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"Once Bitten... Pt. IV"

//Collab. between LegacyCloud & AnnCarise//


Mischa shook her head sharply, "No, I'm coming with you. Regardless of what they've done to me I still..." she paused with a moments hesitation before finally deciding she could - or at least had no choice but to - trust Gabe, "...I still have to try and find my husband; his ship - the Havana - was shot down there and the Illusive Man duped me into this... "she shudders slightly at the thought, "...experiment, under the premise that me may still be alive. So yes I will come with you and, well... I may need your help after all." She rubbed her brow again with a slight cringe as the pain slowly faded from her head.


"The Illusive Man said there were survivors," Gabe confirmed. "Your husband might be among them."


He stepped out of the lift as the doors opened to a lobby of the exact same design as the one they had arrived from. Two LOKI mechs stood outside, guarding the lift entrance but showing no signs of hostility. There were no alarms blaring here, though the VI's announcements echoed across this room as well.


"Lock-down in Section-D has been lifted. Regular activities may resume. Thank you for your cooperation."


Gabe walked towards one of the four exits, "I'll explain more on the ship."


Mischa hung close at Gabe's side, feeling an instinctive defensiveness as she eyed the two Loki's, "The sooner the better; I feel like I can't even breath as long as we're here; please... just get me out this place before I hurt anyone else..."


"We'll be there soon," Gabe assured her as he led the way to the airlock. The short walk went without incident. There were several other LOKI mechs guarding doors or patrolling along their path, but they seemed to completely ignore Mischa's presence. The Cerberus personnel, however, were a different story. While most went about their own business, a few gave passing glances to the two, and one researcher actually stared at them before Gabe caught her gaze and she quickly rushed off to the next room.


Mischa's unease continued in silence as they walked. She tried to block thought of what had transpired from her mind but the lack of distraction made it difficult and her mind inevitably raced through a confused jumble in an effort to piece it all together. Finally they arrived at the airlock and stepped through to Gabe's ship - Mischa breathing a sigh of relief and her tensed body visibly relaxing some as the airlock sealed behind them. She followed Gabe through to the cockpit and took a sit at the back of the room against an unmanned console as she watched Gabe step ahead and begin the launch preparation.


As he finished undocking the ship and setting it on its way to Cybele again, Gabe stood and made his way to the mess hall, beckoning for Mischa to follow. Once there, he retrieved two canned drinks from a crate, holding one out for Mischa. "Here, you'll need this."


Mischa took the drink with a grateful smile and studied it in her hand, "I had no idea being a Cerberus patsie came with special dietary requirements..." she scoffed as she popped it open and took a long swig from it. Sitting down at an empty table, she set the can in front of her and idly twisted it left to right, "So... I never got to thanking you for pulling me out of there. I... hope you haven't gotten yourself into any trouble because of this?"


Gabe shook his head, "It was actually the Alliance's idea. Using biotics can be taxing; drinks like these help restore your energy." He sat down across from Mischa, taking a sip from his own drink before speaking again. "And don't worry about me, I'll be fine. How're you feeling?"


Mischa continued to stare down at her canned drink as her hands batted it back and forth with anxiety, her head slowly developing a slow shake of disbelief, "I feel like I just woke up from a nightmare where it was still going on - like I'm Dr. Frankenstein's monster." Her brow furrowed before devolving into a frown as she lashed out in anger, swinging her arm across the table and launching the can against the wall before folding her arms in it's former place and dropping her head into them with a thud, "What am I going to do?" Came her muffled voice from behind her arms as her head again shook in it's rest.


Gabe reached out, biotically pulling the can back. "It's not easy being a biotic. A lot of people see us as that- monsters. But we're just people, and you're not the only person who can do this. I know it can be overwhelming, especially...especially the way it was done to you. I'll help you through it, I promise."


"The only thing I want help with is getting this damned thing out of me!" Her response still muffled as she refused to lift her head


Gabe sighed. "I can't do that. I'm not sure anyone can. Messing with implants once they're installed is usually fatal. It's why we L2s aren't switching to the newer models. Most of us would never make it. And that's just changing models, I don't know if it's even possible to remove it entirely."


Mischa slowly lifted her gaze just enough to stare across the table at him; the hatred in her eyes for what had been done to her only melting slightly with the sight of her one salvation in it all so far, "I know..." she admitted, "and I also know that until i find a way; I need to learn how to control this - these damned migraines will kill me otherwise!" she scoffs as an offhand remark, "I... " she sighs in defeat, "I would welcome anything you can teach me to help manage this."


"There's not much I can do about the migraines, unfortunately," Gabe replied. "Aside from the usual painkillers. But I can teach you to control it so you don't hurt someone when you don't mean to. Get some rest for now, though. You need to be calm and recover your strength."


"Right, it's a long trip ahead of us to reach Cybele. I'm not certain I feel particularly restful, but appreciate what you're saying." She finally sat up straight again and rose to her feet, "I'll see you shortly Gabe, and... thank you" she smiled, resting a hand on his shoulder as she passed on her way out of the mess hall. Once out in the corridor and with the door sealed behind her she glanced left towards the crew area - Like I could ever sleep! - then she looked right and walked off towards the training room. Once inside she began with the best of intentions by hitting one of the treadmills, though as much as she might increase the speed she could not run away from her own thoughts. So she looked for an alternate strategy and set to work on one of the punching bags, growing increasingly vicious and aggressive with each amateurish swing.


A muscular, heavy-set man walked into the training room, the same individual Mischa had seen earlier in the crew quarters. The man took off his jacket and tossed it aside, wearing a dull white vest as he stepped up to the punching bag beside Mischa's. He struck the bag with an expertly placed sequence of punches, causing it to swing dramatically and probably getting her attention. "Hey, you're the new fella, right?" he addressed Mischa. "Hear ya caused quite the stir on the base."


"I've been called... many things... in my time! ...But never... never a fella!" She grunted and breathed hard through her words as she continued her attempts to vent her frustrations, glancing sideways at him in observation of the refined technique which she tried to mirror - though with minimal success since she did not have the physical strength to match his brutish style. "As for the base... I don't want to... talk about it!" She continued through her comparatively feeble efforts.


"Right..." the man muttered as he returned to his own exercise. A few minutes passed before the communications panel by the door began to flash and emit a beeping noise. The man walked over, pressing it. "Rogan here," he said. "What is it?" Gabe's voice emanated from the panel, "Can you check if our guest accessed the armoury again?" "Uhh...no, she's right here." "In the training room?" Gabe asked. "In the training room," Rogan confirmed. Gabe thanked him then ended the conversation. Shrugging, the large man picked up his jacket and left.


Mischa glanced back over her shoulder at hearing the comms conversation, with an expressionless face she turned back to the punching bag and resumed her practice. Still unrefined and amateurish in technique, though slightly improved from her observation of Rogan's more heavy duty workout.


After a few minutes of Mischa having the training room to herself, the door slid open, and Gabe leaned on the frame, holding a bottle of the energy drink from the mess hall. "You should be resting," he said.


Mischa finally stopped and hugged against the punching bag, panting for breath a little, "Well I did say wasn't feeling overly restful - figured a little workout would help tire me out some first..." She stepped back from the punching bag to finally notice the faint blue glow pulsating from her body and suddenly felt sick to the pit of her stomach at it's sight - the anger at what had been done to her building instantly, "Aaarghhh!" she vented in frustration as she turned and swung at the punching bag again, this time however the biotic glow intensified as she swung and she unwittingly hit the punching bag with a much fuller biotic force - dislodging it from it's holdings and bouncing it unceremoniously off the wall behind. The glow slowly faded as she doubled over briefly; clutching her temple with both hands, "...seems that may have been a little optimistic..." she confessed, turning to face Gabe and glancing back at the punching bag on the floor, "Sorry about your punching bag."


"Don't worry about it," Gabe shook his head as he stepped further into the room. Walking onto the mat, Gabe lowered himself to the ground, setting the can of drink on the floor just beyond the mat's edge before sitting cross-legged. He raised a hand, beckoning for Mischa to join him. "If it's work you want, I can help."


Mischa slumped across to the mat and sat down across from Gabe; mirroring his cross-legged position, "You know it's not so much that I want work per se; I just wanted to exhaust myself in order to rest since my mind is racing faster than a mass relay jump at the moment. But since that is obviously not working either, I am in your hands." She smiled one of her lesser seen more genuine smiles as she nestled into a reasonably comfortable position, folding her hands in her lap.

Gabe nodded, "I know you're not happy about this, but you're a biotic now. Your strength lies in your mind. Being exhausted, demotivated or just uncontrolled can be dangerous to you and those around you." He stood up, taking a few steps aside. Reaching out with his right hand, he extended a mass effect field around the fallen punching bag, pulling it towards himself until it levitated in the air in front of Mischa. "You're angry. Don't just be angry. Be angry with a purpose," Gabe instructed. "Find what makes you angry, why it makes you angry. Find the source of your feelings- the Illusive Man? The scientists? Find it and picture it in front of you. Picture what you would do to it."


Mischa stands and gives Gabe a doubtful look, but proceeds as instructed following a nod of reassurance from him. She stared at the punching; narrowed eyes focused on the mental image of them all - the Illusive Man, all of the scientists who did this to her. She began to tremble with rage as her fists clenched tight - so much that her nails started digging into her palms - and her body started to emanate the signature biotic glow; pulsing slowly as it appeared but growing faster as her mind focused before she unleashed her rage and stretched both arms forwards toward the bag. In doing so she released a powerful - though highly unstable - biotic flare which soared through the air and exploded violently as it impacted the punching bag. The bag was completely decimated while Mischa herself was propelled backwards by the blast. Sitting back up and shaking herself loose, her eyes widened as she realised just how powerful a projectile she just created as small particles of the punching bag and it's fill drifted gently through the air. She looked around in a panic to make sure she hadn't hurt Gabe...


Gabe climbed onto his feet, having been knocked back by the blast, though he was unharmed as he had put up a biotic barrier to absorb the shock. Dusting himself off, he moved closer to Mischa with a smile. "Nicely done! Does it feel better now that you've released all this anger?"


Mischa got back to her feet, assessing her own condition internally as much as anything else as she looked back to Gabe; her face noticeably more serene than before, "That... it really does!" her efforts to play down her surprise at this outcome on her emotional state fell short to say the least. She wobbled slightly feeling a little dizzy, "But oh... that really takes it out of you too..." she steadies herself against the adjacent wall a moment.


Gabe picked up the can he had set down earlier, handing it to Mischa, "You should drink this. Rest if you can now, we can do more training later if you want."


Mischa flashes a gentle and appreciative smile as she takes the can, "Thank you Gabe" her implied meaning clearly referring to more than the can, which she quickly gulped down, "I feel like I can get my down some now, but I really would appreciate some more of your guidance afterwards. I really do need to learn all I can about controlling this before we reach Cybele." With that she wandered off to find a spare bunk, feeling her eyes weighing heavily already.


Gabe remained in the training room as Mischa left, focusing his biotic energy to push the remains of the punching bag all into one corner before cleaning it up. After disposing the waste into the omni-gel converter, he left to rest himself. Many hours passed before he woke, and when he did, Mischa had already left the quarters. For once not having to search for her across the ship, he instead headed to the mess hall.


Gabe would enter the mess hall to find Mischa sat alone in one corner, making short work of a healthy breakfast - apparently her exertions drained more energy from her than the canned drink could supplement. She looked up sipping a glass of orange juice to see Gabe approach and smiled softly, "Hello Gabe; you'll be pleased to hear that it worked like a charm and I had the deepest sleep I can recall for a long time!" She did not wait for him to respond before retrieving a slice of toast from her plate and tucking into it. With a fresh mouthful, she glanced back watching him approach.


"That's good to hear," Gabe smiled back as he retrieved a tray of rations, sliding it inside an oven to heat it while he poured himself a glass of water. When the food was ready, he brought it to Mischa's table and sat down, taking a sip from his glass. "We're still a good few hours away from Cybele, but now's a good time to let you know about the situation there, if you want to hear," he offered.


"Well I have been researching what I can" she replied between mouthfuls, "But that mostly pertains to the general development of the colony there - nothing really about the present political climate... and certainly nothing as to why my husband's ship was shot down!" She takes a hearty sip of her juice, "I've no doubt that he has already given you a much more detailed briefing on things so please, tell me all you know; any detail may be crucial to finding my husband."


"He has," Gabe confirmed, taking in a piece from his rations tray before going on to explain. "Your husband's ship was shot down in a layer of atmosphere that hid its heat from sensors. The batarians are saying he did that on purpose to spy on them, but the Illusive Man's sources say otherwise."


Mischa actually stops eating at this news and looks squarely across at Gabe, "Then for once Mir. Illusive and I may actually be on the same page; there is no way Len would do that!" She considers him a moment before continuing, "So what exactly is your mission here? You said when we left that you had an assignment to carry out on Cybele and it sure did not sound like following my objectives through to completion was at it's core?"


"We're going to go find your husband and make sure he's safe," Gabe reassured her. "But if that doesn't work, we need the testimony of his crew or data from his ship to make sure his name is clean. Even though the Alliance and Cerberus doesn't think he was spying, the turians are suspicious and the Illusive Man wants them to stay on our side so we don't lose Cybele."


"So one would assume then that 'making sure he's safe' entails the Illusive Man's justification for what he did to me?"


Gabe took another bite, "That's part of it. His methods of advancing human technology are also very...blunt."


Mischa mumbles incoherently under her breath as she sips more of her juice, looking back to Gabe, "Then it is fortunate for you that I am a quick study. So should we start with more biotics, or would you prefer weapons training to begin with? I don't need a master class, just the basics so I at least have some chance of surviving what ever the hell is going on down there." She looks across at him with a plain & expectant look on her face.

"I can show you the basics of weapons once we're done eating," Gabe replied as he continued to eat. "Biotics takes a long time to master, and considering we're headed right for a potential war zone, it's a good idea to teach you how to handle a gun in case."


"Of course" she nods, sipping down the last of her juice, "Though I do feel it prudent to at least learn something of what I'm capable of, like that barrier you used yesterday? That may well come in handy" she smiles, setting down her empty glass and sliding her plate away before folding her hands in her lap while she waits for him to finish.


Gabe quickly wrapped up his breakfast and disposed of the tray, setting his glass back into a cupboard. Moving towards the exit of the mess hall, he waved for Mischa to follow along as he made the way to the training room. Once inside, he pulled the rug back and ran the omni-tool along the locking mechanism, opening up the hidden armoury. "This hidden room actually wasn't designed by Cerberus," Gabe explained as he climbed down the ladder. "The ship used to be run by smugglers before we acquired it. This was where they stored the cargo they weren't supposed to have."


"It's a good standard of re-purposing" she smiled as she followed him down into the armoury, once again taking in the sight of the array of weapons lined up on the far wall. She looked from there to Gabe, "So... what do you recommend here? I can't imagine one of those big rifles is best for a novice"


Gabe shook his head, "Even I find them a little heavy to lug around. You want something easier to handle." Walking over to the weapon workbench, Gabe looked though several of the pistols before picking out a basic Kessler model. Turning the gun over, he opened a port on the side, ejecting the small block of metal that was the source of ammunition and placing it on the bench. He took the rest of the weapon and handed it to Mischa.


Mischa tentatively took the weapon in her hand, feeling it's weight and balance before trying to aim it at a random spot on the wall. Whilst her technique would probably allow her to hit the wall in general, any good range to her chosen spot would be pure luck. "I like it..." She eventually decided, "...seems light and manageable at least... So, errm... how does it work exactly?"


"You pull the trigger," Gabe simply stated. "I took the ammunition block out so it won't fire anything. Get a feel for shooting first." He stepped up to Mischa, reaching forward as she aimed but stopping just short of her arm, his hand hovering above hers. "May I?"


"Please" she smiled, turning the pistol and handing it to him. Stepping back slightly her mind instantly switched to full analysis and she carefully studied his actions.


Gabe took the pistol in his right hand, his index finger extended along the barrel while the rest of his fingers gripped it. "Hold it with your dominant hand, like this," he raised his hand to show Mischa. "Then wrap your other hand around." He turned to give her a better view as he demonstrated, closing his other hand around the one already on the weapon. "Make sure your thumbs meet," Gabe instructed as his thumbs touched on one side of the pistol grip, holding the pose for several seconds before handing the weapon to Mischa.


Mischa tool the pistol once more and held it out, mirroring Gabe's demonstration with calculated precision - though likely a little too overly-focused - holding it forward in her dominant left hand, "Like this?" she asked


"Like that," Gabe nodded and smiled. He took a few steps closer, setting a hand on her left elbow and pushing it down slightly, "You want to bend your arms a little to control the recoil. It's your preference whether to keep one or both bent. Use your index finger to pull the trigger. Try firing without the ammunition block first."


Mischa listens intently to his guidance before trying both ways to see which felt more comfortable, settling on a slight bend in both arms before taking a deep steadying breath and squeezing the trigger as she exhaled.


The weapon 'fired,' though nothing came from the barrel, the mechanisms of the pistol went through its programmed processes as the trigger was pulled, causing the gun to jump slightly from the recoil. "Getting the feel of it?" Gabe asked.


"Hmm... Actually didn't feel as bad as I expected." Mischa replied with a genuine surprise in her voice as she studied the weapon in her hand further, "Does it make much of a difference when it's loaded?" She asked curiously.


"Not really," Gabe responded. "Recoil depends on the gun model; this one isn't hard to handle." Moving back to the wall, Gabe picked out an M-5 Phalanx, taking out the ammunition block as well before handing it to Mischa. "This one is much more difficult."


Mischa's eyes widened slightly as she took the clearly more advanced pistol in her hand. Smiling as she wrapped her fingers around it's grip and weighted it in comparison to the Kessler, "Now this feels nice... solid!" She again took aim as Gabe had instructed her and squeezed the trigger, the heavier recoil was apparent but didn't seem to bother her, "This feels much better Gabe! How did you know?"


"You prefer this?" Gabe seemed a little surprised. He reached out for the weapon but did not take it, instead pressing a button on the grip. A beam of light emitted from the barrel and across the room, displaying as a precise point on the far wall. "I only wanted you to practice controlling recoil with this on so you know how far off target you go. But you can keep the Phalanx if you like it."


"Oooh! Now that IS useful!" she beamed upon seeing the laser sight activate, trying again to aim her shot - picking a precise spot with the laser - she again fired a test round and saw how much the recoil was affecting her aim, frowning slightly at the results. Determined as ever though, she brought the pistol to bear once more only now with one arm holding more solid while the second still relaxed as she aimed at the same spot; smiling proudly at seeing how much less the laser danced as she pulled the trigger she turned back to Gabe, "What do you think, much better right?"


"You're getting familiar with the weapon," Gabe smiled. "Keep going." As Mischa practiced, he moved behind the crates, retrieving what appeared to be a machine. Going back, he then brought out a metal plate attached to a stand, starting to set it up just in front of the wall that Mischa was practicing on.


Gabe nodded as he continued to work on the target. Turning the stand to face her, Mischa could now see that there were crosshairs painted on the metal plate. As Gabe hooked the machine onto it, both stand and plate suddenly shimmered as a kinetic barrier formed around it. "We only have one target left," Gabe explained. "So Sarah came up with the idea to shield it with a modified generator from a broken combat suit that no one wanted."



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