Estêvão Volinski – Firsthand Account of the Batarian SIU

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by  SLotH4 1 year, 8 months ago.

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  • #1627


    A/N: This post was born out of an idea I had when it was announced that Jacob was writing the Batarian SIU OpFor piece. Honestly, the first draft of this thing was awful, but Jacob acted as an editor and most of the polish for this piece is to his credit.


    • This topic was modified 1 year, 8 months ago by  SLotH4.
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  • #1628


    The sound of high-pitched giggles and a husky blend of Portuguese and Fleet Saith bounced off the walls of the captain’s quarters. The crew had grown used to such shenanigans, even as they petitioned their Captain to install soundproofing insulation, but the faux privacy only made the pair bolder and louder. Their foreplay was interrupted by the monotonous chime of the nearby comm-terminal. The pair ignored the machine for a time, lost in each other, before the man gave an exaggerated sigh and untangled himself from the twisted sheets.

    Estêvão Volinski plodded over to the desk and cursed to himself when he saw the comm ID, tapping the answer key with a scowl. “You know, comrade, I don’t know what vacation means in Mother Russia, but out here it means two weeks of you not calling me!”

    General Oleg Petrovsky, his Cerberus emblazoned uniform pristine as always, stared back at him through the screen. “I tolerate your disposition because you get results, but I will not stand for outright disrespect.”

    Volinski straightened his posture as he offered an apology, “Forgive me, sir. I just thought there’d be a little peace and quiet after wiping out that slaver anchorage near Clugon.”

    “You know vacation time is never guaranteed in this line of work, Estêvão.”

    “Alright, what’s the target, how many squints am I up against?”

    “None. Dr. Minsta’s daughter is compiling information on the SIU for an upcoming intelligence report. I want you to provide her with an account of your personal experiences.”

    Volinski’s eye gave a twitch in irritation. “You know I don’t talk about Zorya, and I sure as shit don’t talk about Anhur. Why even waste your time on this call?”

    Petrovsky raised an eyebrow. “You are beholden to the organization. This work is necessary. More to the point, this order comes from on high.”

    Volinski shook his head in dismay. “Do you have any idea how much liquor I’d need to get through something like this? Just so I can write a fucking TPS report to Minsta’s little hellspawn.”

    “You’ve never even met her. You should know better than to judge from a distance,” said Petrovsky, “We each serve in our own way, Estêvão. We must all heed the master’s call.”

    “I haven’t seen Pamella face-to-face in over a year, and I cannot be in that place with her, I refuse to let her see that side of me. She doesn’t deserve it.”

    Petrovsky gave a quiet sigh. “I understand, Estêvão. Family is the one bright spot in this cold galaxy of ours, and a man should be able to be with his daughter. But we have a duty to Cerberus, to humanity, one that cannot be set aside for even a moment.”

    “Yeah… I know.”

    “I will put in a request for an additional week for you and Ms. Ptrun once I receive your report. Vigil can handle any cover documentation you might require,” said Petrovsky, his voice softening slightly.

    “Thank you, sir.”

    Volinski gave a sigh as the screen went dark, fingers buried in his hair as the metal digits drummed a tattoo into his scalp. His eyes moved to the luscious quarian on his bed, but he was no longer in the mood.

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  • #1630


    So… I’m already down two bottles of Stranahan’s, and my erva supplies are running thin. I know you’re gonna watch this, patrão. I do not like being put in this position, sir. Bad enough I have to relive it every time I close my eyes… so keep a record of this, because I refuse to speak of it ever again. I’d give my life for o Cachorro, but some things are just too much.

    [pause in audio; 15 seconds]

    I only ever ran into the SIU on two occasions, both times during Dragão de Sangue operations.

    The first was a raid on a slaver camp on the far side of Zorya. They’d been poaching the workers from the Eldfell-Ashland refinery for months and the company hired us on the cheap to put a stop to it. Two four-man teams spent three weeks harassing the slavers, trying to pin down their base camp. Finally nabbed one who cracked under torture, told us they were based in a cave to the east near the waterfalls. They used hard projections to cloak the area as a vine covered cliff face. If you didn’t have the proper IFF you couldn’t walk through.

    The IFF was grafted into his sternum and once I carved it out we made our way to the falls. Once we passed through the false wall the team tossed a flashbang and a threat scanner. There were only three squints within, easy pickings… or so we thought.

    Turns out the bastard we tortured was a plant. There was an SIU kill team waiting for us inside. Out of eight men, three were dead in the first exchange. We fell back after that and ran out of the cave, bullets flying through the façade as we fled. One of ‘em pegged me in the knee with a modified round. Had to have been, I’ve never seen a standard bullet wound turn necrotic that quickly, even in the jungle.

    We didn’t realize it at the time, but once the IFF was away from the hologram it became solid again… with Felipe and Vítor trapped inside.

    Davi, Renato, and I limped away into the forest and tried to call for reinforcements, but the SIU had scattered jammers before we arrived. Once Felipe and Vítor were subdued, two of the SIU fucks gave chase and harried us for kilometers with a pair of qr’tsu war-beasts.

    [pause in audio; 6 seconds]

    Qr’tsu, I can’t even describe how horrifying it is to see something like that up-close. It awakens something primal in you when you hear the ominous thrum of its howl, like you’re a caveman facing down a sabretooth. Four eyes, four legs, a mouth full of steak knives, and matted green fur on a monster the size of a tiger. And you can’t get away from it; it’s the Khar’shan version of a bloodhound. We were used to slavers who made do with trained varren, but these things? Frankly, I’m amazed we didn’t just break and run.

    But we kept together, even though we knew my gangrenous wound was acting like a beacon for those things and damn near every tree and rock we passed was booby-trapped. I’m glad I was with Davi and Renato, Lord only knows what would’ve happened to me if some of my less reputable men had had my back.

    An hour into the chase and the beasts caught up to Renato. Tearing him limb from limb as the squints watched from the side. Thankfully he’d had the wherewithal to activate a frag grenade and stuff it down one of their throats. Lost his arm and his life, but the explosion disemboweled the monster and gave Davi and me a better chance.

    The other qr’tsu was sent out ahead to pick us off. So we laid a trap with me as the bait. Plopped my crippled ass inside a fissure in the middle of a boulder field and clutched my rifle like my life depended on it. I… I still have nightmares where the walls move and stalk me. They’re more obvious in bright light, but they’re practically invisible when slinking through the underbrush. You won’t know they’re there until you feel a thump in your back and see your kidneys at your feet. The only way they could be more horrifying is if they had active-camo scales or some shit.

    So I sat there, watching this shadowy mass slink towards me, knuckles white beneath my gloves… and just as it reared up to pounce, it tripped the mines I’d planted.

    Now, some would say standard landmines won’t do dick against a qr’tsu, and I’d readily agree. But when you set up half a dozen mines to target a single tiny area and link them together to go off all at once? That’ll do the job. ‘Course, the fucking thing kept dragging itself towards me, jaws snapping, quill-plates rattling, even as its intestines got snagged in the rocks and pulled out as it pushed itself forward on its good legs.

    I panicked, and unloaded into its face with everything I had…

    [pause in audio; 23 seconds]

    {visual analysis: Estêvão Volinski’s eyes appear glazed, facial tension consistent with PTSD symptoms; at 24 second mark, ungloved quarian hand is placed upon Volinski’s shoulder causing him to twitch; at 26 second mark, Volinski squeezes Nirin’Ptrun’s hand and kisses the top; reaches for bottle of Teotihuacan brand tequila, 100% hybrid blue agave; several gulps of tequila consumed}

    Thank Deus for tequila, amirite?

    But it worked, and the beast died. Good thing too, no way we’d’ve survived the night with those monsters sniffing after us. Man, I would’ve given anything to have a handful of those omni-web grenades Shepard invented.

    Mm, two days I spent in that jungle, nothing to sustain me and my fetid knee but a handful of emergency rations and my own filtered piss. We set traps and skirmished from cover, Davi took to the trees and managed to snipe one of the batarians, never found out if it was a kill shot though.

    And the whole time this was going on, we kept hearing the screams of my men from back at the cave. The motherfuckers hooked up loudspeakers throughout the jungle, camouflaged as dead trees or rocks. Day and night, probably an hour or two on one, then the other, then back to the first. It fucks with your head, which is the point.

    We kept the last pursuer at bay with constant cover fire into the brush. This was back in ’79, so thermal clips weren’t a thing yet. Funny thing about ‘unlimited ammo’? It runs out eventually, especially when you’re trying to put down a pair of semi-tame juggernauts. By the third day, we’d exhausted our supply of ammo blocks and had that squint pushing into our position. I had a Carnifex with four shots left while Davi had a combat knife and an omni-tool.

    ‘Brasil Eterno.’ That was the last thing he said before leaping out of cover and fighting the squint in hand-to-hand.

    Davi gave his life for a chance to bring down the bastard’s kinetics and it worked. I put two in the fucker’s head and stole his omni, used it to call for our shuttle. I dragged Davi’s body aboard and left for the Trojan merchant ship we used to get there.

    To my eternal shame, I had to leave my Dragons behind, but once I was back to the ship, the crew managed to drop a cobalt nuke into the cave. Snatched that cadela from a major pirate raid a few months before. Stuffed it into the shuttle and remote-controlled it under the AA screen with the IFF beacon strapped to its nose. Leveled the goddamn montanha and killed off six hundred square kilometers of that wretched forest.

    I use HEPA filters whenever I’m in the jungle these days. That smell of humid rot brings me right back to Zorya… I’ll never return to that hellhole.

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  • #1634


    [timestamp 2 days 11 hours after last recording]

    Alright, the second time was two years later when we raided a decoy slaver ship near Anhur. No slaves in the hold, just Fist of Khar’shan and half a dozen SIU in command. Now, if we’d run into this previously, I’d be dead. Period. No fucking way to survive that shit with anything less than N7 training.

    That’s why Zorya was a blessing in disguise. Failure reveals problems to be corrected or excised. We needed training and discipline, and that’s exactly what we got. We weren’t just Brazilian thugs anymore; we were professional soldiers of fortune. Probably annoyed the noble assholes back in the Alliance that Brazilians were acting civilized instead raping and killing each other in the ghettos of Oro.

    Anyway. After a pitched battle, where we made liberal use of tear gas and strobe light ‘grenades,’ we managed to punch a hole in the armor with our ship’s cannon and vent the cargo hold. The SIU were smart enough to wear sealed helmets the whole time, but most of the Fist didn’t. The survivors retreated to the cockpit and rammed into our ship, turns out they were using a disguised frigate and it tore into our corvette like a dagger.

    I triggered the failsafe on the corvette and blew it up while the front end of the frigate was buried inside. The explosion destabilized the frigate’s engines and forced a controlled drop to the surface. Smashed into the financial district and had to fight the bastards block by block. It was in a batarian-held area so, you know, pretty fucking annoying when they commandeered the goddamned militia and came after us.

    We formed two-man teams and dispersed into the residential district. The militia and police swept the area to look for us, closed a nine-block radius and claimed there was a slave uprising. Kept the press away and everyone inside. Nothing was getting out of that place that wasn’t batarian – person or vehicle.

    They captured me during a building sweep, wanted to know where my men were, but I refused. They didn’t like that answer. Not one bit.

    They… they did… things.

    [pause in audio; 15 seconds]

    {visual analysis: Estêvão Volinski’s eyes appear glazed, facial tension consistent with PTSD symptoms; at 36 second mark, unsuited quarian sits upon Volinski’s lap and nuzzles his neck; at 41 second mark, Volinski embraces Nirin’Ptrun and kisses the top of her head; facial tension has ceased}

    I’ll say no more on the matter, but thank the fuck Cristo my men showed up when they did. The squints were moving on to esfolar, and honestly, I prefer to keep my skin where it is. Once they’d mopped up the squints, Luiz had to perform a little frontier medicine before they could move me. A few quick slices with a knife and the damaged goods were gone.

    Stole a pinnace and got outta Dodge fast as we could while I spent the trip clinging to life in what passed for the ship’s med-bay. That’s when I made some new friends – heroin and his little brother morphine, that one’s a precocious little scamp. And you know how that song and dance goes, fuckin’ hate needles, but mainlining that shit? Nothing better.

    [pause in audio; 8 seconds]

    Mm… Pamella’s eighteenth birthday is coming up… I’ve been sober six months for my baby girl… well, sober from heroin at least. Fuck… hardest goddamn thing I’ve ever done.

    [pause in audio; 7 seconds]

    Aw shit, I need to turn this thing off before I start blubbering into the mic. Tição will never let me hear the end of it if I do.

    So, yeah, try to avoid the SIU as best you can. Never seems to end well when they’re involved. Enjoy the stories, and don’t bother me again.

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  • #1639


    Tiffany smoothed out the memory silk of her dress shirt as she sat in front of the terminal. She hit the call button, and after a few moments the screen was filled by an unmasked quarian woman with silver quills falling down just past her auditory receptor pads.


    Tiffany gave a start, but quickly recovered her poise. A live one looks just as striking, but so melancholic, like they’re haunted. “Good afternoon. I need to speak with Mr. Volinski, can you put him on?”

    “Who is this?”

    “Doctor Tiffany Minsta. A pleasure to meet you, Miss…?”

    “Nirin’Ptrun vas Cavaleiro Pálido,” the quarian said as she leafed through a datapad, “Hmm… you’re not coming up in the system…”

    Tiffany snorted. “I can see him on the bed behind you.”

    Said bed-layer let out a bark of laughter as he stood up and walked over to the desk. “Let her be, Niri, it’s fine.”

    Nirin huffed in disappointment as she left for the kitchenette. The man sat down in front of the display. His skin was tan with raised scars covering his bare chest, slightly warping the intricate family insignia tattooed over his heart. His arms were black and mechanical, both grafted into his shoulders.

    Estêvão Volinski wore an amused grin as he took in her image. “What can I do for you, milady?”

    “I’ve finished the report on the SIU, Mr. Volinski.”

    “Fun subject, but don’t call me ‘Mr. Volinski,’ I’m not my dad,” Volinski said.

    “It’s a minor noble name, you should be proud.”

    “Babcia would disagree. She wanted my mother executed and me aborted when my father eloped. Can’t sully the House with Brazilian trash, what would the Andersons think,” Volinski said as he made a face.

    “Heads of Houses have to put the family first; it can be a brutal thing sometimes.” She glanced at something off-screen before turning back to him. “I knew I’d have to study them at some point, and I’d heard stories – mostly rumours and horror tales, really – but I… I’ve never seen something so deliberately monstrous. They choose to be like that. They choose to delight in defiling the minds and bodies of the people they target. I can understand most of their conventional objectives, but the doctrinal philosophy behind it is something alien. I never expected to see what I saw.”

    “Never, huh?” Volinski looked her up and down, eyes twinkling with curiosity. “Just how long have you been with Cerberus, exactly?”

    “In some ways, my entire life. In others, just under two years.”

    “…And this was your assignment?” Volinski asked, dumbfounded. Then came a sound, quiet and slow which grew into wild and uncontrolled laughter. “Cristo… patrão must hate your fucking guts. The SIU is too brutal for someone from outside o Cachorro, there’s a reason we’re all broken and fucked up.”

    “I know the Illusive Man gave me this assignment on purpose. Everything he does has a purpose.” She gave a wry smile. “You think he’s trying to break me into the Dog the hard way?”

    “I think you and your father are a lot less significant to him than you think. No one joins o Cachorro without reason, and no one gets into the inner circle without patrão having a use for them. It can be easy to assume you’re more important than you really are, patrão’s feelings and motives have always been opaque, best remember that,” Volinski said as he lit up a cigarillo.

    Tiffany shrugged. “Quite possibly. What ultimately matters is that we all contribute to the defence and liberation of our species. Other concerns are secondary.”

    “True. So, the reason you called? I’m sure you read the testimonial I provided.”

    “I did. I also covered all the primary source materials – audio, video, haptic feedback, written – and also conducted qualitative interviews with certain people. But I’ve seen the worst of it, like you have. Their ‘psychological operations,’ the resonance theory of violence, the crackdowns on slave revolts…” the words became caught in her throat.

    “Mm. Having nightmares, Your Grace?”

    The words were snide, but Tiffany recognized an underlying softness. “How do you deal with it? The assembly-line horror of all this? How do you cope with the things you see on a daily basis?”

    “I fuck… and drink… and smoke and gamble and kill squints. Best thing for getting over the daily routine. But when I see something really fucked up? …I book a night or two at Port Hanshan and let the pharma companies blow out my mind,” Volinski explained as he took a drag off of his cannabis laced cigarillo, “I’m not a machine, I’m a man, I’m human. Our minds weren’t made to deal with this shit; it breaks you just by knowing about it… we’re a lot more fragile than we like to think.”

    “So that’s it? You just drown yourself in vices to numb the pain?”

    “About all I can do at this point, but I know what really keeps me grounded. It’s those I care for – Niri and Pam – without them I’d’ve nommed a bullet years ago. So reach out to your friends, if you’ve got any,” Volinski said, mumbling the last part under his breath before clearing his throat, “Otherwise, talk to Chambers… I spoke to her myself after I was done with the report. Bitch is crazy, but she’s the best around. Probably uses creepy alien juju to get into your head, but it works.”

    “I already reached out to her, actually. It was helpful… but I think I’ll need to talk to her again.”

    “Sure, and if she can’t help, let me know. I got a good supplier on Noveria, someone trustworthy.”

    Tiffany gave a wry smile at the offer. “…Thanks, but I doubt my father would approve. And I don’t need MDMA to dance the heels off of any clown in the galaxy.”

    Volinski let out a soft chuckle at that. “Cope in your own way, daddy’s girl, but if that doesn’t work… give me call.”

    Then the connection was severed and Tiffany was swallowed by the shadows of her room. She let out a sigh and reached for a half-empty bottle of icewine. She didn’t even bother pouring it into a glass this time.

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