"Huh, seems a lot bigger than the last time I was here."
Traynor looks around the massive room, various glowing signs advertising certain games and activities, from the old-school games like Kepesh-Yakshi and Shattered Eezo to new ones like Illium Raceway and the new Archangel game. The girls all look around in wonder, Syren still on Steve's shoulders. Ayrene gives a low whistle, "Check this place out girls. What should we do first?"
Steve looks up at the tiny Asari, "Whatcha want to do Syren?"
Syren's expression of wonderment takes on a ponderous look as her bright blue eyes rove around the arcade. Her gaze comes to rest on the bright colorful lights of the Claw Machine. She looks down at Samantha, "Can we go try that Auntie Sam?"
"Of course you can, sweetie. Steve? You'll help her?"
"Not a problem. Come on Sy. Let's go win you something."
Samantha watches the pair go before noticing that two of the girls are also gone, leaving only Rinyn next to her, always attentive. "Where'd your sisters go, Rin?"
"Aya said something about proving Mom's theory wrong about Shepards and driving, and Velair is over at the Archangel Station."
Sure enough, Sam sees the light purple skin of Velair amidst the various holo-statues of a Turian in black and blue armor. The sounds of people cheering come from another part of the arcade, the crowd noticeable around the glinting white sign reading ILLIUM RACEWAY. She holds out her hand to the small, dark blue-skinned Asari, "What would you like to do?"
"Could you teach me about Kepesh-Yakshi?"
Samantha's smile widens at the question, "Of course honey. I'll teach you some of my best strategies."
Syren places her face up against the glass, "Ooooooh. Look at that cute plushie!"
The picture of a blue hanar plushie with purple highlights sits on the back of the glass, Steve steps up to the controls, feeling the soft rubbery grips in his calloused hands. He expertly maneuvers the claw above the numerous multi-colored orbs, each shifting through a random pattern of different colors. Taking his time, he waits for the right moment, then strikes. The orbs stop changing and Steve lets out a groan of disappointment. "Dang it."
A brilliant blue orb drops into the slot, and a small omni-disc spits out the prize container. "Ah well, at least I got a tune for my Omni-player."
He notices the crestfallen look on the tiny Asari's face, "Sorry Syren. I thought I would be better at this."
A calm voice sounds from behind the shuttle pilot. "May I have a try, Uncle Steve?"
Syren notices the newcomer, and squeals with glee, "Hillary!"
The daughter of Jeff and EDI Moreau stands before the pair. She's not much taller than Ayrene, her synthetic hair pulled back in a ponytail and her blue-green skin catches the light nicely, her orange visor constantly feeding information directly into her neural network. Her black and blue jumpsuit was a present from her godmother, Karin Chakwas. She asks again, grin on her face, "I believe I can help."
Steve steps aside, and the young AI moves to the controls and her visor begins to process the patterns, taking into account every single possible combination of colors. She maneuvers the claw over the middle orb and waits patiently. After about ten seconds she hits the button. The orb stops shifting and turns a brilliant orange. Syren starts jumping around happily, "I can't believe you got it Hillary! You are so amazing!"
As the orb falls into the slot, a drawer slides open in front of the AI, the Hanar plushie resting in it. She lifts it carefully, examines it for a moment, then hands it to the bouncing Asari. "Here you are, Syren."
"Goddess, Hillary. Thanks so much!"
She embraces Hillary in a tight hug, the plushie tucked carefully under one arm. The AI girl hesitates for only a moment, before returning the embrace carefully. "It wasn't a problem Syren. Besides you're gonna want something to remember this night, am I right?"
Steve just stands there grinning from ear to ear, "Are the others here too Hillary?"
"Of course. Aunt Chloe got us here only a few minutes ago. She said we were going to be killing time here while the family gets ready for the main event."
"So you already know huh?"
As the two discuss the night's activities, Syren runs around, the tentacles of the plushie over her shoulders as she goes, "Krogaaaaaaaan charge!"
Steve starts laughing uncontrollably, "My god that's adorable."
"Drat. Not again."
The screen goes a deep crimson with the words CRITICAL MISSION FAILURE in white letters appearing. Velair pulls off the targeting visor in frustration, "Stupid Vorcha. Who knew they were so fast?"
A quiet chuckle followed by a tap on her shoulder brings Velair's attention to her audience. A young Turian, clad in a green and white outfit, his eyes sparkling with amusement. Velair can't help but smile. Gabriel Vakarian, adopted son of Chloe Michel and Garrus, tilts his head to one side, "Need a hand Elle?"
"You mean co-op this?"
"Why not put our skills to the test. Which character you wanna play as?"
"Wait....you mean there's more than one character?"
Moving to the controls he inputs a series of random commands. The screen goes black for only an instant before a pair of characters appear. On the left stands Archangel, but on the right.....Velair's jaw drops. The long brown hair tied back in a ponytail, the N7 logo blazing on her armor, the figure of Commander Kaycee Shepard stands, rifle in hand on screen. Velair looks over at Gabriel, "Wait...I can play as my dad?"
Gabriel starts giggling, "Yeah, Dad made the creators put her in as a secret. Shall we?"
Velair picks up the holo-rifle, fingers wrapping around the grip and the trigger. "Shepard and Vakarian together again huh?"
"And that's how you play Kepesh-Yakshi."
As the holo-image of a planet explodes in a shower of multi-colored sparks, Rinyn yelps in surprise as the table gives her a tiny jolt. Sam's eyes widen in sudden horror, "Oh sweetie! I'm so sorry! I forgot to warn you about that."
Rinyn wrings her hand, trying to bring feeling back to her fingers. "It's fine.....this game might not be for me. Velair would be more suited to it."
"You would just need some practice, that's all."
The sounds of cheering reaches their ears, drawing their gaze over to the Illium Raceway stations, where a large crowd has gathered. Rinyn looks up at the puzzled expression on Samantha's face, and gives her a knowing smile. Sam looks back, one eyebrow cocked in puzzlement, "Aya?"
"Outta my way!"
Ayrene causes the small and sleek Cision Supernova to do a triple barrel roll to avoid oncoming traffic, ending the spin with a hard ninety-degree turn through a crowded marketplace, deftly avoiding vendors and stalls before crashing through the windows of the bottom floor of the once-successful Dantius Towers. The crowd behind her all take a deep breath of shock as she flies out the other side onto the Nos Astra Expressway, heading towards the spaceport, barely avoiding the pair of police cruisers that try to box her in. As she passes the spaceport, she does a loop around the Normandy SR-2 making its way into the dock, just for a bit of extra flair. "Kee'lah Aya. I am never driving with you."
Cassie'Zorah, her red and gold bio-suit glinting in the neon lights, her arms uncovered today. Aya gives her a quick smile and wink before making the Supernova ride the ceiling of the tunnel as a pair of trucks collide beneath. "Good to see you Cass. Ready for a night of fun?"
"As long as it doesn't include you driving at all."
"No, I just don't have a death wish."
Chloe Michel's voice sounds over the crowd, her light French accent ringing clearly, "Gabriel. Girls. We're leaving soon. Gather up your things and we'll get some snacks before we meet up with everyone else."
Aya decides to blow her audience's mind for her grand finale, allowing the car to free-fall through five lanes of traffic, coming to a stop gently and neatly into a skycar lot, directly between two police cruisers. The words NEW HIGH SCORE flash on the screen with her name beside it. The crowd cheers as Ayrene takes a bow, before heading off with Cassie to meet up with her aunt Chloe.
Gabriel walks up with Velair, the pair giggling from their adventures in the Daggers of Omega game. "Where we going next, mom?"
Steve coughs loudly and noticeably before Chloe can respond. "Don't want to spoil the surprise kids. We're gonna go get some snacks before we reach our next destination."
Sam walks up holding Rinyn's hand, "Everyone got their things?"
Syren holds up her Hanar plushie proudly, "Yes! Look what Hillary won me?"
Ayrene picks up her sister into her arms, "That was nice of her, Syren. I'm sure dad would be jealous of that."
Twenty minutes later, the group stands in the entrance of the Armax Combat Arena. Inside, a veritable sea of people vying for tickets, make it almost impossible to move. Sam turns to Hillary, "Could you let your mom know we're here?"
Hillary nods once before closing her eyes, the visor turning from a vivid orange to a light green. "Mom? Yeah we're here. We may need some help getting through the crowds though. Oh? Okay then, we'll wait here for them."
"Not at all. Mom's sending us someone to get us through."
A loud commanding voice reverberates across the hall, "Make way people! VIPs coming through. I said make way! Move it tiny. Jack?"
A blue flash of light and the crowd backs away quickly revealing Urdnot Wrex and Jack Nought standing at the top of the ramp, their biotics swirling around their fists. Syren squeals with delight and hops down from Ayrene's arms to go racing up the stairs, the blue swirls of her biotics around her feet. She collides with her favorite uncle and hugs his leg tightly. "Uncle Wrex!"
The old warhorse chuckles in that deep booming voice, and picks up the ecstatic Asari into his arms, "Good to see you Little Bit. You ready for some excitement tonight?"
-To be continued in Part Three: The Arena-