Chapter 32

It's Not Over Yet

Finn let out a deep sigh as he brought the Normandy out of the Stream.

"We did it." He breathed.

"Uh, yeah." Jake said confusedly. "What did we do again?"

Someone patted him on the shoulder. "We ran away to fight another day."

Finn glanced back at Jan'Ce. "Thanks. Y'know, for rescuing me."

"Not a problem." She told him. "Besides, I figured it was time for a bit of karma to go your way."

He stared out of the Normandy's windows for a few moment before asking, "What now?"

"Now, we have a little talk with my caregiver." Kyra told him as she rubbed Jake's head plating. "Like I said, I've been trying to catch you for ages now. Now that I've got you, she'd like to have a little word with you."

"Who is it?" Finn asked.

Jan'Ce held a finger to her lips, saying, "That would be telling. I'll send you the coordinates in a minute; for now, just head to the nearest Relay."

Jan'Ce left, only for Mannon to take her place.

"Hey, Finn." She said, sitting in the copilot's chair. "You okay?"

"A bit stunned by all this." He admitted. "When they threw me in a cell, this wasn't how I pictured it ending up."

Glancing at her, he asked, "What about you? Doesn't leaving like this make you a deserter too?"

"Maybe. Then again, maybe I felt I could do more good here, looking out for my little brother." She tousled his hair, chuckling. Finn chuckled too, but it quickly became a sigh.

"You miss Kyra, don't you?" She asked.

"And the others." Finn admitted. "I hated seeing you go, but losing everyone else just makes me feel kinda empty."

After a moment's hesitation, Mannon said, "It's not goodbye. Not forever. We're a family, remember?"

He smiled at her sentiment. "Yeah. A family."

A snore from Jake made them both laugh.

Jan'Ce's coordinates were for a planet in the Hades Nexus's Hoplos System known as Trident. It was mostly ocean, with just a few small bits of land that were in extremely high demand. Some effort had been made to expand the land mass artificially, but well over ninety percent of the planet was still oceans.

Aside from the populace fighting over what little land there was, most of Trident's life lived in the ocean. This was fortunate, as the Normandy was fairly easy to recognize. The coordinates brought them to a large spot of ocean with nothing visible for miles. Finn checked the coordinates again just to make sure he was in the right place.

"Uh, Jan'Ce?" He asked, glancing back at the CIC.

She had dragged a chair from somewhere, and was currently sitting with her feet resting on one of the Rails. Glancing up, she asked, "Let me guess; you followed my coordinates and now we're in the middle of an ocean."

"Er, yeah."

She hopped out of her chair and walked down to the front of the ship. "Up."

"Huh?"

"I'll take her from here."

Shrugging, Finn gave up his chair. He couldn't help but be reluctant; it was really comfortable.

Jan'Ce sat down and took control of the ship. "You ever hear the story about the Cerberus spy who vanished on Trident? They searched the whole planet for the guy, Skye Turnick, I believe was his name. They ended up giving up; I mean, it was pretty obvious that he just left the planet, right?"

She moved the ship very close to the ocean, continuing, "It didn't help that it was during the rainy season. They ended up calling off the search. Of course, that was just the local government; other parties kept looking."

She brought the ship further down. To Finn and Jake's shared shock, they passed through the water with no resistance and continued to descend normally. Peering up above them, he realized that they were in a long tube, the top of which was projecting an image of the ocean.

"Okay," Jake said, grinning. "That's pretty damn cool. How do you keep the water out?"

"It extends over the ocean. We just open the top when someone's coming through. It's designed to completely submerge if necessary, but no one ever noticed it before."

They continued to descend down the long tube until they reached a large landing pad at the very bottom.

"There we go!" She said cheerily as she activated the landing gear. "I've got a few other things to check on. You should go meet the others in the shuttle bay."

"Uh, sure." Finn said, rubbing the back of his head. "I guess I'll see you later."

"Sooner than you might think." She told him, not bothering to turn around.

Mannon, Rico, and Katt were waiting for him in the shuttle bay.

"And there he is!" Katt grinned at him. "The hero of the hour."

"Well, the renegade anyway." Finn replied.

Rico chuckled appreciatively. "Don't be so worried. The boss isn't so bad."

"Wait, you work for the same person as Jan'Ce?" Jake asked curiously.

Katt and Rico exchanged glances.

"You'll see soon enough." Katt told him. "You and Mannon go on ahead; we'll meet up later."

Finn looked at Mannon, who just shrugged. Seeing as he wasn't going to get any more answers there, Finn headed down the ramp and onto the landing pad.

After Finn and Jake stared at each of the five doors that led out of the landing area, Finn's omni-tool activated and Jan'Ce's voice said, "Right, sorry about that Finn. Just hit those double-doors straight ahead and keep going straight until you reach the body scanner."

"Uh, thanks." Finn replied.

As they walked down the hallway, Finn felt apprehensive; he knew he should be more trusting, but he really had no idea who could possibly be. Even Jake was strangely silent.

The hallway was filled with spacious windows. Finn thought they were aquariums at first; they were filled with all manner of fish and sea life. As they kept moving, however, he realized that the movement of the fish was steady; more than once, a fish appeared to be swimming backwards.

"We're moving." Finn whispered. "This is some kind of underwater mobile base or something. These panels must allow water to flow freely around the corridors.

"Whoa!" Jake said, peering through one of the windows. "It must be huge!"

The corridors were well lit and spacious; comfort had been an obvious concern. Finn noticed special seals at regular intervals, obviously some kind of system for shutting off areas with leaks. Whoever had designed it obviously knew what they were doing. At long last, they reached the end of the corridor. As Finn approached, the body scanner shot a beam of light out that encompassed him.

"Agent Finn Cresste." Said a high-pitched computer voice. "Permission granted. Please proceed inside."

The doors slid open to reveal a large chamber with a clear ceiling revealing the ocean above, including a large whale-like creature that happened to be passing above them. The room was obviously some sort of meeting point; there were many chairs surrounding a holo-projector in the center of the room. No less than eight doors surrounded the room on all sides, no doubt leading into other parts of the base.

Finn stared at the creature above them in awe as it swam by, letting out a haunting sound not unlike that of a whale. "Incredible."

"I thought New Elysia would be the most magnificent sight I'd ever lay my eyes on." Mannon said, echoing Finn's sentiments."

One of the doors across the chamber slid open. Finn barely had time to turn before he heard a voice that made his heart pound shout, "Finn!"

He caught Kyra as she launched herself at him and tackled him to the floor. Her quick hands caught his head before it could bang against the hard metal and held it fast as she gave him a kiss that made his whole body tingle.

Hugging his chest, she said, "You scared the crap outta me, Finn. Don't do that again, or I'll bop you for real!"

He let out a happy sigh as he rubbed her hair. "I'm glad to see you too, Kyra."

He moved to kiss her again when another familiar voice said, "Embarrassed; Really, you two? Right in front of all of us?"

"Darsan?" Finn asked.

As Kyra helped him to stand, he saw that it was Darsan. Eri was there as well, as was Xyn.

Eri shook Finn's hand. "I still can't believe that actually worked. Sucks that the idiots didn't listen, but hey; at least you tried, right?"

"Yeah." Finn said, his spirits dipping slightly at the mention of his recent failure.

Kyra squeezed his hand. "Don't look so down. It's not over yet. They may not have listened, but somebody was."

"Indeed." Said a new voice Finn didn't recognize.

Everyone turned to see an asari approaching them, accompanied by a being that Finn didn't recognize. He had four eyes like a batarian, an armored crest above his eyes like a turian, and a dour expression that made it clear he wasn't much for small talk. There was a definite feel of strength to the man … if he was a man, Finn thought to himself.

"Finn Cresste." The asari said, smiling. "I've followed your mission with great interest. You've proven yourself quite capable despite limited resources and a considerably hungry fox on your tail."

"I couldn't have done it without my crew." Finn said, putting his arm around Kyra and Darsan. Grinning, he said, "Well, maybe without Jake."

"Hey!"

"Just kidding, buddy."

The person beside the asari narrowed his eyes. "This is the new champion? He is little more than a boy."

"Javik." The asari said, a slight tone of rebuke in her voice.

Grimacing, Javik bowed his head, saying, "I … apologize."

"No harm done." Finn told him, holding out his hand.

Javik looked at it for a moment before shaking it solemnly. There was a strange look in his eyes for a moment before he let go.

"Perhaps I was mistaken." He said, sounding sincere. "But to stand what is to come, you will need more than luck and quick thinking."

"There will be plenty of time for that later." The asari told him. "For now, I'm sure Finn and his crew have many questions."

Everyone was looking at him. As much as he hated to admit it, he was the captain; of course everyone was expecting him to ask the questions.

"Why did you help us?" Realizing that sounded a bit ungrateful, he quickly said, "Not that I'm not glad, mind. It's just … we're hardly important people in the grand scheme of things."

"Perhaps." She said, a smile on her lips. "A person's true importance is for the historians to decide. As for why, perhaps I felt you deserved some help. Perhaps I felt karma owed you something after all you put on the line just to warn the Council … or perhaps I know how it feels to have something that important, that terrible to say, only to be ignored."

As silence fell in the room, Finn realized she was waiting for another question. Coughing, he asked, "What was Jan'Ce talking with Krieger about."

"Krieger? Oh, of course; he was the one who discovered the one you call Billy. I was his buyer; I recognized that it was a Cerberus vessel, and intended to buy it from him. Unfortunately, Cerberus got there first." She shook her head sadly, saying, "It was a shame that he was hurt. He is doing well, by the way. He wanted to be here when you arrived, but he is still in recovery."

"Good." Finn said, nodding. "I'm glad to hear that."

He thought for a time before asking, "What is it you expect me … us to do now?"

"Nothing." She told him truthfully. "If you wish to leave, we only ask that you keep our presence a secret. Given your own renegade status, I'm sure you won't begrudge us a secret hideout."

"If, however, you wish to stay," Said Javik, "And pit yourself against the Illusive Man, we will give you the tools and training to fight him and the rest of Cerberus. It will not be an easy battle … but what would you give to keep your family safe?"

Finn's eyes widened at the question Billy had asked him. It was as though Javik knew.

"Who are you?" Finn asked before he could stop himself.

"I am Javik, the last of the Protheans." Javik told him, "As well as Lady Liara's companion."

"Surprised; the Protheans?" Darsan asked, "I didn't realize any of you were still kicking around."

Javik showed his teeth; it looked like he was attempting to smile, and failing badly.

"Wait!" Kyra said, her eyes on the asari. "You're Liara? Liara T'soni?

"The same." Liara smiled at Kyra, saying, "I stood by your ancestor, Kyra'Shor nar Shepard. I was little more than a child then, but by the end, he was one of my dearest friends. I'm sure he'd be proud to see his descendant was such a strong and beautiful woman."

Kyra blushed to the tips of the gentle folds of her ears. "T-thank you."

"Shepard was a great warrior." Javik said, reverence clear in his voice. "It was by his will the Reapers met their end."

"Well," Liara corrected. "Most of them. But my name is only part of the answer. You all know of me, even though you may not realize it."

Who had the resources to track the Ulasomorf across the galaxy? What organization besides Cerberus could work from the shadows while subtly influencing the movement of so many different people? Who could spring someone from the Citadel with ease, and steal one of the most famous ships in Alliance history?

"By the Creator." Finn whispered as he realized the truth.

"Dude." Jake said, turning to Finn. "I told you!"

A sly smile crossed Liara's face as she said, "I am the Shadow Broker."