A:N/ Hey everybody. Thank you for stopping by to check out the latest addition to my Mass Effect fanfiction series. This story takes place after my "After the War" story (so SPOILER ALERT if you haven't read that story) and before the epilogue chapter of my "Extended Extended Cut" story. I'll have more to say in the author's note at the end of this chapter but for now, sit back, relax and enjoy "Mass Effect: 187"
Disclaimer: The characters in this story and the universe it takes place in are the property of BioWare and EA Games.
Mark Shepard almost didn't recognize the man staring back at him in the mirror. It wasn't the man himself that he didn't recognize. As far as Shepard could tell, his appearance hadn't really changed much the last few years. If it wasn't the man, then it had to be the outfit the man was wearing. It consisted of black shoes, blue jeans with a black belt, a black undershirt and a blue leather jacket. Though not the craziest of outfits, at least as far as work outfits went, it was strange for Shepard to see himself in it because he was so used to the previous work outfit that he had worn for almost two decades.
Since he was eighteen, Shepard had been a member of the Alliance military. Every morning he would get up and put on the same Alliance causal wear. The type of causal outfit he wore would change as he rose up the ranks but it was always an Alliance outfit. He even considered the N7 leather jacket he wore during the later moments of his career to be in the same class of outfit since the N7 represented his rank in the Alliance special forces. The only time he would put on a different outfit in the morning was when he was on shore leave. Now Shepard didn't wear Alliance outfits anymore. Not after what happened seven months ago.
Shepard shook his head in an attempt to snap himself out of his current thought. It was not the time to think about the past. Thus he returned his attention to the uniform he was wearing at that moment. Upon taking a second look, Shepard decided that the blue leather jacket he was wearing wasn't that different from his N7 jacket. In fact, it had a similar design. The main difference was instead of a black coat with a red lines down the sleeves, it was a blue coat with black lines. It was then he realized that it wasn't the outfit itself that made his reflection unrecognizable, it was what the outfit represented. The uniform was proof that he wasn't a soldier anymore. Now he was something else. To further prove the point, and to psyche himself up for the day that awaited him, Shepard pulled out a badge from his pocket and held it up to the mirror.
Shepard then said in a professional tone, "I'm Detective Shepard, C-SEC Homicide."
A smile appeared on Shepard's face as he clipped the badge onto his belt. Slowly the words he said began to sink in. The retired Alliance captain was now a police officer. And not just any police officer, he was getting ready to start his first day as a homicide detective with Citadel Security (C-SEC).
When Shepard retired from the military seven months ago, he knew right away that whatever job he pursued next had to allow him to continue to do what he felt was his purpose in life: helping people. Since he lived on the Citadel, the space station that served as the political center of the galaxy, the obvious choice to him that met his criteria was C-SEC. After all, other military veterans had successfully found careers with C-SEC after retiring. The tough part though was getting the job. All applicants for C-SEC needed to be endorsed by a Citadel Councilor. Fortunately the human representative on the Council, Steven Hackett, was someone who knew Shepard well and gladly endorsed his application. It also helped that Shepard had two friends who were active duty C-SEC officers that could give him recommendations. With the recommendations and Hackett's endorsement, Shepard was sworn in and became a C-SEC patrol officer. Shepard worked as a patrol officer until a week ago when he was approached by Commander Armando-Owen Bailey, one of his C-SEC friends who helped him get the job, and offered a promotion to homicide detective. The offer was surprising to Shepard because new detectives were never offered to start their careers in homicide. Bailey explained that he felt confident Shepard was a good fit for the job because he had seen Shepard handle himself well at a crime scene back when he was still in the military. Initially Shepard wasn't sure if he wanted to take the job. He joined C-SEC to help people and it was hard for him to see how he could do that in a job where he would be showing up after a person had already been killed. Then it dawned on Shepard it was because of that train of thought that made murder victims need help. Just because a person was dead didn't mean Shepard couldn't help them. As a homicide detective, Shepard could be the one to ensure that justice for the victims was served. With that in mind and knowing that Bailey was a friend who would never offer him something that he couldn't handle, Shepard accepted the promotion.
Now ready to begin his first day, Shepard left his bedroom and proceeded to the lower level of his apartment. When he reached the bottom of the stairs, his attention was drawn to the sound of footsteps coming from the office room. He smiled as he knew who it was that was making those footsteps. Walking into the office, his hunch was confirmed. Pacing by the terminal was his wife, Ashley. Ashley didn't seem to notice Shepard enter the office as she appeared to be deep in thought with one hand scratching her head and the other resting on her seven month pregnant belly. The smile on Shepard's face grew larger. It always made him happy to see his wife in her maternal glory first thing in the morning. The day he and Ashley found out they were going to have a baby was one of the happiest days of their lives….and also one of the scariest.
The brief thought of that day brought Shepard back to the moment seven months ago he was trying not to think about earlier. It was when he and Ashley were on their final mission as Alliance soldiers. The mission involved him pursing an enigmatic figure known only as the mystery backer. The backer first came to Shepard's attention when he found out they were financing several terrorist plots that he had been tasked with thwarting. It was later discovered the backer was a woman named Dana Thompson who financed the schemes as part of an elaborate plan to get revenge on Shepard, the person she believed murdered her sister Julia. It was true that Shepard had killed Julia but he had a good reason for it. Julia was working on a ship called the MSV Worthington when she killed her entire crew in a misguided attempt to keep her brain dead boyfriend alive. She later tried to kill Shepard and his squad when they boarded to investigate the Worthington after finding it floating adrift. By all accounts, Shepard had no choice but to kill her because it was a kill or be killed situation. Unfortunately Dana refused to believe that her sister would snap and instead believed that Shepard was just using his status as a council Spectre (SPECial Tactics and REconnaissance) to get away with murder. She then formed a plan to arrange for the deaths of several of Shepard's closest friends so that he would suffer like she did before finally killing him. Dana succeeded in causing the deaths of six of Shepard's friends and nearly killed four others before Shepard finally brought her to justice.
Ashley was one of the four friends that Dana nearly killed. Planning to have Ashley's death be the final blow she dealt to Shepard before killing him, Dana kidnapped Ashley while she was on a hostage rescue mission. Shepard and his squad were able to rescue Ashley but not before she received a near fatal stab wound from Dana. It was while Ashley was recovering that she learned she was pregnant. Though Shepard and Ashley were both delighted when they received the news, Ashley's near death experience and the other events of the mystery backer case made them wonder if they could handle being both soldiers and parents. After much discussion, the couple had decided that they were happy with what they had accomplished during their careers and chose to retire from the military so they could raise their baby together.
While Shepard had chosen to join C-SEC after retiring, Ashley had begun taking an interest in writing. Shepard figured it was because of her love for classic literature. At the present, Ashley was putting the finishing touches on what she hoped was going to become her debut novel. The novel was titled "Love Conquers All" and it followed the story of two soldiers who meet on the battlefield, fall in love and face challenges as they try to make their relationship work. Only Shepard, Ashley and their close friends and family knew that Ashley's "fictional" story was based on their own relationship. When Shepard had last asked Ashley about how the book was going, she told him that she had only one chapter left to write. Now looking at Ashley pacing and scratching her head, Shepard got the feeling that she was suffering from writer's block.
"Good morning beautiful," Shepard said to get Ashley's attention, "I had a feeling you were down here when you weren't in bed when I woke up."
"Yeah," Ashley said with a weary smile while she patted her stomach, "our kiddo here woke me up early so I thought I'd try to get some writing done. Unfortunately I haven't made any progress. I just don't know how to end the story."
"How come?" Shepard asked slightly confused. "You're basing the story on us. Why not just have it end with your heroes living happily ever after like we are?"
"I thought about it," Ashley said as she sat down in the chair by the terminal, "it just…it seems a bit cliché. I feel like people are getting tired of happily ever after. So I've been thinking about ending it with one of my protagonists dying in the final battle and the survivor having to carry on without them. I just need to figure out whether it will be the man or the woman. Ooh."
"Yeah, the baby's kicking up a storm again. Come here and feel for yourself."
Shepard knelt down next to Ashley and put a hand on her stomach. Sure enough the baby was unleashing a fury of kicks. Shepard smiled as his hand felt each one. He also kind of felt sorry for Ashley. She was carrying the child of two former soldiers who each had strong fighting spirits. If the baby was inheriting that trait about them, Ashley was probably going to be feeling many more strong kicks until it was born. Fortunately his concern was lifted when Ashley smiled too and even made a joke.
"He's definitely your kid. Every time I try to get some work done, he starts kicking and won't stop no matter what I do to try and calm him down. Stubborn, just like his dad."
Shepard couldn't help but chuckle at Ashley's remark. In the first place, he knew that she was one to talk about being stubborn. It could just as easily be the baby was getting its stubbornness from its mother. In the second place, he loved how Ashley was still sticking to her belief that the baby was going to be a boy. They had mutually agreed that they wanted the gender of the baby to be a surprise when it was born and had turned down all previous offers to find out beforehand. Yet Ashley seemed to believe she could tell it was going to be a boy. Normally Shepard wasn't one to argue with a woman's intuition, especially Ashley's. However he personally believed that the odds were in favor of the baby being a girl. Though Shepard didn't know much about his own family history having grown up an orphan, Ashley was from a family of all girls. With those odds, Shepard felt that he and Ashley were going to have a "girly hoard" of their own. So since Ashley was always calling the baby "he" and "him", Shepard felt that he could call it "she" and "her". Luckily for him, Ashley enjoyed their playful disagreement.
Suddenly Shepard's eyes widened when something clicked in his head. It was like a couple of puzzle pieces had come together to make a whole picture. A sly smile appeared on Shepard's face when he figured out what the picture was. The deduction he just made seemed to be further proof that he really did have what it took to be a detective.
"Do you think that maybe the baby's trying to tell you something?" he asked.
"What are you talking about?" Ashley asked as she looked at Shepard like he had asked a stupid question.
"Well you said the baby starts kicking when you try to write that ending you mentioned. It's possible that she doesn't like your ending and wants you to write the happy one. And I happen to think she's right."
Ashley looked down at her stomach contemplating what Shepard said, "you really think that's why he's kicking so much?"
"I know it is. Look Ash, I think between the Reaper War and the rebuilding efforts that came after it, the last thing everyone wants to read is a story that ends with more loss. They need a story that shows that there is still hope for a happy ending. The way I see it, you can never get tired of reading about people overcoming obstacles to find happiness."
Shepard could tell his words worked as Ashley's smile grew larger and a happy tear appeared in her eye. It was then she realized that the baby had stopped kicking. It seemed hard to believe but she had to admit that Shepard appeared to be right. She gave her stomach a gentle pat and then leaned forward to give Shepard a hug.
"Thank you," she said, "both of you."
"You're welcome," Shepard said before his attention was caught by the terminal's clock, "uh oh, I need to get going or I'll be late for work."
The minute Shepard brought up his work, Ashley seemed to tense up. It wasn't hard for Shepard to figure out why. Ashley had been supportive of his decision to work at C-SEC but that didn't mean she wasn't worried about the risks involved with being a police officer. With the baby on the way, the last thing she wanted was for it to never meet its father. Shepard understood her worries and there was a part of him that thought about finding a job that didn't involve risking his life. But his desire to help people won out every time he considered it. All he could do now was try and reassure Ashley that he would be fine. He put a comforting hand on her shoulder and locked eyes with her.
"I'll be alright Ash," he said, "I won't be in nearly as much danger as I was on battlefields. If I ever do find myself in a jam, my partner will have my back. Who knows, it's possible I might not even catch a case today."
"I know," Ashley said with Shepard's words helping her feel a little better, "you really are a true hero-man. Actually now that I think about it, you haven't even told me who your new partner is going to be. Do you even know?"
A sly smile appeared on Shepard's face again, "I do, but I can't tell you yet. Don't ask why because I won't tell you that either. You'll just have to wait until I come home tonight."
Ashley seemed disappointed that Shepard wasn't going to tell her who his partner was but decided not to push. Shepard needed to get to work and she didn't want to make him late. Instead she brought Shepard in for a kiss.
"I love you," she said when the kiss broke.
"I love you too Ash," Shepard replied.
Before leaving, Shepard knelt back down so that his head was level with Ashley's stomach. He gently rubbed it as he started speaking to the baby.
"You be good to your mom kiddo," he said, "I'll be home soon."
After giving Ashley's stomach a gentle kiss, Shepard got up to leave the room. He gave one final wave goodbye to Ashley and proceeded to exit the apartment. As he closed the door behind him, he felt like he was going from one world to another. The world behind him: a peaceful family life. The world ahead of him: the dark, unpredictable life of a homicide detective.
If there was a downside to the Citadel wards not having a day/night cycle, it was the fact that nothing ever stopped running. With C-SEC, that meant there was never a slow period. Though some officers were just starting their shifts, the busyness didn't slow down. So when Detective Garrus Vakarian walked into headquarters, he instantly found himself having to help a salarian and human officer who were struggling to get an intoxicated krogan into a holding cell. With the additional muscle Garrus provided, they were finally able to get the krogan into the cell.
"Thanks Vakarian." said the human officer, "hopefully this guy will settle down when he's had a chance to sober up."
"No problem," Garrus replied, "this is probably one of the more fun ways to start my shift. Drunk and disorderly?"
"Yes sir," the salarian officer replied, "lucky for him though his friends called us before he could start doing serious damage. Considering he's a krogan, it wouldn't have taken much longer for him to do that."
"True enough. Anything else going on I should know about?"
The salarian officer nodded, "Commander Bailey wanted you to report to his office when you got here."
"Really? Did he say why?"
The human officer smiled deviously, "you're not going to like it Vakarian. Apparently you are not going to be the lone wolf around here anymore. Bailey wants to introduce you to your new partner."
Garrus tensed up when he heard the word "partner". Since retuning to C-SEC shortly after the Reaper War ended, he had been paired up with several different partners. He knew that the regulations stated that all detectives needed partners but he just couldn't seem to keep any of the ones he was paired with. Many of the officers who were familiar with Garrus' early career figured he scared them away with his tendency to not always go by the book when on cases. While that may have been true in some of the cases, the remaining partnerships dissolved because Garrus' partners were incompetent in one way or another. In one case, his partner was revealed to be a mole planted by a criminal organization. It was after that incident that Garrus made up his mind that he would never have another partner regardless of what the regulations said. It was a shame for him that Bailey didn't seem to be willing to let him do that.
After dropping off some stuff at his desk, Garrus made his way up to Bailey's office. On the way, he started thinking of how he was going to convince Bailey not to go through with assigning him a partner. If the detective Bailey had in mind was already up there, Garrus knew he was going to have to be polite about it so as not to risk offending the detective in the process. He had just come up with an idea of what he was going to say when he approached Bailey's office door. The door was already open and he could see Bailey inside sitting at his desk working on some paperwork. From where he was, Garrus couldn't see anybody else in the room. He figured the detective who was going to be his new partner hadn't arrived yet. It was probably better that way as it allowed him to be able to speak his mind without having to be polite. He gently knocked on the doorframe to get Bailey's attention.
"Come in," Bailey said without looking up from his desk.
"You wanted to see me?" Garrus asked as he entered the office.
It was then Bailey looked up to face Garrus, "yes I did. I wanted to introduce you to…"
"Look sir, I know why you wanted to see me. Let me save you some time. I don't want a new partner. I don't care who you have picked out because odds are it will end just like the others. They will either prove to be incompetent or I'll scare them off."
Suddenly a voice from behind Garrus spoke, "well Garrus I wouldn't say I'm incompetent and your ugly mug has never scared me away when we worked together in the past."
Garrus thought he recognized the voice but it couldn't be…him. He was proven wrong when he turned towards the source of the voice. Sure enough the voice belonged to Shepard, his best friend and former commanding officer. After recovering from the initial surprise of seeing Shepard, Garrus gave him a big hug.
"I can't believe it's you Shepard," Garrus said when the hug broke, "you were still a patrolman the last time I saw you. How did you make homicide so fast?"
"I promoted him," said Bailey, "Shepard's already shown me once that he has what it takes to be a good detective and I've wanted to make him one since he joined the force. But I knew he needed to spend some time as a patrolman to get his bearings first. Last week I decided to finally offer him the job."
"And since we've worked together before, he figured I would be the one detective you wouldn't turn down having as partner," added Shepard, "I told him that was a safe bet since there's no Shepard without Vakarin."
Garrus smiled and shook Shepard's hand, "well then welcome to the homicide desk Detective Shepard. I couldn't have asked for a better partner."
"Well that's all I needed you for Vakarian," Bailey said as he returned his attention to the paperwork on his desk, "I'll let you give Shepard the tour. If any cases come up, I'll let you know."
Garrus and Shepard nodded and proceeded to leave Bailey's office.
"You know it wasn't easy keeping this a surprise from you Garrus," Shepard said as he and Garrus approached their desks, "I wouldn't even tell Ashley about this because I was afraid she would tell Tali and then Tali would tell you."
"That was a smart move," said Garrus, "I love my wife but she can be a blabber-mouth sometimes. So shall we begin the tour?"
"What are you asking me for Garrus? You're the senior officer now."
A sly smile appeared on Garrus' face, "oh yeah, that's right. I get to boss you around for a change. Oh this is going to be fun."
Shepard chuckled and patted Garrus on the back. He knew that Garrus was joking but the chance to see him excited about being the senior officer was too good to pass up. After leaving some items at his desk, he gestured for Garrus to begin the tour. As they walked through the bullpen, Shepard silently hoped that the excitement of reuniting with Garrus would be the only excitement he would have on his first day as a homicide detective.
The light from a terminal was the only source of illumination inside the apartment of a quarian woman. Given her emotional state, the darkness of her room was fitting. She was crying while she was typing out a message on the terminal. For a moment her attention was drawn to a photograph next to the terminal. The photograph was of her with a male quarian. The two of them looked like they were very much in love. Sadly looking at the photo now caused the woman to feel hurt. Her crying was on the verge of intensifying when she managed to snap out of her current thought and pulled the photo so that it was face down. She couldn't afford to think about the reason it hurt to look at the photo. The message she was typing on the terminal was more important and she had to send it as soon as possible.
(KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK)
The woman jumped when she heard a knocking at the door. A sense of dread came over her. She wasn't expecting any company nor was she expecting any takeout food deliveries. Before moving to answer the door, she powered down her terminal so that nothing was visible on screen. A second set of knocks were heard while the woman tiptoed towards the door. As she tried to avoid making any noises, she turned on the screen next to the door that was connected to a camera on the other side. With it, she was able to get a clear view of who was knocking. When she saw who it was, one of her eyebrows rose in confusion. The person on the other side was someone she knew but she couldn't figure out why they would be visiting her at that moment. After bouncing back and forth on what to do, she opened the door.
A/N: Well folks there you have it. Shepard is now a C-SEC detective, partnered with his best friend Garrus and from the looks of things about to get his first case. I hope you enjoyed the first chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Now for a little bit of bad news. There won't be much activity with this story for awhile. When I announced this story in my "Spectre" story and said that I would post the first chapter today, I was working on an unrelated fanfiction at the time. I set the date because I thought I would be done with that story by now. Sadly that is not the case. From the looks of things, I won't be done with that story until July. So this story likely won't be continuing until September at the latest. But I promised I would post the first chapter for this story today and I made sure I did that at least.
Now for some good news. While this story won't be active for awhile, I'm excited to announce that I have something special planned for Mass Effect: Andromeda's launch date on March 21st. Berserker79, a good friend of mine from deviantart and the creator of the cover image of my "After the War" story, and myself are teaming up for a joint project. Using a new picture of his and a new story by me, we will tell another previously untold story that could have happened during the events of ME3. On March 21, check out Berserker79's deviantart account and check back here to witness the moment when Shepard formally meets Ashley's sister Sarah. Until then, take care everybody. theaterman007 out.