From the outside, Omega was like a dark spacelord's castle. A hovering blood-red station glowering before them, shaped like a thin mushroom in the centre of a decaying asteroid, rock shards floating endlessly in space whilst still kept close to the station itself due to gravitational orbit. Landing was bad enough for them as they flew towards the dock, dodging between smaller asteroid pieces. But to make their way into the station was even worse an experience to anyone not acquainted.
Already James felt like it was the mirrored twin of the Citadel. Replace shining pure blue with dark filthy red, the lawful C-Sec with disgruntled mercenaries, and fine markets of the latest produce with shady stalls and even shadier products with brand names filed off. All this was needed to make Omega Station the paradise of criminality that it was today, and had been for the last 200 years, or so people imagined. The advertising was a little filthier, the streets were more grimy and the people less charming. It was precisely this atmosphere that had James smiling widely.
His friends all kept together within one group out of safety, before Lirem swept his arm out towards the central twilight-hue of a dark city square whilst proclaiming:
"Welcome to Omega, the world without law."
"Land of opportunity," said Jax.
"Heart of evil," said Areh, "least that's what Asari call it."
"I can see why," said FG. "Gangs running free carving out a piece for each territory, lawless states where people rule with an iron fist and bloody claws...homes filled with distrust and uncertainty."
"It's awful," said Leiah.
"It's fucking perfect. Holy shit this place is worse than Rogueport by a fucking lightyear, hahaha!"
"What the hell's wrong with you?!"
"Nothing! Just...I miss this kind of place, it's weird. I find this place...comforting."
"How can you relax in a place like this?"
"Because I was born in a place like this. Back home I ran with the biggest group of extortionists and thieves in the whole city, we fucking owned the whole place and the boss was the one that adopted me."
"Shit really?" said the krogan. "That's hardcore."
"Yeah but I was never in the group, she wanted me to not get dirty, keep my nose clean saying a kid like me needed a chance to grow up. Kinda doesn't work when you run a fucking mob operation out underneath my bedroom every night."
"Heh, I bet, she still runnin' that mob operation?"
"I don't know. And frankly I don't care what the fuck she does, she has her own decisions to make and she made plenty of them a long time ago."
"Someone's bitter," said Areh bluntly.
"Heh...was it that obvious?"
"Even I could tell and I can't read people that good."
"Well...whatever, this place is the kind of haven I could live in...which kinda sucks now I think about it. The fact I can't get comfortable truly unless I live in a crime area."
"What about your boyfriend?" asked Leiah.
"He...uh...yeah, you know what, never mind, I think I already know one other place I'd be comfortable with right now."
"Back home with him?"
She placed a hand on his shoulder seeing he looked a little down, before perking up and dragging him towards a central shopping district, a wide set of stairs heading to the darkness below.
"Heyyy why don't we go find a souvenir for him!? Maybe he'll like something from your travelling!"
"Uhhh I dunno," said James, "the kinda stuff they sell here might not be too nice for him."
"Aw come on, you might find something! Keychains, salve lotions...Fornax magazines..."
"...weeeeeelllll he DOES like magazines of that sort but I dunno if he'll enjoy seeing his first krogan nude...then agaiiiiin..."
"Can't know until ya try, come on!"
"Oh fine why not, might as well. You guys gonna be okay?"
"We just have to set things up first," said Lirem, "once we get the concert going underway it'll all run smoothly, we'll be at the Afterlife Bar doing it."
"You can't join us however," said Areh, "remember what Arutulelan said, you gotta stay away from the stage while we're working."
"I know I know," said FG, "I'm a troublemaker apparently, I'll just go find that doctor for you and then come back once your show's over, alrighty?"
"Alright just be careful out there! Both of you!"
"We will!" shouted Leiah. "Come on, I wanna see what weird things get sold here!"
"If I start seeing things in jars I'm leaving," replied FG. "Seriously that shit's never good to see."
Heading into the dark-red marketplace in the lower quadrants, James and Leiah found a plethora of both the strange and vile, with the odd interesting item worth their time. Traders from humans to volus to batarians all produced their wares from digital magazines to omni-tool add-ons to cheap weapons sold like toys. This was the true black market of the galaxy. Drugs being sold by twitchy hollow-cheeked vorcha that more resembled a living tree without leaves than a person, whilst the odd quarian was scrapping a life out of selling junk parts.
James managed to wield his instincts well, guiding Leiah away from the disreputable merchants and more towards the noble, more honest salesmen. The smilers, the well-groomed, the desperately-wired they all avoided. But the nervous, sincere and apologetic they went for. This included a quarian selling pieces of armour, a volus representing Fornax whom James bought the Turian Male edition from, and a human with omni-tool parts that Leiah decided to grab an upgrade for. He also tested out his recorder in showing off the place of Omega like a small tour, courtesy of Leiah.
Eventually they wrapped their way around towards the exit once again, seeing an elcor behind a desk and terminal argue with a scruffy-looking human desperately trying to hawk his wares. But the rhinoceros-built creature simply said with emotionless threat:
"With bitter fury...get the fuck out of my face before I make you wish your mother had aborted you."
"Fuck you, this shit is Eden Prime stuff right here, certified! I got a piece of history right here, you missing out you brainless fuck!"
The elcor stood up to his full height, towering at a good 7 feet above the human as the most thickened anger came oozing between his slits.
This finally convinced the human to leave once he realised the danger, fleeing with his faulty wares before the elcor could even move his fist. Sitting his hands back on the floor like a gorilla, he waited for the next customer to come in the form of James and Leiah, regressing into his mercantile personality.
"With practiced professionalism, welcome. Would you like to see what I have today?"
"Sure would thanks," said FG. "I'm looking for something for my boyfriend back home, something nice and not a big deal to carry."
"Your boyfriend? What would he like?"
"Something like a souvenir. I already got a Fornax thing that he might like to see so...anything that would be really neat to have?"
He softly tapped into his terminal and looked through his inventory, eyes blankly staring before something came to his attention.
"Proudly, I have just the thing as a souvenir."
"Yes. A custom-made Phalanx handgun, said to be used by the krogan warlord Shuk Durmot before his execution."
"Um...that's not a good idea, I'm looking for something harmless so no guns or weapons or drugs. LIke, literally a souvenir."
"Apologetic, forgive me, I misunderstood. Allow me to look again...ah. This will do, something harmless you say?"
"A piece of asteroid from Omega itself, one of many pieces floating out in space at this very moment. Can be fashioned into a keychain, an earring, or a ring itself."
"That's perfect! Aw god Koopin would love a piece of a meteorite."
"There's a difference?"
"Factually observant, a meteorite is any object that has entered the atmosphere of another object and survived to impact the surface. An asteroid is a small planetoid without an atmosphere that orbit around the sun."
"Huh...I never knew that."
"With nostalgic pride, I used to teach astronomy on my home planet."
"Wow, so why are you here then?"
"I was downsized by a shift in educational standards."
"Damn...sorry man. I'll take that uh...asteroid piece thanks."
"Very well, would you like it as a keychain or earring?"
"Uhhh keychain would be nice...hey um, do you know a good doctor around here?"
"Curiously, why do you ask?"
"I have...um, kind of a medical problem and I need some help with it, let's just call it a rash."
"I see...the best doctor in this area is Dr. Solus. His clinic is in the Gozu District down there. But be wary, for the area is under control of the Blue Suns. It would be wise to pay respect to them."
"A mercenary group. Please be careful...here is your gift. With eager mercantile, I hope your boyfriend enjoys it."
The piece of asteroid was soon given to FG fashioned onto a small metal hook, the clasp easy to undo for all species as the raptor paid and put it in his pockets safely. It certainly felt real, and even Leiah could verify from her years of space travel that it was not a fake. But then he noted something the elcor had said, asking:
"Oh um, one last thing, you said you used to be a teacher right?"
"With academic pride, yes."
"Well...do you know anyone who would be into dimensional research or something, like other worlds and shit?"
"Surprised curiosity, that is quite a thing to ask and unfortunately I do not know anyone who researches such. May I ask why?"
"I'm a...student, I'm studying that stuff myself and I was hoping I could find someone to help me."
"Alas I cannot. I hope you find someone, and please...stay in school as long as possible."
"I will sir, thanks."
With that small tour of the Omega wards done with, walking away from the black market stands up towards the exit they came from, he was now ready to deal with his main mission asking:
"You wanna come with me to find a doctor Leiah?"
"Nnnnah," said the quarian, "I wanna catch the concert over at the Afterlife."
"Awesome, wait you able to get in? Will they know you're part of the band?"
"Oh yeah Areh gave me an ID card showing I'm with them, got my face on it and everything."
"I guess there's not one for me then."
"Ahhh well. Hey, can you record some of the concert for me? It'd be cool to see them and maybe I dunno, make it part of my video travels for Koopin."
"You're really thinking about him a lot aren't you?"
"Well he is a tour guide so, the way you've been showing me around reminds me a lot like he did."
"Awwww...okay then, I'll record it for you, even if it IS video piracy."
"Hey, I've always been a bad boy."
"Heeheehee...see you later."
She walked off back towards the Afterlife bar, which wasn't very far from the market and easily within view, the raptor heading off towards the Gozu District and being cautious of the elcor's words. The apartments seemed to be crushed in between giant oscillating fans and whorish advertisements reminiscent of most cities back home, at least for the two cities James had been back home. The steam-ridden atmosphere and thick metallic floors made it only more threatening to him, keeping wary about him as he saw the members of the Blue Suns.
A ragtag group of various species decked out in armour of white and blue, clearly easy to spot amongst the red and grey as he nodded politely and made his way through. So far so good, none of them tried to approach him despite being easily marked out, as he hoped that they had no alliances with the Blood Pack and knew of his transgressions. After a half hour of wandering through the overshadowed dark streets, with dim lights and preachers and drunkards all around him, he finally caught sight of the clinic.
A large red cross emblazoned upon its front, with no Blue Suns members anywhere within the vicinity possibly owing to the well-mounted security system namely in the form of large mechs that sternly stood on opposite ends of the street. The raptor found comfort in this as he approached casually, seeing the human staff wander about tending to their duties.
Regardless of the colour and location, he still felt it was as dull and clinical as any office clinic, complete with reception desk and all with waiting chairs uncomfortably seated. It even had the same sort of PDA magazines of incredible boring pastimes, notably that of science, religion and a newsletter from the Interspecies Community Theater. The receptionist was a black-haired Mediterranean woman of short hair, who politely repeated:
"Welcome to the Omega Clinic, how may I help you?"
"Hi I'm looking for Dr. Solus," said FG, "I have a private matter to ask of him."
"Really? Can I ask what it is?"
"It's...um...it's kind of a rash, I think I got poisoned with something, I brought a vial sample of it and everything, I have to see him please."
"Well he...um...do you have to see him specifically?"
"Alright but...first you must disarm yourself of all weaponry."
"Oh uh, course, lemme get them out an-"
She tapped a button on her desk and suddenly James felt his weapons seize up and overheat, or at least have the impression of it as his guns began to beep erratically and shut down.
"WH-HEY, what the hell?!"
"Just a precaution sir, your weapons are now locked while in this clinic. Once you leave, your weapons will be unlocked."
"J-jeez warn me next time, you could have asked."
"I'm sorry sir. Dr. Solus seems available, please go right on through."
"Um...alright, thank you."
In a back room of the medical station, was a salarian with his back turned to him, his lithe body dressed in purest white armour with a red stripe going straight down the middle. A strange metal device resembling a brace jutted out beside the collar of his suit, wrapping a wide berth around his neck but never touching it in a half-circle. His face was also left unsymmetrical by the absence of his right horned tip above his head, whilst normally salarians had two.
The room was darker than he thought, as he slowly walked in to see various tables set up with chemical fluids all sitting in non-volatile solutions. The moment he walked in, he heard a clipped scientific voice speak to him from across the room, firing rapid words like the last minutes of a debate.
"Guilt, gee-you-aye-el-tee, guilt. Terrible thing to have."
"I mean, wouldn't having guilt make you not do bad things, like someone who doesn't feel guilt is a psychopath right?"
"No no, G.U.I.L.T. Gangliated utrophin immuno latency toxin. Terrible thing, human-specific virus. Fascinating biology, man-made, molds cells with every new form, had to deal with case incoming from BAat just now. Almost wiped a whole classroom, got it in time."
"Oh wow, really? Shit glad to hear, um...listen, are you Dr. Solus?"
"Yes, clearly, samples?"
"Samples. Eletania, algae, sent for you as courier, come come."
"Um...I haven't seen a courier anywhere doctor."
"What?! Samples must be collected! New toxin encountered down in wards, only cure is that of Eletanian algae."
"Yes Eletania, Attican Beta, Hercules system, third planet from the sun. Named after demigod of human myth, system at least. Prime planet for colonisation, shame about the toxic hazard."
"W-wait, toxic?!" squawked FG.
"Microbiotic, symbiotic, creatures in the air impossible to filter fully, can cause anaphylactic shock to one left...too long on its surface. Favourable winds help, if one wanted to colonise but not now, must have that algae. Be so kind as to find it, won't you?"
"Um...a-a-alright but you said this toxic-"
"Travel in vehicle, exit only when near lichen, have coordinates for the planet to make trip easier. Here."
The moment he turned round however he realised his mistake, or rather a small grammatical error as he looked at FG. The doctor was an old-looking salarian, with scarred face and pockmarks all over his red-desert skin, whitening out around his eye and chin. A prominent scar above all came down across chin, curving from the right cheek as he blinked his wide black eyes at him.
"Oh, terribly sorry, thought you were someone else, similar anatomy I see. Can I help you?"
"Uhhh it's okay...who were you expecting?"
"No matter, not important, problem?"
"Yeah, listen, I'm looking for someone that can help me identify this poison."
"Poison!? Quick, sit."
He pushed FG down onto a chair and quickly began to examine him, forcing open his eyelid and shining a light down through it, as well as poking and prodding him with various implements. He opened his eye, pressed his tongue, tapped a hammer on his knee to watch it kick by reflex, took a sample of spit as well as a blood injection all in the span of five minutes, hands blurring with new instruments one after the other.
"Hunger, thirst, sleepiness?"
"Y-yeah it's kinda to do with-"
"Open wide say ah."
"Hmph, not swollen, good, must take spit sample, keep mouth open please."
"Buh guk! Gukhur, luchen, ah-"
"Please don't speak, can't tolerate small talk, apologies."
"Now, must tap knee, please tell me if it hurts."
"What are you-AH HEY!"
"Reflexes normal, good, now need blood sample."
"W-W-WAIT I DON'T NEED A BLOOD SAMPLE TAKEN!"
"Fear of needles common, not to worry. New science allows different methods, hypodermic spray."
He grabbed FG's arm and quickly plugged a small pen-like object to his arm, pulling out a small amount of blood before James could even realise that it broke through its skin minutely and started sucking it out. He panicked slightly more for not being able to feel any pain.
"WH-WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!"
The doctor wasted no time before putting up his results, scanning them all with his equipment. The vials of blood and spit were put into centrifuges in order to separate the contents, giving time for James to speak out with:
"Doctor, I'm not sick, I just HAVE a sample of poison right here in my pockets!"
"YES, I have a sample, I got it during an attack on a space station and I want you to examine it!"
"Space station? Which one?"
He abandoned his testing and turned towards FG, letting him step out of the chair before James could give him the vial of poison. Dr. Solus took it calmly into his lithe three-fingered hands, long and slender with rounded nubs on the tips.
"Symptoms, poison, causes what to victims."
"Um, right, uhhh it works on quarians only and it causes them to sleep? Kinda bruises and swells up the area they were infected with slightly."
"Yeah, only them I think."
"Fascinating...quarians still alive?"
"Yeah they woke up a while later, might be two days at least they were out for?"
"Two days, hmm, no signs of weakness after I presume, as if sent into coma...must study this further, surprised to not cause entire reaction of immuno-deficiency throughout the whole system. Might take some time to research."
"How long do you think?" asked FG.
"Yes, not too bad, can figure it out, doesn't seem to be new, already have some suppositions can follow up on. Come back three hours, tell receptionist your name and will see you post-haste if not busy with another patient. Name?"
"UH, James Campbell sir."
"Good. You may leave, busy with work now."
"Um...o-okay then, back in three hours...thanks Dr. Solus."
The salarian waved him away politely as the raptor walked out of the clinic, feeling rather strange throughout the whole experience as to why he had to suffer such an intrusive little process. His weapons also quietly unlocked themselves once free of the clinic's disabling aura.
"Jesus the guy's a fucking machine with that mouth, wonder what his problem is? ...mmmaaaybe he can't waste time on this place, got to be a lot of diseases running around...I wonder how easy I can get infected by these...never really got a crash course on the nanos."
With nothing else to do he decided to check out the concert over at the Afterlife, a huge sprawling nightclub that essentially acted as the main hub of Omega, for anyone who knew or cared about their reputation. James found the front area to be well-queued with a lot of aliens, as well as one sturdy elcor bouncer who was definitely not letting anyone in. The double doors tempted him, the enormous circular club hanging upon the ledge of an infinite void where dust and smog went to suffocate dreams and hopes. He soon remembered however that he had someone on the inside.
"Leiah, you there?"
"Yeah?! What's up James?!"
"I'm outside the club, can you come to the front door and let me in?"
The raptor waited until he saw a familiar sky-blue quarian wave from out the door, talking with the elcor who soon motioned James to come in. The piercing eyes of the queue burned into him, as Leiah said:
"Don't worry he's with me."
"Thanks," said FG before mumbling, "least that guy don't vomit spike balls or something."
"What was that?"
"Nothing, um how's the concert?"
"See for yourself!"
The interior of the Afterlife was definitely the hotspot of hip on Omega. A pulsating violet column of incandescent light shining beautifully towards all, with a couple of asari dancers in cages shaking what their momma gave them. The floor was rather like a disco, square lights all lighting up in various shades of red, yellow and orange all attuning to the atmosphere of the salacious Omega nightclub. The crowds gathered round the centre area, a wide circular rail around the purple column of light as mixed batarians, humans, asari, vorcha and turians all watched with awe.
The light suddenly shut off, as a familiar band appeared right as they slammed on the riffs simultaneously just before the turian on bass began to dig his fingers into the strings. His hand glowed with a hot blue light, sending strange vibrations up along the bass to make it sing a metallic dirge before his brother joined in on lead, with a high-pitched riff of his own. The drums and synthesiser manned by krogan and quarian only started once the beginnings riffs had ended, and soon carried the whole song onto the backs of their beats.
Jax tapped methodically before kicking into a rhythm that never ceased, constantly in motion as boom tap-tap, boom tap-tap, all whilst the turian brothers began to duet on their guitars. Lirem was surprisingly serious-looking during all of this, normally he would be kicking up his feet and lashing out his tongue wildly like at a frat boy party. But here, he was focusing purely on the strings.
Norem was having a little fun, looking towards his brother occasionally whilst slipping through the bassline, weaving back and forth as his strange blue ring glowed everytime his bass turned electronic. James found it fascinating, watching as the crowd banged their heads to the somewhat-dark riff of the entire song. Areh remained at the back like always, adding an odd harmonious element to it, a synth choir at one point and even making it sound like something from the credits of an old science fiction show with fingers pressing down on keys.
Even more strangely, Areh's keyboard had started to glow a variety of colours, slowly melding from red to purple to orange to blue. He was certainly enjoying himself slammed his hands down whilst Jax looked back at him, smiling away as his hands went completely automatic, never having to change his beat for a second except for the occasional bridge. When that happened, all four of them slammed on their instruments in total synchronisation. It was incredible, it was also entirely instrumental and above all it was excitable to the crowd.
Even the dancers in the cages were banging their heads out in time with the music. James stared across the sea of faces, all of them getting into the music which definitely made a welcome change from the repetitive techno, that no doubt permeated this place. With a final ten-step bang and a final explosion, the song ended on a small voice clip just to put the icing on the cake, the rapturous applause coming hoarsely from the crowd of convicts, ne'er-do-wells and mobsters.
After they finished their set, the band faded into the light once more only to reappear privately down below in a side room, where Leiah had taken James to as soon as the concert was over. The underlevel of the Afterlife club, the lowest of its three levels, was definitely a more chilled-out place than anywhere else where patrons could unwind and relax, with or without the help of hallucinogens if one needed such. Before they could reach the side room itself, Norem was outside waiting for Lirem to join before the two headed off down some steps.
The raptor wordlessly followed them as did Leiah out of curiosity, watching them take a back exit out of the club and into the underworld of the city. A filthy corridor laden with steam, piped through the air hotly enough to send junkies into fits and the guilty into wrecks. But Norem simply turned to his brother in a small corner asking:
"I noticed you were a little serious on the riffs bro."
"So?" asked Lirem.
"That ain't like you."
"What, did I fuck up?"
"No no the song was good, just...you alright?"
Both Leiah and James hid themselves in a nearby corner watching, waiting to see what exactly was going on between them.
"I just wasn't feeling it."
"What you mean this again, see this is why I don't talk to you."
"No no, I mean, what's bothering you again? Are you getting bored of this Lirem?"
"Not...not bored just...I just...I don't wanna think that's all there is out here, we're not doing this because we wanted to."
"No, because it pays us money."
"Right, that's the thing, it's all about money now! Ever since we got hooked up with Arutulelan, we've been circling a drain and we only take gigs because they'll damn well pay us, and not even for good money! Come on, like even the crappiest merc mission we did got us better pay than this concert, it's not even a concert it's a fucking club!"
"The biggest club in Omega," said Norem, "come on, you're sounding a little privileged."
"I'm not! I-...I just...this isn't how I imagined it. Playing for clubs in shitty back areas and doing fundraisers, I wanna do big concerts, I wanna make people love us for who we are not because we change the music station!"
"What about councilor T'Kina, she was a fan."
"I guess...I just feel like...like most of the people that come to our shows, aren't there for us but just for a night out. I feel like we lost our fans, no one talks about us anymore."
"It has been like three years since that killer rachni movie, I mean-"
"Don't talk to me about that movie," snarled Lirem.
"I'm just saying, maybe if you made a point on that success and used it some properly, we-"
"DON'T TALK ABOUT THAT MOVIE! Fuck that movie, fuck everything about it!"
"Dude calm down, seriously what is your problem?!"
"You know what my problem is! All that movie does is remind me how much I threw my fucking life away, and for what?!"
"Are you seriously still thinking about that?! You know he's not coming back, you KNOW he doesn't care!"
"He never did, that's the problem. That's always been the problem...it's not fucking worth it anymore..."
"...you selfish bastard. Fine, whatever."
Norem started to walk away as his hand glowed bleakly in the dark, swinging back and forth before turning.
"If you can't give a damn about music because of your own damn pride, then at least do it for Areh. You know that kid has nothing else but this. That's all I care about at this moment."
"I know, fuck's sake I know, why do you think I keep doing this? ...I just...wanted to-"
"Save it. I don't care. When you grow up, maybe you can tell him yourself how you really feel."
Suddenly Lirem grabbed at his brother and hoisted him up against the wall, pushing him back by the neck before snarling:
"...don't...EVER...tell me to fucking grow up, Norem."
"Then do it yourself, if you want people to stop telling you."
The two pushed off from each other before walking back to their room, passing by James and Leiah who kept hidden amongst the shadows. The two looked at each other rather intriguingly, fascinated by this small musical scuffle that was taking place within.
"I wonder what happened?" asked James.
"Must be something old," said Leiah, "didn't he say something like three years ago?"
"And that movie they kept talking about, why is it so bad for them? Areh and Jax said something about it too and how it was the best thing ever for them, shot them up to fame even."
"Maybe something bad happened after...like something cursed."
"Maybe...let's go and see them, they're probably waiting on you.
The two slowly got up and walked back towards the Afterlife club, the raptor soon having to ask Leiah about one thing he noticed odd about Norem.
"Do you know what that thing was on Norem's hand by the way?"
"Oh, um, he called it a hot hand? Some kind of ring you wear that's hooked up to a controller amp or something? It makes the guitar all wavy and stuff, makes it sound cool and weird."
"Ohhhhh...huh, I wondered what was going on in that song."
"I know, it's awesome right?! You should ask him about it, it sounds really cool stuff."
As they headed back up to the band's dressing room of sorts, the atmosphere was rather charged. Walking across the club floor, or at least trying to skirt around the technophiliac hall of gyrating hips and spasmodic lights, they entered the red-couched white-walled room to find the band rather stiff, owing no doubt to both the turians' rather sour argument. Jax could feel it well, whereas Areh was completely oblivious and incredibly happy with both the pay they got and the performance of their song. He was however a little concerned at James' presence asking:
"Hey-ey-ey what are you doing here, you're not allowed here!"
"Relax," said FG, "your gig's over right?"
"Well yeah but...the boss said-"
"Whut the boss don't know won't hurt 'im," said Jax, "come on we did good Areh!"
"Ohhhh I guess then, yeah we did pretty awesome. We never do that song often, glad to see the hot hand back Norem."
"Thanks," said Norem, "I was missin' the little guy."
"What was that song by the way?" asked James. "It was pretty rad."
"Goodnight Miss Dark, it's an old favourite."
"By about two years," said Lirem, "but yeah we had fun. Need something James?"
"Oh I was just killing time cuz I got to see a doctor and he wanted to check out that poison! Soooo we're all gonna know what's in it or where's it come from within the next three hours."
"Awesome!" said Jax. "You done good James, knew I could rely on you, hehehe..."
"Heh, thanks...you guys done already?"
"It wasn't a long set," said Lirem, "not a huge gig but it helps to break up the atmosphere a little what with the oontz-oontz-oontz going off all hours."
"Well yanno...the dance floor out there's looking rather lonely."
James made a side glance towards Leiah, who simply smirked back with a visible gleam in her eyes saying:
"Are you asking for a daaaance, James?"
"Wwweeeeeeelll I mean ,I got time to kill, this IS a happening club, and I dunno about you guys but I never seen a krogan or a turian dance proper. I know how Leiah dances but-"
"Sure," said Jax. "I need to get the dust out my joints, that drumbeat was kinda repetitive on me."
"I'll pass for now," said Areh, "I need to wind down after that set so you guys can go off."
"Yeah same here," said Lirem.
"Oh yeah don't worry Lir," said Norem, "you stay back that way no one will see your terrible dancing."
"What did you say?"
"...I said...that you...dance worse than me."
"You really wanna go there?"
Lirem shot up from his seat with the slight against his talent rising.
"I won THIRD PLACE at the academy dance-off back when we were twenty-eight, you got NOTHING on me!"
"And if I wasn't sick that week I would have been second...you never proved who was the better dancer between both of us."
"Obviously me, old-timer."
"I'm two years older than you."
"Maybe that's why you play bass then, cuz you got yo' back hung so LOW, old-timer!"
"Ohohoho it's on brother, let's do this!"
Areh simply laid back on his seat laughing at them hard, watching the sibling rivalry kick up a notch as they went straight to the dance floor. Jax soon headed off, and with James and Leiah soon joining after, Areh was forced by his second wind of joy to come running up behind. The six of them stepped onto the central floor, which after the band performance was somewhat emptier than usual as they began to pair off. Jax and Areh stood side by side, Leiah and James clasped hands together, whilst Norem and Lirem stared face to face.
The music soon changed to something new, something fresh, something strong and slow to swing into the groove with. A deep bass riff to keep the shoulders moving, a clapping beat to make one swing to and fro, and to top it all came a strange beeping that became its own melody above the bass. The ones who had been dancing already seemed to understand that some shit was about to go down, and they unconsciously began to grate themselves off towards the floor edges.
A minute into the song as the high-pitched part kicked in, they started to dance almost simultaneously. James latched his hand onto Leiah's back with the other holding her hand as they began to waltz. Jax and Areh took one look at each other side by side before they made a sumo stomp with one foot high before coming down at their side and repeating with the other foot. Norem threw down the challenge with a shuffle-step on the spot, walking without moving whilst his hands went opposite of each other in surprisingly good coordination.
Lirem dissed him with a hand wave before mimicking the same, his own feet shuffling into walking motion whilst never moving always, his hands spindling along the air around him whilst doing so. He finished this with a twirl, hands above like the wings of a hawk before crossing arms and flipping the bird with both hands at his brother. Norem in return dissed him and stepped up the bar.
James however was in a much less competitive mood, trying to see if he could do the waltz while on the technofloor as he rolled Leiah's waist between both his hands. He swivelled his own chest back and forth like grass in the wind, letting the quarian spin out of his grip and twirl with arm outreached all to the very tip, before pulling back with his fingers into his embrace. She giggled and shoved him back with a no-no fingerwave, walking back as he shrugged and swept a hand over his head like a greaser.
But Leiah was not entirely away from him as she began to make a two-step to the side before suddenly mimicking a ballet spin while on one single foot, leg swinging far at her side at 90 degrees. The raptor watched her spin once, then twice before suddenly she leapt towards him. He clutched her against his armoured chest, before suddenly bending forwards and spilling her out onto the floor as she limply swung backwards, her hands nearly on the floor whilst becoming lightheaded.
The krogan and the other quarian however were taking a much more step-by-step approach, swinging their heads back and forth whilst moving their hands left and right. Top left, top right, down left, down right with one hand, top right, top left, down right, down left with the other. They accompanied this with constant marching steps of their feet, stomping in beat, synchronised very simply to each other whilst bobbing their heads, losing themselves to the music easily.
It wasn't particularly clever, it was also incredibly dorky to anyone watching, but the clear sense of not giving a fuck about looking lame in front of other people whilst dancing was evident between them. It also helped that one of them was a krogan. And no one ever stopped a krogan from doing whatever the fuck he wanted. The two began to fistpump in rhythm with each other, occasionally taking a backstep to roll their hands whilst bending forwards slightly, before moving back up towards each other and suddenly pointing in every direction they could until they double-fistpumped together.
The turians however were in a much more serious debacle. Norem was glad that Lirem had taken up the challenge, wanting him to unwind after their argument as he laid down the gauntlet. Four shuffling steps of both feet back and forth, before switching in the other direction to do the same until spinning twice on the heel. Then he finished with an amateur leg split to the ground before sliding back up solidly with just his feet and one last spin.
Lirem waved him away like he was a peasant, turning his back on him before slapping out his arms to full extent and spinning back three times before facing Norem. Then he followed up with the same leg-split as he did, down the floor before smoothing his way back up halfway and hopping very quickly to switch his legs back to front. Then he stood up. Then he began to shuffle his feet five times in succession until finishing with one last spin straight towards Norem with his arm bent quarterly, as if caught in the middle of walking pose before stopping his hand just short of his brother's face.
Then came the gentle tap, a diss in its mildest form. Norem simply chuckled before breaking into uproarious laughter, joined in by Lirem as they started dancing together. His brother had won the match, and the two joined in with the rest of their friends in a six-squared dance-off. They lasted enough for the song to keep going for a full six minutes, by which point it changed to something else and they soon found the rhythm changing too quickly for their styles.
At the very least, James now knew that he was one of the better dancers amongst them. Or as Areh managed to put it:
"If you can dance better than Shepard, then you're alright on the dance floor."