Premise: Shepard is has left the Alliance years ago after the tragety at Akuze and is now working as a mercenary. Garrus decided to disobey his father's wishes and continue his Spectre training; he has since been accepted into the Spectres.
Warnings: Though I have read over this section multiple times, I have not had a secondary reader for it, and I've been known to miss things before. That said, though I realize that I sometime miss things, I do not have any plans on getting a beta reader for this story. Please take that into account when reading this story.
Also, I do not own anything from the Mass Effect universe, much to my disappointment. It all belongs to Bioware, and I'm just taking it for a theoretical joy ride.
He was awoken from a deep sleep by a insistent ringing. It wasn't until his alarm clock broke in several pieces against a far wall that he realized that it was his private line to the Council. He had gotten back from a mission just (he glared at his Omni-Tool to bring it into focus) two hours ago; they usually let him have a day to recover. Whatever it was, it was important. He rolled out of bed reluctantly and patched the line through to his visor. "Vakarian," he said gruffly, not even trying to control his annoyance. They were lucky he had answered the phone at all.
"How soon can you get to the Council chambers?" the turian councilor's secretary asked without preamble. She didn't seem at all bothered by his attitude, and he assumed that he should be thankful that it wasn't the councilor. He would worry about that after he found out what the hell was going on.
He sighed heavily and probably muttered a curse phrase by accident. "Give me twenty minutes," he answered starting to pull on fresh clothes and then his armor over that. There were still dents and grim covering it from his previous mission, and he didn't have the time to clean it. "I assume the details were forwarded to me."
"They're on your Omni-Tool," she answered shortly and closed the feed. She probably didn't even know what the details were; she probably didn't have any better idea about what was going on than he did. Days like today, he wondered if he should have listened to his father and skipped Spectre training for C-Sec, but every time he thought this, he knew that he wouldn't have been satisfied with it.
He passed four humans on his way to the Council chambers. They were standing off to the side of the stairs talking in serious tones; he recognized two of them. The human ambassador he easily recognized; the man was in the Council chambers at least once a week complaining about something. All the Spectres knew him by name and by face, which was impressive since he could barely tell the difference between most humans.
The other man was a living legend, both for humans and everyone else; his name was David Anderson. He was currently a Captain in the Alliance, but he had once been considered for the Spectres. In Garrus' opinion, the only reason the man hadn't made it was because of Saren. Saren might be one of the top Spectre agents, but his hatred of humans was well-known, even by his Spectre compatriots.
The Council seemed unnaturally tense as he approached, and he knew that whatever they had summoned him for wouldn't be good. He had expected this, of course, when they had summoned him in the middle of the night (or at least his) without warning. He also had a sinking suspicion that it would have something to do with the humans he had passed. He didn't know human expressions well, but he had read anger in their faces, especially the dark-haired man he hadn't recognized.
"We have a... situation," the salarian councilor said to start the conversation. He looked worried, which was unusual for the councilor. He usually did well in keeping his expressions neutral, devoid of whatever thought process that was going on in his head.
"Nyhlus is dead," the turian councilor said bluntly. He seemed... displeased but not angry or worried; he showed no obvious signs of distress. It didn't add up. Yes, the councilor was a royal pain in the ass, but Nyhlus had been a turian, a highly decorated Spectre, only second in the ranks to Saren.
"What?" he choked out in surprise, now fully awake since he had received the call that woke him up. "How?" Garrus was very upset by the news, but he held it in check the best he could. Nyhlus had been his training agent; he had been the one that had gotten him into the Spectres in the first place. He was a close friend, and now he was dead. Garrus vowed that he would bring the person or persons responsible in or kill them himself. Those humans had better hope that it hadn't been their fault.
"The humans you no doubt passed on your way here are suggesting that Saren was the one that pulled the trigger," the asari councilor explained. "They say he was on the human colony Eden Prime to capture a Prothean beacon unearthed there. No sooner had Nyhlus sent out with support from the Alliance, it was attacked by the Geth."
"The colony survived," the salarian said in expectation of Garrus' question, "but the beacon was destroyed."
"The humans are claiming that it burnt images into the mind of one of the survivors; a man named Kaidan Alenko," the turian councilor explained further.
"We believe that the Humans are going to try to find evidence of Saren's guilt," the salarian councilor. "We want you to keep an eye on them and make sure any evidence they find is real. We do not want you to stop them; we do not want you to aide them unless you think their evidence is valid."
"This mission is of the utmost secret, Agent Vakarian," the asari councilor explained. "We have evidence that the notorious assassin and mercenary known as Shepard is looking into this as well."
"Capture her if she is working against us; leave her if she is not,"
"Leave her?" Garrus questioned. Shepard (no one knew if that was her real name) was wanted dead or alive by the same council members that were telling him to leave her alone. It didn't make any sense to him, unless she was working for them as well. According to rumors she was the best assassin currently active in Council space and the second best mercenary in the galaxy. She had a knack for commanding a small force; if she wasn't working alone, she would only have two others with her. And yet, she could pull off missions others considered suicidal. Among her acknowledged kills were Spectres, dignitaries, and crime lords. If she was paid to kill them, they died; she never failed, even when she was set up against other assassins or mercenaries.
"Yes, Agent Vakarian," the turian councilor repeated. "Leave her. If she offers to work with you, take her with you; if she goes up against you, kill her."
None of this made sense, but he knew better than to continue to ask questions. They would either refuse to answer them or take him off the case permanently, and he most certainly didn't want to be taken off the case. "I'll get right on it," he said as made his way out of the Council chambers. The humans he had spotted on his way in were no longer there. Knowing his luck, they would have just left, and he would have to wait for the lift to come back up to him. By the time he made it down to the main level of the Proscienium, the humans were no where in sight.
There was a young human female directly across from the elevator, but she appeared to be nothing other than an aide to one of the many diplomats. She was studying something on her Omni-Tool, probably some recent poll. Thinking nothing more of her presence, he made his way over to the railing beside her. With any luck, he would still be able to spot the humans.
"They've already made their way into Barla Von's office," she said quietly as he came up beside her. He nearly jumped out of his skin.
"Who are you and what are you talking about?" he demanded turning his best intimating stare her way. Most people buckled completely under it, but she didn't even seem to flinch. She still continued to stare at her Omni-Tool.
"And here I thought the Council already warned you that I was also on the case," she said without looking at him, but her mouth turned into an almost evil smirk. She still hadn't even made eye contact with him. "It appears rumors of your superior skills were vastly overrated."
He glared at her. She certainly didn't fit the description of the notorious assassin, but that still wasn't an excuse for his lack of perception; he must be more tired than he thought. This was extremely dangerous. Without thinking, he just walked up to the best assassin in the galaxy; she could have killed him right there. Then again, her hair and eyes were the wrong color. This woman had light color hair (he had heard people refer to it as blonde?), but Shepard was known to have dark red hair. Her eyes were blue, and Shepard's were reported to be green. She also didn't have Shepard's tell-tale orange scares. Surely this woman wasn't the assassin.
"The humans you're tacking went into Barla Von's office looking for information. Luckily for you, I know where they are headed, and I have a plan to get them to work with us. That is, if you trust me enough to follow me," she said moving away from the guardrail and towards the elevator to the wards.
For a moment, he thought about his options. He could wait outside Barla Von's office and follow the humans from there, and from what he understand of her plan, Shepard would eventually join back up with them. But then she would be without an escort, and he didn't like way she said that she had a plan. His other option was to follow her and keep an eye on her, but then he wouldn't have any eyes on the Alliance officers. However, he trusted them to not do anything too stupid since they worked for government officials, and it appeared to him that Shepard had some way to track them. In then end, it was a no brainer; he went with Shepard.
She quickly led them to a Citadel Rapid Transportation vehicle. She got in and input their destination as Chora's Den, a gentleman's club at the edge if the ward, just close enough to not have any Ward designation but far enough not to be considered part of the Proscenium. He wanted to ask her more questions, but almost as soon as the doors closed, she started to undress. He quickly adverted his gaze in embarrassment. She laughed. "Never seen a girl undress before, Vakarian?" she teased, and he wasn't sure if she was leading him or not.
"Not that it's any of your business, but yeah," he answered then tried his best to keep from blushing, the turian equivalent. He wasn't sure how well she could read turian expressions. "I just don't find human females attractive."
"You're missing out, Vakarian," she answered with another chuckle as she slid back into the front seat. All of a sudden, she was no longer the respectable woman that he had meet. In the matter of several moments, she had gone from respectable woman to notorious assassin. She had tight fitting, dark colored pants in a fabric he thought was leather (as archaic the fabric was) and a tight vest whose back was nothing but lace; down her right arm and back was a ornate tattoo of a dragon and phoenix (two mythic human animals that he only knew of because the tattoo was in her file) battling each other. Her face also seemed crisscrossed by deep, orange colored scars. He could have sworn that he saw red cybernetics in her eyes almost overloading the green of her irises. Her hair hadn't changed though.
He was going to ask her about the wisdom of heading to Chora's Den in that outfit, but he decided that it was probably better that he didn't. Though she had been friendly so far, there was no guarantee that she wouldn't turn on him; in such tight quarters she had the advantage. She was smaller than most of the humans he had met. She was shorter, though not the shortest; she was thin but obviously capable of killing a man quickly. Overall, he was surprised. He wasn't sure what he expected, but it certainly wasn't what he had found.
"Your awful quiet," she commented as the car started to land at their destination. There was an... aura about her that oozed hubris. It layered everything she said with an air of the feeling that she was laughing at him. He wasn't use to that, not any more at least. He had received that feeling a lot when he had started with the Spectres, but since then, he had earned their respect. Now, he found himself bristling at her dismissal.
"I believe on of your human philosophers said, 'Better to be silent and have people believe you are a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt,'" he answered dismissively and quickly looked around his surroundings to make sure there weren't any unpleasant surprises waiting for him. There was really no telling with this woman.
She chuckled at him. "So you're either only playing the fool, or you actually are one," she said her contempt flowing over her words. "That certainly explains a lot." He turned to glare at her, but all he saw was her back and... backside. He quickly diverted his gaze. He knew that several of his comrades had fallen her victims because they had allowed themselves become enamored with her. He wasn't about to give her that sort of advantage over him.
Cautiously he followed her, but the area surrounding Chora's Den was well-known to be exceptionally quiet, even if (or, if his suspicions were right, because of) the alleged criminal activities that went through the club. He shouldn't really have been concerned. He had come to the club several times in civies and had gotten no trouble; who in their right mind would bother him now that he was in full armor and with an entire armory at his back?
Apparently those guys, he thought sarcastically as soon as he rounded the bend to see two assassins lying in wait for someone, but they hadn't made a move to intercept him or Shepard. Nonetheless, he jumped back into the alcove to give him some cover from the men, but Shepard however seemed to have other ideas because she was on a direct intercept trajectory. He wanted to stop her, question her about what she was doing with a whisper, but they were too close for him to stop her in time. He would just have to listen to the conversation over the comm link that she had set up to him.
"Hello, Gentlemen," she said as she sashayed up to them, her body language dripping with seduction and her face contorted with a beguiling smile. Even without getting the full effect of her attentions, he wanted to give in to her, but he refused to allow himself to think too much on her. "Why don't y'all come on inside? I promise you a good time. I assure you that you won't regret it." She acted almost as if she was drunk.
One of the men was completely in her grip, and he easily let her take his hand to lead him wherever she wanted to go. The other man though seemed to be able to hold out just long enough to know what sort of mayhem would rain down on him if he was to give in to her. "Afraid we can't," he said gruffly but didn't have the will to pull back from her.
Shepard didn't let his answer throw her. Instead, she kept up her act and turned her full attention to him. As she moved closer to the man and started drawing invisible patterns on the chest plate of his armor, the other man moved to hold her from behind and to start to nibble on her neck. "What's so important soldier that can keep such a fine looking man such as you from enjoying the company of such a beautiful woman such as me?"
Even the second man couldn't resist her allure, and he was starting to lower his head to take advantage of her awaiting lips. His partner though was too focused on what he was doing to see that he was giving in too. "Come on, Kriluk," he said heavily into Shepard's neck. "The fools Saren has us tracking haven't even made off the Proscenium yet."
Suddenly, Garrus hear the distinct sound of bare knuckles hitting heavy turian armor. Without another second of hesitation, he turned the corner and started to pull his assault rifle off his back, but before it was even fully extended for battle, Shepard had successfully unarmed them and snapped their necks. For a moment, he just stood there in shock. Here she was unarmed and unarmored, and she had successfully taken on two of Saren's top men.
She smirked at him, her drunken seductress act completely gone. She seemed to be trying to lift one of the bodies. "Well, you going to help me or just stand there staring at me?" she asked, and he found himself stepping to help her before he could stop himself. What is this woman? he questioned, but he couldn't come up with a descent answer. She seemed to be able to get people to do whatever she wanted them to do with minimal effort.
"What are we doing with them?" he asked lifting the second one and slinging his arm across his own shoulders as if the man was simply drunk, not dead.
"Disposing of them, of course," she answered in a flippant, dismissive way. It was like she thought that it was obvious and she was almost annoyed that he didn't see it.
"Where?" he asked, preparing himself to carry this guy at least to the alley.
"Right here," she answered flinging the man she had over the railing and pushing his body so that it would fall down the probably bottomless channel on the other side. "If anyone finds him wherever he lands, they won't be able to identify him except from DNA; but it's more likely that the Keepers will find him first."
He had to admit that the plan had its merits. It kept the bodies out of the way at least long enough for them to finish what they were doing. As he flung the body he was carrying into the blackness though, he wondered just how many bodies she had disposed of this way. He quickly realized that he didn't want to know, but he would certainly make sure that he wasn't one of them.
"Righty!" she said with another evil smirk crossing her face and dusting off invisible dust from her hands. "Now we're back to more important things like finding information and getting my weapons back."
"Your weapons back?" he questioned but found himself falling into step beside her once again.
"Yeah," she said with a dismissive wave like this wasn't even a big deal. "Even in disguise, I couldn't risk taking my weapons on the Proscenium so I left them with someone I knew that I could trust with them. Paid him enough to hold them for me and get information," she muttered as if she begrudged every single credit she had given her contact. "He should have gotten me something useful by now."
Without further ado, she confidently walked into Chora's Den and headed for a table in the back whose sole occupant was an older human male obviously rather far into his drink. He looked at Shepard with the same estimating eye that Saren's two assassins had, and for a moment, he thought that the man was going to join them in the grave, especially after the man's greeting, "That outfit certainly looks good on that bod of yours."
Shepard however just deepened her smirk. "We've already talked about this, Harkin. I would rather gargle acid after chewing on razor blades."
Harken chuckled. Garrus knew a little about the man. He had been the first human in C-Sec, but almost everyone knew that he was a screw up and probably dirty. The man had almost every citation in the books, but the human embassy use to step in for him. With the amount of humans in C-Sec currently, they had stopped covering for him. He had been kicked out of C-Sec a couple of weeks ago. "After my time in C-Sec, I've been called every name in the books. You'll have to do better than that. Who's the turian?" he asked throwing a thumb over his shoulder to point directly at Garrus.
Shepard didn't miss a beat. "Access," was all she told the rather inebriated human. "Now, where's my armor and weapons, and what kind of information do you have for me?"
Harkin sighed. "You're always so busy. We never talk any more."
Shepard's smirk started to falter. As the conversation wore on, she seemed to be in less and less of a good mood, and he hoped for Harkin's sake that the man would just shut up and tell her what she wanted to know. "Harkin, I'm paying you enough for these two simple tasks for you to start another life, but I'm losing my patience. You don't give me the information I want, and I will have to conclude that you're more trouble than your worth."
"Fine, fine," the human said holding his hands up as if to ward off her foul mood. "Morlan in the lower wards is holding onto your weapons and armor for you. Just talk to him, and it'll look like a normal business transaction. I've already bribed him for you so don't let him rip you off.
"As for your crime lord buddy," Harkin continued after he took a drink from his glass, "he's sent men to shut up a human medic in a small clinic up a level and around the corner. His men should be getting there in a few minutes, but she should have information or at least a lead. Now, can I get back to my drinking?"
She smirked. "One last favor and I'll leave you be, Harkin. There should be a group coming to ask you questions. It should be two Alliance soldiers and a krogan mercenary; you're to let them know the same thing that you told me and do whatever want you to give them a bit of a hard time. I will need time to get into my armor after all.""
"The amount your paying me only covered keeping your weapons and armor safe and getting you a lead on Saren," Harkin said with a smirk. "Anything else will cost you more."
For a moment, it looked as if Shepard was really arguing with herself about just how useful Harkin was and whether or not she really needed it. "I'll cover your tab, but that's all your getting Harkin."
"Fine," he said as he finished his drink and waved the waitress over to order another drink. "And make sure it's the good stuff. This nice lady is paying."
"I hope you find something to do, Harkin," Shepard said as she got up from the table, "now that C-Sec finally realized just how much of an embarrassment you are. The humans are reporting to Captain David Anderson; I'm sure that information will help you keep them occupied while I get set up. As soon as they're gone, I suggest you run for the hills, though. It's likely that I'll be stopping back by this bar with guns draw soon afterwards." She stopped by the bar to arrange for Harkin's tab to be paid when he left, and they were on their way towards the Markets.
This conversation, though rather straight forward, caused Garrus to have more questions than before. The questions ranged from 'Why Shepard was so interested in proving Saren's guilt?' to 'What sort of deal had Shepard made with the Council?' As this mission went on, he felt more and more like just a piece of baggage that Shepard decided to carry around.
"I have some questions, Shepard," he said after she got her armor from a nervous-looking salarian. In the end, she had to promise to only buy her gear from him whenever she was on the Citadel, and he could tell that this whole game was starting to wear on her. It was like she was holding a mask over her real emotions and reasons.
"Shoot," she said as she made her way behind some stacked crates. He had enough common sense not to follow her; she had wanted to change into her armor, after all.
"Why Harkin?" he asked. He figured that was a good question to start off with. It was unlikely that she had just met the man on the sidewalk and offered him the job. She must have meet him and worked with him before, and since he had only recently separated from C-Sec, it stood to reason that her previous contact with him had been while he was an officer.
"I use to use him a lot when he was a C-Sec agent," she said confirming his suspicions. "I had blackmail on him that he couldn't let the Executor see so I could get him to do just about anything and get me just about any information for free. Since his split from C-Sec though, his price has skyrocketed."
There was another thing. Where was she getting the credits for this mission? "Who has you going after Saren?" he asked next. If he was stuck helping her, he wanted to know who he needed to charge expenses to.
For a moment though, she didn't say a word. In fact, there was no sound on the other side of the crates. Something about it gave him the impression that she was trying to figure out if she wanted to tell him the truth or not. "No one has hired me to go after Saren," she responded, a clip in her voice as if this information cost her something to admit it.
This rocked his understanding of this issue. He had thought that the Council had hired her to track the rogue Spectre down; she certainly had the skills, and it would keep them from risking their other agents. But he believed that she was telling the truth. The human vocal range was no nearly was ranged as his own kind, and it was easy for him to hear the pain in her voice. "Then why are you tracking him down?" he asked next.
This time though, she seemed prepared for his question since she didn't hesitate to answer, and it sounded like she had gotten her emotions back under control. "My boyfriend was on Eden Prime. He's dead because of Saren, and I plan to track the son-of-a-bitch down and put him through so much pain that he begs for me to end his worthless, pathetic life."
Now this is the famous assassin that I've heard so much about, he thought, but still wondered at the venom that layered her voice. She wanted nothing but straight out revenge, but it was almost a relief that he wasn't helping some gutless politician with his political career. Still, he questioned the wisdom of helping this woman get what she wanted. It was obvious that she would stop at nothing to put a bullet (or something worse) in Saren's skull. Was helping her to her goal really the best idea?
He was still contemplating that when she stepped out from behind the crates in custom painted blue armor and as many weapons as him. She was just snapping her visor into place. Almost absentmindedly, he noticed that it was from the same manufacturer as his, but a model made for humans. It was the quality of the weapons on her back that really concerned him. Her weapons were all Spectre-grade, which only Spectres were authorized to buy. "Where'd you get your weapons?" he asked as he once again fell into step beside her.
"Most I got off men I've killed," she said just a guarded as when he had first met her. She didn't seem at all worried about admitting that she had killed Spectres before, not that it surprised him. It was in her file after all, but he was surprised that she seemed willing to talk about it to another Spectre. And she said it so naturally like it wasn't even that unusual. Perhaps this was all an elaborate ruse to kill him. Almost as quickly as the thought came, he dashed it; it was highly unlikely that he had pissed of anyone with enough funds to kill him. He was considered one of the younger Spectres.
They were passing a young Human woman who seemed to have caught Shepard's eye, and she turned to the woman with a smile. "You're Emily Wong. You're doing a piece on organized crime on the Citadel, correct?"
"Yes," the young woman answered, looking very worried that this harsh looking woman with her turian comrade had taken noticed of her. Even Garrus had to admit that Shepard certainly looked like she belonged in the underworld. Probably because she does, he reminded himself. He couldn't afford to classify her as on his side; she wasn't. It was likely that she would turn on him as soon as he stopped being useful.
"There should be a group with two Alliance officers and a krogan following me shortly. Ask them to see if they can get Fist's files during their investigation. If you address the human male, he should agree to help you. Just don't tell them that I was the one that suggested it, will you?" Shepard said with another blazing smile.
The young woman looked confused and started asking questions about how she knew about her investigation and who she was, but Shepard just kept walking. He was starting to realize just how hodgepodge Shepard's plan actually was. There was no way that she could have known that the human woman would be here; in fact, he had questions about how Shepard had known who she was. He probably would never have an answer to this question, but he still had it nonetheless.
Shepard stopped just outside the med-clinic's door with her ear pressed against it. "There's a struggle. If we hurry, we should be able to get in the door without them seeing us," she said pulling out her pistol.
"But how will we stop them without risking the doctor?" he asked. Surely the doctor knew something; that would be the only reason Fist would send some of his men to take care of her. In all likelihood, the hired thugs would have a gun pointed directly at her. If they made their presence known, the thugs would likely use her as a human shield and hold the gun directly to her head.
Shepard smiled another of her wicked-looking smirks. "We'll just have to hope that our backup team makes a good distraction," she said as she popped the door open and ducked inside. He had no choice but to follow her and hope that this didn't turn out badly.