Title: The Omega Chronicles -9- New Acquaintances
Game: Mass Effect
characters: FemShep, Garrus Vakarian, Tali'Zorah nar Rayya, The Consort, others
pairing: FemShep/Aria T'Loak
Disclaimer: Mass Effect and its assets belong to Electronic Arts and BioWare
The Omega Chronicles -9- New Acquaintances
"Commander! I just received a lovely note from Septimus. I thank you for taking care of my little problem so quickly and so efficiently. Even he was rather impressed with you. If you are this beguilingly efficient in any task you undertake, I'm beginning to see why Aria would choose you as a bondmate. Please, sit."
Shepard sat down, noticing two glasses of a pale green liquid on top of the table. Sha'ira went on. "Please, do have a drink. It's elasa, an Asari refreshment... with a kick. I hope it will be to your taste."
The Commander picked the glass up and took a sip. It was pleasant enough. "I believe we have some unfinished business. I kept up my end of the deal. Now it is your turn, Consort."
The old Asari sat down as well and sipped her drink, taking her time. She regaled the human with a bright smile, it felt as if she was actually really enjoying the moment of anticipation before speaking again.
"You asked me how I came to be familiar with Aria's hormones, isn't it?"
"Yes." Shepard was patient enough to wait for the Consort to get her obvious kicks out of this.
"I hope it is not jealousy that moves you to ask this question."
"No." She was not going to give the Asari more satisfaction than she was already getting.
"I see." Sha'ira put down her glass on the table and sat back, making herself comfortable. She let out a short sigh. "I guess Aria hasn't shared much about her past with you. She never does. With anyone."
They looked deeply into each other's eyes for a long moment. The Consort could see so many things inside this human. Determination, self assurance, a touch of coldness even, and hidden behind it a burning passion. "Would you mind terribly if we spoke in a more... private fashion, Commander?"
Of course Shepard knew what she meant. "If it makes you feel more comfortable. Be my guest."
"Embrace eternity, Commander." Sha'ira's eyes quickly turned into black pools and she entered the human's mind swiftly, gently. She was surprised to find herself enveloped in a barrier there. For a moment she was unsure as to what to do. She could feel that it was voluntary, and she could feel that it was strong. Surprisingly so.
The Commander was more than trained to deal with a meld with a stranger. She allowed the Consort inside her consciousness and locked her there. 'Well? I'm still waiting for my answer, and I don't have all day.'
The Asari was baffled by the power of the human's mind. 'Did Aria teach you all this? Still, it is impressive. Your mind is extraordinary, Commander. Even by Asari standards.'
'I know. The answer, Sha'ira.'
She felt the Consort's discomfort, but she didn't leave her any room to wriggle. As much as she enjoyed little games like this, she just wanted to finish her business here at the Citadel and go back home.
'Aria mustn't know I told you.'
'You know I cannot promise you that. Not because I cannot keep a secret from her, but because she is my bondmate, and I -choose- to have no secrets with her.'
The Asari seemed to consider that for a moment. Then she made up her mind. In the meld, a flow of images and feelings started unravelling for Shepard to view. A small Asari child, held in Sha'ira's arms as she was singing sweetly an unknown melody, her little hands grabbing her gown, a big happy smile on her face as she tried to press herself closer to the woman holding her. The feeling of joy and fulfilment was almost tangible, so tender, so deep.
Shepard recognised the face markings right away.
Then the same Asari, so very young, so very angry, shouting a string of profanities and insults, picking up a small backpack and running out of a door, slamming it behind her. Shepard could feel the heartbreak, the sense of loss, the pain.
The human found her inner voice. 'You are...'
'...Her mother.' Sha'ira finished her sentence.
Everything was perfectly still in their meld for a few unending moments. Then the Commander shared something with the Consort herself. She let her feelings for Aria be manifest through her barrier. A tidal wave of passion, love, caring swept up the Asari's consciousness and left her breathless, exhilarated, Shepard could feel that she was overwhelmed, ecstatic. Just as she let it through, she took it back.
The Consort spoke, a bittersweet tone permeating her thoughts. 'I can see she's in good hands. Not that she needs any protection, but it is good to know that someone loves her so much. I wish you two a long and happy life together.'
'Thank you. That is exactly my plan.' Shepard didn't wait for the Consort to break the meld and retreated from it herself, much to the Matriarch's surprise.
"I've never met a human quite like you, Commander."
"There -is- no human quite like me, Consort."
"Have a safe journey home."
The Commander got up and exited the room, never looking back.
Shepard still had a short time to wait for Tali's new clothes to be done before collecting them, and she decided, in a very romantic impulse, to look for a souvenir to bring back to her lover. As they were strolling through the Presidium market, Garrus and Tali walking just a few steps behind her, apparently deep in conversation, the human's eyes got caught by a shop sign.
She walked in and started browsing their catalogue. It was surprisingly well stocked with food and drink delicacies from all over the galaxy indeed. Scrolling down, she saw every possible form of alcohol known to sentient species, including some vintage Noverian rums and Serrice Ice brandies that were worth a small fortune. But Aria didn't need that, her personal cabinet was more than well stocked, and besides, she had easy access to that kind of stuff. Shepard was looking for something special.
She suddenly found it. A grin opened on her face and she raised her omni tool to pay for the item she had chosen. She collected it from the desk, regaling the Asari clerk with a friendly smile. She stepped out of the shop and headed back to the clothing store. The package with Tali's new outfit was waiting for her, all packed neatly. She decided to wait until they were back on the Normandy to give it to the young Quarian.
Along the way to the docking bay, she stopped at a fancy café, sat them down at a table and got herself a cup of coffee to just relax and sit back for a moment before starting on the way home. She had chosen this place appositively since they served dextro drinks as well, so her companions could enjoy a break too.
As they were sipping and chit chatting, she decided to prod the Turian about the definite non-C-Sec vibes she was getting from him. "So, Garrus. How do you like working for C-Sec?"
He slowly put the cup of his drink down on the table and sat back against the comfortable chair, his rifles resting between his legs, on the floor. He seemed to be thinking about that question very carefully. "It is... good enough. I guess."
Shepard could see there was more to it and waited for him to collect his thoughts. Even Tali knew better than to barge into this conversation, so she just sucked some more of her drink through her multicoloured straw.
Garrus took a long breath and went on. "You know how you mentioned that the system cannot take care of certain things, earlier? I have found myself in that situation countless times since I have started working here at the Citadel. Everything looks clean and nice and proper up on the Presidium, but when you start working the areas with real problems, like the Wards, you cannot escape noticing how the sparkling, delightful, glamorous Citadel has a rotten core. Much like every other place."
Shepard couldn't help interjecting. "Not Omega. Omega is rotten inside -and- out. What you see is what you get. Doesn't get more honest than that."
The Turian's face twisted in what the Commander interpreted as the equivalent of a smirk. "That actually sounds quite inviting right now." He lowered his head a little, fixed his eyes on an empty spot between him and the table and went on. "At first I was shocked. I was shocked when I found out that there were corrupted cops, corrupted politicians, corrupted doctors, even. The reality slammed on my face like a charging varren and I was appalled. I started questioning the sense of it all. Then, like it often happens, I just adapted. I made a conscious choice -not- to be part of those who are corrupted and I have been making a growing number of enemies because of that. Including Executor Pallin. Let's face it. The man cannot stand me. When you chose me out of all the officers earlier, I think he must have hoped, intimately, that you -would- drag my ass into the kind of trouble that would retire me, permanently." He laughed, bitterly. "Now, I'm not saying I am... what do you humans say? A saint?" Shepard nodded. "Nah, I definitely am not, but I do have a personal code that I took years of discipline and inner growth to develop, and I don't like it when I am required to put it aside, especially to make the life of a criminal easy."
The Commander interjected again. "I am a criminal. Or at least I am considered so. Not all criminals are the same. It is always a matter of perspective."
Garrus looked at her in silence, weighing her words. Apparently he hadn't come across any criminals that elicited respect and maybe even admiration in him, until now. In the short time he had followed this human around the Citadel, he had seen sides of her that were unexpected, to say the least. Especially what she told him about her decisions on Torfan had really resounded within him and he had been thinking about it on and off all day.
Shepard could see the conflicting thoughts in the Turian's head. She gave him one last, little nudge. "You said Omega sounded inviting right now. You seem to me to be a skilled, intelligent, deadly agent who doesn't like to deal with bullshit. It would be a pleasure to welcome you as part of my crew. You know who we are and what we do. I'll leave it on the table as an open invitation. Think about it." She finished sipping her coffee and got up. "Time to go, before all the sparkle and cleanliness and corruption start brushing off on me."
"Commander! For me...? You shouldn't have!" Tali was visibly surprised, and quite flattered by Shepard's gift, she started unwrapping it in fast movements, eager to see what the box held. As she opened it and realized what it was she drew in a sharp breath. "This is... Keelah, Shepard. It is..."
The Engineer seemed to have a problem finding the right words. The human raised an eyebrow and helped. "Badass?"
The short laughter that came from her helmet sounded so young and so happy. "Yes! Badass!" She brought the garment close to her chest and looked at Shepard. "Do you mind if I leave for just a moment? I want to be wearing it right away..."
The Commander motioned with her hand. "That's what I bought it for. Go right ahead." She knew that Tali didn't really need to leave, since her body was enveloped by a complete suit and the new outfit would only go on top of it, but she appreciated the decorum of the young Quarian. She went back to do some final checks before asking Citadel Control to release the Inanna from the docking clamps.
The young Engineer was back in just a few minutes. Shepard turned around to look at her and she let out a low whistle of approval as Tali was stepping behind the CIC platform where the Commander was standing, casually leaning on the metal handrail, her ankles crossed, just like her arms. "Well, well. I do have flawless taste, if I say so myself. You do look badass indeed, Engineer."
Tali did a 360 to show off the Omega symbol on her back. The human couldn't help a smug, satisfied expression on her face. It looked perfect. The voice of her pilot caught her attention. "Sir, there is a Turian outside our airlock, he says he wants to speak with you before we leave."
"On my way, Relan." She mentally hoped it wasn't that fucking Executor with his impossibly arrogant attitude. She wasn't sure she had the patience to deal with him now that she was about to leave and go back to her beautiful lover. Whom she was starting to miss quite badly, she had to admit to herself.
As she stepped out of the Inanna she was greeted by Garrus, thankfully. She let out a more relaxed breath. "Vakarian. What brings you here?"
He handed her a padd.
From: Garrus Vakarian
To: Executor Venari Pallin
Subject: Ta ta
With this I resign from my position in the Citadel Security Services, effective immediately.
And good riddance, you pompous bag of shit.
"So, is the invitation still valid, Commander?"
It took a good minute for Shepard to actually find the strength to stop laughing so hard and give the Turian a reply. Her eyes were watering and she was positively wheezing, her jaws hurt a little from the strain. This guy would fit perfectly well in her crew. "Welcome aboard, Vakarian."
They walked back on board together, and it felt like they were already old pals.