Chapter 8: The End … But Not Really
Final chapter here, people. Thanks to everyone who read, reviewed, favorited, or followed. Special thanks to Theodur and Fox House, who reviewed multiple chapters. You guys deserve a million cakes. Chocolate ones. One final time, I own nothing, not even the computer this was written on.
The squad made their way to the end of the foreboding hallway, and stepped inside the Broker's personal quarters. The room was dark, lit only by the screens of various terminals. A hulking shape of unknown species was seated behind the desk at the back of the room.
What the hell is that? That guy is freakin' huge. I really hope it can be killed by "traditional" means.
The Shadow Broker leaned forward, lacing his massive fingers.
"Ah. Commander Shepard. The bounty placed on your head will ensure my absolute success for decades to come. And Archangel, there is still a significant ransom available for your death."
"You're very confident, for someone who has nowhere left to hide."
"This victory is all accredited to you, Dr. T'Soni."
Shepard had to interrupt at that. It had been a long day. "Oh, yeah, so it was your plan all along to have me rescue Liara, and then you lured us to your top-secret lair to finish us off yourself."
"Nyxeris was a poor operative, her schemes were poorly designed, and she wasted my valuable resources to no avail. As she escaped the blast of her mediocre attempt to kill you, she found a little… surprise waiting for her in the upper atmosphere. She will no longer be your concern, or mine. I did not intend on you finding the location of this base. There must be a traitor amidst my high-value personnel. I will have this traitor purged, once you are dead, and the ransoms have been collected."
"You won't be escaping, Shadow Broker. Not this time, not after what you have done to Feron."
"The drell interfered with my operations, he is simply paying the price. It is pointless to challenge me, I know your every secret, while you fumble in the dark."
"Really?" Liara's tone was taunting, now. "You're a yahg, a pre-flight species condemned to your home world for slaughtering the council's first contact teams. This base is older than your planet's discovery, which probably means you killed the original Broker 60 years ago. You were taken from your world by a trophy hunter, who wanted a slave… or a pet. How am I doing?"
The Broker slowly rose, towering at least ten feet off the ground.
"Uh, I'm guessing you did pretty well, because he is really pissed-"
Shepard was cut off as the Broker roared, and hurled his desk forward, knocking all three of them across the room. Garrus slammed into a wall and did not get up; he was out cold. Shepard grabbed Liara and rolled to the side, narrowly avoiding a volley of bullets from a gun specially made for the Broker's King Kong paws.
They took cover, and began unleashing bullets and biotic combos at the Broker's shields. However, once they were down, they could not penetrate his armor.
"Bullets can't get through that thing!"
"I would suggest using melee, but that seems a bit-"
"Crazy, yeah. But, what the hell?" She rushed the Broker, catching him slightly off guard. "COME GET SOME!"
Shepard punched him in the face, right in his multi-rows of teeth. He responded by knocking her across the room again with a Broker-sized riot shield, because he just had to have one of those.
She landed, with multiple bruises, possibly a rib fracture.
I'll be feeling that tomorrow.
"If you can get him to bring up that shield again, I've got an idea!"
"Yeah, no problem…"
Shepard slammed into the yahg again, then jumped backwards to unleash a hail of bullets from her Avenger, forcing the Broker to raise his riot shield.
"Liara, now!" she yelled, wondering what the idea was.
Liara charged up her biotics, shattering the large, overhead power structure of some kind, so that the energy released turned the infamous Shadow Broker into deep-fried yahg dust.
Brilliant! He's dead, and as a bonus, there's no mess to clean up!
These were Shepard's thoughts as she landed across the room for the umpteenth time that day. She had planned to sit there for a while, but when Liara offered her hand she took it, staggering slightly to her feet.
Shepard glanced at Liara, then walked over to help Garrus, who was just now waking up, having missed the party.
The main big terminal near the stairs began turning red and making noise, with various operatives asking why the power had failed. Liara stood at the terminal, looking down for a moment, and then looking back up, as if accepting her destiny, or something like that. She pressed the com button to disguise her voice, and began addressing the Shadow Broker's operatives… as the Shadow Broker.
Near the end of her speech, Feron rushed in, obviously set free by the power failure. Once he saw Liara at the terminal, he muttered something about oceans, and then: "It's you… you're… the new Shadow Broker."
"It was either take over or lose all of his contacts, his resources." She sounded unsure. "Those will really help us. With the Shadow Broker's network, I can give you, I-I can…"
She buried her head in her hands, sobbing, overwhelmed with that fact that her two-year vendetta/rescue plan was ended at last.
Feron, uncomfortable, left to check the system functions, Garrus followed, leaving Shepard and Liara alone in the spacious room.
Shepard placed her hand on Liara's shoulder, and she turned around, wiping tears from her eyes.
"It's over. Finally, for two years…"
"It's all right." Shepard pulled the asari into what she hoped was a comforting hug. Evidently, it had the desired effect. Liara pulled away only to brush her lips lingeringly against Shepard's.
"It's been two years. We're different people." It sounded as though Liara was trying to convince herself. "You have your mission, and-"
Shepard, acting on impulse, gently pulled Liara closer, cutting her off mid-sentence for a longer and thankfully much deeper kiss that left them both trying to catch their breath.
"But, we should focus, let's see what are options are. No safeguards for user restrictions. It's like he never planned on anyone but himself being here. I should sort through all of this information, see if there is anything we can use."
"And I should go check on Garrus, but I will be back in two hours. Two hours." Shepard said, leaving in the direction that Feron and Garrus had gone.
And then we can decide what to do about US. That kiss gave me hope. That was not a heat-of-the-moment kiss. That was an I-miss-you-and-I-want-to-continue-our-relationship kiss. I think. Hopefully. Maybe.
Two hours later, as promised, Shepard returned with fresh bandages ad casual clothes to check on the new Shadow Broker.
"How are you doing Liara?"
"To be honest, I didn't imagine exactly how overwhelming the Shadow Broker's network could be. Here, come on over."
"Have you found anything useful yet?"
"The Broker knew about the Reapers! If I had to guess, I would say he was dealing with the Collectors not only for money, but to appease them. If he became an asset, perhaps they would leave him alone. He knew the Reapers were coming, and was looking for a way to survive."
"I sincerely doubt that handing over my corpse was going to earn him enough brownie points for the Reapers to spare him."
"Me too; it's too bad we didn't have the chance to question his motives."
"So how's Feron doing?"
"As well as can be expected, after two years of being tortured off and on by the Shadow Broker's minions."
"Do you think he'll be okay?"
"I'm not sure. He wants to help me run the information network. Maybe it takes his mind off things."
Shepard took a deep breath, ready to ask the question that had been troubling her for a while.
"So… you and Feron…"
"Are just friends." Liara finished for her, and Shepard exhaled the breath she didn't realize she was holding. "Commander, I never thought you were the jealous type."
"Well, in that case, I think we should talk. About us."
"I know… Look, about the kiss…" Liara looked her in the eyes. "I miss you, but it's been two years. I don't want to put any pressure on you."
"I've got fond memories of the last time you put pressure on me."
Wow, that was just a little blatantly sexual.
Liara gave one of her adorable giggles. "So do I."
"Why don't you take a break? We could go to the Normandy, give you a tour, maybe have a drink?"
"I'd like that, just give me a minute."
While Tali conducted the tour for Liara, Shepard hunted around the mess hall for a bottle of wine and two glasses. She was pouring it as Liara entered her quarters.
When Shepard saw that beautiful dress that fit perfectly and complemented Liara's skin color, she jumped to asking about the tour to keep from just staring silently, which would be weird.
Liara commented on the old crewmembers that she had seen, and then gifted Shepard with her old Alliance tags, which she then fondly placed on her bedside table.
"How are you actually doing, Shepard? I mean really, not what you tell you squad."
Shepard sighed. "I have no idea how we're going to do manage this. I just know that everything is at stake. We cannot fail."
"You already saved the Citadel, stopped the first Reaper invasion, and rescued the majority of Horizon. You've done more than the Alliance, or the Council has, which is nothing."
"Yeah, but people still died. And more people are going to die, unless we defeat the Reapers. But first, the Collectors. One piece of the pie at a time, right? It's all very, very dangerous. And it makes me think about what's really important."
"I've been thinking the same. So I'll say it outright. Shepard, if this both ends tomorrow, what happens to us?"
"If I know one thing for sure, it's that I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Liara. No matter what happens."
Liara leaned on the desk, tears filling her eyes at the sight of Shepard's charred N7 helmet.
"Goddess… you were dead!'
"I know. I know I left you alone and you're afraid it will happen again. But if this all ends tomorrow, I would only regret not spending every second with you."
"Goddess help me, but I feel the same. Shepard, if we're going to try this, I need to know you're always coming back."
Shepard knew as well as she did that a promise like that could never be guaranteed in her line of work, but still, Liara needed to hear it.
"Done. I think this will work better if I try not to die again." Shepard's voice dropped to a whisper as she trailed kisses along Liara's neck and jawline.
"I… uhh. I agree." Liara was finding it difficult to speak, as Shepard's ministrations grew more passionate.
"Besides, I have someone very special to live for."
Liara's eyes changed from blue to black, and Shepard initiated a kiss that would show her just how special that person was.
Damn, I should have told EDI to file those reports for me.
And then she decided not to think about work for the next few hours, at least.
A:N/ The end. The review button calls to you… click on me… click on me…