Friday, March 25, 2011

The Hunt, Part 3

Planet Halagaz, Sowilo System

The Normandy began its stealth run to the planet. Of course, stealth was a relative term. It would still be visible to anyone who just looked out a window. Thankfully though, the Broker's base wasn't a tourist destination.

Liara stood in the Normandy's cockpit, gazing in awe at the planet. She almost didn't notice when Tali came up behind her.

"Did you talk to her?"

Liara broke her attention from the view-port and turned to Tali. "Yes, I did."


"We… we're going to discuss it later."

"You didn't tell her, did you?"

Liara cast her gaze to the floor. "It's not that I didn't want to, it's just… complicated."

"Well you better un-complicate it soon. She's not going to wait on you forever."

Liara lifted her head up just in time to see Shepard walking towards them, now fully suited up.

"You two talking about anything I should be worried about?"

Tali whirled around. "What? No! Why would we be talking about you? Not to say we were talking about you; not to say you thought we were talking about you; I didn't mean we don't want to talk about you—"

"Relax Tali." Leanna held up her hands in a calming gesture. "It was a joke."

"Oh. Of course. A joke. I guess I should have known."

"It's Ok," Leanna smiled. "It's cute when you ramble."

Liara felt a twinge of jealousy at that. While Tali had agreed to hold off her pursuit of Leanna for the time being, she couldn't help but envy the time they'd shared since her resurrection. She wondered if she would ever be able to be that close to her again. Not if you continue to keep her at arm's length, she told herself.

"Shepard," Liara said, perhaps a bit too loudly, "we're approaching Halagaz. There's a large lightning storm that Joker is going to try to maneuver us in to. Once there, we will be able to launch the shuttle undetected and land it on the Broker's base."

"Yeah, go ahead. Just talk about me like I'm not even here."

"Don't be an ass Joker," Leanna yelled to the front of the cockpit.

"I'm just saying, I coulda said the same thing."

Liara thought back to the first time she heard Joker's unusual brand of humor. At the time, she'd found it annoying, now she found it endearing. She realized how much she missed being part of the crew; part of Shepard's crew.

"Are you all right?" Leanna asked as she placed a hand on her shoulder.

Unbidden, memories of the intimate moments they'd spent together flooded her mind. She tried to push them aside and return to the task at hand.

"I am fine." She took a deep but silent breath to compose herself. "We should head to the shuttle."

Without another word, she headed to the elevator, Tali and Shepard close behind.

Agent 36 stood at his new console aboard the Shadow Broker's vessel. He was tasked with coordinating the Broker's security forces is the pending assault. Furthermore, he was to be the last line of defense should the existing forces fail.

He was flanked by two rocket troopers, three soldiers, and an Asari Vanguard whose name he'd never gotten around to learning.

An alert popped up. He pressed the comm. button. "Sector 9, report!"

"We lost a few maintenance drones. Happens all the time in the storm. Should be nothing to worry about."

"I don't want to hear that, not when were under threat of assault. Dispatch a recon team to be sure."

"Affirmative, sir"

A minute later, another alarm went off, this time in Sector 8.

"I'm reading unscheduled capacitor discharge, what's going on?"

"Sir, the recon team is dead. They reported seeing something, but just before they said what, they were electrocuted by one of the capacitors."

Thirty-six swore under his breath. "It's got to be them. They'll be heading up the length of the ship to the secure door. Dispatch Alpha forces in defense pattern Bravo-One-Niner."

"Deploying sir."

Thirty-six checked the security cams. Unfortunately, due to the ships location in the storm, there weren't any mounted on the exterior of the ship. The Broker would rather keep his location undiscovered than heavily protected. In fact, the crew currently guarding the station was nearly ten times the standard amount.

"Sir, Alpha forces are down. Intruders have breached into sector 6."

"Deploy Bravo and Charlie teams, and tell them to mind the capacitors."

I swear Tela, you will not have died in vain, he thought to himself.

The trio reached the main door, mostly unscathed.

Shepard passed her omni-tool over the door. "It's too secure. I can't bypass it. How the hell are we supposed to get in?"

"Stand back," Liara advanced with a small device, "I have a bypass shunt program that can crack it."

She attached the device to the door. It lit up similar to an omni-tool, but with additional displays. It did indeed seem to be hacking the door.

"How long will this take?"

"I do not know," Liara replied. "I have not broken into this particular Shadow Broker base before."

"But are you sure it's working?"

"It is outlawed, even on Illium."

"But you at least tested it, right?"

Tali called out, "Shepard, we've got incoming hostiles!"

"Liara, tell me you tested it!"

"No time to talk!"

Liara unleashed a biotic wave at the attackers.

Thirty-six checked his console. The intruders had already taken out squads Echo, Foxtrot and India, and their shunt program was almost finished with the door.

He jammed the comm. button unnecessarily hard, "Teams Whiskey, Sierra, Tango: deploy in spread formation. Converge on all sides. Don't let them get through that door!"

He cycled through the cameras and stopped at the Drell prisoner. A thought occurred. He pressed the comm. again. "Victor squad, this is Thirty-six. I want you on the door. Tell November squad to take position by the prisoner and have Oscar squad take the mid-point. Move out!"

He switched off the comm. and turned to the men with him. "Zulu squad, I want you to hold this position. No one gets past."

"Yes sir," they said in unison.

He headed for the door. "I have some unfinished business to take care of."

Shepard took out the last goon with a laser-guided pistol shot to the head.

Liara gestured to a nearby door. "That should be where they are keeping Feron."

The door was sealed, but Tali made quick work of the lock. They filed in, Shepard taking point. Feron was there, alive but unconscious. He was strapped to what looked like some sort of interrogation chair.

And he wasn't alone.

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