Shepard and Garrus were horrified when Wilkinson was finally able to finish his story about what a clown by the name of Robert Napier did when he was alone with the kids. They wanted to ask Wilkinson to repeat what he said to be sure they heard correctly. But they didn't. Not just because it would be hard for Wilkinson so say it again but because they also didn't want to hear it said out loud again.
"My god," said Shepard, "I just…that's awful. No kid should ever go through something like that."
"Wait a minute," Garrus said, "I don't recall seeing any C-SEC records of a pedophile being arrested here. Let alone one that was a clown. That would have been the talk of HQ if something like that happened."
Wilkinson nodded, "that's because we handled it in house. If word were to get out about what Mr. Napier did to those kids, our reputation would be ruined. We provided financial compensation for the victims and terminated Mr. Napier's employment with this organization. By all accounts, it was like the incident never happened."
"But it DID happen Mr. Wilkinson," Garrus growled, "you should have reported that clown to C-SEC. Even if he had managed to avoid going to prison, he would have been added to C-SEC's sex offender registry. Instead you let him go free and there is nothing preventing him from being able to get another job working with children."
"Detective Vakarian," said Vala, "Mr. Wilkinson already explained why we couldn't do that. The Peacekeepers are struggling to stay afloat as it is. A scandal like that would have pushed the organization beyond recovery. His decision saved the Peacekeepers."
Garrus banged his hand on the table, "and it put other children in danger because that clown is free to do it all over again."
"Calm down Garrus," Shepard said, "Mr. Wilkinson, there's something we need clarified. When did all of this happen?"
"About six months ago," Mr. Wilkinson replied.
Shepard rubbed his chin as he struggled to put the pieces together. Shara was the one who came up with the ideas to use clowns for a promotion. As a result, she would have kept a close eye on things to make sure they were running smoothly. She would have received the same reports that Wilkinson did about what happened to the kids. It wouldn't have been a stretch for her to find out that Wilkinson covered up the incident and let the clown go.
But the timeline was all wrong. Shara's strange behavior only stared a few weeks ago. If the incident with the clown happened six months ago, why would it have taken her so long to learn about the cover up. Not possible, Shepard thought. There was no way Shara wouldn't have uncovered what happened with the clown sooner. The secret she uncovered a few weeks ago had to have been regarding something else. Or maybe it didn't. As much as Shepard didn't want it to be the case, he was afraid that there may have been more the story.
"And has anything else regarding this matter happened since then?" He asked.
Yet again Vala tried to keep Wilkinson from talking further but he waved her off, "I'm afraid there has. The incident aside, the clowns were still a hit with fans and we've kept the promotion going. A few weeks ago, one of the other clowns had to undergo surgery and is now on disability. We needed a replacement fast. So…without Shara's knowledge….I asked for Mr. Napier to come back to work for us."
"WHAT!" Both Shepard and Garrus shouted.
"Detectives please," Vala shushed as if she was afraid someone might be outside the conference room listening to them, "I realize how this sounds but I can assure you that Mr. Napier hasn't any incidents since returning to work."
"You mean he hasn't had any incidents THAT YOU KNOW OF!" Garrus growled. "It could be that he has since learned how to hide his crimes better. Is he scheduled to work the game today?"
Vala nodded, "as a matter of fact he is but…"
Garrus got up from the table and headed for the door, "come on Shepard. We should call for backup. There's no telling what that clown will do when we try to bring him in."
"Now just a minute Detective Vakarian!" Vala called out, "you don't have a case against Mr. Napier."
Shepard angrily looked at Vala, "what are you talking about? Your boss just told us about what he did to those kids six months ago."
"Maybe so. But unless one of the victims comes forward to press charges against him, you technically can't prove a crime has been committed. Nor can you prove that he's guilty of committing a crime since coming back to the Peacekeepers."
"Listen here Ms. Isali…" Shepard started to say.
"Wait a minute Shepard," Garrus interrupted, "Mr. Wilkinson said that he didn't tell Ms. Shara'Vael about bringing that clown back to work for the Peacekeepers. That could have been the secret that she uncovered. The clown could have out she knew and killed her to keep her from exposing him. I'd say that's motive and more than enough for us to consider a him a person of interest for our investigation."
Wilkinson nodded, "you do have a point Detective."
"But Lyle…!" Vala protested.
"Vala! If what the detectives believe is true, then that means I'm partially responsible for Shara's death since I made the decision to allow Mr. Napier to return to this organization. I overlooked Mr. Napier's actions once, I won't do it again. Detectives, I won't stop you from doing what you need to do. Just let me know if there's anything I can do to help."
Garrus checked the time on his omni-tool. The stadium was going to be letting fans in for the game any minute. All the extra bodies would be more innocents in the line of fire if something went wrong while arresting Napier. The ideal strategy would be to isolate him. Wilkinson's offer gave him an idea for how to do that.
"Actually," he said to Wilkinson, "there just might be something you can do for us."
The biotiball game was officially underway. From his position in the stands, Shepard had a perfect view of the action. Except the action he was watching was not on the field. His face was looking towards the field but his eyes were focusing on something in his peripheral vision. One section to his left, Robert Napier was walking up the rows. It was not hard for Shepard to pick him out among the crowd. Wearing a red afro wig, bright yellow shirt and green suspenders that were several sizes too wide, Napier looked like a walking traffic light. Even with such a loud costume, a couple more steps up the rows and Napier would be out of Shepard's view. Fortunately the plan accounted for that.
Once the backup Garrus had requested arrived, each officer changed out of their uniform and into some spare Citadome security uniforms. They were then spread out in strategic locations around the stadium. No matter where Napier was in the stadium, one set of eyes would always be on him. This would allow Shepard, the only officer who would be mobile to change positions without alerting Napier or losing sight of him. At any moment, Wilkinson would be calling Napier to come to his office. Garrus was with Wilkinson and would be there to arrest Napier as soon as he entered. Until that happened, Shepard and the backup units would be watching Napier to ensure he was never alone with any kids.
"Target's on the move," Shepard said into his comm., "he should be coming into your view T'Parro."
"Copy that," T'Parro's voice replied, "wow! You weren't kidding about his costume being loud, Detective. And…alright, you're clear to change position."
Shepard got up from his seat in the stands and walked up the rows. Once he reached the top row, he quickly reacquired Napier. The clown was presently walking along the concourse towards one of the concession stands. It must have been time for him to take a snack break. Shepard stepped into a line at a merchandise stand to blend in. Hopefully Napier would move on before Shepard reached the front of the line and had to buy something.
"We should just take this sicko down now. I can hit him from here."
It was hard for Shepard not to flinch when he heard the new voice on his comm. As great as it was to be working with T'Parro again, it unfortunately meant that Jorin would be around too. As T'Parro's partner, they were a package deal, which meant they couldn't have one without the other. Still Shepard knew having Jorin involved in this operation was going to complicate things. Based on Jorin's transmission, it was looking like he was right.
"Negative," Shepard replied calmly so as not to alarm anyone, "we've been over this. We need to isolate the target. Otherwise we're risking innocent lives."
"We're risking the safety of innocent kids every second he's walking around free," said Jorin, "let me take the shot. I can make it without any civilians getting hurt."
"Jorin!" T'Parro scolded over the comm. "You promised me that you would not go rogue again and obey the detectives' instructions to the letter. That's the only reason I agreed to reposed to their backup request. Now cut the chatter and don't make any moves unless ordered to."
There wasn't any response from Jorin but Shepard took the silence to mean that T'Parro had gotten him back in line. At least, he was hoping that was the case. His focus needed to be on Napier and he couldn't afford to babysit Jorin at the same time. A quick glance confirmed that Napier was still at the concession stand. Thankfully Shepard hadn't missed anything during the brief interruption by Jorin. He was about to check to see if he was at the front of his own line but something else caught his eye and made him tense up.
Napier had stopped looking at the concession stand and was focus on a small turian boy who seemed to be lost. Shepard glanced around but he didn't see any adults who appeared to be looking for anyone, let alone a child. It became apparent that Napier came to the same realization because he was smiling. And it was not a silly smile a person would expect a clown to have. Instead it was the sinister smile of a predator who had spotted potential prey. Not caring about losing his spot in line, Napier started walking towards the child.
The initial instinct from Shepard was to run towards the child to prevent Napier from reaching him. To do that though would result in his cover being blown and the plan to arrest Napier peacefully falling apart into chaos. But there was no way he could allow Napier to take the child away. What was taking Wilkinson so long to call Napier to his office? There was only one play left for Shepard to make.
"T'Parro," he said on his comm., "target is about to approach a child. Can you intercept?"
"On it," T'Parro replied.
Though Shepard didn't see T'Parro, he knew she was close by. He unknowingly held his breath as he watched Napier get closer to the child. Just when Napier was about to speak to the child, T'Parro appeared and stood between the two of them. Shepard let out a relieved sigh and smiled as T'Parro knelt down and offered to help the child find his parents. Napier was a bit surprised by T'Parro's sudden appearance but thankfully he didn't question it. If he had, he might have realized that T'Parro was not really a security guard. Instead he just casually walked away and tried to get his spot back in the concession line. While he knew T'Parro couldn't answer back, Shepard congratulated her for handling the situation.
Before Napier could get in the concession line again, his omni-tool lit up and made a beeping sound Shepard was barely able to hear from his position. Shepard's smile grew wider. Napier was getting to the summons to Wilkinson's office. With the big boss requesting his presence, he wouldn't risk being distracted by anymore kids. It was looking like the plan was going to run smoothly from here on out…or it did until Jorin's voice came over the comm. again.
"That was too close Shepard," he scolded, "we need to put the clown down now before he gets anymore sick ideas."
"Negative," Shepard replied, "target is on his way to the owner's office right now. Just stick to the plan and Detective Vakarian will have the target in custody without incident."
"Come on, Shepard! Jail is too good a place for this animal!"
"It's DETECTIVE Shepard to you, officer! Stand down! That's an order!"
"If you were a real Detective, you'd know that I'm right! If you're not going to do what needs to be done, I will and then everyone will realize that I should have been made detective instead of you. I'm taking the shot!"
Shepard urgently scanned the faces of the crowd in an attempt to find Jorin. The plan was falling apart and he needed to do something to try and salvage it. He had already tried one thing that he never enjoyed doing even in the military, pulling rank. That proved ineffective however. It was clear that Jorin was still bitter over Shepard becoming a homicide detective and Garrus' partner instead of him. If Jorin wasn't going to respect Shepard's authority then nothing Shepard could say would change Jorin's mind. With words not being a viable option, Shepard was going to need to take action to prevent Jorin from killing Napier.
Stepping out from the line he was hiding in, Shepard slowly approached Napier from behind. The original plan was not to tip Napier off that C-SEC was making a move on him but Shepard was going to have to throw that plan out the window. He was about to tap Napier on the shoulder when he heard some gasps coming from the crowd in front of him. There he saw Jorin pushing people aside as he raised his sidearm and pointed it at Napier.
"GUN!" Shepard shouted as he dove towards Napier.
Shepard was barely able to tackle Napier down to the ground before Jorin fired his weapon. The bullet flew over the two of them and traveled uninterrupted until it hit the back wall of the concession stand Napier came from. It was a miracle that no civilians were harmed by the shot. But now that Jorin's shot had caused to the crowds to panic and scatter, the next shot likely would. Napier needed to get put in handcuffs fast. Once Napier was secure, Jorin would not be able to justify shooting him. Shepard pulled out his handcuffs only to realize that Napier was not underneath him.
Somehow Shepard had rolled off of Napier during their tumble. Napier had gotten back on has feet and was now using the chaos of the crowd to flee. Thankfully Shepard was able to spot him before he could get far. Jumping to his feet, Shepard sprinted after him. While running, he radioed Garrus to inform him that the operation was compromised and that Napier was on the run. To his surprise, Garrus didn't acknowledge his transmission. He was going to have to figure the comm. issue later because he needed to focus on chasing Napier. He shouted at the people in front of him telling them to clear the way. A few obliged but Shepard still bumped into the people that didn't which resulted in his progress being hampered. At the rate he was being slowed by the crowd, he was going to lose Napier.
Suddenly Napier made a sharp turn and ran down an aisle between seating sections and towards the biotiball field. Shepard struggled to figure out what Napier was thinking. Eventually the steps would end and he would have no choice but to walk through the packed front row seats. Stepping over all the fans would slow him down to a crawl. It was when Shepard realized Napier was not slowing down as he approached the bottom of the steps that it came together. Napier was going to hop onto the field. Thanks to the chaos caused by Jorin's shot, the game had been halted meaning Napier could cross the field without having to run through an active biotiball game. What Napier didn't know was that Shepard had a way to ensure that he couldn't hop into the stands on the other side.
"All units!" He shouted into his comm. while hopping onto the biotiball field. "Target is on the field! Converge on the field and cut him off!"
Several voices responded to acknowledge Shepard's orders. At least the comm. still allowed Shepard to talk to everyone else. So why wasn't he hearing anything from Garrus? Surely by now Garrus had to be wondering what was happening. With players and referee's watching him, Shepard chased Napier to the other side of the field. Napier looked ready to hop back into the stands but suddenly stopped running. Looking ahead, Shepard saw his backup coming down the steps to intercept Napier. The time Napier was stopped trying to figure out where to go which allowed Shepard to close the gap between them significantly. It looked like Napier was trapped and had nowhere to run. Some of the officers were already chatting on the comm. saying that the chase was over. Instead of agreeing with them however, Shepard was beginning to feel dread. He knew that an animal was the most dangerous when they were cornered. And sure enough, he was proven right in a terrible way.
Napier climbed the wall like he was going to jump back in the stands. Before he climbed over the railing however, he stopped and grabbed hold of an asari child in the front row. The parents and the closest C-SEC officer were unable to stop Napier from pulling the child back down onto the field with him. When both of them were back on the ground, Napier ran with the child tucked under his arm toward the tunnel used by the players to enter the field. Shortly after entering the tunnel, Napier and the child vanished in the shadows.
The situation's unexpected rise in urgency caused all the officers who thought the chase was over to start yelling confused orders over the comm. Even with the chaos going on around him, the only sound Shepard heard was the child's screams echoing in the tunnel. He was already feeling a little tired from the chase but the screams gave him an energy boost and he ran as fast as he could after Napier. He kept up the pace even when a voice that he had been waiting to hear from since the chase began came over his comm.
"EVERYONE CUT THE CHATTER!" Garrus yelled causing all voice on the comm. to silence. "Detective Shepard what the hell is going on?!"
"Target is on the run!" Shepard replied. "And he has a hostage!"
"No time to explain! He ran down the tunnel! I'm in pursuit!
"(sigh) Alright, stay on him!"
Garrus then proceeded to coordinate with the other officers to block off any exit Napier might be heading for. Shepard was tempted to mute his comm. so he could focus but he knew that he might miss some vital information if Garrus needed to contact him. Instead he mentally tuned out the comm. noise and listened for any noises that would indicate where Napier had run off too. In the midst of his conversation with Garrus, the child's screams had stopped causing Shepard to become anxious. He was hoping that Napier was simply covering the child's mouth and that was why the screaming stopped. The other explanation was one he didn't want to think about.
Shepard had come to an intersection when he heard the sound of something metallic being knocked over coming from the path to his left. Perfect, he thought. If Napier kept making noises like that, there was no way he could lose him. Shepard ran towards the source of the noise but stopped when he noticed a map on the wall. He almost disregarded it fearing that stopping to look at it would widen the distance between him and Napier but something he saw made him realize he had plenty of time to spare.
The hallway he was walking through would take him past two doors on the right side that lead into the Peacekeepers' locker room. Napier could hide in there but there he would have to eventually come back out into the hall as the three doors were the only way to go in and out. Beyond the locker room was an elevator that took the players up to the team parking garage. Only players and security could operate the elevator. Napier had unintentionally walked himself into a dead end.
Quietly Shepard pulled out his sidearm and hugged the wall. He slowly walked towards the closest of the locker room's doorframes. The door was opened allowing him to peek inside. From what he could see, there was no sign of Napier nor were there are decent places for him to hide behind on the far side of the room. Napier was likely just inside the door Shepard was approaching. This gave Shepard an idea.
When Shepard was right at the doorframe, he heard what sounded like a muffled cry. It gave him a brief sense of relief since the sound meant the child was still alive. Napier must have had her mouth covered to make it harder for Shepard to hear her. If it hadn't been for the crash Shepard heard, he would have not have known he came this way. Now that he had found Napier, it was time for Shepard to carry out his plan.
"Robert Napier!" He called from the hallway. "C-SEC! There's nowhere for you to run! Let the child go and come out with your hands in the air!"
Just when Shepard had finished speaking, he saw Napier running for one of the other doors. Napier was doing exactly what Shepard expected him to do. By heading for one of the other doors, Napier was planning to hide and then slip out when Shepard entered the locker room. His hope was that by going out when Shepard was coming in, Shepard would just miss seeing him and then run away while Shepard was searching the room. So Napier was surprised when Shepard entered the room early and ordered him to freeze before he made it to the door. But Napier was nowhere near as surprised (or rather horrified) as Shepard was when he saw Napier.
Napier was holding the child in his left arm close to his chest to serve as a shield. His right hand was held over the child's mouth to keep her quiet. Shepard could see in the child's eyes that she had been crying for awhile. What really horrified Shepard however was that Napier was no longer wearing his pants. He quickly glanced around the room and noticed the pants lying behind a row of lockers and near a metal bin that was lying on the ground. That was likely the source of the crash he heard but Shepard didn't care about that. He was more concerned with the implication of Napier's pants not being on.
"I knew there was no chance of me getting out of here alive," Napier said answering the question Shepard was afraid to ask, "so I figured I'd have one last hurrah."
Knowing full well what Napier meant by "one last hurrah", Shepard's breathing got heavier as his anger grew. He raised his weapon and aimed it as best as he could at Napier's head. If Napier gave him and opening and forced his hand, Shepard would be ready to take him out. But only IF that happened. Besides not wanting to accidentally hit the child, Shepard didn't want to kill Napier because his paragon nature kept him from being willing to kill a person unless it was in self-defense or because the person threatened another person's life.
"You're sick Robert," Shepard said trying to keep his anger from showing in his voice, "you need help."
"Help?!" Said Napier. "You call trying to shoot me help?!"
"I'm really sorry that happened. The officer went rogue. I told him my partner and I wanted you alive. We just wanted to talk to you about the recent murder of Shara'Vael vas Moreh."
A surprised look appeared on Napier face and his grip on the child loosened, "what? Why would you want to talk to me about that? I had nothing to do with what happened to her."
"We know about why you were let go from the Peacekeepers six months ago. We also know that a few weeks ago you were brought back to replace a clown who was on disability. Our working theory right now is that Shara found out and you killed her to keep her from going public with what she knew."
This time Napier's mouth dropped open in shock. He also nearly dropped the child but managed to catch her and held her under his arm at his side. His body was no longer shielded but he didn't seem to care. All he seemed to be able to focus on was trying to make sense of what Shepard said. Shepard was becoming confused as well. What did he say that wasn't making sense to Napier?
"What the hell are you talking about?" Napier finally said, "this is only my first day back since I was let go."
"What do you mean?" A stun Shepard asked.
"Yesterday Mr. Wilkinson called me out of the blue and said he desperately needed a substitute clown. He said it wouldn't be a permeant return and was just going to be for the day. I wanted to tell him to shove his offer but I needed the money."
Several thoughts ran through Shepard's mind. If Napier was telling the truth, then he wasn't working for the Peacekeeper's when Shara uncovered the big secret. He wasn't even working for the Peacekeeper's when Shara was murdered. Shepard realized that there was no way Napier could be the murder with those facts in mind because they took away his motive. So why would Wilkinson lie and say that Napier had been back with the Peacekeepers longer than he actually had? Then Shepard took into account Napier's comment saying that Wilkinson had called him out of the blue yesterday and everything came together.
"Son of a bitch," he said under his breath.
A gunshot snapped out of his thoughts and he looked up in time to see Napier drop the child and fall forward. When he hit the ground, Shepard saw a bullet wound on the back of his head. With her mouth unobstructed, the child was able to cry loudly again. Instinctively Shepard picked up the child and held her close to his chest to obstruct her view of the body. He patted her on the back and quietly reassured her that everything was okay and that she was safe. He then looked up and saw where the shot had come from. Standing in the far doorway was Jorin holding his smoking sidearm. With an expression Shepard could only guess was the turian equivalent of smugness, Jorin holstered his weapon.
"That is how a REAL detective gets the job done."