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.
He cheerfully supplied both a contact for locating the only other Drell to have been spotted on the Citadel in recent memory and directions to the warehouse where the people-smuggling low-life Fade was rumored to do most of his business. At this rate we’d be done by lunch, Thane’s kid and Garrus’s ex-pal Sidonis safely corralled. Having lived my life for some time, though, I knew that complications loomed just out of sight. Did they ever.
Step one involved locating the contact. Thane’s eyes had narrowed when Bailey had given us the name and I was inordinately curious. When I asked, Thane reminisced almost wistfully about giving a child that name years earlier. It sounded like they’d been close. I can’t imagine Mouse to be an uncommon nickname for children but I suppose most adults would be reluctant to use it unless it had significant meaning. Having been granted that moniker by a gorgeous, dangerous man of an exotic species might well do it. I know it would for me.
Garrus and I exchanged looks at this soft side of our badass assassin but we declined to pass any judgment. Each of us had enough of our own emotional weak spots. Hell, one of Garrus’s was next on our slate.
Mouse turned out to be the same person. He’d been carrying the idolization torch for Thane all along and greeted him as though they’d last met a week before. Despite the hero worship, only some threatening talk, a punch on the nose, and a promise of protection pried the name of the guy putting out the hit from the scruffy man’s lips. Happily we were in a less-affluent ward where threats and organized crime were not unknown so our activities drew little attention.
We’d been smart enough to lock our sniper rifles in the cab, at least. In that neighborhood they’d like as not have been lifted right off our backs while we cajoled Mouse. We returned to the vehicle and strapped them on for our second stop in the warehouse district. The person at Bailey's coordinates calling himself Fade turned out to be a tiny Volus with two hulking krogan bodyguards.
Garrus stepped up to question him and Thane and I each took out a bodyguard when the little guy proved reluctant to answer. Shockingly enough he turned out not to be the guy who’d stashed our target. The Volus was quick enough after our little display to drop the name of the man for whom he was fronting, however.
It was that sleazy and disgraced, ex-security drunk Harkin. The bastard had propositioned me most rudely just before I’d become a Spectre and I’d longed ever since to have an excuse for exacting revenge. My response that I’d rather gargle acid after chewing on a razor blade hadn’t dissuaded him in the least and it hadn’t been the time to teach him the error of his ways in a more physical manner. Well, I’d thought it had but Kaidan and Grunt had prevented me.
Garrus already hated Harkin for being corrupt, a fellow cop who gave C-Sec a bad name, so we were primed for action. A quick trip to the factory district brought us to a storage area filled with crates and all sorts of robotic inconveniences. Thane, Garrus, and I pegged one mech after another with head shots before they could get in range to shoot back. I loved having an all-sniper team—less ammo and fewer injuries, more fun and some friendly competition.
Harkin cursed over a loudspeaker and tried various tactics to get us killed, including a couple of the massive YMIR bots whose shields forced us to burn a lot of ammunition and biotic power. I blessed the bonus missions from the Alliance that had paid for the extra thermal clips and thought that providing fake identities must be more lucrative than I’d have thought if he could afford to waste such resources. With luck he’d have a safe we could loot to pay for the very large lunch Thane and I would require after this.
Naturally we waded through the idiot’s defenses and backed him into a corner. Harkin looked much the same, crew cut just long enough to be greasy, two days of stubble, and squinty, bloodshot eyes that made me want to kick him in the face. I let Garrus shoot him a little with that trusty sidearm, which made us both feel better, before we forced him to arrange a meeting with Sidonis. Then Garrus knocked him over the head and we left him, unconscious and bleeding, where Citadel Security would find him after we “anonymously” reported it to Captain Bailey.
While we had the captain on the phone we dropped the name that Mouse had given us and asked him to arrange a meeting. After some hemming and hawing, Bailey admitted to indulging in a little back-room dealing with Kelham. He agreed to have the man hauled in for questioning but made us promise not to mention who’d arranged the get-together. “Tuition’s killing me as it is,” he pleaded.
I figured we could use the leverage at some point so I readily agreed. Garrus looked ready to speed all of the way back to the station to shoot Bailey for his weakness, too, but I was happy. It seemed that we might yet finish up this pair of personal errands in time for an early dinner, the way things were falling into place. We headed for the rendezvous with Sidonis in the Orbital Lounge while C-Sec rounded up our next appointment.
Garrus explained that the Turian had once been a friend and his most trusted ally, as I’d been dead at the time. But then Sidonis had betrayed their band of anti-mercenaries that had been performing vigilante services on Omega and generally infuriating the local bad guys. He’d sent Garrus on a wild goose chase that kept him out of the way while mercs had slaughtered the entire crew. Being the only survivor had rather placed the mark of guilt on his head.
It was that incident that had transformed my former cop into Archangel, a lone gunman out for revenge, rather than a leader enjoying the camaraderie of like-minded outlaws. The mercs we’d mowed down with him on Omega had been the same ones that had killed his friends. I completely understood his desire to remove Sidonis’s head from his body but I was curious what had led the guy to an act so stupid.
No suspicion could be allowed to attach itself to Garrus’s name, as the ire of Papa Vakarian was legendary. We set him up on one of the catwalks that flanked many spaces around the Citadel and Thane and I went in to meet Sidonis. The man looked terrible, exhausted and haunted, his mandibles drooping as though even the minor exertion of keeping them in place were too much for him.
Though I knew Garrus was waiting to take the shot I blocked his line of sight and explained the situation. This opportunity to wring an explanation from the Turian would disappear forever the moment a slug scrambled his brains. My friend might thirst for revenge but the bewilderment that had colored his voice as he’d told us the story all but begged for an answer. Even if it cost me my best friend I had to get him what he could not find any other way.
Sidonis explained how he’d betrayed his friends to save his own life then he asked me to move. He said he wanted Garrus to settle the score, that he lived as a dead man anyway. Those he’d handed over to the mercenaries preyed on his mind day and night. His chalky plates and the way his clothes sagged over his wasted body lent truth to his words. He believed that he deserved to pay for what he’d done and taking his own life wouldn’t have been enough. It was a relief to know that his time had finally come.
Garrus, sounding through the comm unit as furious as I’d ever heard him, said he wouldn’t stoop to putting the man out of his misery. “But you and I will talk about this, Shepard,” he said. That was one conversation I would put off as long as possible. Not knowing the explanation would have eaten away at him for years but I hoped that our renewed friendship was strong enough to withstand my meddling. Maybe he’d come to forgive me over time. At least he wasn’t thinking about me in the shower any more.
Thane and I rejoined Garrus by the cab, left idling nearby, and his scowl told me to keep my mouth shut, to stuff whatever apology or sympathetic thing I had in mind. His face was clamped as tightly as I’d ever seen it, only his upper lip moving as he asked to return to the ship. I agreed asked him to send Samara out to join us for the next bit of our mission to find Thane’s son. My heart was heavy but I knew I’d done the right thing. Why did the right thing so often have to be hard as hell?