The Commanders Shepard

Chapter 8

After dealing with a sleazy cop, recruiting a mercenary, befriending a detective, cutting a swath through some of the Citadel's seedy underbelly, and making enough bad guys un-alive by means of skull aeration to crew a zombie starship, the Disasters Squad finally had something solid. Tugging at the threads they were given by Captain Anderson and Ambassador Udina lead them to unravel the blanket. Underneath that blanket was a young Quarian with genuine evidence against Saren that the Council absolutely could not ignore.

Catastrophe James lowered his rifle. He had just fired off the last shot that put down a thug creeping behind their charge. She had held her own at first when they tried to jump her, but numbers were against her. As they stood there in a back alley after having just protected the Quarian from a hit attempt, she thanked the team while trying to catch her breath. "Keelah, was that close. I don't know who you are, but I owe you my life."

James, normally one to stand in the background, stepped forward to speak for the squad. "We were clued in on your dilemma after... uh... 'handling' Fist. We heard you are holding some very important information."

"Absolutely! I have proof that Saren has gone rouge." Just then, she paused, having caught her own mishap. "Oh, where are my manners? You saved my life and I haven't even introduced myself. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya."

Once again, James spoke up. "Child of the liveship Rayya. No doubt here on your Pilgrimage, yes?"

Tali froze in place. Not only had she not had much contact with Humans, but she'd never met one that knew anything about her culture. Nervously fidgeting her three fingered hands, she replied sheepishly, "Um... Yes."

James slung his sniper rifle and extended a hand to Tali. "Commander James Shepard vas Normandy. Disasters Squad." Tali froze up again for a second. He even knew how to present himself to a Quarian. She took his hand, and after shaking, James said, "We'll hash out full introductions later. For now, let's get you to the Ambassador. He'll no doubt want to present your evidence to the Council."

Tali was awestruck. Not only was this Human polite to her, but he also knew more about her culture than any of the few Humans she had encountered before, on top of the fact that he had just saved her life. What was she supposed to do, think or say? For the moment, she merely followed the squad to the their Ambassador's office.

Upon arriving, Udina had his back to the door, but knew it was the Disasters coming in. "You lot are not making my life easy, Commanders. Fire fights in the wards. A full on assault on Chora's Den." He turned to face the squad. "Do you know how many..." He paused upon seeing Tali. "Who's this? A Quarian? What are you up to, Shepard?"

With an almost smug look on his face, James pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose and replied, "Making your day, Ambassador. She has evidence that links Saren to the Geth."

Undina was intrigued. "Really? Maybe you'd better start at the beginning, Miss..." He left the statement open for her to introduce herself.

She acquiesced immediately. Stepping forward, she said, "My name is Tali. Tali'Zorah nar Rayya."

"We don't get many Quarians here," the Ambassador said. "Why did you leave the Flotilla?"

"I was on my Pilgrimage," Tali answered. "My rite of passage into adulthood."

Seeing the half confused look on Udina's face, James chimed in. "Its a tradition of the Quarian race. When they reach maturity, they leave the ships of their parents and their people behind. Alone, they search the stars. Only returning when they have discovered something of value. In doing so, they prove themselves worthy of adulthood."

Tali froze up again. She was in awe of this man's knowledge of her people. She was broken out of it when John asked, "What kinds of things do they look for?"

After a quick second of nervous fidgeting, Tali answered with, "It could be resources, like food or fuel. Or some type of useful technology. Or even knowledge that would make life easier on the Flotilla. Through the Pilrgimage, we prove we will contribute to the community and not be a burden on the Migrant Fleet's limited resources."

Jane took a step toward Tali. "Tell us what you found."

Tali responded with, "During my Pilgrimage, I began to hear reports of Geth. Since the Geth drove my people from our homeworld, they barely ever venture outside of the Perseus Veil, the nebula that contains the star system of my homeworld. I was curious. I tracked a Geth patrol ship to an uncharted world. I waited for one to become separated from its unit. Then I disabled it and removed its memory core."

Confused, Captain Anderson asked, "Wait. I thought Geth fried their memory cores when they died. Some kind of defense mechanism. How did you manage to preserve it?"

Non-plussed, Tali replied, "My people created the Geth. If you're skilled enough, fast enough, and lucky enough, sometimes you can salvage small caches of data before the core is completely erased. Most of it was wiped clean, but I did manage to salvage something from its audio bank." Tali began tapping on her omni-tool and brought up the audio file.

~Eden Prime was a major victory! The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.~

Captain Anderson immediately exclaimed, "That's Saren's voice! This proves he was involved in the attack!"

Jane glowed blue with excited anticipation. "The Council will have to listen to us now!"

Cracking his knuckles, John said, "Saren won't be able to weasel his way out of this one."

"Wait," Tali cut in. "There's more. Saren wasn't working alone." She played back the full audio file.

~Eden Prime was a major victory! The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.~

~And one step closer to the return of the Reapers.~

Ambassador Udina rubbed his chin then said, "I don't recognize that second voice that mentioned Reapers."

All three of the Shepard triplets felt an odd moment of deja vu. Jane was the first to voice the feeling. "I feel like I've heard of that somewhere before..."

Tali chimed in with, "According to the memory core, the Reapers were a hyper-advanced machine race that existed 50,000 years ago. The Reapers hunted the Protheans to total extinction. and then just vanished. At least that's what the Geth believe."

Unmoved by her explanation, Udina crossed his arms and with a disapproving huff said, "That all sounds a little farfetched..."

Just then, all at the same time, Jane, James, and John all got it. In perfect unison, they all said, "The visions on Eden Prime!"

James said, "I saw the Protheans being wiped out by the Reapers."

Tali said, "The Geth see the Reapers as some sort of machine gods. What they perceive to be the pinnacle of inorganic life. They are following Saren because they believe he knows how to bring them back."

Udina understood the gravity of the situation, but he was not looking forward to having to explain it all to the Council. Again with his disapproving huff, he said, "The Council is just going to love this..."

John, perturbed that Udina was thinking more of the politics than the danger at hand, took a step toward Udina and raised his voice as he spoke. "The Reapers represent a threat to every species in Citadel space! We HAVE to tell them!"

Sensing that John's innate need to be a protector was overwriting his sense, Captain Anderson placed himself in between Udina and the mountain that was John. "No matter what they think about the rest of this, those audio files prove Saren's a traitor!"

Realizing his point, Udina relented. "The Captain is right. We need to present this to the Council right away."

Ashley, who up until that point was sitting in the background, chose then to speak. "What about her? The Quarian."

"My name is Tali!" She was pissed at the dismissive way Ashley mentioned her. She then turned to James and said, "You saw me in the alley, Commander. You know what I can do. Let me come with you!"

"I thought you were on your Pilgrimage?" James replied.

Tali responded, "The Pilgrimage proves we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good! What does it say about me if I turn my back on this? Saren is a danger to the entire galaxy, to include the Migrant Fleet. My Pilgrimage can wait."

Impressed by her resolve, James looked to his siblings. John and Jane each gave their silent approval with a nod. James turned back to Tali and said, "We'll take all the help we can get."

"Thank you, Commander, Tali said graciously. "You won't regret this."

[In the Citadel Council's meeting chamber]

"That is NOT good enough!" Ambassador Udina fervently exclaimed. Udina was arguing that the Council were content at stripping Saren of his privileges rather than hunt him down. "You know he's hiding somewhere in the Traverse. Send your fleet in!"

Valern, Salarian representative on the Council, rebuffed Udina's demand. "A fleet can not track down one man."

With an exasperated sigh, Udina continued, "A fleet can secure the region. Keep the Geth from attacking anymore of our colonies."

Sparatus, the Turian Councilor, responded in a very no nonsense, matter of fact kind of way. "Or it could trigger a war with the Terminus Systems! We won't be dragged into a galactic confrontation over a few dozen Human colonies."

All three Shepards had seen enough political banter and jockeying. Proving once again that they were connected on some deeper wavelength, all three of them stepped forward at the same time. Jane, the eldest of the siblings, yet the least physically imposing of the trio, used her powers to make herself glow bright blue and float upward to get the the Council's attention. "We can take Saren down!"

John, the most physically imposing of the trio, was the next to speak. Purposely projecting his already booming voice, he said, "One ship. One team."

James, the intellectual of the group, added in, "We have the fastest, most advanced ship in the Alliance. We can get into the Terminus undetected."

Tevos, the Asari Councilor, agreed with their sentiment. "The Commanders are right. There is a way to stop Saren that doesn't require fleets or armies."

Sparatus knew what she was hinting. "No!" he protested. "Its too soon! Humanity is not ready for the responsibilities that come with joining the Spectres."

Again sporting that smug look, James pushed up his glasses and said, "You don't have to send a fleet into the Traverse and the Ambassador gets his Human Spectres. On Earth we call that 'two birds with one stone'. Everybody's happy.

Tevos, Valern, and Sparatus all looked at each, seeming holding an entire conversation in facial expressions. Tevos and Valern both nodded to each then looked to Sparatus. Though he did hesitate for a brief moment, he too gave his approving nod.

After the three of them punched in some commands on their consoles, Councilor Tevos spoke. "Jane, James, and John Shepard. Step forward."

"Disasters Squad, TEN-HUT!" Captain Anderson commanded. Instinctively, in an almost Pavlovian response to their Captain's command, the Shepards moved fluidly into their height line and into the position of attention.

The many spectators of the Council's open air meeting chamber all turned their attention to Councilor Tevos. "It is the decision of the Council that you three be granted all the powers and privileges of the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance branch of the Citadel."

Councilor Valern added. "Spectres are not trained, but chosen. Individuals forged in the fires of service in battle. Those whose actions elevate them above the rank and file."

Tevos continued, "Spectres are an ideal. A symbol. The embodiment of courage, determination, and self reliance. They are the right hand of the Council; instruments of our will."

Councilor Sparatus jumped in with, "Spectres bear a great burden. They are protectors of the galactic peace. Both our first AND last lines of defense. The safety of the galaxy is theirs to uphold."

"You are the first Human Spectres, Commanders," said Tevos. "This is a great accomplishment for you and your entire species."

Without a command, the Shepard triplets all saluted the Council in unison. Jane, being in the front spoke. "Yes, ma'am! What are our orders?"

Councilor Valern answered. "We're sending you into the Traverse after Saren. He's a fugitive from justice, so you are authorized to utilize any means necessary to apprehend or eliminate him."

"Yes, sir!" Jane said. "Where do we begin, sir?"

Sparatus answered. "We will forward any relevant files to Ambassador Udina."

Tevos capped off meeting by saying, "This meeting of the Council is adjourned."

When they Council and all the spectators began to leave the meeting chamber, Captain Anderson squared up in front of the triplets. "At ease." Taking a step toward them, Anderson took Jane's hand and said, "Congratulations, Commanders." He then shook with John and James.

"We've got alot of work to do Shepard," said Udina. "You're going to need a ship, a crew, supplies..."

Anderson jumped in as Udina trailed off. "You'll get access to special gear and weapons now. You should go down to the C-Sec academy and touch base with the Spectre requisitions officer."

John nodded. "Right away, sir."

"Anderson," Udina called out. "Come with me. I'll need your help to set all this up." The Captain nodded and the two of them headed off to Udina's office.

As they walked off, Tali said, "I thought the Ambassador would be a little more grateful. He didn't even thank you."

James was the one to answer her. "Until we've found Saren, we haven't done anything. Come on. Let's make it happen."

Ever the soldier, Ashley replied, "Right behind you Commander."

The Disasters Squad, now three Spectres heavy, moved out toward Spectre Requisitions for supplies.