It felt like he'd barely closed his eyes before the priority call alarm started blaring on his omni-tool rousing him from a restless sleep. He accepted the call, blearily noting who it was from before answering.
"Vakarian here," he sighed and cleared his throat. A glance at his holo-clock told him he wasn't scheduled for work for another six hours. He threw an arm over his eyes and laid back against his pillow.
"Vakarian, it's Chellick. I apologize for waking you. Thought you should know last night's raid hit the news early this morning. Things have gotten…complicated."
Garrus scoffed, nonplused. "Yeah, I'd say two-hundred dead children is pretty damn complicated."
There was a pause on the other end of the line and Garrus rubbed his hand over his face. Chellick didn't deserve his ire and he knew it. He was tired and had spent most of the last few hours berating himself for not anticipating the slaver's depravity before finally falling asleep. He was just about to apologize when the other turian spoke up.
"The actual count is closer to three-hundred," he said quietly.
Garrus didn't respond, wasn't sure what to say. He'd been in C-Sec long enough that death had a somewhat muted effect on him, but even he wasn't immune to a body count that high. And that they were children? He didn't know how to even begin to process that.
He sat up in his bed, letting his blankets fall down to his waist. There was no point in pretending he'd be able to go back to sleep.
"You mentioned complications?"
"Yes," Chellick answered tightly.
The fog of sleep now dissipated, Garrus switched the call from voice to video. The other turian appeared on the holo-screen, mandibles pulled tight against his face, posture rigid, and teeth slightly bared- the picture of barely contained rage.
Garrus raised a brow, his attention piqued. Chellick was about as controlled and disciplined as turians came. That he was showing even a hint of underlying emotion meant something was seriously wrong.
"Just how complicated are we talking here?"
"Two-hundred eighty-seven children dead and all of them human."
Damn. He knew there was ongoing frictionbetween the humans and the baterians, but going after their children? Garrus shook his head. Depending on how the humans responded, this could get ugly, and quick.
Still, sour human-batarian relations wasn't something new. He doubted that was what Chellick was all worked up for.
"I don't mean to sound…insensitive here. But I'm not sure how this complicates things for us exactly."
"Have you seen the news?"
Garrus wanted to say that, no, he had, in fact, been sleeping. A fact Chellick was no doubt aware of. What he actually said was, "No." And pulled up the news feeds on his omni-tool.
C-Sec Careless- Human Children Pay
287 Human Children Dead in Failed C-Sec Raid- Could the Turian-Dominated Police Force Be To Blame?
One of C-Sec's Own Comes Forward, Supports Claims About Racial Discrimination Within the Force
Are Human Lives Worth Less to C-Sec? Should You Be Worried?
Garrus shut the feed down, turned his gaze back to Chellick and stared, dumbfounded.
"How did this even-" he sputtered, "Where?"
He stopped, trying to collect his thoughts. Racial discrimination within the force? Sure, he'd seen it a couple of times, and yes, it was usually between humans and turians, but never at the expense of their duties. He didn't think, anyway. Not that he'd seen. Certainly not last night. They didn't know the slaves were all human- hell, they didn't know they were children until after…until after.
A thought struck him then.
"Who the hell talked to the press?"
That was a damn good question. If someone thought they were being discriminated against, they should have gone to Executor Pallin. His own feelings toward humans notwithstanding, there were strict protocols about these things and Pallin would cut off his own fringe before he'd let anyone accuse him of skirting protocol and everyone knew it.
"The Executor's ordered me to find out though I have a hunch I already know who's behind it."
Now that Chellick mentioned it, he could probably guess who it was also.
Chellick nodded, a look of disgust on his face.
Everyone knew Harkin was a second-rate cop and a seedy son-of-a-bitch who was riding on the political interest that came with being the first human inducted into C-Sec. Still…talking to the press? That was low, even for him.
"Timing," Chellick scoffed, "It all comes down to timing."
Garrus stood up, now fully committed to getting out of bed, and was careful to keep his omni-tool above waist level. He headed for the kitchen- he didn't feel much like eating before he went to bed last night- and prayed to the spirits that his fridge wasn't as empty as he remembered.
"Two weeks ago," Chellick started, "Executor Pallin took all the information he had on Harkin to the Council. Apparently, he'd been compiling his case for some time. He submitted a formal request to have him suspended from the force."
Garrus shrugged while he opened the fridge, disappointed by all the empty space.
"And did they actually listen this time?"
There was a little takeout box hidden back behind his liquor. Huh. He couldn't remember the last time he ate out. He grabbed it, against his better judgment, and opened the lid, staring at its contents curiously.
"They…considered it," Chellick said, his subvocals thick with frustration.
Garrus scoffed, "So, no then."
Chellick shook his head.
Cautiously, he smelled the food and immediately wished he hadn't. It took all he had in him to suppress his gag reflex. The box quickly found its way into the trash.
"So, let me guess, Harkin found out and you think this is his way at getting back at C-Sec?" he asked, attempting to distract himself from the burning in his nostrils.
"It's a possibility."
Garrus didn't know Harkin well. Sure, other officers complained about him almost constantly, but whereas Garrus was a part of Investigations and Special Response, Harkin was Enforcement, which meant their paths rarely crossed.
"Interesting as this is, Chellick, what's it got to do with me? And why couldn't it wait until, oh, I don't know, after I'd gotten some sleep?"
When the other turian didn't answer right away, Garrus paused in his quest to find something else to eat and faced the holo. The look on his face said he wasn't impressed with Garrus' little outburst.
"There's more, isn't there?"
Chellick nodded. "Harkin's gone. Security cameras caught him boarding a private vessel shortly after the raid. It was unmarked, of course, and the licensing numbers they used to dock were all forged. I've personally been to his apartment, but it's been wiped clean. There's nothing."
Garrus considered the information. Harkin would have intimate knowledge of the workings of C-Sec to help with an escape, but leaving the Citadel seemed a bit extreme given the circumstances. Pissing off C-Sec to save his own hide? That hardly warranted this type of response. The station was huge- it would've been just as easy for him to disappear somewhere into one of the Wards.
Not only that, it took some serious creds to secure passage on a 'ghost ship'. The security systems used for docking were some of the most advanced in the known galaxy. That, along with the scrubbed apartment didn't add up. There was no way Harkin could have come up with the resources to pull something like this off. Not on his own anyway.
"He didn't do this alone," Garrus concluded to which Chellick nodded.
"Exactly. There's something else going on here. I think there might be a connection between Harkin's disappearance and the raid."
"You mean besides him accusing us of having an anti-human agenda?"
The other turian scoffed humorlessly. "Yes. I just want to make sure we're not overlooking anything. Pallin put me in charge of finding out who talked to the press, but I have a feeling there's something bigger going on here."
Garrus looked at his colleague skeptically. He and Chellick didn't always see eye to eye, but he respected the man and knew he had some of the best instincts on the force and even he could see the Harkin situation didn't quite add up.
"So what do you want from me?" he asked.
The holo of Chellick rubbed the back of his neck, stalling for a moment.
"I don't know where it'll lead, Garrus, but I'd like you to investigate the blast site, see if you can find anything that links Harkin to those slaves."
Though he had seniority, Garrus didn't take orders from Chellick. They were both detectives and answered only to the Executor, so technically, he was under no obligation to do anything.
He rubbed his face wearily. He seriously doubted he'd find anything, but if Chellick thought it was worth checking out, he'd at least give him that.
"Fine, fine," he said making a dismissive gesture with his hand.
"Garrus, I appreciate this. I'll get to work and forward you any information I think is relevant. Keep me posted on your progress. Chellick out."
The holo blinked out, leaving Garrus alone in the darkness of his kitchen. He was still exhausted, still hungry, and his stomach was sour from the alcohol he drank earlier. Gathering what little energy remained, he grabbed his sidearm and suited up. It was going to be a long night.
Author's Note: ...cough...so yeah. Over a year later, here's chapter two. I'm really sorry guys. I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to self-critique. I'm always second guessing what I'm writing- does it flow well? Is it interesting? I'm I getting the character's voices right? etc, etc. I really appreciate all the reviews and feedback I got from chapter one- thinking about letting you guys down was the main reason I picked this back up and decided to ignore that little voice of doubt that just won't go away. You guys are all rock. Shepard returns in Chapter Three.