Friendship Marks You
Shepard sighed in relief as she slumped into her customary spot to Aria's right on the couches of Omega's balcony.
Aria gave her a curious look as she looked over a datapad about the last shipment of Red Sand that Eclipse had sent to their Omega warehouses, after she threatened the three groups with being hunted across the Terminus Systems with bounties the size of their collective fleet's weight because of the proof that they were going to try taking her down they'd... agreed to more strict control of their activities at least on Omega itself. "What has you so wound up?"
"Well, that intel you gave us for the Broker was accurate, found his ship easily enough. Then we had to fight through another Spectre, apparently who works with him on occasion in exchange for intel, his army of mercenaries, oh and the Broker himself. Only, it wasn't the same broker that sent your friend after you, it was a Yahg who killed the old broker," Shepard began, grabbing at a drink offered by the purple-skinned Asari.
Aria raised an eyebrow at the fact that a Yahg became the Shadow Broker. Also wincing in slight sympathy. Even with Shepard's powerful biotics it couldn't have been easy to defeat such a bulk.
Shepard nodded acknowledgement of the wince, "And then Liara, in a fit of wisdom, decides to become the Shadow Broker so as to not lose all of his sources and contacts. Don't get me wrong, now at least I can trust the Broker not to do something especially stupid like side with the Reapers, but Liara was a workaholic before she was given the Broker's workload. If I didn't know she'd be upset with me for doing it I'd handcuff her ass to the bed and see how long it takes to drive her totally sex-crazed, just to relax her."
Aria chuckled now, "Thea is the same way occasionally, gets so caught in work I have to sneak onto the Citadel just to ambush her in her office. That desk has had her assprint on it more than once because of it."
Shepard laughed. "We're both in love with workaholic subs. I'd get matching facial tattoo's but they wouldn't work so well with my having hair and all."
Aria tried to picture Shepard with her facial markings and shook her head, "You're right, they would be very weird looking on your face."
"Pity, they're pretty sexy on your face," Shepard joked back, she wasn't joking but it was only harmless flirtation.
Aria laughed before her brain remembered a history lesson she was once given, in the human equivalent of elementary school, that mentioned tattoo's that Asari gave to their closest friends. It was after this recollection sprang to her mind that Aria realized that Shepard really was her only real friend she still knew, and the closest friend she'd ever really had, Thea not withstanding. "What about if we get matching tattoo's? There's an old Asari tradition, hasn't been observed in almost ten thousand years, but it involves two close friends tattooing each other's arms in a style that is relevant to them, and their tribe."
"Well, I'm not from a tribe that I know of, I don't even know where I was born. Not exactly, I know I grew up in Greece but the city I was actually born in..." Shepard pondered, the idea was sound... but what to do with the tattoo's.
"Well you'd wear my tribe anyway, which in this case is not the T'Loak tribe, the real life T'Loaks were absorbed into my family's tribe shortly before the Republics appeared. The tribe my family belonged to was the Al'Siani tribe. Depending on what city you were born in, we could do something similar for you," Aria mused, her brain already causing the Tattoo to come to life in her mind's eye.
Something occurred to Shepard and she laughed, "Oh you're gonna love this. I grew up in a city called Sparta. In Sparta's heyday, before it and the other city-states in Greece solidified into the country Greece, Sparta was home to the greatest army in Europe, the section of Earth it calls home. There's a legend where a small force, only a thousand or so, held off an enemy force of over five-hundred thousand for three days using their knowledge of the terrain and superior tactical knowledge to force the enemies to fight on their terms. On Earth they're looked up to as a fighting force who knew going in that they would not survive, they simply wanted to delay the invading force for long enough for the other city-states to ready themselves for war. It worked, when the invaders reached the first city-state the rest of the army of Sparta was waiting, and they were pissed."
Aria laughed with her friend, the story did in fact fit Shepard to a T as it were. A soldier so good, so disciplined, that she could cut swaths in professional mercenary forces with apparent ease. "It's fitting," She admitted as she stood, "Come on, we'll go to my private apartment."
At Aria's apartment the purple-skinned asari had a tattoo machine, she claimed it was because she'd learned how to give tattoo's before leaving Thessia but Shepard didn't believe her.
At any rate Shepard agreed to go first and sat down to let Aria work inking the tat on her right bicep. Declining a mirror to look at Aria's work while the asari worked she saw it for the first time when it was done. The tattoo might resemble what a person from Earth would call a tribal tattoo, if the sharp lines were softer and more organic. There were no sharp points, harsh turns or thorns. It's lines were soft and smooth, delicate but strong.
"Try flaring your biotics," Aria suggested with a knowing grin.
Shepard did so and was stunned at how the ink in her tattoo flared up blue when the mass effect field formed.
"It's a special ink Asari normally use to make these," Aria informed the Spectre as she indicated her own facial markings. "The ink embedded in your skin is used as a sort of irremovable amp. A tattoo this size is enough that you'd be a fairly powerful biotic even without what Cerberus did to you."
Shepard looked down at the tattoo that covered almost her entire right bicep, it's soft swirls spelling something out in asari, "What does it say?"
Aria smiled warmly, not the normal smirk but a true smile, "The Scion of the House of Al'Siani calls you friend."
Shepard's brow crinckled, "Won't that lead them to you and ruin your identity?"
"I'm not terribly worried," Aria shrugged. "Not many will see it, and even should they see it and be able to read it even fewer will be able to actually connect it with me."
Shepard smiled and claimed the tattoo-pen from her purple asari friend, pausing for a moment before she thought of an old Spartan saying she could write and carefully placed a Spartan shield on Aria's right arm, then around the top edge of the shield "Ρωτήστε όχι πόσα." and around the bottom "Ρωτήστε αντί πού είναι."
Aria looked at it, "I believe it's my turn, what does it say?"
"'Ask not how many. Ask where are they.' It's an old saying the Spartans had. Instead of asking how many their enemy was, they would ask where they were. The number was unimportant," Shepard replied, remembering that learning of the Spartans during military academy had been one of her most happy memories.
Aria smiled, "Fitting. Come, we'll return to Afterlife for a drink... I think a little celebration is in order, I forgot to mention that giving you that specific tattoo means we're essentially family now, I hope that's not a problem."
Shepard gave Aria a small hug, "Not a problem... not a problem at all."
A/N: "Ρωτήστε όχι πόσα. Ρωτήστε αντί πού είναι;" came from a google translate so if anyone who actually knows greek can correct, the undoubtedly wrong grammar and shit, I would appreciate it.