Over the next few days, James Campbell was given every single examination more rigorous than he had ever been given in his life. He was tested across various rooms and institutions, not even seeing much of the Citadel beyond the space of a few short corridors and a few grand buildings. They tested him on his psychology, physiology, gastronomy and other things. He was questioned about everything from race origin to religious beliefs, from his most regular diet to his oldest wounds.
Personally he felt rather violated, being poked and prodded and questioned like a criminal, while also seeing that due to the heavily-mixed nature of this world and all of its extraterrestrial politics, it was understandable. With each new day he learned more about each new race, or at least tried to whilst being examined with as much scrutiny as a murder victim. Yet there was one ray of light through all this. Ever since his scissors had been confiscated, he felt a lot more cheerful and uplifted without it, as if a great heavy cloak had been sweeped from his shoulders.
He was fed, given a place to rest in temporary transit while Citadel Security, treated respectfully despite the invasive procedures from time to time, and above all he felt happier. He felt as if maybe he could finally be free of the curse that trapped him, the curse that essentially forced him away from Koopin. Now he felt more eager to find his way home to get back to him more swiftly, wanting the warm summer days of green while sitting in cold blue rooms.
Around three days after his arrival upon the Citadel, he sat waiting in front of Dahnus Drumarien, the officer having taken on James as a personal case, guiding him through every procedure carefully. Today would be the day that James would finally find himself able to leave the cool sterile offices of C-Sec, as the turian provided him with a strange item that resembled two black straps connected together. One seemed to be for his forearm, the other towards his hand.
"What's this?" asked FG.
"This is your Omni-Tool," said Drumarien. "It'll allow you to interact with objects, doors, as well as contain all of your data. Go ahead, try it on."
"Uhhh okay...how do I-"
"Put your arm through and press the button on the forearm strap."
He did so gently, uncertain of the strange object while feeling it fit snugly on his left arm as he turned his hand upwards with palm open. A button was on the forearm strap, which he pressed curiously before his entire limb was coated in a bright orange gauntlet. A small circular interface hovered above his left hand, which was currently occupied by some strange amber sphere. Yet something felt off about it.
"WOAH! ...wait, I don't feel anything."
"The omni-tool is holographic," said Dahnus, "you just tap anything you want in the interface, it also comes with a manual explaining all of its functions."
"Daaaaaaamn...this looks aaaaaawesome."
"Hm, I'm glad you approve. Welcome to the Citadel, Mr. Campbell."
The officer shook his hand politely, the raptor smiling back at him with a childish glee at the strange piece of technology, asking:
"But, how am I even touching it if it's a hologram?"
"Hard-light sensor technology, it detects where your fingers are and inputs commands accordingly."
"Huh...well, neat! What else does it do, just like some kind of PDA?"
"More than that, it also has a flashlight, camera functions, video and audio recording, scanning, repairing items, downloading video games, storing and accessing your credits or bank accounts, and various other things."
"Wow it's like a swiss army knife of...things!"
"...you're the fourth person I ever heard say that about the omni-tool, is that an Earth expression?"
"Uhhhh yeah, why?"
"...never mind. Anyways, if you just type out 'permit' for me."
James did so as he saw a holographic license pop up onto a screen above his hand, radiating a projection of what would be his working permit. The raptor was impressed, trying to touch it which only enhanced certain parts of it, as Dahnus explained.
"While on the Citadel with your current permit, you will be restricted from certain areas as indicated by your omni-tool. You are registered essentially as a transient. You are not allowed to leave the Citadel unless you become enlisted as part of a ship's crew. You are not allowed to own a weapon unless you receive a permit for owning one. You are allowed to work and receive pay as mandated under the fair minimum wage laws of the Citadel. You will not be protected by any diplomatic rights since you are of a species that has no diplomatic representative on the Citadel, but you are still bound by the interstellar laws of the Citadel Council. Now, any questions?"
"Just one. Bank accounts?"
"Yes, your omni-tool also acts like an electronic wallet. I presume you have no money on you at the moment?"
"Nnnnno. How do I get that?"
"Money is either electronic or in hard currency. Most people use electronic transfers between omni-tools and such, but you can also get a bank account started with your permit while finding any work. Hard currency as in physical transactions are also acceptable, but you are at greater risk of having them stolen or counterfeited. Anything else?"
"Nope, I think I got this."
"Alright, let me escort you out then."
The turian led him out of Citadel Security, the raptor grateful to finally leave past its doors for the first time since his arrival. The two shook hands and bid farewell, leaving Drumarien to deal with any paperwork concerning him. James walked off aimlessly throughout the hallways, wondering on where he could even go with his new permit available. The first thing he did was walk straight up to the window he had first seen, spanning the very length of the hallway gazing towards the stars.
An infinite universe with an infinite number of possibilities. He felt somehow more confident about this world, the fact they were even accepting of his being from another dimension or at the very least humoring him, gave him some hope that for once he might find someone who was finally able to lead him home. Whether it was the fact that he was in such an advanced society of spacefaring citizens, or the fact that he was now finally free of the cursed scissors in a rather unceremonial state of good riddance, he was happy. Excited. Full of intrigue at what laid beyond those twinkling stars.
With that, he decided to do what all good adventurers should do before setting out on their great voyage to the stars. To find himself a job, after figuring out exactly how to get around the wide curved sterile halls filled with a multitude of creatures. Mostly he encountered humans, as well as turians and the blue-skinned female humanoids he still had yet to find the name of. Thin amphibious-looking creatures with huge black eyes and frog-like skin were also common, as well as the squat mole-like creatures in armoured tank suits.
His street senses came back to him, still able to discern who was trustworthy or not to a certain degree. Even aliens had their ways of showing their true nature by the simplest flick of their eyes. Occasionally while passing through the sleek blue and gunmetal grey of the corridors, he would bring up his omni-tool to try and test out its various features, finding himself a quiet place to sit as he tried to test a few things.
He gave up a half-hour later and just thought to learn it on the fly, looking to find someone with a job available from what little he was allowed to roam amongst the Citadel. Despite the fact it was in space, he didn't have the true sense of being in space itself by the fact this was not just a space station. It was literally an entire homeworld for millions, maybe billions of people from all corners of the galaxy. The barest comprehension of its size boggled him, which he tried to shake off as he headed towards the Rapid Transit area to find a shuttle.
Surprisingly they were free, and consisted of just a row of shuttles that resembled large toy cars without wheels in white, blue or red, that came every 10 minutes to transport people all around the Citadel. James noted the restrictions his omni-tool cleared him with as a shuttle opened up for him, its door splitting two ways like a mouth at its side before hopping in with a few other waiting passengers. His departure was noted by a nearby officer, a turian with green facepaint who called on his earpiece to report to his superior at the other end.
"He just left on a shuttle, seems to be heading off towards Zakera Ward."
"Good," said officer Drumarien back at base, "I'll send his info over to them, thanks for keeping tabs."
"He all clear?" said a voice in front of him.
"Yes. His papers are all cleared and he's given limited access, only two wards for easier tracking and to make sure he doesn't get up to anything. For now."
The same office that James had sat in was still occupied by its owner, as Dahnus resumed working on case reports while also noting to the side an email to send to Zakera Ward's C-Sec division. The officer who walked in, a dark-skinned human with an American accent holding a PDA, asked curiously:
"You think he's trouble?"
"I more suspect he invites trouble rather than be it. He seems like a kid, but he's clearly mature with experience, no idea where he's from and he's all confused, an easy target."
"And the weapon we confiscated?"
"Keep it locked down, that thing looks nasty and I did promise that it not be interfered with."
"...it's just a giant pair of scissors, you know that right?"
"Of course I do. But it looks awful, violent."
"Well all weapons do, that's the point."
"Some weapons have a design that means grace, elegance, protection. That thing...it reeks of death."
"Whatever you say, I jus-shit!"
The man tripped over a small shining crack in the floor, stumbling and almost dropping his PDA until a sudden whoom came before him. The PDA was now floating, safely above the floor wrapped in shimmering blue waves that radiated from its centre, emanating from Drumarien's right hand. The glow of the strange energy tinted the white and beige of his hard-skinned face, the human taking the PDA back cautiously.
"I told them to fix that damn crack," said the turian, "it's been two months now."
"Probably got lost in all that Sovereign bull, you know how paperwork just drowns easy."
"Hmph...I suppose so. You need something Davis?"
"Just more reports on that local merc group you wanted."
"Ah, thank you."
"Hey uh...how did that crack happen in the floor anyway?"
"...you didn't read the report on the merc I brought in didn't you?"
"That crack there? Half his teeth are still in it."
Zakera Ward was certainly much livelier than the lower wards he arrived in. A bustling marketplace within a tall building, circling upwards to several levels filled with shops and cafes of all kinds around him, blinding him with red, purple, yellow and white all within the constant sheen of cobalt blue the wards seemed to be practically sculpted out of. Sushi bars and restaurants catering to various alien cuisines started making him hungry, while stores specialising in guns and modules intrigued him all the more. Modules that seemed to be based on something called "biotics" as well as other apparent upgrades to one's body.
It was at this point he noticed a lot of people wore full-on clothing, far more snugly than any other world he had been to. Very little sense of loose clothing was to be had amongst the Citadel, as James felt even more naked than ever before in his life. There were even travellers wearing full-on body armour, tooled up to the nines in thick ceramic plating that covered almost every part of their body, making them resemble knights of a future era. James was fascinated, seeing the various designs all branded with some specific marker or colouring.
What intrigued James most about the Zakera Ward was that there even more new species to meet. Namely in the form of large floating jellyfish taller than a human, as well as what appeared to be odd huge creatures with the skin of an elephant, the body structure of a gorilla and a face made entirely of narrow vertical strips that opened with deep monotone voices like the gills of a fish. A few hours of wandering eventually had him desperate enough to look around the various low-rate bars and restaurants asking for a job.
The next two weeks had James finding luck at last in a deadbeat bar at the lower end of town, hiding away in a back area where the more slovenly and less-rich gathered themselves. Vagrants like him, which he became very familiar with over the brief time he had working there, handling the dishwashing after showing his ignorance at the food and drink at the bar dealing with different alien diets. Even though he was offended by such a remark, he took the job of dishwashing over any pride and simply learned on the spot, sighing to himself.
Gathering money over the week to store on his omni-tool, he felt more confident about himself despite having no idea on where he could possibly go in finding someone able to help him. He was certainly not going to find any scientists skulking about in the bar full of vagrants, or sleeping with other transients in the 633 block with no place to call home like he was. but he would find his own path through the Citadel soon enough. One day, after getting off from work with rougher hands to sit on a bench to relax, he saw the strangest thing in front of a window store.
A suited humanoid, its hood and clothes coloured a light-blue with black strips, dancing clumsily in front of a dressmakers. He had seen the species before, having never asked on what they were but seeing that they all had tight environmental suits with tinted face coverings that obscured their features, resembling a scuba mask to James with the small circular port over the mouth area. This one however was trying to dance like a ballerina, and doing somewhat terribly like a 5-year old would. One-legged spins that stumbled halfway, combined with little leg stretches that never quite went all the way.
Yet the sight was strangely pleasing to him, seeing this thin creature enjoying itself happily in the middle of the street, attracting eyes of disgrace and curiosity from all around whilst looking up at a dress. A beautiful white wedding gown in the window that it peered towards to, hands on the glass as if beckoning to push through. Eventually a wistful sigh came as it walked over towards an alleyway, taking a shortcut through the ward streets. Two males followed in after, one human and one alien.
He felt his danger sense kick in as he slowly got up from the bench and approached the alleyway, dark enough to obscure but not tight enough to feel claustrophobic. An argument could be heard echoing slightly from further down, as James softly approached the scene. A female voice was crying out against the two males.
"This'll teach you!"
"No, let go!"
"Whut's the matter, don't you wanna feel pretty?!"
"I didn't do anything, now let me GO!"
Turning a corner, James encountered a rather odd scene, but immediately sprung into action seeing it was someone being attacked. A rather portly-looking pale human in red clothing, grabbing the head of the suited blue humanoid who struggled against the other alien. A thuggish-looking brute with six nostrils between four black eyes who was also wearing red clothing.
"AH, you're hurting me!"
"Give us yer money and we won't break your fucking face open! Unless you wanna taste some good milk fer once you slut."
"NO! GO AWAY!"
Without saying a word the raptor barged into the thug alien, slamming into him as he fell onto the floor while the human cried out in a breathless voice:
"Wh-who the hell are you!?!"
"The guy who's gonna ruin your fucking day if you don't leave her alone!"
"This got nothing to do with you!"
"THE HELL IT DOES!"
The male alien pulled out a pistol upon getting up, but before he had a chance to fire James bullrushed forwards to punch his arm hard and forced him to drop the gun. The raptor quickly picked it up and pointed it straight at both aggressors. A clunky futuristic look to it, but he still knew how to pull a trigger.
"Alright, now both of you back off! YOU, four-eyes, fucking run now."
The alien seemed to be a little panicked and ran unarmed with bruises, while the human tried to do the same before being caught and slammed against the wall by the raptor.
"Ohhh no no no no no, you're not going anywhere fuckboy."
"UNGH, l-let go of me you...freak!"
"Hah, NOW you're the one who wants to be let go?"
James aimed the gun at his eyes, feeling the tremble of fear come from within the human.
"Now...you're going to apologise to the lady, or else I'm going to find that part in your skull that makes your entire head explode with one SHOT. Got it?!"
"Y-y-you...f-fucking shit, you want her yourself or sumthi-"
A gunshot just above his head shut him up, the smoking hole within the wall resounding with an ear-shattering shot that sent sounds of panic from beyond the corridor. He was soon looking straight down the barrel through one eye as James said:
"Sorry, didn't mean that."
"I wasn't aiming properly...now..."
The gun was soon pressed against one eyelid that closed in reflex.
"Say you're sorry."
A tightening of his claw around the trigger made the man flail and panic.
"I'M SORRY! PLEASE! DON'T KILL ME!"
And with that, James let him run off, shooting nearly at his leg to make him run quicker which inadvertently ended up wounding him by a misfire as he cried out in pain, limping off towards the side-alley. He turned towards the female and asked safely:
She was slightly shaken but nodded with her clouded cyan-coloured mask, lighting up a darker-blue circle at her mouth everytime she spoke. Her voice was oscillated slightly through her suit, but it was a pleasing young voice of an indeterminate accent.
"Y-yes...I'm fine. Thank you! I...he was gonna...that BOSH'TET!"
"Woah, calm down, everything's alright now."
"S-sorry just...I just...thank you."
"I'm glad I was around to help. You need anything?"
"Thank you but, I'll be okay now...I don't know how I can repay you, I mean, I wasn't meant to come here today, I...I-i-i just...I should have stayed at the block but...I wanted to see-"
"...you...you saw me?"
She turned away in sudden awkwardness, her blushing obvious even beneath her clothing as James smirked saying:
"Heeeey come on it's okay...nothing wrong with a little window shopping right?"
"M-maybe...but if you hadn't been there-"
"Hey I just stopped a fight, you don't have to say anything and you don't have to repay me...but your name'll do maybe?"
"My name...keelah I almost forgot my name, oy my head's all messed up."
"Take your time, it's fine, just...relax."
The woman turned back towards him eventually and sighed with some relief, trying to relax as her nerves calmed down.
"Okay...my name is Leiah'Dahlael nar Guuha...and you?"
"...James Campbell. That's a...long name you got there, that Ukrainian?"
"Um...no, it's Quarian?"
"Right right...um...what's Quarian?"
"You don't even know? That's what I am!"
"Really? Hah, sorry just that I uh, landed here like a week ago or so and I don't know ANYTHING about these people or what's going on around here."
"You just came here?! From where?"
"Uhhh my homeworld, I'm uh...I'm new around here."
"Ohhh, my gosh, are you one of those recently uplifted species?!"
"Uh...not QUITE I just, kinda arrived here and I got um...look, it's a really weird story, and-"
"I love weird stories!" squeaked Leiah excitably with a clap of her hands, "they're the best kind of stories! ...hey, why don't I take you somewhere to eat, lemme pay you back at least for saving me."
"Uhhhmm...s-sure, why not? How long you been here?"
"About two years, just travelling as part of my pilgrimage."
"Pilgrimage? You like some kind of Christian or something?"
"Hahaha, nooooo my Quarian pilgrimage! ...you really don't know anything about quarians do you?"
"Uhhhh not quite...or turians...or whatever that four-eyed thing was."
"Sounds like YOU need a crash course in Citadel species! Come on, you saved my life, now lemme save yours."
"Wait, how are you gonna save my life?"
"Trust me, if you don't know your way around here, you WON'T make it for very long."
"I can already tell," said James glumly. "Alright then, if you wanna repay me I guess I can't stop you, I'd appreciate being shown around a little."
"Good! Oh, um...you might want to hide that gun somewhere."
"Well yeah, you ever used a gun before?"
"Uhh, yes I have. ...I do need a weapon though so lemme just...keep this just in case."
"Okay, but let's go another way, C-Sec will probably be coming round to investigate the noise."
He gently put the pistol into his satchel as Leiah took him by the hand. He noted that just like a turian, her hands also had three long fingers but without the claws on the ends. Heading through a side-area of the alleyway to not raise any suspicion, they escaped to another district of the Zakera Ward, the quarian leading him towards a rather nicely-situated cafe upon a higher balcony, watching over the streets below of shining blue as creatures wandered back and forth.
Paying for a light meal, Leiah had some sort of sterilised stew mixture which was fed into her suit's mouthpiece through an oscillating tube. James had some toasted sandwiches with an unusual meat texture in them, finding it quite delicious alongside some Earth-style coffee. James was rather fascinated in wanting to ask everything about everyone, starting the quarians to which Leiah obliged happily.
"I hope these aren't too personal or anything," said James.
"Oh it's fine," said Leiah, "I love answering questions! Makes me feel a bit special, hehee."
"Hehe, right. So you quarians literally can't take off your suits?"
"Yep, our immune systems are so weak that even a small cold could knock us out for a week, if we're lucky."
"How does that even happen?"
"Oh about three hundred years living on spaceships after your home planet gets taken over by a race of AIs that you created, but didn't expect to become sentient and try to fight back for independence."
"...wow, that's rough."
"It's not so bad, I mean living on a spaceship means you get to learn a lot of useful things! Like fixing them!"
"Well there is that. So, what's the deal with you quarians and turians not being able to eat like anyone else? I heard the guys mention that at the bar I work in downtown."
"Oh we just have a different chemical makeup, dextro-amino acids. Basically it means that if we eat anything that you would eat, I would probably die...or just have a really bad reaction."
"Jeez, and that was BEFORE the immune systems crapping out on you?"
"God...never thought a thing like that could happen."
"Anything else you want to ask?"
"Well...I literally have no idea on any of the species here, other than humans. Think you could give me a crash course?"
"Of course! Let's see...well, you know turians obviously."
"The cricket guys, right, but I don't know much about them."
"Don't you have your codex on your omni-tool?"
"...I...just got this thing, I literally have no idea how this works. I can turn it on! And off...and I think I found the flashlight-AGH!"
Messing around with his omni-tool blinded him temporarily with a flashlight to the face, wincing as Leiah giggled at his ineptitude.
"Heheheheee, awwww you're so new to everything that's adorable."
"Nnnnngh...I know it has a manual but I can't DO anything with this."
"Well, lemme just give you the quick notes on each species. Those guys the turians, are like military bureaucrats, they love the paperwork and they won't hesitate to shoot. They got the biggest army in the entire galaxy and everyone of them knows how to fight."
"Wow, scary. What about the blue ladies with the cornrow hair?"
"Oh, those are Asari. They're the long-lasting wise beings of the galaxy, all philosophers and masters of the mystical. They master in biotics, able to do all kinds of things with them naturally, it's a real mystery!"
"So, like the wise sages of the galaxy?"
"Kinda, they live long enough to be it, over a thousand years!"
"...a THOUSAND? ...shit."
"I know, it's insane! I mean, I'm only going to live as long as maybe a hundred years if I'm lucky."
"Same here. How about those uh, jellyfish dudes?"
"Oooooh the Hanar, they're very strange let me tell you."
Over the course of their luncheon, Leiah explained all of the species of the galaxy to James. The jellyfish-like Hanar who were deeply religious and polite; the squat armoured Volus who were the bankers and businessmen of the galaxy; the hulking rhinocerous-built Elcor who were incredibly patient and slow to act; the lean bug-eyed Salarians who were all about quick-solve solutions and essentially the scientists of the galaxy; and finally, the Batarians with the four eyes who were ruthless merchants that normally isolated their species from the rest of the galaxy.
"And that's all I can see around here," said the quarian. "I think you know everything by now."
"Well good," said James."
"SO, what about you? I never heard of a velociraptor before, and I can't find anything about them in my codex."
"Weeeellll we're kind of not in the official books yet, but...yanno what, I think I can tell you this, come here."
He had her lean closer so he could softly murmur:
"I'm actually from another dimension."
"Really?! Y-you're not-waaaaait, are you lying?"
"No I'm serious! Come on, you never heard of a raptor have you?"
"Well, nooooo but-"
"Go ask wherever you want, you won't find anything out about my species because we're not even in this galaxy. That's the problem."
"Why is that a problem?"
"Well, the thing is, I'm trying to get back home. I uh...I got lost basically, and I landed up here. Now I can't find my way home and I was hoping that...maybe someone with all this technology could help me find a way."
"...wow...that...that sounds amazing. Are you really from another dimension?"
"I swear I am. You want proof?"
"I-i don't know, how could you prove it even?"
"Look at me. Look at these jeans, look at my-hold on. I had some food and a couple of supplies but they took it down at security for risk of infection or something. Here."
He pulled out his satchel and brought out several items to show Leiah, trusting her curious innocence enough to do so as she gazed upon the strange grouping of items from his contents. An empty bottle of water, the gun he took from the thug earlier which he didn't pull out, a tiny bell on a string, two solid sticks the length of hammers and a photograph that James held in his hand towards her.
A strange but happy-looking family of brightly-coloured creatures, with green shells and yellow beaks, waving from the deck of a beautiful sunny ship.
"...who are they?" asked Leiah curiously.
"Someone very special to me," said James. "You ever seen anything like them in the galaxy?"
"No, never...they look so...colourful and sweet, they almost look like cartoons!"
"Hah...they kinda do I guess."
"What's this bell thing?"
"That's a gift from someone, like a keepsake."
"And that other pendant around your neck?"
The raptor clutched at the small black pendant smiling.
"That's another gift, just something special."
"Wow....well, I...guess I don't know any of these things I got no reason to not believe you. You promise you're not lying to me?"
"I promise. I got no reason to lie, I couldn't even lie to the police when they picked me up so even if you like, hacked into their security and found out my files, you'll get the same thing!"
"Well now...I might have to put you up to that someday. But I won't be fooled JUST yet."
She giggled mischievously with a tap on his nose as James smiled back, putting all his things away while she looked towards the open street. Eventually Leiah asked as her mind ticked over one thing about James' story.
"Okay...if you came here from another dimension, how did you land up here on the Citadel?"
"Well...heh, it's kinda weird but...I teleported."
"...teleported? Like, shimmering down from space teleported?"
"Yyyyyeah. I know that sounds kinda crazy-wait, don't you guys do teleportation here?"
"Nope! We use shuttles to get down on other planets, no teleportation around this place."
"Huh...well that's the best I can tell you."
"So, you landed here directly? Like, you've never been into space even?!"
"Not out there no. I mean I have, while I was travelling, but people never went to space back where I came from."
"And where did you come from?" asked Leiah curiously. "I'm not saying I believe you! Not yet, just...I want to see how far this all goes."
"Alright, well...I come from an alternate Earth basically. It's sometime around the 36th century, it's a whole world where humans and anthros, like all these animals now kinda humanised with hands instead of paws and whatnot, we try to live together."
"How did that happen?"
"...I don't know. Actually none of us really know, but there's this religion we have back home that claims some mad scientist was just so frustrated at humanity that he made us, just to give more variety to the world, or maybe teach humanity a lesson, I don't know, they're crazy people anyway so I don't listen to them. All I know is that anthros like me only existed on Earth for like fourteen-hundred years or something."
"Wow...okay, that's KIND OF crazy, I never heard anything like that in this galaxy. But, you said people back home never flew into space? Ever?! What about you?"
"Something happened with me, some kind of experiment that made me able to just hop between dimensions. I can't understand it either, after all these years I still don't understand how it's happening to me, what all these worlds are, how all of them exist, I just don't! So I stopped questioning it after a long while...it makes my head hurt less when I don't."
"So...what about any aliens back in your world? Didn't any of them ever come and interact with your people?"
"Okay, that I don't believe, how can it be like...a thousand years ahead of THIS galaxy and still never have met any aliens!? That's impossible!"
"Oh I never said we didn't meet any."
"Well...god this is some ancient history for me but...basically way waaay back in my Earth's time, there was this huge apocalypse, sometime in the 23rd century or something?"
"Really? What happened?!"
"Nuclear fallout basically, war got too crazy for mankind and everyone started killing each other, just a total wipeout. Then...one day, the day they came from the stars..."
James' voice began to turn strangely sullen, his words automatic as if reciting a passage from scripture.
"...in the coming dawn of mankind's apocalypse, that he had wrought himself...there came a light from the stars above. A silver light shining down upon every major city in the world, so it was written in our history. From the silver light came strange creatures from beyond the stars. Nobody knows what they look like, for they were incomprehensible to the human eye. They witnessed the destruction of the land, the last gasp of mankind struggling to hold onto their last remains. And they said this unto man:
"To the human race, we have observed you from beyond the stars for centuries past. We have watched you grow, conquer, divide and command all around you, sculpting and destroying the land in equal resolve. You possess the strength to cultivate beyond your reach, but lack the wisdom to wield your power.
"Your weapons are now depleted. Your technology is now destroyed. You will all begin anew, but you shall take this lesson from the start. If you cannot possess the wisdom to tolerate and coexist with all creatures and kindred upon your own earth, you can never be allowed to live beyond the stars. If you try to do so before you ever reach true peace...we will come once again...and exterminate you like the vermin you have become."
Leiah gasped softly at hearing such, the raptor continuing his oddly-practiced words with a sombre tone of reverence, his gaze turning towards the stars up above.
"They inscribed this on the ruins of the Vatican, the Mecca, every major place of worship in at least three major languages, making sure that NOBODY would miss the point.
The carvings remain to this day. They are indestructible, unremovable, and untouchable. They are confirmed to be of alien origin, unlike anything of terrestrial origin, dating back to the day that humanity began to rebuild itself once again. There is absolutely no reason to deny they had come to give this warning. For that reason alone, mankind swore never to travel to the stars, until true peace had been attained."
"And...did it work?" asked Leiah softly.
"Mankind itself managed to coexist perfectly fine in the remains of the apocalypse, humans building once again. ...then the anthros came. We came. A whole new obstacle had to be overcome. Tolerate and coexist with all creatures and kindred upon your own earth. That is what they remember. Some feared the anthros naturally. Others despised us for making their true obstacle further out of reach. Despise us to the point of hatred and bigotry that continues to this day, back in my world. Others simply tried harder to reach better.
"It's the 36th Century. ...not a single rocket has been shot into space."
"Yeah. ...space has always been...kind of a dream for us. And a nightmare too I guess, for all of us. ...heh, you know, I haven't remembered that story in ages, but they always told me it back home when I was in London...every day when I was a kid I understood...I understood why humans hated us. So of course, a lot of us hate them too in return. Some of us try to get along, try to stop fighting, try to keep the world a better place. But...funny thing, we both think just the same way. I was just the same as those humans too...maybe I still am."
She leaned in closer seeing the deeper sorrow come to his eyes, asking:
"Why do you want to go back to such a place?"
"...because I want to change things in my world, after all I've done elsewhere."
He looked towards her with stern eyes.
"I have to get home. No matter what, I have to find my way home, and set things right. Nothing is stopping me now. Maybe I can't change the whole world back where I lived...but I can change a part of it at least. ...I'm tired of running away."
"...I can understand that too."
The two smiled softly at each other in a brief moment of understanding, the quarian slightly believing in him more. In truth there was a growing part of her that desperately wanted to believe he was truly a creature of another reality. But a forced sense of hers demanded to keep a level head, sighing as she shook it off before the raptor asked:
"Soooo where you wanna go next? Come on, let's have some fun and not be miserable."
"Hmhmhm...mmmmm I don't know. I got nothing to do the rest of the day, and I don't work until tomorrow."
"What do you do?"
"Oh, just simple repairs down at some shop, easy stuff."
"You know where I really wanna go?!" said Leiah lighting up. "I wanna go to the Tayseri Wards, everything is so fancy there! There's the concert hall, the museum, school of arts...hhhhmmmmm...it looks so beautiful in pictures."
"Hahaha, you're a real uptown girl aren't you?"
"I just love finding out new things that people do! New dances, new music, new styles of art, it's all so fascinating to me to see how...how other races and other worlds can just...create from their history."
"...hehehe, I understand. So why can't you go?"
"Not enough money...that and it got completely wrecked during the Sovereign attack not more than...two months ago?"
"Oh yeah I uh, read about that, christ that sounded bad."
"REALLY bad...but, you can fix anything eventually! Buildings are buildings after all. It's more the people you have to worry about."
"OOH, I know where we could go!"
"Yeah this could be an idea! You know how to use that gun?"
"Uh...sure I do."
"Do you really?"
"I said before I knew, come on!"
"Well why don't you show me?"
"Sh-show you? Where, there's like a hundred people here."
"Not here you doof, somewhere else! I know the perfect place we could go train."
"Oooookay. Sure, why not, I mean it's been a while since I used a gun so might as well learn it all again."
"Good! Let's go, we'll stop at my place first so I can get mine!"
"Wait you HAVE one?! Why didn't you take it with you?!"
"...can you promise me something?"
"Always keep it with you next time. No excuses."
"A-alright. I promise."
"Good, now let's go see this place you wanna show me!"
"Yeah! This is gonna be REAL fun for both of us!"
Grabbing him by the hand after paying their bill, she dragged him up towards the Rapid Transit as they went flying off to another quadrant of the Citadel. Things would become easier now that he had a friend, yet at the same time the company would only further attract more dangers down the road.