This idea came about as I was brainstorming a comic-relief moment for Part II of "Surrender," and rapidly grew into its own story. The plan is to do this in the style of Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, with Drack narrating the whole time. Subsequent chapters will be much longer; this is just introducing the premise.


Compromised

Prologue: Catachresis

"You want an interesting story, huh? Get comfortable. This one's gonna take a while."

Sara Ryder grinned as Drack leaned back in his chair. He always had great tales to tell—she could think of few better ways to pass the time while the Tempest was in drydock at the Nexus for repairs. And the Vortex had become a favorite hangout for her crew. Good friends, good drinks, good conversation: the makings of a well-deserved, if brief, vacation.

"Met this drell kid once, a decade or so before we left," the old krogan began. "Young—actually, he wasn't much older'n you, Ryder—but I could tell he'd been around the block a few times. You can see it in their eyes, y'know? Anyway, I forget what he said his name was, but I knew it was a fake one right away."

Vetra's mandibles clicked in a turian version of a frown. "How did you know it was fake?" she asked.

"It meant something like 'one who hides in plain sight' in an old drell dialect. He didn't expect anyone to know that. He was funny that way: cold and calculating on the surface, but kind of sentimental and even a bit of a romantic once you got to know him. Smart, too, for a young fellow. Put just enough truth in his cover story to make the lies convincing. But I've been around long enough to know an assassin when I see one. Drell are well suited for it, and the hanar train 'em good."

Ryder whistled. "Wow, a drell assassin. I've heard stories."

"None of them exaggerated," Suvi agreed with a shudder.

"Anyway, his real name…" Drack hesitated, then chuckled. "Hell, the guy's been dead for six hundred years. Doesn't matter if I use it now. His real name was Thane Krios."

Cora nearly choked on her drink. "Krios?"

"You knew him?" asked Liam, eyebrows raised.

"No, but I've heard of him. He's said to be the best assassin in the Milky Way. Valenza was something of a fan." She wiped her mouth, then set her glass down on the napkin. "She used to say that if Thane Krios was after you, you were really high up on the shit list of somebody important. But of course, you never knew he was after you until it was too late. In fact, nobody—except his employers, presumably—could ever definitively tie him to any of his kills. It's not like he left a calling card or anything."

"Unless you consider a snapped neck a 'calling card,'" Drack interjected.

Cora nodded. "Valenza said you could tell it was him if the kill was up-close and personal—and clean. His targets never suffered. But they were always the scum of the galaxy. Nothing petty or political." She lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "There was a rumor that he was behind the One-Hour Massacre on Omega, too, but personally, I doubt it. That wasn't just messy; those batarians were tortured to death. Not Krios's style."

Drack was silent for a moment, then said quietly, "No. That was him."

"And how, pray tell, do you know that?" Peebee challenged, folding her arms.

"Because I was there."