“Appreciate everyone attending. Know this is sudden. Difficult finding time between research and Collectors but important to mental and physical functions.” Inhale. “Tired of being interrupted. Wish to enlighten group to save time.”
You watch the Salarian ex-STG agent pace behind the length of his table, large eyes blinking at the crowd gathered before him. Someone had acquired chairs from somewhere, probably Omega since that had been the last stop (and obviously wasn’t intending to return them), and most of the crew was now occupying the new furniture. You are leaning against one of the lab tables at the back of the room across from Mordin’s station and within easy access of the door should this encounter require a swift retreat. He hasn’t explained the reason for summoning everyone but it sure as hell can’t be a good one.
Joker, Tali, Legion, Grunt, Jacob, Kasumi, Dr. Chakwas, Jack, Miranda, Kelly, Thane, Samara, Zaeed, Gabby and Kenneth all have their backs to you, all of them shifting uncomfortably, no doubt thinking of other, more important things they can be doing. Garrus is the only one of the group standing, taking up position on your right as he often does in a fight. He is casually leaning against the wall, Mattock assault rifle in one hand and a rag in the other. You smell the hint of gun oil before your attention is drawn back to the reason you are here and not in your room taking a much needed nap.
“Realize you have personal matters,” Mordin continues. “No intention of keeping you. Work in STG taught me to be prepared. Have compiled a list of topics but open to suggestion. Encourage participation. Not telepathic, though did conduct research into Vorcha neurological patterns that suggested-.”
“Just tell us what’s going on, Mordin,” Joker interrupts. “I don’t really trust EDI to fly the ship without me. I mean she’s good, don’t get me wrong, but she’s not me. Besides, I don’t do well, ya know, around other people.”
“Aww, you scared, brittle boy?” Jack taunts, a cruel grin stretching her lips. The psychotic biotic has flipped her chair around, sitting in it backwards with one tattooed arm resting along the top. She is also sitting as far from Miranda as the space allows. “Worried someone might touch you in your no-no place?”
“Don’t you have somewhere else you need to be? Like in a room with less oxygen and missing a helmet?”
“Fuck you. Why don’t you hobble over here and say that to-.”
“That’s enough, you two,” you interject, eager to be done with the whole thing. “Face front and stow that energy for when it’s needed.”
Both of them grumble beneath their breath but obey. Mordin has stopped his pacing, perhaps realizing the dangerous situation that is likely to spill over with everyone so confined and not able to shoot off a weapon.
“Meeting was deemed necessary due to repeated questions by some present. Will not divulge details due to privacy and embarrassment. Likelihood of dying from mission causing some to seek comfort in physical acts as a way to relieve stress. Normal behavior. Can create calming effect if received well by partner. Here to discuss differences in anatomy. Also, possible side effects, mostly…unpleasant. Some even life threatening if not treated-.”
“Whoa. …..Whoa. Hold up. Pull the crazy train back into the station and give me a refund. I did not sign on for this,” Joker states, sounding both amused and disgusted.
“Realize you are unlikely candidate due to physical defect. Threat of bone fractures and possible internal bleeding. Punctured lung if ribs broken. Still required to listen.”
“Yeah, to hell with that, doc.” Joker rises from his seat, intent on a beeline for the door. “If I’m gonna go out with a blaze of glory on a suicide mission, no way I’m gonna hear your voice in my head repeating the sixteen different ways I can die while getting banged by a Batarian.”
“Close estimation. Only five. Nine if oral stimulation is given. Recommend a game of cards instead. Risk of hemorrhaging and optical bleeding less likely.” Inhale. “Intervention required, Shepard.”
Rubbing the tips of your fingers along your temple you sigh, “Joker.”
“I don’t get paid enough for this.”
As stupid and uncomfortable as it is, you really don’t see the harm it can do. Mordin has obviously put a lot of thought into it though that is disturbing all on its own. Your own deal with Garrus about blowing off steam has you curious and you aren’t about to suffer through this speech on your own.
“EDI, seal the doors.”
Joker stops mid-limp, hat covered head turning a glare your way. “What the hell-.”
“Of course, Shepard.”
There is an electronic hum as the green locks turn orange, barring his escape, and if looks could kill…
You sense Garrus actually take a step closer.
“The blood rage in this room is rising. ….I like it,” Grunt states, slamming his fists together.
“The only thing rising is my blood pressure,” you mutter. “Sit back down, Joker. The sooner we hear him out, the sooner we can all leave.”
“This is payback, isn’t it? For getting you spaced.”
You fight against a smile and manage to win but the defeated look in his eyes makes it hard not to gloat. “Maybe,” you say, folding your arms as you keep your expression neutral.
“That’s low, Commander. Even for you.”
Garrus relaxes his posture as the pilot limps back to his chair. It doesn’t matter that Joker isn’t a real threat when the body is honed to react to any potential attack. You have done the same at his back many times. Often times without realizing it.
“Good. Conflict resolved. Could reenact rendition of Gilbert and Sullivan to lighten mood-.”
The word is said in unison by most present, leaving Mordin to blink as he recollects his composure. “Well then, on to lecture.” He pulls up his Omni-tool, typing, and a hologram appears. The image hovers over his work station and there isn’t a single person in the room that doesn’t suddenly shift with unease.
Except for Legion.
The hologram is of a Krogan male in civilian attire, the image flickering a few times before becoming stable. Mordin takes up position to the left side of it, producing a laser pointer and you begin to wonder what you’ve doomed yourself to.
“Krogan less likely to be chosen as sexual partner due to highly volatile nature. Some leaving Tuchunka in hopes of finding Asari mate. Easier to reproduce but dominate Asari genetics not ideal. Desperate times due to Genophage. Humans not suitable. Contact with semen causes instantaneous rash. Boils if exposure is prolonged. Saliva has similar effect. Causes tongue and throat to swell, leading to asphyxia. Prior medical treatment can lessen symptoms, however, suffocation still cause for concern. Also, sexual intercourse unlikely due to…size of Krogan penis.”
Grunt barks a laugh as Mordin types a command into his Omi-tool and the civilian clothes on the hologram disappear. There is a heartbeat of silence, followed by a chorus of voices.
“By the Goddess.”
“That’s goddamn huge.”
“I’m gonna be sick.”
“I hate you, Commander.”
“I dinna think they grew like that.”
“Perhaps an error has occurred in the holographic interface.”
“But the size.”
The last words belong to Kasumi, all eyes turning to her.
“What? I’ve learned to appreciate art in all it’s forms.” A judgmental silence occurs and she smiles before triggering her optical camo. “Besides, I’ve seen bigger.”
It is at this moment when you realize that the people in this room don’t have a chance of saving the galaxy because they are good at what they do. They have a good chance of saving the galaxy because they are all bat shit crazy.
And you’d still die to save every single one of them.
Well, except maybe Zaeed.
Your eyes fall to Legion who has turned in his chair, his flashlight head tilted.
“This unit does not understand why our presence is required. Please clarify.”
“If I let you out, will you finally tell me why you have my armor wielded to you?”
“…We conclude that this is what organics refer to as ‘blackmail’.” His head plates begin to flex, fanning once, twice before settling back into place. “…No data…available.”
“That’s what I thought.”
Something suddenly sears into your brain, your eyes flinching against a display of light and you see Mordin with his laser pointer aimed in your direction. The Salarian Professor seems to be losing his patience.
“Attention necessary for continued participation, Shepard.”
“By all means, please continue,” you state in a strained voice.
The laser pointer becomes aimed at the junction between the Krogan’s stubby legs and you wonder how hard it will be to stop the Collectors if you gouge out your eyes.
“Male Krogan posses four testicles, necessary for high number of sperm needed to fertilize. Female of species can produce one thousand eggs in a year though not all survive. Human males have two, only one sperm needed to achieve conception.”
“Well, that gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘tea-bagging’,” Joker comments.
Garrus is the one who poses the question and you shake your head at him, “For the love of all that’s holy, Garrus, just let that one go. Trust me.”
“It’s when a guy puts his manly bits-.”
“Joker, I have no problem letting EDI take over and giving you Gardner’s toilet duties for the remainder of this mission. Are we clear?”
Joker falls silent, apparently willing to cooperate until his voice drops to mimic a tone you recognize, “I know you feel this.”
You slap your face into your hand. You wonder, and not for the first time, how many seconds it might take for you to reach the airlock. Letting the galaxy save itself is starting to seem like a good idea.