Shepard stood just inside of the office they had been directed to. Unlike most of those they had passed, this one had no windows. At least, that was one less thing she had to worry about: there would be no sniper shots through a window even if the space seemed too closed in for comfort. The occasional creak of armor reminded her that at least she wasn't alone and her companions waited beside her. If she didn't trust Bau, she might have begun to think this was a setup. At last a side door opened and a volus waddled in and over to a console. Just another employee, she thought to herself.
"Greetings, Spectre," the volus said in between mechanical wheezing breaths.
"Yes." He paused for another moment as the sound of his breathing filled the office. "I have information you need."
Her eyebrows shot up, nearly touching the shaggy curls that had begun to grow out over the past months. "How do you know what I need?" she asked as her hand drifted down toward the pistol at her hip.
Garrus and Decian took it one step further and pulled their weapons free. The volus's head swung from side to side before he raised his arms.
"I merely meant that a rich benefactor has paid my employer a great deal so that I can help you find those still missing -"
"You know where they all are?" she asked even as her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
She heard a snort of disbelief from Garrus. Barla Von shook his head.
"I do not think anyone knows where they all are -" He paused once more and long enough that even Decian began to fidget. "But I found a 'specialty importer' that has made an unprecedented number of trips into asari held space over the course of the past few weeks. I found that he also purchased a great deal of dextro compatible rations as well. I am sure that you can convince him to tell you where he brought them."
Shepard gave a sharp nod. "One way or another, he will tell me. So who is this person?"
"Another Earth-clan, Donovan Hock on Bekenstein in the Boltzmann system."
"What!" Garrus said as the sound of disbelief thrummed in his voice.
Amala gave him a tight smile. "I did warn you that every species has assholes; some are just bigger than others."
The volus wheezed a small laugh. "The Spectre is correct. I will continue my search as well."
"Since someone is paying for information for me - have you heard any rumors about an attack on me here on the Citadel?"
He shook his head. "I have no knowledge of that, but I will contact the Broker; perhaps another agent has something of use. If you give me your omni-tool information?"
"What? The Broker didn't have that information for you already?" The only sound was that of the volus. Amala sighed before she gave him her contact details.
He input the codes into his own tool before looking back up. "I will contact you if I receive anything of use."
She turned on her heel, the turians falling into formation beside her as they stowed their weapons once more.
"Back to the ship?" Garrus asked.
Amala shook her head. "I want any firefight as far from the Wildcat as possible. No, I think we will head to my apartment first and get what supplies I have and then try and disappear."
"Yeah, I don't think you will be able to do that while we are with you."
Decian nodded. "Garrus is right. Maybe we can draw them off; after all we have to be easier to track on the station than you."
Amala came to an abrupt stop and the turians' steps stuttered as they avoided running over the smaller human. She swung around and leveled a glare at them.
"Oh, hell no. We stick together; you guys wouldn't last long alone here. After we get anything of use from my place, I'll contact Bailey and see where we can hole up that will minimize fallout to any civilians. That's the best we can do at the moment. Agreed?"
They glanced at each other and some silent conversation took place between them before Garrus gave her a nod. "We are with you, no matter what."
She turned around and headed towards the elevator. That they were willing to sacrifice themselves for her, for that is what it would have been, meant far more to her than they realized. They rode back down to the ground floor, only the music piped in breaking the silence. A few steps out of it and a human woman moved to intercept them. Garrus put out an arm to prevent her from reaching Amala. She stopped and nodded at the turians.
"Ma'am, I'm here to get you and your guests out of here safely."
Amala cocked her head as she studied the other woman. "Who sent you?"
"Barla Von requested my services."
Shepard strode over to the main desk and rapped a knuckle on the desk. "Contact Barla Von. I need to speak to him now."
"One moment," the salarian said as he watched the aliens in front of him. He pushed a few buttons and after a few seconds the volus answered.
"Sir? The Spectre wishes to speak with you."
"Yes?" the volus wheezed out.
Amala leaned over the counter to speak closer to the console.
"Did you order an escort for us? A human woman?"
"Yes, Adriana is one of our best drivers."
"Tell me beforehand the next time you send someone my way. I hate surprises."
"Of course, Spectre."
Shepard turned around and nodded to the other woman. "Okay, I need to get to my apartment without everyone and their brother following us. Oh, and there is most likely a team on its way to eliminate me."
Adriana flashed her a smile. "We already have another car with holographic images of you and your friends leading the reporters on a merry chase. Follow me to our garage and we can discuss where you want to go there."
A private elevator ride later and they were inside a garage underneath the building. The taller woman lead them to one of the longer cars that the rich tended to use as it had a separate area for the riders away from the driver. Adriana held the back door open and once they were all inside, she activated a button and the windows in the passenger area darkened to the point that no one could see inside.
"Where to, ma'am?"
"The Dockside apartment building in Zakera Ward."
"Right then. I'll make sure we don't have any 'friends' before we head there."
"So, no one can see inside, but won't they suspect something?" Amala asked through the partition.
"Morlix reported in a few minutes ago that he still has several cars following him and our car has a few other tricks in it. Don't worry, we do this sort of thing for various vid stars all the time. Anyone scanning this vehicle will see me and read only one other body back where you are. Normally we would use body doubles to throw them off, but your friends make that impossible to do, so we had to go the tech route."
"Twenty minutes if we don't pick up a tail."
Shepard leaned back against the soft leather of the seat. She gazed over at Garrus next to her.
"Might as well enjoy the ride."
Barla Von pushed the intercom button connecting him to his assistant. "Hold all calls until further notice."
"Of course, sir."
A few minutes later and he finally spoke when a certain symbol lit up on his console.
"Shadow Broker, sir, Shepard has the information that we were paid for. However, she wanted to know if we had anything regarding an attack directed at her on the Citadel."
The voice that answered was heavily distorted, on purpose. "Look into it, forward any expenses to me and I'll make sure her patron pays us."
"Of course, sir. If I might make a suggestion, sir, it might be wise to pass any information through me as Shepard is a little paranoid."
"She'd be dead if she wasn't. I'll make sure to use you as a point of contact. Shadow Broker, out."
The call disconnected and Barla Von returned to scanning all his feeds for anything that might help the Spectre.
On a ship far away from the Citadel, the Broker let out a sigh. Their fingers flew over the keyboard as they contacted yet another agent even as their eyes watched the feeds coming in from all over the galaxy.
"Sir, I'm on my way to meet with the contact now -"
"We need him now. You are authorized to give him whatever he wants for his services. Pass on any details to Barla Von. Do not fail me."
"Of course, sir."
The Broker cut the call before briefly clutching the edge of the desk, their fingers digging into the surface. Damn Shepard and that nearly impossible to track ship of hers; with a little more time, things might have been in place sooner.
"I've done what I can," the Broker muttered aloud to no one in particular.
Shepard gazed around the apartment, trying to remember exactly how she had left it before. Nothing seemed out of place, so she stepped inside the doorway and the turians stayed a step behind her.
"Come on, the sooner we are out of here again, the better I will feel."
Amala ignored the blinking light on her home console, which indicated there were messages, and instead made straight for the spare bedroom. She dropped down to her knees, reached under the bed, pulled out a bag of heat sinks, and tossed it towards Garrus. He snagged the bag out of the air and slung it over one shoulder. Inside the closet, her weapons locker stood undisturbed. Her fingers flew over the keys as she input the code and the door swung open.
"Grab spares of whatever you want. I'm going to see if the medi-gel is still good in the bathroom. We are out of here in five."
"On it, Shepard."
She hurried out of the room and flung open the old style door to the bathroom. She rummaged through her stash of medical supplies, stuffing anything that might be of use in the pouches on her armor. Not stopping with her efforts, she opened a call to Bailey.
"Shepard? What's the matter?"
"I'm pretty sure I've got a hit team heading my way -" Her comm line buzzed with another call and the ID popped up as Barla Von. "Hang on a sec; I have another call I have to take."
"Shepard!" Bailey growled out just before he lost contact.
"What do you have for me?"
She heard the volus wheeze for a moment before he replied. "The Broker has secured help. Where are you now?"
"My apartment, but not for long."
"Stay there. I'll send him your way. His name is -"
The call ended suddenly in static. Swearing under her breath, she tried to reestablish a connection, but couldn't.
"Damn it! Can either of you make a call out?" she yelled towards the bedroom.
Garrus and Decian stuck their heads out of the door. Garrus punched something on his tool, but shook his head.
"I've got nothing."
"Shit! That means they must be here if they put some sort of dampening field around the place. Give me a hand with the sofa."
They rushed to her side and together they moved furniture around, making an attempt to create a barricade. Garrus bolted back towards the bedroom and returned in a few moments with an armful of weapons that he dropped behind their fortification. The tinkling of shattering glass preceded the arrival of the band of soldiers. Amala ducked down behind the sofa next to Garrus.
"Well, the good news is we have help on the way."
"And the bad news?" Garrus asked.
"Not a fucking clue who it might be."
Decian snorted. "Hope they get here soon or they are going to miss all the excitement."
"Ready to kick some ass?" Amala asked with a feral grin.
Garrus grinned back. "You know it."
~ Thanks once more to Mordinette for all her help with this story, thank you! And another to the readers, thanks for being patient! I'm sorry this took so long to put out!~