AN: First the obvious things. Mass Effect, the characters, locations, concepts etc., belong to BioWare/EA. I'm just having some innocent fun with it.
If you haven't played the series, please do! Not only will there be spoilers to all three games, their DLC's and the books, but I might just assume some things to be known. This applies especially to ME1 as my story starts between ME1 and 2. There might be some flashbacks to expand on the story or where I feel it will be necessary.
To give you some background: Commander Angie Shepard, now Captain Shepard, is a space born Paragon who was instrumental in beating back the Blitz on Elysium. She's a powerful biotic Adept (somewhere just below Liara, Jack and Samara), an expert marksman and a gifted tactician, well versed in any military doctrine be it contemporary, ancient or alien. She prefers a covert approach to a direct confrontation, analysing the situation before striking. She can be ruthless when it is necessary but will be fiercely loyal to those who have gained her trust. The decision to leave Lt. Alenko to die on Virmire had been an easy one to make but now weighs heavy on her. In public she remains stoic and courteous, but with her friends and crew she is more relaxed. Those whom she trusts, she gifts with her sarcastic humour and her more renegade thoughts which she almost never acts upon. She has flirted with the idea, that holding back the Alliance fleet in the Battle of the Citadel but decided to save the Destiny Ascension and the Council with it.
She has romanced Liara. It had been love on first sight (of course...).
What to expect from this story: This is an AU retake on ME2 and 3. Some encounters and concepts you might recognize from the games, but the events leading to them and the consequences might be different. One thing that will be different is, that Shepard and her crew will be much more independent. The game was mostly railroaded (which I'm perfectly okay with! Sandbox games like TES are great, but to tell an exciting story it's the wrong approach) so it made sense for Shepard to be told what to do. But that's not the image I have from the independent agents that are the Spectres. So she will take a more proactive role.
As is fashionable at the moment, I will try my hand on an alternate ending. Personally I rather enjoyed the ending of ME3 - well, I was reduced to tears, so enjoyment is maybe the wrong sentiment, but I found it good nevertheless. Sure there were some plot holes, but lets not go into that. What irks me most in hindsight is what tools the Reapers are. Right up to the end they are made to be the incomprehensible, utterly alien (in a space opera for God's sake!) bad boys. And with their sprouting "We are your salvation through destruction"-nonsense I expected - more.
So I will fix that. Or try to anyway.
I will rate this as M rather than T, because there will be some rather brutal moments and disturbing concepts.
Last: I'm not a native English speaker, so please forgive me the occasional mutilation of that language.
Captain Angie Shepard was standing at attention in front of the council, as they kept rambling about the Geth and how they had to be pushed back beyond the Vail. It was pretty clear just who they expected to do the pushing.
And what do you expect me to do about that? I'm a freaking Spectre, for Christ's sake! We are covert ops, not an extermination service. Send your fucking fleets, you morons!
Of course she didn't say that aloud, she was a paragon of virtue after all. Discipline and obedience were her creed. Yet none could forbid her to think what idiots those bureaucrats were. Something she did with increasing frequency.
"With all due respect," God how she hated that phrase when one of her subordinates used it on her. With all due respect, kiss my arse! But right now it was perfect. "But I think this is a task better suited for a small fleet, not some lone scout frigate. You are right, I have the most experience in fighting the Geth and I will gladly render any assistance I can, but sending a single ship will not help. We have to crush them with speed. And please don't feed me that line about not wanting to step on the toes of the Terminus' leaders. I'm sure they will understand the need and will be quite happy to get rid of the Geth. They might even appreciate the help. I would recommend that someone, who is on good terms with Aria T'Loak, approach her and smooth things over. I'm sure if the pirate queen of Omega is on our side the pirates wont give us any grief." the Commander addressed the Council as a whole, but the last part she delivered especially to the Asari.
The look on her face is priceless! I have to remember buying Liara something nice. To bad I can't get a snapshot of Councillor Tevos turning pale.
"You might have a point there. I think the time is ripe to crush the Geth, before they make another one of their Dreadnoughts." Unexpectedly Councillor Sparatus was the one to first side with her argument. Shepard always figured the Turian opposed her on principle alone.
Interesting. Maybe we can expand on that. The Turian military is the closest thing to ours after all. But what's that about that Geth Dreadnought? They can't seriously think...? Crap I thought I had them convinced.
"I agree Councillor Sparatus. The time for covert action against the Geth is over. But I fear the are a lesser concern. What about the Reapers?"
Good old Capt... ah Councillor Anderson. At least I can trust him to keep his priorities straight.
"Ah the Reaper threat. I think we want to dismiss that claim. There is no evidence other then a - granted - disturbingly advanced Dreadnought that was, according to every evidence we have seen, designed by the Geth. Intelligence provided by the Salerian STG makes it clear that the Geth wont have enough resources to build another one in the next ten years." quipped Councillor Valern. At least he had the decency to avert his eyes. "There is no Reaper threat. Just the Geth."
This can't be happening!
Tevos looked at her fellow Councillors who all gave her a slight nod. She then addressed Shepard again.
"Your proposal is approved. We will send a fleet to drive the Geth back beyond the Vail and establish a blockade. It will be a joint effort from every Council race under the leadership of Admiral Hackett. "
Sparatus seemed to frown at the name but did not openly object. Anderson seemed troubled as well.
"Shepard, this will leave some of our colonies open to pirate incursions. We don't need a second Mindoir or, heavens forbid, Elysium. I would like you to run interference while our ships are away. Do what it takes to keep potential raiders at bay. That is, if the other Councillors agree?" asked Anderson with a slight glance towards his peers. They in turn looked at each other, the Salerian giving a nod, the Turian a slight shake of the head. Tevos remained passive for a moment but spoke up after half a minute of thought.
"We will approve, under the condition that you tread carefully when beyond the borders to the Terminus. The situation will be precarious as it is. We don't want to antagonize them any further. We can't afford a war with the Terminus systems right now. That will be all. Spectre Shepard you are dismissed." The Human Captain gave a crisp salute, turned on her heel and walked out of the temporary council chambers.
That could have gone better. Scratch that! It couldn't have gone any worse! If the Council doesn't do anything against the Reapers we are doomed! What should I do now?
She was barely out of the building when her omni-tool beeped, a priority message cutting through her mute setting. That meant only one of six people had tried to contact her, four of them she had just left.
we need to talk. The Council's inactivity is troubling. I'm on your side, but for now my hands are tied. Meet me in my office tomorrow morning. I have another task for you.
Slightly feeling better from her mentor's vote of confidence, Shepard made her way toward her apartment.
That had been on of the perks of her new status. Spectres were given a salary but nothing scandalous as they were expected to mostly provide for themselves. To do that they were given great liberties that normal citizens did not possess. For example staking a claim on mineral nodes required the individual or corporation to pay a hefty sum up front and staggering taxes later on. That allowed only mega-corporations to make a significant profit. It was one of many subtle things the Volus had introduced into the galactic economic system that gave them, mayor stakeholders in most megacorps, an edge. It really was the twenty-first century all over again – in space!
Spectres were considered a military force and could stake a claim without having to pay for the right to mine the resources. However, unlike proper military they could sell the spoils for a staggering profit. Shepard, like most Spectres, was now moderately wealthy and could afford several safehouses across the galaxy. For now she only had the small two room apartment on the citadel.
It was not much of a safehouse - at least ten people knew of its location. That was okay with her. Now that she was a Spectre, it was expected that she had such a place and her friends and superiors might have been offended if they weren't told. What they didn't know was that Shepard had access to another safehouse that Liara bought for them, that only the two of them knew about. The Spectre arrived at her destination and entered the keycode into the pad beside the door. That type of security measurement seemed a little out of place in this age where better means to secure a door were readily available, but it mostly served as camouflage. The true authentication had very little to do with archaic codes typed into the panel. The system was tailor made by Tali who swore that it was near uncrackable.
The living room inside was dark and empty. Shepard felt on edge. Acting on pure instinct she pulled her pistol, readied a biotic barrier and advanced towards the bathroom. The apartment had actual doors and not the ubiquitous sliding hatches, a fact she felt grateful for right now. A door could be opened without making too much noise.
A quick glance told her that the bathroom was empty, so she crept towards the bedroom she shared with Liara. Trying to listen trough the door did not reveal anything so she cautiously opened the door.
Immediately the seasoned marine felt very foolish. The only living thing in the apartment besides her was her lover who despite the late morning still slept soundly in their bed. Putting her weapon on a nearby cabinet she moved towards the sleeping form.
Guess I'm still on edge. I wish I could just come home after a day's work and just relax. But no rest for the wicked. Still in her dress uniform she snuggled close to the Asari who stirred and gave a soft sigh. They remained in this pose for an instant and an eternity, perfectly content with each other.
Only as Shepard nuzzled Liara's neck and crest folds the spell broke.
"What did they say?" Liara asked softly.
Interrupting her caressing Angie rolled on her back. "They wanted me to go after the Geth, can you believe that? But that's not the best part. They 'dismissed the claim on the Reaper threat'. Bastards," she spoke softly, with regret rather than the anger she had felt before. "Things are Bad, Liebling. Capital B Bad. And they don't even realize it. And I don't know what to do. Anderson wants to speak to me tomorrow, but 'his hands are tied'. At least he still believes me."
"That word again. What does it mean? Liebling?" Liara asked innocently.
"Are you trying to distract me, Doctor T'Soni?"
"Is it working, Captain?" with her back still towards the Human, Liara could not see the expression of deep affection on Angies face.
A sigh preceded the explanation. "It's just a name of affection in German, one of the bigger languages back on Earth. My grandmother on my mothers side is German and she used to call me that when we visited her on Earth. Her small house in that little village in the mountains is the closest thing I have to a home. I wish you could see it."
Finally turning and rolling on top of her lover, hugging her, Liara whispered,
"Then show me. Embrace Eternity."