Salvation: A Half-Life/Mass Effect Universe Fan Fiction
Disclaimer: This fan-fiction takes place after the events of both Half-Life 1 and 2 and its episodes, and jumps to the events after Mass Effect 1 and 2. If you have not played or beaten these games this fiction may not make much sense to you. Characters property of their respective companies, Half-Life created by Valve and Mass Effect created by Bioware.
Chapter 7: Drinks on the Citadel
"Apologetic... I beg your pardon human." Came a monotonous voice from a large, sloth-like creature after Shepard bumped into it, turning a corner.
"No no, my fault." Shepard confuted as the Elcor slowly crept along on its merry, sluggish way.
He could hear muffled music, and the various galactic species walked to and fro around him, as he made his way through Zakera ward, towards the Dark Star Lounge. When he walked in the door, the muffled sound was suddenly replaced by the vivid, thriving rhythm of the room. He took a quick look around, seeing various members of his crew amongst the crowd, some of which were already staggering around as they walked.
"Ey!" A voice suddenly yelled out from near the bar. "Its Comlander Sheffer!" The inebriated voice came from Crewman Briggs, he being the first to notice Shepard had walked in.
The Commander smiled and walked over to the bar, as the room erupted into a roar of cheers for him. Shepard signaled at the Turian bartender, putting one finger up indicating that he wanted a drink.
The bartender nodded in compliance, as he tossed a twirling, silver canister in the air. Catching it, he shook the liquid within about, before pouring it into a small shot glass, and handing it to the Commander.
With drink in hand, Shepard stepped away from the bar, and raised it into the air. Intoxicated or not, every patron in the bar stopped to look to the Commander.
"Here's to the crew of the SR-2 Normandy! Finest in Citadel Space!" Shepard yelled out with pride.
The cheers returned again, supplemented this time with a round of applause, as the crew of the SR-2 Normandy downed their drinks.
The cheers slowly began to die down, as everyone went back to losing themselves in celebration. Shepard made his way back to the bar, and found a stool to situate himself.
"Some party eh Commander?" Came the familiar voice of Joker, as he raised his shot glass to Shepard from the stool next to him.
"They deserve it Joker" Shepard replied. "You all do, enjoy it." Shepard said with a smile, turning around on his stool to face the dance floor.
"Battlemaster!" A stern, but excited voice shouted, as a large familiar krogan approached Shepard, with a bottle clutched in his hands.
"You fight like a Krogan, show me you can drink like one!" insisted Grunt, pouring a drink into the empty shot glass in Shepard's hand. "Ryncol, finest on Tuchanka!" He exclaimed, raising the bottle and taking a drink.
Shepard raised his glass to grunt, and in a swift gulp, downed the potent concoction. Shepard grunted from the burn in his throat and shook his head.
"Hahahaha..." Grunt laughed, patting Shepard hard on the back. "Good stuff isn't it Battlemaster? Guaranteed to put scales on your chest!"
Shepard grunted again, with a cough... "I can do without the scales, thanks..." He replied, trying to get over the intense effects of the krogan liquor, as the two chuckled together before Grunt disappeared back into the crowd, ready to claim another Ryncol victim.
As he sat at the bar, he spotted Tali on the dance floor. She weaved back and forth so smoothly, as she floated across the dance floor, moving like liquid quicksilver. Somehow as he watched her, everything seemed to slow down. She seemed so happy, so carefree. After all she'd been through; nearly being exiled from the Flotilla, the loss of her father... it did his heart good to see her enjoy herself like this.
Just then, she spotted him in return. She rushed off the dance floor, towards the bar, taking his arm in hand and tugged at it.
"Oh no! Not me, you know I can't dance!" Shepard pleaded nervously with a smile.
Tali muttered something to him as the blinking light on her mouthpiece flashed, but he couldn't really make it out over the sound of the music and the crowd, but she continued to pull at his arm almost pulling him completely off the stool.
"Go on, I'll watch!" Shepard yelled as he laughed, trying to elevate his voice over the deafening room.
"Hmph!" Tali huffed as she let go of his arm, and turned to blend back into the dance floor, not giving Shepard a second thought.
Despite the loud music, he heard a slight chuckle as he turned to look at Joker with a huge grin on his face.
"Geth, Collectors, Reapers... nothing scares Commander Shepard!" Joker said with a laugh. "That is until you ask him to dance!" Joker cackled mockingly, as Shepard rolled his eyes, though obviously enjoying himself.
"At least I have an excuse Commander, brittle bones and dancing just don't mix."
"I'm good at a lot of things Joker." Shepard shouted over the crowd and music. "Dancing just ain't one of 'em, but after a few more drinks who knows." The Commander grinned, raising his shot glass to his lips and drinking another mouthful.
The dance floor was occupied primarily by his crew. He watched as Jacob and Miranda danced together, moving perfectly with the rhythm of the room.
He also spotted Kelly dancing with Garrus. Kelly was a remarkably good dancer while Garrus... Shepard wasn't sure if he had just had too much to drink or if Garrus had suddenly developed some sort of turian inner ear infection. The point is he tried, which is more than Shepard had decided to do.
Off to a corner in a booth, he spotted Mordin Solus, his ships salarian scientific expert, deeply engaged in an apparently riveting conversation with Dr. Chakwas. He looked on all around the room, slowly picking out his crew from the common Citadel patrons, happy to see they were all having a good time.
"Shepard Commander" A metallic voice got his attention, as a bright beam of light suddenly shined brightly on his face.
"Legion!" Shepard exclaimed surprised, as he raised a hand to shield his eyes from the bright light from Legion's optical sensor. "I'm surprised to see you here, do me a favor though... Shine your uh, face in a different direction."
"We apologize." stated Legion as he turned to face another direction. Under normal circumstances the light from Legion's sensor wouldn't bother the Commander. But the darkness of the Dark Star Lounge worked well in intensifying the light.
"Don't worry about it." Shepard affirmed. "I wasn't expecting to see you here, I'm glad you decided to join us."
"Shepard Commander..." Legion began, sounding somewhat bewildered. "We are attempting to build a consensus."
"A consensus eh?" Shepard asked, raising his glass to take another drink. "On what?"
Legion took a look around the room, scanning everything his optical sensors could take in. "These strange movements, synchronized audio rhythms, they confound us. What do they mean?"
Shepard chuckled at Legion's quandary. "It's called dancing Legion. It's just a way to have fun."
"Fun?" Legion attempted to compute this foreign aspect. "We do not understand."
"Yeah fun. It's uh... Its a way to feel good, enjoyment." Shepard struggled, as he tried to explain the dynamics of fun to a sentient machine.
"Fun..." Legion replied. "Recreation. A disposition to find or create causes for amusement."
"Well said!" Shepard smiled, taking another drink.
"We are confounded." Legion started in again. "We see no purpose in this... fun yet we fail to find it illogical. We cannot come to a consensus."
"That's because it's not illogical Legion." Shepard answered. "But there really is no major purpose for it either. It's just something we do. Gotta have a little fun now and then. Try it, who knows you might like it." Shepard smiled. "The first Geth to actually have a good time!" He said as he laughed, starting to feel the effects of the alcohol.
Various mechanical components within Legion's head motored back and forth as he attempted to compute the concept of "fun."
Just then, he turned around and walked straight into the center of the dance floor. Some of the other patrons quickly cleared a path for him as he approached, obviously uneasy around Geth. He took a quick look all around, spotting his other crew mates, watching their movements and their synchronicity. S
uddenly he started moving to the beat of the music, in near perfect harmony. His movements were stiff and rigid, yet glided smoothly, very robotic. From his place at the bar, Shepard raised his glass to Legion with a smile, as he watched him take command of the dance floor, the other patrons now excited to join back in.
"Barkeep!" Shepard heard as someone approached the bar behind him. He recognized the voice to be that of Crewman Hawkins. "Shot of batarian liquor." He ordered, took the glass of blue liquid in hand and came up next to the Commander.
"Hey Shepard!" He exclaimed as he patted Shepard on the back. "You have no idea how glad I am that you and the team came and pulled our asses out of the fire!"
"No one gets left behind Hawkins." the Commander replied as he turned to Hawkins with a friendly nod. "We're all in this together."
"I'll drink to that!" Hawkins exclaimed as he raised his glass, before gulping it down.
"As will I!" They both heard a woman exclaim with a soft Australian accent.
"Hey Miranda." Shepard acknowledged, as Hawkins glued his eyes to her perfect figure.
"Don't mind me boys, just getting a refill." She said before she waltz back out into the dancing crowd.
Hawkins let out a long sharp whistle, as he watched her walk away. "God damn!" He said excitedly, talking to Shepard. "What's a guy gotta do to get a fine piece of woman like that? Mmm... mmm... mmm..."
Shepard rolled his eyes a bit before speaking. "Why don't you go talk to her?" He said, almost sarcastically.
"You kiddin' me?!" Hawkins bellowed. "What would a woman like that want with someone like me? Go talk to her he says... puhh..." He scoffed before going back to his drink.
"No I'm serious." Shepard advised as the sarcasm in his voice dissipated. "Go talk to her. I know she's not seeing anyone."
"How do you know that?" Questioned Hawkins, intrigued.
"Well... Some time ago, before the Collector attack on the Normandy, she expressed interest in me. She talked about how busy she was to ever really have a relationship." Shepard explained. "But she was interested. I was the one that told her I wanted to be just friends, due to my pursuit of a relationship with Tali."
"God damn!" Hawkins shouted with an outburst. "How the hell does a man pass up a chance at a piece of tail like that!?" He beckoned as he shook his head. Shepard said nothing, not liking where this conversation was going.
"You're a stronger man than me Shepard..." He said as he knocked back another drink. "And for a damned, sickly Quarian no less!"
Shepard stopped as a look of indignation came over his face. He balled his hands up into fists, but let them sit on his knees, as he remained silent.
"Can't even lay a hand on 'em without them spikin' a fever." Hawkins chortled.
Without warning, Shepard stood up and grabbed Hawkins by the collar slamming him back against the bar. Nearly bending him over backwards. The impact caused two of the glasses on the bar to fly off and shatter. Even though the music in the room was still playing, everyone stopped dead in their tracks and looked as Shepard manhandled this young crewman.
"Listen, and listen good Hawkins..." Shepard said in a rage, standing over the shocked crewman.
The whole thing happened so fast, that before Hawkins realized what was even happening, he was already slammed up against the bar with a sharp pain in his back.
"Commander! I... I... I..." Hawkins stuttered in a panic, hoping to gain some amnesty.
"If I EVER hear you say anything like that ever again, you are off this team, off this crew, and I'll leave you in some uncharted scum-hole in a far off corner of the galaxy. Do you understand me?" Shepard demanded with a rage in his eyes Hawkins had never seen before.
"But, Commander I..."
"Do you understand me?!" Shepard barked at Hawkins, cutting him off.
"I understand you sir!" He yelled out in a panic, desperately hoping Shepard would release him.
"Shepard!" Tali's familiar voice sounded, as she came up beside him. "What's going on? Let him go!" Tali pleaded, as she took his arm, gently trying to pull him off of the poor crewman.
Shepard turned to look at Tali, with Hawkins' collar still firmly in his grip. Noticing Tali he also noticed everyone else in the room, starring at him and murmuring amongst themselves.
"Shepard... please..." Tali beckoned him with deep concern in her voice.
Taking one last hard look into Hawkins' eyes, Shepard released him with a shove and stormed out of the lounge. Hawkins stood up straight, and watched the door slide closed behind Shepard with widened eyes. Physically, he wasn't hurt in the slightest, but his pride was devastated.
"Are you alright?" He heard Tali ask, but he said nothing, just stared blankly at the door.
"Hawkins?!" Tali exclaimed, making Hawkins jump slightly.
"What? What? Huh?" The jumpy crewman responded.
"Are you alright? What happened?"
"Nothing... Nothing, I'm fine... everything's fine..." He expressed nervously, trying to force a smile.
Tali was at a loss for what just happened, but clearly she wasn't going to get anything out of this one. She headed out of the Lounge after Shepard, determined to make sense of it all.
"I sure wouldn't wanna be you right now..." A voice came up alongside Hawkins, startling him.
"Not now Garrus..." Hawkins said shaking his head, clearly still shaken up.
Garrus crossed his arms, giving Hawkins a sly grin. "You know... I've NEVER known Shepard to get that worked up at anything that wasn't Reaper..." Garrus looked down and shook his head. "I wish you luck, you'll need it."
Garrus walked away, leaving thoughts of dread coursing through Hawkins' mind.
By standard Earth time, the day was well into the twilight hours, as Shepard stood over a balcony looking out at the Presidium. But on the Citadel, there was ever only one forecast; bright and sunny. He let out a long drawn out sigh as he thought about what just happened.
"Shepard?" A soft, soothing voice came from the balcony entrance.
He looked over to see Tali, the artificial light of the Citadel gleaming off of her helmets faceplate. She came up to him, and softly began rubbing the back of his shoulder.
"Shepard... what happened? Please, talk to me."
He stood silent for a moment, continuing to look out at the Presidium. Slowly he turned to face her, an ashamed look on his face.
"I just... just had a little too much to drink, that's all." He took her hands in his, looking down at her gloved hands resting in his. "I'm sorry you had to see that Tali..." He said, trying to make a mends.
"Shepard... I've seen you obliterate everything from mercenaries to collectors..." She replied dubiously. "A little barroom scuffle isn't going to bother me."
Shepard bowed his head and snickered a little with a smile.
"What bothers me is the look I saw in your eyes... Please Shepard, don't shut me out. Tell me what happened..." Tali pleaded sincerely.
Shepard sighed in frustration...
"It was just a stupid comment he made. Nothing worth talking about..."
Slowly, Tali moved up close to Shepard, placing her hands on his chest and looking up into his eyes.
"Tell me..." She said softly, obviously showing no signs of letting up. "I know it's bothering you..."
He looked back down at her masked face, into her luminous eyes glistening from behind her faceplate.
He sighed as he started... "He just made a comment about... not being able to lay hands on a quarian without them spiking a fever."
She looked at him for a moment. "That's it?" she asked. "Shepard, we're used to that, things like that don't bother..."
"It wasn't just what he said!" Shepard interjected, before she could finish. "It was the manner in which he said it... I'm not just going to stand idly by and listen to someone insult you Tali!" Shepard exclaimed, getting into an agitated state.
Tali continued to look up at him, saying nothing. Just then she put her arms around him, and rested her head on his chest, and he placed his arms around her.
"May I ask you something?" She asked, as they held each other.
"Of course..." Shepard replied.
"Is what he said, the thing that upset you? Or is it that it's true, and this isn't what you want?"
Shepard looked down, gently pushing Tali's shoulders back slightly, causing her to look up at him.
"Tali..." He started as he looked into her eyes. "I told you once, that I didn't want anyone else I wanted you, and I would do whatever I had to to make this work." He spoke with sincerity. "I meant it when I said that. I know that things may not always be easy for us... Nothing worth having ever is... But you're the one I want to be with. I love you Tali'Zorah." He declared as he lightly kissed the top of her faceplate.
"Shepard..." She uttered as she slowly placed her head back on his chest, and they both looked out at the Presidium.
"Mind if I ask YOU something?" Shepard asked, as he held Tali.
"Of course" Tali replied, feeling utterly at home in Shepard's arms.
"How long do you plan on calling me Shepard?" He said with a smile, as she looked up at him.
"Oh... well... Shepard's all I've ever called you." She answered. "What would you like me to call you?"
"I don't know. John would be nice." He said with a smile as they stared at each other.
"Okay... John." She said as they both laughed warmly.
They were silent for a moment, looking out at the false lakes of the Presidium, perfectly content just being held by each other.
"So..." He said, breaking the silence. "Think I was too rough on Hawkins?"
The question made Tali laugh as she thought about the tiff.
"Maybe just a little." She replied sarcastically as they both laughed about it.
"You know what" Tali said, as she pulled herself away from Shepard, holding on to his hands. "Forget the crew. Let's go do something else. Just me and you."
"Like what?" Shepard asked, intrigued by the idea.
"Oooh! I hear that new film is playing at the Citadel Holomax. 'Blasto The Jellyfish Stings'!" She exclaimed excitedly.
"Blasto the Je... Don't tell me you actually like those movies..." Shepard replied with a scowl.
"Oh come on Shep uh... John, it'll be fun!" She said as she tugged at his hand, as they both walked back into the Citadel ward.