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Shepard's Dream Catcher

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Amber and Saren were already suiting up to head out. Early that morning, Councilor Valern had sent them a message about another unidentified wreckage to investigate. If anything, Shepard hoped there were survivors still holding on for dear life. Once she finished suiting up, she checked her inventory for weapons she would need for the missions. Once she finished gathering her weapons, she met up with Saren at the front door.

"So," Amber grinned, "you wanna bet which race was the crew of that ship?"

"Last thing the councilor mentioned was that it wasn't anything recognized. Perhaps it's human for once," he shrugged.

Saren led Amber out of the apartment and out of the building. They made their way through the Presidium and they headed for the Spectre docks. Once they entered the docks, they made their way to his shuttle. The instant they boarded, Saren flew the shuttle out of the Citadel and towards a Mass Relay.

A few hours later, they found themselves in orbit over a miserably cold planet, with little more than snowy drifts and icy mountains. Amber peered through the window in search of any signs of a crash. Saren focused his eyes on her for a moment before he turned on the shuttle's scanners.

He noticed a few nearby blips of what appeared to be mercenaries, but they didn't seem to be active or taking notice of their presence. Further ahead, they saw the crash site show up on the long-range scanners.

"You'll need to put your helmet on once we land," Saren advised.

"Ok," Amber nodded.

Approaching their objective, Saren brought their vehicle in to land, extended the landing gear, and turned off the engine. Amber took this as a cue to put her helmet on before she followed the Spectre outside the shuttle, barely feeling the harsh freezing wind.

They got closer to what was left of the downed vehicle before peering inside the damaged cockpit.

"It's an Alliance fighter alright. I'm not sure how it managed to get out this far, but they still do come with plenty of communications equipment for long-range scouting missions," Amber stated.

Amber began scanning the area for something she could use to break the cockpit glass and form a way of entry. Finding the emergency latch, she pulled the canopy off to reach in and yank off the dead pilot's dog tags. To her relief, it didn't have Joker's name on it. Still, she climbed into the wrecked ship, encouraging Saren to do the same.

"Is everything else intact?" Saren asked.

"Yeah. The com devices can be manually removed for repair or replacement, so this will take me some time," she answered barely over the howling wind.

With the task in mind, Amber got to work. Saren hopped out to keep watch from possible trouble. When he tilted his head upwards, he spotted a mercenary ship in the sky, so he held his assault rifle in case it came near. The side of the door opened up to reveal a group of Eclipse mercenaries, one of which opened fire upon him. He narrowly gunned down his assailant, but the others began to pour out of the ship as it landed.

"Amber, we have a problem here!" Saren called over.

Amber leaned out of the cockpit after she set the com devices aside.

"Anyone bothering us?" she asked.

Saren pointed at the Eclipses still barreling towards the ship, so Amber grabbed her rifle and burst out of the ship before she opened fire on the mercenaries. Taking cover behind a snow bank, they returned fire upon the approaching mercenaries. Worse still, their vessel lifted off and prepared to provide support fire. In a surprise, lucky shot, an unseen sharpshooter somewhere off the scene picked off the pilot, causing it careen into a flaming ball along some other ice bank. Much to the turian Spectre's amusement, this caused the remaining Eclipses to freeze in fear.

Another consecutive shots rang out, gunning down two more. With sufficient support on their part, Amber began to peek out, picking off a few additional mercenaries while they scrambled for some cover. Now that the remaining Eclipse presence had been eliminated, Amber got back to work tweaking with the com devices, yanking it out of the cockpit. Saren's eyes hovered above the landscape before being thoroughly affixed on a set of tracks.

"You know, waltzing around like that in the open is a waste of cloaking battery."

A drell assassin in full winter gear came out of cloak and holstered his rifle.

"I do apologize, Spectre," he said, "I was unaware if you had initially hostile intentions."

"Then what are you doing here?" Saren demanded.

"Hired to investigate. However, my orders are to leave the package if it is compromised by some significant authority."

Saren's mandibles flexed with curiosity.

"Hired? By who?" Saren asked.

"Someone who has great interest in your prize. However, given the reach of the Council Spectres, I say this is grounds on which I should simply yield," the drell continued, "in the meantime, who is your companion? Or should I say what?"

Saren realized the drell assassin was focusing his eyes on Amber.

"Amber Shepard, you mean?" Saren paused, "she is part of a species we haven't established contact with yet."

"And the vessel belongs to more of her kind?" the drell assassin clarified.

"You seem to be catching on rather quickly," Saren mused.

"Perhaps we've gotten off on the wrong foot. I'm Thane Krios."

"Saren Arterius," Saren greeted while he extended his hand.

Thane accepted the gesture.

"Anyways, I shall not keep you two much longer," Thane said, "pleasant working with you, as brief as it may be."

The drell assassin quickly cloaked himself again before disappearing into the snow. By now, Amber finished gathering and tweaking the com devices before she emerged from the cockpit.

"That was interesting," Amber commented, "still, the device is intact. We should be able to get something from this."

Saren nodded in agreement.

"I was thinking the same way," he replied, "you ready to head back?"

"Yeah," Amber nodded.

Upon cue, Saren led Amber through the snowy field and they made their way back to the shuttle. Once they made it back inside, Amber made sure to secure the com devices before she sat in her passenger seat. Saren sat in the pilot seat before he turned on the ignition and took control of the steering handles.

"Let's try and hook this up with something at the lab. We'll get a strong enough signal that way," he proposed.

"Good idea," Amber agreed.

The shuttle took off into the atmosphere before it traveled off the planet, making its way towards the Mass Relay. The journey back to the Citadel was swift as was the rush to the Spectre academy to see if their salvage was usable. While her time with Saren had been nothing short of comfortable, she did feel some need to return to her home and her old friends. She read through her journal entries, eager to tell her friends about what she saw during her disappearance. She even read through the contact list on her omni-tool, which included numbers from Saren, Nihlus, Garrus and Chellick. Though, part of her was worried that once she returned home, she wouldn't be able to see Saren again. Aside from her strange fixation on the Spectre, he'd been nothing but kind and helping to her, especially during her recovery from the incident on Akuze.

When Saren and Amber arrived at the lab with the tweaked devices, they got to work.

"I've boosted the signal. Want to give it a try?" he asked.

"Sure," Amber nodded.

She reached forward for the headset they brought from the deceased pilot.

"Hello?" Amber called, "can anyone hear me on this frequency?"

Amber waited for a moment in silence as she listened for a response.

"I repeat, is there anyone on this frequency?"

Her voice began to tremble as dead silence replied. In frustration, she slammed her fists against the table.

"Someone answer me, dammit!" she growled.

While Amber waited for a response, Saren placed his hand on her shoulder to soothe her, his subvocals letting out a soft coo. Suddenly, on the other end, a whisper came.

{He-OooOo…?}

Amber perked up her eyebrows before she placed one hand on her headset.

"This is Lieutenant Commander Amber Shepard," she spoke into the microphone, "do you copy?"

{…I- sorry, who?}

Saren tweaked the frequency a bit, strengthening the signal. After he gave her a nod, Amber smiled at him before she returned to her task.

"This is Lieutenant Commander Amber Shepard," she repeated.

{Wait a second, that can't be right. You're listed as KIA. Where are you?}

Amber took a deep breath to calm herself.

"It might sound crazy," Amber explained, "but I personally made contact with extraterrestrials."

{We'll discuss that more once we get you to safe territory. Where are you?} the operator repeated.


A few hours later, they pinpointed the location of the receiving end and sent the results to the Council. While waiting for Nihlus, Saren and Amber sat on a bench just outside the Council Chambers. The human soldier held her datapads close to her chest while her legs shook nervously. Until now, she had only heard of the Council and was still somewhat unprepared to present to them. Apart from joining Saren's previous meeting with Sparatus, she had little idea on what the other councilors would say to her.

"Amber, they're ready for us," Saren sharply brought her out of internal thought.

Amber tilted her head towards the door before she stood to her feet, following Saren into the Council Chambers. Following Saren up the rest of the steps, she got a better view of the tower than from where she sat by the elevators. The tall, dull metallic walls and pillars stacked as the steps rise to the top, peaking at a large window overlooking the station. Ahead, Nihlus and the councilors were waiting for them.

"Spectre Arterius, it is good to know you've made as much progress as you have," Tevos greeted.

Saren nodded at Tevos in agreement while she, Sparatus and Valern focused their eyes on Amber.

"We've come to the conclusion that being the proponent of this discovery that you three should be the ones making contact. We don't want to cause any incidents with large numbers," Sparatus elaborated.

"Will Nihlus and Saren be enough proof of my survival?" Amber asked.

"If that's the case, would you suggest bring two more representatives on behalf of Tevos and myself?" Valern asked.

Saren and Nihlus exchanged glances in a moment of silence.

"That would be preferable. Who did you have in mind, Councilor Valern?" Nihlus answered.

Tevos and Valern exchanged banter between one another which Amber, Saren, Nihlus or Sparatus wouldn't bother listening to.

"In addition, we want to send an asari matriarch and a salarian Spectre," Tevos finally answered.

"That'll be sufficient," Saren nodded in approval, "we'll see to it that we are prepared for departure by tomorrow morning."

They departed the tower and bid Nihlus farewell before returning the Saren's apartment. Amber stumbled into her bedroom while Saren sat in the living room and began scrolling through his inbox in his omni-tool. She lay on her bed, just staring at the ceiling, pondering her relations with Saren. As much as she felt excited for the upcoming day she would reunite with her friends, part of her suspected of how the Alliance would react to the presence of turians, asari, salarians and the like. Her mind still kept swimming around the thoughts she had of him a few nights prior and she furiously fought to suppress them. She thought of Saren as only a friend, but nothing more. She sat up from her bed and picked up her dream catcher from the end table before she sauntered out into the living room. Saren shifted his attention towards Amber once she sat next to him.

"Shepard, you need something?" he asked.

Amber shook her head.

"Will we have to part ways after tomorrow?" Amber asked.

Saren tilted his head towards the ceiling, pondering over the question for a minute.

"I don't know," he admitted.

"We'll still be in contact, right?" she pressed further.

Saren tilted his head towards Amber before he started kneading her shoulder with his talons.

"I suppose," he nodded, "I could accept that notion."

Amber leaned into him, resting her head against his shoulder. Giving her a soft smile, Saren wrapped one arm around her and pulled her close. Saren glimpsed at what was in her hands.

"I've noticed you've had that over your bed for some time now. What is it exactly?"

Amber blinked twice before she brought her dream catcher closer to Saren's vision.

"Oh, this?" Amber paused, "it's a dream catcher."

"Dream catcher, huh? Helps to ward off the nightmares, then?" Saren continued, putting two and two together.

"Pretty much," Amber confirmed, "I made this when my mom and I visited a museum on Native Americans."

"I see," he nodded, "have the horrors of Akuze been at least usurped by something more pleasant?"

"A little."

He nodded.

"That's good. It's getting late. Want to watch something before calling it a night?"

"Maybe something calm would do," Amber answered.

Upon cue, Saren turned on the holoscreen and began scrolling through the channels. What he landed on was some dumb romance comedy, but couldn't muster the effort to change the channel to anything else. Despite this, Amber still enjoyed watching the movie with him.