Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 32

Old Friends, New Problems

While we’d been marking time and exploring various systems for resources with which to make the Normandy as strong as she could be, Jacob had been patiently testing and investigating—for weeks—the guns we’d picked up on the Collector ship. He was thorough, I had to give him that. I suppose he didn’t have much else to do since I never took him anywhere.

After we returned to the SR-2 he invited me to the armory to hear the results of his intensive study. Jacob and I played around in the shooting range for a while so that I could get a feel for how each of the new guns handled. Between clips he ran down the specs and how they differed from what we already carried.

Though it looked impressive, the sniper rifle simply couldn't outperform my Viper, the only gun I'd ever wanted to tuck into bed with me like a teddy bear. I love that thing.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 30

An Evening of Surprises

I spent the afternoon making the rounds, visiting my friends in their various homes around the city. Varric regaled me with tales of Merrill’s latest midnight wanderings and how much it cost him to hire thugs to guard her from thugs. Anders told me about his more colorful patients and let me cajole him into clean robes and a hair brushing.

Sebastian showed me where he’d added my mother’s name to the prayer wall. Merrill nattered on about the eluvian and described how much more she could do with the arullin’holm. She took my refusal to hand it over with equanimity, however; she hardly expected a different answer after all these months.

I crossed the bay to the Gallows on the off chance that they would let me see my sister. Cullen, sweetly apologetic but firm, told me that the mages were all sequestered and could have no outside contact. He did let me know that a message had come from Uncle Gamlen so at least Bethany knew that Mother was dead.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 31

Once Upon a Time

Hackett had promised Alchera to be a deserted, frozen wasteland but I wasn’t taking any chances. We slapped armored environment suits and pistols on the doc and Joker and the four of us took the shuttle down to the surface with the monument on a hover cart.

It was a shame that such devices were notoriously unstable or we’d just have rigged up a chair on it for Joker and let him fend for himself. As it was we constantly had to keep the silly thing from tipping the chromed wave onto its side as it passed over rocks and drifts.

He had started out sitting on the cart but, after several close calls, decided that he’d walk for a bit. Dr. Chakwas paced his slow progress, ready to spring into action should her favorite patient stumble. Even such a minor incident could result in a broken ankle or shattered foot bones, after all. It came to me that her leaving the Alliance might have had less to do with me than with how needed Joker made her feel, despite her claim to the contrary. Certainly no other patient would put up with Chakwas clucking over him like a broody hen, scolding and encouraging in turns.

Sideline Wednseday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 29


When I woke some time later the fading embers in the grate provided the only meager light in the room. I’d turned in my sleep, pulling my knees to my chest, and Fenris was curled around me, one hand draped over my waist. His breath tickled the fine hairs on the back of my neck and I became acutely aware of his solid presence behind me.

It soothed me that he had come tonight, despite his own reservations. I fought against the hope that it was more than a renewal of our close friendship.

As I stirred, he woke with a start, his body tensing against mine. A moment of silence stretched out before I felt him relax behind me. “Hawke,” he said finally, his relief obvious. I wondered where he had thought he was, what ghosts had haunted his dreams.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 30

Put That Thing Away

“No,” he interrupted me, “don’t finish that sentence. If you try to justify what you did it will only piss me off again. I’ve been thinking about it all day: you were right. The satisfaction of shooting him would only have lasted for a moment.”

His face hardened into a fierceness that would have frightened even a krogan warlord. “I needed to know what happened. He pays every second for what he did, as he deserves. I’d rather he kept paying.”

He placed a hand on my shoulder, talons digging into my back as he gave me what I think was intended as a friendly squeeze. I laid a hand over his and we tentatively smiled at one another, Garrus in that peculiar turian way that mostly involved the mandibles and chin. Perhaps we’d be all right after all.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 28

Comfort and Compromise

My bitter laugh sent more tears spilling down my cheeks. “Better late than never, right?” I swallowed my gorge and my anger. This was the last conversation I’d ever have with her. Vomiting could wait and revenge had already been exacted. For once I’d pay attention.

“I’m so proud of you,” she said. “I should have told you that long ago. You’re so like your father.” One of those mystery hands rose unsteadily. Chilled fingers brushed my cheek. “He would have loved to see you so fierce, fighting for the people that need help most.”

Andraste’s ass, why now? I thought. I couldn’t remember the last time she’d said she was proud of me. Certainly she hadn’t since she’d accused me of letting an ogre crush my brother while we fled the Darkspawn horde into the Kocari Wilds. “This would be a lot easier if you told me off for wearing a helmet that clashes so badly with my chestpiece,” I told her.

We smiled at one another. She knew my abrasive words were meant to shove my pain aside. “Let’s get you out of here. Surely someone at The Gallows can help…you,” I finished feebly. We hadn’t even found the rest of her.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 29

Ups and Downs

I spent a few minutes in the privacy of a nearby ladies’ room rolling my eyes at the foibles of my team then headed for Admiral Hackett’s office. With Thane and Garrus sitting on the Normandy with their respective missions accomplished in my usual, quasi-successful style, I was free to focus on more pleasant matters. I breezed into the admiral’s office with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. It had been a ridiculously productive day and it wasn’t even 1600 hours yet.

My bouncy entry screeched to a halt when I saw what filled the room. A bizarre, swooshy-looking thing occupied half of the floor space and reached up almost to graze the ceiling. I presumed the wall was hinged because there was no way anyone had gotten that monstrosity through the door. At the pinnacle was a shiny metal replica of the SR-1 about the size of my hand. Hackett grinned at me around its chrome.

I cocked my head to the left, one eyebrow raised, and asked, “Is this the best they could do?” Nowhere on the thing did the names of the dead, the still-deceased crew members much less my own, appear. It seemed a pretty sorry memorial to me. I only recognized the old Normandy because she’d been mine for a time, Joker’s baby and my own. I imagined this silly thing sitting on a plain near some wreckage, shining dully under an alien sun, and my mood deflated a bit.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 27

Into the Mouth of Madness

I’d tossed down a torch before I climbed into the basement of the foundry and, by the time I’d negotiated the ladder, Bela had used it to light others that hung ready around the walls. Clearly this was no bolthole but a regularly-used passage.

The door on the far end opened onto a larger space around which half of the brands had already been lit. A quick scan of the floor revealed nothing more than a few widely-spaced droplets. I had no time to look for more, however, as shades appeared all around us. Whether they’d been summoned because the killer knew we approached or they had been set to attack anyone hardly mattered.

At first I assumed the stench the filled the space came from the summoned creatures themselves. Anders, however, reminded me that none of our previous fights with shades or other denizens of the Fade had smelled this awful. It was the stink of rot and decay, the funk of death, and it did not come from the otherworldly fiends.

An Apology: Formatting Trouble

My darling readers, I must apologize.  Blogger has taken it upon itself to eat the paragraph breaks in I don't know how many of my last posts.   I'll be working my way backwards to fix the problem but, in the meantime, I'm sorry you've been confronted with these walls of text.  It was not my intention.  I know how hard they are to read and appreciate your patience in getting them fixed.  I promise I'll check how the actual posts look from now on, honestly.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 28

Like Father Like Son…or Not

While we waited for Samara, Thane told me about his family life and admitted that he hadn’t seen or talked to Kolyat in several years. Apparently, the assassinations he’d performed had brought the wrath of some psychos to hunt down his family in revenge. They’d taken it upon themselves to torture and kill his wife.

When Thane had found out he’d gone a little nuts, something even his controlled nature and training could not restrain. He’d done precisely what I would have: he had exacted vengeance slowly and with great fury on each of those involved, hunting them down no matter how long it took. By the time he’d finished, Kolyat, whom he’d left with extended family, had figured out that the whole thing was Thane’s fault and would have nothing to do with him.

About then Thane had begun to feel the effects of Kepral’s Syndrome and, in his fragile mental state, had decided that it was some sort of divine retribution for the way he’d lived his life and failed his family. That had started him down the path that had led him to join my merry band of misfits and miscreants. And so here we were.