Return to the Citadel: Lockdown.

~Eleanor's POV~

"I forwarded the mission update to the Citadel, Commander. We've got confirmation on those reinforcements." Joker informed me as I looked over the Galaxy Map, "Ambassador Udina wants us to report back to the Citadel. The Council is massing a joint-species fleet to deal with Saren and his Geth."

I felt a smile crawl onto my face. All that stubbornness and Shepard's constant talk about Saren and the Reapers have finally got the Council's attention. This is great news.

"I knew they'd come around." I smiled, then instructed Joker, "Back to the Citadel, Joker. I want the Normandy at the head of that fleet."

"Yes, ma'am!" Joker answered.

With that, the Normandy made its way to the Citadel. I have to say, the Citadel was much larger than I thought it would appear. It looked like an ark of some sort. But, as we got closer to the Citadel, my glee faded to worry, as something at the back of my mind was telling me something will not go the way I hope it would.

The Normandy landed in the docking bay and I left the ship to meet up with Ambassador Udina and the Council in person. Kaiden and Garrus helped me around the Citadel to find the Council meeting room. As I arrived to the Council's meeting room, a middle-aged man with dark skin turned to me and glared.

"Who the hell are you? We were expecting Commander Shepard. Not some child taking her place." The man, Ambassador Udina I'm guessing, shouted.

I glared at the man, but calmly put my hands behind my back and turned to Udina, "Commander Shepard is dead, Ambassador. My name is Eleanor May Carter. I'm Commander Shepard's successor."

Udina took a step back, "Oh. Well, in that case, thanks to you and Shepard, the Council's finally taking real action against Saren."

The Asari Councilor nodded, "The Ambassador is correct. If Saren is foolish enough to attack the Citadel-as you believe-we will be ready for him."

"Patrols are stationed at every Mass Relay linking Citadel space to the Terminus Systems." The Turian Councilor informed proudly.

"How many ships are you sending to Ilos?" I asked with a raised brow.

"Ilos is only accessible through the Mu Relay, deep inside the Terminus Systems, Commander." The Salarian Councilor answered, "If we send a fleet in there, the only possible outcome is full-scale war."

Udina turned to me, "Now is the time for discretion, Commander. Saren's greatest weapon was secrecy. Exposed, he is no longer a threat. This is over."

"Secrecy is not Saren's greatest weapon." I spoke up, "The Conduit is."

The Salarian Councilor shook his head, "Saren is a master manipulator. The Conduit is just a distraction from his real plan to attack the Citadel."

"What about Sovereign?" I asked, "The Reapers are using Saren to get what they want."

"Only you have seen the Reapers." The Asari Councilor pointed out, "And then only in visions. We won't invade the Terminus Systems because of a dream."

"What about just sending one ship to Ilos?" I asked, "I can be discreet. I won't start a war on my own."

"You detonated a nuclear device on Virmire!" The Turian Councilor shouted, "I wouldn't call that discreet!"

"Shepard's style served well in the Traverse, Commander. We recognized that." The Asari Councilor pointed out, "But Ilos requires a deft touch. We have the situation under control."

"No you don't!" I shouted, "If Saren finds the Conduit, we're all screwed. We have to get to Ilos!"

The Turian Councilor turned to Ambassador Udina, "Ambassador Udina, I get the sense Commander Carter isn't willing to let this go."

"There are serious political implications here, child." Udina told me, "Humanity's made great gains thanks to Shepard. Don't step on that good name."

I glared at Udina. I've made my point clear, and now he wants me to smile and be a 'good girl'? This is not what Shepard would stand for. I know she won't!

"You bastard!" Alenko shouted, "You're selling us out!"

Udina stepped forward, "It's just politics, child. You've done your job, now let me do mine." Then he informed me, "We've locked out all of the Normady's primary systems. Until further notice, you're grounded."

My eyes widen in shock and disbelief, "Are you insane!? After all Shepard's done, you still don't believe her, or me?!"

"I think it's time for you and your team to leave, child." Udina told me, "This no longer concerns you. The Council can handle this. With my help, of course."

I glared at Udina before turning and heading back to the Normandy. Once inside the Normandy, I walked into the second deck, walked over to the lockers and stared at Commander Shepard's locker.

"I'm sorry, Commander..." I whispered, "I tried my best... My best wasn't enough..."

Frustration, anger, disappointment and rage burned inside me. My blood boiled, my body was shaking and my heart ached. My hand balled into a shaking fist, as I tried to calm myself down.

How can Udina just make these decisions when the threat is far more dangerous than he or the Council could ever imagine, or understand?!

I raised my fist, my body glowing green, and punched the locker next to Shepard's, which was mine. The impact of my punch created a large dent in my locker.

I lowered my fist, my body stopped glowing, and I sat down, leaning against the lockers, "Bosh'tet..."

I sighed and then Alenko came around, "Eleanor? Are you alright?" He asked me, "I'm sure there's a way to appeal. We're under Alliance authority after all. Not the Council."

"Now's not a good time, Alenko." I told him sadly.

"I'm sorry, Eleanor. I thought you'd like to talk about it." He apologized, "I'll take a step back."

"It's alright. I'm sorry I snapped at you." I apologized, "I don't have time to coddle you. Fun's fun, but I feel like I let Shepard down. One day in command and I got us grounded."

Alenko nodded in understanding, "Fair enough." Then he added, "I'll make sure the crew stands by for orders. If you've got anything up your sleeve, they'll be ready."

I stood up and folded my arms, leaning against the lockers. I shook my head and let out a heavy sigh.

Just then, Joker spoke from the comms, "Commander, I've got a message from Captain Anderson."

"Are you spying on me, Joker?" I asked, "How did you know I was here?

"No ma'am. Just knew you were on the ship and figured I'd pass the message on." Joker answered, "The captain said to meet him at Flux. That club down in the wards."

I nodded in understanding, "Thank you, Joker. I'm on my way."

With that, I exit the Normandy and began making my way to Flux. However there was one tiny problem; I'm still new on exploring the Citadel, so I asked Garrus if he could help me out on getting to Flux. Liara wanted to come along as well. See the Citadel for herself too.

Following Garrus' lead into the wards of the Citadel and into a disco club with loud, upbeat music. I looked around and found a middle-aged man in African descent sitting alone on a table in the corner of the club.

Garrus, Liara and I walked over to the table and the man looked at me. He gave me a warm smile and gestured me to take a seat across from him.

"I'm glad you came... Eleanor, is it?" He asked me. I gave him a nod, as I sat on the seat across from him, "David Anderson. I heard what happened."

"They pulled us off the mission. Just like when they forced you to give up the Normandy." I sighed, "Shepard told me before she died."

Anderson nodded, "I know. I'm sorry. I wanted to warn you, but there was no way to get a message to you before you docked. I know you're pissed off right now, but you can't give up. They all think this is over, but we both know it's not."

"You believe Shepard?" I asked with a raised brow. Anderson nodded. I felt a wave of relief as I smiled, "At least someone else does."

Anderson nodded again and told me, "You have to go to Ilos. You have to stop Saren from using the Conduit."

"How?" I asked, "As far as I know, there's only one ship that can get me into the Terminus Systems undetected, and she's grounded."

"Citadel control's locked out all the Normandy's systems." Anderson pointed out, "But if we override the ambassador's orders we can get them to bring the Normandy back on-line. You can be in the Terminus Systems before anyone even knows you're gone."

"But what about you?" I asked, "If we steal the Normandy, you're the one left holding the bag."

"And if Saren finds the Conduit, life as we know it is over." Anderson pointed out, "The Reapers will destroy us. Humans, Asari, everybody! With Shepard gone, you're the only one who can stop them. So I'll do whatever it takes to get you on the Normandy and off this station."

"But stealing the Normandy is mutiny." I replied, "What if the crew won't help me?"

"Shepard trusted you with the Normandy and her crew. She's your ship now, Eleanor." Anderson answered, "Her crew will follow you to the ends of the galaxy."

A smile of relief appeared on my face, "I won't forget this, Captain. I promise."

Anderson nodded with a small smile of his own. Then he told me, "I can unlock the Normandy from one of the consoles in the Citadel control center. You'll have a few minutes before anyone realizes what's happened."

"That's a restricted area patrolled by armed guards." Garrus pointed out, "How are you going to get in?"

"Leave that to me." Anderson answered, "Just make sure you're in the Normandy when the systems come back on-line."

I shook my head, "No. You'll get yourself killed. There must be a more subtle way."

Anderson nodded, "Ambassador Udina issued the lockdown order. If I can hack into the computer in his office, maybe I can override it."

Liara shook her head, "He will not just stand by while you use his computer."

Anderson nodded again, "Hopefully he won't be there. If he is, I'll just have to think of something."

"The ambassador will not forgive this, Captain." Liara answered, "You will be charged with treason, a capital offense."

"We don't have a lot of options." Anderson pointed out, "I break into the ambassador's computer, or I take my chances with the patrols in Citadel control."

I rubbed my chin in thought. Going for Citadel control will take a lot of force, and Captain Anderson is just one man. Even with military experience, he'll get himself killed. No... This needs a more subtle and delicate touch. Besides Ambassador Udina deserves a little punch in the face, after that corrupt course of action. The bosh'tet...

I looked at Anderson and nodded, "You'll stand more of a chance if you go after the ambassador's computer."

Anderson nodded and smiled, "I was hoping you'd say that. The ambassador has made this personal." Then he stood up and asked me, "You ready to get the hell off this station, Commander?"

I smiled, stood up and punched the air, "Damn right!"

"I'll take care of the lockdown." Anderson told me, "You get down to the Normandy and tell Joker to stand by."

With that, Anderson left the club. Garrus, Liara and I left the club and mad our way back to the Normandy.

Following Captain Anderson's instructions, I told the crew that there's going to be a little rebellion, and the Normandy is going to Ilos one way or another. The entire crew had my back and were ready to leave the Citadel as soon as possible. I told Joker to stand by, until the Normandy's systems are back on-line.

We waited a solid 5 minutes until the Normandy's systems were back on-line and we were ready to leave the station.

I gently patted Joker's shoulder, "Alright. Let's get the hell outta here, Joker. Now."

Joker nodded and the Normandy was airborne again.

Ilos, here we come.