Concept Art of Afterlife on Omega Station in Mass Effect 2 and 3.
The Baron stared at the Europa couple, sizing them up for the first time.
Raikkonen was tall, lean and motionless. When his helmet came off, the Baron noted immediately how pale he was, the bloodless skin making the ocean-blue eyes of his even more striking. He was not traditionally handsome, possessing a ruggedness that showcased his strong jaw, and patrician nose. The brow was high and intelligent, his dirty blonde hair cropped short in an undercut. He was lean and almost diminutive in size, as befitting the weight regulations for Formula 0 racing.
This was a dangerous and courageous individual. A man who always looked to the future, what was around the next corner, and planned several moves ahead. He was born racer, his surname a lineage to the legendary Formula 1 racing legends of generations ago.
Raikkonen was nicknamed “Iceman”, not only because of the Europa Grand Prix where he made his name, but also his ability under pressure. He never cracked once through his career. His piloting was effortless, calculating and ruthless. Overtakes seem easy, unorthodox techniques applied with aplomb, and his engineering was innovative and genius-like.
A proper machine thought the Baron, before turning her gaze over to the Amazonian-like woman next to him.
His co-pilot and long-time girlfriend, was another story altogether. A former Martian Marine, she had served with distinction and left immediately after her conscription term of 7 years had ended. Like Raikkonen, she was in her early 30s, but unlike him Kournikova was extremely attractive, with supermodel like features.
Platinum blonde hair ran long, and wavy down her back, often perpetually found in a ponytail. Her eyebrows were beautifully defined, arched upwards in such a way that gave her almond green eyes a constant challenging expression. Her nose was straight, smooth and flared gently to highlight her sensuous mouth. The overall effect Kournikova had on men, was one of astonishment, her features too elven and symmetrical to resist not taking a second look.
Where Raikkonen was quiet and reserved, Kournikova was aggressive and fierce, her soldier background often exploding through with predictable force. She was the Europa team’s heart, able to coax the couple to endure more in the pursuit of speed, whilst Raikkonen was the mind, ensuring the couple survived the chase.
A warrior through and through, thought the Baron as she noted how their Phalanx armour resembled those of Martian shock troopers, the famed RMS Marine Corps Praetorian Guards.
Fiercely loyal to one another, and as one of the most celebrated racing duos in the galaxy, the Baron wondered what bought them to her. It was then Hooper walked up to her and whispered quietly.
Her purple eyes blazed quietly in anger, and she stepped forward and looked down at them.
“You dare bring the Martians here?” the Baron demanded in a commanding voice.
Raikkonen looked levelly back at the Baron, matching her purple gaze with his blue.
“Earth is probably on its way too. The Aurelius is just closer.” he replied almost casually.
“If you want to keep breathing oxygen, Iceman … I’d suggest you come clean.” threatened the Baron icily.
“We stole something from UNF’s Luna Base.”
“Something?” queried the Baron
Raikkonen didn’t bother replying. Instead both Kournikova and Raikkonen turned abruptly, and sealed their helmets atop their heads. Back to back, their arms outstretched, Raikkonen aimed his right arm at the Baron’s head and manually locked on her 4 bodyguard with his shoulder mounted flechette launcher. Behind him, Kournikova did the same with her Phalanx staring down 6 other bodyguards, who were now levelling their guns at the couple.
“We’ll survive. You won’t.” said Raikkonen, whose voice was now muffled by the helmet.
The Baron, her hand on her pistol, knew that she didn’t have any choice. If their armour were to the same specs as a Praetorian Guard, it was unlikely any of her men would even make a dent. At this range, it was equally unlikely her pistol would intercept the bullet coming from Raikkonen’s wrist mounted submachine gun.
Smiling with amusement, the Baron returned to her lounge, her hand moving away from her pistol. Jerking her head over to the opposite couch, the Baron relaxed.
“What do you want?”
Raikkonen and Kournikova settled down, but left their helmets on.
“FAWN” said Kournikova, pronouncing it like “faun”, the Martian slang for “Food, Air, Water and Nitro.”
“The precious four … and what does Arcturus gets in return? A Martian flagship and a UNF Fleet?”
“Give us what we want, and we’ll draw them away with us.” said Raikkonen coolly.
The Baron glared at the Europa couple. She knew that her hands were tied. As deadly as she was, and as well defended the Arcturus was, it was foolish to think it could withstand a combined assault from the UNF and RMS.
However, there was her image to consider. She couldn’t just let total strangers come in and dictate whatever they wanted.
Raikkonen, sensing her consternation, knew he had put one of the most dangerous criminals in a very difficult situation. The Baron was not someone to be trifled with lightly. It was time to give her the carrot. He gently nudged Kournikova.
“In return, we’ll let you borrow us.”
The Baron looked sharply at them, her purple eyes narrowed in suspicion.
“What makes you think, I require your services?”
“This is Arcturus. Someone always need killing.” said Kournikova simply.
The Baron smiled icily.
“You have 12 hours. See Hooper.”
Dismissing them, the Baron turned her attention to Limbo and sent out a private message to her network to discover what exactly was stolen from an UNF Luna base.
Raikkonen and Kournikova walked down the steps of the platform, under the glaring eyes of the Baron’s guards and saw Hooper, who was sweating nervously. They started the walk to the maglev train, Hooper’s running commentary even quicker now.
“Man … this is the last time I hope you guys set foot here.” blabbered Hooper. “I’ve never seen the Boss so angry before. What the hell did you guys do?”
Raikkonen and Kournikova took off their helmets as they entered the train and gave apologetic expressions, but said nothing.
“Man, whatever. I’m just glad I’m not getting chucked out of an airlock. The assignment she gave you is fucked in the extreme. Are you guys sure you’re up for this?”
Kournikova looked over her armour. “We just broke out of an Luna base. What do you think?”
Hooper shook his head. “This is some crazy shit. Well, the Baron has asked you to take care of a Merc group that is holed up here. They’ve been on Arcturus for a couple of weeks now and rumour has it, they’re here for a hit job on the boss herself.”
“But they fucked up. The boss heard about it, and sent almost the entire 6th level after them. They lost about half their crew, before they’re cornered themselves in an apartment block. The whole level is on lockdown, besieging these assholes, but they won’t go down.”
“The baron wants you to go in and clear these fuckers out. She especially wants the head merc, some hardass called Zayne. Take him alive if you can, otherwise give us proof he’s dead.”
The train whirred to a stop, and Hooper showed them out. “The Baron would have called ahead and let the 6th level know about you guys. Good luck.”
Raikkonen and Kournikova stepped out into the 6th level of Arcturus, appropriately named Heresy. Looking at each other, they slipped on their helmets and braced for combat.
Apologies for the huge delay in between installations. Work and stocktake has taken grip of the past 2 weeks and the announcement of yet another lockdown in my state has thrown everything out of wack.
However, the solitude that gripped me, and made me write more is now back in full force at my workplace, so I will be writing quicker and more steadily now.
Here’s hoping my next chapter will be smoother to write. This one was a bit all over the place for me.
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