Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 20

Doesn’t Everyone Live by a Code? Thane seemed a serious fellow but he accepted my request to join the team for what was considered a suicide mission by explaining that he was dying anyway so why not? You had to respect his spirit and it saved me a fair amount of time negotiating his fee. Apparently he was out to atone for some evil deeds, not too hard to believe for a man who had so ably demonstrated his ability and willingness to kill. I hoped that his assassin credo wouldn’t make him balk at the clean-up work we’d be doing on merc bases around the galaxy along the way. We were hardly a peace-loving, spare-the-ammo bunch and there were geth galore to wipe out between TIM's Collector hints. It wouldn’t live up to his high-profile targets but we’d definitely keep him busy. When we’d returned to the Normandy I got Thane settled, brushed off Jacob’s tiresome objections to bringing yet another killer for hire aboard, and stopped on the way to get some breakfast, though the ship’s clock read 3:04 AM. I’d shown Miranda the extent of what I’d learned, burning off the huge dinner I’d eaten hours earlier. I hammered down a big mug of cold coffee and made myself some sausages and toast. I wrapped one in the other and brought them with me to the trash compacter. I didn’t want to get sidetracked again before I’d had it out with Zaeed. I’d forgotten that the entire crew wouldn’t be hanging around, wide awake, just waiting for me to happen by, so I ended up waking him. It seemed uncivilized to throw him out in the middle of the night, despite the fact that the sun shone brightly out in the city, but I hated to put off the conversation again. I apologized for my rudeness but launched straight in to a little speech about things not working out and it’s not me it’s you. I felt like I was breaking up with him, old enough to be my father or not. Now there was a creepy thought—Zaeed as a dad, or worse as mine. I hid the shudder that gave me as best I could. He waited until I’d finished blabbing and then simply said, “No.” I started to tell him he could wait until morning to gather his things when the word penetrated my mind. No? What the hell was that supposed to mean? “Err, no what?” “No, I’m not goddamn leaving until you’ve fulfilled the terms of my contract,” he said. “I have a mission that requires at least two more people to complete. I was paid to accompany you until that's been accomplished. I’m staying.” “You don’t have to give back the money, Zaeed. I’m releasing you from your obligation.” “But I’m not releasing you from yours.” I growled in frustration, mentally cursing and launching from the trash chute the stupid mementos that dotted the room. I took a huge bite of my improvised pig in a blanket, ripping the thing in half with my teeth and chewing viciously until I calmed enough to speak without yelling too loudly. It looked like I was stuck with him unless I wanted to get back-up and force him through the airlock. Swallowing, I snapped, “Fine! But as soon as your terms are met you will leave this ship.” I spun on my heel and took myself off to bed. We had a full day planned and I wanted to be well-rested. Wasn’t I supposed to be in charge around here? Considering how well my freelancers obeyed it was no wonder the military hated to work with them. At least recruiting a Justicar promised some new challenges, if Liara’s surprised expression had been any indication, and the planned relocation of Miranda’s sister, knowing my life, would be far more complicated than we’d planned. I managed four whole hours of sleep and woke crammed with energy. I hit the head for usual 3S routine, scrubbed my teeth, and off I went. Gardner was up by now and he whipped up some fluffy fake eggs and oatmeal for me while I inhaled another vat of coffee. The day shift was wandering around blearily, feeding themselves and slowly waking. Since I’d had Garrus out so late the night before I decided to take Jack and the new guy with me. I wanted to see what he could do and to talk to her about training with Miranda. I pinged both of them to get ready and meet me upstairs in an hour. I hung out for a bit at the galaxy map, contemplating our next moves, then checked my messages. To give myself plenty of time to plan the new requests into our itinerary, such as it was, I’d put on my armor. When I fired the route off to Joker I asked if he’d heard any news about the package. I desperately wanted to sneak in some more time with Kaidan but I didn’t even know if he was still on the planet. Joker responded that the package had shipped out the day before but that I could pick it up tomorrow. I did a little delivery dance and Kelly reminded me of her presence by asking what I was so excited to receive. The laughter sprayed out of me before I could stop it and I was thankful I hadn’t been drinking coffee. I had once actually spit some all over the projectors for the map. The last thing I needed was blobs of brown obscuring whole solar systems or someone crawling around under the thing, looking on the map like a booty-shaped Reaper from my worst nightmares, until it was fixed. I got my mind out of the gutter long enough to respond that I’d ordered a new scope for my gun and then I lost it again. She looked at me askance but didn’t ask why that was so funny, thank goodness. What could I possibly answer? Luckily Thane arrived just then so I choked back the giggles and greeted him. We couldn’t have him thinking his new team was commanded by someone prone to hysterics, after all. There was time enough for him to learn the truth later. Jack showed up a few minutes later and we all went to grab a taxi to the spaceport where Samara was supposed to be doing whatever it is that Justicars do. When we arrived we found ourselves confronted with a slew of asari police officers, a panicked Volus named Pitne For, and a crime scene. We introduced ourselves to Detective Anaya, the officer in charge, who directed us to the crime scene where we could find our target and gave us clearance to get past the cordon. I doubt she would normally have given such a motley crew her permission so easily but she seemed desperate to get Samara out of the district. Apparently Justicars had some sort of moral obligation to kill bad people or anyone who prevented them therefrom, sort of like me but with a mystical code to legitimize it and a complete disregard for context or diplomacy. The cop powers-that-be were nervous about her presence and were considering ordering her apprehension. Understandably, Anaya wished to avoid that. We never did find the murder victim but we found Samara kicking the crap out of some Eclipse lieutenant who was refusing to divulge the name of a ship. It seemed pretty stupid of her, as she was being tossed about by Samara’s impressive biotic powers and had already been badly hurt. Though Samara had apparently been dressed by the same catsuit professionals that had clad Miranda and Jacob, stripper boots and all, she demonstrated an impressive strength and range. Sure enough, when the merc refused again and boasted that the other Eclipse would avenge her, Samara killed her outright. I rolled my eyes. People again and again demonstrated that stupidity knew no gender or species. No sooner had I started explaining that I wanted Samara to join my impossible mission—a Justicar’s weakness, according to TIM—than Anaya showed up and said she had to arrest her. Samara offered a string to go with her acceptance of my offer: if I could, within twenty-four hours, find the name of the ship on which her fugitive had been smuggled from Illium then she wouldn’t kill the cop, find it on her own, and politely tell me to go screw myself . At least Anaya gave me a hint: the murder victim had been Pitne For's business partner. She and Samara took off and Jack, Thane and I braced the round little ball of smuggler. He knew that the mercs with whom they’d been dealing had killed his partner so he gave up his access key to their base hoping we could save his enviro-suited little life. We made our way in, taking out whoever was foolish enough to pop up and try stopping us. Thane performed admirably and his sniping skills brought out my competitive side. We started taking longer and longer shots, causing Jack to grouch that we were stealing her kills. “I do not see your name on them,” Thane answered, deadpan. It seemed our solemn new companion had a sense of humor after all. A serene little smile curved those sexy lips when I laughed and did a little jig that said, “Yeah.” He appeared not to have a problem with wiping out mercenaries by the dozen, happily. We had a good time clearing out the base. Jack rushed ahead to take her share of the shots and Thane and I got creative with angles and techniques. It turned out that he had weak biotics much like my own newly-awakened powers so we were pretty evenly matched. We got to heart of the base and found, tottering in the hall, a Volus on whom the Blue Suns had been experimenting with the Minagen X3 that Pitne For and his now-defunct partner had been selling to them. They’d pretty quickly figured out the nasty side effects that Pinte had forgotten to mention and had kidnapped this poor guy to see what happened when they dosed him. The loopy new Volus introduced himself as The Biotic God, telling us that he was going to reap the mercs that had been torturing him like a mighty wind. He clearly had little power and even less control. Flares of blue wafted off of him like a mighty biotic breeze, fitful and useless. He insisted on leading the charge against the head of this group but thankfully passed out before he could get in our way. We left him on the floor and finished off the last of the Blue Suns before finding the manifests for their recent shipments. Mission accomplished, we headed back to the spaceport where we’d started. Pitne For stopped us at the top, hoping to bribe us into giving him the proof that he’d sold illegal drugs to the mercs. I told him to get stuffed and left him gasping through his respirator. We made our way into the cop shop and handed over what we’d found a full twenty hours ahead of the Justicar’s deadline. Anaya promised to bust the Volus and Samara agreed to join our little crew. Off we went to the Normandy, one more needlessly-complicated thing to scratch off my to-do list.

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