“And what’s that?”
“Public extranet terminal.”
“Did you see—”
“They’re called elcor, Allen, you saw one yesterday. Don’t stare, he’s an ambassador.”
“How do you tell them apart…?”
“Ambassadors all have the same ‘I’m important’ look. It’s universal. Come on, keep up. We’ve got an appointment.”
To emphasize that statement, he set a hand on the boy’s shoulder, propelling him with a practiced ease through the milling throngs of the Wards. Much to everyone’s relief the Council had called a recess, enabling both officers and refugees to finally have a day to where their brains weren’t constantly being taxed for solutions and upset by memories. Ordinarily, that would have entailed him wandering up to the docking ring, and slipping off to the
However, today the curious quarian’s attention was fully on a man called Tony Stark, one of the many refugees who had thrown in with Shepard and managed to escape. There’d been no prying them apart after their discovery of a mutual love of all things mechanical and technological. Chances were Stark had charmed—or bullied--his way into one of the machine shops, with Tali ever-present, and they wouldn’t be seen until well into the next Council meeting.
Alenko had promised Shepard some much needed downtime, and it was better for all involved if he kept his mind off of what those two were up to. He had no idea where Wrex and Liara had gotten to—though he’d seen the asari speaking with Mustang earlier. Chances were the Colonel was as taken with the young doctor as most human, and turian, men seemed to be. If he saw the other man again, he’d have to wish him luck. As it turned out, he and Liara had similar fixations as far as their nonexistent love lives were concerned.
As for himself…
He was busy hauling a half-grown boy around the Wards on a mission of sorts. You would think that a full two weeks on the Citadel would be enough to accustom people to the level of technology, and the denizens. Apparently no one had informed
“Garrus? Where are we going anyway?”
“Meeting an old friend,” was all he had time to say before he had to coax
Marching through the all-too familiar doors of the C-Sec academy was a lot easier than he’d thought it would be. There weren’t a whole lot of faces he had to avoid now. The attack on the Citadel had seen to that. But the layout, right down to the pair of salarians on guard duty beside the doors, hadn’t changed a bit. He felt
The more floors they went down, the quieter it got. Odd—he’d have thought there would be more recruits and officers down here, getting in some practice. It was probably for the better though, he reflected, turning down familiar corridors. He didn’t want to scare
“Where are we?” the boy asked, cautiously edging forward.
“C-Sec ranged weapons training, boy,” said a new voice, inside the room. “What are you doing in here? Looking for a job?”
Startled, Walker whirled around, just in time to see the doors hiss open automatically, revealing the neat rows of what looked for all the world like cubicles inside, as well as a uniformed turian officer. The officer regarded the boy coolly, arms folded, before his mandibles worked into a much more friendly expression.
“Still like scaring kids, Chellick?”
Now the officer’s expression schooled. “Still watching out for the helpless humans, Vakarian?”
Moving to stand reassuringly behind
“Maybe it should be someone who’s got two good legs.”
“Says the blind man.”
Chellick broke character first, smirking again and holding out a hand. “What took you so long?” he asked. His good eye gleamed wickedly in the overhead lights, while the other had a much duller sheen. Their color didn’t even match anymore. One was brighter than the other by far—the price Chellick had paid for surviving the Citadel attack. “You’ve been back over a week and you’re just now making the rounds?”
“It’s been a busy few weeks…” Garrus answered, shaking the offered hand gladly. “They finally let us out. Thought I’d drop by and blow off some smoke.”
The other turian rolled his eyes pointedly. “Even I know that one—‘steam’. Not smoke.”
Mandibles flared, Garrus pointedly ignored the correction, instead calling attention to the overlooked human. “I told you about this already on the message,” he said awkwardly. “But, anyway, this is him. Allen Walker. One of the refugees I worked with. I’ve been named his guard while he’s here. Allen, Detective Chellick.”
“We worked together,” Chellick said, now moving to shake the boy’s hesitant hand—and thankfully overlooking any and all oddity thereof. Though he did shoot Garrus an inquisitive glance. To which the younger turian just shook his head slightly.
“Nice to meet you,”
“I heard you showed some impressive skills back there,” Chellick continued, moving towards one of the cubicles. “So…” he added slyly, glancing over his shoulder at them. “Come to see what your friend here can do when he’s not playing Executor to a bunch of lab rats?”
“Actually,” Garrus cut in. “I wanted to see what he could do… I--”
The detective snorted. “You’ve been out of practice too long, Vakarian. Off-force or no, it’d be a waste to let skills like yours rot.” He removed a weapon from an otherwise unseen rack and tossed it to his former co-worker. “C’mon,
Busy with the weapon, Garrus didn’t look at him when he replied. “I was going to teach you how to shoot—like I promised, for the poker game,” he said. His mandibles flicked when
“Go on,” he advised
Slinging the sniper rifle over his shoulder, he headed for the nearest cubicle. It was intimately familiar. He’d been there so many times before, he could have drawn a schematic for the place in his sleep. Moving to the center of the room, he smartly snapped the rifle up into position, letting the targeting systems take over one eye, while he sighted along the scope with the other. It wasn’t long before the room disappeared, and he crouched atop a building on some unidentified planet. He was briefly thrown, trying to figure out just where the hell he was.
“Commander Shepard mentioned you wanted a look at Earth,” said Chellick over his com-link. The detective sounded smug.
“Thoughtful,” was all he said in response.
The target’s image flickered over his eyepiece, and the device lit up, scanning every face that meandered down the narrow streets below. Thankfully, Chellick had enough tact to program in nonhuman targets. Neither of them thought
Still, he didn’t fire. The hostages were jostling the vehicle too much for all but the steadiest hand. He waited, purposefully taking deep, even breaths, feeling the slowing of his heart rate. Even the smallest of twitches could knock the angle off. And those people couldn’t afford that. Everything but the view inside the circle of the scope faded. For the first time in weeks, his head was clear, mind not thinking of anything, except the moment he was clear to fire.
In the space between breaths, between heartbeats, the salarian moved his head clear. Not hesitating, Garrus squeezed the trigger. Bracing himself against the kickback, he didn’t budge until he saw the target’s head erupt in gore, and the body slump to the ground, lifeless.
“Neat as ever, Vakarian,” said Chellick, approvingly. “I’d have waited until he was clear of the transport, though…”
“Just give me another.”
They ran through several more drills, each taking less time than the last—save for the krogan warlord, who had to have the regular rounds swapped out for a fast-acting nerve agent, due to the situation. And when he dragged himself out of the cubicle, pleasantly fatigued, he was shocked to see how much time had gone by. It was a lot later than he’d expected. Still, he’d promised the boy he’d teach him something today.
“I’m sorry that took so long…” he said, addressing both the detective and Walker as they approached.
The boy looked a little… uneasy, and Garrus mentally cursed for letting himself get so carried away. This wasn’t a side to him he’d really wanted Walker to see—the cold, calculating officer who did what he had to in order to get the job done. Sure, he accepted it, embraced it even at times, and was surrounded by people who understood and did the same.
Before he could say anything, or apologize further, the boy looked up at him, breaking into a smile. “You’re good,” he said. “I… those targets were… pretty far away.”
Mandibles working, he glanced at Chellick, who just shrugged, swapping the rifle for a pistol. “You didn’t input the video feed?” he asked.
“What video feed?” the detective shot back, smirking knowingly. Before any further accusations could be made, he’d changed the subject. “Your boy still interested in getting some training in before I have to close up?”
Much to their surprise, before either of them could ask again, a human hand closed around the grip of the pistol. Both men looked down, and Garrus noted with smug satisfaction the brief look of surprise on Chellick’s face when he met
So, back into the cubicle they went. Chellick stayed out, as before, going back up to the programming station. A short time later, the regular walls were replaced by a long, rectangular hallway that caused
“Both hands,” he advised, watching carefully. “It’s got a kick, small as it is. Brace yourself with your feet. Sight along the barrel. Just like that—no, up more.”
“No, here.” He stepped behind the boy, reaching around to position his hands on the grip. His talons were long since clipped, and he had no reason to hesitate in putting his hands over his charge’s. “Right like this. Hold onto it. It’s not going to hurt. Now plant your feet. Sight…”
The target rose into view, nothing more than concentric circles projected into the air.
“And squeeze the trigger.”
Craning his head upwards,
That hesitance didn’t stick around long. They ran through the basic drills, with Garrus gradually backing off his assistance, until
Knowing Chellick could probably see them on the monitors, Garrus just nodded, not wanting to throw off
“Then again… You said he was something like a soldier didn’t you? Against something like geth?” The pause that followed that thoughtful question suddenly made the younger turian uneasy. “I’m not surprised he’s good. Think he’s ever fired a weapon before?”
He shook his head, stepping in to correct his charge’s stance—
“Now you’ve got me wondering, Vakarian….”
Confused, he cupped a hand over the com-link, wondering if he hadn’t caught all that. A startled yelp drew his attention back to the boy, to where the harmless target had suddenly become an awfully familiar shape, right down to the mechanical chattering of a language from an inorganic larynx.
Metal gleaming in the light, the geth moved smoothly towards them, powerful limbs clutching what had to be an assault rifle. The light in its head did not waver from its focus—
The snap of the pistol went off before he finished. His head whipped around, attempting to follow the flight of the slug as it tore into the geth’s slender throat, ripping through vital cables and circuits. Pale, gleaming fluid bubbled out, coolants probably, and the creature toppled with a metallic whine. It hit the ground about the same time the pistol did.
“What the hell, Chellick?” Garrus snarled into the com-link. “A geth! What were you thinking!”
Abruptly, he shut off the link, putting a steadying hand on Walker’s shoulder, just in case the boy was going to faint. This wasn’t how he’d wanted this adventure to go. Not by a long shot. He pried the boy out of the cubicle, heading for the door without another word to the detective. They didn’t stop moving until they reached the elevator—
“Are you all right?” he asked, once the elevator doors slid closed behind them. The boy’s head was bowed, and he leaned against the wall, his shoulders hunched. “I’m sorry about that, really. I didn’t think Chellick would be that stupid. He should have known not to push you.”
When that failed to illicit a response beyond a wordless nod, Garrus awkwardly forged ahead, folding his arms over his chest. “I don’t know what I was thinking, taking you there,” he admitted. “I guess… I don’t know.”
“You told me… you were doing that when you were my age too.”
Blinking dumbly, he nodded. “Yeah… Basic training at fifteen. That’s our majority.”
He was surprised when the boy looked up, finally, giving him a vague smile. “I know what you were thinking, Garrus,”
Still mildly confused, he only nodded, crossing the elevator to stand beside the boy. “Glad one of us does,” he said mildly. “You’re a damn good shot, you know?”
“Next time… I’ll do better.”
Next time? Stifling a laugh, he rested a hand on