William Hagebak 3: Shore leave

Written and Submitted by unity9

Lieutenant Commander William Hagebak stepped out of the air lock and take in the sights. He looks around the sights of Nos Astra, Illium while only carrying a large suitcase and wearing his civilian clothes. He was advised not to wear his Alliance dress blues so close to the Terminus systems, because despite the beautiful landscape created by the asari, this is where one could say that this is where Citadel space ends and the lawless Terminus begins or vice versa.

Now this was supposed to be an intelligence gathering mission, but the high command insists on the mission being "low-key" and not to attract too much attention to himself. However, he was officially on leave and taking in the sights of Illium. Some of the passengers on board the shuttle he took saw him as a soldier getting ready for a long weekend in the Red Light District called Azure. To Hagebak, that's the perfect cover.

Hagebak gazes at the endless view which is Illium and says to himself. "This is truly impressive. Almost reminds me of home."

After he checks into his hotel room, he decided to check out the neighborhood of where he's staying. He was staying rather close to an office where he is supposed to contact an asari maiden who is already a top notch information broker. Before he hits the streets, he takes one last look at his mission statements on his data pad. The asari he is to gather the information from is named Liara T'Soni. He knows of this woman since she was part of Shepard's team and she was the daughter of the traitor Matriarch Benenzia. She was an archeologist who got caught up with Shepard's hunt for Saren and she proved to be a valuable asset to her team.

What he also learned that Shepard was romantically involved with the asari doctor vicariously through the sleazy tabloid hounds. Hagebak already hated Yellow Journalism and questioning Shepard's choice of lover made him hate those reporters even more, because they had no respect for the woman's privacy. They only left her alone only because she has passed away. Leeches he thought. Now they're at it again, saying Shepard has been sighted on the Citadel.

His meeting with T'Soni will have to wait till morning, because her office is closed and he didn't feel like trying to find her at this time of night… or whatever is considered night on this planet. He steps out of the hotel building and look for the local watering hole.

The first place Hadebak came to was a bar called Eternity. The atmosphere inside the bar was nothing special except the bars he has frequently visited were mostly human customers. He was never accustomed to going to places where multi-species were gathering for drinks, but it never bothered him before. The first time he went to a bar with more non-humans was at a place called Flux on the Citadel Wards when he was on twenty-four hour shore leave one time. It was an interesting experience, but he was afraid of getting in a fight with some xenophobic alien. Not that he was afraid to fight an alien since he is a highly trained individual, able to fight and kill a species other than his own. He was more fearful of having to explain himself to local law enforcement and possibly get charged for assault. That would look bad on a military record especially when you're an officer.

The crowd tends to be a mild bunch. There were a few asari in the corner, a human and a salarian talking to each other at a table, a krogan walking by with a large glass of neon green liquor, and human couple sitting at a table. The danger doesn't seem to be a high threat risk, but he remained vigilant.

He approached the bar and he was greeted by an asari. She smiles at him and says. "Welcome to Eternity. I'm matriarch Aethyta your bartender. What'll you have?"

"Depends." He gives the asari a warm smile. "What's the popular drink around here?"

"Well, the Palaven Sunrise is pretty popular." She adds with a coy smile. "But, that only works if you're a turian or a quarian. I have some top shelf asari and hanar liquor. It's pretty fruity, but judging by your build I'd say you're in the military. A tough guy like you would want this." She opens a bottle and pours the contents into an empty glass.

"What is it?" He asked.

"Batarian ale." She said "I think the term you humans have is 'guaranteed to put hair on your chest.' Am I right?"

"Yeah, thanks." Hageback takes a sip of the cocktail and slightly shivers. "Strong, but not bad. I'm Will, by the way." He extends his right hand to shake the bartender's hand.

She takes the hand and shakes. "Nice to meet you, Will. What brings a military guy like you to Nos Astra? Shore leave?"

He rubs his shaved head and smiles. "Is the military looking that obvious on me? To answer your question, yes."

"Here for the glorious sights of Azure?" She asked with another coy smile.

"Maybe, but I might get lucky with a certain bartender I just met." He smiles and raises his eyebrows in a humorist fashion.

Then Aethyta places her hands on her hips and makes a halfhearted smile. "Well that depends on a couple of things. How old are you?"

"Twenty-eight." He honestly answers.

"I'm close to a thousand years old." She replied. "Still interested?"

"Well now I am." Hagebak said slightly cackling. "Never had a problem with women who were twenty, thirty, nine hundred years older than I am. So I can get past the thought that my ancestors was swinging swords and attacking castles when you were just a girl. Heh heh. What's the other thing?"

"Well, I always had a thing for asses." She tells him. "How's yours?"

He stood up and turned around to make sure she got a look at his rear.

Aethyta gives a somewhat approval nod. "Not bad, kid. Not bad."

Hagebak laughs. "I'm just going to walk around a bit. I'll be back to order another later if this stuff doesn't knock me down on my ass which now you approve of."

She smiles and shakes her head from the impromptu flirting and Hagebak walks over to the far side of the bar. When he approaches the ledge of the balcony, he hears someone call his name with a familiar drawl of an accent.

"Hagebak! Is that you?" The voice asked.

He quickly turns around to see that the voice belonged to a familiar character he hasn't seen in such a long time. It was Ken Donnelly. Hagebak hasn't seen him since boot camp. He was also part of Division 609 back when they were training in Great Lakes or Great Mistakes as they like to call it. Hagebak noticed that Ken was wearing a black and white outfit with an eerily familiar logo patch on both shoulders.

"Donnelly?" Hagebak's smile grew big.

"Aye, how's it been?" Ken said while the two men give each other a big hand shake that followed with a bear hug.

"Not too bad." The two men sat down across from each other. "When I heard that thick Scottish accent, I thought no way."

"That's right." Ken smiled. "Small galaxy, huh? So what brings you here?"

"I'm on leave." Hagebak said. "I heard of Illium so much I thought of checking it out. Are you on leave too?"

"Shore leave. Actually, I'm afraid to say that I am no longer part of the Alliance, Will." Ken confessed.

Hagebak eyes widened as he couldn't believe what he has heard. "What? What happened?"

Another voice came from the side. It belonged to a woman with a North American Midwestern accent. "He can't keep his mouth shut when he should, that's what happened."

Hagebak looked to the side and see a woman with auburn hair, pale skin, she was holding two drinks, and she was dressed in the same outfit as Ken was. She places the first drink down in front of Ken and the other next to his seat.

Hagebak stood up and shakes hands with the woman. "Hi, I'm Will Hagebak."

"Gabby Daniels." She said.

"Oi, Gab." Ken points to Hagebak. "This is my friend from Great Lakes. We were in the same boot camp division together."

"Yeah, again so tell me what happened?" Hagebak asked again.

"After Shepard's death, the brass lost their brass and backslid into politics." Ken said. "They destroyed what she fought for. I couldn't keep my mouth shut."

"And he's lucky too." Gabby shakes her head. "He would've been court martialed if he wasn't one of the best engineers in the galaxy."

"But my public ranting got me noticed and I got another job from it." Ken said smiling. "I was allowed to leave the Alliance voluntarily to go work for this new group."

"Who are you working for now?" Hagebak asked.

"Sorry, mate." Ken said. "It's classified. But let's just say they're doing something about the Reaper threat that the Alliance and the Council refuse to acknowledge."

"Alright, but what about you?" Hagebak looks at Gabby. "Were you in the Alliance?"

"Yes, but I joined him." Gabby plainly states.

"Oh, so are you two? You know?" Hagebak was making the insinuation that the two are a couple.

"No, we're not." Gabby was quick to answer. "Uh, I mean we're just friends. He wouldn't know what to do without me. We met in Tech School and we've been inseparable ever since so naturally I went where he went."

"That's sweet." Hagebak smiled and she blushed. Then he changed the subject as he moved closer to make a whisper. "If I'd known better, judging by the logos on your shirts. I'd say you were working for Cerberus. Say it ain't so, Ken?"

Ken was quiet for a moment. He takes a sip of his drink and moves his head towards Hagebak. "I'm afraid it is."

"Why?" Hagebak narrows his eyes. "Cerberus is a xenophobic terrorist organization. You never fit the type as a human supremacist. Hell, I remember you constantly talk about, what did you say back in boot? That's right you wanted to be 'swimming in blue' when you get to the fleet."

"It's not what you think, Will." Ken assured his old friend. "Cerberus is the only group willing to do something about the Reaper threat. We're investigating the disappearance of the human colonies in the Terminus. We found out that it's the Collectors."

Gabby interjects. "Hell, the crew that was assembled on our ship was also ex-Alliance and also shared the same attitude as me and Ken here. We've been also assembling ground team members from all over the galaxy, specialists to be exact and they happen to be aliens. Come to think of if, the only dedicated Cerberus operative on our ship is the ship's XO. Yeah and he just can't keep his eyes off her."

"I can't help it if she's always wearing that cat suit." Ken defended himself then he changed the subject and gives the Lieutenant Commander a cheeky smile. "Right now our ship's commander is out recruiting an asari Justicar and an assassin. So what really brings you to Illium? Do you want to swim in blue?"

"I should be tired of hearing that." Hagebak shrugged and quietly explains himself. "Well I came here to relax and everyone assumes I'm here for the asari scenery. But I'm really here to pick up some intel for the Alliance and the intel comes from unofficial sources. It's about…" He urges the two to come close to him and he whispers what he really is doing on Illium.

"So the Alliance is doing…" Gabby tried to say her part, but she was visually told to be quiet when Hagebak placed his right index finger over his closed mouth.

"Let's keep that on the down-low for now. Let's just say the walls have ears." He told Ken and Gabby. "Now how long till you guys have until you get back to your ship?"

"Twenty-four hours." Ken told him. "How about we drink for a while?"

Hagebak gives Ken a Cheshire cat grin. "Sounds like fun. So, who is your ship's captain?"

"Hold on to your seat for this one." Ken smiles. "It's Commander Shepard."

If Hagebak had been drinking at that moment, he would've spit it out. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Why would Ken of all people be joking about this? There has to be a logical explanation for all this.

"What?" Hagebak asked curiously. "You mean someone with the same name as Shepard, right?"

"No." Ken said. "Shepard herself. She's alive."

"He's telling the truth." Gabby said. "Cerberus is also responsible for bringing her back to life from a project called 'Lazarus'."

"So the rumors are true." Hagebak was shaking his head in disbelief. "This is great. This calls for a celebration. Humanity got its savior back."

Hagebak, Donnelly, and Daniels sat at the table and drank for a couple of hours. Often the conversations were about talking about the memories they had back in boot camp.

Ken had just finished his eighth glass of scotch and the thick Scottish slang was coming out when he talked. "That scotch was the right amount of hauf. That auld braw asari bartender knows her drink." Then Ken changes the subject. "Remember when we did the 'in house' PT where we had to find out who could hold the push-up position the longest?"

"How could I not forget?" Hagebak laughs after finishing his third batarian ale which would be the equivalent of twelve beers.

"What happened?" Gabby almost slurred when she asked.

Ken happily explained. "Well, Anderson our drill instructor was making us do push-ups and then he wanted to know who could hold the 'up' position the longest. Out of the entire division, almost everyone dropped. Everyone, except Will and some fannybawbag recruit. Who was it? Martinez, that's right. Martinez was barely holding on when Will here was only starting to sweat. Then Martinez drops and Will wins the contest. The only prize is that you get to be the belter recruit and what was it that Anderson said to you?"

Hagebak happily explained. "He said, 'Hagebak? Did you grow up on a farm or something? You're like some big dumb farm animal, aren't ya?'"

They all snickered at the response. Ken said. "Fun times."

"Yeah, but I hate to say it but I have to get up in the morning." Hagebak sets his glass down. "I have to see an information broker in the morning and coming in reeking of booze scented sweat isn't going to help."

"Aye, don't be too pished before tomorrow and I don't want to be too jaked getting back to the ship." Ken looks at Gabby. "You be a nice lassy and help me to the Normandy?"

"I must've had too much to drink, myself." Gabby laughs. "Because I think I understand what he's saying."

"With all the translator tech we have, only the booze can translate what he says." Hagebak laughs.

XXX

Hagebak woke up around what would be considered six' o clock am on standard Alliance time. His head was pounding from the strength of those batarian ales from the night before. He didn't regret having those drinks, especially it meant seeing an old friend again and knowing that Commander Shepard is alive and well.

Now was the time to see Dr. Liara T'Soni, but before he did such a thing, he dove straight into the bathroom. He could still taste the residue of those batarian ales in his mouth so the first thing he did was brush his teeth like they were going on sale. After his mouth was cleansed, he completed his hygiene routine with a shower, a shave, applying his deodorant, and finishes off by taking his vitamins. He put on his civvies, but not before holstering a pistol inside a special holster located at the lower portion of his back.

Hagebak found the stairs to her office and he was greeted by another asari with violet skin. She smiled when he approached. "Greetings. How may I help you?"

"I have an appointment with Miss. T'Soni. The last name is Hagebak." Hagebak tells the receptionist.

She browses through her data pad for appointments and from the look in her eyes, she found the name. "Ah, Mr. Hagebak. Let me put you through." The receptionist made a call on her communicator. "Miss T'Soni? Your nine' o clock is here. Right. You may go on in."

Hagebak stepped inside the office. The office was quite large and it was fitted with the things one would find in an office. It didn't look anything like his office. If he wanted to compare this office to someone back on his home colony of Gibson, he would have to say the office belonged to someone who was either an executive in a major company or a high powered attorney.

He saw the asari standing behind her desk looking over a few items on her holographic data screen. She told him. "It will just be a minute, Mr. Hagebak. I have to take care of a couple things."

He takes the opportunity to browse around the office. He was particularly drawn to the wall carrying pictures. One picture was an asari woman standing next to a small asari child. Then he makes the connection and thinks to himself. This must be Benenzia and Liara when she was a child.

Then he spots another photo. It was a group photograph. It was Liara and Shepard in the center. With them was a human male with dark hair styling a "duck-ass" hairstyle. A human female with olive colored skin and dark hair wrapped in a bun. Both the humans were wearing a regulated Alliance uniform. The other non-humans were a krogan with red plates and three distinguishing scars around its mouth, a turian wearing blue armor and blue marking across its face, and a quarian wearing a dark enviro-suit with a purple visor.

The next photograph was a rather muscular man with brown hair and he was standing behind six asari children. Hagebak looked at the man and he looked eerily familiar. Then he was greeted by a soft feminine voice. "Hello, Mr. Hagebak. I see you have taken interest in my photographs."

Then he turned to see T'Soni looking at him. "Yes, particularly this one with the asari children. Who is that man, he looks familiar."

"That's David Goodman." T'Soni said. "He is the current teacher of the same elementary class I had once attended." She points to the asari child at the end. "That is Citti, his daughter."

That was when Hagebak made the connection. "Oh, that's where I've seen him before. I met him after Shepard's memorial on the Citadel. Some fellow soldiers and I were having some drinks at a restaurant and he comes up to us. He bought us a round. Then he tells us that he moved to Thessia and he started a family, but still supported the Alliance despite giving up his Alliance citizenship. That's right; I got a look at his family, a nice looking asari matron and two asari kids."

"The number is three now." T'Soni added. "His bondmate just had their third child recently."

The two continued to talk as they walked towards the desk. "Congratulations to him. It seems like a big trend among the asari these past two decades to pair up with a human. That's going to make things interesting when those asari with human fathers start entering the maiden stage. But from what I have heard you are quite familiar with being with a human." Hagebak sat down as he made his comment.

Liara was slightly blushing from the remark, but she didn't allow it to faze her. She sat down and spoke. "If you are talking about my relationship with Shepard, well it is true we were romantically involved."

"I must admit I was shocked, but not surprised." Hagebak said. "Female humans that join the N7 program aren't exactly girly-girls. I wasn't surprised that she preferred women instead of men."

Then Liara giggles slightly. "Actually, there was something I wanted to say about that. You see, you know that we asari are mono-gendered. Shepard wasn't particularly attracted to the female gender of your species. Believe it or not, she would have chosen men. That was until she met me… or an asari for that matter. She might not have found attraction in human women, but she discovered the attraction for my species. This however created a bit of tension between myself and another member of her crew."

"What happened?" Hagebak asked.

"This wasn't mentioned in the reports, but what happened was that after Shepard had finished her debriefing with the Council after the Feros mission, Lieutenant Kaiden Alenko and I had confronted her. She hasn't made her decision who she desired more, but looking back putting her in that position was wrong of us. She felt she was forced to choose either me or Alenko, so she chose me."

Hagebak takes a moment to think about what she has just said. "Thank you for telling me that story, but how do you know to trust me? I could've been one of those bottom feeding tabloid journalists looking for dirt."

"Now, Mr. Hagebak." Liara smiles. "I know you enough what kind of person you are. I knew everything about you before you stepped into my office."

Hagebak kept a calm face, because he knew what to expect from an information broker. "Then you should already know why I came here."

Liara activated her Omni-tool and simply pass the information she gathered to his Omni-tool. Hagebak looked at the information that was given to him and nodded in approval. "I hope you will find this information satisfactory."

Hagebak looks at her and says. "Of course. This information is quite useful, especially when we have a few operatives out so close to the Terminus. Illium is as close as we can get to gathering all this information without breaking any treaties and risk losing the good graces of the Council. I'm glad that you can provide us with all this information and personally wish there was a way I can repay this favor other than a cash transaction."

Liara smiles. "I appreciate that Mr. Hagebak, but honestly I do not know what form of favor I can ask of you. Maybe I would consider…"Then Liara receives a call coming in. She presses her two main fingers on her neck and answers. Hagebak chose to ignore the call to respect her privacy, but the information broker became rather distressed when she heard the information she was given from the other line. Then she calls for her receptionist to come in. At least now he knows the name of the receptionist when Liara calls her name. "Nyxeris. Would you please come in here?"

"What's going on?" Hagebak asked.

"I believe I may have been betrayed." Liara said.

"Can I help?" Hagebak asked, but the door had already opened and the violet skinned asari receptionist entered the office.

"Yes, Miss T'Soni?" The receptionist now known as Nyxeris walks in and asks about the situation. Hagebak reads her body language and noticed that she's easily hiding something and she doesn't want to reveal what she knows to her employer.

"I had just recently sent out an old friend to gather the information which you had just given me, but the information is not valid." Liara said. "As it turns out all the suspects happen to be male. For some reason there is not a single female among the five members you had given me. Where exactly you get this information?"

Liara's tone became sterner as she spoke, but when as her tone was becoming serious, Nyxeris was putting up a defensive posture. Hagebak stood up from his seat and moved to the side getting ready to pull out his pistol. Making sure he doesn't make too many sudden movements, he keeps his hands spread apart from each other and keeps his eyes on the receptionist.

"Who sent you?" Liara asked, but Nyxeris maintained her defiant mood.

Nyxeris pulled out a pistol in quick speed and pointed it at Hagebak and her free hand was glowing blue as she was threatening to use a biotic charge against Liara. "I was sent by someone you should have never pissed off! Let's just say my boss is still mad about you and your drell friend for sabotaging his plans for Shepard's body!"

Hagebak quickly knocks the receptionist's arm away, the one carrying the pistol, and he pulls out his own pistol. He quickly and strategically places the pistol underneath her chin and pulls the trigger. The wall carrying the photographs he had looked at previously was covered with blue blood and brain matter. To a seasoned veteran like him things like this didn't faze him, but he realizes that this is something that must be dealt with immediately.

He looks at the information broker and asked. "Are you alright?"

Liara nods her head and tells the soldier. "This whole time… This whole time she had been spying on me. How could I've let my guard…"

"Don't beat yourself up for this." Hagebak said while placing a hand on her shoulder. "It happens to the best of us and to be honest she was only hired to be a spy, but not to be assassin. That's the art of a con, to let your guard down. What she should have done was have her guard up if she really knew how to fight." He looks at the dead body and surveys the information around the office. "We have to get rid of the body. This is your territory; you have any ideas what to do with her?"

"Yes, I do." Liara said. "Quick, help me pull this furniture back and roll this carpet. I have something that could be useful."

Hagebak helped Liara with the task at hand. When he rolled up the carpet he noticed what looked like a hatch without handles. Liara activated her Omni-tool and the hatch opened outward.

Liara told Hagebak. "Grab her legs and we will throw her body down here."

He did that and helped Liara drop the body of the former receptionist, now turned spy, into a darkened pit. Then Liara opened up a cabinet and gave Hagebak a cleaning utensil. They clean up the carcass that had been splattered on the walls and photographs. After they were done using the cleaning utensils, they dumped the contents into the same pit as the dead spy. Then Liara activated her Omni-tool and the hatch closed. He helped her put the furniture back where it originally was placed.

Hagebak questioned the information broker. "What is that?"

"That is a direct line to the furnace." Liara said. "I'm not the first information broker to use this office; I find a quite useful from time to time like now. Now, Mr. Hagebak I can't thank you enough for what you have done for me and I wish there was a way I can repay you."

"Actually there is." He said. "I would prefer it if you never mentioned that I was here. Because, technically I'm not supposed to be receiving information or Intel from the source like here. I would prefer that you pretend I was not here. I hope you understand?"

Liara nods. "Yes I understand. Thank you for your help. May the goddess look over you."

Hagebak walked out of the office and quickly flies down the stairs, but when he sees a familiar sight he takes cover over by the kiosks. He couldn't believe his eyes the he was looking at Commander Shepard herself. The tabloids are true and she is alive, he thought to himself. Is this what must people felt like when people thought Elvis was still alive back in the 20th century even after his death? He looked at the woman wearing her N7 armor and she was walking towards the office where he had just recently been. She was accompanied by what looked like the same turian from the photograph he saw earlier, only this time he had damaged blue armor and covering up what appeared to be a scar on his right face. The other being accompanying her was a krogan with gray plates and grey armor.

As much it would've been a pleasure to see his mentor again, Hagebak realizes that the mission comes first and Shepard would understand. He certainly doesn't want to act like that Conrad Veneer character he met at the hotel lobby last night. He was tempted to punch him out and force him to take that phony N7 armor off, because to him it's a disgrace to those who actually had to earn that armor and not a cheap knockoff.

Hagebak rushed back to his hotel room and got on a quick comm link. He got the information he needed and he needed to send this information as soon as possible back to Alliance Intel. But when the Intel network told him that the information he was going to send was not going to be received fast enough, he decided to send in a direct route which is faster. He tried to get a hold of a squad of Alliance Special Forces troops stationed on Fehl Prime.

Hagebak find the signal and he calls in. "This is Lieutenant Commander William Hagebak calling to all Alliance personnel on Fehl Prime. I have information. I have information that must be received. This is urgent. I am transferring the information now; the information is going directly to Lieutenant James Vega. This information contains the invasion plans of the mysterious species known as The Collectors. Invasion by The Collectors is imminent. All forces on Fehl Prime must be at full alert. Defend the colony at all costs." He will not know whether if that message of gone through or not, but hopefully this James Vega receives the information before it is too late.

When the word sent was plastered on his Omni-tool, he takes a deep breath and makes a quick prayer that the information I got to the right man and he was not too late. He looks at the bed and falls back on the soft cushioning of the pillows and sheets. He stares at the ceiling for fifteen minutes and thinks back to the events of the last twenty-four hours.

Hagebak sighs and tells himself. "So far everything I can do has been done. Officially the mission is complete. Maybe now is that time to go check out Azure and finally enjoy my shore leave." He smiles to himself and places an order for taxi. It has been an interesting day.