It was a bright, warm day on the Citadel, as it was everyday. The artificial sky flickered its blue color with patches of clouds gently floating on the large screen, glitching every so often from the events that had occurred the previous few days. The multiple levels of the station were peaceful then, but there were still scorch marks and mechanical remnants of shuttles burning in the halls and in the Presidium. There were even rumors that the blood of the human ambassador, Udina, had stained the walkways and not even a krogan scrub could wipe his shame clean. Whether literal or not, the Spirits only knew how true that was.
As debilitated as some areas were, no one walking into the E24 holding area would have known the difference. The place had always looked decrepit, but ever since the influx of refugees began to grow almost exponentially the situation was becoming progressively worse. Most blamed the bureaucratic nonsense going on a couple floors below, especially since supplies were being cut back and redistributed for the war effort and Citadel residents. Truthfully, it was probably a mix of panic from law officials and war profiteering from the underground. Either instance would have been a far better situation to commit time investigating than sitting around the docks watching and listening to people cough and cry. Even monitoring the ruckus that was Purgatory would have been a better job. Someone had to make sure the building stressful situation remained at a minimum, however, and he was apart of the unlucky few to take care of it.
Tertius was responsible for reporting every last, little complaint anyone could think of making. Third son of four brothers from a family that had remained at the middle rung of the Turian Hierarchy, it seemed that his destiny was to remain stuck in an infinite loop of desk work and minor complaints for C-Sec. Even in his 'mid-twenties', as the humans put it, he was doing the work new recruits were usually made to do. The other officers assigned to the docks found something useful to do; some had been assigned to help the nurses, others to quell tensions of bad poker hands, while others still kept the refugees from entering the main population of the Citadel. He was confined to a stiff, rolling chair that made his bottom go numb, staring at a computer screen with the names of the dead and any news of the front scrolling in and out of view. Tertius supposed it was better than keeping watch over the far wall where names and pictures were posted. Just gazing at it in the corner of his eye made his chest compress and his legs shift uncomfortably underneath him. He couldn't understand who in their right mind would start trouble over there, but anything was possible.
Tapping his talons on the starch white desk, he stared off to the right, eavesdropping on a poker game not too far away. There were four players, three remaining pretty quiet, but one burly Alliance soldier letting out obscenities every few moments. It was so obnoxious that those half-sleep jumped, grumbling angrily only to be startled again when another bad hand came. He shook his head when the pattern continued, knowing it wasn't going to end any time soon and returning his gaze to his computer. He blinked, however, when he noticed movement that had not been there a minute prior. Looking over the edge of the desk, his chair squeaked when he sat back, surprised to see someone standing there.
What took him aback was her appearance. Even if he wasn't well acquainted with human features according to age, he could tell that she was young, younger than any girl should be wandering alone. She stared dazedly up at the monitors recalling the news of the day, her blond hair tilted on her head in a short ponytail. The screens were muted to keep the noise level down, the subtitles turned off so that one language did not seem favored over another. She seemed just as oblivious to him there as he had been to her, swaying her shoulders slightly in thought with her arms placed behind her back. He looked about to see if there were any human adults nearby she might belong with, but none appeared inherently connected to her.
After a time he spoke, unsure how to begin. He was genuinely curious as to why she was standing there, but his tired, aching body made his words come off a little rough. "What are you doing here?"
Her face twitched at his voice, looking down at him and smiling. "I'm waiting."
"Waiting? Waiting for who?" he asked.
"For my parents," she replied, bobbing her head to emphasize the point. Perhaps she could already tell what he was pondering. "They put me on a rescue transport and told me to wait for them here. They'll come find me as soon as they can."
"Well...I guess this is a safe enough place," Tertius grumbled, eying the surroundings.
The truth was that, although most of the dock's recent inhabitants only wanted refuge from the war, others were not so keen on sharing the already crowded space. In fact, such a fragile looking creature could be taken advantage of fairly easily; he had heard of instances in other sectors where unsuspecting victims were taken for everything they were worth. While his job at C-Sec was simply to monitor the news, file complaints, and check death reports, he couldn't help but forget those tasks, if only for a moment, for what he really wanted. Tertius's dream was to help people on a greater scale, maybe even to join the turian fleets in the fight against the Reapers. He wanted to follow in his older brothers' footsteps, even if he wasn't as smart as they were to become an engineer. Even his younger brother had taken the initiative to enlist, battling with his squad to take back Palaven. Though he would do the assignments his superiors asked of him, he figured it wouldn't hurt to expand his protective duties for the time being.
He leaned closer across the desk, looking to one side then the other and making sure none of the other officers were paying attention. Last thing he needed was for someone to get the wrong idea. "Look. If anyone bothers you, let me know. I'll take care of them, okay?"
She nodded, gazing back up at the monitors. "Sure thing, sir. Thanks."
Tertius stared on for a time before he noticed something. The ruckus in the corner had quieted down, a distinguished figure standing over the noisy soldier. Many of the eyes of both refugees and officers alike were focused on the commander, recognizing the Spectre from any distance. What Commander Shepard was doing in the holding bay was anyone's guess, but the presence of the war hero certainly seemed to lighten the air a little. The commander gave hope to the desolate and defeated, even when it had only been the image of the Alliance leader on the monitors. Seeing Shepard in person, however, was a much needed relief. Even Tertius was a little awe stricken at the sight.
"Is that Commander Shepard?" he heard the girl say quietly, turning his head to face her once more.
"Yeah, pretty sure, anyway," he replied.
"Huh," she wondered aloud, crossing her arms.
"What?" he inquired, gazing back as the commander began to leave.
"I just expected someone...taller?"
Tertius faced her with a narrow gaze, realizing she was joking when he saw the grin on her face. He shrugged, sitting back in his chair. Watching her place her hands upon the desk, he knew she was looking for some kind of rebuttal.
"And you would know what being tall is like?" he sneered, the girl huffing.
"What? I'm tall! In school I was one of the taller girls there!"
"For the humans in your class or...?"
Her smile remained as she stood back. "You're pretty witty for a turian."
"I guess I'll take that as a compliment." He paused and then chuckled, pointing at her slightly. "You know, you remind me of someone."
"Who?" she asked, raising her eyebrows with curiosity.
As he opened his mouth to say something more, the omni-tool on his wrist began to flash. He held up a hand, signaling to the girl that he would continue in a moment. Her smile faded when she stared up at the monitor screens once more, overhearing the conversation taking place.
"Tertius?" another turian spoke over the communication system. Tertius tilted his head, seeing who it was from and looking over to his right at the other desk.
"Akarian? Is there something important? Can't just get up and talk?"
He saw the other C-Sec officer point at computer screen, identical to the one in front of Tertius. Stopping the scrolling list of the deceased, Tertius quickly scanned the orange lettering for what his coworker was mentioning. He only had to thumb through a few of the names before his eyes became wide, his mouth opening slightly in disbelief.
"I-it could still be wrong," Akarian said nervously over the still active line, shaking his head from a distance. "Go check with Commander Bailey on this. I'll cover for you. But, Tertius, if this is accurate...I'm so sorry."
Slowly, he turned off his omni-tool and stood, holding his head and continuing to stare at the names on the screen. Putting the monitor on standby, he glanced up to make his way to the embassies, only to find a pair of sympathetic eyes staring back at him. When she noticed the scowl on his face she diverted her view to the floor, turning on her toes and walking away to the benches. Though he felt like he should say something, Tertius couldn't muster the strength. He found it hard to even make his way to the elevators without breaking down.
Author's Note: I know, I know. It might be a little strange to pick out two of the most vague NPCs of the entire game, but even if they only had three instances of dialogue I felt it was compelling enough to make a story out of, (especially with all the voice cues and mannerisms that occurred). In fact, most conversations on the Citadel could have a story made out of them, (well, except the female Alliance soldier in Purgatory. Funniest stuff to watch, but...yeaaah...lol). Right now, this is rated T for violence and language. If you have a problem with the things you might see/hear on prime time television then you may want to look elsewhere, (but if you've played Mass Effect, I don't see how...Still, I figured I give a warning anyway). More chapters to come, so I hope you enjoyed!