A/N: All right, that's taken care of! So now, we have the set-up for this whole thing, we have where everyone stands on which subjects, and crazy times are had.

So now, we begin MV3 with LotSB. I've been looking forward to this for a while, trust me. You'll see when we get to the Broker. Crazy times will be had for everyone.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's go!


Part I: The Seven Angels With The Seven Plagues

Chapter 1: Intrigue

I put the shaver down, staring at myself in the mirror as I feel my face a little bit. I really don't have enough words to talk about how convenient most razors in this day and age are, especially when you're constantly getting stubble every few weeks or something.

For one thing, their shave is closer than any electric shaver I had ever used back home. Now I can literally make myself smooth as a baby's ass if I want to. That's always a nice thing; my face tends to get really scruffy very, very fast. I smile as my hand works over my jaw. Yeah, I never really did look good with that much stubble on my face, to be honest. We'll have to see where that goes.

In this case, though... I think I'm aiming to give myself something else to look at. I look then to the growing patch of hair that's just starting to take hold under my lower lip. I don't really know why, but it just seemed like a good idea to let this thing grow. I think Jacob referred to it as a soul patch. Something, I dunno. But it's starting to grow out just a little bit.

Eh, I'll look a little different, so we'll have to see what happens with that.

I nod, satisfied with my early morning shave. Well, we're seeing Liara today about that data that TIM sent us, so I should probably look my best.

I hear soft footsteps behind me, and then I feel someone's arms encircle around me. I blink in surprise before seeing through the mirror that the owner of the arms that are around me has three fingers... and is hiding in a suit.

Oh.

I smile, leaning back against Tali. "Good mornin', querida," I start.

"Good morning, my hesh'alan," she replies, her head coming to rest against mine. "Shaving again?"

"Yeah," I comment, the both of us looking at where I'm standing in the mirror. "It's something you do pretty frequently if you're my age, apparently. I've never really seen the point of growing all my facial hair." I glance to the growing soul patch in the mirror. "Well, until recently, anyway."

"I noticed," says Tali. "I was wondering why you were growing it out..."

I shrug. "I guess I just felt like it for no reason," I say. "I don't really know why I want to grow it out, but it just felt right..."

Tali's arms tighten around me before she lets go. "It looks good, I think," she mentions. "I always wondered what a human would look like with facial hair."

I blink, glancing to the side nervously. "So I guess Jacob didn't tip you off about that at all?"

I can just feel the smile radiating from her now. "I guess I just wanted to see what you looked like with that."

I feel my cheeks heat up slightly, and I chuckle nervously. "Well... uh... thanks Tali," I say, giving her a smile. I stand there as I take her hand, kneading it between my fingers before nodding. "We've got a lot of stuff to do."

"Yeah, we do," she says, parting as I grab the brush from the counter. "Do you think Liara will be happy about the Shadow Broker intel?"

"I think so," I say, brushing my hair back as Tali watches. Man, I loooooove long hair. "She's been plotting his downfall for a very, very long time. I think it'll be good for her, you know?"

"Maybe," agreed Tali. "I heard that she was a little mean when she saw you last, though."

I shrug. "Eh, the years weren't good to her," I reply. "I may not know what happens next, but I did know what happened to her well enough thanks to a midquel comic that covered Liara's history with the Shadow Broker. It's a long story, involving friends getting kidnapped by the Shadow Broker." I shrug. "If you want more, I think you're better off asking Miranda about that."

"Really?" asked Tali curiously. "Why?"

"She was in the midquel comic in question," I mention. "She was removed from the action, but she and Liara had plenty of pretty nice conversations, so..." I shrug at this, looking at her. "I imagine crazy times are going to be had when we chase down the Shadow Broker."

Tali nods. "I wouldn't think he'd let himself be seen," she says.

"That he wouldn't," I say. "But whatever it is, we'll be ready for it. You forget who we're working with: after destroying Sovereign and the Collector base, I think finding the Shadow Broker will be one more list of feats that Shepard's pulled off." I nod, grabbing the squeegee from where it rests close to the sink and tying my hair up. "Come on. Shepard's probably expecting us soon."

The quarian nods, and then the both of us set out, me grabbing some of the toiletries that are left hanging around before leaving the bathroom for the last time. Once we're out of here... it's straight to the Normandy, so... there we go.


I of course have my armor on now. I really don't see the point of having armor on when we're just going off to say hi to Liara and drop some intel off about the Shadow Broker, but Shepard told me to prepare for anything when I brought this up with her. So here I am, strutting along in my combat armor along with Thane, Tali, and Al. We're all following the commander as she walks up the steps to Liara's office. I turn to look at Thane as he and Al both walk just behind Joc, with Tali and I hanging back slightly. I shrug, just following the whole group.

We get to the doors of her office, and then Shepard pauses. "You know, Joc, this is going to be crazy," mentioned Al. "I never thought I'd ever be going on a hunt for the Shadow Broker, you know?"

"Neither did I," I mention. "This is going to be a doozy..."

"This better not mean you're going to bail on me now," says Shepard as she glances back at us.

"Of course not, siha," replied Thane, giving a polite bow of his head.

"Hey, we went through the Collector base," I say. "After that, we'll come through for you on everything."

Shepard nods her approval, giving us all a smile. "Good," she says, turning her attention back to the door. "Now... to get this info to Dr. T'Soni..."

We all turn to the door as our commanding officer opens it...

...and right when it opens, I raise my eyebrows in surprise. Liara is of course sitting at her desk like she normally is, with datapads strewn all about. Or, I guess that's normal, anyhow. Her desk was cleaner in the games, but I imagine she'd be all over the place given that she's an information broker.

Liara looks up in surprise as Shepard enters the room. "Shepard?" she asks.

"Hello Liara," says Shepard.

The asari quickly stands up. "I... Hello." She nods. "I'm sorry, I wasn't expecting you today. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

Shepard nods "I recieved some intel from the Illusive Man recently," she mentions. "It's about the Shadow Broker. Interested?"

At this, Liara's expression instantly lights up in curiosity. "The Shadow Broker? I..." said Liara. "I had no idea. Let me see what you've got!"

I watch, holding my hands behind my back as Shepard hands Liara a small little datapad with whatever info TIM gave her. Or watching it, rather, as it looks like it's a video feed.

"Hm... it looks like a leaked transmission between two agents," says Liara.

"Some hints as to a location, and-"

It's then that the image of a rainbow-scaled drell appears on the datapad. I see Liara's eyes widen, though with what emotion they widen I can't seem to tell.

"It's about Feron..." says Liara breathlessly. "He's still alive."

I blink again, looking at her. I think I know where this is going... "Feron?" asks Shepard. "Let me guess, he also helped recover my body?"

"Yes," replies Liara, nodding as she places the datapad on the desk. "We recovered you from the Shadow Broker before he was able to sell you to the Collectors. I was able to escape, but Feron got captured by the Shadow Broker."

"That doesn't answer how I wound up with Cerberus," says Shepard. Well, she knows because I told her Liara gave them her body, but still, we gotta keep up appearances. If only for just a little longer, anyhow.

"Well, they gave me intel to help recover you," says Liara. "They actually put Feron with me in the first place."

"I see..." replies the Commander, giving Liara a rather meaningful look. "Without you two, I couldn't have come back. I... don't like that I was revived by Cerberus, but... I can look past that. Thank you."

Liara nods. "I didn't know how you'd feel when Cerberus restored you," says the asari. "If you'd feel betrayed, or..."

"Well, you know how it is," I reply.

"I thought I'd do you a favor for that," says Shepard. "So here we are."

Liara nods, walking to the desk and placing the datapad lightly on it. "After two years, I hadn't even dreamed..."

"It sounds like you and Feron were good friends," mentions Shepard.

Liara nods. "It's kind of strange, actually," he says. "He betrayed me more than once. But in the end, he was a friend." She look up at the ceiling as if she had been thinking about this for a while. "I've been plotting this as a way to get back at the Shadow Broker. Now I have the chance to make it a rescue."

Shepard steps forward. Oh, dear, I think I know what's gonna happen next. "You look like you could use some help," says the Commander. "Count me in."

Liara seems a little surprised that she's suggesting this, but... she accepts it pretty quickly. "Okay," she says. "I... I need to think of a battle plan. I'm going back to my apartment. Meet me there in two hours and we'll talk then."

"Two hours, huh?" Shepard asks as she notices the way Liara is handling the data. "I assume you'll make arrangements for what to do with that data?"

"Yes." With this, Liara turns to us. "I'll see you later, Shepard. "Hopefully, I'll have a plan by then."

With this, the asari nods, and then she leaves the office. Well... she seems pretty determined to come up with something. We'll see what happens next. Hopefully it'll involve crazy times that are had by everyone.


I cross my arms at this as we ride the elevator up to Liara's apartment. The ride up is pretty quiet, actually, and we all spend it just looking at each other. Really, what do we have to say here? Apart from making observations on life, the universe, and everything, we just move along.

When the elevator door opens, we finally break our silence.

"So, who'd have thought Liara would nest up so far away from the office?" I ask.

"She is an information broker," Tali points out. "She could do this to keep certain people away from her."

"It's possible," says Shepard. "But... we're going to see what she's got for us soon enough." She then opens her omni-tools, and I watch as she counts off the apartment numbers. Eventually, we stop, and I notice something... Hm... Something about this feels out of place.

"Well, here we are," says Shepard. "Come on."

And with this, Shepard steps towards the door. The light on the door is green, and so Shepard steps forward and touches the door panel. The door opens, and-

Oh, fuck.

Well, this is a pretty large apartment. I mean, there are two floors, with kitchen and living space off on either side of a staircase. I imagine her bed is upstairs, but jeez, does she really need this much room here?

But that's not why I'm shocked.

I look immediately in front of us, and sure enough here's Liara's apartment. With a LOT of additional people inside. I look immediately in front of me to see a police line barring the way to the rest of the apartment. Oh God... I lean forward a bit, seeing a ton of police detectives go over various pieces of evidence while holding a bunch of flashlights and various other examination tools. I glance over the window, and from what I can see there are cracks all over the damn thing.

...

Oh, God, someone tried to kill Liara. Fuck, that's not gonna be good for anyone.

And now it throws our plans off too. What the hell happened? Did the Shadow Broker find out, and is he after Liara? Oh, God, I think he is... Better be careful around here.

Shepard immediately approaches the policewoman attending the line. Hm... Asari. This'll be fun.

"Do you know what happened here?" Shepard asks.

"This is a police matter," says the officer. "Stand back."

"The owner of this apartment is an assosciate and a close friend of mine," Shepard replies. "I think it's my business as well. What happened?"

"Let's put it this way: someone tried to kill your friend."

I blink, standing there in silence for a second or two. Wait. I know that voice! And I think I'd recognize it anywhere!

I turn suddenly, and amongst all the cops here running around with evidence, I see one very familiar-looking asari with very familiar-looking face tattoos and a very familiar armor. I blink, watching as she comes up to the police line, looking to the officer.

"I'll take over from here," she says. "Let them in, and get your men out of here."

"You... you can't do that!" replies the cop as she frowns.

The asari who I know better simply turns to the cop, smirking as she walks deeper into the apartment. "I just did."

The cop simply gives a frustrated hand gesture before shaking her head and leaving the crime scene. Soon after, we end up making way for the other cops as they all vacate the premises. Shepard crosses the police line as they do, and I follow suit soon after. Tali, Thane, and Al all come up after, and then we nod to the asari we all know.

Yep, she's definitely familiar.

"Tela Vasir," says Shepard. "We meet again, in the least likely of places."

"That we do," replies the asari Spectre.

"Why are you here, Tela?" asks Shepard. "I don't think this kind of thing would concern you."

"I was here on official Council business," replies the asari. "But... I don't really think that matters. It seems someone tried to kill your friend." Hm, dodging the question, are we, Tela? Hm... Why do I get the terrible feeling that she's lying through her teeth? Oh, yeah, right. Either way, Tela, I've got my eye on you.

Shepard nods. "Do you think she's all right?"

"She managed to get away from here somehow," mentions Tela. "We can't find a body or any traces of blood here. All the police found are the bullet holes. I gave them a gold star for that."

"That's good, then," Shepard replies. "But where would she have gone off to?"

I shrug. "Well, I guess we'll just have to find out," I say, stepping into the apartment as I begin looking around.

"Maybe there's a clue around the apartment somewhere," suggests Tela.

"She would've left a message," Shepard says. "Nothing that the police could find, but if she set it so that I could find it..."

"Why leave us to find it, though?" I ask, looking to the Commander.

"Because she needs someone she can trust to find her in this case," she replies. "I'll check upstairs. Thane, Tali, you're with me. Art, Al, check downstairs with Tela."

We all nod at this. Okay, so we started this day getting info to Liara to help her find the Shadow Broker. And now by the end of it, we're hunting down stuff at a crime scene because we need to figure out where she might have gone. This day has just gotten extremely interesting. And I think that it'll get even more interesting as we go on, if my genre senses are telling me anything.

Well, not much point in dwelling on that. I start looking around the apartment, noticing that Tela is looking through the kitchen. I join her there, looking through some of the stuff she's missing out in there. She looks a little downbeat. And honestly, so am I...

... Well, since his mentor is here, I think I'll see if I can't lighten the mood a little bit. I mean, it got depressing in here all of a sudden for absolutely no reason.

"So how's Jarel doing these days?" I ask.

Tela glances at me, pausing in her work before nodding and answering. "Well, he's a full Spectre now," she says.

My eyebrows raise, and then I turn to her. "Is he?" I ask. "That's great to hear! What's he doing now?"

"I don't really know," replies the asari, looking through more things. "But I'm sure you're happy to hear about that. He keeps in touch sometimes."

I nod, smiling. "Well, that's a good thing," I say, closing a drawer as I go through another one. "Has he done anything with the genophage cure yet?"

"Not yet," replies Tela, closing her respective drawer and moving on from the sound of things. "I imagine he's just looking for the right resources... Resources he knows the Council would never provide him." Tela sighs. "It's all very sad, really. He knows the Council would never let him use it even if he made it. You know how they are about that."

"And we know how things are on Tuchanka," I mention. "Everyone fighting each other, all that sad, sad jazz..." I shrug. "But hey, he at least still has it, right?"

"I think so," says Tela with a nod. "He hasn't said anything about whether the Council's confiscated it yet. Honestly, I'd think they would've taken it by now to make sure he couldn't use it."

I shrug. "I guess they figure that without the resources, he's not actually going to be able to cure it," I mention. "I mean, maybe they think he's just treating it as a curiosity of some kind. 'Ooh, let's see if I can cure the genophage, that'll get me some real scientific clout!'" I shrug, giving her a goofy smile as I return to business. "Knowing him, he's not..."

"But the Council probably doesn't know that," finishes Tela.

"Exactly," I reply, nodding my head as I go through more things. Hm... Well... I close the drawer soon after, biting my lower lip as I step away from the kitchen. "Well, there's nothing there. I wonder..." I look to Tela. "What... exactly was your business here?"

Tela pauses, closing the drawer. "It's classified," she replies.

Hm... She said that a bit too quickly for my taste.

"You sure about that?" I ask. "It seems awfully odd that you're stopping by Liara's apartment while on Council business for no reason like that."

"And what makes you think that?" asks Tela.

Genre savvy, mostly, I guess. But I'm not gonna tell you that. "Eh, I've just got a feeling," I say. "Probably the paranoia speaking. I tend to be fairly paranoid." I shrug. "If I'm wrong on that, don't mind me. It's just speculation."

"Of course," she replies. Hm... Was that a scowl I heard in your voice, Tela? You do realize that it only makes it more obvious that you're hiding something, right?

With this small little thing said, I walk past the kitchen, looking at the stairs to see Shepard coming down with Thane and Tali. She looks around... Hm, looks like she found a clue as to where Liara might tell us she's gone... I raise my eyebrows to her, crossing my arms as she then moves around the apartment. Hm... I wonder what she found to walk around here now.

The commander stops in front of a display case hosting a Prothean artifact that's just by the staircase. I walk around behind them, watching as Al's attention is turned to us. I raise an eyebrow slowly, looking at the display case as Shepard's fingers run along it.

What happens next surprises all of us. I see a little tray thing slide out of the display case, an OSD parked squarely in the center of the tray. I blink at this, coming closer as Shepard takes the OSD and inspects it.

"Tela, I found something!" says Shepard as we all disperse from the display case.

The asari spectre walks out of the kitchen then, looking at all of us as Shepard holds it up for her to see. When she walks over to where we are, she nods.

"Back-up disc," says Tela, nodding. "Let's try it on her terminal."

I glance off to the side, and it's only then that I notice there's a terminal over in the living space. Hm, how did I not notice that earlier? Either way, we're off to a good start in trying to find Liara. Shepard walks up to the terminal and inserts the OSD inside it. I see Al walk over to where we are, and before long everyone is around the terminal as Shepard starts looking for the item in question.

Finally, after a half a minute or so, the screen displays a salarian in a green business suit talking to us.

"Hm... looks like she recorded a call," mentions Tela.

"What have you got for me, Sekat?" asks Liara's voice from the recording. Yep, that's Liara all righty!

"It was tricky, but you paid for the best," replies the salarian. "I can narrow it down to a cluster, maybe even a system."

"How soon can you have it?" asks Liara's voice.

"Shouldn't take long," replies the salarian. "Come to my office. Baria Frontiers, in the Dracon Trade Center." I glance over to Shepard, who nods as she crosses her arms. "Gotta say though, T'Soni- you're making me a little nervous. How big is the trouble that could come out of this?"

Even as the salarian crosses his arms, Liara's voice rings out. "Relax, Sekat," she says. "I'll see you in a few hours."

With this, the recording of the call ends, and we're all left to look at each other. "So she did find something," Al comments, taking in a deep breath.

"I don't know, Shepard," says Tali uncertainly. "This doesn't look good."

"The Shadow Broker's people already tried to kill her once," says Shepard, closing her eyes. "This must be huge."

"It seems that they were talking about where the Shadow Broker's base might be located," Thane. "Knowing the Shadow Broker, that would give him cause for concern."

I nod. I don't really know much about the Shadow Broker, but when your agents usually don't see you it's a sign that you want to remain the galaxy's best-kept secret. And if he has to kill Liara for it... Shit, that doesn't bode well.

"Then we need to get to the Dracon Trade Center, and fast," I say.

"I know where it is," says Tela. "My car's outside, though I don't know if it'll fit all of you."

"Well, I don't see any other craft here, so we're going to have to crunch into it," Shepard says. "Let's go."


The skycar cruises through the air of Nos Astra quickly, and out of the corner of my eye I can see Tela's car keeping up with us. I glance over there, shifting in my seat as Tali does the same. I feel my shoulder brush up against Thane's, and I suddenly find myself keenly aware of how tightly we're packed into this damn sky-car.

The silence is actually a little awkward. I glance over at Tela. Hm... I don't know about this. Her timing here on Illium seems way too perfect, especially in terms of what she's doing here. Why was she at Liara's apartment in the first place, anyhow? And why did she seem so interested in everything?

I don't know. There is a lot about Tela's presence here that rubs me the wrong way. I just... I don't think she's here for a good reason.

And of course I can't say anything, because she's right there in the driver's seat. Yeah, that makes this so much better!

Eventually, though, I'm aware of a tall tower that Tela seems to be driving towards. I blink in surprise as she then lands right in front of it. Hm... Well, it looks like we're here. The door opens, and I'm only too relieved when we all step outside of the craft. As soon as I'm out, I find myself rotating my shoulders... Damn, but it was tight in there. And am I glad to be out of there, too...

"All right, we all got here in one piece," said Shepard.

"Yeah," I say. "And here's the Dracon Trade Center. Let's go find Liara."

Okay. I take a step forward-

-and then I'm knocked off my feet as the ground shakes a little bit. My eyes widen in surprise, and I briefly catch sight of the top floor of the building exploding in a massive fireball. I watch as various screams shout out from around the building, debris raining down on everyone just in front of us. I take in a deep breath, looking as smoke starts billowing from the top of the building.

...

Holy shit...

I stand up quickly, my eyes widening. Holy shit... just... did the SB just bomb a building? Holy mother of God...

"Liara's in there!" Shepard shouts. "Come on!"

Tela then runs back to her car. "I'll start from the roof," she says. "Your team should work on the lower levels. We'll meet up at the Baria Frontiers Office."

"Got it," says Shepard. As Tela jumps back into her car, she gestures to the rest of us. "Come on, people! Let's get moving!"

None of us waste any time following this order: we all rush behind the commander as quickly as we possibly can. Shepard draws her shotgun quickly. Hm... Well, we may run into resistance there. Okay, I guess bringing the armor along ended up being a good call on her part after all. Always prepare for the worse, she says. I should've expected something like this, anyway, seeing as how things tend to blow up around her.

Well, at least this time I can take comfort in the fact that- Art, what the hell are you doing, lots of innocent people just died!

Anyway, I grab my assault rifle, bearing it on my arms just as we step into the Dracon Trade Center building.

And it is an absolute wreck. There is debris pretty much all over the place as we enter the building. I raise my eyebrows, noticing all the dead bodies on the floor. Hm... I know a bomb just went off on the top floor, but that doesn't explain all the dead bodies here... I frown, advancing quickly as Shepard scans the area. I keep my eye on the Commander, my assault rifle at the ready as we cross the first floor of the Dracon Trade Center. We actually cross it with almost no incident, mostly because nobody drops in to start attacking us or anything like that. Thank God for that...

We walk up a flight of stairs to the next floor, and we cross that without too much problem. Tela radios in that she's on the roof, but I don't think I really needed to know that. It was kind of inevitable, after all. And on our end, it got pretty boring as we crossed the second level. Yeah, it looks down on the first floor of the Dracon Trade Center, more dead bodies, and there's the Baria Frontiers complex. Okay.

We enter the Baria Frontiers office to find the place... more or less on fire. There are flames everywhere, and this is just the receptionist's desk. I see a charred body off to the side, Shepard bringing her hand up to her comm piece.

"Tela, we're in the Baria Frontiers office," she says. "The whole place is on fire."

"Roger that," says Tela. Hm, that's an odd thing for an asari to say. "There should be fire control somewhere."

But of course, Shepard's already found it by this point, and so she's off to activate the fire suppression system. "Already on it," she says. With this, she opens up her omni-tool, keying in a few sequences.

Then, much to my dismay, the sprinkler system comes on. It douses the fire all right, but that doesn't help me when the water hits my face. I flinch slightly on the first contact, and then just groan as the water flows down my face. I turn to Thane then, who also seems to be dismayed at the extra humidity. Damn it, this isn't going to be good for his health at all... I shake my head, looking ahead as the sprinkler system continues running. Shepard then walks over to the door, opening it into the charred husk of the Baria Frontiers office.

We all file in soon after, looking around for any signs of life. Most of the people that were in this office are either dead or... well, dead, though the method I see is differing. Some of them look like they were burned to death, some looked like they were killed by shrapnel... Yeah, all standard-issue ways of death by bomb.

What's not normal, though, is the fact that some of the corpses look like they've sustained gunshot wounds in addition to everything else. Huh... Gunshot wounds?

I look to the others, biting my lower lip. "Careful," I say. "Some of these people look like they were shot."

"Got it," says Shepard in the affirmative. We keep our weapons out, walking through the office as we try to figure out what happened.

And then, I hear the sound of glass shattering not to far away from where we are. That's obvious enough, but then I saw the actual pane of glass shatter into thousands of pieces. And beyond that, I see a pair of glowing eye-like things. Shit, it looks like they're glowey things that I'd see on the merc helmets from time to time...

Oh, God, there are hostiles.

"Hostiles!" I shout, quickly ducking into cover just as more crashing sounds are heard.

Everyone else follows suit shortly after. I turn to Shepard to see her peer out of cover. She glows blue for a second, coming out of cover and using a pull.

And that's when we get a good look at our assailant. Or, assailants now, I guess. It's a man in all-black armor, much like the armor used by the Blue Suns and most of those other people. I don't really know if he's human, but he's got an assault rifle, and from the look of things he's also got a bunch of flashbangs attached to his ammo belt. I look over to Thane to see he's already got his submachine gun out. The drell fires at the merc soldier in question, taking him down as the others all start firing at the black-armored mercenaries.

"Tela, we have hostiles!" shouted Shepard into her headset.

"Say hello to the Shadow Broker's personal army, Shepard," says Tela. "Be careful down there. They're efficient, and brutal."

I don't think we need to be told twice, Tela. I come out of cover, shooting at a merc that seems prepped up to toss a flashbang. I fire my assault rifle at him, watching the rounds ping against his shields. It's got more or less the desired effect, though, as then I see Al fire a shot at him. It tears through his remaining shields, catches the merc in the eye, and causes him to drop the flashbang in his death throes. A few seconds later, it goes off with a blinding flash of light.

I look around, but... to my dismay, I realize that there was really only one other mercenary over there. I shake my head as Tali takes him down with a couple of pistol shots, and I turn my aim to the side just in time to see another one of them fall.

I bring my assault rifle up to bear again, seeing both of the other Shadow Broker mercs standing in shock that one of their buddies just blew up. I take advantage of this, peppering the one with assault rifle fire. His shields go down quickly, and then his life ends soon after. I see the other merc get pulled towards us and then someone else's shot takes him down.

Right, that takes care of that group, but there's sure to be another one as we go along. So all of us advance as slowly as we can, though that's easier said than done with as many people as we've got with us right now. I reload my assault rifle before moving a step, as I think I'll need a fresh batch of rounds soon enough. We advance a little bit, and then I hear some gunfire in the distance. The rounds wizz past us, and that's when I know we've run into our next opponent group.

I rush out to a spot of cover past Shepard as the rounds impact against my shields. I fire my rifle as I move, managing to take down the shields of one of the mercs. I then duck behind cover just as a flashbang flies past. Wait, shit! I scramble to the other side, squeezing my eyes shut while covering them with my free forearm. The soft boom goes off, and I feel the strange pinging sensation in my ears.

However, I open my eyes and find that I can still see, so I'm not totally dazed. I peek out of cover, seeing another merc fall as I look ahead of me. I fire at one of the mercs that's farther back, a few short bursts taking care of his shields-as well as scoring a rather lucky head-shot. Hm... luck is on my side today. I turn my attention to another merc as I begin to hear the sounds of the battle raging around me again. I fire my assault rifle, and it takes care of his shields, and then he falls over dead.

I duck back behind cover, looking at the others. Okay, there's Shepard just across the hall from me, with Thane firing his submachine gun next to her. Further back, I see Al throwing some tech-attack stuff around, and I see some resultant sparks fly from the hostiles all around us.

As soon as I notice this, I stand up from cover, advancing with everyone else as we move through the hall. Some more Commandos come out to play, some more of them get shot, and we advance through Baria Frontiers.

And then we see yet another unit of Shadow Broker commandos. We take care of them as we normally would, and blaze by them pretty fast. Seriously... If someone had told me I'd be fighting my way through an office for a galactic exploration company sometime in my life before I came here, I would've thought they were absolutely nuts. And yet, here we are, and with people spontaneously exploding because of some dude doing... something, I dunno. Funny the places I've been to in this short time.

I don't know why I thought that.

Either way, we continue through the Baria Frontiers office in a similar manner, before eventually arriving at a double door set. Okay... this looks pretty important. It's a double door, and it's larger than most. Okay, so this Sekat guy is probably going to be there. And if not him, then hopefully Liara.

I hear a gunshot go off on the otherside, even as Shepard is herding us all around to take positions at the door. Tali is taking one side, Al is taking the other, and the rest of us are just filling in the blanks, I suppose. Never the greatest strategy ever, but what can we do, you know? I raise my assault rifle, prepared to shoot at... something, I dunno.

Hm... I hope Liara's in here. Because if not... that'll suck for all of us.

Shepard rests against the door, and then signals to us. Okay... She counts down a bit as I hear the muffled sounds of arguing in there. Or, what would come across as arguing to most people, anyway. It's a lot of shouting in there...

I see Shepard's sole finger disappear into a fist. Oh, that's the signal!

I slam my hand on the door panel, watching as the door opens quickly.

"-ow what you're up to, Tela! And I'm not going to let you get away with treason!"

...

What the hell?

I glance to the scene in front of me in shock. There's Tela, all right, and she's next to a dead Shadow Broker commando. I see the body of a dead salarian on the other side of the room... Ooh, that must've been Sekat. The pigmentation is similar to what I saw in the video at Liara's apartment... He's dead as a doornail, all right. Bullet to the head. And the rest of the office... it actually looked like it was spared the worst of the damage.

So it makes it even more strange when I see the reddish-brown salarian with green eyes holding a gun at the level of Tela's head. He's in a grey armor, and he's staring down at Tela. And... Oh my god...

"Jarel?"

I ask this loudly, attracting the attention of both Tela and the mystery salarian. The mystery salarian turns, his eyes widening slightly.

"Shepard?" he asks. "What are you...?" The salarian... well, Spectre, now, I guess, shakes his head.

"Oh, she was helping me find Dr. T'Soni," says Tela, shrugging. It's then that I notice that she doesn't have any weapons out. The asari turns to us, nodding as we all put our weapons down. "Jarel randomly showed up. I think he may be hysterical."

Shepard glances to the salarian in question, looking back at Tela. "Art?" she asks.

I look to Jarel. "He doesn't normally freak out at stuff like this," I say. "Being hysterical isn't like him at all."

"I think you should give him the benefit of the doubt, then," she says to Tela. Her attention then turns to the salarian Spectre. "Is something wrong, Jarel?"

In reply, Jarel takes a step forward, keeping his gun trained on Tela. "Something is very wrong," he says. "Tela... she's committing treason!" He then puts his gun on his hip, manipulating his omni-tool as quickly as he can. "I don't know how I came across this, or even why. But I intercepted a transmission between Tela and one of the Shadow Broker's operatives on the Citadel."

With this, I suddenly hear some background noise of some recording of some sort. I look to Jarel's omni-tool to see it giving the little wavelength thing those things usually display if they're playing an audio recording. And the first thing I hear is someone sitting down.

"Spectre Vasir, the Shadow Broker may be in need of your services." Okay, I don't know that voice, but it's probably not important that I know who he is.

"What do you need?" Okay, that's definitely Tela's voice.

"I have recently gotten word of a leak of information by a Cerberus operative," replies the other voice. "It is... extremely sensitive information that cannot get out to anyone. And unfortunately, word is that Shepard has it now. The Shadow Broker needs you to eliminate Liara T'Soni, and quickly."

"I suppose I can make time off my schedule for that. How should I deal with Shepard?"

"Deal with her how you wish."

The recording stops, and then Jarel brings his gun right back up again. "I got in just as she killed that salarian over there." He indicates the body close to where he is. "He had some data on the location of the Shadow Broker." He then holds up an OSD drive briefly, before shoving it back into a space in his armor. "I almost didn't get this before she did. She's engaging in extremely dangerous behavior."

Shepard crosses her arms, looking at the salarian. "Technically, I committed treason too," mentions Shepard. "Why go for her and not me?"

Jarel turns to look at the commander. "You were allied with an enemy of the Council," he says. "But all things considered, your mission was not undermining any Council authority. You, and Cerberus by extension, were looking out for the safety of your species. That falls under the Council's obligations, so in that case Cerberus did what the Council should have done." He glares at Tela. "Tela's orders were to kill a very specific woman, and for what? Knowing more than she should have." The salarian inhales sharply. "I think I have a clear idea of who's committing treason right now."

"How exactly did you find this out?" asks Shepard, looking to the other Spectre in the room. "Last I checked, it was illegal to wire tap the connection of a Spectre."

"A mistake on her part," replies Jarel. "And pure chance on mine. I'm not sure how it happened myself."

"Or he could be making it up," comments Tela. "That too."

"Either way, something is fishy about this whole thing," says Shepard. "Tela, I don't know what you're really after, but it's been clear from the get-go that you haven't exactly been completely honest with us. I'd rather give Jarel the benefit of the doubt."

The asari spectre gives a dismissive hand gesture. "Shepard, I think you misunderstand something," she says, taking a step towards Jarel. I raise my eyebrows... Hm, her voice isn't entirely certain anymore. "I was here on confidential business. I just happened to be there."

"I guess you 'just happened' to try to kill me too."

I actually physically jump an inch in the air in surprise as we all turn to the source of the sound. There stands an asari in... a blue and white jumpsuit kind of combat outfit. It's... It's Liara! She's okay! And... and lookin' better than ever in that outfit of hers! I mean, damn, where the hell was that outfit when we were fighting Saren? That is a much better outfit for Liara than I would have...

Oh, right, we've got much bigger things to worry about.

Shepard looks right at Liara, glancing at Tela. She then returns her gaze to Shepard. "Liara, you're all right!"

"Yes," she says, looking at Tela with an angry glare written all over her face. "Don't think I didn't see you, Vasir. I doubled back to the apartment after you tried to kill me. I saw you there."

Shepard then pulls out her pistol, aiming it at Tela. "So then you needed me to find out where Liara had gone," says Shepard. "I must say, Vasir, you nearly had me fooled for a second there." I follow Shepard's cue soon after and raise my assault rifle at the asari spectre.

"You were quite good at fooling Shepard," says Liara. "You just weren't good enough."

"It's over, Tela," continues Jarel, stepping out so that he's close to Shepard. "I have that salarian's data, you're outnumbered eight to one, I have evidence of your conspiring to kill the daughter of the late Matriarch Benezia, and we have another Council Spectre here who can testify against you." He takes a step forward. "By the authority vested in me as a Council Spectre, I hereby place you under arrest!"

To this, Tela only chuckles, the overconfident smirk still written on her face. "I don't have the data, that's true," she says. Almost as soon as she says this, she glows blue. "But you'll have to catch me first, you little prick!"

With this, she shatters the window behind her, the shards seemingly floating in place as she looks directly at us. Liara acts quickly in this situation, glowing blue as well as she coveres all the rest of us with an all-encompasing biotic barrier. No sooner does she do this, when Tela sends the shards flying right at us. The shards bounce off the biotic barrier, creating inhuman screeches as they embed themselves in the walls all around us. The attack lasts only for a few seconds, and while some of us are addled beyond all belief we still look at the asari Spectre as she makes to get away.

However, before she can do that, Shepard tackles her through the window.

...

Holy shit!

"Shepard!" I shout, rushing to the window.

But it was for nothing, because then I see Shepard and Tela slowly falling to the ground thanks to Tela's biotics. The two of them are engaging in a mid-air wrestling bout that doesn't feel that out of place for some reason. I hear a shout, and I look to my left just in time to see Liara jump right out of the window, using biotics to slow her fall too.

...

Oh boy.

I turn completely around, barging out the way I just came.

"Guys, the stairs!" I shout. "Let's move, and fast!"

I rush through the doors, and with the hammering of footsteps against the ground I can hear everyone else following behind. I holster my assault rifle, nearly dropping it as I then produce my pistol. I run through the corridors of the Baria Frontiers office complex. I see all the corpses of the commandoes that we just killed, but I don't pay them any attention. Now is really not the time to be thinking about that.

Getting out of here is taking a while, though. God, if only we had offscreen teleportation to get us to where we need to be faster than this!

Once we're outside the Baria Frontiers office, I look down to see Shepard engaging in a firefight with a bunch of commandoes.

I bring my pistol to bear, and then start firing into the crows of black-armored merc peoples below me. Everyone else apparently has the same idea, for then they begin firing down too. It clears the way for Shepard as they all start getting taken down by the combined fire of about... seven guys now. Yeah, seven people. This... is kind of a large group for these kinds of things. I don't really know.

Either way, one commando drops, and then another, and another, and so on. Man, we're just dropping people here! And it gives Shepard enough time to vault over her cover and run off to do stuff. We see her advance very quickly once we're laying the pressure on the commandoes from above.

But of course, if we stay here all day we won't catch Tela Vasir. And apparently, Thane is thinking along the same lines, for he grabs his submachine gun and vaults over the edge of the floor. I watch him land with way more grace than I would have thought possible even for him, and then he makes his way to where Shepard is. The two of them meet back up even as Jarel follows suit.

...

They're expecting me to jump all that distance? Oh hell no, I'm taking the stairs!

And that's exactly what I do. I vault down the stairs three at a time. I nearly lose my balance on the stairs though, and when I get to the very bottom of the staircase my feet actually do slip. I land on my ass, but honestly, it's not going to be terribly damaged. I pick myself up soon after, even as Tali jumps and lands next to me soon after. The others get there shortly after, and we all run off after Shepard, Thane, and now Jarel.

Within seconds we're all outside, where I see Liara taking cover behind a random skycar. Whatever innocents were left around the outside of the Dracon Trade Center are now crouched behind whatever cover they can find as Liara and Tela exchange fire. I look over to Tela Vasir. Yeah, that bitch is gonna die for doing... a lot of things. Or she'll get arrested by Jarel.

Whichever one comes first, I'm looking forward to seeing what goes down with that.

I see her look up at us first. She then ducks behind cover for a little longer than usual. Hm... either she ran out of ammo or she's being cowardly. That, or she's planning something. Knowing how she was the entire time we were at the Dracon Trade Center, I suspect it's the last one. Besides, it's how villains always are; when you least expect it, they've cooked up an entirely different scheme, or a last-minute plan to get the hell out of there.

And indeed, I hear a roar, and look up to see Tela's skycar fly over to where we first landed. I see the skycar dip under the parking space slightly, and then I see Tela get out of cover. As Liara fires some frantic shots at her, the Spectre jumps into her skycar, and drives off.

"She's getting away!" shouts Liara, running over to the nearest cab. Shepard follows suit, turning to us just as we get to the skycab. I... Shit, we're not going to fit!

"Oh, fuck, we're not going to fit in there!" I shout.

"And that is why I have my own car!" I notice Jarel press his own button, and then I see as another skycar comes around and lands there.

Shepard nods. "Art, Thane, you're with me!" Shepard shouts. "Tali, go with Jarel." She then turns to Al, nodding. "Al, get back to the Normandy! Let Miranda or someone know what just happened!"

I see Al stop slightly in confusion as I basically dive into the vehicle. Thane quickly enters the vehicle as well, and that's all we can do before Liara starts the cab. Shepard enters and closes the door behind her, and then...

Wait... we're in a taxi... and we're going to be chasing a rogue Spectre around Nos Astra.

...

Oh, fuck me.

As the taxi gets started, I see Shepard turn to face Liara with a rather displeased look on her face. "I'm fine, by the way," says the Commander with a hint of venom in her voice. "Thanks for asking."

Liara doesn't reply, and the taxi moves beneath us. Before I know what else is up, we're trailing Tela Vasir as quickly as we can. We've got that data, but damn it, we are not letting her get away!

The skycab flies into the air, and Shepard is almost instantly on Tela's trail. She speeds up the car instantly, turning right and following Tela. As soon as we turn right, I look out to see the traffic of Nos Astra going about its daily business. Jarel's car makes itself visible briefly as it speeds slightly ahead of us.

"Hang right!" says Liara. "No, wait, left!"

"I'm on her," replies Shepard, glancing at the asari.

We speed along as quickly as we can, noticing just how fast Tela's car is moving. It's making it difficult to follow her, considering she's doing all these turns and stuff. But then she turns left past a building. Hm... hoping she can lose us on the corners? Sorry, we've got a smoke trail we can use to follow you, Spectre. So we round the corner as well to see Tela zig-zagging her way through the air. Eventually, we see her drive straight into a relatively narrow space between two buildings. Fortunately, we've gained a little ground on her by then because we just went straight.

Seriously, why is it that bad guys never take the easiest way around when they're trying to lose someone? Don't confuse us when we can see you!

We follow Tela's car into the tight space, and we see her go straight for a little bit before she makes an abrupt left turn. "She's around the corner!" says Liara.

Shepard does this, and then we see Tela make another left. "We're not going into the construction site, are-?" But by the time she asks this, we're already inside a construction site within the tower that we follow Tela through. "Oh, goddess..." Of course, though, the construction site is fair game, with Tela briefly weaving through the support beams before coming out to the other side. Shepard just hangs to one side of the site, but we scratch up against the wall trying to make the curve. It causes a small rattling in the ship as we notice Vasir turn right upon getting out of the construction site. Jarel's car races ahead of us, but it's not long before we're out of the construction site too and following both of them as quickly as we can.

When we get out of the right turn, we see that Tela is heading into a really ridiculously public place. As in, a brightly-lit transit tunnel. I'll bet Jarel's saying something about not letting her get away with this miscarriage of justice by a Spectre.

We fly through the tunnel, seeing Tela's car turn left. The vapor trail helps, but then we also see Jarel's car turn left. Shepard puts the pedal to the gas, and turns left. She skirts the wall of the tunnel while doing so, though, and this elicits a yelp out of myself as we cut it extremely close to the edge. I hang on to the seat with an iron grip, my eyes wide as I then watch as we come to the other side. I watch as Tela makes a sharp turn to the left, and then we manage to get enough ground hugging the wall of the tunnel that we're now at around the same place Jarel is at in relation to Tela.

We go through more open space, nearly getting sandwitched between two floating... things, I'm not sure what they are. "Go go go go go go go!" I hear Liara shout.

At this, I feel the cab pick up a little bit of speed. "I'm going!" shouts Shepard as we pick up enough speed to catch up to a needlessly zig-zagging Tela. Well... we're getting reasonably close behind, so... Tela turns left, and we follow suit-

Only for Shepard to let out a yell as she suddenly veers out of the way of an approaching sky-car.

"Oncoming traffic!" shouts Liara.

Shepard dodges another oncoming car quickly, causing the vehicle to abruptly fly up. Thank god skycars have seatbelts, because that would've been good for a concussion. "I know!" she shouts.

"Apparently knowing isn't half the battle like they say it is!" I shout, bracing myself against the car's walls as Shepard dodges yet another car closely.

Luckily, Tela makes a left turn to another place almost immediately. We follow her, glad to be out of there. I mean, jeez, that was crazy, being in the way of oncoming traffic.

So then she goes to another transit tunnel, which Shepard follows her to dutifully. However, the asari Spectre suddenly veers right into a service tunnel of some sort. Shepard follows her through, and I'm sure Jarel does too by this point. Tela gets out, we get out, and then...

Wait... what's that Tela's car just dropped?

...

Shit!

"It is a proximity charge, si- Shepard," says Thane calmly.

"I noticed!" The commander dodges the proximity charge quickly, the side of the vehicle barely coming into the field that would cause the charge to go off. Though... how is it floating in mid-air like that?

Eh, not important. We chase Tela around a little bit, weaving throughout air that's more or less very open to stuff. I grip the seat tighter, watching as we weave between all the proximity charges that Tela drops. Wow... I count at least five, and she's always doing it to screw with our trajectory. One even goes off as we pass under it. I let out a scream, noting as the windshield breaks from the blast and sends the wind flying in our face. I screw my eyes shut, feeling the wind sting my eyes briefly as Shepard only speeds up. We somehow manage to dodge the next proximity mine, though, even as we end up looking just in time to see her go to a service tunnel.

It's then that an explosion goes off, and I see what looks like some kind of troop carrier cruising by us. I look up, shocked at this.

"Holy shit, she's got reinforcements!" I shout.

"What kind of guns does this thing have?" asks Shepard as we enter the transit tunnel.

"It's a taxi, it has a fare meter!" shouts Liara, so loud that I can somehow hear it over the howling wind.

"Wonderful," says Shepard sarcastically as we trail Tela's car.

We round a corner, and then this loud screeching sound makes itself known to my ears. What... What the hell is that?

We round the corner, and as we approach, I see something rushing towards us.

...

Holy shit.

"Truck!"

I see Shepard veer to the left, the vehicle we're in crashing against the wall. But as I see this huge-ass truck flying on its side towards us, my eyes widen a lot. The scream of metal against the transit tunnel's wall is incredibly loud, and I end up taking my hands off the wall to block out the sound. I hear the truck get steadily closer, and then as we approach I see quite a few vehicles start to explode. I close my eyes.

Oh god I didn't think it would end like this!

I hear the explosions get louder, and then before long...

I just hear the whoosh of something going past us.

...

I open my eyes to see that we're back on track following Tela Vasir.

I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding, even as Liara lets out a whoop of shock. Phew, that was a close one. I'm about to ask about Jarel's car, too, before I see that slightly racing ahead of us. Okay, that's good to know, we both made it past the truck wreck.

Seriously, though, what the hell, Tela?

"There we go," says Shepard, gripping the metaphorical wheel harder.

"You're enjoying this!" shouts Liara as we round a corner after Tela.

"What else is new?" I ask as we exit the transit tunnel.

We then trail Tela, right as she veers back into oncoming traffic. We have room to stay away, though, so Shepard uses this time to gain some speed on Tela.

"A head-on collision at this speed..." mentions Liara.

"Yeah, I hear those can be bad for you," replies Shepard. Oh, dear, they've got an idea I may not exactly like much.

God help me.

We chase Vasir, evading another truck in the process. And then, we gain up on her rather quickly thanks to some left-over boost. Wait... taxi cabs can boost in the future? What is this, F-Zero or something? Gah, where the hell is Captain Falcon when you need him for things not related to punching people in the face? It eventually gets to the point where we end up right next to the Spectre's car.

Okay. We caught up to her. Now... the first rule of chase scenes involves cars crashing together when they're level, so...

Yep, Tela went right into that. She drives her car up against ours, trying to veer us off course. Of course, Shepard isn't having any of it, what with making sure we don't veer off.

Given the impact that we feel next, then, that only makes it more shocking for us. Even Tela looks surprised, glancing to her right. Hm... must be Jarel at work here. And now Tela is sandwiched between two cars.

Oh, let the fireworks start.

It begins a massive battle of reverse tug of war. We all weave out of the way of cars that could hit me and Jarel, but all the while Tela is having a difficult time trying to wedge out of the deadlock we have her in. This dance goes on for a few seconds before we feel a bump. It separates our car from Tela's, but Shepard is back to clamping the asari spectre between us and Jarel's group for a few seconds more.

And then I see a random car that isn't turning out of the way. Shepard sees it too, and before I can bring it up both Shepard and Jarel turn away from Tela at the same time. We then watch as the car crashes into Tela's sky-car, causing the Spectre's vehicle to begin careening away. It goes down in flames, with Tela having almost no control of the vehicle. It spirals down, and then I see it eventually fall over to a building that honestly wouldn't look out of place in Downtown Miami.

The crash that I see soon afterwards is equally satisfying.

I smirk as Shepard brings us in to the nearby building in question.

"Well... I think we can all agree things will get a bit easier from here," I mention.

"Probably," says Shepard. "We'll see."

And with this, she pulls up to where Tela Vasir crashed. Soon after, Jarel's car follows along, and lands just a short distance away. We step out, and then see the car where Tela Vasir crashed rather violently against the one side of the hotel.

I then hear more sound above us, and then I notice some carriers coming in bringing reinforcements for Tela. Oh, great, more bloody commandoes.

Well, hopefully she won't get too far, what with probably being very injured at this point. Either way, we all scramble to cover, right as the first of the Commandoes comes out. Okay, if this was anything like it was in the Baria Frontiers office thing, it won't be very long. Besides, we have a salarian Spectre with us now.

Hm... speaking of which... I fire my first shots at some dude off to the side with my pistol. Hm... I see drones. Looks like we've got a bunch of engineers gunning for us at the moment. Damn it.

Well... I guess it's over to where Jarel is, just on the other side of the cover I'm using. He gets off a few shots with a submachine gun, frowning as he reloads. I slowly inch over to him, checking my own ammo stock as I look to the salarian.

"So... Spectre Brosca now, hm?" I ask, smirking at this.

He fires a few rounds before ducking behind. He then looks at me with a blank look. "I think we'll have time to talk after this," he states plainly.

I shrug. "I just wanted to congratulate you on becoming a Spectre," I say. I then come up over cover, shooting at a Shadow Broker guy just after he's tossed a flashbang at where Thane is. Thane's shields look like they're down, but the drell rolls into cover before there are any problems.

I quickly retreat into cover, seeing Jarel still facing me. He nods. "I... I see," he says. "Thanks. It wasn't easy, though, let me tell you that."

"I'll bet it wasn't." But hey, you're awesome now, so let's do this!

I see him grab a small disc-shaped object from his belt, and then he tosses it over to a bunch of commanders that are close to where we are. Oh, boy, it's a grenade. I look out, expecting to see a flash when... well, that's not what happens. The grenade goes off, and I see people catch on fire soon after.

Okay, so he has incendiary grenades. Hm, one of the perks of being a Spectre is that you get new stuff when you go do other things. All right, I see that happening. I reload my pistol, edging away slightly to give him some room as I notice some more Shadow Broker people come in.

All right, let the fireworks begin!


It takes a bit, but after about four minutes we've dealt with the reinforcements that came to help Tela.

Too bad they're all kinda dead now. It tends to happen when you have eight people fighting you, especially when six of them came back from the infamous Omega 4 Relay. But hey, we have a rogue Asari spectre to stop.

I follow Shepard as we all walk over to the wreckage. Conveniently, the wreckage of one of the vehicles that was carrying the reinforcements for Tela created a hole in the wall. Well, more like created a ramp up to the next area, anyway. It's then that we notice the trail of blood there, black blood leading away from the crash and somewhere else.

"That must be Vasir's blood," says Liara, clarifying it for us.

Jarel looks on. "She can't have gotten far," he says, kneeling down and frowning. "It looks like the blood here started coagulating about a minute ago, and there's a lot of it. She can't have gotten far; the crash must have wounded her severely."

"Enough to incapacitate her?" asks Shepard.

"Hardly," replies Jarel as he stands up. "Tela is a tough woman. One sky-car crash won't be enough to kill her." Jarel shakes his head. "Besides, I'd like to take her alive, if possible."

"You know she's going to make it more difficult than it has to be, right?" asks Liara. "She has to take that data off of you."

"Then why'd she turn in the other direction?" asks Shepard.

"Maybe to find some medical attention first," says Jarel. "It doesn't look like she had medigel in the car, and if she did the might have ruined whatever stocks she had in there."

"So we follow her blood trail," says Shepard. "All right then, let's go."

With this, we follow Shepard, watching as she too follows the black blood trail left by Tela Vasir. As we do this, we weave in and out of the building. Hm... Wow, this place looks like some kind of hotel.

"Oh, dear," I hear Liara say soon after as we move into a certain area of the building. "I think we know where we are."

"Where is it?" I ask.

"I think it's called 'Azure'," Jarel comments.

"Sounds uncomfortable," I mention as we exit the room.

"It's named after a part of the asari body," says Liara. "It's a very... private part of the asari body."

"Okay, I don't think we needed to know that," I say as we move on. I'm just gonna drop it there while I have the chance... We go through the room, ending up with more places where the trail of blood leads. Nobody says anything as we move along, following Tela's blood trail. It leads us through some more balcony walkways. We follow the trail along more balcony space before we the trail lead into another hotel room. I hear more screams right as we approach the door, but of course once we get to it all is very, very quiet. We walk through, Jarel frowning as we cross the threshold.

"She must be close," mentions the salarian Spectre. "Most of this blood is relatively new."

Shepard notices the door at the other end of the room. Quickly, she walks over to it, drawing her pistol as she then hits the door panel.

And sure enough, there's Tela Vasir walking off, clutching a wound in her side. Her gait is kind of slow, almost at a limp as she moves along. Hm... Yeah, she didn't get that far at all. Liara and Jarel both draw their pistols at exactly the same time, and I watch as Shepard runs out after the rogue Spectre. They both come to a stop in front of some stairs, and I see that Tela sort of stumbled into a sort of balcony restaurant kind of place.

...

Oh, God, why is it we can never have showdowns in any of the de-populated areas whenever things like this happen?

Of course, this works to Tela Vasir's advantage, as the Spectre then turns to a random human waitress she just happened to walk by. Her smile turns evil, as she glows biotically blue. She then rushes up to the waitress, grabbing her by the neck as she drops a datapad in shock. Tela holds the pistol up, her arm securely around the human woman as other patrons look on in shock.

Oh, shit... This isn't good. Fuck...

"Tell me, what's your name?" asks Tela as the other patrons of the restaurant area start screaming and fleeing the area.

The woman who's hostage beings shaking uncontrollably, and her response is a mere mumble.

"I don't think they heard you, lady," replies Tela condescendingly. "What's your name again?"

The woman hesitates, and I can see the tears already forming in her eyes. "M-m-mariana," she says, still sputtering, though now it's at a much more audible level.

"Mariana," Tela echoes, pointing her gun at Mariana. "You want to live, don't you? Tell them how much you want to live." There's a... sadistic edge to Tela Vasir's voice at this, and it makes my heart skip a beat as the woman in question shivers.

"I... I want to l-live..." says the human woman.

"This is too far, Tela!" shouts Jarel.

I see Shepard nod her agreement, even as her expression hardens in hatred. But she turns to Mariana, giving her a reassuring nod. "I'm here to help you, Mariana," she says. "Just stay calm, and we'll get you out of this."

"We'll see about that," replies Tela. The asari Spectre shakes her head. "All you had to do was walk away," she says. "Now it gets ugly."

"P-please, I have a s-s-son..." stutters Mariana, who's obviously terrified beyond all belief by this point.

"A son?" asks the asari Spectre. "I hope he gets to see you again. I hear that the death of a mother is so hard on children. Scars them for life. You wouldn't want her boy to grow up without a mother, would you?"

I take in a deep breath. Oh, Tela Vasir is so dead.

"I will end you, Vasir," states Liara, and I can feel so much as see the glare she's giving the asari Spectre.

"It's all right, Liara," says Shepard. "We'll handle this, the usual way."

"You want Mariana's little boy to grow up without a mommy, Shepard?" taunts the asari Spectre. "Thermal clips on the ground, now. Power cells too."

Fuck. We've got a hostage situation, and I wouldn't put it past her to kill Mariana. I mean, she did kill Maelon without waiting for Mordin to say anything against what he already said he wouldn't do. I don't really know, this is just...

This bitch is totally dead, but it'll be no good if the hostage dies...

Fuck, I guess I better-

"Is that it?"

All eyes suddenly turn to Jocelyn Shepard as she asks this with a very steely tone. Oh fuck, don't tell me...

"What?" asks a now very confused Tela Vasir.

The Commander simply looks at her. "Vasir, I sacrificed hundreds of human lives to save the Destiny Asenscion," she says. "I unleashed the rachni on the galaxy." Wait, why is she...? "So for your sake, I hope your escape plan doesn't hinge on me hesitating to shoot a damn hostage."

W... What?

"You're bluffing!" replies Tela as Mariana cries even harder than before. Tela points her gun at Shepard, though, so at least the firearm isn't in Mariana's face anymore.

I dunno Tela, I don't think-

...

Wait, why's that table over there levitating?

"Now, Liara."

And then I turn to see Liara glow blue. What...?

Oh. I see what you did there, Shepard. I see what you did there.

I turn my head just in time to see the table slam into Tela Vasir. The effect is immediate, seeing that Tela takes the full brunt of the impact. Mariana falls to the ground, her body landing softly. And of course, Tela Vasir is sent flying in an arc I honestly didn't think was possible for anyone to fly from impact with a table. She arcs high in the air, and a few seconds later she lands in a fountain I only just notice is there. The splash is immense, and before long Shepard is walking over to Mariana. I follow suit, stowing away my pistol as I kneel next to her.

"Are you all right?" I ask as she looks at me.

"I... I don't..." she says, stumbling over her words. "Thank you!"

I nod, tapping her on the shoulder. "You should get out of here, Mariana," I say, glancing to the others as they all point their weapons at the place where the asari Spectre splashed down. "Things are about to get ridiculous out here, if I read this situation correctly."

The former hostage nods, and then runs away in the direction the other customers ran off to. I stand up, pulling out my assault rifle just as I see Tela rise up out of the water, being held by her own biotics. I see the asari Spectre charge away from us, pulling out her assault rifle and glaring at us with the most hateful glare she can muster.

Oooh, boy, she's pissed. Pissed enough that she'll apparently ignore the fact that she's slowly bleeding to death.

Ah, well... this may just make this fight easier for us.

Here we go...

I quickly run towards Tela, watching as Jarel vaults over and gets behind cover. I'll bet he's shaking his head, wondering why Tela couldn't just leave it well enough alone. I raise my assault rifle, aiming it at her and firing some rounds as quickly as I can manage. The rest of us pour out, and as my rounds impact against a biotic barrier she apparently has, she fires off a biotic attack at someone. With this, I see it head towards Jarel, and he is unceremoniously knocked back. I then watch as Tela charges where Tali is, sending her flying back with a biotic punch.

...

Wow, Tela's got huge biotic powers. But she just punched my girlfriend.

She is so going down.

I fire some more assault rifle rounds, even as she builds up biotic energy in her fist. I look at her, getting some rounds on her barriers right as she suddenly comes rushing for me. I then feel an incredible pain in my gut, and the wind is knocked out of me as I'm sent flying a good five or so feet away. I slide to a halt soon after, groaning as I clutch my stomach in pain. Okay, ow, that was way too powerful a punch. Fuck my life... Ow...

I take in a deep breath to sooth myself, and I open my eyes just in time to see a table fly over me. It quickly passes by on its way to someone else, but I don't feel ready to stand. But I see Tela off to the side... and my assault rifle is further away. Just my fucking luck. But, I have my other weapons, so...

With this, I draw my pistol shakily, holding it up as I look at Tela. Taking yet another deep breath, I aim it at Tela, firing once. The shot doesn't have much effect, probably because of the fact that it missed. Wildly. I shake my head, concentrating and squeezing my left eye shut as I take another deep breath. All right, calm down... I shoot again, and this time I'm met with slightly more satisfactory results, in that I don't miss as wildly as I did before.

It's by the time I get to the third shot that I feel myself slowly coming around. I missed the third shot, too, but my aim was less shaky than before. I think... I think I can try to stand now. So that's exactly what I do, pushing myself from the ground. I do indeed feel well enough to stand, but it's a little shaky.

But it gives me a good view of the fight as I see Tela very narrowly dodge a singularity that Liara threw at her. Shepard comes in, and while Tela takes a shotgun blast directly to her biotic barrier, it gives Tela enough time to turn around and punch the Commander in the face. She reels back, but right as she's about to go in for a biotic shot, she makes to dash across the thing biotically.

Well, until I shoot her a fourth time. This one makes the mark, and this time it hits her right in the leg. The asari Spectre lets out a cry of pain, falling into the fountain right as she starts the dash. The splash of water arcs over, and I can see it just touch Jarel's feet from where he's standing on the other side of the pool. Hm... she must've been about to charge him. What with the fact that she got pretty far across the fountain before she splashed down in it.

After a few seconds, she biotically rises again, and now there's a look of pure, unadulterated murderous intent on her face. She then crashes down, right in front of where I see Thane. However, the drell is able to step to the side of the punch, and as it is directed in the ground, the assassin sees it as a good opportunity to do some hand to hand stuff. As Tela rises, I see Thane deliver a punch to Tela's face, causing the asari to rear back in pain. However, right as Thane turns to give her a good kick in the side, Tela manages to attempt a punch. Thane dodges this artfully, but it's all she needs to then jump back. I see a table lift off, coming at him at a terrible speed. Lucky for him, he is able to jump over it quite efficiently, but by then, Tela has moved on to firing her pistol at a rapidly approaching Jarel.

The salarian, however, moved quickly, so then I raise my pistol, hoping to get another hit. She sees this coming, though, and glows blue for a second. Right at the second I fire, I find myself being lifted towards her.

... Oh, God, I just got pulled...

Before I can contemplate this further, though, I see Tali rushing in, brandishing a nice new combat knife. Tela doesn't notice this, of course, as she's busy dodging a table being tossed at her by Liara. Tela and Liara exchange a few biotic attacks as Shepard lands another shotgun blast. A loud sound goes off, and I hear Tela's scream of pain as she grasps her arm. Wow... I gotta admit, she's only now starting to tire... Yeah. As the pull loses its effect on me, I fall down...

...and it's only until I feel the water surround me that I realize I was above the fountain. Okay, good thing I can swim. I come up to the surface, taking a breath as I grab the edge of the fountain. I take a deep breath, noticing the pistol is still in my hand as I then see Tali sink the combat knife into the lower part of Tela Vasir's leg. It's then that I notice the quarian is on the ground, laying there from probably having been knocked over.

Tela's cry of pain is loud enough, but then I see her get shot somewhere else. There, I see Jarel Brosca standing with his finger on the trigger, and I shake my head as I brush some now thoroughly soaked strands of hair out of my face. I pull myself out, watching as Tela sinks to the ground after Liara shoots her in the stomach again.

The asari Spectre is only strong enough to pull herself back to where I've just pulled myself out of the water. Wow... she took a huge beating. I count at least four bullet wounds, a stab wound... and that's not counting the blood loss from the accident earlier. She glares at Shepard as she and Jarel Brosca come forward. The salarian Spectre shakes his head, sighing sadly at Tela Vasir as she dies slowly.

"I don't understand," says Jarel. "You told me our loyalty was to the Council. Why did you betray them, Tela?"

"You wouldn't understand," spits Tela spitefully. "The Shadow Broker's given me damn good intel over the years. Intel that's kept the Citadel safe, and has saved lives. If he needs a few people to disappear, that's the price to pay."

Jarel shakes his head. "You're wrong," says Jarel, glaring at his former mentor. "You just violated everything the Spectres stood for."

"And Shepard didn't?" asks Tela, glaring at the Commander.

"I already told you why she didn't," replied Jarel, giving Tela a frown. "I'm not explaining myself again. You killed civillians to get your way, Tela. Civilians, the very lives you swore to protect, and the same ones you said you saved with the Shadow Broker's intel. You committed treason worse than ours!"

"And you think you're so high and mighty, Brosca?" she asks. "What about that genophage cure? You believe you're helping the lives you'll save with that, but deep down you know it could create a cataclysm, and it's higher treason than what I've done here on Illium. You know you'll have committed high treason of the greatest order by reversing one of the biggest genetic treatments in the known galaxy. And yet you're doing it anyway, for the good of a few lives. Think of the bigger picture, Brosca! You're damning more lives than you're trying to save!"

I frown, crossing my arms. Oh, no, you are not pulling a Jack Nicholson on him, bitch! "You're only saying that to cover your own fucking ass," I reply angrily. "Stop it."

"I've had enough lecturing from you," says Shepard. "We're facing the Shadow Broker, and we will defeat him."

"It's a fool's errand," replies Tela, even as she coughs up her own blood. "The Shadow Broker is more powerful than anything you've ever faced."

"We'll see about that, bitch," I reply, crossing my arms. "Or do you forget we took down a Reaper?"

Tela frowns, but I walk away from the scene, as does Jarel. The salarian spares her a glance back, shaking his head as he pulls out the OSD from his pocket. Hm... He's not saying anything, even as we walk side by side. I bite my lower lip, letting out a soft exhale as I feel my anger slowly dissipate. Hm... He's probably really conflicted about this...

"You all right, Jarel?" I ask. "I mean, with the whole 'I'm killing my mentor now' thing?"

The salarian takes a deep intake of breath. "I don't know," he admits. "Tela was my mentor, and I looked up to her... She was the one Spectre who inspired me through everything I did as a candidate. And then I found out about all this..." He shakes his head. "I don't know, Art..."

I shrug, looking at him as he opens up his omni-tool. He inserts the OSD into it, looking at the interface with a certain sense of defeat. A few seconds passes in silence, and I close my eyes as we both come to a stop.

"I didn't want it to end like this," he admits right then. "I... I wished Tela could've lived past this. There's nothing we can do now, but..." He shakes his head, closing his eyes. I can see the slight glint of... a tear? A tear rolls down his face. "For the first time in my life, I'm not sure what to do..."

"You'll figure it out," I supply, patting his shoulder comfortingly. "Most people always do."

Jarel nods, opening his eyes and watching as information comes onto his omni-tool. "I guess so," he says. He glances to the side, and then he walks off, looking through the information in a rather disjointed way. He doesn't really look like he cares all that much, anyhow. Must be tough on a student to have to kill his mentor like that, it really must be... I feel bad for him.

I sigh, closing my eyes as watch him stand off. I'll ask him about it later. No use talking about it now, not when he's just had to deal with the whole betrayal aspect of this whole involved rigmarole.

Well... Tela Vasir's dead. I never really liked her, I must say, but even I can't help but be left with the lingering feeling that we could've done something to make sure she lived. I dunno, I would've preferred to bring her alive. Then she could go on trial, then she could be properly punished... killing her now was not the best decision. But, she was resistant to the end. I guess that all things considered, we never really had a choice in the matter.

Eh, I dunno either. This is a little more complicated than I think it really should be. Ah, well... I shake my head, closing my eyes as I think a little further about things not related to this. Soon after, I feel a three-fingered hand brush some strands of drying-up hair out of my face before resting supportively against my shoulder. When I open my eyes and see Tali standing there, I nod, and look out to the skyline of Nos Astra.


Some time later, we've taken a cab all the way back to the spaceport at Nos Astra. I think Shepard and Liara got into some kind of argument before we all took the cab back, but I think things between them will be better somehow. I sit back in the passenger's seat, with Tali sitting behind us as Jarel manipulates the driving board in front of him.

"So, Jarel, what are you planning on doing after this?" I ask.

"I... don't know," says the salarian Spectre. "I do know I want to see this business with the Shadow Broker to the end, though. I am not sure what to do after."

"You could always join the crew of the Normandy," offers Tali. "We could use people like you on the ship."

"With the great Dr. Solus?" asks Jarel, shrugging. "I'm not sure. And I don't know if the Council would take my joining a Cerberus ship all too well."

I shake my head. "We're not Cerberus," I reply. "Not anymore, anyway."

Jarel gives me a confused look. "Really?" he asked. "This is new."

"It happened when we left the Omega 4 relay," I mention. "Let's just say that Shepard gave a large part of Cerberus the galaxy's most explosive middle finger."

"Indeed..." says the salarian nervously. "I guess that makes the decision a little easier, though I doubt the Council and I will see eye to eye, as you humans would say it. I know we don't see eye to eye on the genophage cure." He shrugs. "Tela's a little more correct about the situation than she realized. I know the only reason they let me keep it was because they don't think I can get the resources. I'm not sure why they don't just destroy the data outright, though..."

"I'm sure they know that you've probably got it backed up somewhere," I mention. "Besides, you're a Spectre. You do the things the Council isn't willing to do sometimes."

Jarel nods, looking out at the Nos Astra skyline. "That's true," he says. "I've... got a lot on my mind. I'll have to think about what to do after we take care of the Shadow Broker."

I nod, looking right at the Spectre. "Indeed," I say.

Tali looks out the window as the cab pulls into a parking lot. "Well... here we are," she says. "I guess we'll finally find out what happened with the Normandy."

I nod as the doors open. Jarel steps out first, followed by me. I turn around and help Tali out of there, smiling. "Yeah, I guess we will," I say.

With this, we walk over to the dock at Nos Astra. A little distance away, I can see Jarel step out of his car, helping Liara out as Thane and Shepard both got out of the car. We reconvene close by, and then the seven of us walk over to the docking bay, where no doubt we're going to be seeing the Normandy. Okay... I wonder what Liara's done with this ship. If she's had us stay off it for a week, and spent a hell of a lot of credits, then it's gotta be something big.

We'll find out soon enough.


...

Wow. I got nothin' else to say.

I stand in the docking bay, looking up at the Normandy. Wow... she looks totally different from the last time I saw her, and for a lot of reasons too.

Now the Normandy's paint job is substantially different. No more SR-2 there, nor any more Cerberus logos. Those all got taken off, and replaced with the label SR-3 and a small little written-out symbol on the side that I have never seen. Hm... That's certainly an odd symbol to have. It's something I'll have to ask Liara about later. Well, after we get all this Shadow Broker business done.

And once I've told her the truth about myself. That too.

Or... I can get to that now. Either way.

Anyway, it's now got a more greenish look to it. The symbol is green, and there's just something a lot more green about the whole thing I'm not sure exactly what it is, but it just looks so much better than the old Normandy did. Besides, green is a good color on the Normandy, I have to admit. And the symbol is unique enough that it sets us apart from every other ship. No alignments to Cerberus, no alignments to the Alliance, no alignments to the Council... Just good old fashioned 'ally yourself with whoever the fuck you need to' and we're good.

Best approach for the Reapers, anyhow.

I look up, and I frown ever so slightly. I turn to Liara, who's standing next to me as she seems to admire what all her hard-earned credits went into. I look back at the ship then, smiling.

"You renovated the ship slightly," I say.

The information broker nods. "Yes," she says. "The floor plan is slightly different now. I didn't make too many changes, and I avoided tampering with the drive core, but everything else was fair game."

"Indeed." I look at the ship, my eyes coming to rest on the symbol again. "So what's the symbol you painted on the ship supposed to mean?" I ask.

Liara shrugs. "It's a group of characters from Prothean cuneiform," she says. Hey, so she has encountered it! All right, then that'll make getting that small little tablet we got easier to translate! "It is the word for 'fighter' as written in that writing."

I raise my eyebrows at that. "Really?" I ask. "You know enough about Prothean cuneiform that you know how to spell words?"

I subtly sink my hand into my pocket, grabbing a hold of Orange as Liara goes on. "Oh, yes," she says. "One of my first papers as a doctoral student at the University of Serrice was a paper on old Prothean poetry that was recovered and had to be translated from cuneiform. I had to learn it." She looks up at the symbol. "I chose fighter because that is what we are."

I nod, smiling. "And we'll keep on fighting against the Reapers until we get them," I mention. I smirk at this before turning to the asari. "Is it me, or is this ship slightly bigger than it used to be?" I ask.

"Only slightly," mentioned Liara. "I may have asked to have the hangar bay expanded a small amount."

I raise my eyebrows, crossing my arms. "More hangar space?" I ask. "Hm... That's certainly interesting. Anything else?"

"Oh, nothing extraordinary," she said. She then looks over to where the airlock is. "All of your things should already be in that room by Life Support. The rest of the crew saw to that, or so they tell me."

"We'll have to see," I say, crossing my arms as I smile. "Come on, let's go give this place a looking-over."

And with this, I walk toward the airlock, the asari following my every move as I glance at the exterior again.