"What can I get you?" the young woman asks from behind the bar, raising her voice to be heard over the music.
"Nothing," she answers, then adds casually, "but I've got something for you."
The bartender blinks, and fear crosses her eyes. Not for long, to her credit. Shepard sees her reach for something beneath the bar. Shepard didn't want to hurt her. Besides her natural empathy for a young woman in a dangerous situation that's not at all in her control, it would absolutely ruin the entrance she had planned.
"Just some advice," she says quickly and quietly. "Things are about to get real ugly down here. I'd leave now, if I were you. Maybe call your C-Sec contact and tell him Fist just went out of business."
Shepard grins and bows her head a little, tapping a finger to scar on her temple. A little souvenir from the first time she'd tangled with Wrex. She had hated it at first, an ever-present reminder of stupidity and bravado that nearly got her killed. But these days? She thinks it gives her character.
"I look like this is my first rodeo?"
"Trade secret." She reaches to her right and takes a glass from a human napping on the bar next to her. She throws it back and nearly blanches (who the fuck drinks peach schnapps?) then slams it back down.
"Just get moving, kid." She turns on that famous Shepard glare. "Now."
The bartender swallows, then starts heading for the door. She takes whatever was under the bar with her, tucking it into the sleeve of her dress with a subtlety that Shepard was almost impressed by.
She'll be alright, that kid. Shepard's glad she'd taken the time to tell her to get lost - she'd waffled a bit on it, since she could call the cops a little early, but her better nature won out once again. She sighs lightly and makes for the door to the VIP lounge near the back, thinking that her rep will take a serious hit if that gets out.
There are two big krogan guards, because of course there are. Even on the Citadel, a krogan can always find work as a big slab of meat to stand next to a door.
"Keep your distance, human," the one on the right says.
"This Fist's place?" she asks, already knowing the answer.
"Who wants to know?"
Shepard smiles beautifically. "Oh, we're old friends."
"Fist has a lot of 'old friends.' Who are you?"
The smile disappears in an instant. She comfortably switches into the second act of this old play. "You know how he was able to afford this place? Me. You know how he got the money he pays you with? Me. You know who he would want to know is here? Me. Now get your fat ass going and tell him."
The guard almost looks like he wants to take a shot at her. A very krogan sign of respect. He considers her story. "What's your name?"
"Tell him it's Shepard."
The krogan hesitates, then turns around and keys open the door with his omni-tool. A glance through before it closes confirms that it's exactly the place Fist would be - a tacky lounge area with some asari strippers and a high stakes collection of table games. Just another bunch of small-time players who think they're big. The krogan stomps through to go find his boss.
Shepard stands there for a minute, waiting for the krogan to get wherever he's going. Then she jerks her head up at the other guard and smiles, trying for friendly.
The second krogan glares at her. He's young, she can tell. No scars, and not nearly as much raw confidence in his eyes as Wrex. She spends an idle moment wondering where the old bastard is right now, whether he's still alive, and if he is, whether or not he's bitter that she got the best of him in their last little altercation.
Probably not. Wrex was like that - he only held grudges against people he didn't respect. Next time they ran into each other, maybe she'd act a little smug about it, try and wind him up. See how he'd react.
"What're you looking at?" the young krogan barks.
She shakes her head, brings herself back into the moment. Work to do, after all. She glances down at her watch, an old, archaic piece of tech and the only jewelry she ever wore. It's been long enough. The second krogan is as far away as he's gonna get from the front door.
Shepard looks up at the confused krogan, smiles again, then squints at his armor. "You've got something right here," she says as she brushes at the top of her shoulder.
He blinks at her, then slowly turns his head and looks down at his pauldron. Finding nothing, he looks up.
Shepard has her compact snub-nose shotgun out and half an inch from his face, too close for his shields to help. She grins and fires. The concussive round slams into his face and his back shoots towards the ground at a frightening speed.
Something she'd learned from Wrex, maybe the most important thing she'd ever learned - take a krogan out of the fight as soon as possible, or you're in for a world of hurt.
"Now you've got something right here," she says, gesturing vaguely at her face.
The bar crowd in Chora's Den, used to the occasional gunfight, starts making for the doors as she reaches down and grabs the krogan's omni-tool. She uses it to key open the door he was guarding, then charges into the lounge hall, firing live rounds into the air.
"Last call!" she shouts. "Everyone to the bar, it's last call!"
This crowd, unused to gunfights, all freak and start running past her. Shepard is already moving through the crowd. The handful of guards in here make for a brief, entertaining diversion, but they don't matter. She even leaves a couple conscious just because she's so damn nice.
There are more guards past the VIP lounge in the proper 'employees only' section of the club. Human and krogan, mostly, with a few salarians thrown in for good measure, but no asari and no biotics. That's good. Shepard hates asari almost as much as she hates biotics. No fun to fight whatsoever.
Her overclocked personal shield generator deflects most of the rounds that get fired her way, with her camoflaged armor (hidden under a rough and tumble jacket and trousers) taking the rest of the shots. That always catches her attackers off guard, when she doesn't drop from a round in the heart. The look on their faces is worth the trouble of hiding it, and dulls the stabbing pain she receives every time a lucky shot snakes through.
Shepard grins fiercely as she works. Always moving, always ducking and bobbing and weaving from cover to cover. She's always preferred it that way - sitting behind cover for five minutes exchanging shots with some no-name thugs just because she was afraid of a little risk? What fun was that?
Most of Fist's boys didn't have high-end equipment. The tungsten buckshot from her shotgun punches right through most of their shields in the first shot, and a quickly loaded concussive round proves their armor is just as weak. Not even the most basic of kinetic dampeners. Prep work paying off again - the info she'd gathered said that Fist was a cheap bastard when it came to anyone but himself and his high-rollers.
And that's proven true when she arrives at Fist's private office. Nice, big windows looking out on one of the Citadel wards, a big desk, plush looking sofas and chairs, and a whole set of security mechs and retractable turrets in the walls.
"Fist!" she shouts over the din of the automated fire coming her way. "I got something for ya!"
"Go to hell!" he shouts back.
"Maybe later!" Shepard pulls out her trump card and throws it in the center of the room. It rolls a bit, settles, blinks, then emits a high-pitched whine that quickly extends beyond human hearing. The mechs and turrets freeze and stop firing.
Fist looks around him, stunned. "What? What did you do?"
"A little gift from a quarian friend of mine. You like it?" Shepard is smiling as she steps into his office, shotgun leveled at him. "Drop the gun. You're worth more alive."
He may have been a piece of human garbage, but Fist wasn't a complete idiot. He dropped his pistol (heavily modded, custom grip, probably cost a fortune and he hadn't even bothered to put up a fight with it) and raised his hands. "Who sent you?" he asks.
Shepard settles in front of him, shotgun held comfortably at hip level. "You'll find out soon enough. Suffice it to say in your pathetic little 'rise to power' you fucked over the wrong people. They're willing to pay a hefty sum for you."
"How hefty?" he asks quickly. "I'll double it."
"If you could, I'd be very surprised," Shepard says with a smirk. "This might be the biggest credit-to-effort ratio of any job I've ever pulled. You really should have invested in your people more, Fist. Wouldn't have helped much, but it might have slowed me down long enough for you to at least make it to the street before I plugged you in the-"
Fist's eyes drifted low as she was speaking, then he made a move to grab her gun. He quickly learns that just because she looks relaxed doesn't mean she isn't ready, and Shepard reconsiders her previous position - Fist is, in fact, a complete idiot.
"Okay, okay!" he wheezes, cowering on the floor, one hand up and the other on his bruised ribs. "Just... not the face!"
Shepard glares at him. "You keep that up, I'll decide the credits aren't worth the effort. I mean Christ, have a little respect. I got this far, haven't I earned a little cooperation?"
Fist is too busy gasping for breath to answer. She hears a gun unholster behind her. Shepard spins and moves, putting Fist to her periphery and facing her new attacker.
"C-Sec!" the turian shouts unnecessarily. His uniform was speaking louder than he ever could. "Drop the gun!"
"Calm down," she says as he advances slowly, his pistol level with the visor across one of his eyes. "I'm a bounty hunter. I've got a license."
"Even if you did," he says cooly, "which I doubt, since I tend to keep track of those on my beat, I can book you on reckless endangerment-"
"What?" she shouts indignantly. All the trouble she'd gone to, buying all those concussive rounds just for this job, and this was the thanks she got?
"-possession of illegally modified firearms, and resisting arrest if you don't drop that gun," he finishes, ignoring her interruption.
Shepard bites the inside of her cheek and considers her options. She had been banking on him having to call it in and check her license, giving her an opening to get close enough and disarm him, grab Fist, and book it, but that was out. He was also well-equipped, unlike Fist's thugs, and he was keeping the proper distance from her - her buckshot wouldn't be enough to break his shields at this range, and his pistol looked like a slightly modded Phalanx. He could drop her with three shots to her head, and given the visor over one eye and his stance, she didn't doubt his ability to land every one. A concussive round might stumble him, but not for long enough to do anything.
And even if she did manage to take him out, what then? There'd be a warrant out for her in a matter of minutes, for a lot worse than just unlicensed work and possession of a few mods, and she wouldn't have enough time to make it to her ship and undock. And if she managed that, the Citadel would be off-limits to her unless she called in a couple very serious favors she was owed, and neither of them was a sure thing.
Shepard is fucked. There's only one way out of this that got her anything. It was dirty, and risky, and she might feel a little bad about it later, but not for very long.
"Alright," she says, lowering her gun slightly, "I give up. You got me."
The C-Sec officer untenses almost invisibly, not enough to give her any advantage, but enough to let her know she has an opening to do what needs to be done.
Shepard shifts just a little to get behind Fist, who had slowly made his way to his feet and was keeping his hands up and empty while the two people who still had guns settled their dispute.
"But what about him?"
She kicks Fist's modded pistol over to his feet. He looks down at it, up at her, then at the turian officer, who is now glancing back and forth between the two of them.
Come on Fist, she thinks. Be all the stupid you can be.
True to form, he goes for it. It's hard to know what he was going to do with it, though, because Fist's head explodes before he's even halfway up, spraying blood and brain matter all over his expensive sofa. His body crumples. The turian curses loudly and takes a shot at Shepard. Her shields deflect it right in front of her face (a good shot) before Shepard throws her gun to the ground and sticks her hands behind her head.
The turian freezes, uncertain as she steps down to her knees. Shepard shrugs as best she can.
"Half the money is better than none."