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Mass Effect: Bad BustEdit

PrologueEdit

It's been said that the prospect of an imminent death often forces someone to contemplate their life. Often in these moments of introspection, they may think about all the mistakes they'd made in life, and consider how they might have done things differently.

As Bud Samsky looked up at the timer that had been helpfully taped to the ceiling, steadily ticking down the last minutes of his life, he considered all the possible ways that he could have avoided dying naked and handcuffed to a bed that had been placed over a package of C-4.

For one thing, he probably should have made more of an effort to keep his wife happy. In hindsight, she was relatively easy to please, and if he had kept her happy, she probably would have given him more sex, and he would not have had to hire prostitutes.

Secondly, he probably shouldn't have gone looking for prostitutes on Omega. Nos Astra, the capital of Illium, was much cleaner and safer, and the prostitutes there probably didn't charge all that much more than the ones in the Ginzu district.

Third, he probably shouldn't have gone out looking for sex when everyone was talking about the rumors of a hooker who was killing her johns. He figured that he might be able to find some desperate hookers who'd give him a better price, but he'd had to wander for two hours before encountering even one streetwalker (well, that was not actually true - about five minutes after leaving his motel room, he had encountered a vorcha in a powder-blue dress and makeup who he was pretty sure had tried to flirt with him, but he wasn't that desperate.)

And fourth, he probably should not have tried to haggle with the blonde hooker that he'd finally managed to hire.

He could think of a few other ways that he could have avoided this situation, but at that moment, the timer reached zero, and the very last thought that he had was, Thisisjustgonnasu-

Desperate TimesEdit

Jubbas Cha'kar looked on with nervous anticipation as his new boss, Aria T'Loak, inspected what appeared to be the remains of a human.

Only two weeks ago, he'd been a rank-and-file member of the Iron, the batarian gang that had controlled his neighborhood as long as he'd been alive. He hadn't chosen to join; his membership in the gang was the result of his cousin Mendo's membership becoming... vacant after his death.

Jubbas still remembered that day, now four years past. He was at Mendo's funeral, being chatted up by a distant and reviled cousin, when his aunt quietly approached and said that there were two men who wished to see him. She led him up to Mendo's old room, where a pair of well-dressed, entirely respectable-looking batarians were waiting. The older one of the pair explained very calmly that Mendo had died after trying to unload stolen goods on the black market (whether it was the Iron who killed him or unscrupulous buyers was left up to Jubbas' imagination.) Those goods had belonged to the Iron, and had been stolen, and so Mendo owed the Iron money... quite a lot of it, in fact. Someone had to pay off the debt.

And so Jubbas had spent the past four year going up and down the streets of one of Omega's many red-light districts, collecting payments on behalf of his boss. He didn't enjoy it, exactly, but it was certainly preferable to the alternative scenario, in which the Iron killed him and forced Mendo's sister into prostitution. But just as he was starting to get used to this life, things had taken another unforeseen turn: the Iron tried to cheat Aria out of her cut of their earnings. Any idiot could have predicted Aria's response - with the possible exception of the idiots who ran the Iron. Aria's men attacked and tore the Iron apart. Jubbas was the only one who lacked the self-respect to fight to his last breath in the Iron's defense, and so he was allowed to keep his job collecting payments, except that now the credits went directly to Aria.

It was a tolerable situation, but now things had taken another turn.

"Describe her," Aria demanded, her eyes locked upon a petty human motel owner/pimp named Antoine Bailey. A few nights ago, a prostitute had started killing johns (and the occasional jane), and nobody could find her. Throughout the district, potential clients were staying home, and so were the hookers. Bailey ran this particular motel, and so he had the honor of being interrogated this morning.

Unfortunately, Bailey mistook this for an opportunity to try and extort money from Aria. "Seems to me you need my help. I think that I should be compensated for my time."

Jubbas' attention, however, was arrested by the little old man standing in the corner, who was making an admirable effort to avoid attracting attention. He'd known Mr. Kumari for four years, and while he generally viewed humans as pathetic and weak, he had a certain respect for the old man. Ten years earlier, Kumari had just been a motel owner whose profits came mainly from aiding a prostitution ring. All he had to do was let the girls into his motel and make sure they all came out again when the pimps came to pick them up at the end of the night. But then one night, the pimps didn't show up, and Mr. Kumari found himself in charge of nearly two-dozen girls with minimal education. He refused to become a pimp, so he gave the girls legitimate jobs at his motel. Frequently, the girls did tricks on the side, but he did not even think about claiming that they owed him a cut of their earnings (but he didn't necessarily refuse their money if they chose to offer him something.) And all the while, he still paid Jubba whenever he should up to collect. Sometimes, the payments came late, or in installments, or happened to be accompanied by the conspicuous absence of Mr. Kumari's watch or wedding ring, but he always paid. Jubba could respect someone like that.

But now the old man was in a bad way. His motel had been ground zero for the killer, and she had completely torched an entire floor, and so nobody was visiting his motel, and he'd collected no money for almost a week. He was fucked.

A noise woke him from his reverie. Bailey had just demanded 20 grand for his information, and Aria was not amused. "You listen to me, you pudgy bastard," she said, her hand closing around Bailey's throat. "Every night that that psychotic bitch is on the streets is costing everyone money, especially me. Kumari here can be excused for his lack of attention. You, however, cannot. Tell me what she looks like, or you'll be buried in a sardine can!"

"She's.. blonde... blue eyes..."

"What is her name?"

"Maria-" Bailey's voice was cut off by a distinct cracking sound.

"I think you killed him, boss," Jubbas murmured.

"Damn it." Aria dropped Bailey to the ground. She turned to Kumari. "You, get over here. Don't think I've forgotten."

Kumari was sweating so badly that he almost looked like melting wax candle in a cheap suit. "P-please, Miss. I know I am behind on the payments, but I promise..."

"Enough. That damned accent of yours makes you sound like a drunken sheep, and I've had enough irritation for one day." She gave him a cold, appraising stare. "Your girls... they clean your motel for you?"

"Y-yes..."

"Bring them over here and have them clean up this mess and despose of Mr. Bailey's worthless ass. Hire some of Bailey's girls and sell that shithole you've been running all these years. Keep this place open no matter how many other johns get killed. Between the profits from your old motel's sale and the extra girls, you'll make more than enough to repay your debts. Also, keep a record of all blondes who come through here from now on, and if I come asking, remember that I spared you."

"Oh, thank you..."

"I said, enough." She turned to Jubbas. "Let's get out of here."

"I appreciate what you did for that man," Jubbas said, as they descended the stairs.

"I may be immoral, but I'm not cruel."

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