Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hide and Seek, Part 2

Illium, Nos Astra

The Airlock doors slid open as Leanna set foot on Illium yet again. The calm atmosphere of the dock seemed to mock her. It was as if no one cared that Liara was missing.

"Commander," Miranda's voice transmitted in Leanna's earpiece, "Illium records indicate that Liara's office has been rented out to a Volus named Jal Fia for the past three days."

"Why didn't we know this before we came here?"

"Because Liara still owns the office, Jal Fia is just renting it from her."

"Then he should know how to get in contact with her."

"She actually, and yes, I'd start there first."

"Got it."

Leanna, Garrus and Tali made their way through the crowded trading floor, past the sales kiosks, and up the oh-so-familiar stairs that led to Liara's former office. Leanna pressed the buzzer and the doors slid open immediately.

Behind the desk sat the unassuming Jal Fia. She looked up from a datapad she had lain on her desk to say, "Greetings Earth-clan. How may I help you?"

To say Leanna was shocked would have been an understatement. Here she was thinking she'd get her first glimpse of a female Volus only to find that she'd probably seen hundreds and hadn't even noticed. There was no difference in any feature she could see between Jal Fia and all the other Volus she'd seen over the years.

Thankfully, Leanna managed to compose herself quickly. She entered the room slowly but deliberately until the doors shut behind her. "I'm looking for Information."

Jal Fia cocked her head slightly. Leanna was reminded of a small dog she'd once seen back on Earth. "I'm sorry, but this office is no longer an information broker." She turned back to her datapad.

Leanna walked the rest of the way up to the desk. "Maybe you didn't hear me," she said as she grabbed the datapad off the desk. "I'm looking for Information."

The Volus looked up at Leanna again and repeated, in the same tone of voice, "I'm sorry, but this office is no longer an information broker," then turned back to the empty desk.

Leanna furrowed her brow, "What the hell's going on here?"

"Shepard," Garrus said behind her. "Look at the datapad."

Leanna turned to the datapad in her hand. It was off.

Tali activated her Omni-tool and waved it over the Volus. "Empty. This is just a moving suit with a VI in it. A cheap one at that, I think we've already seen the extent of its capabilities."

"What about this datapad?" she handed it to Tali.

Tali tried turning it on, but nothing happened. She waved her Omni-tool over it. "The power's working, but it seems to be locked off."

"Well how do you unlock it?"

"Checking," she continued to scan. "The internal microphone seems to be on. I think it's voice locked."

"Liara," Leanna thought quickly. "She must have set this up to get me a message. She knew I'd come. It must be keyed to my voice."

Garrus gave her a doubtful look, "You've been talking non-stop since you got in here. Shouldn't it have turned on by now?"

"It must be like Hock's vault," Shepard thought out loud, "It needs you to say a certain word or phrase in order to unlock."

"Even if you're right," Tali handed the datapad back, "you don't even know what the password is. It could be anything!"

"Not anything," Leanna cracked a smile. "Could you not listen guys? It's a little embarrassing."

Leanna walked to the far corner of the office and whispered to the datapad. At once, the display activated and an image of Liara appeared on it.

"Shepard, if you're watching this, then I've gone into hiding. I couldn't risk tell you this over open channels, but I'm very close to finding the Shadow Broker. I just need a few more bits of information and I'll have him.

"I think the Shadow Broker is on to me as well though. After I dispatched his agent, I caught traces of someone following me. I think he may have sent an assassin.

"There's a datachip in the Volus's suit that's keyed to your DNA. It should be able to help you find me, or at least get you closer. Be seeing you Shepard."

"What are we waiting for?" Shepard whirled around to see an Asari standing at the now open doors, "Let's go save her."

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