[15] The Phone Call

He was in the general’s skycar when his earpiece gave him an alert.

“Just a minute,” he said to the lavishly dressed turian lounging beside him on the equally opulent seat. “I’ve got a call.” He turned aside, a hand over his ear. “Hello?”

“Nihlus.”

“Oh, hey.” He shifted uneasily. Saren favoured on-throat microphones, which were supremely discreet but could not transfer an iota of subharmonic. That could have meant anything from ‘Nihlus, you’re dead’ to ‘Nihlus, right behind you–and watch out for the general’s poisoned ring’. Only one way to find out. “How’re you doing?”

“Fine.” Short pause. “Yourself?”

“Well enough. Listen, I’ve got some–” he gave the general a vivacious smile–“company right now. Mind if I call you later?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Hold on a sec.” He pushed the microphone away briefly. “I’m sorry, sir. It’s work.”

“Take your time.” The general began to toy with the bunched-up fabric near Nihlus’ waist. His movements were as disgusting as they were graceful. Like a king running his fingers through a bowl of diamonds while his people starved at his gate. Nihlus tensed until he realised the general was going nowhere close to the knife in his left boot. The general obviously thought that he’d hit some sort of sensitive spot, because he’s got both hands on board now. He can keep on thinking that. “And call me ‘sir’ again.”

Nihlus resisted the need to roll his eyes, instead giving as coquettish a mandible flick as he could muster. He turned the microphone back. “So where are you?”

“Palaven.” The signal was losing quality.

Nihlus did a double-take. “Another concert?”

“Memorial.”

“Memorial concert?”

The other end was silent for a long time. Nihlus nodded, pretending to listen to non-existent chatter. The general was just getting adventurous when the reply did come. “What about you?”

“Me. I… went to see a holo.”

“So how’d you like it?” The general whispered in his other ear.

“Super awesome.” He said out of the corner of his mouth. “Love Zaeed’s last line.”

“Human.”

“Yeah. It was good.” He started to say something, decided against it, and waited.

“Who’s your companion? Another one?”

“Nah. You wouldn’t believe it. I’ll only tell you that he’s turian.” Whose throat he’ll slit very shortly, if all goes according to plan. He’d be doing a lot of people a favour. But for now, he winked at the general, who looked ready to devour him with his eyes.

“No more games, Nihlus.”

Nihlus had a sudden feeling that he should shiver at that, but it flashed past.

“Come on.” He cupped the general’s cheek, applying just enough pressure to communicate what the general would want to interpret as desire. “Loosen up. You’d notice him, if only you could meet ‘im. He’s got great sparring technique, too.”

He’d expected Saren to reprimand him. Or at least retort. Or command him to get over there, now. Instead, the line went dead.

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