CHAPTER 23 OF THINKER TRAITOR SOLDIER SPECTRE
Okeer lounged in the massage chair. It was like a water bed, only it wasn’t water but some kind of soft memory foam, and it molded to the back side of his body down to the pores on the skin. It poked and prodded in all the right places and shivers of pleasure went through him in a continuous stream. The only thing he’d change about it was the purring noises that reminded him of turian voices.
Jedore walked past him. Her silken robe brushed his hand and the trail of her fruity perfume brushed his face. Her long hair hung in heavy ropes, still wet after bathing. She had some snack in one hand and a tiny bottle of something that looked like turian face paint in another. Why the fuck was his every second thought about turians?
There was a large, leather sofa facing the chair from the other end of the brightly lit cabin, flanked by two armchairs arranged around a low tea table that looked like it was carved out of one monumental slab of jade. Her tiny bottle chimed when she set it down on the polished stone surface. She took a bite of her snack, then nestled herself between the pillows.
“Oh,” she said with a full mouth. “You’re naked.”
“Never seen a naked man before?”
“Never seen krogan quads before.” She took another bite and stared unscrupulously at his crotch while she chewed. “Not in person, anyway.”
“Wanna take a closer look?” He wriggled his hips, sinking deeper into the foam.
Okeer laughed, stretching. His injuries and aches were but a distant echo. Jedore’s ship—the real thing, not the ‘bathtub’ that was parked down in the hangar—was a pleasure yacht. Armed to the teeth, sporting frigate-class shields and a fleet of combat mechs, but still. The massage chair was only one of several amenities he’d tried out, and he was far from exhausting the supply. There was a small pool, a sauna, a shooting range, an overstocked gym where Jedore spent most of her time. Three or four implanted asari slaves. He found that a bit distasteful, but not enough to refuse their attentions. It was nice to be pampered. He had deserved it.
Having eaten her snack, Jedore shook the little bottle and started applying the paint on her baby-toenails. The paint was a bright red, the color of human blood. Okeer watched her while his chair purred. The snack had left a trail of white powder on her upper lip.
“So,” she said. “We’ve got another couple hours in FTL and then I’ll drop you off on this asteroid thing in Nelchior Beta. There’s a minagen lab there and the security is pretty tight. I told them to make you some space and provide you with any equipment you need. I’ll also leave you some pocket money in case they don’t have what you need.” She glanced at him, pausing her beauty work for a second. “What are you gonna need?”
Okeer laced his fingers behind his head and sighed, searching the ceiling for ideas. “I don’t know. Haven’t had the time to think about the practicalities yet. Pretty sure I’ll need samples, though.”
Jedore finished one foot and lowered it carefully on top of her fluffy slipper, planting the other on the tea table. “You mean, like, fluids? Body parts? Or more like lab animals? The uhm… what’s the word.”
“Yeah. Specimens. Oh,” Jedore added after half a minute. “I guess that was kinda racist. Sorry.”
“It’s fine. It’s what they are. Animals. The young ones, at least. The ‘new generation’. Bah.”
She made some mistake and cursed, then busied herself fixing it. “To be honest,” she said after getting the situation under control again, “I don’t know if that place is equipped to, like, hold live krogan. Maybe we stick to samples for now, hm? And later, when I find us a suitable place, I’ll get you as many live, young krogan as you want.”
“The most suitable place would be Tuchanka, but I suppose that’s off the table.”
“Yeah, that’d be tough. I can look into it, though. Very few things credits can’t buy, if your project shows promise.”
Okeer peered at her. “How come you’re so loaded?”
“What? Oh.” She laughed. “It’s not me. I’m just a messenger. Vido is the one with the money.”
“Uh, yeah. You know. The head of the Blue Suns.” She stared at him, waiting for signs of recognition, but none were forthcoming. That slimy bitch, Arnea, who he had inadvertently saved from getting spaced by batarian pirates that tried to kidnap the freighter taking Okeer to Omega, oh, some two-hundred-thirty years ago, was his only contact in the Blue Suns, and he hadn’t had time to study the organization’s brief but undoubtedly hilarious history yet. “Anyway,” Jedore said, “his resources are pretty much infinite. But he doesn’t like wasting them. So, uhm… when can we expect the first krogan babies?”
“I can give you one right now.” Okeer wriggled his hips some more, but Jedore was unfazed. “Eh,” he mumbled, straightening himself up as much as the chair would allow. “It’s too early to tell. I know what I want to achieve but I only have a vague idea on how to go about it. I’ll need to do some research before there are any… tangible results.”
“Alright. And when might that be?”
Okeer deadpanned at her. He had expected questions like this, but being interviewed for a research grant by a half-naked human girl sporting sugar mustache while painting her toenails was bizarre beyond anything in recent memory. “In a year,” he said. “Give or take. In ideal conditions.”
She gazed at him for a few more beats. Then she nodded and focused on finishing her other foot in silence. Okeer mused. A year was probably optimistic, but he’d worry about that later. To begin with, he’d need as many DNA samples as possible. That was obtainable without acquiring actual owners of the DNA. On the other hand, he’d also need biomass, further down the line. And it might be interesting to compare his… offspring… to the ‘new generation’. He’d devise tests. Not the kind that could be run in a lab, of course. He would build proving grounds. If not on Tuchanka, then some place equally hostile. Radiation, high gravity, thin air. Bad planets were plentiful. Like Invictus, ha! Oh, that would be glorious.
He was about to voice this new idea when Jedore spoke without looking up from her work. “Tell me, old man: how did you get your grubby hands on STG research?”
“Your ass is grubby.”
Jedore laughed. She leaned back on the sofa and lifted her feet up on the tea table. “Oh, come on. I bet it’s a great story. Who you gonna tell it to if not your partner in crime?”
“Hm.” Okeer felt down the side of the chair for the control buttons and upped the intensity a bit. Oh, yeah. Right there. “Alright,” he said. Why not. He did love telling stories.
Jedore clapped her hands in glee. She looked not a day older than fifteen. Okeer shook his head and took a deep breath.
“You remember that turian cunt from Invictus? The one with the silver face?”
“Saren Arterius, the Spectre.”
“That one. He contacted me a bit over a year ago, and made me an offer that was just too good to pass up. I was to break into this lab on Sur’Kesh and steal this data. He was to take care of the security. Get me in and get me out again. We’d each take a copy of the data and go our merry way. Of course I agreed. It was the break I’d been waiting for my whole damn life.” He paused, remembering. “I never found out why he wanted it. And not for the lack of trying. I couldn’t dig up anything on him.”
“Well, yeah. That’s pretty much what Spectre means.”
Okeer grumbled. “Especially a dirty one. That’s why he needed me: to stay clean himself. He couldn’t just hire some random mercs because nobody would ever believe that some random mercs managed to pull it off without help from the inside. And he didn’t want anyone looking for help from the inside, get it? Because it was important that he stays clean. So important, in fact, that he made double sure of it. He found this aged salarian who defected from the STG years back and went to Tuchanka to ‘do good deeds’ or whatever. You know. Right their wrongs. Not the first, and probably not the last specimen affected with racial guilt. And rightly so. Anyway, Marash was to go with me and be seen, and be found dead later so that if anyone did look for help from the inside, they didn’t have to look far.”
“Devious son of a bitch.”
“My thoughts exactly. So why, I started wondering, would he go through all that trouble to hide his trail, only to leave a krogan-sized loose end behind?”
Jedore was nodding. “He meant to kill you.”
“He meant to kill me. We were supposed to meet in the Serpent Nebula, just out of the Pranas relay. But I just drove past the rendezvous point, hehe. Of course, I arranged for some safety measures first. I made Marash encrypt the data so it couldn’t be recovered if I got killed. And I modified the mass effect drive of the ship that Saren provided for me, so she’d fly faster than his old bucket. I went to Invictus, dragging him along. And the rest is history.”
“Wait,” Jedore said. “That mean he’s still on your tail?”
“That’s not ideal, you know.”
Okeer shrugged. “It’s a big Galaxy, kid. How’s he gonna find me? I don’t intend to go around advertising.” Unless, of course, the Blue Suns proved to be as unsupportive as the Blood Pack. “Not that anyone who matters would take me seriously anyway, since I have no proof, just tall tales.” He snorted, remembering the conversation with Saren on Invictus. The snake had been right, of course. Regardless, he would have surely been much happier if he had managed to off Okeer planetside and be done with it. Okeer knew his type. The pedantic, perfectionist, anal-retentive type. Knowing Okeer was still alive would be a thorn in his side for the rest of his sad, little life. Hehe.
“Don’t spread the word among your people,” he concluded. “Make up some name for me and say I’m some chemist working on a new drug, or something. Shouldn’t be a problem.”
Stroking her chin, Jedore finally felt the sugar coating around her mouth and brushed it off. “I guess,” she drawled. “Oh, I know! I’ll call you Dave. Can I call you Dave? Dave was my favorite teddy-bear.”
Okeer chuckled. “Whatever turns you on.”