Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 34

After a chattery greeting during which he carefully avoided any mention of genophages or Krogan live birth rates, Mordin let me explain that Wrex had already directed us to his Scout Chief. Wrex accompanied us a down the staps, ostensibly to show us the way.

“You’ve impressed the ambassadors in our camp, Shepard,” he said quietly, pointing unnecessarily at the Krogan we needed to see. “If you wipe out the males of Clan Weyrloc you will have strengthened my position as much as I have in the past two years. I’m not suggesting you go in there looking for slaughter, of course,” he cautioned with a sly wink of the eye his snout hid from those still standing near his rough throne.

I tried not to smirk too much and suppressed my dance of anticipated havoc. We could hardly admit to the visiting representatives that I was going to go take out another clan. That wouldn’t be politic, after all. Nor would sending home their dead bodies, as would surely happen if we admitted our intention.

We pretty well understood one another and Mordin managed to keep his thoughts to himself for once. Really, the Slarian had never heard of an inner monologue. Every little thing that crossed his mind popped right out of those scrawny little lips, even if he was simply addressing himself. He asked more rhetorical questions in a given day than I did in a year. This one time he had discretion enough to wait, though I suppose he had plenty of incentive to keep his mouth shut.

The chief scout told us the guys he’d sent to check out the Weyrloc stronghold, an old hospital uncomfortably close to Urdnot territory, had not returned. They had, however, conveniently reported the arrival of a Salarian. Mordin nodded. “Health facility would have necessary equipment.”

We took a truck and headed off to the general vicinity, which was as close as we could drive. Only a ragged track wound through the rusted hulks and barrier walls scattered across the landscape around the old hospital, so Mordin, Garrus, and I grabbed our guns and struck out on foot. A few of those same exploding creatures lingered nearby so we wiped them out as we worked our way along the path. I hoped no mercenaries would wander by and swipe our vehicle. It was a long walk back to Wrex’s place and I doubted they’d take kindly to losing the thing.

It didn’t take us long to find the Blood Pack. Their scouts popped out hither and yon and we blasted our way through them all. Garrus and I got some enjoyable sniper practice and frustrated Mordin by stealing his kills along the way, just like we used to do to Kaidan.

The Salarian tended to cry “Unfair!” in place of Kaidan’s more-creative name calling but at least both saw the humor. I was finally starting to rebuild the calluses on my knuckles from all of the fist-bumps when Garrus or I pulled off a great shot. We’d have to start bringing Thane on these little jaunts so I could work on the other hand and even them out a bit.

After the gauntlet we came to a highway that had definitely seen better days. The bridge across the desolate gorge between our position and our goal still stood, a natural choke point so clearly a trap that we had to laugh. We had to cross it, too, but we used Mordin as bait to draw out our enemies. He didn’t mind: it meant he got to do some of his own Blood Pack population reduction. We had told him we weren’t keeping score but he knew we were lying.

Apparently Clan Weyrloc didn’t want visitors. The clearing outside the building was packed with the idiots who seemed frustrated that we wouldn’t take the hint. They tried to blow us up, burn us down, and sent varren to gnaw on our knees but it did them no good. We mowed down the lot of them and then we were in.

As if eliminating mercenaries and helping Wrex weren’t enough reason to clean out the hospital we found a dead Human in the hallway just inside the door. Mordin showed us the marks of restraints and various experiments performed on the poor guy. The good doctor gave me some song and dance about humans being more genetically diverse than any other sentient species as though that somehow explained why they’d been slicing and dicing one.

For all Mordin had been involved in changing the reproductive patterns of an entire race of living Krogan our scientist acted highly offended by the idea of actually doing science on living subjects. I politely refrained from calling him a hypocrite. Another argument on the subject seemed counterproductive just then so we just moved on, leaving the dead man where he lay.

Down the hall we went, checking doors and finding nothing fun until we came into what looked like a half-finished reception area. Pipes and vents hung exposed and everything looked ready to fall on some incautious visitor. How they could have used the place as a hospital I’ll never know. Perhaps with their redundant organs Krogan worried less about pesky details like cleanliness and maintenance.

When we opened the door it was to find the balcony overlooking the filthy place lined with Blood Pack, including our friendly neighborhood Vorcha. I was just as happy to see them way up there where they couldn’t spit on me. The stench of my first encounter with the species on Omega had not yet faded from memory.

The Krogan in the middle—the man with the plan, one assumed—started blabbing about their grand scheme to cure the genophage and take over the galaxy. Obviously he hadn’t been reading the news; he’d forgotten that Reapers were coming to kill us all, whatever our birth rates. That or he’d dismissed our claims like everyone else had, the idiots.

Rather than listen to more of his delusions I took a shot at the pipe just below him. That derailed him into mockery of my marksmanship, which went on just long enough for leaked gas to spread. The smell reached his nose and he stopped, sniffing suspiciously, while I pinged a slug off the rail in front of him.

Not only did the spark ignite a lovely cloud of killing fire but the proof of my aim soothed my tender ego, as well. Of course the gentleman in question didn’t have a chance to acknowledge it but I saw those beady little eyes widen a moment before the flames hid him. Garrus clapped me on the back and, laughing once more, we finished off the few that remained standing.

Sadly, our enjoyment was short-lived. Mordin had been quiet since we found the first body but what lay in the next room turned him positively morose. The door through which the clan’s speaker had come concealed a lab. Like everything else on Tuchanka it was filthy and half-wrecked, bloody and rubble-strewn. On one of the tables lay the body of a Krogan, one that Mordin identified mournfully as female.

I gave him some crap about getting maudlin over a dead Krogan when we’d killed dozens on the way in but he shut me up pretty quickly by going all spiritual and serious. She really affected him. Information in the nearby terminals said she’d volunteered and had died of multiple tumors as a result of whatever these hacks had done to her.

Then he decided the whole thing was his fault, something with which I could hardly argue in view of his role. We rather needed him to focus on not dying in the next skirmish, however, so I humored him through a tirade about the evils of scientific ignorance and how clearly using live test subjects showed it. Then I sidetracked him with some info on Krogan armor that I thought he could apply to Grunt’s. That seemed to work well enough to keep us alive, at least.

He literally shook off his melancholy after a weird little benediction over the woman’s body. I really wanted to take a look at her face, since almost no one had ever seen a krogan female, but it seemed disrespectful to Mordin to touch the body after that. I’d never seen one of the guys nude so I couldn’t begin to guess what physical difference there were. Joker would have known but I definitely wasn’t going to ask him over an open comm link just then.

We left the lab behind and found a little jail cell, of a sort, nearby. Inside lay the Urdnot scout we’d promised to send home. When I tried to do just that, however, he protested that he was too busy saving the krogan race and couldn’t leave. I slapped him upside the head—carefully avoiding those bony plates on the likes of which I’d already concussed myself once today—and told him to snap out of it, which worked beautifully.

Mordin deplored my technique but he had to admit it had been effective in breaking the brainwashing the Weyrloc creeps had performed on him. Some of our precious medi-gel went to patching up the kid. We didn’t have enough room for him in the truck and he smelled pretty freaking ripe after lying in his own mess for I don’t know how long. His boss hadn’t specified how long ago he’d gone missing but it smelled like at least a week.

I told him a real Krogan could limp home all by himself. Questioning whether a giant scaly lizard really was a giant scaly lizard seemed pretty dumb to me but it worked miracles on motivating most of them. Maybe only “real” Krogan got to sleep with the ladies.

Whatever the reason, my own disdain motivated the scout well enough to get him moving under his own power. Off he went and off we went, in the opposite direction, still looking for Maelon.

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