It was over. The assassins were dead beyond a shadow of doubt. The Dalatrass was alive, just unconscious. Devlon Industries’ involvement remained a secret. And yet, Astau was growing tenser by the second, his fingers flying faster and faster over the keys.

Saren checked the Dalatrass’ bandage once more, then joined him at the door. “Everything okay, sir?”

Astau’s hyper-alert eyes met his for an instant. “Not yet. I need you to do perimeter control.” He looked back to the panel, swearing rapidly at something he saw. “Damn it, I told them not to! Ordered them!”

He pushed Saren aside and ran towards the Dalatrass, weaving in and out between the enormous planters full of cascading greenery.

“What do you mean?” Saren called out as he ran after him, rocket launcher bouncing from his back. “Which perimeter?”

The door at the end of the great hall was wide open, and a sea of curious salarian faces was peering through. Saren stopped dead. But they weren’t looking at him. Their eyes were fixed on the Dalatrass, and the blood drying between the hexagonal tiles.

And then the dam flooded.

The first few to reach him, bent and out of breath, wasted no time. “Is she all right?” “Who the hell are you?” “Do you need help? My brother–” “I hope she’s okay?” “Who did this? Who’d do such a thing?” “Oh my oh my oh my–” “Wait till my lawyer hears about this!” “Don’t let the cameras in!” “I knew she shouldn’t…”

“Stay back — stay back — medics are on their way — you!” He grabbed a robed salarian trying to sneak towards the Dalatrass, only to notice that many more were already kneeling by her side. Astau stood still in the middle of the swarm, shaking his head. He gave Saren a weary, but amused smile, and mouthed something.

This is why I don’t attend reunions, his eyepiece translated.

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