Update time! I know it's short and kinda clipped, but enjoy. I've been super busy lately with school, but I'll try and get some updates. My ultimate goal is to finish this by the time I graduate in May.
UPDATE: Added a few more sentences to lead into the next chapter.
Chapter inspired by Cage the Elephant's In One Ear.
In One Ear
To say that the Citadel was a war zone would be pretty accurate. Before they had even been given time to sufficeiently mourn Mordin's death, the Salarian government had contacted Shepard.
Whatever they had told her, it caused her frowns to deepen and order a direct course to the Citadel. Now, as they ducked behind the same piece of cover, Garrus leaned close to Shepard, raising his voice to be heard over the racket of battle. "So remind me why we're here?"
Leaning close, Shepard called back. "The Salarian counselor has uncovered information that's worrying. If this information is correct, it implicates Udina in some shady money transfers. I was supposed to meet with him here, but as you can see…"
A rocket streaked overhead, screaming shrilly as it passed. The brunette ducked, even though she was behind cover. Garrus leaned close, attempting to shield her with his body. "Things have gone a little sideways. So we find the Salarian counselor?"
"That was the plan, but…" She paused to pop up over cover and spatter a Cerberus soldier with fire. "…Kaidan is still here. And Thane. We need to find them too. But first things first, we need to get down this hall to the Salarian."
The thought of Thane caused a surge of jealousy to wrap around Garrus' stomach before he pushed it aside. Shepard had chosen him, nobody else. Just him. He pushed the thought from his mind as Shepard cursed softly. "Shit, left my sniper back on the Normandy."
Now this surprised him. Garrus hadn't seen Shepard use a sniper rifle in…well, years. But before he could move she had taken his beloved rifle from his hands and was propping herself over the box. "Cover me!"
The rifle coughed a round; sending a Cerberus agent spinning across the hall and into a wall, blood oozing out onto the stark white armor. In the back of his mind, Garrus couldn't help but recall that Shepard was once upon a time a straight shooting soldier, not the biotic hybrid she was now. She was at home with any sort of gun you cared to give her.
Ahead of them, Liara cried out. "Mech!"
Without thinking, Garrus wrapped an arm around Shepard's waist and pulled back, bullets striking the place where they had been not seconds before. In the second that they were down, Garrus paused, his arm still tight around Shepard's waist. He knew she was slim, but she seemed…smaller than before. Had she been losing weight?
No time to really assess that situation as Shepard tossed the rifle back to him, unslinging her heavy pistol. "We do NOT have time for this! Take it down!"
Under their combined might the mech fell, it's great thundering steps stopped short. Even so, Garrus had to stare at Shepard, looking for some sign that he was right. Her face did look a little thinner, but nothing that would be unusual. Now worry began to set in. Was she still eating? Had the stress begun to get to her? Even as they charged up and around the office area where the Salarian counselor was supposed to be, the blue-eyed Turian watched his bond mate closely.
Liara, grabbed at Shepard's arm. "There! Look, Shepard!"
Below, the Salarian counselor's cloaking device had deactivated, revealing him as he crawled out from beneath a desk. Relief was short lived, however, as another figure dropped from above to reveal himself. From above, Shepard could tell he was not friendly, but this lithe assassin cloaked in black wielded a blade, as well as a handful of biotic energy that was squarely aimed at the counselor.
Ocean blue eyes wide, Shepard turned, her razor sharp mind already working furiously. No time to go down the stairs, the counselor would be dead already. Couldn't take him out from up here, too much room for error. Only one option.
Glass shattered and Shepard was vaulting over the ledge before Garrus could move to stop her. Pistol drawn and ready, she glared at Cerberus' assassin. "Don't even think about it!"
"Shepard, he's going to kill us all!" Hissed the counselor. Garrus and Liara were already hurrying down the stairs, weapons drawn and trained on the raven-haired assassin.
She circled towards the assassin, who in turn circled so that both had the counselor between them. "That remains to be seen."
While the counselor hissed more words at Shepard, Garrus felt his heart thundering. This was no ordinary soldier, he could tell that at a glance. This man had implants and armor that looked far more advanced than any other Cerberus grunt. This was a man trained for one purpose only: to kill. And he was in a position to take Shepard.
It was this thought that propelled him out into the open, as close to Shepard as he dared. Yet his Turian instincts told him that it wouldn't be close enough if the assassin chose to make a move.
"Three on one pal," Called the brunette spectre, "It's over."
For the first time, the assassin spoke, his voice dripping with silky smooth menace. "No…now it's fun."
Time slowed for an instant. The Salarian counselor cowered, shielding his face. Shepard's finger tightened on the trigger. Garrus tensed his legs, ready to move and snatch Shepard to safety. Liara almost hummed with biotic energy.
And then there was the mechanical clack of a fourth gun unfolding.
Thane Krios stood behind the Cerberus assassin, dark eyes unreadable, his brow furrowed as though a storm was clouding over it. And that's when they moved.
It was lightning fast. First a block from Cerberus, then a retaliation from Thane. A block, then a counter-attack. A shot at the face, then a retaliatory one to the ribs. Unable to take their eyes off the battle, Shepard and Garrus ushered the counselor away from the fight and towards Liara's protective barrier.
A throw, followed by a roll and shots fired by Thane into…nothing. The other assassin had vanished. But not for long. He reappeared off to Thane's left, removing the blade from his back. Lightning fast, they moved, almost like a dance. More shots fired, he came in with the sword. Thane ducked, knocking it aside, responding with a swift spinning kick to the face and then a powerful biotic backhand that sent the other assassin sprawling.
They stared at each other from a ways away, each man sizing the other up. Thane reloaded his pistol before charging. In the instant it took for them to close the distance, Garrus felt his stomach drop.
The blade had slid straight through Thane, the sickly sucking sound it made as it pulled out more of a punctuation to the fight.
"THANE!" Shepard's voice was shrill, almost a shriek as she moved, her pistol cracking. As she chased the assassin down the stairs, the drell rose, following her, his own gun joining hers.
She paused, torn. On one hand, she couldn't just leave Thane to bleed out. But on the other…. "I have time. Catch him."
Thane's voice was soft, but strong enough. It was all she needed. Shepard opened up a car and stared at Garrus. "Get in. We're going driving."
The Turian swallowed and glanced at Liara. If Shepard was a crazy driver on a good day, then this was not going to be a pleasant ride.
Within the hour, it was over. Shepard was covered in blood, smoke, sweat, and what appeared to be motor oil, but it was over. Udina lay dead on the tarmac, the counselors shuffled off to safe haven. Even Kaidan was safe. By all accounts, she should have felt good.
And yet, the human only felt nauseous.
The thought of Thane was still present in her mind and the image of the black clad Cerberus assassin was swimming behind her eyeballs. Liara drew level, snapping her out of her thoughts of murderous revenge.
"Udina…if I wasn't here to see it…" She shook her head slowly. "I don't think I would have believed it."
Nodding slowly, the brunette felt detatched. "Yeah…I never particularly liked him, but still…"
She trailed off, mind slowly returning to Thane. He had been taken back to the hospital, but Shepard had a feeling that the wound was worse than anyone was telling her. A ways away, Garrus was discussing things with the Turian counselor in a low voice, but he kept giving her little sidelong glances, worry evident in his eyes.
Slowly, Shepard moved off and paused, throwing Garrus a glance. As she moved off, the Turian disengaged himself from the counselor to follow after his bond mate. Catching up with her, he laid a hand on her shoulder. "Shep, are you going to be okay?"
"I don't know." She murmured, shaking almost imperceptibly beneath Garrus' hand. "I mean, I should be sad about Udina, but I just…I can't feel sad about him."
After a moment, she glanced up at him. "Thane's at the hospital. I need to go see him."
A pang shot through Garrus' chest. His first thought was of Thane's attraction to Shepard, but then Garrus stopped himself. He'd seen Thane's wound. Both Garrus and Shepard knew that without some serious luck, Thane's situation wasn't good.
Leaning forward, Garrus pressed his forehead swiftly against Shepard's. "Go. I'll be here waiting for you."