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Reminiscence

Chapter Text

Slowly, the skycar descended into the clearing. The garage was to my right, gunmetal grey and large enough to fit four VTOL capable craft, but right now, only one occupied a space. I angled into a free slot and disengaged the ignition, trying desperately not to panic.

"It's okay," I told myself. "It's not like you haven't done this before. T'soni was intimidating too, and it turned out she was very approachable."

My whitening knuckles stared back at me from the controls.

"Calm. Down." I took a deep breath, held it, released. Then I got out of the car.

The garage was nice. Old, and clearly underused, but nice. Clean floors, plenty of room to disembark, retractable shutters to protect from the elements. It took a pretty penny to have this constructed way out here. But of course it would have been done. It's not every day that one of the saviors of the galaxy decides to settle down on your planet. That's kind of a big deal.

I went down the stairs from the second level to the first, then walked out one of the open bay doors.

It was a beautiful place he'd picked - green, tropical flora all around the clearing, swaying palm trees, some birds trilling in the distance. The island hadn't looked big from the air, but on the ground, it seemed like it stretched out for a few square miles all around me. The path leading from the clearing to his home was still well kept, if not well worn. It would only be a couple minutes walk, and I'd be face to face with one of the Normandy crew. One of Shepard's people. One of the most respected sentients alive.

No pressure. Inhale, exhale. Come on, Alisa, get it together. One foot in front of the other.

I walked down the path, taking my sweet time, telling myself I was enjoying the scenery and not so nervous I might explode. When I came around a bend and saw the small, well-kept home (post-modernist architectural style, large ground floor, smaller second floor, all right angles and clean lines, white with tan trim) I was suddenly struck by the simple knowledge that for all their fame and glory, these were still just people. Just like anyone else, they had simple needs. He could have been living in a palace anywhere in the galaxy, and he was here, on a tiny island with a single skycar and a little house on the beach.

Just like normal people. I took another deep breath, feeling the beginnings of confidence for the first time since I began my descent.

And then the gunshot made me dive for cover. It echoed across the island as I tried to swallow my heart back down into my chest. Then there was another. And another. A slow, steady rhythm of high-caliber weapons fire.

After it became apparent that whoever had a gun was not shooting at me, I climbed to my feet, dusted off my clothes as best I could (should have worn something nicer), and went to investigate. The gunfire was coming from the other side of the house, I just needed to skirt around the edge, get to the beach and-

Oh.

He was standing on the sand, a big rifle of some kind in his hands, kicking some small square machine in a practiced way. It fired... something out over the sea, and with only a moment to catch it before it hit the water, boom. Direct hit, followed by flanging laughter.

I just watched him for a minute. He was taunting the machine, or at least I think he was - he was certainly talking to someone whenever he hit his target. He was tall, but not as tall as the vids made him look. He was wearing what looked like long bermuda shorts and nothing else, revealing his armored cowl and shifting plates along his arms and torso, and his three-fingered hands ran up and down the rifle to reload it's heat sink with an almost comical ease. His face was rough and craggy, even for a turian's, not that I had seen many. But something about it was unique, beyond the blue tattoos and fading scars that had become so famous. Maybe it was the eyes.

Despite the almost comical wardrobe, seeing him in person was like what you imagined seeing a demigod was like. You felt smaller just by his being there.

Slowly, I padded down the beach towards him. I started to make out words and phrases.

"Thirty eight! Ha! Even you would be impressed. Don't lie, we both know it's true." Kick, aim, fire, hit. "Thirty nine! A few more and I break my old record! How's it looking from up there, hm? Suitably impressive I hope?"

He hasn't noticed me. He brought his left foot up and down onto the lever of the machine.

"Excuse me, sir!"

Launch, aim, fire-

A miss. It hit the water with a distant sploosh, barely audible over the lightly crashing waves.

He lowered his gun and leaned back, running a hand over his face and cursing tightly into it. He turned back towards the house, lightly kicking over the target launcher in frustration. What looked like empty wine bottles tumbled out of it's hopper.

"You have terrible timing, woman," he grumbled, pacing away towards a beach chair I only just noticed. "You couldn't have waited for another minute or so?"

"I'm very sorry, Primarch, sir," I said, rushing over my words, "but I really needed to talk to you and I did sit there for a while just watching but that felt really creepy and I didn't want you to freak out when you saw me out of the corner of your eye or something-"

"I saw you half an hour ago," he droned, "when you came in for your landing."

Oh. "Oh."

"One of the many benefits of living on your own tiny island," he said, taking a seat in his chair, bony spurs sticking up and out from his calves, "is that you see any visitor coming from miles away."

God, Alisa, you dumbass.

He just sat there, staring at me. For a moment I'm almost overcome with the urge to laugh - one of the galaxy's most famous heroes is a sixty-some year old turian in bermuda shorts sitting in an adirondack chair with a rifle cradled in his arms - but I quickly quash that urge before I make a complete ass of myself. I briefly consider making something up, but I look at those eyes and think better of it, so I come clean.

"Primarch Vakarian... uh, sir. I'm here to ask you about Commander Shepard."