W/N - Happy Volus Valentines Day. For LyingOwl-Aria's Valentines Day challenge.

Cal's Crib

"Suit mods, suit mods…shhhhhh…suit mods…hmmmmm," Niftu Cal uttered in frustration. He scratched his head through his suit, wondering what could he possibly get for his suit that would please an Earth-Clan woman. Back on the firebase with the mission for Blasto, he thought he felt chemistry.

But Vol-Clan were different. What did he know about Earth-Clan rituals? Nothing. This was so difficult. Why didn't he just stick to finances? Vol-Clan like Barla Von made everything so simple – supply, demand, what more was there to know in the galaxy? Just thinking about this nearly made him hyperventilate. There was only one place to go for the most updated information on anything.

The Extranet.

No, that wasn't it. Sure, you could call up a terraquad of data and a ton of porn at your fingertips, but he wanted a more personal touch and a much deeper level of intell. That left only one thing.

The Shadow Broker.

Cannonball raised his tiny hand and his omni-tool came to life. He tapped in the secret code that Barla Von had given him. Static played for a moment before a deep, synthetic voice came on the line.

"Operative Cannonball, you have some information for me? Your report on the Collector attack and the Prothean artifact was most useful. You will see an influx of credits shortly."

"No, Shadow Broker, I uhhh…shhhhh…have a question, actually," he said in his stuffy nose voice.

"Very well. Ask away. After all, answering questions is my specialty."

"I uhhh…want to know more about women, especially…shhhhh…Earth-Clan women."

"Human? You're not thinking of asking Commander Shepard out again, are you? You remember how well that went on Illium."

Cal winced and his skin flushed hot under his suit. "Oh, yeah…not good at all. Ummm, never mind."

"No, it's okay, Operative Cannonball. I uhhh, had the same problem too."

"You, Shadow Broker? I can't imagine."

"Cannonball, listen to me. It sounds like someone has come into your life. Now, I want all of my operatives happy and well cared for. Happy operatives are productive operatives."

"Shhhhh…that does make sense."

"I'm going to send you a package, rush delivery. It will have everything you need to get started and maybe even a suit mod or two."

"Oh joy! But…but what will I do with the package? I don't know anything about what Earth-Clan wants or what they do. I don't suppose she likes to play Galactic Monopoly?"

"No, Diana Allers doesn't like Galactic Monopoly."

"Di…. How did you know it was her?"

"I'm a very good Shadow Broker. Now, just trust me on this one."

"Yes…shhhhh…of course." The connection terminated from the other end. Cal felt lightheaded. So many things were happening all at once – his rise to biotic godhood, his joining the informal N7 team, meeting Blasto, the Earth-Clan woman and, oh yeah, some galactic war. It was almost too much for his tiny head to wrap around. He thought back on that operation on Illium against the Eclipse Mercenaries where he got his start. Now that it came to mind, maybe Commander Shepard was the one who did most of the work. Then, there was that whole fiasco where he indicated to the commander that she should merger with him and that he had all the latest mods to jump start her market share. It would have worked like magic on a volus female. A transaction like that would have been good business. In retrospect he was lucky that Shepard didn't stick a gun in his face. It was a very awkward moment.

Cal sighed. "Earth-Clan…so complicated." He really wanted to make a good impression though. After all, Earth-Clan woman had covered nearly all of his exploits and it had been good for business. He thought that she had to be the one. "What if I…shhhh…mess it up though? Earth-Clan girls get really mad! Commander Shepard almost threw me out the airlock," he said, visibly shaking. He paced around, holding his hands to his head. But maybe Diana was different than Claire. First off, she was softer, bumpier, poofier. Shepard was all skin and bones and muscle. Not very Vol-Clan-like. And Shepard had eyes like that Scary-Base-Clan Praetorian. They could sear through you like lasers. Diana wasn't like that. And Shepard, she had way too many guns.

"When is that package going to get here? Shhhhhh…I can't wait."

His doorbell rang. Cal shuffled over to the door, his tiny feet walking over the rich, plush carpet in his home. Whoever it was had already registered with his security system so there was no threat. "Who could it be?" He opened the door and a salarian in a brown uniform held out a datapad.

"Deliveryforyousir," the salarian in shorts said, so fast that it sounded like one word.

Cal took the data pad and looked it over. It was from SB. He signed it and the salarian stuffed the package into Cal's waiting arms. Before he could say, "Thank you," the delivery man was gone and the hovering CitadelEx service van was pulling away. Cal shut the door and put the package down right in the foyer. He carefully sliced away the tape with his omni-tool and pulled open the flaps. His heart was pounding in his tiny chest. "What could it be?"

He pulled out a couple of game disks and some videos. "Boy, the Shadow Broker has been a lot nicer to me lately, ever since Commander Shepard killed that rogue Spectre on Illium. What have we here?" Without emptying the rest of the package, he plugged in the game called 'Dragon Age.' He scrolled through a few scenes until he came to one where a Ferelden-Clan witch woman wanted to bond with a big bronze Seheron-Clan and he gave her a hot pry bar to separate them should he want to nuzzle with her. "That sounds…shhhhh…painful."

It was just a game, but was that what Earth-Clan women wanted? He delved deeper into the box. "It's…shhhh…it's just a lot of…pink things." He pulled up a pink card and then a small sleeve full of pink hearts and then a handful of pink sparkly things. Finally, he removed a pink garment with white wings that would seem to fit him along with a tiny bow and arrow. "Oh, what do I do with this?" He held up the bow and pulled the string a few times. Twang. He looked back in the box. "Instructions. Good, Earth-Clan customs are so alien."

He pulled out a data pad and brought up a few images. "Wh…what's that?" he said and turned the pad upside down. "That goes where?" Now, he was beyond confused. He opened up the sleeve and took a look at the pink hearts. They looked all crumbly and he thought that they were meant to eat. A quick scan showed that they were edible and he put one into his induction port. "Mmmm, sweet. I could eat all of these." He put on one of the videos of a recent Blasto mission.

On the screen, the hanar, brandishing a Paladin pistol, stared down a vorcha thug. "In all of this excitement, This One cannot remember if It has fired five rounds or six. Do you feel lucky, punk?" Blasto said with all politeness.

This was going to be good. Cal nearly forgot about the upcoming exclusive. In the video, the Vorcha lay on the ground, slightly wounded. "Rrraaawwrrr. No more talk. Nuck Chorris angry! Strongest! Kill you!"

Just before the video played the ending, the doorbell rang again. He waddled over and checked the monitor. "Oh…oh, it's Diana. What do I do? What do I do?" He hit the intercom. "Coming! I'll…shhhh…be right there!" He ran back and began tossing things from the package around, heedless of the directions, pink sparklies flying everywhere. He stuffed the music disk from the Shadow Broker into his sound system as he uploaded the suit mods. He backed into his room and activated the door with a remote. "Okay, come on in!"

The door creaked open. "Hello? Cannonball? I'm here for our exclusive. Anyone home?" She looked around and then saw some things on the ground. "What the…?" Diana picked up a candied heart and popped it in her mouth. "Hmmmm, this is good."

There was static and a crackle from some speakers followed by a deep basso voice. "When I get that feeling, I need sexual healing…."

Cal watched Diana's face scrunch up. That must be a good thing. Now, if she would follow the trail of hearts…. Yes, here she comes. The Shadow Broker knew how to make a plan come together.

"Cal? Hey, what's going on? What's with the weird music?"

Cannonball knew that the moment was right and he summoned his biotic powers, channeling them deep into his muscles and he hopped out of the bedroom. "Ta dah!" he cried with a burst of blue energy.

"Whoa, Cal? What are you doing dressed up as cupid?"

He shot her with a sticky arrow right on the forehead. Poink! "Happy Earth-Clan…shhhhh…Valentines Day." Now, he had done everything that the Shadow Broker told him to do and he was at a loss as to what was supposed to happen next.

"What the…?" Diana said, pulling the arrow off of her head. "Oh, wait, it is Valentines Day. I get it, the candies, cupid. Awwww, Cal, this is so cute. I was hoping for the right body for my story and I think I found it," she said as she tugged at his pink body suit with white wings. "You know," she said slowly with a change in her tone, "this is just what I was waiting for." She tugged him along by one of his wings and he felt his suit mods taking effect. "This will have to be our secret, Cannonball. I am my credibility and reputation. If word would get out that I'm too close to a source, then I'm done."

Cal cleared his throat and dug down for his deepest voice. Right now, he felt like the biggest hero in the galaxy. "I'll make sure that it's…shhhhh…our secret," he said in a voice that, if Commander Shepard were a guy, it would have been him.

"Well, then I can't refuse an exclusive."

"Neither can…shhhhh…I." Cal's optics lit up like flood lights. The Shadow Broker had really come through.

Meanwhile, light years away, a blue asari sat at her Shadow Broker terminal and smiled.