Mass Effect 1: It Begins

Chapter 8: Dr. Saleon's Downfall

AN: I don't own the rights to Mass Effect, they belong to Bioware. Enjoy the next chapter guys and girls.

The MSV Fedele wasn't hard to find, after the Normandy got to the Herschel system it didn't take long to locate the ship. From a distance nothing seemed to be off about the ship, it actually looked rather simple, though nobody knew what a crazy scientist's ship was suppost to look like. According to the remote scans a number of the ships systems were offline, other than the life support and a couple of other smaller systems the ship was essentially dead. From the outside there appeared to be no visible damage so whatever caused the ship systems to go down must have been internal, not taking any chances the squad went in on guard.

Once the Normandy docked with the MSV Fedele Shepard and the squad cautiously boarded the ship weapons drawn, Shepard and Nihlus first with Tali and Garrus bringing up the rear. It was clear once they were on the ship that their earlier assumptions had been correct, there was internal damage to the ship, a lot of it. Nothing seemed to be its place with broken objects tossed all over the room like a twister had raged through it, tables and chair lay broken while crates haphazardly lay across the corridor on their sides, spilling their contents out onto the floor. Taking a closer look at the contents of the crates revelled surgical equipment, medical supplies and in one crate what appeared to be a collection of cooled organs. They appeared to have been destroyed, a mixture of different coloured bloods ranging from red and green to blue and purple spilling out over the floor that had them all sick at the sight of it and what else they may find. Wall panels had been scratched, dented and all together ripped off in some parts, blood stains smeared over the wall like a sick painting. Moving through the ship showed no signs of life that they could see, the lights proved unreliable as they progressed, constantly flickering on and off making the atmosphere seem more eerie. Although they found no signs of life they found bodies, though 'bodies' seemed a bit of a stretch, more like misshapen mounds of flesh and bone that barely even looked like it could have ever been a person.

Making their way into the interior of the ship the squad began to hear noises, Shepard held up a hand to stop the squad behind him as they listened and turned towards one corridor where a set of two double doors stood. The red glow at the centre of each told them that they were locked and as they approached more blood stains and scratches seemed to almost completely cover each door. The unidentifiable noise from before became moans and groans, screeches and hisses as they stood there. Shepard motioned to Tali to hack the doors so that they could proceed.

"If there are people alive in there we have to do whatever we can to help them." Shepard didn't take his eyes off the door as he spoke and his voice remained quiet and level though still with a commanding tone. Shepard wanted to make it clear that the people were their priority and that Dr Saleon came second, thinking mostly about what Garrus wanted to do before in the original escape from the Citadel. Nobody really felt like talking but he had wanted to make that clear, the two Turians beside him nodded in acceptance their faces unreadable while Tali briefly turned to him to nod herself. Tali soon had the door unlocked and they all prepared themselves for what they were about to see, weapons at the ready. Shepard strode forwards and opened the doors, quickly passing through into what seemed to be a large warehouse like room. Crates were stacked in rows before them and higher than any of them could see, most likely containing even more harvested organs from any number of species. Now with no barrier between them the level of noise increased further and a scraping kind of shuffling sound could be heard. The squad moved forward slowly and quietly round the isle of crates, just as they were turning a corner there was the sound of running footsteps and Garrus saw a shadow of movement in the corner of his eye. Before any of them could react the being in the shadow jumped out from the darkness at Tali with a gurgling sort of snarl and collided with her, sending them both to the floor as she yelled. The shadow, which turned out to be an Asari, wrapped her limbs around Tali who tried to hold her at bay as the Asari tried to bite her. Nihlus moved quickly to her side and wrenched the Asari away from her, throwing her to the floor where she collapsed into a heap. Shepard moved to Tali's side to help her up, offering his hand which she gratefully accepted as she stood and although her voice was shaky she assured Shepard that no real damage had been done. They both turned to look at Tali's attacker, the Asari lay on the floor not bothering to try and move from where she was thrown. Her eyes' staring wide into nothing and the blue of her skin was sickly pale, numerous scars littering her body in the tatty old clothing. Blood was trickling down the side of her mouth as she murmured nonsense and took haggard breaths, many scratches littered her face, possibly self inflicted. She was as thin as a skeleton, her ribs were easily visible underneath the skin and it seemed like a light touch would break a bone. The hands which had attacked Tali were covered in blood, the deep blue colour suggesting that of another Asari or her own. There also seemed to be a number of large tumour like growths on her lower stomach, easily seen on her far to thin frame and disgusting yellow-like pus was leaking form each of them. Blood pooled around her upper arm from where a chuck of her arm was missing, which looked a lot like a bite mark and her leg was swollen with a large purple bruise, most likely broken from the way it bended. All in all, the Asari looked like death.

"Spirits." Garrus whispered as he looked down at her and Tali audibly gasped within her suit as she brought a hand up to her mouth. Shepard took slow careful steps towards the Asari, kneeling down next to her.

"Can you hear me?" He spoke softly, the Asari seemed to pay no attention to Shepard as he spoke, until he gently reached out to touch her. She reacted instantly, starting to scream and spasm upon the floor, swinging one arm violently. Shepard recoiled quickly at her reaction as they watched her, she seemed to have had a complete attitude change from how she was a moment ago when she attacked Tali. Nihlus met Shepard's eye with a silent question as one hand rested upon his pistol at the waist. Shepard took a breath before he schooled his features and nodded to Nihlus. Nihlus moved forward as he holstered his assault rifle and drew his pistol, coming to a stop beside the Asari and kneeling down.

"Spectre, what are you doing?" Tali questioned.

"Tali, there is nothing we can do for her." Garrus spoke to her quietly, coming to stand beside her and placing a hand on her shoulder to squeeze reassuringly.

Before anything else could be said Nihlus had moved as quickly as a flash, placing the gun near the side of the Asari's head before pulling the trigger and watching as the Asari stilled instantly before them. Nihlus reached forward and closed her eyes, whispering a prayer for her to find peace in the afterlife. Shepard stared at the body for a second longer before him and Nihlus moved back into their little group, Tali turned her gaze towards Shepard, a silent question in her stare.

"If there are others, like this, then we have no choice Tali. All that we can do is to help them end this nightmare and make sure that they are not forgotten. We will make sure that their suffering doesn't go unanswered." Shepard said, determination and calm seriousness expressed in his features. The emotional baggage, he'd deal with later. Tali took a moment before she replied, looking away to stare at a blank wall before she turned to Shepard again and spoke.

"I understand Commander, I don't like it but I understand." She said quietly, arms crossed as she held them close to her body.

"Ok, let's move on." Shepard ended the conversation, the quicker they got through this the better.

The situation didn't improve after the event with the Asari, although hopeful that they would find people that could be saved it wasn't meant to be. Throughout the large warehouse like room they found numerous people, but they all seemed to be near death and driven mad by whatever traumatic events they had experienced. Although most didn't seem to acknowledge the squad, there were some that tried to attack them and ran towards them once they were in sight. A quick biotic stasis from Shepard halted their progress, between Garrus and Nihlus they would quickly and painlessly end their suffering. All of the people they found were in terrible states of physical and mental health, a great deal more were dead. It appeared that once the people had been trapped in the room they had turned on each other and attacked viciously. The people they found were made up of great deal of races including Humans, Asari, Turians, Batarians and even some Drell. As Shepard, Garrus and Nihlus moved around the room checking the bodies and giving peace to the others, Tali moved from body to body giving small prayers similar to Nihlus from before. They didn't speak to one another as they progressed, too busy in their own thoughts to think of anything to say and by the time they left the room through another hacked door they were all feeling rather strong dark emotions in connection to Dr Saleon.

Eventually working through to the back of the ship they found a large office that according to Tali's drone scan contained one Salarian life form. Steeling himself and suppressing his emotion Shepard gestured to Tali to unlock the door, moving forward when the doors swished open. Compared to the rest of the ship the office was sparkling clean and didn't have a single object out of place. Behind the desk at the back of the room sat a Salarian, who matched the picture Garrus had shown him on his Omni-tool and so Shepard new for a fact that he was Dr Saleon. Dr Saleon jumped at their entrance as he turned for his desk console to stare at the squad.

"Oh thank you, you managed to stop those things and save my life." Dr Saleon stood from his desk, moving from behind it and half running towards them. "I managed to stop them and seal the doors, barricading myself in here but I wasn't sure how…" His words came to a stop as he took in the hard cold looks of the people standing before him.

"Dr Saleon." Shepard bit out.

"What? My name is Dr Heart, you must have mistaken me for someone else." The Salarian spoke rapidly, clearly panicked by the simple use of his name.

"There's no escape this time Doctor. I'd harvest your organs first, but we don't have the time." Garrus growled out, his tone venomous.

"Your insane, you can't let him do that its against your own laws." Dr Saleon turned his wide eyes to Shepard as the apparent leader of the small group.

"We will take him in and drop him off with the military." Shepard had his hands curled tightly into fists in an effort to keep his voice level.

"But we have him right here where we want him. We can't let him get away." Garrus argued, for the first time turning to face Shepard.

"If we kill him we will never know what his been up to, we're not doing this us but to get justice for those poor souls so that they aren't forgotten." Shepard turned his head slightly to look at Garrus as his control slipped slightly and some of his emotion came through, he made sure to keep Dr Saleon within his sight as well however.

"I've….. Okay, your right." Garrus seemed like he wanted to argue but after watching Shepard and thinking about it, he was right, with a sigh he turned to stare door Dr Saleon again.

You're a very lucky Salarian, you owe the Commander your life." Garrus spoke in a deathly tone, indicating how much he still would have very much liked to be handling this himself.

"Oh thank you very much." The doctor spoke sarcastically, clearly realising he wouldn't be getting away from them quite that easily. The doctor started to pivot as he drew a pistol from his side and brought it up to face the squad, Shepard's biotics flared up while Garrus and Nihlus went for their own weapons. Before anyone could really do anything, a loud shot echoed through the room as Dr Saleon was blasted off his feet and sent flying backwards into his desk. His body slumped down to the floor, blood pooling from the shotgun blast to his chest.

"I was hoping he'd give me an excuse." Tali spoke, anger lacing her tone as she lowered her shotgun to her side as the others turned to look at her.

"So he dies anyway, what was the point?" Garrus waved his arm at the room, looking back to Shepard for an answer.

"You can't predict how someone will react, but you can control how you will respond and that is what matters Garrus. If we start to take the law into our own hands like that, we become no better than him." Shepard explained, trying to get Garrus to understand the importance of what happened.

"I understand, I've never really though about it like that before just always seen it as people trying to get in my way. I've never met anyone like you Shepard" Garrus finished with a weak smile, clearly he had some things to think about. "I guess were done here."

"Lets get off this ship." Shepard suggested to which they all agreed, nobody wanted to stick around longer than they had to.

Being lost in thought, the journey back to the Normandy was quiet as they all went over in their minds what happened on the MSV Fedele. Boarding the Normandy those that turned to observe their entrance quickly turned back to their work, between Shepard's hard 'not in the mood' look and the almost palatable tenseness that could be felt from the others it was clear that the Squad wasn't happy with whatever had happened on the ship. The squad split up without words, Shepard and Nihlus heading to the comm room while Garrus and Tali made for the elevator. As Garrus stood at the elevator he briefly glanced to Shepard's unusually hard blank face as he walked past, wondering just how much he wasn't letting on about how this had affected him. In the comm room Shepard and Nihlus worked together to compile a report on what happened aboard Dr Saleon's ship and what they new of his past. Once they had both agreed on the finished document they got Joker to contact the nearest military ship, which happened to be of the Turian Hierarchy and were put through to their Commander. Although surprised to receive contact from the first Human Spectre and one of the Council's most decorated Turian Spectres she hid it well, getting straight to the heart of the matter for their reasoning in the communication. After explaining about the course of events that took place aboard the ship and sending over a copy of the report, the Turian Commander agreed to look into it and tow the ship back to Citadel space so that it could be investigated as their patrol route was heading that way regardless. Thanking her for the assistance they closed the transmission.

"Do you want to talk?" Nihlus asked, turning from the terminal screen to face Shepard.

"Not right now I need to go talk with Tali, of all of us I think she was most shaken up about all this. But thanks for the offer Nihlus." Shepard responded with a weary smile.

"Anytime Shepard." Nihlus nodded allowing Shepard to leave and head towards engineering to find Tali.

Shepard stepped out of the elevator into the cargo bay, as he walked past the Mako he gave it a quick glance. Garrus for once didn't seem to be attached to the vehicle and wasn't in sight, though that honestly was a good thing. He didn't real feel like having the sort of conversation that he new would come about with Garrus, the Turian always seemed to know when he was covering something up. On the other hand he needed to speak with Tali, at the very least to check up on her. Shepard would feel terrible if he didn't just because of his own avoidance of the subject and if her behaviour on the ship had been any indication then she would need someone to talk to right about now. After he walked into engineering he was again met with an empty console where Tali would usually be, though he really shouldn't have been surprised considering. Enquiring with the engineers revealed that they hadn't seen Tali since she left with Shepard earlier on their mission which then led to Shepard backtracking into the cargo bay. Eventually Shepard tracked her down in one of the storage rooms closer to the back of the Normandy sitting alone on the edge of a large crate containing supplies.

"Commander." Tali looked up upon Shepard's entrance quietly acknowledging him.

"Tali, do you want to talk?" Shepard asked hesitantly, unsure really of what he should do. Tali nodded silently so Shepard took a seat beside her, clasping his hands in front of him wondering where he should start. However it didn't really matter as Tali spoke for him.

"Why did he do it?" She asked, obviously referring to Dr Saleon.

"He wanted to make money." Shepard took a breath before he continued. "Dr Saleon didn't have a soul, I can't pretend to know why a man like that would do such a thing just for money."

"I've seen death before, fighting geth and mercenaries your bound to see it a lot. But when we saw those poor people aboard that ship, to think what that bosh'tet did to them and the suffering he put them through just because they had nothing else left, it makes me sick." Her arms were rigid as she grasped the side of the crate, the anger in her voice mixed with sadness.

"Tali we did everything we could, now he'll never be able to hurt anyone else ever again and we can put the memory of his victims to rest. They won't be forgotten and you shouldn't forget that you did a great thing today." Shepard smiled gently, putting emphasis on his words to get their significance across.

"Thank you commander." Tali whispered after a couple of minutes of silence looking up from where she had been staring at the floor to Shepard's face.

"Call me Shepard, everyone else does." Shepard said lightly as he felt the mood shift.

"Thank you Shepard." Tali said, seeming a lot happier than before. Before Shepard could say anything else he found his arms fall of Quarian as she gave him a fierce hug, which after a moments hesitation he returned. Tali then almost seemed to squeak as she pulled back, seemingly embarrassed by her actions as Shepard grinned at her. Shepard continued talking as Tali got over her embarrassment, a short while later he left the room as she told him after the events of the day she felt exhausted and what she really needed was a good sleep once she had a little more alone time.

Shepard leaned against the back of the shower as the water cascaded down his body as he stared at the opposite wall in thought. One of the perks of being 'Commander' was definitely the private quarters, specifically the shower and being in the military it was the simplest pleasures that you found yourself craving. After speaking to Tali he had gone straight for the elevator back towards the upper levels and unlike him not bothered stopping to talk to anyone. When he had started to make his way across the living quarters he saw a glimpse of blue Turian armour that almost made him change course before he shook his head of the thoughts and continued. His head had and still felt overloaded and he really needed some time to himself otherwise he felt that he may say something stupid, which was definitely not something he would want anyone to see let alone Garrus. Shepard sighed as he eventually turned the water of and began to dry himself, the crew certainly new that something had 'gone down' as such on the mission though none of them had the nerve to ask Shepard at least when he had run into anyone. Discarding the towel and slowly pulling on his casual Alliance uniform he wondered how long it would take before everyone new, not that they were keeping what had happened some big secret from everyone. It was just that the Normandy was like a school made up of gossip loving children most of the time he thought with a slight smirk. His mind supplying the rumours of him and Ashley that seemed to have caught on like wildfire, which honestly suited Shepard fine, that way there would be less questions asked directly of him and he mused that by the same time tomorrow everyone on the ship would know the details of the last mission. A small part of Shepard realised the childishness of his own actions, but he couldn't really bring himself to care at that point as he closed the draw he had taken his Alliance top from and collapsed onto the bed.

Shepard lay there for a long while trying to get to sleep but no matter which way he shifted he couldn't get his mind to slow down, he kept playing back memories of the last mission over and over no matter how much he tried to distract himself. Eventually, now staring up at the ceiling again Shepard figured that he'd watch a Rom/Com vid that he liked, not that he would admit that to anyone, or he would even resort to doing paper work to get his mind off of other unpleasant thoughts. Just as he sat up to slide over to his desk there was a knock at the door which had him stop and stare for a moment at the entrance. It was one thing to avoid people, but if someone was seeking him out he couldn't refuse that and if it wasn't something that demanded attention that very minute he'd tell them that he would see to it in the morning. Making up his mind he stood and walk towards the door, cautiously unlocking it and allowing the door to slide open. Before him stood Garrus holding a bowl of something steaming in one hand with the other resting upon his side, he had cleaned his armour and now it looked like he had never gone anywhere that day. Shepard's own armour lay it a stack in the corner of his room, after methodically cleaning it he had just dumped it deciding to sort the rest out later.

"What's that for?" Shepard asked eying the bowl warily.

"I noticed that you haven't bothered to eat anything so I bought you some dinner." Garrus told him, holding out the bowl for him to take.

"Thank you but I'm not in the mood Garrus, I'd rather just be left alone." He sighed.

"No can do I'm afraid you still need to eat something, it's not wise to skip meals and you should stick to that when you have the opportunity to." Garrus said taking on the air of a parent talking with a child.

"I could order you to leave." Shepard pointed out to him when he refused to budge under his stare.

"Will you though?" He countered, Shepard thought about it for a moment before he stood to side of the door and gestured with an arm for Garrus to enter. Garrus walked through with a self satisfied smirk and the corner of Shepard's mouth tilted up in amusement before he controlled himself. Garrus set the bowl down on Shepard's desk before sitting himself down in a spare chair and leaning backwards.

"You're seriously going to watch me eat it?" Shepard folded his arms at Garrus action.

"I knew all the tricks you use as a kid to avoid eating something you don't want, you can't get by me." He winked. Shepard just rolled his eyes at the action before taking a seat, he might as well get it over with. The stew that the cook had made was surprisingly good and for saying that he hadn't really felt like eating anything he finished it all off. Garrus continued to talk saying that he knew Shepard would be hungry and that he was always right to which Shepard had stuck his middle finger up, when Garrus asked what that meant it made Shepard chuckle.

"Even you can be right every once in a while, don't make a habit of it." Shepard pushed the bowl away from him as he looked over at Garrus.

"If that makes you feel better." He shrugged. "How are you doing with what happened on the MSV Fedele Shepard?" Garrus asked, looking concerned.

"I don't want to talk about it." Shepard tensed as he held a hand out to cut Garrus off.

"You can't bottle things up indefinitely, it will only make you feel worse and I'm willing to listen." Garrus pressed, sitting forward.

"Garrus please, I'm fine, I don't need to talk about it." Shepard ground out.

"Talking with you managed to clear up Tali's mind, she felt a lot better being able to vent to you and put things into perspective. Try your own advice." Garrus pointed a talon at Shepard.

You know what they say, those that give good advice are usually the worst at following it." He retorted.

"Shepard." Garrus said, staring at him. Shepard sighed looking away from him for a few moments as he thought before he stood and went to sit on the bed.

"I hate feeling useless." Shepard said, not looking at Garrus.

"What do you mean?" Garrus asked gentler than before.

"I wish we could have saved them, after… after Mindoir I promised myself I wouldn't let that happen to anyone else. Thinking of the people that were affected by Dr Saleon, the families ruined." Shepard clenched his fists into the fabric of his uniform. Garrus didn't reply but after a moment he felt the air shift beside him as Garrus sat next to him.

"Dr Saleon chose people specifically that didn't have families and people that wouldn't be noticed if they disappeared, those desperate enough for the money." He explained.

"Oh I hadn't realised that. I know its stupid, as a soldier I should know better but it always hits me hard when I lose an innocent person." Shepard smiled weakly. Garrus's hand came forward resting upon Shepard's forearm and giving It a comforting squeeze, Shepard looked up surprised at Garrus.

"Shepard I can't pretend to know what you have been through but you are one great soldier. Where most people see a lost cause, no real solution, you go in and get an impossible result, you have saved a great many people that I'm sure of. You're the most infuriating yet incredible human I have ever met." Garrus told him exactly what he thought.

"Garrus, thank you." Shepard gave an honest smile, laying his hand over Garrus's. Garrus gave a smile back, mandibles expressing his emotion. Looking between them Shepard finally seemed to realise Garrus's proximity to him and averted his eyes as thoughts popped into his head. He looked at Garrus again as he was thinking, the Turian in question tilting his head to the side as he looked at Shepard's expression. Shepard must have lost it if he was truly considering this, but right now in the moment with Garrus sitting here listening to his stupid ramblings and understand him he was actually thinking about telling Garrus that he was attracted to him. A wide range of responses opened up as Shepard thought this, ranging from the cringingly blunt to the overly subtle and everything in between. Even though he had no idea what he could say to get onto the topic, but determined to say something Shepard opened his mouth to speak again when he was interrupted.

"Shepard you're needed in the Comm room, the Council is on the line and they say it's urgent." Joker's voice rang out over the quiet through the speakers. Shepard flopped backwards on the bed with a groan at the interruption and Garrus chuckled in amusement at his actions.

AN: That's that. I'm surprised, the chapter ended up much longer than I thought it would but hey I'm not complaining. I started writing this chapter without necessarily having a theme on the MSV Fedele, but as I started to write it and looked back at what I had done so far at that point it was quite grim I think? Something along those lines away. I decided that I like how it was going quite a lot so I kept that theme going throughout the mission and I think that I managed to pull it off. I only had a vague idea on how I was going to deal with the test subjects before I started writing the chapter as in the game they're basically renamed Thorian Creepers but after I started writing it everything just became a lot clearer and it was just obvious to me on how I should handle it. I quite like this chapter but I'm also quite aware of a few points which are quite different from what I've done so far, so I hope that you like it. Also saw a lot of E3 related news lately, some awesome and some not so awesome stuff cracking off unfortunately but definitely a lot of stuff I'm keeping an eye on.

Next Chapter: Virmire.