“Shit!” Kaidan jumped back and reached for his pistol all at once. He stopped with the firearm halfway raised to Dean’s startled face.
“Don’t do that, man,” he snapped, holstering the gun. He realized he was still flaring with a biotic barrier. He let it dim. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“Hoped to catch you when you woke up,” Dean replied. “I was about to knock when the door opened.”
“Okay,” Kaidan said. He glanced down the empty barracks hallway. “What’s up?”
“I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Right,” Kaidan made a face. “I’m sorry if I made a mess of things with your friends. You inviting the crazy biotic and all…”
“Actually,” Dean said, “they thought you were pretty cool.”
Kaidan looked at him doubtfully.
“No really,” Dean said, holding up his hands. “Well, Shaw didn’t like you, but we all think he’s an ass. He told us he wasn’t going to join us for drinks anymore and we’re all fine with that. But the other two guys thought you were alright. And ah…” he paused and made a face. “Actually, I’m supposed to set you up.”
Kaidan’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Come again?” he asked.
“Set you up,” Dean replied. “Damn, see, I told her I was going to be bad at this.”
“Katie,” Dean said. “Her friend Lisa… She wants to meet you for drinks. She…liked you.” Dean said the words as if he was handing Kaidan something very feminine - a purse, maybe - and he wanted to get it out of his hands as quickly as possible.
“She…wait…what?” Kaidan blinked. Surely he wasn’t hearing this right. He’d biotically thrown a guy in a bar and now a doctor was wanting a date with him? Clearly things had changed around the Citadel since he’d been here last.
“Yeah,” Dean went on. “Katie wanted to make it a double date, since she didn’t want to leave Lisa on her own, but then she has to cover a shift tonight, so I was supposed to come and tell you…er…ask you. Shit,” he grumbled, shrugging his shoulders. “This made more sense when Katie was saying it.”
“So this…Lisa, that’s her name, right?” Kaidan asked.
“Lisa wants to meet me for drinks…when?”
“Tonight,” Dean replied. “Oh, hell,” he said, firing up his omnitool. “Just take Katie’s email address and ask her for Lisa’s address and figure this out yourself. I’m not good at this crap.” Kaidan’s omnitool flickered as it received the data.
“I’ve got work,” Dean went on. “But seriously, man, just…go out with Lisa so that Katie won’t be mad at me for not setting up her friend. Then you and I can get a couple of beers some other time. I gotta run.”
Dean waved goodbye and left Kaidan standing in the hallway of the barracks, feeling a little stunned.
A date? That was just…strange.
But then, he thought to himself, why not? If last night hadn’t ended his social career on the Citadel, then he couldn’t very well go downhill from there. Lisa seemed nice enough. He’d be leaving in less than a week, so it wasn’t like he planned on anything terribly serious, but hey, he could try and enjoy himself a little. Her method of asking him out was a little juvenile, but he was flattered by her interest, at least. And if going out with her would help smooth things along for Dean out and his girlfriend, well…
Kaidan flipped on his omnitool, logged into the Alliance barracks extranet network, and fired off a short message to Katie.
“This can’t be right,” Councilor Anderson looked up from his desk with a frown. “Commander Alenko only just arrived on the Citadel.”
“His assignment was already reviewed,” the messenger said. “He’s needed on this next colony right away.”
Anderson looked down at the file marked, “Horizon.” His lips thinned into a line. On the one hand, he was tempted to keep Alenko here until Shepard arrived. If anyone would be able to read her, spot if she was brainwashed or otherwise under compulsion, clearly it would be one of her old crew.
And yet, Anderson thought, that was far too risky. Shepard had been a charismatic leader. He didn’t think she ever realized the effect she had on people. She had assumed people followed her because of her ability to get the job done, but Anderson knew it was something else as well, that subtle fire of driven passion that called people to her, like moths to flame.
And if she was working for Cerberus – truly working for them – then he simply couldn’t chance it that his best Alliance operative might get pulled into that organization. The Council and the Alliance were doing precious little for those disappearing human colonies. Alenko’s project had been the only thing Anderson could get authorized to help. He needed Alenko where he was.
Anderson also knew that former crew mates often had strange reactions to one another if separated for a long time. Sometimes they became overly connected to one another, but often the distance of time and years made them act strangely. There was simply too much possible emotional distress involved here. Until he could predict what a meeting between the two soldiers would bring, he wouldn’t force one.
After all, there was no telling what Shepard might do or even be like after all this time. Anderson had respected Shepard, had thought of her more as a daughter than a protege, and yet, he knew that for all her icy exterior, she could be volitile when pushed.
Alenko, on the other hand, was much more stoic. Anderson remembered how bravely Alenko had taken Shepard’s death. The man had been exhausted when he’d arrived on the Citadel. Loosing a commanding officer was never easy, and so Anderson had marveled at Alenko’s admirable clarity of mind and his seemingly endless work ethic. In fact, the only time that Alenko had faltered was when he disappeared during Shepard’s funeral. But considering that Anderson had not warned Alenko that he would be expected to give a speech, the councilor could hardly blame the man for that. They’d had a terse apology of sorts afterwards and never spoken about it again.
No, Anderson thought, Alenko was better off where he was. And Shepard was too unknown a quantity to be exposing her to anyone other than the Council right now. Until he knew what was going on with her and Cerberus, he needed to keep her in the dark. Sadly, he suspected he’d have to keep her in the dark after that as well. It wasn’t a prospect he liked, but then, she’d chosen her loyalties when she chose Cerberus.
Anderson settled his mind on the subject.
“Very well,” he said, pressing his thumb to the datapad to approve it. “At least give the commander some leave when he’s finished with Horizon.”
The messenger nodded and turned to go.
Anderson sighed and went back to his other reports, so he didn’t see as the messenger smiled to himself as he slipped out of the door, nor did he see the messenger turn away from the path leading to the Alliance headquarters and continue on to a private suite of offices further along the Presidum. And no one saw the messenger step into a private office and lay the datapad down on a desk before a man in an admiral’s uniform.
“He approved it,” the messenger said.
“Good,” the other man replied. “Thank you, private.”
“Sir.” The messenger nodded and left. The man in the admiral’s uniform smiled to himself as he uploaded the data file into the computer before him. This file was as good as credits in the bank.
He sent out two messages: one to Staff Commander Kaidan Alenko, and one to an unnamed account. The first message was titled, “RE: Assignment 756. Change of Plans.”
The second message simply read:
Objective achieved. Commander Alenko leaves the Citadel tomorrow at noon.