x57: Bring Down the Sky
AN - Thanks to Reikson for the awesome advice and the bata help. revised 09/29 for general craziness.
Shepard and Williams waited tense and impatient while Xander and Kaiden cut through the door lock controlling access to X57's main control facility.
"I'm telling you Boss something weird is going on." Xander insisted. for the umpteenth time since they'd hit dirt-side in response to a priority one distress call.
"You mean weirder then Batarian Extremists trying to drop a rock the size of a small planet on a couple of million innocent people?" Shepard replied.
"Look I get it Boss, batarians bad - but something doesn't add up. That woman Kate Bowman she said there were three active fusion torches pushing this rock toward Terra Nova, so who shut down the second one? Who took out the squad of batarians who were manning that torch? We found the other members of the mining team safe and sound. Who took out the batarian squads hunting them down? I'm telling you Boss there is someone else on this rock."
"That's got it" Kaiden muttered as the lock fell away. Kaiden's biotics flared as he channeled a blast of force at the door pushing it open far enough that he and Xander could get a grip and pull the door aside.
"Finally, what was the problem?" Shepard grumbled.
"Someone jammed the door," Alenko explained, "Screwed the mechanism up completely. But it was how it was jammed that's weird. Someone ripped the door out of its housing then put it back and jammed it shut. I had to hit it with a pretty strong biotic kick just to get the door open again."
"Why rip the door apart? why not use the key or just omni-gel that sucker?" Ashley asked.
"Maybe they didn't have the front door key like we did." Xander pointed out. "Still there is something kinky about all of this."
There was something very familiar about the way the batarians had been neutralized. Whoever had done it had not fired a single round of ammo. The Batarians had all been taken down at close range with overwhelming force.
Shepard grimaced, "Fine, we may not be the only ones on this rock fighting the batarians. Check your targets and try NOT to hit our friendly, but neutralizing the batarian threat has to be our top priority."
The quartet marched into the main facility to find batarians strewn all over the room.
"Someone hit this place hard " Kaiden whispered.
"They hit the batarians pretty hard too." Xander agreed, "I'm no doctor but I'm thinking bodies don't work too good when you have as many broken bones as this guy does."
He gestured to a Batarian laying moaning on the floor. Like his fellow terrorists, he'd been the victim of blunt force trauma. Every bone in his arms and legs clearly broken to keep him from escaping.
"You humans are more trouble then your worth." A new voice hissed. A Batarian flanked by several scared looking thugs plus few of the dog-like varren.
Shepard's gun came up shooting even as a kinetic barrier spring to life separating them. "Balak I take it?" the Spectre hissed.
"I don't know how you managed to take out my people, but you're too late. I have the facility wired; your friends are trapped."
Balak waved toward a room. Xander could see several people sealed inside. The beeping from his omni-tool's scanner confirmed his worst fears.
"There's a bomb," he reported, "going off out here, would be bad, If it goes off in there with the hostages ..." Xander trailed off.
Shepard's cold eyes were resolute. "That's not how this works Balak. You don't get to walk away after trying to pull off an asteroid drop."
"This is nothing," Balak shouted, "You humans have done far worse to the batarians, stealing our resources, forcing us to live on scraps, the war was declared long ago, I'm just firing back."
"You do realize its crap like this that makes everybody think Batarians are scum right?" Xander growled
"I thought they were scum long before this." Ashley replied.
"I'm from Mindior I KNOW they're scum." Shepard snarled.
"Ah Mindior," Balak sneered, "you humans always trumpet that battle as if we didn't give your Systems Alliance fair warning of our territorial claims. Of course you ignored us, your people always ignore us; we had no choice, we had to get your attention..."
"Was that what Elysium was," Shepard snorted, "trying to get our attention? Funny, but after you got it; you run like cowards and hid on Torfan."
"You would know about that wouldn't you?" Balak ranted, "The Great Commander Shepard - The Butcher Of Torfan, how many innocent civilians did you personally gun down?"
"There were no innocents on Torfan," Shepard snorted, "Slavers, drug dealers, pirates, they're all criminals and monsters in my books and I can kill monsters."
"Even the women and children?"
"Funny, You didn't seem concerned about the women and children living on Mindior ... on Elysium."
"Funny, you humans don't seem to have a problem with the Asari practicing slavery or don't you think of indentured servitude as slavery?" Balak sneered.
Xander snorted, "I'm no expert on indentured servitude but the fact you get PAID , that you have to agree to it , and the decided lack of painful brain implantation are a couple of big arguments in favour of the Asari method."
"Enough, you couldn't understand ...or maybe it's just you don't want to understand." Balak shouted.
"I understand an Alliance Citizen, Kate Bowman was taken hostage she had better be in one piece Balak." Shepard snapped.
She was executed as an enemy of the Batarian State, as for her coward brother ... If you don't get out of my way, he and everyone else in that room DIE." Balak's fingers dangled over the controls of his omni-tool. the meaning painfully clear.
"Maybe we should think about it Boss." Xander whispered.
"Alliance policy is clear ... so is Citadel policy; we don't negotiate with extremists." Shepard turned to Balak, "Do what you want with the hostages Balak but it WILL be the last thing you EVER do."
Balak smiled and tapped a command into his Omni-tool
Suddenly a scream cut the air as a blond headed blur few at the door to the room with the hostages.
Buffy?" Xander whispered unbelieving.
Buffy Summers plunged her fingers into the metal door like it was made of paper and ripped it off its housing. She shoved the sheet of metal that had been a door into the room slamming the junked door against the bomb and trapping it against the bulkhead wall.
There was a muffled explosion followed by whining from the station's VI "Explosive decompression, explosive decompression, kinetic barriers are in place - please contact facility control."
"Buffy?" Xander repeated.
Buffy ignored him, instead - dropping the door she'd used to muffle the explosion and protect the hostages. She marched across the room, blurring again as she moved too quickly for human eyes to track. She raked her fingers across the kinetic barrier shorting it out.
The varren at Balak's side jumped at the Slayer's throat. She punched her fist down the beast's throat and Xander heard a sickening wet crunch from deep inside the creature. It fell dead on the floor.
The troops with Balak raised weapons to try and shoot her. Xander reacted instantly shorting out their weapons with his omni-tool while Kaiden used his to overload their shields. Shepard and Williams gunned them down in a heartbeat.
Balak ran but his was a pitiable mortal speed against a pissed off Vampire Slayer, Summers snatched him up violently shaking him by the throat.
"You killed Katie ... " she shrieked, "right in front of her brother, you killed Katie."
"Buffy?" Aaron scrambled from the room. At his back the other survivors unsure of how or why they were still breathing but thankful nevertheless.
Buffy ignored him, She slammed Balak against a bulkhead and Xander could hear his ribs snapping. If Batarian's HAD ribs Balak had just a lost a few of his.
"You and me Four-Eyes, are going to have a hell of a time." Buffy hissed.
"No arguments from me." Shepard sneered, her voice husky with her own hatred and bloodlust.
"Buffy, leave him alone." Aaron shook her.
"He killed Katie." Buffy snarled. her rage, her hate was almost palpable.
"I know," Aaron whispered, "she, ... when they came I just wanted us to hide but she ... she was brave, braver them me."
"He killed Katie right in front of you." Buffy repeated shaking Balak again.
"I know but Katie wouldn't want this " Aaron insisted.
"Katie's not around to ask is she?" Buffy shouted.
"Katie believed in justice not revenge," Aaron answered; standing defiant in front of Buffy, "If you care about her, if you love her, you would honor her memory ...don't let them make you something you're not."
"This is what I am - this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Defending people like Katie from monsters like THIS." Buffy answered him. She slammed Balak against the bulkhead again. another bone snapped, maybe another rib this time or was it a shoulder.
"He's not a monster Buffy," Aaron responded quietly, "he's a sad angry man. Don't give in to him, please don't use Katie's death as an excuse for that. Katie deserved better and so do you."
Buffy dropped him on the floor. with a frustrated sob.
"You think you can keep him from running away now." Buffy grumbled at the soldiers as she walked toward Aaron.
"He won't be doing any running when I'm done with him." Shepard's grim face was set as she pulled her gun.
Aaron rushed past Buffy to stand in front of the Spectre.
"He's been captured," Bowman argued, "... arrest him, let the law handle it from here."
"You would actually put yourself in harm's way for this piece of garbage?" Shepard asked.
"Yes I would," Aaron snapped, "the question is, would you really hurt me just so you can kill him?"
Shepard looked at the small man. finally she turned her head, "I'm sorry for your loss Mister Bowman - if you'll excuse me, my people need to take the prisoner into custody."
Aaron kept shaking until Buffy came over and he threw his arms around her and they wept openly into each others shoulders.
Shepard took control of the situation then, handing Balak over to Alliance Authorities.
Ashley was still amazed at what Buffy had done, Kaiden not so much.
"A lot of Untrained Biotics when they start out instinctively channel their abilities to create mass effect fields that allow them to perform feats of strength." he explained.
Xander had to admit, untrained biotic sounded a hell of a lot better then gang member on PCP or the other unlikely justifications he'd heard for the strange things he had seen in his lifetime.
Eventually the time came to depart, Shepard seemed uncomfortable around Aaron and made it clear Normandy would depart sooner rather then later. Aaron Bowman and Buffy joined them at the space dock to saw them off. Buffy was amazed at the sight of the high tech Normandy.
"Listen Buff, I'm sorry about Katie, I wish we'd been able to get to her sooner." Xander whispered when they had a moment alone.
"I should have come sooner." Buffy heaved a sad sigh, "I was listening to colony comm traffic when I heard the alert. It took me a while to steal a shuttle and get up to that damn space rock."
"So you and Aaron huh?" Xander asked
"He's ...normal very , very normal." Buffy sighed. "When he and Katie found out ... about me ... they didn't freak out. They just dealt with it, you know?"
"That sounds familiar." Xander replied.
"So dear Brother-in-Law," Buffy said pointedly, "I haven't seen you since you were laid up at Arcturus Medical Station, I thought you were going to leave the military after that whole space worm thing."
"A very wise woman once used her powers of resolve face on me. Kept quoting Spider-Man at me. Now every time I think of slacking off or running away, I hear her voice."
"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility." Buffy smiled "Dawn believed in you so much. and here you are ..."
"... following around another champion on a mission to stop another apocalypse. Except this one's galactic-scale," Xander sighed. "I sense a theme developing in my life."
"Now you sense it," Buffy snorted "It's only been like what? ...two centuries?"
Xander hugged Buffy then, "I'm sorry I was such a basket case back then. I lost a wife but you lost a sister I should have been..."
Buffy cut him off "She said you'd be a little wacky afterward, begged me not to give up on you. She would have been proud to see you running around the galaxy saving people."
"Sometimes we save people," Xander replied, "Shepard's kind of hardcore if you hadn't noticed. If you hadn't been there, she would have let the hostages die to keep Balak from escaping." He shuddered at the thought.
"I was on Elysium during The Blitz. I know what we're up against out here." Buffy whispered.
"The Angel of Elysium?" Xander asked disbelieving. "That was you?"
Buffy nodded, "You know how it goes, wrong place right time. The tricky part was keeping anyone from seeing my face. Last thing I need was anyone remembering me."
"Instead, they have a memorial to the unknown hero who saved the colony." Xander muttered.
"Oh really, I should get out there and see it." Buffy replied.
"It's a popular spot for couples to get married " Xander said, the implication heavy in his voice.
"Leave it alone," Buffy punched him in the arm, "we're in a good place right now. Why get a piece of paper?"
Xander snorted, "He's working himself up to it but you aren't sure you want to."
"Xander its been Two Hundred Years - I barely have any gray hairs. It tore you apart watching Dawn ..." Buffy paused, "I just don't know if I could go through that..."
"Then you take joy in every day you do have. You thank God for it and hold on to them." Xander insisted his own resolve face set.
"Wow, way to hallmark card the moment Xander," Buffy mocked him, "who told you that?"
"You did, the day before I proposed to Dawn. We ended up having a ton of great years together. I think Sunnydale High's Class Protector deserves no less."
Buffy was touched, "I think I still have that parasol around somewheres."