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Calibrations 101

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            Garrus looked smug as he stood in front of the newly-installed Thanix canons in the Battery, his arms crossed in a manner that reminded Shepard of an instructor she’d had back in N7’s biotic training division. Parker had been his name, and Shepard distinctly remembered the bastard’s upturned lip and cocked brow every time he asked a question of his recruits and got silence in return. It was the “you-have-to-be-kidding-me-I’m-the-smartest-asshole-in-the-room” look. As much as she respected Garrus, the resemblance to Parker was too close for comfort; especially considering he was now the instructor for the entire crew for “Calibrations 101.”

            “Really? No one can tell me the first thing you need to do to determine if your weapon is properly calibrated?” he said again, scanning the two rows of folding chairs set up adjacent to the Thanix. Shepard glanced to her left, resisting the urge to snort as most of the crew shifted uncomfortably in their chairs, looking very much like they did not want to be in the room at the moment. Shepard couldn’t really blame them. As much as she’d agreed that Miranda had a point when it came to learning others’ specializations, she hadn’t been exactly thrilled at her XO’s suggestion that everyone was to teach the rest of the crew the basics of his or her specialty skill in lecture-style “team building” classes. Shepard had tried to intervene, but unfortunately hadn’t been able to come with an alternative or a rebuttal to “what if we’re separated when we take down the collectors and we need to survive with limited teamwork?”

            Garrus had naturally been the first to volunteer to play teacher.

            Shepard couldn’t tell if it was Miranda or Garrus who was getting the most stink-eyes.

            “Tali, I’m surprised it wasn’t the first thing out of your mouth,” Garrus said, putting his hands on his hips as he zeroed in on Tali in the front row. The quarian fiddled with her shotgun absently, mask tilted towards Garrus but Shepard had a feeling Tali was doing her best to look anywhere but the turian’s face. Tali shrugged her shoulders, letting out a string of stutters.

            “I erm- well, I… I usually fire a test shot in the firing range before a mission and adjust accordingly,” she managed, earning a head shake from Garrus.

            “Firing without checking your calibration settings, even in a training facility is an easy way to get your fingers blown off,” he tsked, and Shepard wondered how the hell he even made that sound with his mandibles. Maybe there was a turian equivalent of the noise and her translator made it sound like a tsk? Shepard noticed Tali dropping her head and her grip on her shotgun tighten. She probably was rolling her eyes, and Shepard wished briefly she had a mask she could make faces under. Though that didn’t seem to be stopping Jack from alternating death glares between the back of Miranda’s head and the center of Garrus’ forehead.

            Zaeed snorted, leaning back in his chair as he cradled “Jessie” close to his chest. “I sure as shit never had to ‘calibrate’ this ol’ girl. When you’ve got the right gun, all it needs is a regular polish an’ proper storage,” he drawled. Jacob stifled a chuckle. Garrus, however, shot the former Mercenary a pointed look.

            “Lack of calibration is probably why ‘Jessie’ looks a little ragged there,” he said, gesturing in Zaeed’s direction. “I’m surprised she’s lasted this long, the barrel’s barely hanging on as is.”

            “Keep your mouth shut about my Jessie, Vakarian.”

            “Boys,” Shepard interjected, sitting up a bit straighter. As annoyed as she was right now, she didn’t need a knock-down, drag-out fight in the Battery between a Merc and Archangel. Jack was probably already plotting Miranda’s demise for suggesting the whole class idea, and two migraines definitely didn’t sound like a fun week. Garrus cleared his throat and looked away and Zaeed leaned back in his chair again, “hmph”-ing. Garrus might’ve been teaching, but everyone needed to know that she was still in charge.

            “The proper calibration protocol is entirely dependent on the weapon class and model, Officer Vakarian,” Legion piped up, the plates around its ‘eye’ flaring up with interest. Garrus looked up and nodded excitedly at the geth and Shepard had to stifle the urge to laugh out loud. Legion was front and center with its assault rifle laid carefully across its lap, sitting up straight like a model student. Tali inclined her head towards Legion, most likely shooting the platform a look that could kill if her eyes were visible. The whole thing was hilarious, especially taking into account that the geth had “complained” that it already had extensive weapons knowledge and such classes were unnecessary for a synthetic. Shepard had to point out that it was a crew morale-boosting exercise that organics would appreciate, and perhaps Legion could learn something from later classes on more ‘organic’ topics, and it had fallen silent. After a few seconds, it chimed that it had formed a consensus that it would show up to the classes, though it was skeptical that it would learn anything of use. Though it was interested to see if it could measure just how much “morale” would boost from each class.

            Shepard didn’t have the capacity to wonder how the hell she got into these messes.

            “That’s right, Legion. Can you tell me what the first step is for the assault rifle you have?” Garrus asked, and Legion immediately rattled off the valves and knobs to check if the alignment was properly calibrated. Shepard zoned out, glancing around the room again. Thane was paying polite attention, turning his sniper rifle over in his hands, though occasionally his eyes would do the glazed over thing and she’d hear him muttering to himself about a memory. The last one left him looking a bit sad, so she assumed it was another memory of Irikah. She made a mental note to check on him later.

            Grunt on the other hand wasn’t paying attention at all, playing at lining up shots at the light above his head as he leaned back in his chair. It was only a matter of time before he toppled over into Joker’s chair, which was a catastrophe waiting to happen but a sick part of her brain thought it might be hilarious to watch a two-ton Krogan get stuck on his back like a turtle. Joker must’ve had the same catastrophic thought, though, because each time Grunt leaned back, her pilot scooted his chair a little closer to Kasumi, who seemed to be looking around the room and wondering if she could sneak her way out. Her tactical cloak blinked in and out, but Garrus would cough each time Kasumi ‘disappeared’ and she’d reappear with a sigh.

            “Perhaps he’d be a better teacher if he came across a little less enthusiastically,” Chakwas murmured as she leaned over towards Shepard. She snickered softly and nodded, though she shushed Chakwas when Garrus gave her a pointed look. She should be paying attention, she really should, setting an example for the crew about cooperation and teamwork and learning from one another, but the whole situation was just so… three ring circus. In front of her, Mordin and Samara were chattering quietly about their weapons and God knows what else, while Miranda kept shooting them looks, trying to get them to be quiet. Zaeed and Jacob had gotten into another quiet discussion about weapons and names and Tali, like Joker, kept scooting away from Grunt’s precariously perched chair next to her so she wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire if he actually fell. By this point, it was only Legion answering any of Garrus’ questions, which seemed to be tearing the turian between frustration and fascination of the geth’s knowledge of each weapon class and its calibration status.

            Shepard figured she should say something, or maybe clear her throat to help poor Garrus out and get everyone’s attention again. But when she opened her mouth, Jack took the opportunity to send a small bolt of what appeared to be a ‘pull’ in the general direction of Miranda’s backside. Miranda was never one to be caught off-guard and threw up a shield, which the pulse bounced off of and into Legion. The geth sputtered, raising its eye-plates as it sparked from the unexpected energy discharge, causing what appeared to Shepard to be a chain reaction: Thane and Kasumi both disappeared simultaneously, Zaeed and Jacob dove out of the way, leaving Legion’s sparks only one place to go: Grunt’s armor. The Krogan, who was still tipped back in his chair, let out a yelp and like Shepard predicted, toppled over onto his back, managing to miss Joker’s chair by mere inches, though the shock of the impact sent Joker to the floor with a shriek. Grunt’s shotgun hit the ground and discharged with a BOOM, sending the bullet into the light above his head.

            By this point, Tali was running out of the way, Garrus dove under the Thanix and Shepard was on her feet with Samara, Mordin and Chakwas, covering their heads from the sparks raining down from the broken light. Except for Legion’s buzzing noises as it reset from the shock and the hissing noise of the sparks raining down onto Grunt’s (definitely) stuck form, the room was silent.

            “Jack, what the hell?” Garrus shouted as he clamored out from underneath the Thanix, sounding positively murderous.

            “Come off it, Vakarian. Wasn’t aiming for you,” Jack said flippantly, earning a glare from Miranda.

            “Honestly, that was completely unnecessary. You could have gotten us all killed.”

            “I wasn’t the one who brought a loaded weapon to a calibrations class!” Jack yelled, nudging Grunt none-too-gently with her foot. Garrus was also glowering at the krogan, who for his part, still managed to shoot Garrus a mischievous look despite being stuck on his back hump.

            “Oops.”

            “Ow, think I shattered my pelvis,” Joker groaned.

            Shepard sighed, “I think class is dismissed.”