Garrus tapped his fist down on the table. It wasn't exactly a slam, really. It predicted some in the future, though. "It's like chasing smoke, Sidonis. She's here and then she's gone. Most criminals have areas, stomping grounds. But not this one. She's almost certainly not on this planet any more."
"There are richer places than Omega," Sidonis said. On the other side of the desk, he folded his arms and nodded his purple-striped head. The small apartment that served as their base was empty now, but it housed a dozen turians when the group wasn't out on a mission of one sort of another. "But she'll be back."
"The next time a shipment of priceless artwork comes through? We'll see when that happens."
Sidonis looked out the grimy window, and Garrus's gaze followed his over the head of of the turian sitting down on watch outside. Omega was rust-colored and splintered with red-lit guidelines for incoming aircars. "Aria keeps watch on her. She doesn't stop her either, but maybe I can talk to some of her people."
"Be careful with that," Garrus replied. "We may be the new, shiny news around here, but Aria isn't going to like us for very long."
Sidonis laughed and turned back from his contemplation of the skies. "You mean, you're going to make sure she doesn't like us."
"She's a crime lord. I left C-Sec so that I could deal with crime lords in...my own way. Let me do that work."
"You're a hard one, Garrus. I don't think any of us could stop you."
Garrus looked around. The room looked so empty, with only a couple crates and a salvaged, frizzing, brown couch in it besides the datapads the group used to get things done. The operation was starting small, but it would grow. Then, Garrus would be able to do his job right. He would work like he had worked under Shepard.
He said, "You don't have to worry about that. But Kasumi Goto does."
Her cloak didn't distort the world around her. The only indication she had that it was working was the little insignia in the corner of her HUD, and the fact that the six turians walking right under her hiding place didn't see her.
She gripped the edge of the girder tightly and leaned out of the partially completed roof. Nothing on Omega ever seemed to get completed. The workers ran out of money, or the company ran out of workers because people starting shooting at them. Therefore, it was a great place to climb and hide. A virtual playground. Kasumi couldn't help but grin. Sure, you had to work around Aria, and because of that, Kasumi didn't come often. Nor was there all that much in the way of white-collar crime. White collars tended to get dirty here real fast. But there was the occasionally fantastically unexpected heist, and for that, Kasumi braved Omega.
And now there were these turians.
Everything was wrong about them, down to their walk. Nobody walked like they owned Omega. Aria owned Omega. But these turians walked like they owned Omega and the star system it floated in. They had the police walk down pat. No one bothered them, because they also had the mass of weapons thing down pat.
They just looked so out of place! The universe was such a funny thing.
She wondered how long it would take them to leave.
"Hey, Keiji. I've found some new faces," she whispered into the tiny radio sewn into her cowl.
"Those turians we've been hearing about?" her partner said.
Keiji's face appeared in miniature to her right as the visor registered that he was piggybacking on her camera. "Which one's Archangel?"
A red warning light lit up on her visor's left side, opposite Keiji. Kasumi jumped up and backwards.
A gunshot struck the railing where she had been a moment before. Kasumi switched her cloak on. She whispered, "I've run into some trouble. Keep track for me."
Keiji's small image nodded.
Three more shot in quick success and then they stopped, and the thief edged her way around the balcony, peering into the darkness. There were many ways to die here. Many things to fall off. A maze of catwalks and viewing spots hung over Omega's pedestrian streets. One side of this particular balcony was open, haloed with pipes that had been being fixed by a mech a few hours earlier. It had gone, but the part of catwalk that it had removed remained gone. A six-foot-square hole looked down onto the floor.
Her attacker emerged slowly into the light, sweeping his head from side to side. It was hard to tell he was turian under all that armor, but he had that distinct box-turtle look to the armor around his neck ridge. Kasumi opened her radio channels, trying to catch stray transmissions. If he was with the group below, he wasn't broadcasting.
She crept closer.
This was Archangel. She recognized the striped pattern on his armor, and cocked her head. Funny. She'd never seen him in person before, although varying images of him were available on the extranet if you knew where to look. In person, he was...about as big as she expected.
He said, "I know you're up here." The voice was very calm for someone being stalked...which reminded Kasumi that she should probably level her gun at him at some point, even if she didn't intend to kill him. The sniper rifle was still held in her hands, its tip dipping toward the ground, but the hands around it remained ready to fire. Kasumi's own rifle settled comfortably into her arms.
Archangel stooped. Kasumi wasn't sure why, but then there was a little metal canister rolling toward her on the floor, softly rumbling.
Kasumi cursed and jumped to the side. She made it nearly to the railing before the smoke grenade went off, filling the balcony with a thick white mist. Kasumi could see the canned mist reacting with her shields, sparking slightly.
Archangel fired. Kasumi backed up further, risking taking one hand from her gun to feel for the railing at her back. "Come on, Archangel. Can't we talk about this? We could do it over dinner!" She kept her tone jaunty.
The blare of Archangel's rifle seemed to crack the air. The shot got the railing next to Kasumi's hands, and she flinched. Luckily, he couldn't have seen it.
Except, the smoke was dissipating.
Kasumi deactivated her cloak. Archangel's dark, bulky form in the distance immediately turned toward her. She smiled. "Well, I hate cooking dextro anyway."
Archangel didn't charge. She had expected him too. Her plan, in fact, depended on it, but he suddenly didn't seem to be a charging sort of guy.
So she kept being jaunty, and walked slowly toward the open side of the catwalk. The smoke still curled listlessly along the ground, obscuring neither her nor the gap. Archangel stalked toward it, head lowered like a bull.
Kasumi tossed a flashbang grenade. Her HUD dampened the light for her just as it exploded in front of Archangel's face. Kasumi jumped. She felt her feet push off of Archangel's shoulders as she vaulted again, arching backward as she grabbed one of the pipes the mech had left behind. It slithered out of the pile it had been placed in, and Kasumi dropped to the floor with the cable stringing behind her.
Archangel was shaking his head and pulling his gun close to his body as he tried to get rid of the effects of the flash grenade. He started stepping toward the black blur that she must look like to him.
Kasumi pulled the cable taut.
It was like a cartoon. The cable caught Archangel under the chin as he walked forward, and she saw his balance fail for one precarious moment. It wasn't enough, of course; he wouldn't be magically propelled over the edge.
So she darted behind him and pushed him.
It was inelegant and she was lucky it worked, and it was hilarious. Turian and cable reeled toward the edge of the platform, and there was one moment where Kasumi thought Archangel would grab onto the open grating of the floor and save himself from certain humiliation. Therefore, she took that moment to kick his hand.
Kasumi said, "Oops."
Archangel fell about nine feet. His armor saved him. He hit the ground with a clatter, but seconds later he was lifting his head and shoulders up with steady arms. Kasumi stepped back from the edge and crouched, activating her shield again. Both the smoke and the light had faded.
Archangel's squad hustled around the corner to meet him, and as soon as Kasumi saw them, she left.
He knocked on her door.
Kasumi looked up from the couch on which she had been sleepily contemplating a book of Japanese paintings. She liked to count how many of the originals she had stolen.
She looked up as Archangel let himself in.
Of course, he went by Garrus now. His ridge armor was spotted and torn with scarring just like his face, and he was, if not less violent, at least restricting the violence to the Collectors. She wondered if he held grudges.
Kasumi waggled the fingers of one gloved hand in a lazy sort of wave.
Garrus said, "I wanted to talk to you."
"Sure." When in doubt, act perky. She felt that was part of her charm. "Is this about the time I tripped you?"
He folded his arms and walked toward the bar. "In a way."
She swung her legs off the couch. The book remained comfortably flattened on her lap for a moment before she propped it on the back of the couch. "I'm not going to steal anything, if that's what you mean. Cerberus is paying me to be here. And besides, I'm growing fond of Shepard. In a non-creepy sort of way."
Kasumi thought that Garrus might pick something out from the bar, but instead he simply turned and looked at her with his mismatched eyes. She wondered whether the holographic visor over one side of his face worked as well as her sunglasses-shaped one did.
He said, "You might remember someone I was working with, named Sidonis."
He stared at her like that ought to mean something.
"Nope," she said. "Sorry. I only recognized you because of your armor."
His mandibles separated and snapped shut. "I...oh. Never mind."
"No problem, Garrus. I can call you that, right? Cause Archangel is kindof a mouthful."
He barked a laugh. "Yeah. Go ahead. If Shepard thinks you should be here, I can't stop you."
She said, "But you'd like to?" She wasn't sure what he would do next.
He said, "You're a thief. I'm...I was C-Sec."
"And Samara is a Justicar, and Thane is an assassin. Have they had any trouble? I don't think they talk."
"Ah, I haven't actually thought about..."
Kasumi said, "What?" She looked over her shoulder at the corner of the room he was staring into.
Garrus said, "Is that a turian battle spike?"
Garrus charged across the room. He tactfully avoided brushing against any of the pieces of art on the walls. The battle spike was propped up in the corner, next to Kasumi's dresser. It had been hard to find a buyer willing to bring it across planetary quarantine lines, as some said that the stain on the upper third of the thing was blood. Kasumi was pretty sure it was just degradation of the Palaven-born materials.
She walked around the couch. "I think it is, Garrus. I don't have a buyer yet. Do you want it?"
He reached out to touch it but didn't actually close his claws around the shaft. "This was stolen from the monument to Korulus the Betrayer."
"Oh, so that's who those statues were of," Kasumi mused as she sat down on the bed. Yesterday, Shepard had taken her out on a mission to dodge through some radiation-filled sunlight and get shot at by a Colossus. Today was not a standing up sort of day. Also, the bed was soft.
Garrus stood up and looked at her. "They were very valuable to the township that had been entrusted with them!"
Kasumi wasn't sure what to say to that. 'Then they should have entrusted to someone else with better security' came to mind, but Garrus was looking very serious. So she shrugged.
He got up in one massive motion and stalked across the room, back toward the door. "I can't believe Shepard allowed you...I mean...I'm sorry."
Kasumi cocked her head. "It's okay. I'm not exactly used to being welcome in most places. Honestly, being somewhere where no one's putting up counter-measures against my kind is nice."
He turned around fast. "Don't try to pass off thieves as an oppressed race, Goto."
She shrugged again.
He said, "It's just that you were one of the last people we went after before Sidonis ratted me out. I guess I'm looking for a connection."
Kasumi hopped off the bed. "Do you blame me? I don't think knocking you off that ledge knocked you down in his opinion. It would have happened either way."
"Would it have?" He turned and looked at her straight on again.
She said, "Shep wouldn't like it if we fought in the ship."
Garrus growled, "No, probably not." He paused. "I could report your possession of that artifact to the turian councillor."
"Or you could sit down and tell me what happened with Sidonis."
She hadn't expected to be quite so open, but she would also rather talk than fight. Garrus seemed like a nice guy once you got past the gun.
It worked better than she had expected as a deflection, though. Garrus raised his clawed hands to his face and shook his head. "I already talked about it with Shepard. But thank you. Seeing that, just reminded me...reminded me that I shouldn't be talking about this." He revealed his face and straightened up.
Kasumi huffed. "Because I should be talking to ex-C-Sec. We're all on the same team here, Garrus."
"That's what people say." He strode back over to the battle spike and picked it up. Kasumi tried to avoid doing that: it was heavy and she had no idea what to do with it, and besides, you shouldn't handle relics like that without gloves. But Garrus's scaled hands fitted expertly around it and seemed like they couldn't possibly damage it. It was made for chitin like that. He hefted it, not facing her. "And then people betray you."
The spike tipped back against the wall. Garrus's shoulders slumped, and then there he was, the entirety of him kneeling on the floor and, what was wrong with him? What hurt had Shepard not yet been able to fix? Kasumi known about Sidonis, and she knew that Shepard had gone to talk to Garrus afterward. She knew nothing else.
She knelt down beside Garrus and put a hand on his shoulder. It was very metallic. "If it helps at all, I'm sorry."
His head bowed. "It helps a little."
He stood, and she got out of the way fast as he turned to face her. "I let him live. I let Sidonis go. He might betray someone else."
"Or," said Kasumi, "he might be loyal to someone else."
They stared each other down.
"Okay," said Kasumi. She flopped over the back of the couch and switched her visor on, hiding her eyes. "We're on the level. I'm not going to steal from you- or Shepard- and you aren't going to arrest me. Okay?"
Garrus nodded. "And, do me a favor. Don't tell Shepard I...told you all this."
"Don't worry. In my mind, you're still one hundred percent hard, soulless tough guy!"
He showed up another day and she flinched, thinking that he was going to get her about the battle spike still propped in the corner (and still on the market).
He said, "You've got marks on your face too."
She gestured to her lipstick pattern. "Yeah. I started this before I knew that turians did it. Don't you do it based on province or something?"
"It's based on the region we come from, yes. And our family; there's a complex heraldic system."
"Mine just looks pretty."
"I saw it in a picture once. I stole the original a while back, but there wasn't much time for reminiscing. Anyway, I just thought it was pretty. It isn't permanent." She smiled. "I could change mine to match yours if I really wanted to."
Garrus said, "But then you'd have changed the place you come from."
Kasumi said, "Even once I realize you're not always serious, I have so much trouble telling whether you are or not."
She walked into gunnery one day when he was in the middle of some calibrations.
"Come on, Kasumi," he growled. "Can't you make some noise when you walk?"
She leaned against the wall. "When you were taking the Blue Suns apart, did you happen to see the Mona Lisa?"
"It's a prestigious human work of art. About this big-" she gestured a few feet square- "Dark, picture of a smiling woman?"
"That doesn't sound familiar to me. I may have been a bit busy with the gunfighting."
"Aw." Kasumi bit at her lower lip. "I was hoping it wouldn't get damaged. I sold it to the Blue Suns last time I was on Omega...which may actually have been the last time I ran into you there. Huh."
Garrus turned back to his computer. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Okay." She waved. "Thanks, Garrus."
"Wait, yours plays music?" Kasumi leaned across the seat of the shuttle to look at Garrus's visor. The turian shifted uncomfortably.
Shepard said, "Stay focused."
Kasumi straightened up. "Aw, but Shep, his plays music."
Shepard took them through Omega once more, to help the Justicar. Garrus was getting tired of the place, but he also was relieved that he knew it so well. Aria would push this far, and the rest of the world would try to push back. The virus in the slums was just one more shove.
This time, though, he watched Kasumi parading through the streets she had probably sneaked through far more times than he knew, and there was something reassuring about her visibility.
But then of course they had to pass under that balcony. The catwalk had been repaired and the pipes and cables tucked away into the ceiling, but Garrus remembered. He had known the maps of Omega well, and he could remember exactly where his crew had been going on that day when the thief had shown up out of the corner of his visor.
He couldn't help but look up as they passed underneath. "Ah. Good times," he muttered.
"Wait," Kasumi said. "I know this one. That was, ah, a joke."
Garrus said, "Yeah, you could say that."
Shepard said, "It's good to see you two getting along."