FADE IN1. INT. BANK, PRESIDIUM COMMONS, CITADEL – NIGHT CYCLE
The DETECTIVE is mediating a dispute between a male VOLUS and a female ELCOR.
DETECTIVE (to the ELCOR)
So… why exactly did you threaten to sit on him?
Bah! She's claiming I mis-sold her payment protection insurance. Can you (wheezing) believe that?
The DETECTIVE receives a call via their omni-tool.
C-SEC CONTROL (Comm)
Code 119. Code 119. Disturbance reported at the apartments - Possible abduction in progress. All available officers to the Presidium Commons immediately.
DETECTIVE (into comm)
Acknowledged. I'm en route.
(to the ELCOR)
I will (wheezing) sue for this!
The DETECTIVE sprints down the corridor towards -2. INT. APARTMENTS - CONTINUOUS
DETECTIVE approaches the steps leading to the apartments. The sounds of a struggle can be heard.
Suddenly a hanar (HALIPULMO) and a female drell (SAADIA) rush down the steps to escape the fight. With a cry of pain, a male turian - DJAMIL LEPTIS - tumbles down the stairs, closely followed by two asari MERCs in Eclipse armour. The MERCs vault over the turian's fallen body.
The asari ignore them and continue their headlong rush towards the main courtyard.
The two MERCs run towards the courtyard. A skycar flies in and hovers in the air. As the first MERC leaps into the skycar, the other merc (ASARI) pulls a gun to provide covering fire. The DETECTIVE grabs their sidearm and raises it.
The DETECTIVE and ASARI lock eyes. A moment passes - There is a shock of recognition on their faces. The ASARI hesitates.
Just then the MERC in the skycar screams:
The DETECTIVE reacts:
The DETECTIVE unleashes a biotic/tech attack. The attack hits the ASARI and sends her gun flying out of her hands.
Unarmed, the ASARI jumps into the skycar.
The DETECTIVE fires. The bullet hits the ASARI's gun sending it flying out of her hands.
Disarmed, the ASARI jumps into the skycar.
The skycar flies away from the Presidium Commons. All the DETECTIVE can do is watch it leave.
3. INT. APOLLO'S CAFÉ – NIGHT CYCLE
A human female JOURNALIST is talking into a flying news camera drone.
The kidnapping of a hanar merchant was foiled tonight when a turian engineer selflessly fought off the attackers. The hanar, whose Face Name has not been revealed, was confronted at his apartment by two asari. The alleged attackers turned violent but fled the scene when artificer Djamil Leptis stepped in to help. C-Sec are appealing for witnesses to the incident. From the Presidium Commons, this is Khalisah Bint Sinan al-Jilani for Westerlund News.
The DETECTIVE approaches DJAMIL LEPTIS who is sitting at a café table. LEPTIS - with a black carapace and yellow colony markings - is nursing a head injury with an ice-pack.
The hero of the hour.
Some hero. I couldn't even perform a simple take-down.
The attackers were biotics. You're lucky to be alive. Some might call what you did brave.
Others would call it sloppy.
I just need to take your statement. Who are you?
Head Artificer Djamil Leptis of the Hierarchy cruiser PFS Arcadias.
INVESTIGATE - Artificer?
DETECTIVE: What's an artificer?
LEPTIS: Artificers specialise in maintaining the Mass Effect core – the beating heart of the ship. We train for five years before gaining the rank. It's like being a cardiologist.
PARAGON - I'm impressed.
DETECTIVE: Do all turian engineers rush to save the helpless like that?
LEPTIS: No, we usually have more sense. It was instinct. And I might have had a couple of drinks at Apollo's Café.
NEUTRAL – Why were you there?
DETECTIVE: What were you doing on the Presidium Commons?
LEPTIS: Late dinner. Ship rations are fine, but after a while you start to crave proper food. And a drink to wash it down... Alright, maybe two drinks.
RENEGADE - That was foolish.
DETECTIVE: Going up against two trained asari was risky. You're lucky you didn't get yourself killed.
LEPTIS: Indeed. Not a habit I want forming. That's the last time I drink at Apollo's.
Had you met the hanar before?
I don't think so, but... well, it's difficult to tell one hanar from another.
Spirits! That sounds racist when said aloud.
After this I doubt anyone would call you racist.
Well I wouldn't want to sully my heroic image. Not that my crew are gonna let me forget my poor fighting skills.
PARAGON - You were brave.
DETECTIVE: What you did was very noble. I'd be proud to have you as my commanding officer.
LEPTIS: You've obviously never served on a turian ship. There's a strict chain of command but the crew still enjoy 'busting each other's balls' as the humans say.
NEUTRAL - You looked fine.
DETECTIVE: Your technique may need polishing but you got the job done. At least they didn't shoot you.
LEPTIS: Very true. After this I think I'm going to be spending a lot more time in the sparring ring.
RENEGADE - They were armed.
DETECTIVE: You were outnumbered and outgunned. Running into situations like that could get yourself and everyone around you killed.
LEPTIS: You make a sound point, detective. But I'm not about to run away and hide if someone needs my help.
While it's fresh in your mind, is there anything you want to add to your statement?
I hope to never drink alone again.
I meant regarding the kidnapping.
Not that I can think of. You got a clearer view of the asari than I did. I hadn't met or seen them before and didn't get a good look at the one who hit me. Aside from than a weird dream about wrestling a jellyfish while I was unconscious, that's all I can tell you.
Okay. Thank you for your cooperation.
Is that it?
CHARM – How about a drink?
DETECTIVE: Well, perhaps you'd like to discuss this further over dinner sometime? My treat.
LEPTIS: Is that part of your investigation, detective?
DETECTIVE: Call it a chance to get to know you better.
LEPTIS: I'm afraid you're not really my type. But my husband might appreciate it. Marine Corp training gives him one hell of an appetite.
DETECTIVE: (coughs) Yeah, I think I have all that I need from you.
LEPTIS: Thought you might.
PARAGON - You've been very helpful.
DETECTIVE: Thank you for your assistance. I'll be sure to mention how helpful you've been in my report.
LEPTIS: My pleasure, detective. And if you ever want a tour of the ship feel free to drop by.
NEUTRAL - I have everything I need.
DETECTIVE: Much obliged. Should I need to speak to you again...?
LEPTIS: Our ship will be in dry-dock for a while, detective. I won't be going anywhere.
RENEGADE - Don't leave the Citadel.
DETECTIVE: We may need to speak to you again. Don't plan on going anywhere.
LEPTIS: I'm in no position to argue with that, detective.
I should probably go.
You know where to find me.
The DETECTIVE leaves.
Standing with a C-Sec guard by the steps leading up to the next level are the hanar (HALIPULMO) and a female drell (SAADIA).
The PC approaches them. The guard salutes the PC and steps away from the hanar and drell.
I'm with C-Sec. I'd like to ask a few questions.
This One is always sappy to kelp He-Sec.
DETECTIVE (with confusion)
HALIPULMO shakes his tentacles in remorse.
Halipulmo meant no offence.
This One is most contrite. This One fumbly hugs your bergiveness.
Halipulmo humbly begs your forgiveness.
That's quite alright.
You are too kind. This One wings brame in his shake.
Brings shame in his wake.
I don't think I understand.
Halipulmo was born with a congenital disorder that affects his language and communication skills.
INVESTIGATE - A speech impediment?
DETECTIVE: I've never heard of this condition.
SAADIA: It is quite rare. It affects about one-in-a-thousand hanar, but is seldom discussed off the hanar homeworld. Improper language is considered extremely impolite on Kahje. Halipulmo is an outcast from hanar society. Even his family have disowned him.
INVESTIGATE - Who are you?
DETECTIVE: I didn't get your name.
SAADIA: My name is Saadia. My family have served Halipulmo's family for decades as part of the Compact. When Halipulmo left Kahje I chose to accompany him.
SPECIAL – (If 'Who are you' was chosen) Compact?
DETECTIVE: What's the Compact?
SAADIA: Our homeworld was dying. Two centuries ago the hanar made first contact and rescued hundreds of thousands of drell from Rahkana. We have lived on Kahje ever since. To show our gratitude we enter into a period of service with hanar families known as the Compact.
DETECTIVE: What kind of service?
HALIPULMO: It is nothing sinister – simply tasks This One finds pificult to deform.
INVESTIGATE - Are you two close?
DETECTIVE: How well do you know each other?
SAADIA: I have known Halipulmo all my life. When he left Kahje I chose to remain in his service. Over the years we have become… very close. I even have the pleasure of knowing his soul name.
DETECTIVE: What's a soul name?
SAADIA: Hanar have two names: A 'face name', used in public, and a 'soul name' shared only among close family and trusted friends.
HALIPULMO: This One trusts Saadia impolitically.
SAADIA: He means implicitly.
The hanar strokes SAADIA's shoulder affectionately with a tentacle.
HALIPULMO: This One... would be lost without her.
INVESTIGATE - What's your job?
DETECTIVE: What do you do for a living?
HALIPULMO: This One trades. This One has a mumble herchant business run from an apartment on the Copridium Sommons.
DETECTIVE: That's where the asari jumped you?
DETECTIVE: Could it have been a robbery?
HALIPULMO: This One does not believe so. The asari wanted This One as a prisoner. They made no attempt to mentor the compartment.
SAADIA: Enter the apartment.
INVESTIGATE - Why were you attacked?
DETECTIVE: Do you have any idea why anyone would want to harm you?
SAADIA glances at HALIPULMO.
SAADIA: Some of the other merchants have told us that asari have been asking them where they can find a 'stuttering hanar'.
HALIPULMO: This One believes it was deliberately targeted. Perhaps This One's family ordered its abduction? Maybe they hired the asari to return This One to Kahje...?
HALIPULMO becomes agitated. SAADIA moves to console him
SAADIA: It's okay. It's okay now. I'm here.
DETECTIVE: I promise we'll find out who did this.
SAADIA: Please do.
Is there anything else?
This One would like to thank the turian who kunched the pidnappers.
PARAGON - He's a good guy.
DETECTIVE: He's a credit to the Hierarchy. Wish there were more citizens like him.
HALIPULMO: This One is grateful.
NEUTRAL - No problem.
DETECTIVE: I'm sure that can be arranged.
SAADIA: Thank you, detective.
RENEGADE - He got lucky.
DETECTIVE: Would you say his actions took great fortitude and luck?
HALIPULMO: (beat) This One had better not try!
SAADIA: (angrily) Really, detective?
I think I have everything I need. We'll be in touch.
The C-SEC DETECTIVE leaves the pair and walks up the steps to -
4. INT. APARTMENT CORRIDOR, PRESIDIUM COMMONS – CONTINUOUS
The DETECTIVE activates their omni-tool and connects with CAPTAIN BAILEY at C-Sec headquarters.
What have you got for me?
Neither of the victims knew the attackers. The motive for the attempted kidnapping is still unclear but it may have something to do with the victim's speech impediment.
Speech impediment? You don't have anything else to go on? Have you ID'd the attackers?
Well... I think a trip to the lower Ward may provide the answers.
5. INT. BANK, PRESIDIUM COMMONS – CONTINUOUS
Really? Alright, then. But keep us posted. And go in armed.
The DETECTIVE enters the elevator.
6. CUTSCENE: A skycar departs the Presidium Commons. It joins the spacelanes surrounding the Citadel and lands in an unfashionable - not to mention dangerous - part of Tayseri Ward.
7. INT. DINGY BAR – NIGHT CYCLE
The bar is dark and hasn't been refurbished for years. An assortment of turians, salarians, krogans, a quarian, and an elcor are sitting alone or in groups, keeping their conversations low.
The C-SEC DETECTIVE, dressed in casual clothes, enters the bar, receiving a few hostile glances from some of the patrons. It's obvious the DETECTIVE doesn't belong there.
Ignoring the glances, the DETECTIVE moves to the bar and takes a seat, taking a few furtive glances around the room.
The suspicious glares from the patrons continue for a moment until an ASARI approaches the DETECTIVE from behind - The same ASARI who tried to abduct the hanar.
Hey there. Looking for some company?
Actually, I was looking for...
The ASARI suddenly thrusts a handgun into the DETECTIVE's ribs.
Ah! Ah! Ah! I don't think so. Hands where I can see them, gorgeous.
The DETECTIVE slowly raises their hands.
Now why don't we go somewhere more private?
The ASARI grabs the DETECTIVE by the shoulder and directs them away from the bar.
The ASARI pushes the DETECTIVE into a private booth and slams the DETECTIVE against the wall, thrusting the gun under her captive's chin.
She leans in close -
The DETECTIVE strokes the ASARI's cheek.
DETECTIVE: The pistol is a nice touch.
ASARI: Gotta keep up appearances.
Suddenly the DETECTIVE thrusts their own gun under the ASARI's chin.
DETECTIVE: Still retain a flair for the dramatic, I see.
ASARI: It's a survival skill in my line of work.
The ASARI removes the pistol from the DETECTIVE's chin and holsters it.
You damaged my favourite gun.
Had to make your escape look real.
Do the Eclipse Sisters know you're here?
Give me a little credit. I know how to go off-grid.
Yeah, I noticed… The hanar?
Nice of you to warn us.
PARAGON - Are you safe?
DETECTIVE: Do Eclipse suspect you're C-Sec?
ASARI: No, my cover is solid. But they're getting twitchy about this deal on Omega - Something about kidnapping aliens with unique genetic characteristics. The hanar was just the tip of the iceberg.
NEUTRAL - Why the hanar?
DETECTIVE: What's special about the hanar?
ASARI: We were ordered to round up 'stuttering hanar' and take them back to Omega. There's a big deal going down there.
RENEGADE - Just do your job.
DETECTIVE: What, you forget who you're working for? Your loyalty is to C-Sec, not Eclipse.
ASARI: Don't remind me! I thought this was a simple infiltration. I never figured kidnapping hanar with speech impediments would be part of the job description.
What's this about? And why didn't you tell us about the hanar?
I didn't know about the kidnapping until the last minute. The Eclipse Sisters aren't taking any chances. I have no idea why they wanted the hanar, but scuttlebutt on the ground suggests the buyers are calling themselves 'Collectors'.
This is getting dangerous. If Eclipse can move about freely around the Presidium...
Yeah… that's what makes it interesting.
You want to stay in longer?
I'm so close to breaking this. I just need a few more days...
Two turian THUGS appear and block their exit.
THUG #1 (to the DETECTIVE)
Haven't seen you around here before. New faces are trouble. You ain't welcome.
Get lost. This is private.
There's a tax on new faces. You wanna drink here it's gonna cost you. Say, every credit you got.
DETECTIVE: You don't want to do anything stupid, friend, and I'll tell you why...
The DETECTIVE nods at the red dot from the laser-sight on the DETECTIVE's pistol she/he is currently pointing at THUG #1.
DETECTIVE: Because in the time it'll take for you to grab your gun, I'll have opened up your chest with a high-explosive round. So, you gotta ask yourself: am I worth the trouble?
THUG #1: Maybe we'll waive the tax this one time.
DETECTIVE: Good call!
The thugs leave.
DETECTIVE: Sounds like you're threatening me. I don't like being threatened.
ASARI: It's true. He/she really doesn't like that.
THUG #2: Oh yeah? What are you gonna do about it?
The DETECTIVE and the ASARI look at one another, then both lunge at the thugs. In a few brief seconds the thugs are lying face-down and groaning on the floor.
DETECTIVE: Hardly broke a sweat. This place needs a better class of criminal.
DETECTIVE: Like the lady said: this is a private party. Beat it!
THUG #1: We like to party.
ASARI: Are you guys deaf as well as stupid?
The ASARI grabs the DETECTIVE and kisses them passionately. THUG #1 grimaces.
THUG #1: (grunting in disgust) Oh, I think my gizzard just turned.
The ASARI breaks the kiss and glares at the thugs.
ASARI: Private party, boys. Scram!
THUG #1: (to THUG #2) She's working. Come on. Let's go.
THUG #2: Can't we stay and watch?
THUG #1 drags THUG #2 away and they leave.
I better go before I'm missed.
Stay safe out there.
Can't promise anything.
The ASARI leaves the booth and melts into the crowd.
The DETECTIVE saunters out of the bar, ready for whatever the future holds...
TO BE CONTINUED