Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 26

All Is Revealed

I sent ‘Bela, Sebastian, and Varric back to The Hanged Man and walked past my own front door, sparing it a longing glance before I continued past and up the nearby stairs to the Viscount’s Keep. This was going to be an uncomfortable confrontation but putting it off wouldn’t make it any easier.

During the day the bright stonework hosted a couple of minor food stalls and a number of nobles milling about, seeing and being seen. But this late at night thugs and criminals often lurked in the shadows of the white pillars hoping for easy pickings as unwary residents made their way home from dinner parties and card games. Happily, I didn’t encounter someone looking to rob me or worse as I crossed the courtyard in front of my door.

The keep’s grand entrance hall stood nearly empty, only a few guards scattered about the vaulted space and up the steps to the second level. I’d never known there were so many stairs in all the world before I’ve moved to Kirkwall. With everything built on top of itself even the slums, like Gamlen’s hovel, had two or three levels and were stacked to conserve space.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 27

Doing the Right Thing

As Joker once again settled us into dock at the Citadel, I reviewed our credit status and how much we’d been paid for our recent efforts. It looked like I could pick up a few more upgrades while on-station and perhaps get myself a few fish for that enormous empty tank in my cabin. A quick check with Joker confirmed that he hadn’t received any information on pending package delivery but I thought I might pick up a little something for Kaidan in my explorations, should something suitable present itself. I could always stash it in my quarters for later.

The ever-helpful and seemingly ever-present Captain Bailey greeted us after we’d passed through security, such as it was. Thane waited until we’d passed the sentry we ought to have alarmed before he noted that measures instituted since his last visit still left a number of holes through which a resourceful assassin such as himself could slip.

Garrus and I nodded ruefully. We’d gotten through the first time on the strength of my and his father’s names rather than actually not being threats to the safety of the folks on the station. This time the three of us waltzed through with our weapons prominently displayed simply because I vouched for Thane. I stuffed my derision for the moment, though. We needed information from Bailey and it wouldn’t do to antagonize him.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 25


After a quick plea for Donnic to have just one more drink and another few minutes of excruciatingly-awkward conversation I looked up to see Aveline pacing behind the others. She turned her panicked face toward me, waving her arms, and mouthed, “I’m sorry.” Then she fled back up the stairs to Varric’s rooms.

Donnic had noticed my nonplussed expression and turned to see at what I had been staring. My friends hurriedly pretended game of Wicked Grace and he looked back at me, frowning. I gave a little “heh heh”, about the only thing I could think to say for a moment. “So,” I finally came up with, “that Aveline is great.” I gave him an encouraging smile.

He shook his head disapprovingly. “Look,” he said sternly, “if this was all a plot to get close to me through the captain I have to tell you, you’re not my type. I like a woman with a little backbone, none of this pussyfooting around.” He stood brusquely and gave me a little nod of a bow. “Thank you for the drinks.” Then he stalked out the door before I do more than protest, “No, I…”

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 26

Everybody Wants Some

Once I’d discussed our location and itinerary with Joker and EDI, I secured the weapons we’d found and took them to Jacob. His eyes lit up, much as mine had, and he descended upon them with a glee I’d never seen from him before. He promised to check them out and have Mordin verify that no booby traps, infections, contaminants, or other dangers lurked.

From the “ooh, toys” look on his face I knew he’d try them out in the shooting range the second he believed they wouldn’t blow up in his hands. I hoped they turned out to be as deadly as they looked.

In the meantime, I thought I’d get in some quality looming time at the galaxy map. Exerting my autonomy with TIM had purged the worst of my anger but I was still feeling mean. I stepped onto the platform and mentally reached out, plucking suns from their clusters and popping them into my mouth like berries. Take that, Horsehead Nebula! I cried in my mind. Just as I was starting to relax I felt Kelly’s hand tugging the hem of my shirt. Still in my pretend world, I backhanded her with what biotic power I commanded, causing her to fly into the elevator and be deposited in some sub-floor below Engineering from which she could not escape. One deep breath later I found it in me to smile. “Yes, Yeoman?”

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 24

A Warrior’s Problem

What had driven Du Puis and Emeric from immediate attention started the next morning when I presented myself, Merrill, Isabela, and Varric at Aveline’s office bright and early. Bela seemed immune to hangovers and Varric never actually drank much despite the constant presence of a mug in his hand but only the Guard Captain’s urgent request the night before could have roused me from the floor in Varric’s rooms.

I was thus impatient when all she did was ask me to deliver something to one of her guardsmen, a fellow named Donnic who stood in the barrack’s dining room nearby. For this she had been so agitated? But this was Aveline, a woman I admired and who had stood by me through some unsavory escapades so I agreed to do it nonetheless. It must be important to have her so upset.

You can imagine how thrilled all of us were when Donnic removed the wrapping to reveal a copper relief of marigolds. He looked at me, after my pronouncement that it was critical he open it, like one would a grown man found playing in the mud like a toddler. Had it not been for the fact that Aveline and I had rescued him from a group of bandits in our investigation of the corruption of the former guard captain he’d likely have assumed I was a complete fool.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 25

Fool Me Once, Shame on You The afternoon went as badly as I’d suspected it would. We popped out of FTL travel and cruised to the coordinates we’d received. Garrus and I stood behind Joker, staring as the ship came into view. All of us recognized its design. Indeed it looked identical to the one that had been abducting colonists on Horizon which had been, coincidentally, the very same one that had killed me two and a half years earlier.

I heard Garrus growl beside me and I put a hand on his shoulder in agreement. No matter how comparatively well things had turned out so far we still had a score to settle with the bastards. They’d wrecked our first team, the one that hadn’t included thieves and liars and turncoats. The bastards had killed some of my closest friends and destroyed the only home some of us had had. If I could find a way to blow up that pile of crap I was going to do it today, no matter what TIM wanted.

Miranda and Jack met me at the shuttle and we flew over to land on an outcropping of sorts that I presumed served as a cargo bay. We worked our way in cautiously. Along the way we found piles of rotting corpses, colonists discarded like table scraps, that made all three of us gag in our helmets. I angrily considered the thousands upon thousands of pods stacked throughout the corridors and lining the walls of vast chambers.

Sideline Wednesday: The Champion's Side, Chapter 23

Suspects and Evidence

We continued our search of the Du Puis mansion, finding shades guarding several passages. By then we were suspicious enough to begin opening closets and cupboards in search of clues. Such intrusiveness yielded quick results: in one of the guest rooms we found a chest filled with luxurious dresses.

Emeric had told us that Gascard was single and we saw no other evidence of a woman living in the house. It certainly looked incriminating, though Anders pointed out that the good messer could enjoy wearing the clothes himself. They alone wouldn’t have convinced me but then we found a rack of blood vials sitting on a desk on the second floor. Anders confirmed that they had been used in some sort of blood magic, though he was unfamiliar with the exact enchantment.

The expansive sitting rooms down the corridor held a reply from the Starkhaven Circle of Magi to an inquiry about their missing mages. Unsurprisingly, it told Du Puis in no uncertain terms that lost enchanters, if any, remained the province of the Templars and not some minor noble in a different city. Why the man would be looking for a lost mage in the first place none of us could guess.

Double Monday: The Double, Chapter 24

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

I fell into bed, still fully clothed, and slept like I’d been shot. Four solid hours later I blearily opened my eyes, feeling like I’d had a very long and refreshing blink. I hadn’t moved a muscle in all that time and various parts of my anatomy had failed to wake with my brain.

I hobbled my way across the room, pins and needles jabbing me, and settled into the chair at my desk, glancing at the photo that Councilor Anderson had given me. Kaidan leaned forward and looked awfully grim, like he was rushing the person who took the picture. I wondered what had been going on when it was taken. I brushed my fingers over his fiercely-drawn brow, mentally wishing him a good morning, and turned to my terminal, still active from the night before.

Leaping in with both feet, regardless of how numb one of them remained, I went straight for the message from TIM. Instead of a dossier, it asked me to give him a call in the holo chamber. Wow, I thought. That was easy. I read through the rest of the notes quickly, smiling at a couple of thank you notes and a bit of spam from a merchant with whom I’d dealt on the Citadel back when we’d still had the SR-1. It looked like I really was alive again if I showed up on such mailing lists once more. I’d almost missed offers of help to increase the size and function of my imaginary man-parts.

Thane Thursday: Losing, Chapter 24

“Oh, Kaidan,” I said in exasperation. “If things had been different, if we could have been together, I would never have known Thane as more than a suave assassin, another piece of my team. I never stopped loving you; I just didn’t see any hope for us.” He pulled back in consternation but I hadn’t finished.

“You told me in no uncertain terms where I could stick Cerberus and I was left drifting on my own. What happened with Thane, what grew between us, was so much different than what I had with you.” I stood and paced around the long table.

“You’re this whole person, this wonderful other that stood up to me and stood with me. We’d lived by the same rules, been given the same training, and served with the same people. You knew how to remind me what was right and make me remember why.