Monday, January 31, 2011

Hide and Seek, Part 3

Illium, Location Unknown

As the skycar sped off to its destination, Shepard reflected on the events that had led her here.

She looked at the Asari in the driver's seat, the same woman who had been standing in the doorway of Liara's office. She'd introduced herself as Tela Vasir, a Spectre. She said she was a fan of Shepard's. "I should get you to sign my chest plate," she'd said. Still, there were a few things about her that made Leanna long for Conrad.

Turned out, Vasir had been assigned to investigate Liara's disappearance.

"Why would the Council send a Spectre to find Liara?" She'd asked.

"Don't know," Vasir replied. "I imagine it had something to do with her connection to you. Could also be because she's a prominent Information Broker. Doesn't matter to me either way, I just go with the assignment."

This raised the first red flag in Leanna's mind. Either Vasir was lying, or she'd been picked as a Spectre because of her ability to follow orders. Both made her seem a little dangerous.

Vasir continued to explain that there'd been an attack on Liara's apartment. An assassin attempted to kill her. She suggested heading for Liara's apartment for some trace of where she'd gone. As the chip she'd found in the empty Volus suit wasn't doing anything on its own, she agreed.

Leanna closed her eyes and tried to remember what she'd seen there.

Obviously, the first thing she noticed was the bullet holes in the glass, four of them. She checked to see where the slugs had impacted. From there, she determined the trajectory of the shots, making it out to a building that she could see, but was too far away to get a good look in the windows, even with the scope on Garrus's Sniper Rifle. Whoever fired this, they were using a scope more advanced than any hardware she had access to.

"Where are the Police?" she remembered asking. "Wouldn't the security sensors on the glass have alerted them?"

"It did. I cleared them out when I got here though. Didn't want them messing up the evidence."

This was the second red flag. Using Spectre status to take charge of an investigation is one thing, but cutting the local cops out completely, that was just arrogance. It reminded her of Saren.

There was no blood anywhere, which meant that Liara was unharmed, physically at least. Leanna raised her determination to find any clue as to where she might have gone next.

The apartment was Loft style, which meant no internal doors. A number of artifacts from previous dig sights were scattered throughout. There was a painting of Ilos outside the kitchen. In the living room, Leanna found a piece of her old N7 armor.

How did she get this? Leanna had wondered.

Beneath the stairs leading to the loft bed was an alcove that Liara had made into an office. She'd placed a framed copy of her Doctorate from the University of Serrice on the wall. Leanna traced her name with a gloved finger. There was also a large computer on the opposite wall.

"I checked before I found you," Vasir said without being asked. "There's a lot of information on it, but nothing to indicate where she might have gone."

"I'll keep looking."

Leanna followed the stairs up to the bedroom. The rest of the apartment might as well have been in another room as all she could see of it was the window the shots had come through. Knowing her privacy, Leanna took a minute to sit on the bed.

She pressed the sheet to her face; it still smelled like Liara. She thought back to the last time they'd been truly together. How hopeful she'd been, not just about defeating the Reapers, but about her future with Liara. It seemed like another life ago. I guess it was…

She opened her eyes and caught sight of a picture. It was the Normandy. She reached for it, and as soon as she picked it up it changed. She recognized the new picture too. It was a picture of a Prothean dig site Liara had once shown her.

Digging deep into her memory, she managed to recall the artifact Liara had kept that was associated with that particular dig. She hadn't seen it with her own eyes, but had during one of their bondings. She ran downstairs and stood in front of an unassuming artifact and touched the pedestal it sat upon.

A tray slid out from beneath it. On the tray was a simple data-disk. She brought it over to Liara's computer and inserted it into the data-slot.

"Damn," Vasir said as a staticky image showed up on the display, "it's encrypted."

"Wait a second." Leanna pulled out the chip she'd gotten earlier and attached it to the computer. The image cleared up immediately.

It turned out to be a recording of a conversation between Liara and Salarian name Sekat. Sekat was apparently providing Liara with important information. Wouldn't be a stretch to think it's about the Shadow Broker. She would be meeting him at Baria Frontiers in the Dracon Trade Center.

Leanna opened her eyes as the skycar touched down in front of the Dracon Trade Center. She, Tali, Garrus, and Vasir stepped out.

All at once the ground shook. Looking up, the four could see several balls of flame erupting out of the upper floors of the building.

"Oh God no," Shepard gasped in horror before screaming, "Liara!"

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