Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 35

The Rebellious Pupil

Garrus, Mordin and I hammered our way through the Blood Pack in the next room. Apparently they chose the walkways that lined it for the storage of explosives because every third crate blew up, a great help to my team although it made cover a little scarce.

The crates acted as a pretty good indicator of the average intelligence of these guys. They had forgotten the damned things would explode and tried to hide behind them during the firefight. Even seeing their fellows blown up didn’t dissuade them from trying the same tactic. Once I even exploded a lovely chain of boxes, clearing twelve feet of Krogan and Vorcha—boom boom boom—in as many seconds.

All in all we enjoyed ourselves. Obviously we’d taken down their A team on Omega. If there hadn’t been so many of the idiots they would have been no threat at all. We traipsed down the stairs and finally found the chief, Weyrloc Guld. I only know his name because I asked Wrex later. It wasn’t really the time for introductions just then and I wanted it for my scrapbook.

At least Guld lived up to his mercenary band’s reputation. He had a shotgun and he wasn’t afraid to use it but I think he took down more of his own men than anything. He peppered us with pellets from too far away to get through our armor while we kept his guys between us and him. Those idiots charged straight at us. I’m pretty sure I saw Guld shaking his head once or twice as we mowed down yet another wave.

Mordin and I had enough biotic power between us to keep the chief busy while Garrus sniped at him. The chief finally toppled, saying something inappropriate for mixed company but hardly “notable last words”. Apparently the Speaker I’d gassed near the entrance had been the orator for the group.

After he’d gone down we stood, listening to the dripping of various fluid from people and pipes. No other sound disturbed the sudden quiet. It had been a long afternoon and I was starving. All I wanted was to rescue Mordin’s assistant and then hit up Gardner for something tasty accompanied by a large, steaming mug of java.

Clan Weyrloc had saved its best for last. No one sprang through the door, guns blazing. No half-trained noobs tried to flank us like the vids promise will work but rarely does. We just caught our breath and opened the next door, the one that turned out to be the last.

Considering the condition of the hospital-cum-torture-facility, the massive metal doors worked remarkably silently. Thus it was that we surprised Maelon in the lab this one revealed, working his omni-tool and muttering to himself.

Mordin called out to him, clearly relieved. I think all of us had expected to find him beaten and shackled yet there he stood in a clean tunic, working away. With his abductors dead we could spirit him away in a heartbeat but he looked irritated at this interruption rather than grateful for our rescue. It took all of three seconds for Mordin to realize his pupil had come here by choice. They why of it took a little longer to filter through.

The argued about renewing the genophage and the team’s agreement on proceeding. “You never could believe anyone might hold a different opinion, could you, doctor?” Not all Salarians shared Mordin’s choppy speech patterns, something I’d forgotten after long exposure to my high-strung companion.

Mordin apologized for hauling me all the way down here for nothing. “Don’t worry about it,” I said. “We were on Tuchanka anyway and who doesn’t love wiping out a bunch of mercenaries?” Mordin tipped his head in acknowledgment and then turned back to Maelon. He had bigger fish to fry than my non-existent resentment.

“Research sloppy, deaths needless,” Mordin said. “Not what I taught you.”

Maelon tried to justify himself, his voice rising defensively. “My hands are already bloody, thanks to you,” he exclaimed heatedly. “If it takes a little more on them to cure the genophage then I can live with that. Go see the piles of dead babies, doctor, and tell me you still feel the same.” He pronounced doctor with remarkable scorn and his hands were waving around like a he was trying to flag a taxi.

Oh, great, I thought, a fanatic. He knew that Mordin had seen everything he had and, if the Krogan really kept piles of stillborn children wanting to perpetuate such a species made even less sense. I shuddered a bit at the thought. That’s just sick and surely it was something Mordin would have mentioned when defending his role in reinforcing the genophage.

“If what your Commander Shepard told the Council was true,” Maelon continued, “we’re going as many troops as we can get.”

I didn’t particularly care for my report on the Reapers being associated with his other wild stories, gratifying as it was to think that one person existed outside the Alliance who hadn’t dismissed my claims. “At least someone was paying attention but do you really think a thousand of baby Krogan can defeat the Reapers when they get here in a couple of years?”

Mordin shot me a look that clearly said “now is not the time” then he turned his attention back to his student. “The team concurred: genophage a continued necessity. You never spoke up. Never protested.”

Maelon made a rude noise. “Who would dare to contradict the great Mordin Solus? I was nothing more than a research assistant. Would you have listened?”

The good doctor pondered that for a moment. “No,” he conceded. “Would have saved a trip, though.”

They argued off and on for several more minutes, each discounting the other’s points. Mordin could not get past his outrage at the violation of his scientific principles. Eventually he tired of the whole topic and rushed his former student, pulling his pistol as he went and jamming it into the younger Salarian’s neck.

I wasn’t about to stop him, though I still hadn’t quite decided how I felt about the genophage. Seeing how Krogans lived made me pretty sure there didn’t need to be a trillion more of them wrecking planets all over the galaxy. Yet the lengths to which they went to protect their females and children made clear how much this genophage hurt them.

What Maelon had done, however, had made thing worse instead of better. Rather than convincing the Blood Pack to unite with Wrex and stop sending their mercenaries off to die, usually in killing other Krogan, he’d started kidnapping and torturing. He’d performed horrific experiments on who knew how many people of at least two different species, willing and not.

If we let him go he’d only start over somewhere else and he’d likely tell whoever he found to support him all about Mordin. My ship scientist glanced at me while these thoughts ran through my head and I gestured for him to do as he wished. He gave a satisfied nod and blew off Maelon’s head before looking up at the huge display.

“Months of data.” He shook his head sadly. “So much pain and death. Could be useful. Could be dangerous.”

“Hell, Mordin,” I said, “you never know when research might come in handy. Let’s keep a copy.”

Mordin frowned down at Maelon’s body. “True,” he agreed. “Deletion would waste sacrifice of experimental subjects. Research may help evaluate genophage, save future suffering.”

He downloaded everything to his omni-tool and then wiped the entire system. I incinerated the drives to ensure no one could reconstruct it. The good doctor gave one more mournful look around the lab and shook his head. “Hope some good can come of this.”

“Could happen,” I shrugged, my mind already back on coffee and dinner. I hadn’t been looking for reassurance about my team members on Tuchanka but I’d found it anyway: Grunt’s health and Mordin’s conscience. We might make a real team, after all, even if some of us had a second agenda. “Let’s go see Urz.”

My slimy new friend was more than happy to see me. He bounced around and rubbed himself on my knees until I crouched to rub the ridge at the back of his skill. When we climbed to Wrex’s dais of rubble he leapt up to lead the way and the wound between my legs as we stood chatting, something my old friends found highly entertaining.

I waxed eloquent on how the Blood Pack had forced poor little us to slaughter them all and described mournfully our discovery that the Salarian we’d gone to rescue had been killed in the fighting. The Krogan diplomats, if you could call them that, received our report better than I expected. None of them seemed to upset about our wiping out Clan Weyrloc.

We hadn’t seen the scout I’d sent limping on his way during the drive back so after the congratulatory back slapping that just about killed me and twice knocked Mordin to his knees we wandered over to check with the leader. He verified that the kid had staggered in not long before we had. The clan doc had him and predicted a full recovery quickly.

Relieved that I’d at least saved one life that day, I took Urz to the air lock with Mordin and Garuus, intent on getting that overdue meal and having Gardner lay in a store of pyjack meat for my varren. While we cycled into the ship, the scanner trying desperately to cleanse us of contamination, Mordin tried to pat him on the head and nearly lost his hand for the effort.

If you’ve never heard a hyperactive Salarian curse, I recommend finding a way to do so. After the choppy invective and Garrus and my laughing fit, we walked down to the CIC. Urz stayed right at my side, pointed snout swinging this way and that as he snuffled and drooled. The bridge crew eyed him warily but he behaved himself…except for the chair he decided to taste along the way. He only stripped half of it before he decided it wasn’t dinner. It could be fixed.

Then we reached the far side of the galaxy map and Kelly jiggled her way over to us. As soon as she saw him her mouth drew into a moue of disgust but she tried to be her usual, perky self. “Oh, you got a pet,” she said chirpily. “Good for you!”

At the sound of her voice he snapped to attention. By the time she’d finished speaking he’d drawn his legs in under him and was ready to spring. I struggled in the jaws of a dilemma: do I let him eat her or do I stop him? The pros and cons seemed pretty even but in the end I decided I didn’t want to deal with the mess.

“Urz,” I said sternly. “Stay.”

He looked up at me for a moment, eyes rolling with excitement, and then subsided a bit. I could probably keep him in my cabin and exercise him in the cargo hold but really a ship is no place for a wild animal. As delighted as I would be to have him keeping my “personal assistant” at bay, Urz deserved to roam Tuchanka having slobbering baby varren with a nice girl.

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