It was far too quiet and peaceful compared to what we’d seen on the screen only minutes before arriving. Once we had boots on the ground, the three of us moved quickly into cover, waiting for what I thought would be the inevitable assault. Surely someone would have seen our ship come in?
But no, no-one came to greet us, so after assessing our position, we headed off towards the dig sit. It didn’t take long to find the first victims of the fight. But it wasn’t just the fact they were dead, they’d been charred until they were almost unrecognisable. Jenkins immediately removed his helmet and the breakfast he’d eaten came up. Even Alenko looked queasy. I crouched down, trying to breathe through my mouth. “The fire was intense but burned out quickly,” I stated.
“Any idea who did it?” Alenko asked.
“None. But we’ll find out soon enough.”
Making sure Jenkins was okay, we moved out, eventually following a path that would lead us through part of the colony, the dig site located down a tramway. Approaching a barren field, I gestured to stop and took a knee. Perfect place for an ambush though all appeared quiet. I checked near and the horizon for any signs of hostiles. Seeing and sensing nothing, I gestured for Jenkins to run to the next piece of cover.
The bastards were waiting. He’d taken maybe a dozen steps when they appeared from cover and fired. Bullets ripped through the young Corporal, Alenko and I rising and firing back. Jenkins hit the deck as we managed to grab him with one hand, firing with our other. Sitting him back against the rock, Alenko and I stood up and dealt with what looked like drones. A few bullets made both of them blow up, immediately returning to Jenkins side.
His eyes were open but the life was already fading. I grabbed his hand as Alenko started to work the medi-gel, but I’d already seen this far too often. “Alenko,” I whispered. The Lieutenant looked up and I shook my head. “Just give him something for the pain,” I added softly.
I held his hand until I felt it weaken. He whispered something, though I didn’t hear quite what it was. He managed to lift his head a final time, looking up at the sky, before he released a sigh and his body sagged, his eyes now lifeless. He was the first I’d ever lost under my command. I’d been on the frontlines around the galaxy but had always been subordinate to someone else. My first day on the ground, in charge, and I’d already lost a soldier.
I closed his eyes with my fingers and laid him down on the ground, reporting to the Normandy. They would pick up his body while Alenko and I moved forward. I was now pissed off, but not stupid to just go rushing forward blindly because I was angry. That’s when mistakes are made.
We checked the drones we’d taken down. Definitely not Alliance, the technology foreign to my eyes. Alenko didn’t know either. We moved on, more of those drones appearing in the distance. Alenko and I split into cover and returned fire. The good thing for us is that they simply hovered in the air, so were relatively easy to take down. Their rate of fire was concerning though, having to time when we rose out of cover to shoot.
Cresting a hill, I pointed out the dig site was ahead. It looked abandoned from where we were standing, and I could see no sign of any sort of Prothean beacon. Alenko pointed as I heard gunfire. “Look, Shepard! One of ours!”
I’d never seen a geth before, though heard a lot about them and we’d certainly learned of them over the years. And she was definitely being chased by geth. A few of them in fact. What the fuck are geth doing on Eden Prime? I didn’t vocalise that thought, simply moving with Alenko as we fired at the geth. That distracted most of them, letting the soldier get into cover. Firing from two directions, the geth didn’t fall easily but Alenko certainly proved he had some smart, using some tech abilities to help overheat weapons or disable shields, leaving them as easier pickings.
Approaching the soldier as they stood out of cover, they removed their helmet to reveal it was a woman. Brunette hair and rather lovely brown eyes when they met mine. She was no shrinking violet though. This woman was a soldier, through and through. If you are one, you recognise one in return. Thing is, women serving in the military was normal but their numbers were still fewer than men so it could still be a surprise at times, which is why it was a slight surprise. “Who are you?” I asked.
“Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams of the 212, sir,” she replied, saluting, I assume recognising the armour. “You are?”
“Commander Shepard, and this is Lieutenant Alenko. We’re from the Normandy.”
“Commander Shep…? What are you doing here, sir?”
“We’re here to collect that Prothean beacon the scientists dug up. What’s going on here? What are geth doing on Eden Prime?”
“Must be about the beacon, sir.”
“And that ship we saw?”
“No idea, sir. Been too busy fighting off geth to worry about anything else… er, sir.”
I waved that away. “Well, we’re here for the beacon and now we’re investigating what’s going on here. Where’s the rest of your unit?” She grimaced, so I gestured for her not to answer. “Come with us, Chief. We could use your help.”
The geth knew we were now coming as, the closer we came to the dig site, the more that seemed to come towards us. I knew enough about geth to know what they were, but I had no idea how they worked, just knowing they were AI and on some sort of neural network. The geth we fought that day? Pretty fucking dumb, if you ask me. Didn’t seem to know what the word ‘cover’ was, for example. Ashley and I lit them up with our rifles as Alenko performed tech attacks, generally aimed at weapons and shields. The geth replied in kind, my shields taking a hit more than once, necessitating either a small retreat or a quick jump into cover.
Making it to the dig site, there was no sign of any beacon, Ashley adamant it had been there though obviously been removed. Before we could move on, Nihlus finally got in contact.
“Commander Shepard, copy?”
“I read you, Nihlus.”
“Change of plans. No sign of any beacon though have seen a few geth around. There’s a small spaceport ahead that I’m going to scout out. What’s your location?”
“We’re at the dig site. Beacon isn’t here either.”
“Okay, I’ll meet you at the spaceport. It’s not far from your position. Fifteen-minute walk maximum. Once you get here, we’ll move together.”
“Copy. Moving out now.”
We’d barely left the dig site when we came across these strange… things on the ground. Looked like dragon’s teeth. But it was the things that were on them that startled the three of us. “They used to be human,” Ashely muttered as the husk like creatures converged on us. They appeared to be as dumb as the geth that just attacked us, as they came straight for us, despite not being armed. But their bodies were lined with all manner of tech, so I suggested we make sure they don’t come too close, just in case.
“What the fuck is going on here?” Ashley asked, I don’t think expecting a response from either of us. I had a feeling she’d already been through some shit.
“No idea. This was meant to be a simple pick up job.”
The geth were definitely aware of our presence, as we met plenty of them as we moved out. Thankfully there was plenty of cover, and Ashley proved to be a rather competent soldier, and a definite crack shot with her rifle. As for Alenko, he definitely proved his biotic strengths, generally dragging or lifting geth out of cover, leaving them as easy pickings for us.
We didn’t see too many bodies around, though it was concerning that the entire colony felt deserted. That lasted until we found a few shacks that looked to be offices. Searching through them, we finally found some people, two of them appearing to be scientists. Dr. Warren was the lead archaeologist on the dig site. She assumed most of the workers had either fled for their lives or been killed, as had the marines which had been stationed near the dig site.
“The 232,” Ashley said quietly, “Good men.”
Otherwise, she’d bunkered down in the shack with her assistant, keeping the door locked and the shack otherwise dark. As for the beacon, she told us that it had only been moved to the spaceport that morning. I did ask about the beacon, wondering why the geth were attacking. The only thing she could tell me explicitly was that the beacon was part of a galaxy wide communications network. But other than that, she simply hadn’t had the time to research it.
Heading out of the shack, we locked the door, telling her to stay put until she received the all clear. We moved out and I wasn’t the only one to hear the gunshot echo around. We shared a glance and started to jog ahead. Heading down an incline, we came to a stop as an enormous ship was taking off in the distance. It looked like no ship we’d seen before.
“Hang on, that looks like…” I started to say.
“What?” Alenko asked.
“The video feed we got from the planet. I swear it looks like the same ship.”
“Think it’s a geth ship?” Ashley wondered.
“No idea. I’ve never seen one of their ships before.”
Moving on, as that lone gunshot still troubled me, the geth were now dug in and waiting for us. Kaidan was exerting himself with his biotics, noticing the sweat on his face. He saw me look and nodded he was okay. I’d worked with biotics before but only briefly. Most of the time, they were in their own units. Anyway, the geth were not a major issue to deal with, the husks certainly tried to swarm us, Kaidan using his biotics to keep them back, Ashley and I lighting them up with rifle fire. It was fairly easy to figure out why the colony was now practically deserted. Whatever the geth were doing to them, it wasn’t pretty and stripped them of their humanity.
We found a few more survivors in hiding, all of them farmers who had taken cover during the attack. They couldn’t tell us much but Alenko recognised they were being rather shifty. It didn’t take much pressure to get them to admit to smuggling, going so far as to give us the name of their contact at the nearby port. They handed over what they had, considering all they were going to do was hide.
Arriving at the port, we found the body of Nihlus. Poor bastard had been shot in the back of the head. Didn’t stand a chance. Didn’t have his weapon out either. “Executed,” I muttered as I crouched over the body.
There was a clatter of cases nearby, the three of us holding up our weapons, ordering whoever it was to come out. A frightened dock-worker appeared, introducing himself as Powell, the name given to us by the farmers. We played good cop, bad cop, accusing him of killing Nihlus. He proved very co-operative after that, telling us what happened. “Another turian by the name of Saren killed him,” he said.
“Saren?” I asked. Name meant nothing to me.
“Yes, Saren. The dead turian…”
“Yeah, Nihlus, he seemed to know him as he relaxed upon meeting him. Turned his back then ‘Bam!’, Saren just shot him in cold blood. Took off towards that big ship straight away.”
There was nothing we could do about Nihlus, simply reporting it into the Normandy before moving out. The train that would take us to the beacon lay ahead. Between that and us were even more geth. Used to fighting them by now, Alenko took care of their shields and weapons, Ashley and I simply shot them. We took our time and were careful as, if Saren had departed, then I assumed he hadn’t taken the beacon. I didn’t want to end up dead either.
The geth seemed to throw everything at us to prevent us making it to the train but, somehow, the three of us made it there unscathed, only the occasional shield loss or overheating weapon slowing us down. Kaidan now looked exhausted from his biotic use, making sure he was okay, suggesting he just stick to his tech attacks as I had a feeling we’d simply be dealing with geth going forward.
How we made it through the next ten or so minutes, I’m still not sure. I thought we’d fought a number of geth earlier. It was nothing compared to those waiting for us. Made me glad, with all the bullets we fired, that we basically had limitless ammo, the only thing preventing continuous fire being overheating. A simple Avenger, which Ashley and I had, needed care when firing. There were other, better weapons, though far more expensive, that could near enough be fired constantly, with the right modifications.
In addition to geth, someone, and I could only assume it was Saren, had laid explosives, as we stumbled over the first one, Kaidan managed to defuse it, and we then had around five minutes to find the others. That sucked completed, the three of us splitting up to find them. Thankfully, we did find all four, defusing the last one with only a minute to go. As we were doing that, the geth continued to press, forcing them back through sheer force of will, and the fact I would not let myself be killed by a bloody robot.
Bombs defused, we proceeded with caution, but we’d managed to kill all the geth, and bonus, we’d located the beacon. I radioed into the Normandy, letting them know our position and that the beacon was now secured. While I was doing that, Ashley and Kaidan were obviously fascinated by it. Kaidan approached me as Ashley stepped close. I didn’t even hear myself shout as she was suddenly lifted into the air. Pushing Kaidan out of the way, I grabbed Ashley and pushed her out of the way. Then I was suddenly in the beacon’s grasp, feeling myself lifted high and my mind filled with all manner of horrific images. It kept going and going until I passed out, not even feeling my body drop to the ground like a stone.
I groaned as I opened my eyes. I had a throbbing headache and really needed a drink of water. A face appeared above me. “You’re awake,” Doctor Chakwas stated.
“What happened?” I wondered.
“You’ve been out cold for a few hours. I was told something about contact with a beacon and, well, it didn’t sound very good. Were you dreaming?”
I ran a hand down my face. “More like nightmares. Just… horrific images and scenes. Can’t quite figure it all out. Head’s pounding though.”
“Hmm. The tests I ran while you were asleep suggested something was up.”
She ran a few tests on me now that I was awake before giving me a couple of tablets and a glass of water to swallow. Ashley and Kaidan were both there. It was nice they worried, explaining that they carried me back to the ship and to the med-bay. After that, Anderson did walk in to have a proper debrief. Chakwas was going to argue that I was her patient but I said it was fine now that I was awake. After asking how I was, after I told him I was basically fine, he asked for privacy before he gave me the rundown of everything that happened. Nihlus dead. The beacon had exploded after my contact with it. The colony was practically wiped out. The Alliance were send in ships to rescue those that did survive. All in all, it was an absolute clusterfuck.
“Chief Williams is on board now?” I asked.
“Aye, she is. I’ve had her reassigned to the Normandy for the time being.”
“Good choice. She’s one hell of a soldier. Showed it in our brief time together already.”
We walked into his office across the mess, taking a seat at his desk after he closed the door. “I’ll be honest with you, Shepard, the Council will want answers about what went on. The geth invading will certainly raise plenty of questions.”
“Reckon they’ll try and pin the blame on me?”
“Perhaps, but I have your back in that case, Shepard. You did a damned fine job and, quite frankly, from what I was told, the beacon damn near nearly killed you. You eliminated the geth presence. Helped a few survivors. And managed to live through whatever that beacon did. So, in my eyes, you did your job and you did it well. Elements outside our control are to blame. There’s one other thing that concerns me, though, and the Council… well… It’s Saren, the other turian mentioned.”
“What’s the problem?”
Anderson sighed, and I figured it was going to be bad news. “He’s a Spectre, Shepard. One of the very best. A living legend in some parts. Any shithole assignment that needed doing, he’d be given it and he’d get it done. But the concern is, if he’s now allied with the geth, he’s gone rogue. And if he has done that, it’s trouble. He hates humans.” Could have asked why, but I didn’t think it really mattered. “He was clearly after the beacon, that’s what I do know, I just don’t know why. You have any ideas?”
Scratching my chin, I leaned back in my chair. “Just before I passed out, I had some sort of… vision, I guess.”
“What sort of vision?” he asked, definitely curious as to what I’d seen.
“I saw synthetics. Maybe the geth, but I’m not sure. It’s all kind of scrambled in my head. But they were slaughtering people. Butchering them. I’ll be honest, it was horrific. Just endless blood and guts. And the noise… Chilling to the core.”
“We need to report this to the Council, Shepard.”
“What, that I had a bad dream?” I wasn’t being sarcastic. I figured the Council would laugh us out of the room if we went to them because of a simple vision.
“We don’t know what was on that beacon, Shepard. All we do know is that Saren took it. And I know Saren.” I was going to ask how, but that could be later. It was clear Anderson didn’t like him though, took what happened as a personal affront. “I know his reputation and the fact he’s a danger, not only to humans, but perhaps now the galaxy. He believes we’re a blight, a stain to be erased. This attack was an act of war!”
“He’s using the geth as soldiers to fight us?”
“Probably. We’re friendly with the turians now. Hell, they helped design and build this ship. Someone like Saren would hate that sort of co-operation. No, he clearly has designs on what he wants to do with us. Eden Prime is just the start.”
“Let me off the leash, sir.”
He smirked, knowing I’d be eager to pit my wits against someone like him. “It’s not that easy, Shepard. You’re good but, at the moment, he’s better. More importantly, for the moment, he’s still a Spectre. Practically untouchable. We’re going to need the Council on our side before we make any sort of move against him.”
“We should be getting close to the Citadel. Head upstairs in a while and have Joker bring the ship into dock. We’ll have to speak with the ambassador about obtaining an audience with the Council.”
I headed back out into the mess, grabbing a bottle of water, still feeling rather parched. Swallowing that down quickly, I grabbed another one before taking a seat with Ashley and Kaidan, both having watched me neck the first bottle. “Thirsty, sir?” Kaidan joked.
“Just a little.” Turning to Ashley, I added, “Congratulations on the… move.”
“Thank you, sir. Will take a little time adjusting to working on a ship.”
“Haven’t been on here long myself. None of us have.”
“You okay?” Kaidan asked.
“I’m fine for the moment. Still have a bit of a headache but that’s okay. Ash?”
“Fine, sir. Just… You know, losing people and all. Never really get used to it. Entire team was wiped out by those… things.”
“You survived, Ash. Now you fight on, carry their legacy, fight in their names.”
That earned a slight smile. “You do the same?”
“In a manner of speaking… You obviously know who I am and what I’ve done.”
“Everyone does, sir,” Alenko stated.
“Goddamned war hero, sir,” Ashley added.
“Didn’t feel like one then. I was just lucky to survive. Lot of people died around me. And…” I trailed off and sighed. They didn’t need telling that I’d lost someone close. “Anyway, just wanted to make sure you guys are alright. Ever been to the Citadel?” Both shook their heads. “Me either. Joker should be bringing us in. Should be a great view from the cockpit.”
We headed up together, passing through the CIC, Anderson standing at the galaxy map, a couple of enlisted crew around him, taking notes. He glanced my way and nodded as we passed. Down the bridge towards the cockpit, Joker recognised us coming.
“Flight Lieutenant Moreau.”
He gave me a look. “Come on, Commander. Everyone else calls me Joker.” I gave him a look and smirked. “Been to the Citadel before?”
“None of us have. That’s why we’re here.”
“Good. Now watch a genius at work as I bring this baby into dock.”
As the Citadel came into view, it was the sort of thing you’d see in sci-fi movies. But the ship that was passed was something else entirely, Alenko informing us it was the Destiny Ascension, flagship of the Citadel fleet. In addition to that, we saw numerous turian, asari and salarian vessels, all of them part of the fleet that protected the Citadel. There were not just warships as there were what seemed like thousands of freighters and transport ships. The Citadel was very much the hub of galactic politics and trade, so I’d read and been told.
Docking completed, Anderson met us after we’d set foot onto the Citadel, leading us towards the Presidium and the ambassador’s office. Soon as we arrived, Udina called the Council and things went downhill rather fast. Still, despite what sounded like a bad tempered conversation, the Council had launched an investigation into our claims and did grant us an audience for later that day, so that was something. But Udina knew they wouldn’t take kindly to accusing Saren of treason.
“Well then the Council can kiss my arse,” I stated.
He just gave me a look. I hate politicians. All they do is talk endlessly. “Settle down, Commander. You’ve already done more than enough to jeopardise your candidacy for the Spectres. The mission on Eden Prime was a chance to prove you can get the job done. Instead, Nihlus is dead and the beacon destroyed.”
“And the causes of that are all in my report,” I practically growled.
“It was Saren, not Shepard,” Anderson added, nearly as pissed off as I was.
“Then you’d better hope C-Sec’s investigation turns up something. Otherwise the Council will use this as an excuse to keep you out of the Spectres.”
I felt like saying ‘I don’t really give a shit’, but that would have been throwing it back in the face of Anderson, as I had a feeling he’d been the one to put my name forward as a candidate. As I stayed silent, Udina requested Anderson to remain, giving the three of us free time for the moment but to meet at the Council Tower in a few hours.
Not knowing the Presidium at all, we eventually started talking to some sort of Virtual Interface called Avina. It, or she, as it was voiced by an asari, gave us directions to get around, and was full of information about the history of the Citadel, the races that inhabited it, and even some history about humanity and our role there. We were still rather new, having only entered the galactic scene in the past few decades. Our first contact was with the turians, which didn’t go well, engaging in a short war with them before the asari made their presence known, and humanity realised that the galaxy was teeming with sentient life, all as advanced, if not even more advanced than our own.
I wouldn’t say the Presidium was exactly teeming with life, but we saw many races, including hanar, which are big, pink.... well, jellyfish looking things. Volus, who seemed to wear suits and spoke in a strange manner. Even saw a quarian or two about. Didn’t know much about them but knew they generally kept to themselves as a people.
Part of me really wanted a beer but I didn’t think that would be a sensible decision prior to the meeting, the three of us eventually ending up at a bar that sold coffee, tea, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages. If I couldn’t have alcohol, coffee was always a great option, making sure it was as strong as possible. Ash enjoyed a tea while Alenko was happy with a juice. We chatted a little bit, not getting too personal, figuring we’d probably be spending a lot of time together, so we could get to know each other slowly. Alenko rubbed his forehead from time to time, admitting that he occasionally suffered really bad headaches because of his implant. Seeing our confused faces, he told us he’d explain it later.
Receiving a message from Anderson saying it was time for the meeting, we headed up the Council Tower, which provided a spectacular view of the Presidium. The amount of greenery and blue water made one wonder, considering it was a space station in the middle of space. It really was teeming with all sort of life. The five arms of the Citadel were called wards, and apparently that was where the excitement really happened, and hoped we’d eventually get a chance to visit each one.
Entering the Council chamber itself, it was obvious this was the centre of galactic power. It was exquisite and surprisingly peaceful. Ahead of us were a pair of turians in a heated discussion. One of them was telling the other, called Garrus, to drop his investigation. The other turian turned and strode away, while Garrus turned towards me and seemed to recognise me immediately.
He offered his hand, which I accepted. “Garrus Vakarian, C-Sec. I was the officer in charge of the investigation into Saren Arterius.”
“I’ve been stonewalled completely, Commander, and that’s being completely honest. As he’s a Spectre, everything he does is classified. I can’t find any hard evidence. I can only wish you luck with the Council. Maybe they’ll listen to you.”
Anderson was waiting for us, whispering the hearing had commenced already. Walking up the stairs, it was easy to see the power structure. The Council was separate and elevated higher than where Udina was currently standing. And it was going about as well as one could hope. The Council dismissed any allegations against Saren, claiming no evidence. To be honest, we didn’t have much, and I still didn’t like mentioning my vision.
The Council were no help and Saren was a smug prick, though he knew he held all the cards. He called out Anderson and then went after me. It was obvious to me that he hated humans. Why? No idea, and to be honest, I didn’t really care. All I knew was that he was responsible for Eden Prime but was going to get away with it. The outcome as expected, Saren claiming ‘justice was served’ before his hologram disappeared.
We remained silent as we walked our way back to Udina’s office. A meeting was quickly held regarding our next step, though the admission of history between Anderson and Saren, which was obvious from the Council meeting, was a slight surprise, Anderson admitting that it was something we’d have to discuss later. For now, Udina made a sensible suggestion that we needed hard evidence, something that would pin it all on Saren.
The best plan was to find the C-Sec investigator, Garrus, see what he knew and if he could help. It seemed everything was being pinned on me, mentioning it seemed Anderson was getting sidetracked. Thankfully, he admitted stepping aside was for the best considering the history he had with Saren, so for now, everything would be on me.
I was given the name of a C-Sec contact, man by the name of Harkin, who would help us locate Garrus. Other than that, he mentioned contacting a volus by the name of Barla Von. In addition to many things, he was apparently someone who worked for the Shadow Broker. I’d heard of the name before. No-one knew who he, she or they were, but they were an information dealer on a galactic scale.
It had been a long day but I figured we could at least talk to this volus then find Garrus before ending the day. Finding our way to Barla Von’s office, trying to converse with him seemed to take forever due to the nature of his breathing. He knew who I was though. Everyone seemed to know I’d arrived. Frankly, it was a little disconcerting.
The good news is that he gave me the requested information. Even better was that he gave it up for free. Apparently Saren had double crossed the Shadow Broker, who was now rather pissed off himself, and eager to see Saren taken down. In addition, Saren had conned another Shadow Broker operative by the name of Fist, who ran Chora’s Den, one of the better clubs on the Presidium. In retaliation, the Shadow Broker had decided to send someone after Fist, a krogan bounty hunter who had obviously gained attention, as the krogan were very rare to see anywhere, and he was currently under arrest at C-Sec.
Thanking the volus, we headed to C-Sec straight away. The krogan wasn’t under arrest, but he was surrounded by half a dozen officers, one of them questioning his motives regarding his time on the Citadel. The krogan straight out told them he was there to settle a matter with Fist, though he wasn’t dumb enough to say he was going to kill him. C-Sec told him to back off and not approach Chora’s Den or Fist. The krogan simply took that as a challenge, but as he hadn’t done anything wrong, they let him go.
The krogan turned to me and seemed interested as to my presence. “Who are you?” the krogan asked.
“Commander Shepard. You?”
“Urdnot Wrex. Shepard… Shepard… Know that name. Something in the news just recently.”
“Yeah, shit hit the fan and now I’m trying to solve it. Don’t mean to intrude, but you mentioned Fist and Chora’s Den. I believe we might be after the same person.”
He looked at me cautiously. Didn’t blame him. “What do you want with him?”
“I need evidence to take down Saren in regards to his attack on Eden Prime. Barla Von pointed me in his direction.”
“I don’t know anything about that. I do know a turian C-Sec officer is working on it though.”
“Perhaps the same turian. If you’re going after Fist, though, I want in.”
I glanced my two colleagues. Ashley kept her face blank, Alenko simply shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, if you want to join us, you can. We’re heading to Chora’s Den to speak with a contact there. Hopefully he’ll point us in the right direction.”
Finding our way to Chora’s, it was obviously a seedier part of the Presidium. The kind of place I’d frequent while on furlough. Aside from the bar and platform where a number of asari and human women were gyrating, the music was banging and there was a smell in the air. The sort of smell you usually find in a strip bar. Sweat. Desperation. Alcohol. All it did was remind me that I actually hadn’t been laid in quite a while. One or two of the dancers certainly took the eye, no shame in running an eye up and down as a waitress walked by with a tray of drinks.
We found Harkin sitting by himself in a dark corner of the club, probably four or five drinks in already. He looked up at us and smirked. I’d dealt with this sort of arsehole before so I glanced at the krogan next to me. “Wrex, if he starts acting up, you have my permission to hit him.” The krogan just mumbled as I took a seat across from Harkin. “I know who you are. You might know who I am. All I’m going to do is ask you a few questions. I would like you to answer them.” He didn’t reply, simply glaring at me, so I asked, “Where’s Garrus?”
That made him laugh. “Oh, yes, that’s right. You’re one of Captain Anderson’s pets, aren’t you? He’s had a hard on for taking down Saren for years now.”
The krogan took one step forward, Harkin holding up his hands. “Whoa, easy now! I know where Garrus is. But, tell me this, has Anderson told you why he has such a problem with Saren? His big secret?"
“No,” I replied cautiously.
He laughed again. “Of course he hasn’t because it’s a fucking embarrassment! The captain used to be a Spectre. Didn’t know that, did you? It was all very hush-hush. First human ever inducted and then he blew it.”
“How or why?”
“The mission he was on with Saren, he screwed it up. Blames Saren for everything, claims he was set up. But, in the end, they kicked him out.”
“If it’s such a secret, how do you know?”
He just scoffed. “You think something like that wouldn’t get out? The Citadel is full of secrets, and C-Sec hears nearly every single one.”
I sighed. “Look, I’m not here about that. Where’s Garrus? Tell me, otherwise…” I trailed off, gesturing to Wrex, who pounded a fist into his palm.
Harkin wasn’t dumb. “He’s been sniffing around Dr. Michel’s office. Think he fancies her or something. Not sure. But you’ll probably find him there.” Harkin then looked at Wrex. “And I know who you are. And I can see the half dozen krogan that have now moved in here. I would suggest you and the Commander don’t start any trouble with Fist.”
Wrex simply grumbled with laughter. I suggested we head after Garrus, though mentioned once outside, that we would return to deal with Fist.
“Places like that make my skin crawl,” Ash stated once outside.
“What? They’re harmless places… Mostly…” I replied.
“Don’t you feel… used, or dirty after visiting one?”
I laughed. “Ash, I could tell you things about what I get up to while on furlough that would probably change your opinion of me quite quickly.”
“Boys on tour?” Alenko asked, obviously rhetorical.
“Ugh, I’ve seen what some of you soldier boys get up to,” Ash muttered.
The med clinic was only a short walk away, though walking into the middle of a gunfight wasn’t how I’d intended to find the doctor. Garrus was in cover, noticing us as we all took out our pistols. The thugs were questioning the doctor about a quarian. The doctor told them what they wanted to hear before noticing our presence. Garrus got off a shot, putting a bullet through the head of one of them, the doctor screaming as one of the others grabbed her. I kept him in sights as the firing continued. Once I was confident, I didn’t hesitate, putting a bullet between his eyes, the doctor being dragged to the floor as well. With her out of the way, we put down the other thugs easily enough.
Helping the doctor up, she was frightened but eager to tell us what she knew. She’d recently treated a quarian on the run, and that the thugs had shown up, being sent by Fist, to find out what she knew and where the quarian had headed. After quickly consoling her, though she insisted she was fine, Garrus suggested she head to C-Sec to report. Garrus then asked if he could help assist bring down Fist and help the investigation. I figured that was a good idea.
“You like her,” Alenko stated as we made our way back to Chora’s.
“The doctor. You like her. Or she likes you. Yeah, definitely like her.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Garrus retorted defensively.
I laughed as Alenko teased him, the turian getting ever more flustered, as I think Alenko was right. The way she’d gone straight to him, and the way she had looked at him… I’ll admit I can’t read turians very well yet, but he was so awkward around her, yeah, he definitely liked her but was clearly clueless as to approaching her.
The chatter subsided the closer we got to Chora’s. The music we had heard thumping, even from outside, had disappeared. The doors were also shut as well. We took up positions by the door, Ash and I take out grenades. “Flash bangs,” I whispered, Ash nodding. Counting down, I opened the door and we threw them in, hearing gunfire erupt before the grenades exploded.
Counting down again, we headed inside and opened fire. Ash, Kaidan and I only had pistols, not expecting to be in a gunfight, Wrex had a shotgun while Garrus was armed with an assault rifle. I won’t say we made short work of the thugs inside, but the most they did to use was cause our shields to falter for a moment. No wounds were taking, and we mopped up the bar area rather quickly. Wrex did deal with the krogan bouncer we’d seen earlier, taking delight in putting a shotgun shell into his face.
Moving deeper into the club, we ran into a couple of armed workers, clearly not the thugs we’d just dealt with. I said if they dropped their weapons and pissed off, they’d live. They gratefully took the deal, even thanking us for letting them go. Wrex gave them a kick up the backside as they passed. We found Fist in the back lounge, where his office also was. The bastard had a couple of turrets, I guess some sort of last stand thing. Alenko took care of those by making them blow up, and I put a bullet into Fist’s leg, causing him to fall down, losing grip of the pistol. He went to grab it, so I shot the ground, forcing his hand away. Wrex then bounded over and grabbed Fist by the collar, dragging him into the middle of the room.
“Don’t kill me. Please!” he begged. Wrex laughed though he didn’t fire, knowing I needed answers.
Crouching down next to Fist, I said, “If you tell me what I need to know, I won’t kill you.”
“Okay, whatever you want.”
“Where’s the quarian?”
“The quarian? Oh, yes, the quarian! I sent her to meet with the Shadow Broker. She would only talk to him directly about whatever she’d discovered.”
“Bullshit. No-one talks to the Shadow Broker directly,” Wrex informed, “Clients only talk to one of his agents.”
“Well, yeah, but she didn’t know that. So I sent her to speak with the ‘Shadow Broker’.”
“Who will she meet instead?” I asked.
He sighed. “She’ll be meeting some assassins instead. I mean, if you move now, you might just make it in time.”
“Shit, that’s just great,” I muttered, rising tall as I got ready to move.
“So, can I go?” he asked.
I looked down at him. “Oh, I said I wouldn’t kill you, Fist. And I don’t break my word.” I paused before adding and gesturing, “Him on the other hand…”
Fist screamed as Wrex aimed his shotgun and fired. It made a right mess of Fist considering Wrex was only a few feet away. Ash and Kaidan looked away while Garrus chuckled. “Harsh, Commander, but fair.”
“Well, I didn’t lie. I didn’t kill him.”
“Thanks, Shepard,” Wrex added, “Most wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.”
I just shrugged before suggesting we get a move on. As we exited, C-Sec were arriving, apparently reports about a gunfight. They recognised who I was and that Garrus was with us. Quickly explaining what we needed, they let us go, though I could see their looks at Wrex. He said nothing, simply following us in silence.
We found the quarian just as she was about to be killed. Ordering to open fire immediately, she was smart enough to take cover, taking out a pistol of her own, as the five of us laid waste to the assassins. The last one stayed in cover and was a real bitch to take down, Alenko eventually using his biotics to drag him out so we could kill him. I had no doubt C-Sec would soon be arriving, so approached the quarian, who definitely remained cautious despite the fact we’d just saved her life.
“I knew that bastard set me up.”
“You okay?” I asked. She was the first quarian I’d ever met.
“I know how to look after myself, not that I don’t appreciate the help.” Ah, she had a feisty side. “Who are you?”
“Commander Shepard. This is Lieutenant Alenko, Chief Williams, Garrus Vakarian and… Wrex.”
“Pleased to meet you all, and while I thank you again, what brought you here?”
“We’re looking for evidence to prove Saren Arterius is a traitor. I’ve been led to believe you might have that evidence.”
“Then I have a chance to repay you for saving my life. But not here. We need to go somewhere safe.”
“We’ll take you to our embassy. We’ll be safe there and the ambassador will definitely want to hear what you have to say.”
That sounded like a plan, so Tali made my little group six, and we headed back to the embassy. It had been one hell of a day so far.