A/N: There's a sequel! If you enjoy this, check out Second Chance. (It's a work in progress, still).
Seren Arterius had left a mess behind him on Palaven. The Hierarchy expected the Council to clean it up (he was a Spectre), and the Council expected the Hierarchy to clean it up (he was turian). General Victus was caught in the middle, sent to the Citadel by the Hierarchy to get things straightened out.
Victus sighed. He had no idea whose shit list he was on, nor what he had done to get there, but it was painfully obvious that he was being punished for something. An afternoon spent arguing with all four Councilors left him wanting to tear something - someone - to shreds.
He maintained his calm demeanor as he left the council chambers and boarded the elevator. His bland mask slipped a bit as he moved quickly through the Presidium, but since this just encouraged the throngs of people to get out of his way faster, he didn't bother to school his expression.
Making his way quickly down the Presidium, he climbed over a low wall and hopped down several landscaped terraces - in blatant disobedience to the posted signs asking that everyone remain on the walkways - until he was walking in a carefully designed garden that ran down the middle of the Presidium.
This area hadn't always been closed off to visitors, but in the wake of chaos following the destruction of Sovereign, many areas had been closed off until they could be repaired; gardens were low on everyone's priorities list. However this specific garden had a decorative, artificial grotto set into a decorative, artificial hill. It had been a favorite of trysting couples when the gardens were open: private, enclosed on three sides, and possessing a lovely view of the Presidium and the tower which housed the Council chambers. Now, with the gardens abandoned, it offered a perfect place for a frustrated general to lose his temper for a bit. Private and deserted were the main considerations, but it was that view of the Council chambers which made this place preferable to his apartment.
Victus' angry strides carried him quickly towards his goal; threats and profanities dancing through his mind as he tried to pick just the right words to express his frustration. He wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings, however, so he was almost on top of the place before realizing that it was occupied.
An angry voice already issued from the grotto; it was clearly female, and just as clearly not turian (not having subvocals), and Quarian or Volus (not having that filtered sound of a helmet's speaker system). If he had to guess, Victus figured it must be Asari or Human.
He stopped short, nearly ready to yell with frustration at finding his chosen place already taken. As he tried to bring his temper under control, he listened to the angry voice occupying his corner of the abandoned gardens; and quickly, his temper drained away, leaving amusement in its place.
Whoever this was, she was mad. This unknown female had clearly been in full swing for some time before he arrived, but it didn't sound as if she was in danger of repeating herself. Curses, profanities, and threats from several cultures were flowing out of the little cave, demonstrating a depth of knowledge that impressed Victus.
The stream slowly died, and he could hear someone breathing angrily and muttering under their breath. Just as he decided that she was nearly finished and he wouldn't have to wait long for his turn, her voice picked up again. Not with curses this time, but in eerily accurate impressions of the Councilors. Victus' mandibles spread wide in a delighted grin, and he settled in to listen.
The first to be attacked was Councilor Sparatus. The unseen female obviously couldn't mimic his subvocals, but she lowered her voice and caught his condescending tone perfectly. Several minutes of this mockery were followed by an even bigger surprise: more curses, but this time, she was actually saying them *in* the Turian language. It sent Victus' translator into a hopeless snarl, trying to translate the words without their usual subvocal cues.
Next to be favored with a performance was Councilor Tevos. This was far easier for the angry woman, and her impression of Tevos' infuriatingly calm voice and tone of strained patience had General Victus doubling over with silent laughter. Another surprise, as the voice dropped it's impression of Councilor Tevos and returned to swearing - this time in the Asari language.
Victus turned his translator off when the voice got to the swearing part, it was far more fun to listen to the words as she spoke them than to have them obligingly translated into Turian. He waited impatiently to hear how she would continue, and he wasn't disappointed.
The short impatient phrases of Councilor Valern were mimicked perfectly; the inflections and impatience that were typical of the Salarian councilor echoing slightly around the abandoned gardens. And, though at this point it wasn't as great a surprise, the performance was once again followed by profanities, these in the Salarian tongue.
Interestingly, the unseen performer skipped Councilor Anderson, but dwelled on Advisor Udina longer than any of the others: her impression of the advisor's clipped, self satisfied accent clearly holding the sneer that the man usually wore. The usual follow up of profanity ended the rant, and this time General Victus was disappointed that she seemed to be finished. He waited, hopefully, to see if she would start up again.
She didn't resume speaking; however, she did leave the grotto, heading back the way Victus had come with quick purposeful strides, glaring over her shoulder at the Tower. She was human, fairly short and slightly built, with shoulder length auburn hair; she was wearing an Alliance uniform. This was all Victus had a chance to see before she slammed into him.
Victus took a step back to catch his balance, then quickly grabbed the human woman by the arms to keep her from falling. Her bright green eyes met his, surprise written across her face.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't see you there. Are you alright?" Her eyes swept over him, as if checking for damage.
He laughed, mandibles spread wide in a grin. "I'm fine. I'm the one in full armor, after all. Are you alright?"
"Yes, I'm fine, just... slightly distracted." Her gaze flicked over his armor, eyes widening slightly when she came to the marks denoting his rank. She straightened respectfully, not quite at attention; when she spoke again, her voice was slightly more formal and controlled. "I am sorry, General, I should have been looking where I was headed. I really wasn't expecting to meet anyone out here, though."
"Oh, I completely understand - I wasn't expecting to meet anyone out here either. Never mind the rank. Please, call me Adrien." He flared his mandibles again, tipping his head slightly as he smiled at her.
He was quite surprised when she returned the smile, running a hand through her hair as she nodded. "Thank you, Adrien. I'm Kel. What are you doing out here? You know this area is off limits, right?"
"Yes, but it's been a favorite of mine for awhile; it was often deserted even when the gardens were open. I usually end up paying a visit here at some point during a visit to the Citadel. And for pretty much the same reason you seem to be here, too."
When she laughed, the sound rang through the garden, completely at odds with her previous angry tirade. Her cheeks turned bright red in embarrasment that she'd been overheard. "Ah, well, if your business brought you there," a dismissive wave towards the council chambers accompanied her words, "I'm not surprised that you end up here yelling at them. I suppose I should consider myself lucky you're the only other person I've run into down here."
She stilled suddenly, a hand going to her ear to activate her comm. She shot him an apologetic glance as she listened to whoever was at the other end of it, answering with a brief, "I'll be right there." Turning back to face Adrien, she smiled and shrugged. "Sorry to run into you and then dash off, but duty calls. At least you can have your rant in peace!" With that, she headed off towards the Presidium.
General Victus watched her go, a speculative look in his eyes. He wouldn't be needing a "rant" as she called it. Between amusement at her performance and the rush of adrenaline from an interesting and mysterious encounter, his anger was long gone. As she disappeared from sight, he wished fleetingly that she had offered some more personal information. He knew nothing of her aside from her first name (most likely shortened) and that she was an Alliance soldier; still, she was the most fascinating human he'd ever met.
Commander Shepard spared a glance over her shoulder as she reached the terraces leading back to the public areas of the Presidium. Her eyes picked out the still form of the turian she'd just run into. General Adrien. Not exactly enough identification to get any further information on him - the hierarchy had numerous generals, and she was sure Adrien was his given name. Pity, he had a good sense of humor and his dark plates and white colony markings were striking. She shrugged and headed towards the Normandy. Time to head out to the Amada system, and kill some Geth.