Chapter 1: Timely Arrival
"Heroes are made by the times."
A group of three stormed through Chora's Den, armor still smoking from an intense firefight. One was a turian, a now former C-Sec officer named Garrus. The next was a krogan, a mercenary called Urdnot Wrex. The last was a human, none other than Commander John Shepard. The three of them had just taken down one of the Shadow Broker's agents, Fist, even if on accident. Shepard had no idea that Wrex would put a few shotgun blasts into Fist, and though he was mad, he let it slide. Wrex said it was his last job, and that it wouldn't happen again. Still, Shepard asserted his command. He didn't want to make the same mistake as he had on Akuze ever again.
They got further confirmation of the information they were looking for at any rate: a quarian had evidence of Saren's treason. Fist had also warned them that the Shadow Broker had set up a trap for the quarian, and that she would be killed in a matter of minutes. The trio made it out of Chora's Den, and dashed into the market area of the Lower Wards. They finally arrived at the meeting place, and with no time to spare. Shepard signaled for Garrus to take out his sniper rifle as he did the same, and they took cover behind some crates. Shepard noted the two assassins and the turian mercenary standing next to the quarian. Once Wrex took out his shotgun, they waited for the opportune moment to attack.
Tali'Zorah nar Rayya was having a pretty bad day. In the first days of her pilgrimage, things had already gone horribly wrong. First, the captain of the ship she stowed away on threatened to have her arrested, and ordered her to leave his ship. Then, that turian mercenary showed up again, no doubt working for Saren, and she got shot. She dragged her wounded friend, Keenah, away from the battle, but it didn't matter. She wasn't good enough to save her. After that, Tali set up a trap for the turian, burning him alive in an incinerator. The day didn't improve much from there. She managed to get herself to the clinic, where she met a volus. The volus said he was an information dealer for a shady figure called the Shadow Broker. He told her that the information she had would be safe, and go to the right people. Of course, she accepted his offer, but in hindsight she really should have declined. Now here she was, standing in front of another turian merc, who definitely was not the Shadow Broker.
"Did you bring the evidence?" The turian asked, stepping close to Tali.
"Where's the Shadow Broker? Where's Fist?" She inquired.
"They'll be here. Where's the evidence?" He replied, raising a hand to touch her hood.
"No way. The deal's off." She retorted, swatting the merc's hand away.
The turian simply walked backwards, nodding to the two assassins she had failed to notice waiting next to some crates. Tali knew she was in trouble. She quickly took out one of her tech proximity mines, and threw it towards the two assassins. It exploded, sending the two of them sprawling. She dove for cover, but apparently didn't need to. Two sniper rifle shots rang out, and the two assassins fell to the floor, dead. The turian merc turned in horror a moment too late. A massive krogan rammed into him, knocking the turian off his feet and sending him flying into the crates behind, where he slumped to the floor. The krogan then proceeded to put a few shotgun rounds into his body. She stood up and brushed herself off as another turian and a human also appeared.
"Are you alright?" the human asked. There was genuine concern in his voice, concern she was not expecting.
"Yes, I-I'm fine." Tali replied, stuttering slightly. "I know how to look after myself, not that I don't appreciate the help. Who are you?"
"My name is Commander Shepard. What's yours?" Tali was slightly taken aback by the question, but answered regardless.
"My name is Tali. Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya. It's nice to meet you Commander."
"Likewise. We're trying to find evidence that proves Saren is working with the geth and has committed treason, and heard that you might have it." Shepard said, getting down to business.
"That is correct Commander, and I will gladly give you the information. But not here, we need to go somewhere safe."
The turian behind Shepard spoke up. "We should go to ambassador Udina's office, Shepard. He'll want to see this anyways."
"Sounds like a plan then, Let's go." Shepard said, making eye contact with her for a moment before walking by. Tali walked behind him, and followed them out of the Wards.
After a number of elevator rides, the group arrived at the Presidium. Tali was awestruck, having never been to the Citadel before. For a moment, she let herself fall behind the group to enjoy looking over the lakes and to enjoy the light, even if through her mask. She jogged to catch up with the group, and continued to walk behind them. After dodging a quite persistent news reporter, they entered ambassador Udina's office. He was already there, waiting, and quite flustered.
"You're not making my life easy Shepard." Was the first thing he said. "A firefight in the wards, an all out assault on Chora's Den, do you know how many-" Udina then noticed the variety of aliens that now stood with Shepard. "Who's this? A quarian? What are you up to Shepard?" Tali noticed the way he said quarian. Clearly not everyone would be as kind as Commander Shepard.
Shepard had a smug smile on his face. "I'm making your day ambassador. She has information linking Saren to the geth, and proving that he is a traitor."
"Really? maybe we should start from the beginning Miss…?"
"My name is Tali'Zorah Nar Rayya sir." She blurted out before he could finish his sentence.
"Well, miss 'Zorah, get to the point then. I presume you have evidence worth looking at?" Udina stated. Tali glanced at him, nervously wringing her hands.
"Yes. During my travels I began hearing reports of the geth. Since they drove my people into exile, they have never ventured beyond the Veil. I was curious. I tracked a patrol of geth to an uncharted world, I waited for one to get separated from it's unit, then I disabled it and removed it's memory core."
Another human next to the ambassador spoke up. "I thought the geth fried their memory cores when they died. Some kind of defense mechanism."
"How did you manage to preserve the memory core Tali?" Shepard asked, curious.
"My people created the geth. Sometimes if you get lucky, you can get a small cache of data from them." Tali made sure to look at Shepard when she spoke. He was the only one in the room who sounded actually interested in what she had to say.
"This isn't helping much, do you actually have any evidence against Saren?" Udina spoke with an impatient tone.
"Lay off a little Udina. Let her speak." Tali did a double take when Shepard spoke. She glanced at him, and he nodded to her. Udina seemed taken aback. Why was this man being so kind to her?
"I...I managed to salvage this from it's data banks." She stated, and pressed a few buttons on her omni tool.
A turian's voice could be heard from the recording. Saren's voice. "Eden Prime was a major victory. The beacon has set us one step closer to finding the conduit." Then, another voice could be heard, this one feminine. "And one step closer to the return of the reapers."
"That's Saren's voice! This proves he was involved in the attack!" The other human said enthusiastically.
"I don't recognize that other voice, the one after Saren's. I'll have to look into that." Udina stated, barely giving Tali a sidelong glance.
"I feel like I've heard that word before...the reapers." Shepard said, rubbing his temple.
"According to the geth memory core, the reapers were a hyper-advanced machine race that existed fifty thousand years ago. They hunted the protheans to total extinction, and then vanished. At least, that's what the geth believe." Tali looked nervously between the humans as she spoke.
"The vision of Eden Prime...it makes sense now. I saw the reapers wiping out the protheans." Shepard wiped his forehead, and left Tali confused. Vision?
"The geth revere the reapers as gods, and they think Saren can bring them back." Tali voiced, shifting nervously.
"The council is just going to love this." Udina said in an annoyed tone.
"No matter what they think about the reapers, we now have evidence against Saren. We need to get a meeting with the council immediately." Tali noticed the way Commander Shepard looked at this human. It was clear he respected him.
"Captain Anderson is right. We need to present this to the council right away. I'll schedule a meeting." Udina said as he walked away. "Try not to start anymore firefights while I'm gone, Shepard."
"What about her, the quarian?" Garrus asked.
"My name is Tali!" She said, turning to face Shepard. "You saw me in the alley Commander, you know what I can do. Let me come with you, I can help." She spoke in an almost pleading tone.
Shepard didn't need to think about his response.
"Of course you can come with us. I'll take all the help I can get." He said, though he gained a slightly disapproving look from Udina.
"This is great news Shepard. You'll want to head to the Citadel Tower right away." Anderson said as he walked by Shepard. "I'll meet you there." Tali simply looked at Shepard, honestly quite shocked he had said yes.
With that, Anderson left, leaving Shepard with a lot to think about. He looked over at Tali, whom he noticed was staring at him. She quickly looked away. He smiled, and signaled for Wrex, Garrus, and her to follow him out of the ambassador's office. It was time to prove Saren a traitor. The elevator ride up to the Citadel Tower was silent, and he looked out over the Presidium while the elevator ascended. Shepard noticed Tali shifting nervously and wringing her hands. He wanted to reassure her, but thought against it. The elevator doors opened, and they jogged towards the Council Chambers. Anderson met them as they started to climb the stairs.
"Come on, hurry. The meeting has already started." Anderson told Shepard, who picked up his pace. Why did they always start without him?
"Eden Prime was a major victory. The beacon has set us one step closer to finding the Conduit. And one step closer to the return of the reapers."
"Commander Shepard, this evidence is irrefutable. We have stripped Saren of his spectre status, and he is no longer allowed within systems under our jurisdiction." The asari councilor spoke in a calm, collected tone. "We have also identified the second voice to be an asari matriarch named Benezia."
"Thank you councilors, but I am afraid that might not be enough." Shepard said, moving to the front of the platform next to Udina and Anderson.
"What do you mean Commander?" The salarian councilor said.
"Matriarch Benezia spoke of the reapers in that recording." Shepard said, causing the councilors to glance at each other.
"We read your report Commander, but this is highly impossible. Why would Saren try to bring back an extinct race of machine overlords?" The turian councilor spoke up for the first time, and of course, he denied Shepard's evidence.
"I tried to warn you about Saren and you didn't listen to me then either! Don't make the same mistake now!"
"This is different, Commander. We all agree that Saren is using the geth to try and reach the Conduit, but we don't know why. Do not try to force the reapers into this as well." The asari councilor said.
"One dream and mention in a recording is hardly solid evidence. I'm sorry Commander." The turian councilor looked directly at Shepard as he spoke.
"That's not good enough. We know Saren is out there somewhere, deploy the Citadel fleet!" Udina almost yelled at the councilors.
"That is out of the question. We are not starting a galactic war over this." The turian councilor snapped back.
"Then let me go after him. Give me the backing I need to capture him." Shepard said, deliberately avoiding eye contact with the turian councilor.
"No! Humanity is not ready for the responsibility that comes with-" The turian councilor was cut off by the asari councilor, and they went into a hushed discussion. Finally, they decided on what to do.
"Commander Shepard, please step forward." The asari councilor said.
Shepard stepped forward. He listened to each councilor, anticipation building inside him. They spoke words he never thought he would hear. He was to be the first human spectre, and now he had the permission and backing to hunt Saren down. He never could have predicted this would happen to him. Of all the people the council could have chosen, they chose him. He looked up at the councilors as they finished speaking.
"I am honored councilors, and I won't let you down. Saren will be stopped." Shepard spoke with complete truth, and confidence. He truly would be the one to stop Saren.
"This meeting is adjourned."
Anderson was the first to congratulate Shepard, but Udina was a little less excited.
"You're going to need a ship and a crew Shepard. We will get on this right away." Udina started to walk away, but Shepard stopped him.
"I already have a crew better than I could have hoped for." He looked at Wrex and Garrus, but his gaze lingered on Tali.
"Very well Shepard. We'll...figure something out…" Udina and Anderson walked away.
Shepard started walking back down the steps of the Citadel Tower, still in shock that he was now a spectre. They walked towards the elevator, and entered it. Shepard pressed the button that would bring them to the C-Sec Academy, and the elevator began it's slow descent.
"Today has been quite interesting." Tali spoke up, causing Shepard to turn and face her.
"Tell me about it. The first human spectre...can you believe it?" He directed the question mostly to her, but let the other turn around as well.
"I know...and I can't believe they let me witness the whole thing. I don't think a quarian has ever set foot in the council chambers. Thank you for letting me join you Commander." Shepard simply smiled at her. He could tell she was overjoyed to be a part of this mission.
"Without you and your evidence, we wouldn't be standing here. Thank you, Tali. I'm glad to have you on my team." The reply was genuine, he really was grateful towards Tali. The quarian had given over the evidence that they so desperately needed without a second thought, and even offered to join his team and help hunt down Saren. He had never seen such a willingness to help someone. This cheerful, excited quarian was growing on him already. There was something much different about her than anyone else he had met so far.
"Th-thank you Commander. No one has ever...thank you." She stuttered again, wringing her hands. Shepard just found himself smiling again.
"Don't get too flattered. Shepard here is nice to everyone he comes across. At least, he gave me and the old krogan over there a nice welcome." Garrus finally spoke up, and earned a disapproving grunt from Wrex.
With a ding, the elevator doors opened, causing Tali to jump a little. Shepard couldn't help but smile again, and they stepped off the elevator. They barely walked five feet before they were inside another elevator, this one taking them down to the docking area.
"You guys are going to have to get used to all these elevators. There's even one inside the Normandy." Shepard said, laughing a little. Then he caught himself. He wouldn't be serving on the Normandy anymore...would he?
The elevator finally reached its destination, and Shepard stepped out with his team not far behind. Udina and Anderson were already there, waiting for him. Shepard walked over to them, and Udina began to speak.
"Commander Shepard. Captain Anderson is stepping down as the captain of the Normandy, the ship is yours now."
"She's quick and quiet, perfect for a spectre. Treat her well, commander." Anderson said, nodding to Shepard.
"Anderson, are you sure? This means a lot to me, but I don't want to take this from you." Though he spoke those words, in his mind he was overjoyed. This was turning out to be one of the best days of his life.
"No Shepard, I'm sure. I'm getting too old for this kind of thing anyways."
"Thank you, sir. I won't let you down."
"Saren's gone. Don't even try looking for him. But we do know what he is after: The Conduit. Find that before he does, and his plans are over." Anderson told Shepard.
"We have three main leads, Commander. Feros went dark after an alleged geth attack and Noveria has had some suspicious activity recently. We also found a lead on a young asari scientist, the daughter of Matriarch Benezia. She is somewhere in an uncharted system in the Artemis Tau cluster." Udina said, crossing his arms.
"I'll start in the Artemis Tau cluster then." Shepard said, looking for approval.
"You're a spectre now Shepard, you don't have to answer to us anymore. Good luck." Anderson said, before walking away. Udina followed suit.
Shepard noticed that Garrus and Wrex had already gone inside the Normandy, but Tali stood by the railing, gazing at the Normandy. He walked over, and stood beside her.
"It's a beautiful ship, isn't it?" Shepard said, looking out at the Normandy.
"Yes..I've never seen anything quite like it. Thank you again, Commander, for letting me join your crew." Tali said, now turning to face Shepard.
"You don't have to thank me, Tali. Without you, this would never have happened." He smiled at her. "You don't have to call me Commander by the way. Shepard is fine. Let's head on inside, I'll give you a tour."
"Sounds good Comma- Shepard."
Shepard just smiled again, and they stepped into the decontamination chamber of the Normandy.
A/N: Hello! Hope you enjoyed this first chapter! I'm going to be staying true to the lore for the most part, with changes to dialogue and certain aspects of missions, though not many. I hope you enjoyed the story, as this is my first fan fiction. Actually, this is pretty much my first real story in general. I've written quite a few for fun, but this is the first I'm posting anywhere. Please, if you have any suggestions or comments, feel free to message me or leave a review; I will respond to them the best I can. This will of course be focused on Shepard and Tali's relationship, but I also want to have chapters on each individual mission of Mass Effect 1. Don't stay up too late!