Mass Effect 4 - The Streamer's Edge

Four centuries have passed since Commander Shepard destroyed the Reapers. In an isolated corner of the galaxy, a refueling station repairman discovers a terrible secret that could undo everything Shepard fought for. With a ragtag team of unlikely would-be heroes, he must race to the Citadel to warn the Council ... but will they even listen to him if he gets there?

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9. Trouble

Finn waited patiently outside of Afterlife. He wasn't comfortable being this close to his old haunt, but he needed an obvious landmark for the others. Of course, seeing people pass by giving him strange looks didn't make him feel any less nervous.

He watched the line move as he waited; there was always a line outside Afterlife, though only a few people were likely to be club-goers. The others were mercenaries, assassins, thieves, and even the odd hopeful dancer hoping to catch the eye of Aria. She may not have been the nicest of asari, but she certainly wasn't shy about hiring new talent.

As time continued on with no sign of Darsan or Ensign Mannon, Finn began to grow worried. Just when he decided to go find a security station, Jake came running around the corner, yipping like a dog that had just been stung on the tail by a bee.

He ran behind Finn and cowered there as several men in blue armor continued chasing him.

"You there!" The leader, a batarian who somehow managed to look even meaner than batarians usually do, "Get out of the way!"

"What's the problem here?" Finn demanded, staying where he was.

The batarian pointed at Jake, saying, "That KEI-9 unit is our property."

"I find Jake is pretty much his own property." Finn replied evenly. "And if you don't believe in synthetics owning themselves, then consider him my property."

The batarian's eyes narrowed. "Finn Cresste."

His men raised their weapons, only for a loud voice to call out, "Drop your weapons!"

The bouncers guarding the entrance to Afterlife were not fond of trouble. Looking the other way would be risking Aria's wrath, and although some believed she had grown softer over the years, her forgiveness generally took the form of a bullet.

One of Aria's turian bouncers asked, "Is there a problem here?"

"This human and his KEI-9 Unit have stolen from the Blue Suns."

The turian ran a scanner over Finn. "I'm not detecting any weapons. You're registered as a mechanic, so I'm guessing those tools are yours."

He turned to Jake and scanned him as well. "KEI-9 Unit, registered as Jake to mechanic Finn Cresste."

Something on his omni-tool flashed, but Finn couldn't read it. Whatever it was made the turian raise an eyebrow.

"Clear out of here." The turian bouncer told the batarian gangster.

"What?!" The batarian exclaimed, a dark look crossing his face. "Aria wouldn't dare!"

"She already has." He turned his omni-tool around so everyone could see it; beside a rather unflattering picture of Finn was a symbol everyone on the station recognized. Even street thugs wouldn't dare touch a person bearing that seal, at least not so close to Aria’s seat of power.

The batarian blanched. "F-fine. We're leaving."

With a final flare at Finn, the batarian and his fellow gang members walked away.

Finn breathed a sigh of relief

The turian put an arm on his shoulder. "Not so fast, Mister Cresste. I need to have a little word with you."

Finn shook off the turian's hand, saying, "Look, I appreciate the save, I really do, but I really need to find out where my friends wandered off to."

The turian opened his mouth to argue, but all that came out was a sigh. "You look different, but you really haven't changed, have you?"

Finn opened his mouth to ask what the turian what he meant when his mind made the connection. He squinted at the turian for a moment before saying, "Eri?  Eri Tyzuris? Is that you?"

"Last time I checked."

Finn let out a relieved laugh. He shook his old friend's hand, saying, "It's good to see you again, man! Finally working for Aria, I see."

"Well, all my friends were doing it." Eri chuckled. Glancing back, he motioned for the other bouncers to resume their usual posts. "So, what bring you back to Omega? Last I heard, you were leaving for some station in the middle of nowhere."

"Yeah, that station just got destroyed." Seeing his old friend's questioning look, he added, "Long story. I'm here with my coworkers, but-"

"They were kidnapped!" Jake blurted out.

Finn looked at Jake, alarmed. "What? When? How?"

"On the way here, by the Blue Suns."

"The Blue Suns?" Eri asked, sounding a little surprised. "They've been behaving themselves lately since their last tangle with the Blood Pack. After the pasting they got, I was kinda hoping they'd learned their lesson."

"Yeah, right." Finn muttered. He still had scars as a testament to how long the Blue Suns held a grudge. Kneeling down beside Jake, he asked, "Where were they, anyway?"

"The Gaza district." Jake told him. "I told them not to go there, but Darsan didn't want to pay for a cab."

Finn rolled his eyes. "Brilliant."

"Are they armed?" Eri asked, activating his omni-tool.

"One of them has my gun registered to me." Finn told him.

"One moment." Eri manipulated his omni-tool for a few moments. "Cresste, Finn … ugh, don't tell me you're still carrying around that old Carnifex?"

"I haven't exactly had much use for a gun on J-27."

Shaking his head, Eri said, "Looks like they're still the Gaza district. Warehouse 8-D, it looks like."

"Thanks, man. I appreciate it."

Finn started heading towards the nearest cab, only for Eri to drag him back.

"You're really just going to go off like that? I know you don't have another weapon."

"Would it help if I did?" Finn asked, smirking.

"Besides, what exactly are you planning to do?"

Finn was silent for a moment. "I don't know. It doesn't matter; I can't just leave them like this."

Eri rolled his eyes. "Okay, I'm going to explain this slowly so it gets through your thick skull; the Blue Suns is a gang. Gangs typically have many, many members, and the Blue Suns is one of the biggest around. They also have lots and lots of guns, trained biotics, and well-fortified strongholds. You have an omni-tool, a KEI-9 Unit, and a kiss on the cheek."

"A kiss on the …" Finn brought a hand up to his cheek and rubbed the spot where Kyra had kissed him. His fingers came away with a bit of the dark blue lipstick. Blushing, he wiped his cheek with his shirt.

Eri gave him an amused look before shaking his head. "Going to the Gaza district unarmed is stupid. Trying to take on the Blue Suns is just plain suicidal."

He was right, and Finn knew it. "So what do I do? Just chalk them up as a loss?"

"Yeah, 'cause you'd totally do that." Shaking his head, Eri said, "I'd say hire some mercenaries, but the Blue Suns are all over that district. Your best bet is a more covert approach."

He activated his omni-tool and motioned for Finn to do the same. "I'm going to give you the information we have on Warehouse 9-D. Suggested routes into the facility, likely places kidnapped victims might end up, a few passwords for the security inside, that kind of thing."

"Thanks, man." Finn transferred the data to his Omni-tool and glanced over the map. Looking back at Eri, he said, "I appreciate it."

"Not a problem, though if anyone asks, you bought that information from the Shadow Broker." After a moment's hesitation, he pulled the pistol from his belt and handed it to Finn, saying, "You can borrow this. Borrow; I expect to get it back later."

"You got it." Finn said, slipping the pistol into his tool bag.

"I gotta get back to work." Eri said, jerking a thumb back at Afterlife. "Let me know how everything works out, okay?"

As he walked off, Jake commented, "Looks like he's been doing well."

"I'm glad. I was a bit worried he'd end up taking the blame for me." Shaking his head, Finn said, "C'mon; let's get to the Gaza district."

The Gaza district was a dirty slum, and that was putting it kindly; it had always been home to the low-income families, usually miners and the like; easy targets for the Blue Suns who quickly dominated the region.

To be fair, the Blue Suns weren't completely unreasonable. They may have extorted protection money, but they did offer genuine protection against thieves and muggers. They didn't normally go out of their way to harass normal folk, and generally only became a problem to those who were problems themselves.

Of course, that all went out of the window the moment their property was violated. If Finn was caught messing around in Blue Suns territory, he'd be in trouble. One gun and Jake would only help temporarily, and only if the rest of the Blue Suns didn't find any bodies. If they did, they'd clamp down on the sector like an emergency brake.

All of this ran through Finn's mind as he slowly climbed up the side of the warehouse, bracing one foot against the warehouse wall and the other against the wall of the apartment complex next door. He found the climb rather easy, even with Jake slung over his shoulder; oddly enough, Finn didn't find him that heavy.

"Hey, Finn." Jake asked as they progressed upward. "Why do you think the Blue Suns are after us? You don't suppose this is about that Polaski job, do ya?"

"I doubt it." Finn replied. "That was years ago."

"Yeah. Besides, Mannon and Darsan had nothing to do with that." After a momentary pause, he asked, "This couldn't have anything to do with what happened to Krieger and J-27, could it?"

That thought didn't sit well with Finn. Shaking his head as he tested a line of conduit to see if it'd hold his weight. "Let's not worry about that right now."

With a grunt, he pulled himself up to the edge of a large air vent. Bracing himself as best as he could, Finn pulled small plasma cutter from his tool and started cutting through the side of the vent.

He was almost done when Jake hissed, "Incoming!"

Far beneath them, a man wearing Blue Suns armor stepped out of the warehouse. She closed the door before tugging off her helmet and lighting a cigarette. Finn kept perfectly still as he could, inwardly cursing his bad luck as the soldier smoked below him.

Another Blue Sun soldier left the building a moment later. From the distance, Finn could tell it was a batarian. He didn't know if it was the same one that had confronted him earlier until they began to speak.

"Hey, Manos.  I heard Fuego shouting from my post." The woman said, a lopsided grin on her face. "Must've screwed up big time."

"I had him and the stupid robot mutt." He growled, accepting the cigarette she offered. After lighting up and taking a few puffs, he said, "Like it's my fault the guy's untouchable."

"Can't get 'em all, I suppose."

"We have to. It's an all or nothing deal."

"I hope we go with the nothing. He's definitely not coming here now, and I wouldn't bet a credit on our chances against Aria's goons."

"We wouldn't have to hold out for long. Our clients have graciously offered us assistance in deposing Omega's dear queen."

The woman nodded, an impressed look on her face as she dropped her cigarette and crushed it beneath her heel. "That's an interesting notion. Did Fuego go for it?"

"I didn't hear." The batarian muttered. "He threw me out. Still, I got it easy; they shot Tyren."

"I'm not surprised after he let the elcor escape. Still, we'll find him soon enough. Have you ever seen an elcor in a hurry? It's a damn riot." Shaking her head, she said, "I'd better get back to my post. The last thing I need is Fuego on my tail."

As the woman moved for the door, the batarian seemed to become nervous.  “Hey, Siri …”

“Yeah, Manos?”

Rubbing the back of his head, the batarian asked, “You doing anything later?  I was thinkin’ of hitting Afterlife with some of the guys.”

“Unwind with some booze and some strippers, huh?  Thanks, but no thanks.” She told him.  “Not really my kinda scene.  You go ahead, though.”

The batarian’s eyes followed the woman to the door.  Finn didn’t know much about batarian body language, but even he could tell that the batarian was disappointed.

“Yeah.” He muttered as he followed her back inside.

Finn let out a sigh as the two gang members walked back into the building. Shaking his head, he finished cutting a hole in the duct big enough for he and Jake.

"Well, how about that? Darsan managed to get away."

Jake hopped off Finn's shoulders and into the vent. "It's clear, man."

As Finn climbed into the duct after Jake, he found he really didn't blame Darsan for leaving Mannon. Alive and ashamed is still a heck of a lot better than being dead.

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