"Morning everyone,” Shepard greeted groggily as she stepped into C-Sec 99’s office.
A chorus of grunts and slurred ‘mornings’ replied sorrowfully as she made her way to her desk. Yesterday had been a long day; they’d just wrapped up a murder case that’d been the biggest pain in Shepard’s ass since joining the 99. Some dick decided harvesting organs from living subjects would be great business sense (in reality it was but it was also disgusting). In the end though, they never caught the man. He got off the Citadel with a few hostages leaving moral low.
“Varvara, took you long enough to get in,” Muttered Garrus from across her desk.
She glared at him and allowed her stack of datapads to drop onto her desk with a slam. Some heads turned but they all lost interest instantly when they realized the source. This happened often between the two, a workplace rivalry neither of the two were willing to drop.
Who got in earlier today, who solved the most cases this month, who ate the most donuts today? The list of things they fought over went on and on. At this point, no one really knew what they were striving to achieve. By default, you’d suspect it to be best detective, but last anyone checked fighting over which person had the most kills in ‘Return of Blasto’ didn’t have anything to do with it.
“Vakarian,” Shepard replied curtly as she plopped down into her squeaky office chair.
They sent one another a quick glare before they heard the office’s tec expert groan from half way across the room.
“Will you two just fuck already! I’m getting tired of this tension! It’s ruining my morning Dextro-friendly coffee!” Tali shouted as she pointed dejectedly towards her unfinished coffee cup.
“Tali, it’s too early in the morning to be using the fuck word, calm down!” Shouted Sergeant Nihlus from the break room, a pink bowl of Blasto cereal cradled in his two hands.
Tali whirled her hands around in mid air as a means of substituting her masked expression. She turns her back on her fellow office members and continues to make her special coffee (it was actually a brown colored juice that everyone keeps telling her is coffee) in the little kitchenette.
The room goes dead silent, already aware of the pandemonium that was about to ensue.
“Me?! Fuck him?! Never in my life have I ever been so insulted!” Shepard yells as she points at her partner, who is sitting rather uncomfortably across from her.
Garrus shifts back and forth in his office chair, already having been through this argument countless times before. He wasn’t sure how Shepard still had the energy to get angry over something like this, Tali had already told her this at least 10 times in the past week.
But who’s counting anymore anyways?
“Shepard,” Kaiden, the voice of reason, begins impatiently, “You have been insulted by this plenty of times, 16 if I’m correct actually.”
“Congrats Alenko, didn’t think you had it in you to count past the number 10,” Ashley stated offhandedly, her eyes never leaving her terminal.
Kaiden sucks in a long breath as he channels all his strength to not biotically chuck his partner across the room. “Anyways, getting worked up over it is only going to make Tali continue to say it, maybe you should-“
Shepard huffs as she swivels her chair in the direction of the smoking area, her middle finger stuck high in the air as does so. Garrus laughs, Nihlus rolls his eyes, Tali is absolutely ecstatic over the fact her morning coffee will no longer be interrupted, and Kaiden is just as disappointed as the last time this happened.
When the door slides shut behind Shepard and her chair (yes, she took it with her as she refuses to get up from her chair once she sits in it unless strictly necessary) Kaiden turns to Sergeant Nihlus and frowns.
“Sir, as our current commanding officer, shouldn’t you at least attempt to keep some sense of order in the office?” Kaiden asks, his voice obtaining an edge of anger and total exhaustion.
Nihlus looks up from his datapad and raises the detective a brow plate, “Alenko you are well aware of what happened last time I attempted to, as you say, keep some sense of order, correct?”
Kaiden pauses as a wave of nostalgia rushes over him. It was his first day at the 99, if he is remembering correctly. Shepard and Garrus had been partners for at least a year by then when he first met them. They had a normal co-worker relationship back then, and he never saw them argue even once.
-A few years ago-
“Hey Vakarian, what happened to my coffee mug?” Shepard hollered from the brake room.
Kaiden had worked with plenty of Turians by the time he came to the 99, so he liked to believe, back then, that he had their expressions down pat. That perception went out the window when he saw Garrus’s face. Turians had stiff features and had little room to express themselves in human terms, so he really had no idea what to base the Turian’s face off of besides “I am so completely and utterly fucked.”
It was a sinister mix of contempt and guilt that Kaiden watched melt into horror on Garrus’ face and it made him a bit nervous. Kaiden wasn’t sure if the nervousness stemmed from what he imagined Shepard’s reaction to be or what Garrus had actually done.
When it was clear Garrus wasn’t going to reply, Shepard came sauntering out of the brake room in her signature navy blue button down and neatly ironed ebony skirt.
“Garrus,” She began but she was quickly cut off by Garrus’ guilt ridden confession.
“I smashed the mug by mistake, I thought it was Ashley’s.” Garrus pauses, his mandibles twitching as he adds, nervously, “They ar- were very similar shades of pink.”
Ashleys curses at him from across the room, but it is quickly drowned out by the buzzing noise erupting from Shepard’s biotics.
“You what?!” She yelled.
The kitchenette’s mini microwave explodes as a side effect from Shepard’s biotics activating and the cries of Joker can be heard as he laments over his ‘best friend’ EDI. That guy seemed to have a thing for naming household appliances.
Garrus and Shepard continued to bicker with one another as the latter’s biotics continued to wreak mayhem across the 99’s office. Kaiden watched dumbfounded as Sergeant Nihlus, who had been sleeping the entire time in the brake room, came out and plopped down at this desk all the while acting like a biotic was not currently destroying the 99.
It only interested him when Shepard almost tipped over his snow globe (it had a mini Milky Way inside that changed colors). His brow plates shot upwards and a shrill shriek escaped his mouth plates when he fumbled for the offending object. He held it close to his armored chest and searched the room for Shepard, eyes narrowing at the sight of her.
“Shepard, I am ordering you to stop this childish fit at once!” He commanded, his voice stern and intimidating.
Kaiden flinched, completely unaware that’d be the first and last time he’d hear the Turian yell in such a way.
Whether Shepard didn’t care or just didn’t understand what he was commanding was hard to say, but all she did in return was glare and with a flick of her finger, she destroyed the man’s most prized possession, the snow globe. Nihlus wailed and fell to the tiled floor, helplessly picking up the pieces of, what Kaiden thought to be, the shittiest snow globe in the world.
The bickering continued for another 10 minutes before Shepard settled down enough to smoke. Arguments like that always seemed to end with Shepard taking the longest smoke brake on the damn Citadel. Kaiden wasn’t complaining then nor now, that woman knew how to cause trouble with just a look and if it took a quick smoke to fix that then who was Kaiden to judge? Besides, trying to end those troubles was a whole other issue that Kaiden despised intervening in, even if he did it constantly.
Kaiden purses his lips and wilts when he can’t think of a retort. “Still, it just doesn’t seem right,” He says weakly as he walks back towards his desk, slumping in his chair the moment his ass meets the battered material.
Nihlus shrugs and Joker laughs. “Kaiden, just give up. Varvara is a war machine and last I checked Nihlus is on her constant shit list!” Joker states from his wheelchair, which was currently parked in front of the copier machine.
Nihlus huffs in reply and continues his paper work as the office begins to settle down, that is, until Tali comes racing back in. Tali nearly slips as she enters through the long entrance corridor from the restrooms, her body movements erratic. She holds a calendar in her hand and yells for everyone’s attention.
“Guys! I forgot to tell you today is the day our new Captain is coming in!” She squeals.
There is a moment of complete and utter silence as everyone processes this new information. The 99’s VI stopped working last year so they’ve been relying on Tali for updates, such as this. Unfortunately, she is a very forgetful Quarian and it hasn’t done the office many wonders.
Then chaos ensues. Nihlus shrieks an octave higher than usual when stressed and races towards the brake room. He yells something about ‘cereal all over this bitch’ and slams the door shut behind them. Ashley becomes frazzled as she rushes to shut whatever tab she had opened on her terminal and Kaiden begins to organize the clusterfuck that is his desk.
Garrus sighs and heads over to the kitchenette to make himself a coffee and Tali rushes into the Captain’s office to clean it up a bit. Shepard is still outside and Joker seems to take it upon himself to get her back inside and share the bad news. Within minutes Shepard is rushing back to her desk and dumping out drawers of guns, thermal clips, and biotic amps.
Joker laughs and wheels back over to his desk, already having been well aware of Shepard’s secret stash beforehand. How could she possibly amount such an arsenal without a little help? Garrus, on the other hand, watches in shock as Varvara continues to empty what seems like a never-ending gun collection. He stares in silence until the very last thermal clip falls to the floor and is, in all honestly, a bit impressed.
His mandibles go slack as she attempts, and fails, to pick up the 50 some weapons strewn across the floor. Since everyone else in the office is currently occupied with something or other (besides Joker because he is to busy laughing his ass off) Garrus, begrudgingly, volunteers himself and rushes over to help.
Varvara mutters a breathless ‘thanks’ as she bolts towards the weapons’ locker, hands filled with biotic amps. Praying the guns aren’t loaded, Garrus does the same and follows her in stride. Simultaneously Kaiden drops half his desk’s contents on the floor and Ashley still has yet to close all the tabs she opened on the extranet. From the break room people can still hear Nihlus’ screeches and Tali has finally begun the abysmal task of vacuuming (the vacuum is currently broken).
Within ten minutes of the initial freak out the office is still a disaster, if not worse. Thanks to the constant trips between the main office and weapon locker as well as everyone else’s current dilemma at their desks no one seems to notice Liara and another man enter from the elevator.
“And as I’ve said before, sir, this office is well equipped with the most competent detectives from their respected speci-,” She is abruptly cut off by the stench of what seemed to be decaying varren and gasoline.
Her previously cheery demeanor falls into dread as she takes in the office. She leaves these people for a whole hour and it already looks like a warzone. Shepard’s not so secret weapon stash is piled on the floor, Kaiden is valiantly failing at cleaning out his desk (which is the source of the stench), Ashley is aggressively tapping her terminal and closing what Liara presumes to be gossip cites, and Tali is stress drinking again inside the Captain’s office.
The Sergeant seems to be absent but if her hearing is right then he must be having a fit in the brake room for the third time this week and Joker is currently laughing his ass off. Liara begins to shake with barely contained rage. She takes in a few deep breaths, calms herself, and turns to the new Captain and plasters on the sincerest smile she can muster.
“I apologize Captain Anderson,” She begins but Anderson holds up a hand signaling her to stop.
She gulps and nods staring out forlornly at the 99’s office. Liara was over 100-years-old and she has never seen an office filled with such incompetent, childish, and absolutely amazing detectives in her life time. Her mother was right, she should have gone to college for anthropology, not criminal justice.
Anderson walks amongst the chaos with an air of indifference, sending glances to each detective as he passes. No one has noticed him yet and by the time he makes it to his soon to be office, Joker has finally stopped laughing himself into an ass fracture. Joker, the Captain’s secretary, looks over to him and his jaw drops.
“Captain Anderson?” He asks dumbfoundedly.
Anderson gives him a tight-lipped smile and nods, shushing Joker from bringing up a commotion. Anderson continues to observe his surroundings while Joker sits absolutely still and rigged. Anderson was a well-known C-Sec officer and built a career off of sternness and perfection, two things this office is severely lacking in. Joker can feel the air around the man turn ice cold and Joker’s heart plummets.
Before this very moment, only two things made Joker terrified. The sight of washing machines sent him fidgeting like a tittering school girl (he got shoved in one once, don’t ask how or why, he just did) and the Russian national anthem. He, to this day, will never explain what is so upsetting about the national anthem, just that it makes him extremely nervous. But now there are three things that make him terrified, Captain Anderson’s ice-cold bitch glare taking the third and likely final honor.
“ATTENTION C-SEC 99!” Anderson commands, his bombing voice grabbing everyone’s attention and Joker swears he heard a little girl cry somewhere in the office as a result.
Everyone goes stalk still, Varvara and Garrus drop whatever they had in their hands on the floor in shock, Nihlus peaks out the break room while looking like a kicked puppy, Tali drops her juice on the captain’s freshly vacuumed carpet, and Liara jumps. Anderson looks over the office again, his face filled with disgust.
“Would anyone mind explaining to me what on Earth is happening here?!” He shouts, his voice rising with each word that leaves his mouth.
Each person glances at one another, eyes wide as they wait for someone to finally walk up to the chopping block. When no one else tries to answer the Captain’s question Liara speaks up hesitantly.
“Well, sir, I’m sure they were just trying to prepare for your visit,” Liara states.
Anderson shakes his head in a mix of disappointment and exhaustion. “Liara you were with me all morning. I don’t want excuses or ‘what ifs’ I want facts.”
The atmosphere becomes filled with tension, a thinly stretched line just waiting me snapped. Kaiden gulps and attempts to open his mouth to explain the idiocy of their normal morning routine until Ashley hurls a datapad at his face. He grunts and falls back into his chair. Anderson sends a glare there way and Ashley, the resident ice-cold bitch, smiles.
“I apologize, Captain, Kaiden has a sore throat and I’m just looking out for him, you know? Don’t need him hurting himself with that big fat mouth of his,” She explains, giving a pointed look towards Kaiden’s direction.
Anderson knits her a brow and she continues to smile. “We had no idea you’d be here this morning, our VI is broken and Tali, our tech expert, is out at the moment.”
“I can hear you!” Tali yells from the Captain’s office.
Ashley, sparring Tali little to mind, frowns and fakes a few tears. “Sometimes I can still hear her voice, such a painful thing it is.”
Sighing, Anderson clutches his forehead. He is so very disappointed in the 99 and he’s only been here for about 5 minutes. Honestly, he should be impressed. It takes a lot for him to be disappointed in something upon first meeting and, even then, he likes to give people the benefit of a doubt but this was to much.
“I must say, C-Sec 99, I am dumbfounded at how foolish the lot of you are. I take pride in knowing all of my subordinates and after reading every last file on each person in here, I realize it didn’t do any of you justice and I must say, I am disappointed.” He pauses, his gaze flittering over the sea of man children. His eyes aren’t judging anyone, nor do they look down on any of them. Anderson just seems lost, likely confused about how vast of a difference the fine print is to the actual carbon copy.
The atmosphere shifts into a mix of discomfort and disappointment, everyone knew who Captain Anderson was, and disappointing him was like disappointing one’s father. They’ve only known him for a few minutes and they already felt like children, well, more than they normally did.
Anderson grunts, his gaze steels, and a new found resolve ripples through his being. “But for as,” He pauses contemplating his next few words, “indifferent I am to this mess I still have high expectations in this sector. I know what you are all capable of and I plan to make this the best damn sector on the Citadel. You detectives are good, but I vow to make you better.”
The room falls into a pregnant silence. Everyone a bit stunned by the Captain’s convictions. Nihlus has finally left his secret lair, Tali has crept out from the Captain’s office, and everyone else is standing in full attention for the Captain. Varvara Looks over the small crowd of detectives and smiles.
“Nine-Nine!” She shouts, fist raised in the air.
Then Garrus joins in, then Kaiden and Ashley, then Nihlus, and so on. Liara joins to, albeit hesitantly at first, but as the chant continues she becomes more animated in doing so. Once they finish, Anderson is smiling and it’s not forced either. He seems proud, or maybe excited, but he is most certainly ready to whip this sector into shape.
“Nine-Nine!” He adds and everyone cheers.
“Now get back to work, dismissed!”
Everyone nods, filled with conviction from Anderson’s speech, and return to their respective desks. Even Nihlus goes back to his desk, rather than going to crash in the brake room like usual. There’s a few moments of peace that are filled with the sounds of typing and the scratching of pencil on paper until Anderson bellows out a long, anguished, sigh.
“Why is their brown liquid stained into the carpet and do I want to know what it is?”
And from somewhere in the sector Liara groans and Tali cries out in terror.