompany you then?" Eve asks.

"If you please."

"I'm glad that you changed your mind, Ford. We're not going to be in position to provide support should you need it. Better that you have every advantage that you can get." Your friend says calmly.

Lea says nothing, though you can sense her fidget a bit. Nobody of you says it but she is obviously aware that even with whatever training her father sent her off with she'd likely still not be in position to play the role of cavalry if you needed it, depending on opposition involved.

"Aww. And there I thought I'd be able to see this fine lady in action." Nick says. "Perhaps some other time, then. Alright, I'll call Gizmo, tell him he's up." He adds and walks away to make a call.

"Alright then." You say, regarding both Krogan. "Good hunting."

"Oh yes, it will be." Kara says. "Looking forward to seeing what nerd can do with that weapon of his."

Kris just shakes his head. "You too, Ford. Take care."

With a final nod of parting you turn around and return to the skycar, the two women accompanying you the way you came. Last glance back tells you Kris and the company are heading off towards the vehicles, presumably not wasting any time.

And with that you take off, accelerating towards the north, leaving the Krogan camp behind, the sun falling from its zenith shining at your back as you speed towards your next adventure.

On impulse you tap the controls, activating the radio for some background.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mb5TV7JUvzo

"What a depressing song." Eve comments.

>Talk with the girls about something (specify)
>Watch the news
>Look something up (specify)
>Call someone over the comm (specify)
>Assemble a playlist. (timeskip)
>>
>>4001818
>b
next time we have a downtime at the Chariot we should train with Lea it seems

>Talk with the girls about something (specify)
optimistic talking!
so, where would you guys like to visit here on earth after we navigate this political nighmare and survive, should be a natural wonder since most men made are probably.....closed for the moment

if we have time

>Watch the news

for anything interesting
>>
>>4001827
+1
>>
>>4001818
Another +1 for >>4001827
>>
>>4001818
>Assemble a playlist. (timeskip)
Something cool



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