Prologue: Shadow of the Reaper
The day of reckoning had come to pass, the Reapers had arrived. The galaxy now found itself plunged in war it had never anticipated and never declared, entire systems at a time being torn asunder by an enemy that could barely be understood let alone stopped.
After a tense diplomatic mission on the Krogan homeworld of Tuchanka the Normandy had returned to the Citadel to find the station under assault by Cerberus. After once more single handidly repelling the attack and saving the Citadel council, again, the Normandy had been offered some much needed rest and recuperation.
Despite the now public threat of the Reapers the Citadel Council remained apprehensive to commit any real military or political support to Shepards building force, selecting instead to secure their own territories borders in preparation for the inevitable attack which despite the growing realization that they could not face this threat alone. It seemed that at the current pace the Reapers would have to scuttle into the Council Chambers themselves, after completing out the appropriate paperwork, and propose a committee be formed to discuss allocation of resources towards opposition against their current invasion plans before the Council would be willing to commit to any relevant action. Hopefully in the wake of the Cerberus coup attempt the council would prove more open to the idea of supporting the growing resistance force.
After another fruitless meeting with the Council Shepard found herself down in the Presidium Commons overlooking the vast lake in the centre of the elite district. There were still a few hours of shore leave remaining whilst the Normandy was being refuelled and resupplied in preparation for departure to rendezvous with a Quarian Envoy ship. Walking along the well maintained streets, seeing plants blooming in the gardens and the gentle sound of people and commerce trickling down from across the Presidium Lake, even scorched by the Cerberus attack she found this to be one of the Presidiums more idyllic locations. In some of her more private moments she began to ponder how long it would truly be before the Reapers would be here to marvel at it themselves. Looking out across the Presidium her eyes passed over the Apollo lakeside cafe, she noticed a single familiar face amongst the sea of alien features, Alliance COM specialist Samantha Traynor sitting at the far table overlooking the gardens. Shepard decided to investigate further.
"Hey Traynor" Shepard called out as she approached, rousing her communication specialists nose from the book she was currently firmly entrenched in.
Samantha raised her nose from her book to face her superior officer. "Commander Shepard" Traynor rose from her seat, snapping a sharp salute born through years of military service.
Jane smiled at her specialist's dedication to her duty. "You don't have to salute when we're not on the duty, Traynor. relax"
"I'm sorry, Commander" Traynor stammered, returning her hand to her side. "Force of habit"
Sheppard smiled. "And you don't need to call me Commander, just call me Jane"
"Of course Comm- I mean Shepard" Traynor replied, quick to correct her initial slip up before it could be identified.
"So what are you up to?" Shepard tactfully chose to shift the topic of the conversation, if only to spare the bemused specialist further embarrassment.
"I'm just catching up on some of my reading now that I finally have some downtime to speak of"
"Not one for bars I'm guessing?" Shepard accepted the seat across from her.
"Back when I was at university I used to sit out on Café terraces like this in Oxford and read all day" Traynor inhaled the soft air around her. "What about you Shepard, do you like to read?"
"All I seem to be reading recently are battle reports and requisition orders" Shepard chuckled. "I am afraid it leaves me little chance to read much else"
"It's such a tragic shame" Traynor admitted. "To miss out on so much classic literature, not only human but the great works of the Asari, Turian and even the Hanar"
"Hanar?" Shepard asked.
"Of course. I just started reading the latest release of the Hanar classic 'The Tale of Two Enkindlers' which was only just translated from ancient Hanar holy script into the more modern dialects. So far it has only been released using a standard translator program so some of the underlying themes and motifs are bit simplistic but I can make out the gist of it"
Shepard shook her head in solemn disbelief. "You really are serious aren't you?"
"I may have been studying advanced communications and starship engineering at Oxford but I assure you that my passion for the great literary past of our species remains as strong as ever"
Shepard decided in that moment that enough was enough. "Come on" she rose to her feet, holding out her hands to her communications specialist. "You can't spend the rest of your shore leave here by yourself, we're hitting The Strip"