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Mass Effect: A Hero Rises

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Splashing cold water into my face, I waited until I felt all the droplets ran down my cheeks and over my nose before I looked up into the mirror. Cool blue eyes stared back at me, the same eyes that had since the first time I’d looked in mirror. Even at my somewhat early age, they’d already seen enough that they were relatively blank, trained to show next to no emotion. I had what they called a defined jaw, stubble lining my cheeks as well. Not particularly within regulations, but no-one questioned me. I kept my hair nice and short at least. Not quite buzz cut but not long enough to run a comb through.

Standing tall, grabbing the towel to wipe my face dry, I looked down my torso. Aside from the scars of war, there was a definition that came only from years of gym work, military exercise and constant battle. I’m vain enough to admit that I waxed my chest, otherwise it would be covered in hair, same with my back. Some women liked the hair, most did prefer it smooth. Those I slept with anyway.

I was currently wearing trousers, but knew I had that defined v-shape that ran down to my crotch, and I definitely received enough comments from women, and sometimes men, about my rather firm butt. I’m confident enough in my sexuality that, if a man were to comment, I’d simply smile and thank them. My legs were powerful, having run endless miles over the years, and one should never forget leg day when they are working in the gym.

Putting on a thin white t-shirt, I threw the towel over my shoulder and headed back to the bunks. Though I was the XO of the Normandy, I still had to bunk with the enlisted men. The ship was rather small and compact, and though the crew itself was limited in number, space was at a premium. Only Captain Anderson had his own quarters. I didn’t mind bunking with the men, and quite frankly, I had more than enough space. I’d seen the first ships that had been sent into space once Grissom passed through the first relay. Barely enough room to swing a cat, more like sardine cans than ships. The Normandy was a luxury cruiser compared to the early model ships the Alliance built as we explored the stars.

I lay back on an empty bunk, waiting for the call. We were heading somewhere. Where? I wasn’t sure, I hadn’t been told. Why? That was even more of a mystery. And for what? I assumed Anderson would tell me eventually. But I guess while I’m waiting, I can tell you a little about myself. It’s quite the story how I managed to wind up on the most advanced warship in the Alliance Navy.


My name is John Shepard. I was born on April the 11th, 2154. I was born on Earth though what city doesn’t really matter as, by the time I was born, the idea of the nation-state was starting to die out. Once we discovered alien life, humans started to think as a collective, the old borders starting to fade, whether you black or white, from Europe or Asia, it didn’t matter. What mattered was that we were human. Generally, two arms, five fingers, two legs, five toes, our eyes came in all sorts of colours, as did our hair. Some of us were short. Some tall. Some fat. Some thin. Male or female.

I was an orphan. To this day, I still have no idea who my mother was. I have asked one or two people since then and they believed it was probably a young girl, far too young to be giving birth, and giving me up for adoption was the best thing. Despite all the technology available, I’ve never managed to track her nor my father down. I’m not even sure Shepard was her surname.

So I grew up in an orphanage as a kid. I saw few of us actually leave over the years, which in itself was disheartening. With next to no hope of actually being adopted, the streets kids that would come to the gates spoke of the life living on them. To a ten-year-old kid, it sounded appealing, considering one is not particularly old enough to understand the consequences. But it was better than the orphanage. Don’t get me wrong, the ladies who ran it were nice, but it was a job. There was no real love involved, though they were not mean. But we simply existed, knowing we’d remain until we were of age, then we’d simply be kicked out, though we’d probably be helped into our own accommodation.

I started hanging out with the street kids and soon learned the ways of petty crime. I realised early on I was one of the biggest, so while I proved quite good at pickpocketing, I was generally used as the distraction so others could pilfer goods for us. The longer I hung out with them, the more I thought about leaving the orphanage. I’m sure they knew what I was up to, and at thirteen, I simply left one day and didn’t go back. I would come to regret that decision though not in the way imagined.

The only way to exist was through crime. Pickpocketing. Shoplifting. That sort of stuff. It wasn’t entirely victimless, but at that early age, we were certainly not violent. If it looked like we were caught, we simply split up and ran until we had escaped. The group I ran with, the Reds, were a rag tag bunch of kids, most having ended up there the same way as me. One or two did have families, and they’d either been kicked out or they’d run away too. I liked to believe we were all in it together.

There was a code we lived by but it was also dog eat dog as well. Being one of the bigger kids, I soon learned that some wanted my protection, and some wanted to prove themselves against me. I quickly learned how to throw fists and fight, and learned that although I felt pain, I could happily fight my way through it. I could have the literal shit kicked out of me, and I’d still stand up, fists raised, blood streaming from cuts, ready for more.

Slowly but surely, I ascended the ranks, particularly as I got older, even bigger, and certainly a lot stronger. While that happened, the element of our crimes changed, became more violent. Muggings and robberies were a favourite, though we still drew a line at things like murder. We didn’t want to kill anyone, or at least that’s what I thought. I’d certainly drawn blood on more than one occasion, but that was generally during battles against opposing gangs. That’s when I definitely earned my reputation, and after Mikey, the only one above me in the hierarchy, had a metal pole put through his head, that’s when I found myself in charge.

It all went to my head, obviously. I was an arrogant fool, believing I was above the law, or at least they couldn’t catch me. It didn’t help that most in my charge worshipped and failed to question me, and those that did were handled harshly. It was all bound to come crashing down, and it did when one of us ended up killing an old man when a mugging went wrong. We should have laid low, but when the cops were led to our hideout, we were done for. We could have fought, but we had baseball bats and lead pipes against pistols and rifles. I had to tell them all to surrender. I didn’t want all their bodies on my conscience.

I was dragged to the nearest police station and charged with a list of offences. To be honest, I was looking at being put away for a long time. Honestly, I can admit I deserved it, but I’d had a bloody good time, and I’d do it all the same again. The cops even appeared impressed by the set up. I looked after those under my care. Everyone was fed. Everyone had a bed. Don’t question my authority. And none of them did, following any order I gave them.

I certainly wasn’t expecting any preferential treatment as I was a right smartarse during questioning. I knew they had plenty on me, not enough to put me away forever, but enough to ensure I’d sit in a cell for a few years. Most of it was circumstantial but some of it would stick. My fingerprints were everywhere.

Led to the interview room for the umpteenth time, I sat back and waited for whoever it was to walk in. They always asked different questions, trying to get an idea of what our gang actually did. We had our fingers in plenty of pies, most if not all of it illegal. But we made credits and we lived comfortably. And, most of the time, our presence was ignored. People don’t like to look at the homeless and destitute, definitely not in their eyes.

I was surprised when a tall, broad, dark-skinned man walked into the office, and I knew enough to know he was wearing an Alliance uniform. I’d walked by their offices more than once, a slight yearning in the back of my mind, telling me to head in and apply. Escaping Earth would be just that. An escape. A way to see the stars and… Well, although I enjoyed the life I’d been living, surely travelling the galaxy would be far more exciting.

The man sat down opposite me, placing a datapad on the desk. I assume it held all my details.

“John Shepard?”

“That’s me. Most people just call me Shepard.”

“Okay, Shepard. I’m David Anderson, Lieutenant of the Alliance Navy. I’m here as word of your… exploits, let’s call them, has reached our ears.”

“O… kay…”

“Sounds like you had quite the little operation going. Lots of little foot soldiers doing your bidding with you in command. Almost like your own little army.”

“In a way, I guess. I looked after most of them and they simply did what they were told. The streets are a shit place to grow up.”

“Yet, from what I’ve read, you did run away from an orphanage?”

I shrugged. “Didn’t seem likely I’d get adopted so I figured I’d take my chances on the streets. I can’t complain too much. Would have ended up here one way or the other.”

He nodded, making a noise, as he picked up the datapad. “Looking through the charges, Shepard, there’s a few here that raise eyebrows, but nothing that I would call… Would you consider yourself violent?”

“I only bring violence to a violent situation. Push me, I’ll push back harder. Hit me, you’d better damn well I’m knocked unconscious because I will hit you back so you are. There is a code on the streets.”

“There is a code in the military as well.” He put the datapad down, crossing his arms on the desk. “Stand up for me.” Figuring there was no harm, I stood up and took a step back, noticing he lean back to get a good look at me. “Well, you’ve certainly got the physique of a soldier. How old are you? No-one was able to tell me.”

“Think I turned eighteen around two weeks ago. Not sure entirely,” I replied as he gestured for me to take a seat.

“I’m going to make you an offer, Shepard. It’s a one-time deal. If you say yes, you leave with me today. The charges will be dropped and you will be under my care. I will explain after you make your decision. If you say no, I leave, you will face trial, be found guilty of your crimes, and you will see the inside of a cell, at least for a few years.”

“Gee, I wonder which option I’m going to take,” I replied sarcastically. That made him grin at least.

“That’s what I thought. So you will take my offer? I need to hear you agree.”

“Yes, I accept.”

“Very good. Once we leave this building, I will escort you to the nearby Alliance office. There, you will be inducted into the Alliance Armed Forces. Your previous record will mean nothing once you put on that uniform. But the expectations on your shoulders, you will learn very quickly what is expected of you. But in your record, I also see something in you, Shepard. That’s the only reason why I’m here.”

“What do you mean?”

“We’re always on the lookout for bright young kids from any walk of life. I have some contacts in this city. One of them contacted me, told me all about you, said you were made of the right stuff. Sure, you were on the wrong side of the law, but a few weeks at boot camp would straighten you out, then the world, or the galaxy, would be your oyster.”

“You’re serious?”

“If you prove yourself, Shepard, I already have an application for officer training ready to be sent off. As I said, you had your own private little army, and from the sounds of it, you ran it effectively. If you could transition that to the armed forces, then I think you’ll prove to be a natural. You’ll even find kids easier to deal with than soldiers. Probably less complaining from the kids.”

“Um, thanks, I think.”

“Don’t thank me yet. Boot camp will be gruelling and you will be nothing but a grunt in their eyes.” He smirked. “I expect you’ll spend a few days in punishment detail, but I think you’ll adapt quickly enough. But if you’re the leader I think you could be, then I think they’ll have you in charge sooner than even you think.”

“No pressure then.”

He picked up the datapad and got to his feet. “Well, no point sitting here talking. If you follow me out of this door, a new life awaits.” He turned and walked to the door, opening it and walking through. I waited a couple of seconds before figuring I didn’t have much choice, rose to my feet and followed him out. Following him through the station, my handcuffs were taken off before we walked through the secure door, the paperwork regarding my release was filled out, and then he escorted me outside to the waiting car.

“Don’t even think about running, otherwise I will shoot you,” he stated, I think half-joking, half-serious.

“Not thinking about it, and that’s being honest.”

“Good man. Hop in and we’ll head to the office. We’ll take all your details, you can have a wash, get some new clothes, some decent shut eye. Then you’ll be sent on with the next batch of recruits to boot camp.”

I had to admit, I quickly came to like the idea. Sure, I’d enjoyed my time on the streets growing up, but to be honest, it was always bound to end how it did. Frankly, I always figured I’d end up dead somewhere, killed by either another gang, my own gang, or the cops. In a way, this was the perfect escape. I just hope I didn’t come to regret it in the end.


Boot camp was gruelling. I didn’t like being yelled at by people. It took a while to adapt. Anderson was right about one thing. I did have to get used to being punished for being insubordinate. But they must have seen something in me, as they never stopped believing. First time in my life I had people who seemed to give a shit, in their own sort of way, pushing me to be better.

It was exhausting rising before dawn and heading to bed well after dark. The running, jumping and assault courses were actually the fun part. I turned out to be a real natural at shooting, which was a good thing. But it was the little things like being presentable, and the state of my bed and kit, that often let me down. Took a lot of push-ups and sit-ups, getting into my head, learning to be a soldier. Again, they never gave up. Sure, a lot of it was yelling, but there was a point to it. Do it properly and I wouldn’t get yelled at. At the start, I’d glare, set my jaw, and I could see the joy in their faces, hoping I’d throw fists. As I grew in the role, if I made a mistake, I learned from it and respected why they were doing it. As one of them explained, they broke us down then rebuilt us. What I’d done before meant nothing to them. What mattered was who and what I was when I walked out the door.

Straight out of boot camp, I applied to become an Alliance Marine as although the idea of flying in a spaceship sounded like fun, I definitely preferred the idea of walking across different worlds across the galaxy. Something must have impressed them as I was initially accepted for an interview, sent across the Atlantic to Europe and the old United Kingdom, the Alliance Marine program roughly following that of the old Royal Marines. I somehow managed to pass the interview, then had to perform a fitness test, which was an absolute breeze. Sounds arrogant, but I’d never felt fitter. This is when Anderson must have got wind of my progress, as I found myself in an office one day, sat in front of an Admiralty Interview Board. For the first time since joining up, I was a little intimidated, almost feeling out of my depth.

They questioned everything about me, and they expected complete honesty. I thought that was going to ruin my chances immediately, but I didn’t plead nor beg, I simply told them the truth. I think that’s what they were after, knowing where I’d come from to the man that sat in front of them that day. Before I was accepted, there were more physical and mental tests, and they really tested my ability. The physical stuff was fine, it was the mental stuff, the intellectual tests, that concerned me. Somehow, I was smarter than I thought and managed to pass. When they told me I was accepted as an officer, I have no problem admitting that I nearly wept. All the pain was worth it.

What followed was thirty-two weeks of intensive training that, by the end, had me walking ten foot tall and more confident in myself than ever. And after basic, you are treated like a soldier. In fact, I like to believe you’re treated more than a soldier. They treat you like a marine already, you simply have to earn the right to call yourself one, the right to earn that beret.

There are tests what feels like every week. The amount of training was nuts. I learned skills that I didn’t even know I had or were possible. But as you watch others around you develop, you know you are developing at the same time. Fellow marines become firm friends. There is a brotherhood that exists. You would fight and die for those around you.

If anyone thought the training was tough, it was all in preparation for the Commando Course. That separated the wheat from the chaff, and only those who passed it would become Alliance Marines. Within a seven-day period, a marine had to complete four tests. The first is a nine-mile speed march, carrying 32 pounds of equipment, finishing it in ninety minutes. The second is a six-mile endurance course, again with 32 pounds of equipment, to be completely in seventy-one minutes, that includes a two mile run across moorland and woodland, and a four mile run back to the Commando Training Centre. After that is a marksmanship course, where 60% of targets must be hit. The third test is the Tarzan Assault course, again with equipment, to be completed in twelve minutes. By then, even the fittest of us are starting to struggle, but it is nothing to the last test.

The thirty miler is spoken of in whispers by even those marines who have passed it. It is the one test to really sort the men from the boys. It is here that most potential marines fail. The first three tests take place over four days. If you’ve already failed one of them, you’re pretty much done. The thirty miler is regarded as such a gruelling event, the event can be re-run over the next three days, though it is accepted that if you didn’t pass it the first time, you probably won’t pass it the second.

The thirty miler is a march across Dartmoor, a barren landscape with few defining features, again carrying 32 pounds of equipment, including addition safety equipment in a daysack. For officers, it had to be completed in seven hours, one hour shorter than the enlisted men, and we had to navigate ourselves. Sounds easy but it was a right bitch. The idea was for all of us to work together, inspire each other, and get us all to the finishing point within the required time.

After passing out as an Alliance Marine, earning that beret I had come to covet during my training, Anderson made an appearance and, I’ll admit, a small part of me had done all of this to impress him. He looked proud as punch, taking me to the nearest town for a beer to celebrate, knowing I’d be out later with my fellow marines to really let our hair down.

“Now, Shepard, this isn’t the end of your training. At least, it won’t be if you don’t want it to be.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, how far do you want to go? What do you want to be?”

“I’m really not sure. Passing out as a marine was the objective. What else is there?”

“The N-Program.”

“Special Forces? Really?”

“Not right now, Shepard. You haven’t exactly served yet. You’ll have to wait two years before you can apply, and even then, you’ll have to really impress them to have a chance. But what you’ve just been through? It is nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, compared to what you’ll experience in N-training.” He paused before meeting my eyes. “I’m N7. Been through it myself. Honestly, wouldn’t want to do it again.”

“Two years?”

“That’s right. But, let me tell you something. You walk around, wearing that N7 emblem? You will walk taller, feel broader, and the respect from everyone else? They won’t have a clue what you’ve been through, but they’ll understand it was as close to hell as one can get.”

“Two years… I think I can wait that long.”

“So you’re interested?”

“I want to be the best I can be. That kid from the streets? Long gone. What I’ve just been through has come to define me. While part of me would like to do it immediately, I’ve done all this training for a reason. I guess it’s time I headed out and actually applied it all.”

Those words would come back to haunt me.


“Looks like we have another soldier boy,” one of the drunks slurred, before he held up a glass, “I’ll have a drink, Corporal!”

I grit my teeth but tried to ignore them. My date across from me could see I was getting angry, clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth. “Just ignore them, Shepard.”

“I don’t like being disrespected, Annie. I’m a lieutenant of the Alliance Marines, not some… joke…”

Annie… If that is a case of ‘What might have been’, she would be it. I’d been serving for a couple of years by then, still looking at the N-Program, though I’d delayed joining as I found myself enjoying my time as a marine, ending up touring the front-lines around the galaxy. At the moment, I was on furlough on Elysium. I’d met Annie previously and we’d hit it off immediately. She was a gorgeous redhead with emerald green eyes, the faintest freckling over her nose, and a pair of lips that just made me want to kiss her all the time. She was unbelievably pale, blaming it on her Scottish heritage, laughing away whenever she lay next to my rather tanned and toned body.

Still not sure how we’d hit it off exactly. Maybe I was more charming than I thought. Perhaps, despite the comradery and friendship of my brothers in uniform, I wanted something intimate. I’d lost my virginity ages ago, and being boys on tour at times, I’d certainly had my fair share of whores. The first time with Annie, though. That was… meaningful. Damned near fell in love with her straight away.

“We should go, Shepard. Go somewhere else.”

“No. I won’t have us forced out by some drunken dickheads.”

“Just don’t…”

I gently grabbed her hand, running my thumb over the back of it. “Don’t worry, I can handle things peacefully.”

I stood up and turned, noticing the bar immediately fell silent as I slowly walked towards the three drunks. They tried to puff themselves up to try and intimidate me. They failed miserably. They were probably on holiday themselves, just having a good time. But they were ruining my time and I’d seen more than one couple or group already leave the bar because of them.

“Something wrong, pal?” one of them asked.

I smiled, making it appear as genuine as possible. “Not at all. Just wondering if you are serving men as well? Perhaps you’ve gone through the marine program like myself?”

“You a marine?” one of the others asked, already hearing the concern.

“Sure am. If you were fellow marines, I was going to offer you a drink and I’d forget about the disturbances you’ve caused.”

“And if we’re not?” the one who called me ‘Corporal’ asked.

“Well, let me tell you everything I’ve been through so far. Boot camp takes six weeks. In there, they break you down, build you up. At the end, you know where to point a rifle and shoot, but there’s still a lot of building work to go. But some of us, like myself, immediately join the Marines. Thirty-two weeks that takes, and it is the hardest thing anyone will ever do. Thirty-two weeks, seven days a week, nearly twenty-four hours a day you are switched on. During that time, you learn to do many things, but the one thing every marine learns is how to kill. And I don’t mean just with a gun.” I held up my right hand. “I mean with just one of these. Maybe that knife on the table over that. I could use one of these chairs and put all three of you in hospital within seconds.”

Two of them shared a glance. My body language remained relaxed but I was ready to move in an instant. A coiled spring. I didn’t want to fight three drunks. It wasn’t worth it. “Any of you served before?” All three shook their heads. No surprise there. I stepped forward, just one step, but that forced them back. “Then I would suggest, gentlemen, that you finish your drink and depart this establishment. You are disturbing other patrons and, quite frankly, ruining my evening.”

“You and what army?” the first drunk asked.

“My friend, to deal with the likes of you, I won’t need an army. I’ll barely need to use both hands.” I glanced at his friends. “Do the right thing, take your friend here, and kindly leave. I’m asking nicely as I don’t want this to get violent. No-one wants a fight and I don’t want to put three drunks in hospital.”

My tone. My body language. My sheer presence was enough for them to wilt. The other two drained their glasses, said nothing, simply walked out. The first drunk was more defiant but I simply glared at him until he too wilted. He looked ready to throw whatever was left in his glass over me but thought better of it, simply putting it down, calling me a wanker, then he walked out.

Receiving thanks from those behind the bar, I walked back to the table, sitting down across from Annie. “Want to get out of here?” she asked.

“What? I just…” I looked at her face and it spoke volumes. I couldn’t help smirk. “Did that just impress you or something?”

“The way you were so calm but authoritative. I’m not the only one in here swooning right now, Shepard.”

Now I laughed. “Swooning? Who still says that?”

“Okay, how about I’m really fucking wet right now and…”

I stood up, grabbed her hand, threw some credits on the table, and we made our way quickly back to the apartment I’d rented. Soon as we were in the door, clothes were taken off and Annie was on her back on the bed, and she wasn’t lying about being wet, moaning loudly once I lowered my mouth. Though she enjoyed it as always, she wanted something else, both of us groaning as I slid my cock inside her. She held on for dear life as we simply fucked like rabbits, hearing her urge me on in between her moans and other delightful noises she made.

I didn’t last long, there was something about it all that made it that much better, and after a last groan, I buried myself and suddenly felt rather tired, hearing her giggle as I only just prevented myself from squashing her. “God, that really turned me on,” she whispered once we’d cleaned up and she was spooning back into me.

“Really?” I wondered, running my fingers up and down her arms.

“Never been one into military men, Shepard. But there was something about you that first time we met. Just the way you strode in, looking all… you. Thing is, it took my girlfriends to give me the courage to even approach you at the bar. When you smiled at me, that was it. I was a hopeless cause. They still joke that I abandoned them that night.”

“Well, you kind of did since we left without them and I ended up back at your place, doing what we’d just done though I like to think it lasted a lot longer that first time.”

“It was worth the angry messages next morning.”

She fell asleep in my arms, kissing the top of her head as I felt myself relax. We still hadn’t told each other our real feelings. I knew I’d probably fallen in love with her, but still wasn’t sure if this was just some sort of fling or if was already serious. I mean, she had flown to another planet to be with me, so that would suggest serious, right?

My peaceful rest was destroyed by air raid sirens. I leapt out of bed immediately, heading straight for the window. It was barely dawn but there was enough light to see what was going on. Projectiles were raining down on the city. Turning around, Annie was sat still with fright. “We have to go, Annie.”

“Go where?” she asked quietly.

“I need to go do what I do. You need to get to a bunker.”

“Are there any in the city?”

“I don’t know but…”

“Then I’ll stay here. We don’t even know who or what it is.”

“Surely you’ll be safer…”

She got up and approached me as I threw on my shirt, sitting down so I could put on my boots. Standing in front of me, her flat but soft stomach in front of me, she gently grabbed my head, holding it against her. “I’ll be fine, Shepard. You’ll be out there protecting me.”

I didn’t like the idea but I didn’t know the city we were in at all. I certainly hadn’t thought we’d be attacked, if that was what was happening. Grabbing my coat, I headed to the door, Annie grabbing the duvet, wrapping herself in it, as I opened the door. Turning back to her, I kissed her hard before leaning back slightly. “I love you,” I whispered.

That earned one hell of a smile as, for some reason, it felt like the time to tell her. “I love you too. Now go, see what’s going on, then come back. I’ll get cold all by myself under this duvet.”

“Hopefully it’s nothing. Just make sure you lock and bolt the door. Don’t answer it unless you know it’s me. I’ll call before I do.”

I took the fire escape downstairs, bursting out into the street. Already I could hear the sound of fighting. High above, where there was still darkness, I’m sure I saw explosions. Elysium had planetary defences, but if a force arrived with enough firepower of their own, they could definitely cause trouble. And whoever was up there was definitely firing at us.

I ran for the nearest assembling point, plenty more men and women in uniform joining me. Grabbing a rifle and a shield pack, we warned that ships were incoming, as the defences were overwhelmed. I looked around and noticed mostly enlisted men. In fact, I didn’t see a single marine. “Anyone above a lieutenant here?” I called out. No-one said there was.

“Guess it’s on you then,” one of the men nearby stated. He wasn’t making a joke.

“I’ll get in contact with command. For now,” I grabbed a nearby schematic, “These are the sectors. Break into groups of half a dozen and head for possible breach points. No idea yet who the enemy is, but once they make their appearance, greet them in the way you’ve been trained.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Move out!”

They didn’t need hand-holding or orders, counting out into groups of six and moving towards the areas required. I had five with me, and as we ran towards our sector, I tried getting in contact with command. That proved pointless, and I received information soon afterwards that Alliance HQ on Elysium had been targeted. Whether it was destroyed or not, no-one knew, but it had been targeted.

“Guess it’s up to us then,” I muttered as we fanned out, taking cover, and simply waited.

The enemy made themselves known soon enough. Should have known it would be batarians, but the fact I saw some humans and turians involved just pissed me off even further. As soon as they entered the killing zone, we opened fire, watching as they fell like nine-pins. But they’d come prepared at the same time, launching missiles and rockets towards our position. I heard more than one scream of agony as their firepower was surprising and overwhelming.

“Where’s our heavy weapons?” I yelled out.

“Beats me, sir,” I heard a reply.

“Probably don’t have any. Planetary defences, minimal defence force on the ground, sir,” someone else replied.

“Well, shit,” I muttered.

We held the line for as long as possible until we simply had to pull back. Even this early, I noticed we’d already lost a few soldiers. We pulled back to the next line and it was there that I noticed the machine gun. “Cover me while I get this ready,” I ordered, feeling at least two people fall in beside me, waiting for the breach. Colony worlds were almost built like old citadels, though on a grander scale. The main buildings and residences rested behind a wall, the farmland located outside. It was amazing as to how technology progressed, we’d reverted to ancient techniques of defence. Thing is, the Alliance still built forts and other buildings in a similar manner, so it did generally work.

The invaders finally breached and flooded through. I lit up the machine gun and roared as I met fire with fire. Bullets continued to fly in our direction, but over the machine gun, I couldn’t really hear anything. I took a bullet in the shoulder, thankful it was my left, as I could simply keep firing with my right. The bullets were not limitless, though, and I was soon running low.

“Any more?” I asked, glancing. The soldier to my left was dead. The soldier to my right was wounded and on the verge of bleeding out. So I kept firing until the machine gun was empty, the clicking sound telling me what I already knew.

Grabbing my rifle, I took cover and opened fire. They kept on coming though the flood had turned to a trickle. I eventually stood up, dropping my empty rifle, and drew my pistol. Each bullet found its mark until that too was empty. The next three kills were with my knife. I was shot twice more before I buried the knife into the chest of a batarian, watching his eyes widen for a moment before the life drained.

Only then did I roll off him and lay on my back, the adrenaline slowly draining away and the pain from the wounds finally overwhelmed me.

I woke in a field hospital a few hours later when it had gone dark. They’d operated on me fast and medi-gel was already working wonders. They gave me the good news; the invasion had been stopped. The bad news was that everyone in my sector was dead, the casualty list was high anyway, and that the city had been bombarded heavily during the attack. I felt the onset of a bad feeling, rising to my feet somewhat unsteadily. They tried to stop me leaving but, after finding my clothes, I dressed and hobbled my way down the street.

The building was…


“Commander Shepard?”

“Yes, Lieutenant?”

“Captain Anderson is requesting your presence up in the comm room in five minutes.”

“No problem. I’ll be there shortly. Thanks.”

The line cut and that left me alone with my thoughts. Sitting up, dangling my legs off the edge, I reached into the small pack I kept under my pillow. In the pack was a wallet. Inside the wallet was a photo. It was of Annie and I the day before the attack. It was the only memento I’d kept of our time together. I couldn’t keep anything else as it was a reminder that it was my fault. I’d told her to stay put. If she’d left, she wouldn’t be… gone… I sighed, kissing the photo, before placing it back where it was, putting the pack back under my pillow.

Heading back to the bathroom, I quickly splashed some water on my face before taking a deep breath, looking into the mirror again. Even on my Alliance blues, I had two emblems. The Alliance Navy. And the N7 emblem. I’d joined the N-program immediately after Elysium. After completing that program, I’d found myself assigned to the SSV Normandy, promoted in rank to Commander, the Executive Officer to the Commanding Officer, David Anderson, who had told me in no uncertain terms that he had practically ordered my presence onto the ship. All I could do was assure him that I would return the faith he’d shown in me all these years.

Still, I knew little of what we were doing, where we were going, or why I’d seen a turian wandering around the ship. I guess I was about to get my answers as I walked into the comm room. The turian I’d seen wandering around since leaving Earth orbit was waiting for me, taking a moment to introduce himself as Nihlus. We shook hands, meeting each other in the yes. We chatted for a moment about Eden Prime, one of our colony worlds, wondering why he was asking, when Anderson walked in.

That’s when some bombshells were dropped. I knew the Normandy was a new ship but this no shakedown cruise like I’d originally been old. A science team on Eden Prime had recently found a Prothean beacon. All of humanity knew who they were. We’d found their technology on Mars long ago and it was that which jump-started our exploration of space.

But it wasn’t just the collection of the beacon. Apparently Nihlus was there as my name had been submitted as a candidate to become a Council SPECTRE (Special Tactics and Reconnaissance). I didn’t really know what to say to that.

Before the conversation could continue, Flight Lieutenant Moreau, otherwise known as ‘Joker’, interrupted us over the comm with footage from Eden Prime. It didn’t look good. The marines on the ground were under attack from unknown forces, while an enormous alien looking ship, like nothing any of us had seen, appeared in the distance, before the transmission was cut.

Nihlus and I shared a glance. “Looks like this mission just a lot more complicated,” Anderson muttered, “You’d better head down to the hangar bay, Shepard. Lieutenant Alenko and Corporal Jenkins will be on the ground with you.”

“Aye, sir.”

Heading down to the garage, as I called it as that was where the M-35 Mako was parked, I donned my armour and helmet, grabbed a rifle and shield pack, a few grenades and a pistol. Having only just joined the ship, I didn’t know Alenko or Jenkins too well, but from whispers, I assumed Alenko was a biotic, or had at least some biotic talents.

Joining Nihlus as the ramp was loaded, he told us that he usually worked alone and would therefore scout ahead, feeding up information as he moved. That left me in charge of the other two.

“Well, here goes nothing,” I stated as the Normandy came into land.

It would be the day that would change my life forever.

Chapter Text

It was far too quiet and peaceful compared to what we’d seen on the screen only minutes before arriving. Once we had boots on the ground, the three of us moved quickly into cover, waiting for what I thought would be the inevitable assault. Surely someone would have seen our ship come in?

But no, no-one came to greet us, so after assessing our position, we headed off towards the dig sit. It didn’t take long to find the first victims of the fight. But it wasn’t just the fact they were dead, they’d been charred until they were almost unrecognisable. Jenkins immediately removed his helmet and the breakfast he’d eaten came up. Even Alenko looked queasy. I crouched down, trying to breathe through my mouth. “The fire was intense but burned out quickly,” I stated.

“Any idea who did it?” Alenko asked.

“None. But we’ll find out soon enough.”

Making sure Jenkins was okay, we moved out, eventually following a path that would lead us through part of the colony, the dig site located down a tramway. Approaching a barren field, I gestured to stop and took a knee. Perfect place for an ambush though all appeared quiet. I checked near and the horizon for any signs of hostiles. Seeing and sensing nothing, I gestured for Jenkins to run to the next piece of cover.

The bastards were waiting. He’d taken maybe a dozen steps when they appeared from cover and fired. Bullets ripped through the young Corporal, Alenko and I rising and firing back. Jenkins hit the deck as we managed to grab him with one hand, firing with our other. Sitting him back against the rock, Alenko and I stood up and dealt with what looked like drones. A few bullets made both of them blow up, immediately returning to Jenkins side.

His eyes were open but the life was already fading. I grabbed his hand as Alenko started to work the medi-gel, but I’d already seen this far too often. “Alenko,” I whispered. The Lieutenant looked up and I shook my head. “Just give him something for the pain,” I added softly.

I held his hand until I felt it weaken. He whispered something, though I didn’t hear quite what it was. He managed to lift his head a final time, looking up at the sky, before he released a sigh and his body sagged, his eyes now lifeless. He was the first I’d ever lost under my command. I’d been on the frontlines around the galaxy but had always been subordinate to someone else. My first day on the ground, in charge, and I’d already lost a soldier.

I closed his eyes with my fingers and laid him down on the ground, reporting to the Normandy. They would pick up his body while Alenko and I moved forward. I was now pissed off, but not stupid to just go rushing forward blindly because I was angry. That’s when mistakes are made.

We checked the drones we’d taken down. Definitely not Alliance, the technology foreign to my eyes. Alenko didn’t know either. We moved on, more of those drones appearing in the distance. Alenko and I split into cover and returned fire. The good thing for us is that they simply hovered in the air, so were relatively easy to take down. Their rate of fire was concerning though, having to time when we rose out of cover to shoot.

Cresting a hill, I pointed out the dig site was ahead. It looked abandoned from where we were standing, and I could see no sign of any sort of Prothean beacon. Alenko pointed as I heard gunfire. “Look, Shepard! One of ours!”

I’d never seen a geth before, though heard a lot about them and we’d certainly learned of them over the years. And she was definitely being chased by geth. A few of them in fact. What the fuck are geth doing on Eden Prime? I didn’t vocalise that thought, simply moving with Alenko as we fired at the geth. That distracted most of them, letting the soldier get into cover. Firing from two directions, the geth didn’t fall easily but Alenko certainly proved he had some smart, using some tech abilities to help overheat weapons or disable shields, leaving them as easier pickings.

Approaching the soldier as they stood out of cover, they removed their helmet to reveal it was a woman. Brunette hair and rather lovely brown eyes when they met mine. She was no shrinking violet though. This woman was a soldier, through and through. If you are one, you recognise one in return. Thing is, women serving in the military was normal but their numbers were still fewer than men so it could still be a surprise at times, which is why it was a slight surprise. “Who are you?” I asked.

“Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams of the 212, sir,” she replied, saluting, I assume recognising the armour. “You are?”

“Commander Shepard, and this is Lieutenant Alenko. We’re from the Normandy.”

“Commander Shep…? What are you doing here, sir?”

“We’re here to collect that Prothean beacon the scientists dug up. What’s going on here? What are geth doing on Eden Prime?”

“Must be about the beacon, sir.”

“And that ship we saw?”

“No idea, sir. Been too busy fighting off geth to worry about anything else… er, sir.”

I waved that away. “Well, we’re here for the beacon and now we’re investigating what’s going on here. Where’s the rest of your unit?” She grimaced, so I gestured for her not to answer. “Come with us, Chief. We could use your help.”

“Aye, sir.”

The geth knew we were now coming as, the closer we came to the dig site, the more that seemed to come towards us. I knew enough about geth to know what they were, but I had no idea how they worked, just knowing they were AI and on some sort of neural network. The geth we fought that day? Pretty fucking dumb, if you ask me. Didn’t seem to know what the word ‘cover’ was, for example. Ashley and I lit them up with our rifles as Alenko performed tech attacks, generally aimed at weapons and shields. The geth replied in kind, my shields taking a hit more than once, necessitating either a small retreat or a quick jump into cover.

Making it to the dig site, there was no sign of any beacon, Ashley adamant it had been there though obviously been removed. Before we could move on, Nihlus finally got in contact.

Commander Shepard, copy?”

“I read you, Nihlus.”

“Change of plans. No sign of any beacon though have seen a few geth around. There’s a small spaceport ahead that I’m going to scout out. What’s your location?”

“We’re at the dig site. Beacon isn’t here either.”

“Okay, I’ll meet you at the spaceport. It’s not far from your position. Fifteen-minute walk maximum. Once you get here, we’ll move together.”

“Copy. Moving out now.”

We’d barely left the dig site when we came across these strange… things on the ground. Looked like dragon’s teeth. But it was the things that were on them that startled the three of us. “They used to be human,” Ashely muttered as the husk like creatures converged on us. They appeared to be as dumb as the geth that just attacked us, as they came straight for us, despite not being armed. But their bodies were lined with all manner of tech, so I suggested we make sure they don’t come too close, just in case.

“What the fuck is going on here?” Ashley asked, I don’t think expecting a response from either of us. I had a feeling she’d already been through some shit.

“No idea. This was meant to be a simple pick up job.”

The geth were definitely aware of our presence, as we met plenty of them as we moved out. Thankfully there was plenty of cover, and Ashley proved to be a rather competent soldier, and a definite crack shot with her rifle. As for Alenko, he definitely proved his biotic strengths, generally dragging or lifting geth out of cover, leaving them as easy pickings for us.

We didn’t see too many bodies around, though it was concerning that the entire colony felt deserted. That lasted until we found a few shacks that looked to be offices. Searching through them, we finally found some people, two of them appearing to be scientists. Dr. Warren was the lead archaeologist on the dig site. She assumed most of the workers had either fled for their lives or been killed, as had the marines which had been stationed near the dig site.

“The 232,” Ashley said quietly, “Good men.”

Otherwise, she’d bunkered down in the shack with her assistant, keeping the door locked and the shack otherwise dark. As for the beacon, she told us that it had only been moved to the spaceport that morning. I did ask about the beacon, wondering why the geth were attacking. The only thing she could tell me explicitly was that the beacon was part of a galaxy wide communications network. But other than that, she simply hadn’t had the time to research it.

Heading out of the shack, we locked the door, telling her to stay put until she received the all clear. We moved out and I wasn’t the only one to hear the gunshot echo around. We shared a glance and started to jog ahead. Heading down an incline, we came to a stop as an enormous ship was taking off in the distance. It looked like no ship we’d seen before.

“Hang on, that looks like…” I started to say.

“What?” Alenko asked.

“The video feed we got from the planet. I swear it looks like the same ship.”

“Think it’s a geth ship?” Ashley wondered.

“No idea. I’ve never seen one of their ships before.”

Moving on, as that lone gunshot still troubled me, the geth were now dug in and waiting for us. Kaidan was exerting himself with his biotics, noticing the sweat on his face. He saw me look and nodded he was okay. I’d worked with biotics before but only briefly. Most of the time, they were in their own units. Anyway, the geth were not a major issue to deal with, the husks certainly tried to swarm us, Kaidan using his biotics to keep them back, Ashley and I lighting them up with rifle fire. It was fairly easy to figure out why the colony was now practically deserted. Whatever the geth were doing to them, it wasn’t pretty and stripped them of their humanity.

We found a few more survivors in hiding, all of them farmers who had taken cover during the attack. They couldn’t tell us much but Alenko recognised they were being rather shifty. It didn’t take much pressure to get them to admit to smuggling, going so far as to give us the name of their contact at the nearby port. They handed over what they had, considering all they were going to do was hide.

Arriving at the port, we found the body of Nihlus. Poor bastard had been shot in the back of the head. Didn’t stand a chance. Didn’t have his weapon out either. “Executed,” I muttered as I crouched over the body.

There was a clatter of cases nearby, the three of us holding up our weapons, ordering whoever it was to come out. A frightened dock-worker appeared, introducing himself as Powell, the name given to us by the farmers. We played good cop, bad cop, accusing him of killing Nihlus. He proved very co-operative after that, telling us what happened. “Another turian by the name of Saren killed him,” he said.

“Saren?” I asked. Name meant nothing to me.

“Yes, Saren. The dead turian…”

“Nihlus.”

“Yeah, Nihlus, he seemed to know him as he relaxed upon meeting him. Turned his back then ‘Bam!’, Saren just shot him in cold blood. Took off towards that big ship straight away.”

There was nothing we could do about Nihlus, simply reporting it into the Normandy before moving out. The train that would take us to the beacon lay ahead. Between that and us were even more geth. Used to fighting them by now, Alenko took care of their shields and weapons, Ashley and I simply shot them. We took our time and were careful as, if Saren had departed, then I assumed he hadn’t taken the beacon. I didn’t want to end up dead either.

The geth seemed to throw everything at us to prevent us making it to the train but, somehow, the three of us made it there unscathed, only the occasional shield loss or overheating weapon slowing us down. Kaidan now looked exhausted from his biotic use, making sure he was okay, suggesting he just stick to his tech attacks as I had a feeling we’d simply be dealing with geth going forward.

How we made it through the next ten or so minutes, I’m still not sure. I thought we’d fought a number of geth earlier. It was nothing compared to those waiting for us. Made me glad, with all the bullets we fired, that we basically had limitless ammo, the only thing preventing continuous fire being overheating. A simple Avenger, which Ashley and I had, needed care when firing. There were other, better weapons, though far more expensive, that could near enough be fired constantly, with the right modifications.

In addition to geth, someone, and I could only assume it was Saren, had laid explosives, as we stumbled over the first one, Kaidan managed to defuse it, and we then had around five minutes to find the others. That sucked completed, the three of us splitting up to find them. Thankfully, we did find all four, defusing the last one with only a minute to go. As we were doing that, the geth continued to press, forcing them back through sheer force of will, and the fact I would not let myself be killed by a bloody robot.

Bombs defused, we proceeded with caution, but we’d managed to kill all the geth, and bonus, we’d located the beacon. I radioed into the Normandy, letting them know our position and that the beacon was now secured. While I was doing that, Ashley and Kaidan were obviously fascinated by it. Kaidan approached me as Ashley stepped close. I didn’t even hear myself shout as she was suddenly lifted into the air. Pushing Kaidan out of the way, I grabbed Ashley and pushed her out of the way. Then I was suddenly in the beacon’s grasp, feeling myself lifted high and my mind filled with all manner of horrific images. It kept going and going until I passed out, not even feeling my body drop to the ground like a stone.


I groaned as I opened my eyes. I had a throbbing headache and really needed a drink of water. A face appeared above me. “You’re awake,” Doctor Chakwas stated.

“What happened?” I wondered.

“You’ve been out cold for a few hours. I was told something about contact with a beacon and, well, it didn’t sound very good. Were you dreaming?”

I ran a hand down my face. “More like nightmares. Just… horrific images and scenes. Can’t quite figure it all out. Head’s pounding though.”

“Hmm. The tests I ran while you were asleep suggested something was up.”

She ran a few tests on me now that I was awake before giving me a couple of tablets and a glass of water to swallow. Ashley and Kaidan were both there. It was nice they worried, explaining that they carried me back to the ship and to the med-bay. After that, Anderson did walk in to have a proper debrief. Chakwas was going to argue that I was her patient but I said it was fine now that I was awake. After asking how I was, after I told him I was basically fine, he asked for privacy before he gave me the rundown of everything that happened. Nihlus dead. The beacon had exploded after my contact with it. The colony was practically wiped out. The Alliance were send in ships to rescue those that did survive. All in all, it was an absolute clusterfuck.

“Chief Williams is on board now?” I asked.

“Aye, she is. I’ve had her reassigned to the Normandy for the time being.”

“Good choice. She’s one hell of a soldier. Showed it in our brief time together already.”

We walked into his office across the mess, taking a seat at his desk after he closed the door. “I’ll be honest with you, Shepard, the Council will want answers about what went on. The geth invading will certainly raise plenty of questions.”

“Reckon they’ll try and pin the blame on me?”

“Perhaps, but I have your back in that case, Shepard. You did a damned fine job and, quite frankly, from what I was told, the beacon damn near nearly killed you. You eliminated the geth presence. Helped a few survivors. And managed to live through whatever that beacon did. So, in my eyes, you did your job and you did it well. Elements outside our control are to blame. There’s one other thing that concerns me, though, and the Council… well… It’s Saren, the other turian mentioned.”

“What’s the problem?”

Anderson sighed, and I figured it was going to be bad news. “He’s a Spectre, Shepard. One of the very best. A living legend in some parts. Any shithole assignment that needed doing, he’d be given it and he’d get it done. But the concern is, if he’s now allied with the geth, he’s gone rogue. And if he has done that, it’s trouble. He hates humans.” Could have asked why, but I didn’t think it really mattered. “He was clearly after the beacon, that’s what I do know, I just don’t know why. You have any ideas?”

Scratching my chin, I leaned back in my chair. “Just before I passed out, I had some sort of… vision, I guess.”

“What sort of vision?” he asked, definitely curious as to what I’d seen.

“I saw synthetics. Maybe the geth, but I’m not sure. It’s all kind of scrambled in my head. But they were slaughtering people. Butchering them. I’ll be honest, it was horrific. Just endless blood and guts. And the noise… Chilling to the core.”

“We need to report this to the Council, Shepard.”

“What, that I had a bad dream?” I wasn’t being sarcastic. I figured the Council would laugh us out of the room if we went to them because of a simple vision.

“We don’t know what was on that beacon, Shepard. All we do know is that Saren took it. And I know Saren.” I was going to ask how, but that could be later. It was clear Anderson didn’t like him though, took what happened as a personal affront. “I know his reputation and the fact he’s a danger, not only to humans, but perhaps now the galaxy. He believes we’re a blight, a stain to be erased. This attack was an act of war!”

“He’s using the geth as soldiers to fight us?”

“Probably. We’re friendly with the turians now. Hell, they helped design and build this ship. Someone like Saren would hate that sort of co-operation. No, he clearly has designs on what he wants to do with us. Eden Prime is just the start.”

“Let me off the leash, sir.”

He smirked, knowing I’d be eager to pit my wits against someone like him. “It’s not that easy, Shepard. You’re good but, at the moment, he’s better. More importantly, for the moment, he’s still a Spectre. Practically untouchable. We’re going to need the Council on our side before we make any sort of move against him.”

“Understood.”

“We should be getting close to the Citadel. Head upstairs in a while and have Joker bring the ship into dock. We’ll have to speak with the ambassador about obtaining an audience with the Council.”

I headed back out into the mess, grabbing a bottle of water, still feeling rather parched. Swallowing that down quickly, I grabbed another one before taking a seat with Ashley and Kaidan, both having watched me neck the first bottle. “Thirsty, sir?” Kaidan joked.

“Just a little.” Turning to Ashley, I added, “Congratulations on the… move.”

“Thank you, sir. Will take a little time adjusting to working on a ship.”

“Haven’t been on here long myself. None of us have.”

“You okay?” Kaidan asked.

“I’m fine for the moment. Still have a bit of a headache but that’s okay. Ash?”

“Fine, sir. Just… You know, losing people and all. Never really get used to it. Entire team was wiped out by those… things.”

“You survived, Ash. Now you fight on, carry their legacy, fight in their names.”

That earned a slight smile. “You do the same?”

“In a manner of speaking… You obviously know who I am and what I’ve done.”

“Everyone does, sir,” Alenko stated.

“Goddamned war hero, sir,” Ashley added.

“Didn’t feel like one then. I was just lucky to survive. Lot of people died around me. And…” I trailed off and sighed. They didn’t need telling that I’d lost someone close. “Anyway, just wanted to make sure you guys are alright. Ever been to the Citadel?” Both shook their heads. “Me either. Joker should be bringing us in. Should be a great view from the cockpit.”

We headed up together, passing through the CIC, Anderson standing at the galaxy map, a couple of enlisted crew around him, taking notes. He glanced my way and nodded as we passed. Down the bridge towards the cockpit, Joker recognised us coming.

“Flight Lieutenant Moreau.”

He gave me a look. “Come on, Commander. Everyone else calls me Joker.” I gave him a look and smirked. “Been to the Citadel before?”

“None of us have. That’s why we’re here.”

“Good. Now watch a genius at work as I bring this baby into dock.”

As the Citadel came into view, it was the sort of thing you’d see in sci-fi movies. But the ship that was passed was something else entirely, Alenko informing us it was the Destiny Ascension, flagship of the Citadel fleet. In addition to that, we saw numerous turian, asari and salarian vessels, all of them part of the fleet that protected the Citadel. There were not just warships as there were what seemed like thousands of freighters and transport ships. The Citadel was very much the hub of galactic politics and trade, so I’d read and been told.

Docking completed, Anderson met us after we’d set foot onto the Citadel, leading us towards the Presidium and the ambassador’s office. Soon as we arrived, Udina called the Council and things went downhill rather fast. Still, despite what sounded like a bad tempered conversation, the Council had launched an investigation into our claims and did grant us an audience for later that day, so that was something. But Udina knew they wouldn’t take kindly to accusing Saren of treason.

“Well then the Council can kiss my arse,” I stated.

He just gave me a look. I hate politicians. All they do is talk endlessly. “Settle down, Commander. You’ve already done more than enough to jeopardise your candidacy for the Spectres. The mission on Eden Prime was a chance to prove you can get the job done. Instead, Nihlus is dead and the beacon destroyed.”

“And the causes of that are all in my report,” I practically growled.

“It was Saren, not Shepard,” Anderson added, nearly as pissed off as I was.

“Then you’d better hope C-Sec’s investigation turns up something. Otherwise the Council will use this as an excuse to keep you out of the Spectres.”

I felt like saying ‘I don’t really give a shit’, but that would have been throwing it back in the face of Anderson, as I had a feeling he’d been the one to put my name forward as a candidate. As I stayed silent, Udina requested Anderson to remain, giving the three of us free time for the moment but to meet at the Council Tower in a few hours.

Not knowing the Presidium at all, we eventually started talking to some sort of Virtual Interface called Avina. It, or she, as it was voiced by an asari, gave us directions to get around, and was full of information about the history of the Citadel, the races that inhabited it, and even some history about humanity and our role there. We were still rather new, having only entered the galactic scene in the past few decades. Our first contact was with the turians, which didn’t go well, engaging in a short war with them before the asari made their presence known, and humanity realised that the galaxy was teeming with sentient life, all as advanced, if not even more advanced than our own.

I wouldn’t say the Presidium was exactly teeming with life, but we saw many races, including hanar, which are big, pink.... well, jellyfish looking things. Volus, who seemed to wear suits and spoke in a strange manner. Even saw a quarian or two about. Didn’t know much about them but knew they generally kept to themselves as a people.

Part of me really wanted a beer but I didn’t think that would be a sensible decision prior to the meeting, the three of us eventually ending up at a bar that sold coffee, tea, juices and other non-alcoholic beverages. If I couldn’t have alcohol, coffee was always a great option, making sure it was as strong as possible. Ash enjoyed a tea while Alenko was happy with a juice. We chatted a little bit, not getting too personal, figuring we’d probably be spending a lot of time together, so we could get to know each other slowly. Alenko rubbed his forehead from time to time, admitting that he occasionally suffered really bad headaches because of his implant. Seeing our confused faces, he told us he’d explain it later.

Receiving a message from Anderson saying it was time for the meeting, we headed up the Council Tower, which provided a spectacular view of the Presidium. The amount of greenery and blue water made one wonder, considering it was a space station in the middle of space. It really was teeming with all sort of life. The five arms of the Citadel were called wards, and apparently that was where the excitement really happened, and hoped we’d eventually get a chance to visit each one.

Entering the Council chamber itself, it was obvious this was the centre of galactic power. It was exquisite and surprisingly peaceful. Ahead of us were a pair of turians in a heated discussion. One of them was telling the other, called Garrus, to drop his investigation. The other turian turned and strode away, while Garrus turned towards me and seemed to recognise me immediately.

“Commander Shepard?”

He offered his hand, which I accepted. “Garrus Vakarian, C-Sec. I was the officer in charge of the investigation into Saren Arterius.”

“Find anything?”

“I’ve been stonewalled completely, Commander, and that’s being completely honest. As he’s a Spectre, everything he does is classified. I can’t find any hard evidence. I can only wish you luck with the Council. Maybe they’ll listen to you.”

“Here’s hoping.”

Anderson was waiting for us, whispering the hearing had commenced already. Walking up the stairs, it was easy to see the power structure. The Council was separate and elevated higher than where Udina was currently standing. And it was going about as well as one could hope. The Council dismissed any allegations against Saren, claiming no evidence. To be honest, we didn’t have much, and I still didn’t like mentioning my vision.

The Council were no help and Saren was a smug prick, though he knew he held all the cards. He called out Anderson and then went after me. It was obvious to me that he hated humans. Why? No idea, and to be honest, I didn’t really care. All I knew was that he was responsible for Eden Prime but was going to get away with it. The outcome as expected, Saren claiming ‘justice was served’ before his hologram disappeared.

We remained silent as we walked our way back to Udina’s office. A meeting was quickly held regarding our next step, though the admission of history between Anderson and Saren, which was obvious from the Council meeting, was a slight surprise, Anderson admitting that it was something we’d have to discuss later. For now, Udina made a sensible suggestion that we needed hard evidence, something that would pin it all on Saren.

The best plan was to find the C-Sec investigator, Garrus, see what he knew and if he could help. It seemed everything was being pinned on me, mentioning it seemed Anderson was getting sidetracked. Thankfully, he admitted stepping aside was for the best considering the history he had with Saren, so for now, everything would be on me.

I was given the name of a C-Sec contact, man by the name of Harkin, who would help us locate Garrus. Other than that, he mentioned contacting a volus by the name of Barla Von. In addition to many things, he was apparently someone who worked for the Shadow Broker. I’d heard of the name before. No-one knew who he, she or they were, but they were an information dealer on a galactic scale.

It had been a long day but I figured we could at least talk to this volus then find Garrus before ending the day. Finding our way to Barla Von’s office, trying to converse with him seemed to take forever due to the nature of his breathing. He knew who I was though. Everyone seemed to know I’d arrived. Frankly, it was a little disconcerting.

The good news is that he gave me the requested information. Even better was that he gave it up for free. Apparently Saren had double crossed the Shadow Broker, who was now rather pissed off himself, and eager to see Saren taken down. In addition, Saren had conned another Shadow Broker operative by the name of Fist, who ran Chora’s Den, one of the better clubs on the Presidium. In retaliation, the Shadow Broker had decided to send someone after Fist, a krogan bounty hunter who had obviously gained attention, as the krogan were very rare to see anywhere, and he was currently under arrest at C-Sec.

Thanking the volus, we headed to C-Sec straight away. The krogan wasn’t under arrest, but he was surrounded by half a dozen officers, one of them questioning his motives regarding his time on the Citadel. The krogan straight out told them he was there to settle a matter with Fist, though he wasn’t dumb enough to say he was going to kill him. C-Sec told him to back off and not approach Chora’s Den or Fist. The krogan simply took that as a challenge, but as he hadn’t done anything wrong, they let him go.

The krogan turned to me and seemed interested as to my presence. “Who are you?” the krogan asked.

“Commander Shepard. You?”

“Urdnot Wrex. Shepard… Shepard… Know that name. Something in the news just recently.”

“Yeah, shit hit the fan and now I’m trying to solve it. Don’t mean to intrude, but you mentioned Fist and Chora’s Den. I believe we might be after the same person.”

He looked at me cautiously. Didn’t blame him. “What do you want with him?”

“I need evidence to take down Saren in regards to his attack on Eden Prime. Barla Von pointed me in his direction.”

“I don’t know anything about that. I do know a turian C-Sec officer is working on it though.”

“Perhaps the same turian. If you’re going after Fist, though, I want in.”

I glanced my two colleagues. Ashley kept her face blank, Alenko simply shrugged his shoulders. “Okay, if you want to join us, you can. We’re heading to Chora’s Den to speak with a contact there. Hopefully he’ll point us in the right direction.”

Finding our way to Chora’s, it was obviously a seedier part of the Presidium. The kind of place I’d frequent while on furlough. Aside from the bar and platform where a number of asari and human women were gyrating, the music was banging and there was a smell in the air. The sort of smell you usually find in a strip bar. Sweat. Desperation. Alcohol. All it did was remind me that I actually hadn’t been laid in quite a while. One or two of the dancers certainly took the eye, no shame in running an eye up and down as a waitress walked by with a tray of drinks.

We found Harkin sitting by himself in a dark corner of the club, probably four or five drinks in already. He looked up at us and smirked. I’d dealt with this sort of arsehole before so I glanced at the krogan next to me. “Wrex, if he starts acting up, you have my permission to hit him.” The krogan just mumbled as I took a seat across from Harkin. “I know who you are. You might know who I am. All I’m going to do is ask you a few questions. I would like you to answer them.” He didn’t reply, simply glaring at me, so I asked, “Where’s Garrus?”

That made him laugh. “Oh, yes, that’s right. You’re one of Captain Anderson’s pets, aren’t you? He’s had a hard on for taking down Saren for years now.”

“Wrex.”

The krogan took one step forward, Harkin holding up his hands. “Whoa, easy now! I know where Garrus is. But, tell me this, has Anderson told you why he has such a problem with Saren? His big secret?"

“No,” I replied cautiously.

He laughed again. “Of course he hasn’t because it’s a fucking embarrassment! The captain used to be a Spectre. Didn’t know that, did you? It was all very hush-hush. First human ever inducted and then he blew it.”

“How or why?”

“The mission he was on with Saren, he screwed it up. Blames Saren for everything, claims he was set up. But, in the end, they kicked him out.”

“If it’s such a secret, how do you know?”

He just scoffed. “You think something like that wouldn’t get out? The Citadel is full of secrets, and C-Sec hears nearly every single one.”

I sighed. “Look, I’m not here about that. Where’s Garrus? Tell me, otherwise…” I trailed off, gesturing to Wrex, who pounded a fist into his palm.

Harkin wasn’t dumb. “He’s been sniffing around Dr. Michel’s office. Think he fancies her or something. Not sure. But you’ll probably find him there.” Harkin then looked at Wrex. “And I know who you are. And I can see the half dozen krogan that have now moved in here. I would suggest you and the Commander don’t start any trouble with Fist.”

Wrex simply grumbled with laughter. I suggested we head after Garrus, though mentioned once outside, that we would return to deal with Fist.

“Places like that make my skin crawl,” Ash stated once outside.

“What? They’re harmless places… Mostly…” I replied.

“Don’t you feel… used, or dirty after visiting one?”

I laughed. “Ash, I could tell you things about what I get up to while on furlough that would probably change your opinion of me quite quickly.”

“Boys on tour?” Alenko asked, obviously rhetorical.

“Ugh, I’ve seen what some of you soldier boys get up to,” Ash muttered.

The med clinic was only a short walk away, though walking into the middle of a gunfight wasn’t how I’d intended to find the doctor. Garrus was in cover, noticing us as we all took out our pistols. The thugs were questioning the doctor about a quarian. The doctor told them what they wanted to hear before noticing our presence. Garrus got off a shot, putting a bullet through the head of one of them, the doctor screaming as one of the others grabbed her. I kept him in sights as the firing continued. Once I was confident, I didn’t hesitate, putting a bullet between his eyes, the doctor being dragged to the floor as well. With her out of the way, we put down the other thugs easily enough.

Helping the doctor up, she was frightened but eager to tell us what she knew. She’d recently treated a quarian on the run, and that the thugs had shown up, being sent by Fist, to find out what she knew and where the quarian had headed. After quickly consoling her, though she insisted she was fine, Garrus suggested she head to C-Sec to report. Garrus then asked if he could help assist bring down Fist and help the investigation. I figured that was a good idea.

“You like her,” Alenko stated as we made our way back to Chora’s.

“What?”

“The doctor. You like her. Or she likes you. Yeah, definitely like her.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Garrus retorted defensively.

I laughed as Alenko teased him, the turian getting ever more flustered, as I think Alenko was right. The way she’d gone straight to him, and the way she had looked at him… I’ll admit I can’t read turians very well yet, but he was so awkward around her, yeah, he definitely liked her but was clearly clueless as to approaching her.

The chatter subsided the closer we got to Chora’s. The music we had heard thumping, even from outside, had disappeared. The doors were also shut as well. We took up positions by the door, Ash and I take out grenades. “Flash bangs,” I whispered, Ash nodding. Counting down, I opened the door and we threw them in, hearing gunfire erupt before the grenades exploded.

Counting down again, we headed inside and opened fire. Ash, Kaidan and I only had pistols, not expecting to be in a gunfight, Wrex had a shotgun while Garrus was armed with an assault rifle. I won’t say we made short work of the thugs inside, but the most they did to use was cause our shields to falter for a moment. No wounds were taking, and we mopped up the bar area rather quickly. Wrex did deal with the krogan bouncer we’d seen earlier, taking delight in putting a shotgun shell into his face.

Moving deeper into the club, we ran into a couple of armed workers, clearly not the thugs we’d just dealt with. I said if they dropped their weapons and pissed off, they’d live. They gratefully took the deal, even thanking us for letting them go. Wrex gave them a kick up the backside as they passed. We found Fist in the back lounge, where his office also was. The bastard had a couple of turrets, I guess some sort of last stand thing. Alenko took care of those by making them blow up, and I put a bullet into Fist’s leg, causing him to fall down, losing grip of the pistol. He went to grab it, so I shot the ground, forcing his hand away. Wrex then bounded over and grabbed Fist by the collar, dragging him into the middle of the room.

“Don’t kill me. Please!” he begged. Wrex laughed though he didn’t fire, knowing I needed answers.

Crouching down next to Fist, I said, “If you tell me what I need to know, I won’t kill you.”

“Okay, whatever you want.”

“Where’s the quarian?”

“The quarian? Oh, yes, the quarian! I sent her to meet with the Shadow Broker. She would only talk to him directly about whatever she’d discovered.”

“Bullshit. No-one talks to the Shadow Broker directly,” Wrex informed, “Clients only talk to one of his agents.”

“Well, yeah, but she didn’t know that. So I sent her to speak with the ‘Shadow Broker’.”

“Who will she meet instead?” I asked.

He sighed. “She’ll be meeting some assassins instead. I mean, if you move now, you might just make it in time.”

“Shit, that’s just great,” I muttered, rising tall as I got ready to move.

“So, can I go?” he asked.

I looked down at him. “Oh, I said I wouldn’t kill you, Fist. And I don’t break my word.” I paused before adding and gesturing, “Him on the other hand…”

Fist screamed as Wrex aimed his shotgun and fired. It made a right mess of Fist considering Wrex was only a few feet away. Ash and Kaidan looked away while Garrus chuckled. “Harsh, Commander, but fair.”

“Well, I didn’t lie. I didn’t kill him.”

“Thanks, Shepard,” Wrex added, “Most wouldn’t have allowed that to happen.”

I just shrugged before suggesting we get a move on. As we exited, C-Sec were arriving, apparently reports about a gunfight. They recognised who I was and that Garrus was with us. Quickly explaining what we needed, they let us go, though I could see their looks at Wrex. He said nothing, simply following us in silence.

We found the quarian just as she was about to be killed. Ordering to open fire immediately, she was smart enough to take cover, taking out a pistol of her own, as the five of us laid waste to the assassins. The last one stayed in cover and was a real bitch to take down, Alenko eventually using his biotics to drag him out so we could kill him. I had no doubt C-Sec would soon be arriving, so approached the quarian, who definitely remained cautious despite the fact we’d just saved her life.

“I knew that bastard set me up.”

“You okay?” I asked. She was the first quarian I’d ever met.

“I know how to look after myself, not that I don’t appreciate the help.” Ah, she had a feisty side. “Who are you?”

“Commander Shepard. This is Lieutenant Alenko, Chief Williams, Garrus Vakarian and… Wrex.”

“Pleased to meet you all, and while I thank you again, what brought you here?”

“We’re looking for evidence to prove Saren Arterius is a traitor. I’ve been led to believe you might have that evidence.”

“Then I have a chance to repay you for saving my life. But not here. We need to go somewhere safe.”

“We’ll take you to our embassy. We’ll be safe there and the ambassador will definitely want to hear what you have to say.”

That sounded like a plan, so Tali made my little group six, and we headed back to the embassy. It had been one hell of a day so far.

Chapter Text

“You aren’t making my life easy Shepard. Firefights in the wards, an all-out assault on Chora’s Den. Do you know how many people…” He fell silent for a moment as he looked upon my new friends, definitely not expecting a krogan and a quarian. “A krogan? A quarian? What the hell are you up to, Shepard?”

“Maybe if you shut up for five seconds, I could explain myself.”

“Shepard!” Anderson barked.

“I mean no disrespect to you, sir,” I stated, looking at him, “But I’ve just had a really shit day trying to sort this out and will not put up with disrespect from the likes of him.”

I just glared at Udina and I was surprised he wilted so fast. Maybe I was more intimidating than I thought? Or maybe it was the giant krogan behind me? “I apologise, Commander. This whole thing with Saren has got me a bit on edge.”

“All of us are, sir,” I replied, accepting the apology.

“Of course.” He looked to my side. “And if you have evidence, I would like to hear it, Miss…?”

“My name is Tali. Tali’Zorah nar Rayya.”

She then explained what brought her to the Citadel, having left her fleet on what they call a Pilgrimage, a rite of passage into adulthood. Basically, it was a case of they were sent off into the wide galaxy, only returning when they had found something that could be of value to the fleet. She added that many quarians don’t actually return, not because of failure, but because they preferred to live amongst the other species.

Then she got to the point, not that any of us hurried her. Humanity had limited to no contact with any quarians so she was telling us things none of us knew. She had heard reports of geth, something that peaked her curiosity, considering the geth rarely if ever left the Veil. She tracked a patrol of geth, something quite brave for a lone quarian, before managing to get one of them alone, disabling it and removing its memory core. Anderson was definitely impressed by that revelation. She hadn’t been able to save much but what she had saved was audio that was the evidence we needed.

Eden Prime was a major victory! The beacon has brought us one step closer to finding the Conduit.”

Anderson couldn’t quite contain his excitement as it was clearly Saren’s voice on the tape. If the Council wanted evidence he was involved, they now had it.

Tali then stated there was more audio, a second voice. “And one step closer to the return of the Reapers.”

None of us recognised the second voice. Barley any of us knew what a Reaper was. Tali knew a little bit, apparently responsible for the demise of the Prothean civilisation that had existed fifty-thousand years before us. Apparently all the Reapers did was show up, wipe out the Protheans, then disappeared without a trace.

Udina was sceptical but I gave it some thought then clicked my fingers. “Hang on, she’s right, or at least it makes sense. My contact with the beacon on Eden Prime, the visions. It was some sort of… warning perhaps. But I understand the vision at least a little better. It was the Reapers wiping out the Protheans. I’m sure of it.”

“The geth appear to revere the Reapers as gods,” Tali added, “The pinnacle of non-organic life. And they believe Saren knows how to bring the Reapers back.”

“I’m not sure the Council will believe everything about the Reapers, but we definitely have the proof we need to prove Saren is a traitor,” Udina stated, “It’s rather late now. We’ll present our findings to the Council tomorrow.” He paused before adding, “Good work, Commander.”

“Thanks.”

Heading out of the embassy, we gathered out the front. Alenko, Ash and I would head back to the ship. Garrus had his own place, Wrex has his own room in a hotel on one of the Wards, but Tali had nowhere to stay, so we offered her a bunk back on the ship, agreeing to meet up with Garrus and Wrex in the morning before we met the Council. Garrus wanted to see Saren taken down, Wrex admitted he simply had nothing better to do.

I was absolutely starving by now, so the first place we visited on our return to the ship was the mess, where I quickly scoffed down a couple of plates of meat, potatoes and veggies. “Must have got fresh supplies after docking,” Alenko stated.

As the three of us ate, I noticed Tali attached something to the front of her mask, almost like a toothpaste container. Asking what it was, she said it was simply the way her people ate food most of the time. I thought we might have offended her, but she just laughed and said we must have been hungry after fighting across the Citadel.

After a quick shower, the four of us sat back with a drink, going over events of the day and what we expected the next. We were all yawning after a few minutes. Alenko was happy to sleep in one of the pods. Being new to the ship, Ash and Tali had the choice of a pod or a bunk. Tali chose a pod but Ash wanted to sleep on a mattress. Once Alenko and Tali were comfortable, Ash and I headed to the bunkroom.

I undressed quickly. You get used to the lack of privacy and one shouldn’t be too modest. I kept on my underwear, but otherwise I lay back on my bed. I did glance to see Ashley undressing down to her underwear. If she knew I was looking, she didn’t make a fuss. She was fit, very fit. An athletic shape to her body that made her a knock out immediately in my eyes. Couldn’t quite figure out her bust size due to the sports bra, but when she bent over, there was enough cleavage on display to be slightly arousing. That’s when she did meet my eyes, simply smirking. I just looked away though wasn’t embarrassed.

Surprisingly, she hopped up onto the bunk above me, then peeked over the side. “Is every day like this with you, sir?”

“We’re not on duty, Ash. Call me Shepard.”

“Well?”

“To be honest, my life can be a little bit nuts at times. Past couple of days have been extreme though. You?”

“I’m used to boring postings on colony worlds.”

“I mean no offence but how the hell are you still only a Chief?”

“My last name is Williams, Shepard. Think about it for a few seconds and you’ll understand.”

I did and all I could say was, “Oh…”

“Yeah. That’s why.”

“But it’s bullshit and clearly unfair on you.”

“Don’t sweat it, Shepard. I’m used to being continually passed over for promotion. I know this is the level they will keep me at until… God only knows when.”

“Think Anderson could help you? He’s certainly helped me in the past.”

“We’ll see, Shepard. He was nice enough to get me posted onto this ship. Let’s just see how things go first.”

I yawned again. “Yeah, let’s see what happens tomorrow first. Anyway, see you in the morning as I definitely need shut eye.”

“You and me both, Shepard. G’night.”

I slept like a log that night, my alarm waking me as always, though I pressed snooze at least once, Ash eventually climbing down and shaking me gently, suggesting I get up. After a quick shower and dressing, we joined Alenko and Tali for breakfast, more of the crew joining us with plenty of questions about what was happening. We gave them some details, as apparently the events of the previous day had made the news. My name may have been mentioned at least once, regarding the fight inside Chora’s Den. I wasn’t being blamed for Fist, though. I think I was being helped on that one.

Returning to the embassy, Anderson and Udina were waiting for our return, Udina informing us that the Council would meet with us first due to the seriousness of the matter. Garrus and Wrex met us outside and our group headed for the Council Tower. I’m sure we looked like a right group, a bunch of humans being followed by three different species. Garrus was muttering about finally taking down Saren, left feeling he really didn’t like him. Wrex said we should just get a ship, find Saren, and kill him. Wasn’t a bad idea, we just needed to find him first.

Riding the elevator, Wrex asked, “So, Shepard, have you heard of the Consort Sha’ira?”

“Yes, I have.”

“Been to see her yet?”

Anderson burst out laughing at the blunt question, though he knew what I was like. “Haven’t had the opportunity yet. Have you?”

“No, she’s rather particular in regards to her clients, though some of the girls she has working for her are a real delight. Some will even put up with a krogan.”

“What makes you think she’ll see me? Add to that, I’ve heard she’s quite expensive.”

“But worth every single credit, Shepard. I may not have enjoyed an experience but I know many who have. Most become regular customers after the first time.”

“You’re not serious, are you?” Ash asked.

I shrugged. “I’m a single guy and she’s not the usual standard of, um, working girl.”

“Are you seriously discussing getting off at a time like this, Shepard?” Udina grumbled.

He had a point, so I shut up, Wrex rumbling with laughter to himself, Alenko glancing my way with a smirk as well. Approaching the Council chamber, we were allowed in as the Council was already in place, ready for us to start.

I know Udina loved having the Council over a barrel. It wasn’t exactly an embarrassment for them… No, it was. Even though we’d had no evidence, Saren had played them for fools. To be fair, Udina could have gloated and crowed about what we found. Instead, all he did was present the evidence, and it was undeniable. The Council would have to throw him out now and leave him as nothing more than a fugitive.

The turian councillor immediately stated that Saren would be stripped of his Spectre status and efforts would be made to locate and arrest him. The asari councillor recognised the second voice as Matriarch Benezia. No idea who that was, though the councillor was polite enough to give all of us a brief explanation as to who or what a matriarch is.

“Matriarch Benezia is a powerful biotic, and she has many followers. She will make a formidable ally for Saren,” she added.

The salarian councillor wanted to know about the Reapers. We told him what Tali told us, the salarian wanting to know what Saren planned with the Conduit. This just pissed off the turian councillor, who refused to believe that Saren wanted to wipe out life in the galaxy. I could just about see his point, but Saren was going out of his way to prove he wanted to end it all.

Basically, the Council didn’t believe us about the Reaper threat, calling them a myth cocked up by Saren and Benezia to cover their own crimes. If they wanted to believe that, fine. Udina then made his demand regarding a fleet being sent into the Traverse to flush him out. That suggestion went down like a lead balloon, the Council dismissing it immediately.

Udina was well and truly pissed off by now. So was I. So was Anderson. Udina was just about to really let fly with accusations when the asari councillor offered an olive branch. Knowing what she meant, the turian councillor didn’t agree, believing it was too soon.

“You don’t have to send a fleet into the Traverse, and Udina gets his human Spectre. Everybody’s happy,” I stated.

The asari and salarian were immediately on board with the idea. The turian remained silent, head down as he thought. I assumed it would require unanimous agreement before he finally looked up and met my eyes. His nod was brief, but it was a nod of agreement.

“Commander Shepard, step forward,” the asari requested.

Glancing at Anderson, he returned a brief smile and nod before I stepped towards the edge of the platform, Udina moving out of the way. I looked around and noticed plenty of diplomats and others in the crowd, leaning forward to take in proceedings. I guess I was at the centre of what was going to be a momentous day in our history.

“It is the decision of the Council that you be granted all the powers and privileges of the Special Tactics and Reconnaissance branch of the Citadel.”

“Spectres are not trained, but chosen. Individuals forged in the fires of service and battle; those whose actions elevate them above the rank and file.”

“Spectres are an ideal, a symbol. The embodiment of courage, determination, and self-reliance. They are the right hand of the Council, instruments of our will.”

“Spectres bear a great burden. They are protectors of galactic peace, both our first and last line of defence. The safety of the galaxy is theirs to uphold.”

“You are the first human Spectre, Commander. This is a great accomplishment for you and your entire species.”

“I am honoured, Councillors,” I stated, a polite nod of the head. No time for sarcasm or anything else at a moment like that.

“We’re sending you into the Traverse after Saren,” the asari explained, “He’s a fugitive from justice, so you are authorised to use any means necessary to apprehend or eliminate him.”

And that was it, the Council adjourned the meeting with little fan-fare, though there was polite applause from the galleries around us. Anderson shook my hand, congratulating me on my promotion, Udina already planning in regards to what I would require, suggesting it was going to take at least a few days before everything would be ready. I had no idea what he planned, so would leave it up to him and Anderson to sort out.

It had been a few days since I’d last had a beer, so I suggested, as a way of celebrating, we do just that. Well, the humans and krogan could drink beer, Garrus explaining on the way to a nearby pub that he couldn’t drink what we did, and that turian brandy was a real delight. Tali was apparently the same as Garrus regarding what food and drink she could consume, and admitted she very rarely drank alcohol.

But we found a bar that would let us all in, including Wrex, who told me that his kind were often barred from establishments, though he suggested we should really hit one of the Wards another time. Thinking we might have a little time on the Citadel, I figured we could do it before Udina had organised whatever he was cooking up. No real idea, to be honest.

Alenko and Ash proved to be rather lightweights, the pair taking Tali back to the ship, who had about three brandies, the same as Garrus, before she practically passed out. It was rather amusing as the pair helped carry her out of the pub. That left me with Garrus and Wrex, the latter mentioning the Consort again. “You should go see her,” Wrex stated.

“What? Now?”

“Sure, why not? I’ll put it like this; when did you last get laid?”

“Hmmm…”

“And you, Vakarian?”

“Oh, um… I don’t know…”

“Look, there’s not just the Consort there. Lots of pretty girls, mostly asari but there are a few humans who work there now. Not all of them will just let you fuck them. Some actually provided other services. You ever fucked an asari, Shepard?”

“A couple. Same line of work, to be honest.”

Wrex rumbled with laughter again. “They are certainly flexible during their maiden phase. Makes me feel like a dirty old krogan.”

Garrus and I burst into laughter as I’m sure he could have got rather descriptive, certainly left wondering how old he really was. I knew asari lived for up to a millennium. I had a feeling krogan could live even longer.

I drained my beer. “Fuck it, if I drink any more, if I did end up going, downstairs won’t work. You two coming?”

“Fuck yes!” Wrex roared, pounding the table with his fist.

Garrus looked a little awkward before downing his drink. “What the hell? Just… I’m not doing it in front of you two. That’s just weird.”

More time had passed than I thought, checking the time to see it was late afternoon. Arriving at the Consort’s place, the receptionist was friendly but in a round about way told us to piss off, simply because the Consort was booked up for weeks. Wrex asked about any other girls, and before she could respond, the Consort asked for me to be allowed in.

Leaving Wrex and Garrus near the front, a couple of girls approaching them straight away, I was led through to the Consort’s private chamber. I’ll say right now, she was an utter beauty. No wonder she had so many customers. She certainly dazzled me, making sure I was sat down, drink in hand, as she curled up next to me.

“Word has spread quickly, Commander. The first human Spectre. I believe congratulations are in order.”

“That’s why we’re here.”

“Yes, but the reason I’ve invited you back here is… Well, I know you are a man who can get things done, rather obviously. I was hoping you might perform a small favour for me. Do this, and you will be richly rewarded.”

I hoped she meant sex. I would happily take payment in sex. “What do you need me to do?”

“A dear old friend of mine by the name of General Septimus has taken to spreading nasty rumours about me. I’m hoping that you could speak to him, man to man, soldier to soldier.”

“Do you know where he is?”

“Well, if Chora’s Den has re-opened, you will usually find him there, drinking himself into oblivion. If not, you’ll find him at one of the other numerous watering holes around the Presidium.”

Chora’s Den was still closed so, with a brief description, I found myself wandering around until I eventually found him around an hour later. My face must have been on the news or something as it seemed everyone recognised me nowadays. Taking a seat across from him, he knew who I was and guessed rather quickly why I was there.

I was surprised at the speed at which he folded. I didn’t know a lot about turians but I knew honour mattered than anything. I understood why he’d flown off the handle but I told him to straighten himself up and started acting like a general. He remained silent before finally sighing, nodding his head, agreeing his behaviour had been unseemly, suggesting he would write a letter of apology to Sha’ira. But it wasn’t that simple, as because of the rumours, an elcor diplomat had made an official complaint. I now had to go see him to ensure Sha’ira was left alone.

Convincing the elcor wasn’t too difficult once I’d told him what Septimus had told me. I think he was left feeling more embarrassed than anything, though assured me he would remove the complaint immediately. I thanked him for his assistance, heading back out into the Presidium, where by now, night had fallen.

Wandering back into the Consort’s Chamber, Wrex had disappeared while Garrus was being awkward with the asari who was sitting next to him. Asking where Wrex was, one of the girls told me that he was currently in a room with two asari. I chuckled to myself as I made my way to Sha’ira’s private chamber.

She was delighted to hear the matter was resolved and so quickly. When it came to a reward, she told me that, to start, it would be a gift of words. Not knowing quite what she meant, she stepped close to me, allowing me to gaze into her blue eyes. She was very attractive anyway, but something about those eyes… No wonder so many men seemed to love her.

“I offer a gift of words, an affirmation of who you are, and who you will become. I see your skin, tough as the scales of any turian. Unyielding. A wall between you and everyone else. But it protects you, makes you strong. It is that strength that people are drawn to. It is why you lead and others follow, without question. You will need that leadership in the battles to come. This may be who you are, but it is not who you will become. It only forms the basis for your future greatness. Remember these words when doubt descends, Commander.”

Then she kissed me, a soft one on the lips before she took a couple of steps back, reached behind her, and undid her dress, watching it pool around her feet. She was completely naked and I couldn’t help run my eyes up and down her body before she stepped closer, her mouth eager for mine as I ran my hands up and down her smooth skin. Kissing was… well, it was rather unusual. Most girls in her line of work didn’t do that.

My clothes disappeared quite quickly as she moved us back to the bed where she kissed down my body before sitting on the edge, taking my cock in her mouth, causing my head to roll back as I groaned. Looking down, she looked up into my eyes as my cock disappeared into her mouth, her head moving back and forth. Running a hand around the back of her head, I had to stop myself really losing myself in the moment, allowing her to maintain most of the control.

“Holy shit,” I muttered.

“Where would you like to cum, Shepard?”

“Oh, anywhere. I really don’t care.”

“Very well. Because you did me such a favour, I will swallow what you give me. I hope you will be ready to perform again soon.”

“Trust me, that won’t be a problem at all.”

She took what I gave her a few minutes later. I felt like I’d died and gone to heaven, my knees going weak, feeling rather lightheaded. She kept right on blowing me though, even after I was empty, until I finally rested a hand on her shoulder to keep me upright. Only then did she release me, looking up with a smile. I turned and sat next to her before lying back on the bed. “Jesus Christ, that was… I’m not sure what to say…”

She lay next to me, hearing her giggle, an unexpected sound to be honest. “Let’s just say I’ve had some practice.”

“Want the favour returned?”

“While it would fill me with joy, Shepard, I would prefer something else. I will give you a few minutes to recover though.”

Shuffling back, we lay together on her bed, looking around her room. It wasn’t bare, artwork lining the walls, and there was a fireplace, obviously fake. Her bed was rather simple though the sheets we were laying on felt expensive. She lay on her side, running her hand up and down my chest. It felt surprisingly intimate considering.

“Shepard, I wish to ask a favour of you.”

“Another one? Sure, why not…”

“When we make love in a few minutes, I wish to meld with you. To an asari, it is the most intimate act we can share with a partner. Usually it is to produce offspring. I am in my matron stage, so I cannot. But I feel a connection with you and wish to… know you better. Have you ever melded before?”

“No. I’ve been with asari but it’s only ever been, you know, physical.”

She lifted herself up, looking down into my eyes. “Will you meld with me tonight?”

“Why?” I had to ask.

She rested her hand on my chest, above my heart. “I feel something in you that… It is something I rarely if ever do with clients. But you, Shepard, you… intrigue me. I wish to… know you better.”

“Will it hurt?”

That made her giggle again. “No, Shepard. You will simply know me as well as I will know you.” She moved, eventually straddling my groin, lifting herself up and sliding down my cock, hearing her moan lightly as I couldn’t help groan. Leaning forward to gently kiss me, she looked into my eyes. “Open your mind, Shepard. Let me know who you really are.” Then she closed her eyes before they opened again. “Embrace eternity.”

I’m not sure what happened over the next few minutes, at least physically. I’m sure we were fucking, making love, whatever you want to call it. But I could feel Sha’ira… in my mind. That’s the easiest way to describe it. And while she was doing that, she spoke to me.

Free your mind, Shepard. Let me see who you really are.

So I did. She would have learned nearly everything about me. From the orphanage to the streets.

You believe you are alone. Yet you will always protect those weaker than yourself.  

The strong must protect the weak. I simply did what I believe was right.

I felt her press further into my memories, into my training at boot camp and the marines.

You are strong, Shepard, both physically and mentally. I believe you found the training… not easy but certainly easier than many of your companions.

Anderson always said I was a born soldier. Many must be trained. To me, it felt… natural. Almost like a calling that I nearly missed.

She pressed further on, into Elysium. And that’s when I blocked her.

You saved the colony, Shepard. You were a hero. Yet, I sense…  

No…  

I sense… heartache… pain… loss…

No…

She broke the meld, hearing her moan as she slowed down. “Shepard,” she whispered.

“I can’t talk about it. I can’t think about it,” I replied quietly.

I could sense she was upset, resting her forehead against mine. “You have a strength inside you that covers… something deeper, Shepard…”

She kissed me, and there was something in that kiss which suggested, I’m not sure. Running my hands down her back to rest on her arse, I started to thrust up into her, making her gasp as she didn’t move her head away from mine, now just staring into each other’s eyes. “Shepard,” she whispered.

I made her cum hard, which pleased me, feeling her squeeze my cock as she didn’t slow down nor think of stopping. Feeling her shake and shudder, I continued to thrust up into her, making her squeal as I could feel the oncoming orgasm myself. She continued to gaze into my eyes as I was now really pumping into her.

“Cum in me,” she whispered.

“Oh god,” I moaned, grabbing her arse tightly as I could feel the oncoming orgasm. It was going to be a good one.

“Shepard,” she breathed one last time before I felt myself erupt inside her, groaning loudly enough that I’m sure they heard me across the Citadel. Then I relaxed as I felt her rest against my chest, my hand immediately starting to caress her back despite the fact I suddenly felt rather tired.

We lay together in silence for a while before she moved so we could clean up. I was about ready to just get dressed to leave, sitting on the edge of the bed, when I felt her breasts press into my back, her arms loop around me. “Stay,” she whispered.

“What?”

“Stay with me tonight, Shepard.”

“Are you sure?”

“I want your company, just for tonight. We don’t have to do anything else, I would just like you to stay.”

So I stayed with her, heading to her shower where it was… well, it was surprisingly intimate, really getting to know her body. And the fact she wanted to kiss me continuously, it was something I wasn’t really used to. Drying each other off afterwards, she had a funny look in her eyes. It wasn’t romantic, it was… I’m not entirely sure.

Heading back to her bedroom, she certainly took the lead by spooning into me, making sure I held her close to me as she turned off the lights. It was only in the darkness that she finally asked, “Who was she?”

I knew she was going to ask eventually. And I figured being honest wouldn’t hurt. “She was the first one I ever loved,” I confessed.

“The depth of feeling, Shepard… It is something I rarely feel when melding…” I didn’t know what to say. “The overriding emotion I felt was guilt, Shepard.”

“It’s my fault.”

She turned around and I felt her hand caress my cheek. “It was not, Shepard. You are a man of undoubted courage and bravery, someone feted to do great things. Her loss is not the fault of yourself. It is the fault of those who chose to attack that day.”

“Maybe if she…” I trailed off and sighed.

I felt her hand trail down my body, resting on my chest again. “I have a gift of my own, Shepard. I can read people. You have had a hard life. You have done things you regret, that make you believe you are not worthy of where you are now. Yet you have done many good, if not great things already. You have earned the position you now hold through your talents, your intelligence, your determination and bravery. And you still have many trials and tribulations to face, which I know you will overcome. In the end, you will be triumphant.”

“Quite the gift if you know all that.”

I felt her lips on mine, a soft kiss that seemed to speak volumes. “I meet many people in my line of work, Shepard. I have met few like you.” I felt her shuffle before she pulled me on top of her, hand again caressing my cheek. “Be gentle,” she whispered as I slid inside her again.

She didn’t ask to meld this time and I opened my mind completely. She would now know absolutely everything about me. From my earliest memory, my time on the streets, my training as a marine, my time with Annie… Everything. I think I owed her that much, at least.

At the same time, I learned about her and… I felt she was alone as I felt at times. Maybe that’s why we felt a connection. Two lonely souls that just seemed to find each other. It wasn’t anything like love, certainly lust though.

Breaking the mould, the kissing we shared was certainly passionate, feeling her legs wrapped around me as I was now really driving my cock into her. “Goddess, Shepard,” she whispered. I just kissed her again, hearing and feeling her whimper into my mouth.

I lasted quite a while before I felt the urge, but now resting my forehead against hers. In the darkness, I could see her eyes watching mine. We didn’t really share many words. What did surprise me was her orgasm, feeling her clench as I continued to drive my cock into her, biting my shoulder to stifle her moans. I would have chuckled if I wasn’t so intent on enjoying my own orgasm, her fingers by now digging into my back, legs wrapped tightly.

“Fuck,” I groaned, feeling another orgasm approached.

“You must visit again,” she managed to whisper as I was now really driving into her.

“Absolutely,” I grunted.

We kissed again as I finally felt the bliss of release, burying myself one last time before I felt the need to rest on my forearms above her. She simply held me to her body, arms and legs wrapped around me, feeling her soft kisses on my cheek and forehead. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?”

“For allowing me to see you. All of you.”

We needed to clean up again before we finally settled down, Sha’ira once again spooned against me. This time, we definitely needed to go to sleep, and I’ll admit, I slept rather well that night. First time in a while I went to bed with someone in my arms. Actually, first time since... Annie… Yes, it had been a very long time.

The next morning, I thought it would be awkward, but it surprisingly wasn’t. I thought I’d just get dressed and leave, but she made a quick call to her girls, and we had breakfast delivered. The human girl who delivered it met my eyes and smiled as I sat with Sha’ira at the table, and we managed to make conversation as we ate. While part of me would have liked to stay, I knew she had clients to see, though she did escort me to the entrance to her residence. She gave me a hug and wished me luck for the future. “I would like to see you again, Shepard,” she said.

“You would?” I asked in surprise.

The fact she nearly blushed definitely surprised me. “You are the first man in a long time who I have connected with in such a way. In my line of work, such an event is rare indeed. If you would like to…”

“Definitely.”

“I will tell Nelyna to make sure you will always be welcome.” She leaned forward to whisper into my ear, “Helping me with Septimus… You have certainly earned my favour, Shepard.” Then she kissed my cheek, met my eyes and smiled, before she turned and walked away, ensuring she put a sway into her hips. I watched until she disappeared around the corner.

“She likes you,” Nelyna stated.

“Huh?”

“She likes you, Shepard. Very rarely does anyone spend the night. And she’s pretty much just said you can come and go as you wish. So… She likes you.”

“But… really?”

Nelyna giggled. “Don’t fall in love with her, as that will only end in heartbreak for yourself. But if you wish for intimacy with no strings attached, Sha’ira would be perfect for you. As I said, she clearly likes you.”

“Let’s just see what happens first.”

“All you need do is speak to me first, Shepard. I’m sure she’ll make time for you in her schedule regardless.”

I certainly had a spring in my step as I left, heading straight for the Normandy. Not finding any of them on the ship, I sent a message to Alenko, he replying quickly that they were on the Presidium. I found everyone at a coffee ship, and the first question I received was from Ash, wondering where I was the night just gone.

“With Sha’ira,” I replied.

“The Consort?” Alenko asked, quite surprised.

“Yeah. Wrex, Garrus and I went last night.”

“So that’s where you disappeared to!” Wrex exclaimed, “I finished with my girls and headed out, finding Garrus tripping over his tongue with the poor girl who was trying to bed him.”

“I’m just not used to that sort of thing,” Garrus retorted, although the poor turian was obviously embarrassed.

I moved the conversation on quickly to what would be happening next. None of those around the table had heard anything, so we decided to head to the embassies for any news from Udina. He told us to be ready to board the Normandy the next day, but when I looked at Anderson, he looked… unhappy. I tried to speak to him, but he told me that we would receive orders the next day and that, for now, we should just enjoy some rest and relaxation.

So we decided to head to one of the Wards, Garrus leading the way as he knew the Citadel better than any of us. Knowing we did have to depart soon, we were sensible that day and evening, all of us slowly getting to know one another. Wrex had a large personality and told everyone what he thought. Garrus was awkward but seemed to have his heart in the right place. Tali was shy and a little overawed by everything, though definitely had an inner-confidence that appeared from time to time. Alenko was a quiet and thoughtful chap, only sharing his opinion when pushed. Ashley, I believe, was still grieving all the losses on Eden Prime, and it was hard bringing her out of her shell.

We met Udina and Anderson by the Normandy the next morning and that’s when we received the bombshell. Anderson would no longer be the Commanding Officer. Instead, the ship would be given to me as I was now a Spectre and needed all the tools required to hunt down Saren. I was put out just as much as Anderson, now understanding why he looked unhappy, but once Udina left having given the bad news, he explained that he accepted the decision.

“Doesn’t seem fair, sir. You’ve waited a long time for this role.”

“That is true, Shepard, but what you’re about to do is far more important. I’m sure the Alliance will find something else for me to do. Hope I’m not stuck behind a desk though.”

“Well, if I’m in charge, who would be my XO?”

“You have a few options. My best suggestion with be Pressly. He has years of experience and is ready for such a role. Your other option could be Alenko. He’s a good man, and I know has been earmarked as a potential XO after his time on the Normandy. In the end, it’s your decision.”

Anderson told me I did have a bit of paperwork to fill in back at the office before I left, so that left me with everyone else. Looking at Wrex, Garrus and Tali, I asked, “So… What do you guys want to do? Considering I’m not a Spectre and this is my vessel, I mean, you guys have already helped so far.”

“Would you like us to join you?” Garrus asked.

“Yes, the assistance provided by the three of you has been invaluable. And I’m not one to turn down help when offered.”

“I’m in. I was getting tired of C-Sec anyway. Far too much red tape. I think there are problems with the Spectres but I sense you’ll be a good one, Shepard,” Garrus stated.

Looking at Wrex, the giant krogan just shrugged. “Nothing better to do, Shepard. Might as well be flown around the galaxy, hopefully fighting big fucking monsters sometimes.”

Finally, Tali, who I didn’t think would want to hang around with her Pilgrimage, so I did mention that to her. “The Pilgrimage proves we are willing to give of ourselves for the greater good. What does it say about me if I turn my back on this? Saren is a danger to the entire galaxy. My Pilgrimage can wait.”

I couldn’t help grin, suggesting the three prepare to leave the Citadel. Wrex and Tali didn’t have anything, so they boarded the ship immediately. Garrus joined me as we headed back to the Presidium, though he disappeared off to the Wards, where he did have a small apartment. He would return to the Normandy before I was done, or more than likely anyway.

Anderson had me fill in some forms, which basically turned the Normandy from an Alliance vessel into a Council vessel, though it was designated as being operated by a Spectre. In effect, it was mine alone. I still felt bad for the man, but he waved away my concerns, stating that finding Saren was what mattered in the end.

In regards to trying to find Saren, the Council had fed us information and, basically, no-one had a clue where he was. But I was given a few leads. One was on Therum, where the daughter of Matriarch Benezia, an archaeologist by the name of Liara T’Soni, was apparently working. They suggested tapping her up for information. Other than that, it was suggested I search for information on two planets, Noveria and Feros. I may find leads to Saren on either or both planets.

We shook hands before I left, wishing me luck for the future, and that he would always be available for advice if I needed it. “Not that I think you will, but you never know,” he stated.

On my way back to the Normandy, I was stopped by an Alliance Admiral just outside C-Sec Academy. I knew the man well, immediately coming to attention and saluting, before offering my hand. “Admiral Kahoku, it’s been a long time.”

“That it has, Shepard. Word about your elevation to Spectre status has spread like wildfire. Congratulations are in order.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“While I would like to say I’ve tracked you down for a friendly chat, unfortunately I must speak business straight away.” Gesturing to a nearby bench, we sat down before he continued. “I’ve been trying to gain an audience with the Council, but they have not yet granted me one. Not sure they will. So I thought I’d come to you and ask for your help.”

“What with?”

“A group of my men, marines, have gone missing in the Artemis Tau cluster. Their task was to locate and possibly retrieve a ship belonging to a freelance researcher named Armistan Banes. He’s disappeared as well, but to be honest, the most important thing is finding my men. Attempts to contact them have revealed nothing so far.”

“Which planet in Artemis Tau?”

“That I’m not sure of.”

“I have other assignments, but if I find myself heading in that direction, I will see what I can find out, Admiral.”

“That’s all I can ask, Shepard. Thank you.”

Rising to our feet, we shook hands before he headed off towards the Presidium. Heading onto the docks, the Normandy was sitting there, rather silent. I could help lean against the railing and just look at her for a moment. I almost had to pinch myself. Years of hard work had paid off. I was now the Commanding Officer of an Alliance vessel. So far removed from my time on the streets, it simply didn’t seem believable. If you wrote a script for a movie, they’d throw it out as being far too unrealistic.

Boarding my ship, Joker was in position, ready to move us out of dock and towards our first objective. Before doing that, I suggested I give a sort rallying speech to the crew. They would have been informed of the change in leadership. I felt I had to prove worthy of the promotion.

“Sucks about Anderson, Commander,” he stated as I heard the clamps disengage and the docking arm move away, “I’d watch your back. This thing goes tits up, it’s your head on the chopping block.”

“This is still his ship. We’re just… borrowing it for a while.”

“No matter what, we’re behind you all the way, Commander.”

“Thanks, Joker.”

“Don’t let the sarcastic front put you off, Commander. Behind it is a pilot who’ll fly you to hell and back if you want.” He cleared his throat. “Anyway, intercom is open if you want to make a short speech. Everyone knows about Anderson but they’re already willing to follow you.”

I cleared my throat, trying to think of what I should say. “This is Commander Shepard speaking. We have our orders; find Saren before he finds the Conduit. I won’t lie to you, crew. This mission isn’t going to be easy. For too long our species has stood apart from the others. Now it’s time for us to step up and do our part for the rest of the galaxy. Time to show them what humans are made of!

Our enemy knows we are coming. When we go into the Traverse, Saren’s followers will be waiting for us. But we’ll be ready for them too. Humanity needs to do this. Not just for our own sake, but for the sake of every other species in Citadel Space. Saren must be stopped, and I promise you all… We will stop him!

Joker, take us out. Our first destination is Therum. I believe we need to find this Doctor T’Soni and see what she can tell us.”

Chapter Text

Standing by the galaxy map, I realised straight away I could do two birds with one stone. Within the Artemis Tau cluster were four systems. Therum was in the Knossos system. Kahoku hadn’t been able to give me a pinpoint location on where the marines had gone missing, but sending out a few probes in each system should help me pick up something. If the marines had managed to get a distress beacon working, even better. Our ship should pick that up on the scanners.

Getting to the system we needed would require a few relay jumps, and then we’d have to fly through space to reach the system. We’d be looking at a little flight time before we’d hit the ground. The only concern I had regarding that is the system was deep in the Traverse. And despite the brave speech I’d made, I still didn’t want to have to face a roving band of pirates. Thankfully the stealth systems of the Normandy should keep us cloaked from any scanners.

The extended flight time gave me the opportunity to wander the ship and get to know my crew, as to be honest, I was rather new to the Normandy myself, so we’d barely got to know each other before I assumed commander. The enlisted men and women were immediately respectful, I think for a variety of reasons, one being my war record and, two, the fact I was the first human Spectre.

Speaking to Pressly, he surprised me by voicing his suspicion of the fact I’d hired non-humans as crew, believing the mission to catch Saren should be a human-only endeavour. I listened to what he had to say, believing he had the right to express his opinion, before I retorted, suggesting the fact we accepted the help from what we had one termed ‘alien’ races simply made the Alliance appear more open-minded and tolerant than perhaps other species in the galaxy. Adding to that, the Alliance could and should accept help from anyone who wished to ally with it in the face of such overwhelming danger. It was food for thought.

Ashley was also suspicious, particularly of Garrus. Her suspicion wasn’t a great surprise considering her personal history, and after doing a little research on her, it was rather sad to know she was basically banging her head against a brick wall in regards to promotion. I would do what I could if she proved herself in my team, but it appeared the entire Alliance had a chip on their shoulder regarding the Williams name. I gave her credit simply for joining up, knowing what she was possibly in for.

Kaidan was a rather private individual, not particularly wanting to open up to me yet. He admitted to suffering headaches because he was a biotic, but other than that, he wasn’t ready to open up yet. I’d give him time. Garrus was just relieved to be off the leash, showing absolutely no concern about quitting his job with C-Sec. Wrex just wanted to go and kill things. As for Tali, she was terribly excited, near enough bouncing off the walls, in regards to being allowed onto such an advance spaceship, explaining a few things about the Migrant Fleet, as I knew next to nothing about them.

Entering the correct system, I had everyone head down to the garage by the Mako, where I would explain how things would work. Anyone who had served in the Alliance would know about a Mako air-drop, a ship would fly down close to the ground, unloading the Mako, which would use small thrusters, though relying more on suspension to soften the landing.

“Okay, let me explain a Mako air-drop,” explained Shepard to the group, “LT. Chief. I have no doubt you’ve experienced an air-drop during your service. Correct?” Garrus, Wrex and Tali all nodded, all three keeping their faces inscrutable. “Okay. Wrex, Tali and Garrus. I’ll explain. It is not always possible for the Normandy to land on a planet’s surface. The Normandy is rather heavy, even for a frigate, so it is not always possible to land, and subsequently take off, depending on a variety of factors, two being atmosphere and the gravity field, another being whether docking facilities are available or not. To make infiltration and extraction easier, the Alliance uses a Mako air-drop. It’s quite simple. Joker will come in low over the surface. The Mako, this massive lump of metal beside us, with the team inside, will be dropped out of the hangar bay doors. The Mako will deadfall to the ground, where thrusters will be fired to allow a graceful landing on the surface.”

Wrex just started to rumble with laughter, so I assumed he thought it was fine. Garrus shook his head, muttering something about spirits. Tali wrung her hands, I assume nervously. “Any questions?” Surprisingly, all three shook their heads, so I must have explained it well enough that they knew what they were in for. “Now, usually, a Mako will only handle a driver, me, plus three occupants easily, five with a squeeze, any more than that and it does get rather uncomfortable. Since there are five of you here now, I don’t see the point of keeping any of you back on the ship. The Mako is used for transport and to eliminate those which cannot be taken out on foot. So, you’re all in for now. Grab armour and weapons, Joker will let us know when we’ve located the correct planet and we can be unloaded.”

As I was assembling myself in armour, Joker came over the comm, letting us know that he’d received a signal from a planet named Therum. I immediately pulled up any information about the planet on my omni-tool, and the words that leapt out were ‘Prothean Ruins’, so that explained why she was there.

“You won’t like this, sir, but the planet is crawling with other signals.”

“Who?”

“Think it’s the geth, sir.”

“Fuck, that’s all we need. Okay, thanks, Joker. We’ll load up in the Mako and wait for your word.”

Should have known those bastards would involve themselves again.


It was the moment that she always feared, working alone on dig-sites in the ass end of nowhere. She left a trail of footsteps in the soft dirt as she ran, her head down, her heartbeat thumping, breathing heavily, arms pumping, as she tried to put as much distance between herself and what she could only assume were geth. She carried her pistol in her left hand. It was cold for the moment, but had been hot only moments before, as the geth dropship suddenly appeared in the sky and geth units poured out.

Liara T’Soni was concerned. She had no idea why the geth would suddenly appear outside of the Veil, and of all places, on a planet that was primarily worthless, apart from the Prothean ruins that she had been investigating for the previous six months.

Why would the geth have any interest in Prothean ruins?

Liara could hear the occasional burst of gun-fire behind her but she knew she was leaving the geth behind as she ran towards what she thought was relative safety. She had also noticed a krogan battle-master working alongside, if not leading, the geth units. She had no idea why a krogan would be working with the geth, or vice-versa. It was a strange turn of events.

Liara turned her head as she ran. She could see the geth behind her, far in the distance. She thought she might just have a chance of out-running them. Escaping, though, was a completely different proposition. Her shuttle was parked up miles away on an abandoned space-port, and running there, in this atmosphere, would be impossible. As far as Liara knew, she had been alone on the planet. Liara was used to working alone. There were not many asari archaeologists of her age. Most asari her age were far too busy living the high life to traipse across the galaxy, rather than Liara, who enjoyed digging in the dirt, looking for information regarding a race that had disappeared 50,000 years ago.

She could almost grin to herself as the entrance to the mine-shaft appeared over the horizon.

Just another minute…

Up the ramp Liara ran, looking to her side to see the geth in the distance, the krogan lumbering behind them, shouting orders. The doors to the mine-shaft opened, Liara running as quickly as she could. The cavern she ran into was a treasure-trove of Prothean artefacts. She had been trying to piece together information on why the Protheans had just suddenly disappeared. What she had managed to find, so far, had been disturbing.

Two long elevator journeys to the bottom of the cavern had Liara fretting, as she was sure that the geth would be approaching, if not already in the mine-shaft itself. But, for now at least, Liara still had time. She ran into the large Prothean ruin that the miners had excavated in the previous year and started keying the terminal she had been using. She couldn’t read the language, but had worked out, through trial and error, what most of the commands did.

The sounds of metal on metal, as the geth ran along the walkway high above her position, caused Liara to pause for just a moment. She knew she was now trapped, but there was an ace up her sleeve. She keyed the buttons on the console and pressed the command she knew meant ‘Execute’. She looked to her right as the barrier started up and soon a see-through, near-invisible wall separated herself from her pursuers.

What do I do next though?

Liara just stood there and waited, her breath calming as her safety was assured for now. It would be a waiting game. She watched as the krogan exited the elevator and trudged towards her position, laughing to himself as he approached the barrier.

“Looks like you’re stuck in there, Miss T’Soni.”

“That may be so, but I’m still in here, while you’re stuck out there. Why don’t you see if you can get in? I find that highly unlikely,” replied Liara, a slight smirk on her face.

“Stop with the games, Miss T’Soni. If you just co-operate with us, I promise you will be unharmed.”

Liara chuckled, shaking her head. “And I’m to take the word of a krogan who has allied himself with geth?”

The krogan shrugged. “My boss thinks geth allies will prove to be an invaluable asset in the events to come. Your help is desired, and would be appreciated, at the same time.”

“Just who is your boss?”

“I can’t say. But he has seen things which have convinced the geth that their co-operation, with some organics at least, will be beneficial to their continued existence.”

“If you wanted me alive, why were you shooting at me in the first place?”

“I guess the geth were slightly over-zealous in their approach. Now, if you’ve asked enough questions, Miss T’Soni, bring down this barrier and stop wasting my time!”

“The only way I’m coming with you is if you’re dragging my dead body behind you.”

The krogan stepped right up to the barrier. “That can be arranged,” he growled.

Liara stepped up to the barrier herself, looking up as the krogan towered above her. “Good luck,” she said, before turning her back. She heard the krogan roar in anger, before turning around and walking off in a huff, issuing orders to the geth to look for a way to bring down the barrier. Liara sat down on the floor, only one thought now in her mind.

I wonder how long it will be until someone else comes to this planet?


The geth were ready and waiting for us this time. As soon as we landed the Mako, I put my foot down as everyone else within the Mako got to work. Garrus was handling the gun, wasn’t a particularly powerful cannon but it would do the job required. Tali was an engineer, so would look after shields and would hopefully keep the Mako running. Alenko would assist her. Ashley and Wrex were pretty much just along for the ride until we had to head out on foot.

“Garrus, do you need me to report targets? I’ve got a targeting system here.”

“No, Shepard,” the turian replied, “Targeting system here is perfect.”

“Good. Tali, report when shields are below 50%. I get readouts here but, if I’m distracted, I’d like to know. Other than that, just make sure this keeps moving.”

“Aye, Shepard.”

“Ash and Wrex, just hold on. This could get tasty.”

The M35 Mako was already a veteran of service having replaced the obsolete M29 Grizzly. With a 155mm cannon and coaxial-mounted machine gun, it had formidable firepower for what was effectively an APC. With thick amour in addition to shields, the Mako also came equipped with laser detection arrays and ground-penetrating radar. The tri-axle design, with tyres instead of tracks, allowed the driver to take the Mako nearly anywhere. I’d previously driven the Mako up inclines that seemed crazy until I crested the top. Basically, despite it appearing unwieldy, in the right hands, a Mako was invaluable.

The presence of geth was highlighted by the fact a geth dropship flew over our heads as we headed in what I hoped was the right direction. I figured it was only dropping soldiers, hearing Garrus start firing once we were in range, but I brought the Mako to a halt when I saw things I hadn’t seen before.

“Tali, I’ve already seen various geth soldiers. Don’t really care about all their names. But what the fuck is that?”

She took a moment to look through the scope before replying. “I’ve only heard of these, Shepard. We call them Armatures.”

“Know much about them?”

“No. I’ve only heard of them. We know there are two types similar; Armatures and one that goes by the name of Colossus. You can only imagine how big that would be.”

“Right, could be tricky. Garrus, get that cannon ready. No doubt it’ll be shielded, so it’s going to take some work. Tali, what sort of weapons do you reckon it has?”

“No idea, Shepard. But knowing the geth, perhaps a pulse weapon?”

“Great,” I muttered.

I’d had plenty of experience with the Mako, either driving or at the turret. I’d always preferred driving though, as I did like the semblance of control it gave me over the operation. Garrus soon has the machine gun firing in small bursts, announcing when he’d taken out a geth soldier. When we were within range of an Armature, I would hear cannon fire above my head. Though the Mako was insulated, it was still incredibly loud with the cannon and machine gun fire, plus the roar of the engine. That’s why we were all still wearing helmets inside the Maki, simply as it protected our ears. Well, all of us except Wrex. We didn’t have a helmet big enough, and we could hear his laughter over the roar of everything else. The krogan was enjoying himself.

Garrus certainly proved to be accurate, the geth soldiers falling quickly, while he handled the first couple of Armatures with relative ease. I didn’t race ahead as I was sure there would be at least one or two ambushes, Tali explaining that, with more numbers, the geth were more intelligent. It’s how they’d won the war against her people.

Eventually reaching some sort of industrial outpost, the geth had obviously been there long enough to build turrets. And those could get a lock on us, Garrus asking me to simply keep the Mako moving so he could get a lock on them. With geth also opening up on us, we were in a bind.

“Let me out, Shepard. I’ll help out on foot,” Wrex stated, “The human woman can help too.”

“My name is Ashley.”

The krogan laughed. “I know, but let’s see how your squishy form handles geth.”

I brought the Mako to an immediate halt, glancing back to see Wrex open the back door and head out, Ashley checking her rifle before she headed out too. “Me too, Commander?” Alenko asked.

“Tali?”

“I’ll be fine, Shepard.”

“Support them, Alenko. Focus on that tech skill you have.”

“Aye, Commander.”

Hearing the door slam shut and a slap on the roof, I moved the Mako immediately, checking radar and making sure I didn’t run over my colleagues. I had no real idea what they were doing, but opened the comm line so those of us left in the Mako had a general idea.

Garrus eventually eliminated the three turrets while I’m sure those on the ground helped out with the soldiers. No Armatures this time, but I was confident more lay ahead. There was a small fort like building ahead, Garrus sending a couple of cannon shots into it before Wrex, Ashley and Alenko headed into the facility. They were not in there long, Ashley signalling that I should move and they’d remain on foot.

“I’ll keep the pace gentle. Run into trouble, take cover behind us,” I ordered.

Aye, sir. But it’s better out here than in there,” Ashley retorted.

It’s not so bad. More of a dry heat,” Alenko added with humour

We eventually reached a gatehouse, the three outside heading up to take out a few geth that were on patrol. Once the barrier lowered, an Armature appeared, Garrus proving quicker to the driver, the cannon causing the geth machine to explode into bits. Waiting for the other three to signal they were ready, I pushed us forward, following the lone path ahead, amazed at the lava pools around us. The planet seemed to be completely uninhabitable, amazed they were even mining, left wondering if there were volcanoes that were ready to explode.

Something ahead caused me to slam on the brakes and turn to my quarian colleague. “Tali, is that a Colossus?”

“It is, Shepard.”

“Fucking hell, it’s enormous. Surely even our cannon will have to send in a few shots to take it down…”

“Get me close and I’ll take its legs.”

“Hmmm. That could work. Ashley, Kaidan, ever seen Star Wars?”

“No, what’s that?” Ash wondered.

I’ve heard of the name. What’s the idea, Commander?”

“This thing comes with one of those hooks right? What we do is get in close, fire the hook, then wrap wire around the legs so it collapses, then we blow it up.”

I heard laughter over the comm from Wrex. “You know what, Shepard? That might just be mad enough to work!”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, Wrex. Ash, the hook should be in one of the compartments to the left side. See if you can find it. Garrus, once we’re close enough, fire, as I’ll be going in fast.”

“I’ll know when to fire, Shepard.”

I got the revs nice and high before I slammed my foot down, heading straight for the Mako. I’m heard Tali mutter something to herself as the Colossus soon towered over us. Hearing the cannon fire, Garrus immediately reported connection, and I was soon sliding the Mako around the legs of the Colossus. Once I’d gone around four or five times, Garrus cut the cord and I drove us away, spinning the Mako around so we could watch what happened.

The Colossus tried to keep moving, but with its legs held by the wire, it couldn’t move, and it soon tripped over and fell. It didn’t explode immediately, Garrus firing the cannon until the Colossus exploded. I heard laughter over the radio from those outside before I figured getting out of there would be a good idea, assuming the geth would investigate the explosion.

Heading through a tunnel was a pain in the arse, as the geth were lying in wait for us, a couple of turrets and Armatures definitely proving troublesome, while geth with rocket launches nearly killed my colleagues outside. I did ask if they wanted to come back in, but Wrex suggested he would feel safer outside rather than inside the Mako. I think he was trying to insinuate my driving wasn’t great.

We continued to kill geth as we moved ahead. Occasionally I’d even run one or two over, and I did manage to send one Armature into one of the lava pools after running over it. Garrus was a natural with the cannon and machine gun, so I already knew that would be his job going forward. As for Tali, she was a genius with the shields, keeping them at a high percentage but ensuring it never effected the power output of the Mako.

I was hoping we could keep using the Mako until the very end, but we eventually reached a barrier I simply couldn’t drive the Mako through. Far too narrow. “End of the line, Shepard,” Alenko stated.

“Aye. Give us a moment. Garrus, Tali, we’ll need to go the rest of the way on foot.”

Clambering out of the Mako, I should have known we’d be fucked straight away. Not only were there loads of geth waiting, but there were two Armatures and a Colossus. I started issuing orders immediately. Anyone capable of tech would take out shields. Once shields were down, biotics would drag geth towards us, leaving them as easy pickings for Ashley and I.

Focusing on the foot soldiers first, we had to move fast as the Armatures and Colossus definitely knew we were around. More than once, one of us had to leap out of a way, a fired pulse shot landing far too close for comfort once or twice. But we managed to take out the foot soldiers quite quickly. I had grenades, so yelled out what I planned, running straight towards one of the Armatures, sticking grenades to three of its legs, before sprinting off the side for cover, sliding behind a barrier just as the grenades exploded, hearing the Armature collapse and explode seconds later.

Moving back towards the rest, they’d forward a line and were mixing up all sorts of attacks, biotic, tech and gunfire. The second Armature slowly but surely wilted under the attacks, and once that was down, it was the Colossus.

It took ages. Two of my colleagues focused on its shields while the third made sure it could fire its main weapon. Ashley, Wrex and I kept firing, and once its shields disappeared, we started to breach its armour and small fires soon appeared. I thought taking out its head would help, so all of us focused fire on that, and once that exploded, the Colossus simply collapsed to the side and blew up. By now, we were all feeling the strain but we still had to find Doctor T’Soni.

Heading into the ruin, I was left thinking it had been a mine before they found Prothean ruins. “I could be misinterpreting, Shepard, but I think the geth are here for other reasons than just stopping us,” Wrex stated.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they’re here in force, to locate an archaeologist? I don’t think they were here because they just happened to assume we’d be coming this way.”

I came to a halt as it was a bloody good point. “So… They’re here to what, take her?”

“Or kill her. She might be the daughter of Benezia but who is to say what their relationship is?”

“Guess we should talk to her then. That was the plan to begin with.”

It was definitely an old mine, operations likely coming to an end once they found the ruins. And even more geth were down there waiting for us. With six of us, I’ll try not to sound too arrogant when I say we handled them with relative ease. With all the tech and firepower on display, we caused havoc in their ranks, disabling shields, overheating weapons, and I’m fairly sure Tali managed to make a couple simply blow up. Ashley was certainly getting things out of her system, near enough taking the lead at times. I didn’t mind too much as long as she was sensible.

After taking out a few geth drones, we approached a barrier and had to divert. We had to clamber down collapsed walkways, assuming they’d collapsed long before the arrival of the geth. There was a coating of rust on a lot of the equipment around us, left thinking it had been abandoned for quite a while. We eventually approached another barrier and it was there that we could see an asari.

“Can you hear me out there? I’m trapped in here and I need help!”

“Doctor T’Soni, I presume?”

“Yes, that’s me. Listen, I’m willing to do introductions, but I’d rather do it after I’m released from this thing. This is a Prothean security device. I can’t move so I’ll need you or one of your friends to get me out of it.”

“Might as well release her then raise questions after, Commander,” Garrus stated.

“Agreed. Miss T’Soni, we’ll see if we can find some sort of release to get you out of there. Then you’ll need to answer one or two questions for us.”

“Of course. There should be some sort of control out there, but be careful. There is a krogan that appears to be in charge of the geth. Geth, outside the Veil! What is going on out there?”

It was a good question. Wrex was excited at the news of another krogan, mentioning that he wouldn’t mind going to battle if he was a fellow master. We had to arm ourselves again as the geth were still looking to get behind the barrier, handling them quite quickly with a series of tech attacks and plenty of bullets. No sign of the krogan yet, Wrex muttering his disappointment.

We eventually had to override an old mining laser to create a hole in the ground. Thankfully it didn’t attract the attention of any geth, and we managed to slide down the hole and ended up below where the asari was trapped. Finding an elevator, it took us up a level or two where we could see the asari trapped in some sort of field.

She sensed us coming, her voice a mixture of fear and tiredness. Finding the button to release her, she fell to the ground, stepping forward to help her up. She looked up into my eyes and, I’ll admit, I thought she was rather cute straight away. She took a step back to look over us and I saw the concern cross her face. No doubt she would have figured out we were not exactly there to rescue her, so no doubt wondered what we did want.

“Why are you here?” she wondered.

“We were looking for you, Miss T’Soni.”

“Please, considering you are my rescuers, call me Liara.”

“I’m Commander Shepard, Alliance Navy. These are my colleagues. We might make introductions later. What I can tell you, Liara, is that there’s a lot of shit going on and we were hoping you might some answers or information.”

“We should really get out of here.”

“True, but I’m not taking you anywhere until I know where your allegiance lies. Your mother is involved with a Spectre by the name of Saren. He is now persona non grata, and your mother was involved in an attack on Eden Prime. Saren has also allied with the geth, which might be a reason why they are here now, looking for you.”

“I haven’t spoken to my mother in decades and certainly have no idea what she is up to.”

“Pretty convenient,” Ashley stated.

“While it might seem so, it is the truth,” Liara retorted, “I want to know why the geth have come after me? Has Benezia really sent geth to kill her own daughter?”

“No, I don’t think she wants you dead. But Saren is looking for something, and considering what you are researching, you would no doubt be forced to help him.”

Before we could continue the conversation, the area we were standing was struck by a small earthquake, Liara calling it a ‘seismic event’, suggesting the laser we had used to rescue you had destabilised the ruins. Suggesting we should get out of here, everyone readily agreed. Using the same elevator, Liara got it working so we ascended all the way to the top.

Any thoughts we were going to get out safely ended when we stepped off the elevator, the barrier ahead having now disappeared as an enormous krogan walked through, flanked by at least half a dozen geth. I heard weapons being readied behind me though I kept cool, wondering if I might negotiate a way out. The krogan looked across the team before looking at me, I guess figuring I was in charge.

“Surrender. Or don’t. The latter will certainly be more fun.”

“This place is coming apart and you now want a fight? What are you doing?”

“Hand over the asari.”

I couldn’t help sigh. “Wrex?”

“Aye?”

“Want to kill this bastard?”

“Gladly.”

“The rest of you, kill the geth.”

I fired at one of the geth straight away, the impact of a shot impacting my shields as I got into cover behind the console. Glancing around, I saw plenty of tech attacks causing havoc with the geth shields, so immediately opened up, Ashley and I taking out two at the same time. I heard Tali near enough swearing to herself as she handled another geth, Garrus and Alenko appearing to fire at the rest. I took down one more before I swung my attention to the two krogan.

I was surprised they were fighting with knives and not guns. Yelling, “Why not just shoot the bastard?” Wrex simply replied that this would be the more honourable way of kill a fellow battle-master. Considering their size, the pair were rather graceful in their movements. Both ended up with numerous wounds.

“I can take the shot!” Ashley yelled.

“No! This one is mine,” Wrex growled in return.

Ashley, Garrus and I were all in position, ready to fire, checking no more geth approached. The mine was now really starting to shake, so I ordered Wrex to hurry up and kill him, otherwise we would assist. That forced his hand, proof Wrex had been toying with his opponent. His hand movements were deft, his opponent definitely surprised when Wrex buried the knife in his chest.

There was no time to waste as the seven of us made haste towards the ramps that would take us back towards the entrance. With every passing second, the shaking seemed to get worse. I heard everything collapsing behind us, one or two explosions at the same time. Dust was starting to blind us, yelling at everyone to just keep moving. Making it to the actual mine shaft, I was right on Liara’s footsteps, noticing her glance behind, eyes wide with fear. “Keep moving! Don’t stop!”

Most of us ended up jumping and rolling down the ramp outside, ending up in a pile at the bottom. I got to my feet first, helping up everyone else, noticing the Normandy is position nearby.

“Better not be like this all the bloody time,” Garrus muttered.

“Come on, Garrus. That was fun!” Wrex added.

After we managed to collect the Mako, we climbed aboard the Normandy and took off. We had some more questions for Liara and I assumed the Council would want a quick report of our progress.


Alenko and Ashley remained suspicious of Liara once we gathered for a meeting to breakdown what we’d discovered. Garrus was also a little suspicious, while Wrex didn’t really seem to care, and Tali was probably a little nervous to raise objections if she had any. As for Liara, she immediately admitted to having little contact with humans, but was thankful we’d arrived in time to save her from the geth, shuddering at the thought of what would have happened otherwise.

“What do you know about the Conduit?” I wondered, having mentioned it before but never getting a response.

“Only that it was somehow linked to the Prothean extinction. That is my real area of expertise. I have spent the past fifty years trying to figure out what happened to them,” Liara replied.

“Fifty years! God, I hope I look that good at whatever age you are,” Ashley exclaimed.

“How old are you?” I wondered. Everyone knew asari lived long lives.

“I hate to admit that I’m only one hundred and six, Commander.”

“Shit, I hope I look that good at your age!” Ashley stated, Alenko voicing his agreement.

“I know you live long lives…” I started to say.

Liara nodded before continuing. “A century may seem like a long time to short-lived species such as yourselves, or turian and quarian. Your krogan friend here knows something about a long life span.”

Wrex grunted. “It’s not all sunshine and roses, asari.”

Liara looked at him wide-eyed for a moment. “Anyway, my youth is the reason my research has not received the attention it deserves. Because of my youth, elder asari scholars tend to dismiss my theories on what happened to the Protheans.”

“I have a theory,” I stated.

I think Liara wanted to scoff, or at least snort. She managed to hold it back. “With all due respect, Commander…”

“Whenever someone says that, they really mean kiss my arse,” I retorted. Liara blushed, but I gestured for her to continue. “Look, I know I’m just a soldier. You’re a scholar. Tell me what you know.”

Liara cleared her throat. “As I was about to say, I have heard every theory possible. The problem is finding evidence to support said theory. The Protheans left remarkably little behind. It is almost as if someone did not want the mystery solved. It’s like someone came along after the Protheans were gone and cleansed the galaxy for clues.” She took a deep breath before continuing. “But here is the incredible part. According to my findings, the Protheans were not the first galactic civilisation to mysteriously vanish. This cycle began long before them.”

Liara continued, speaking about things like cycles, civilisations rising then being violently wiped out. There was barely to no evidence regarding such a theory, but considering what happened to the Protheans, it was as possible as any other theory anyone would have read. What she did know is that the Protheans rose up from a single planet to dominate the galaxy, rather different to that which we lived in, where numerous species lived somewhat harmoniously. Except the batarians…

But when she was done, that’s when I decided to drop the bombshell. “I can answer who is responsible, Liara. The Protheans, and possibly all those who came before, were wiped out by a race of sentient machines called the Reapers.”

Liara couldn’t quite believe it, immediately questioning my theory, until I told her about my contact with the Prothean beacon on Eden Prime. That gained her interested immediately as she knew all about beacons, and she immediately understood that the visions I’d received would make me confused, the visions unclear, as the beacons were made for Prothean physiology, not human. “I am amazed you were able to make sense of it at all. A lesser mind would have been utterly destroyed by the process. You must be remarkably strong-willed, Commander.”

Even I heard the tone. I wasn’t deaf nor dumb. Ashley decided hostility would work. “None of this is helping us find Conduit or Saren.”

Liara simply smiled. “Of course, I apologise. Call it simply scientific curiosity. And, unfortunately, I cannot provide any information regarding the Conduit at this time. As for Saren, I don’t even know the man and certainly don’t know where he is.”

There was no point continuing the meeting so I dismissed everyone, Liara heading off to see Doctor Chakwas, everyone else except Ashley heading off, only because I grabbed her forearm before heading out. She was a little surprise but she sat back down, taking the seat next to her.

“Something on your mind, Commander?”

“Just want to make sure you’re okay, Ash. And in moments like this, I’m Shepard.”

“Okay? What do you mean?”

“You experienced some rough shit on Eden Prime, Ash. And you were throwing yourself into the fight on Therum almost without care. I don’t want you throwing your life away, Ash.”

She met my eyes only for a moment before looking away. “I’m fine, sir.”

“Shepard.”

“I’m a soldier, Shepard. I’m used to seeing people die.”

“What happened on Eden Prime isn’t that simple. I’ve seen the mission reports.”

Now she looked back at me. “I’m not going to sit here and break down in tears, sir. I’m not like that.”

I couldn’t help smile. “And I’m not expecting that, Ash. I just want…” I paused. “You obviously know my record, correct?” She nodded. “I must have spent at least a year speaking with a psychologist after that. No matter where I was, I went to see someone once a week to get things off my chest.”

“Did it work?”

“Mostly, yes. Most people don’t know, Ash, but I will share with you so you can understand the loss I suffered. I was on Elysium with a woman by the name of Annie Stewart. We’d met a few months before when I was on Terra Nova, and we began dating. Elysium was the first time we’d been away together alone, as every other time, we were generally in groups.”

“Sir…”

I held up a hand. “We’d only been there a day or two at most before they arrived. I’d booked us a beachfront apartment, looking forward to a week of sun, sea and sex.” I noticed her blush slightly. “The morning it happened, I told her I loved her, Ash. The first time I said those three word to anyone.”

“Shepard…”

“I didn’t know she was dead until it was all over. I’d fought off a fuckload of batarians and whoever else. I was shot three times. Probably should have bled out but someone was looking out for me that day. Once I woke up in the field hospital, I immediately got up and hobbled towards the apartment block. There was nothing left, Ash. It was a ruin. I tried calling her on my omni-tool. I sent her message after message. I never received a response. I stayed until they found her body.” She reached across to grab my hand, giving it a squeeze. “Trust me on this one, Chief Williams. You will want to speak to someone about the losses. You will want to get everything off your chest. You carry that shit around in your heart, in your soul, it will destroy you. So I spoke with someone. I got angry. I cried. I wanted to put a pistol to my head and pull the trigger… But once you speak about it, once you clear your conscience, your gut, your soul, your heart, you will slowly start to feel better. Perhaps not like you were before the loss, but close enough.” All she did was nod, and I squeezed her hand in return. “I’m merely looking out for your welfare, soldier. You don’t want those dark thoughts in your head. Clear them away then focus on the next mission.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“No worries. That’s what I’m here for.”

We rose to our feet and made to head out. Just before we exited, she turned to hug me. It was a surprise to start, but I embraced her in return. “Thank you for giving a shit, Shepard.”

“Not sure who you’ve served under before, Ash, but I give you my word I will do everything I can to ensure we all come out of this alive.”

She leaned back, and I noticed her eyes glisten. “I’m going to hold you to that one.” I couldn’t help chuckle as she stood back, came to attention and saluted. “Commander.”

Returning the salute, she turned and disappeared, as I headed back to the galaxy map. It had been a long day so I suggested to Joker that we simply get out of the current system and we’d investigate the issue raised by Admiral Kahoku the next day.

Heading to my personal cabin, I had a shower, washing plenty of dust down the drain, enjoying the hot water, before I settled in the chair of my desk, writing a mission report to send to the Council, and also the Alliance. I might be a Council Spectre, but I was still human, and still technically part of the Alliance, so I’d keep them in the loop of whatever I was doing. I’m sure they’d appreciate the thought.

I ended up having a chat with Alenko in the mess, and over a beer or two, as considering this was now not an Alliance vessel, I’d made sure we’d stock up on certain things, he finally opened up. He’d been a student at BAaT, otherwise known as Biotic Acclimation and Temperance. To say he was still pissed about it all would be an understatement. He didn’t go into any great detail about his experience there but there was enough to suggest it was a wound still healing. In fact, despite the calm exterior, I had a feeling the experience had left him rather bitter. Going into some of the detail, it was no real surprise when thinking about it. I didn’t feel sorry nor pity him, he wouldn’t have wanted that, and there’s no doubt he came out stronger for it. But I could understand him being pissed off, and not wanting to speak about it too often.

He eventually headed off to a sleeping pod. I finished my beer as other crew members passed by, heading off to sleep themselves. Once I finished my beer, I headed back to my own quarters, going over the events of the day. All in all, it had been a success. We’d found Liara and found she was an ally, not an enemy. We learned a bit more about the Protheans, as none of us knew much about them before. Now we had two other worlds to visit and see what we could find.

First, though, was trying to find the lost patrol for Admiral Kahoku.

Chapter Text

I should have known it would be a trap. After Therum, we explored the other three systems, looking for an emergency signal or beacon that might relate to the missing marines. We eventually found something in the Sparta System, and after sending out some probes, eventually landed on the planet of Edolus.

Heading towards the signal in the Mako, I stamped on the brakes as we could oversee an enormous expanse of flat ground. In the middle, in the distance, I could see the burned remains of an Alliance vehicle. I wasn’t the only one to assume something was terribly wrong.

“What should we do, Commander?” Garrus asked.

“Keep that gun nice and ready, Garrus. Tali, make sure those shields stay up.”

“What’s on your mind?” Tali asked.

“No idea, but whatever did it isn’t good.”

It was a thresher maw. Never seen one myself. Nearly shit myself when it appeared in front of us. Wrex was very excited about it appearing, immediately opening the door and disappearing. I simply yelled at Ashley to close the door. “What about Wrex?” Alenko asked.

“I’ll talk to him later. For now, Garrus, light that fucker up!”

The thresher maw spat pure acid. I only learned that when it spat right at us and I didn’t move fast enough. Our shields must have dropped at least fifty percent at once, so I refused to stay still after that. Garrus assured me he could get a lock on the monster as long as we slowed down a little. I had Alenko and Ashley check to see where Wrex was, hearing both of them report that he was unloading his shotgun, the thresher maw focused on us instead of him.

“Well, he’s a slight distraction at least,” I muttered.

I’ll say right now; thresher maws can suck my fat one. They take far too many bullets and rockets to kill. However, although it seemed to take forever, we did finally kill the monster, the Mako erupting in cheers as the giant worm collapsed to the ground. Garrus sent a couple more rockets into it, just in case. I then drove us to the wreckage, all of us clambering out, Wrex jogging up to join us.

“You’re crazy!” Tali exclaimed.

“All good fun, my little friend!”

Gathering around the burned out remains, there were a few bodies around, though to call them bodies would be incorrect. Barely skeletons, parts of uniforms and weapons, it appeared the thresher maw had caught them completely by surprise. But it was what we found nearby that sent a chill down our spines.

“Commander,” Alenko said, looking back at me as he crouched by the transmitter, “This isn’t Alliance tech.”

“So…?”

“These marines were lured here, sir. Someone placed this transmitter here, knowing these marines would respond to the signal, and as soon as they landed, the thresher maw would have caught them completely by surprise.”

“Any idea who?”

“We can run diagnostics on the transmitter, but I’m not sure, sir.”

I couldn’t help sigh as it was such a waste of life. I called in the Normandy, the ship picked us up, and I immediately made a call to Admiral Kahoku, letting him know we’d found. His answers were short, no doubt pissed off with what we’d discovered, and I didn’t blame him, though he assured me he would be in contact later. I told him to call me as soon as he had a lead. I think he appreciated that. I would help him regardless, being a fellow veteran of the Skyllian Blitz. It’s why I had offered to help him originally.

Having spent at least a couple of weeks away, I ordered us back to the Citadel. While we could have been on the go for week after week, month after month, that would only wear out the crew and myself. Everyone needed a break to recharge the batteries, so I figured a return to the Citadel for at least a day or two would help everyone. We still had Noveria and Feros to investigate, I just had to decide which one we would tackle first.

It did take a couple of days to return to the Citadel, so by the time we’d returned, everyone was desperate to get off the ship. The Normandy was a frigate, a new build, so far more comfortable than certain other ships, but after a few weeks cooped up inside, it was little wonder nearly everyone wanted to get off to stretch their legs for a couple of days.

I was still busy at work as everyone headed out, Alenko and Garrus popping their heads through my door, stating they’d be heading to the Wards. I said I’d meet them later, finishing the report I’d send off to the Alliance, before I headed out alone. After spending my entire time around the crew, this was time I could appreciate by myself.

Heading away from the Presidium, I ended up in the Upper Wards, wandering around simply taking in the view, enjoying the atmosphere, which was so different to the rather sterile Presidium. It was while I was walking towards a nightclub called ‘Flux’, only because Alenko had told me everyone was there, that I ran into a reporter.

“Commander Shepard?”

I found myself walking towards an Asian woman, though given the world and the galaxy today, she might not have been. “Yes?”

“I’m Emily Wong. I’m an investigative journalist.”

“Okay, and what do you want from me?”

“I believe you’ve dealt with the criminal known as Fist.” I nodded. “Did you happen to pick up his OSD?”

“Um, no actually. We simply took care of him as he had information for us…”

“Then you killed him?”

“Oh, I didn’t. But a bounty hunter who works for me did.”

“Do you know where the OSD is?”

“No, but I can find out.”

“If you can find that for me, Commander, I would appreciate it.”

“I don’t work for free.”

“I can pay you.” I couldn’t help smirk, and she must have known as she started to blush. “Commander…”

“Please, Ms. Wong, my name is Shepard…”

“Emily.”

“Okay, Emily. I’m not that uncouth. However, I don’t need credits, so how about we meet up for a drink after I hand over the OSD?”

That made her grin. “A drink I can do, Commander.”

“Where should I meet you with the OSD?”

She keyed her omni-tool, a message pining on mine the next second. “This is a coffee place that I usually frequent. Once you have the OSD, meet me there once you’ve let me know you have it.”

There was no point heading to Chora’s Den as that had been cleaned up since I lasted visited. So I headed straight for the Executor’s office. I didn’t know the man well, but Garrus had told me about him during the past couple of weeks. Heading to the Presidium, I ended up at C-Sec Academy and eventually found his office. He was definitely surprised to see me walk through the door.

“What can I do for you, Commander?”

“Did you find an OSD on Fist, or somewhere in his office?”

The turian simply sighed. “That’s evidence, Commander, but I already know…”

I held up a hand. “I don’t want to make your life any harder than it is, Executor. I’m not going to go throwing my weight around as a Spectre as I know that’ll just piss everyone off. All I need is the information on it. I’m smart enough to at least copy what I need.”

He met my eyes, judging my sincerity. “This to do with former Spectre Saren?”

“Indubitably.”

He sighed again. “Fine, I can’t deny a Council Spectre, and I really don’t want Sparatus in my ear about being uncooperative.”

“I appreciate it.”

I’m sure he smirked, though a turian smirk was different. “I’m sure you do, Commander. I don’t have the OSD here. We’ve already dealt with the body. All his things are currently in lock-up a couple of levels below us. Head down there. Your Spectre authorisation will make anyone co-operate.”

Thanking him, I immediately headed out and downstairs, finding the lone turian who looked after the evidence lock-up. Once I let him know who I was, he was very friendly and helpful. He handed over the OSD I needed, and all I did was copy what I needed from it before handing it back. He seemed surprised that I did, I assumed figuring I would simply walk off with it.

Sending Emily a message, I grabbed a taxi and found myself heading towards Zakera Ward, eventually arriving only a short walk from the mentioned coffee shop. She had already arrived and waved me down, joining her at the table outside, an asari waitress quickly appearing to take my order.

“Do you have it?” she asked quietly once the asari took our orders. I handed over the copied OSD with a word. She downloaded the information instantly and started to look through it. “Holy shit, Shepard!”

“What?”

“Fist was neck deep in… I can’t believe it…”

“Well, I know he was working for the Shadow Broker at the very least.”

“Yes, he was. Though it’s clear that he turned his back on him. No warning from the Shadow Broker themselves, but it’s clear Fist knew that he had to prepare for a response.”

“Anything about Saren?”

She shook her head. “Nothing by name but there’s enough here to suggest something. His OSD will prove to be a treasure trove.” She finally looked, looked at me and smiled. “Thank you, Shepard.”

Our drinks arrived and work took a back seat, at least for a little while. She knew nearly everything about me, so I asked about her, and I think I surprised her by showing an interest. She was born on Earth, did well in school, had always wanted to be a journalist, joined the Alliance News Network, and now worked as an independent reporter on the Citadel.

We’d talked for so long that, after a couple of drinks, the light was fading. So I asked, “Want to go for another drink elsewhere?”

The smile returned was shy. In fact, I think she even blushed. “What? Really?”

I looked around. “Well, I don’t think I asked anyone else, Emily.”

“Where?”

“Somewhere with alcohol.”

“I know the perfect place!”

We actually ended up in Flux, where I was meant to meet everyone before. I did see Alenko and some others in there, but once they saw me enter with Emily, they left me alone. I ordered us a drink each before we found a booth in a corner. Despite the loud music, we could lean into each other and still chat, Emily taking a chance to ask me a few questions. I was honest in my responses. I didn’t go into detail about Annie, knowing she would always be part of my history, but once she realised I was single, something in her eyes changed.

Once I realised she was perhaps interested, I took a chance to lean down and kiss her. She responded immediately, feeling her move into my body as I wrapped an arm around her. Once the kiss deepened, tongues introduced, I definitely smiled when she whimpered from a simple kiss. Eventually having to break it, she reached up to caress my cheek. “Okay, been a long time since someone kissed me like that,” she said quietly.

“I’m going to take a chance, but want to get out of here?”

“God yes, Shepard.”

I stood up, grabbed her hand, and we casually walked out. A few of the Normandy crew was still in the same club, but they didn’t even notice us leave, or if they did, they ignored it. Emily led me towards the nearest taxi rank, and somehow we managed to behave in the backseat as her apartment complex came into view. Once landed, she led me by the hand towards the complex, walking in past the concierge before boarding the elevator. Only in there did she leap on me again, her mouth eager for mine and I soon had her pressed against the side, feeling her leap up so she could wrap her legs around me, one of my hands going to her arse, giving it a squeeze.

Once the elevator dinged, I simply carried her out towards her apartment, and once inside, there was no suggestion of anything except heading towards her bedroom, giving me directions so I knew where I was going. Sitting her down on the bed, clothing was rather quickly removed, and once my cock was revealed, I heard the gasp and she smiled up at me. “Well, consider me impressed, Shepard,” she whispered, her hand immediately starting to stroke me.

“Yeah, if you think I’m just going to stand here and get blown, you’re going to be disappointed.”

She looked up at me with such a smile, and also surprise, I couldn’t help chuckle. Picking her up again, she wrapped her legs around me as I crawled on my knees down the bed before I flipped onto my back, Emily now above me. She broke the kiss and looked down at me. “So…”

“Oh, I think you should flip around right about now, Emily.” She all of sudden turned very shy, placing a finger under her chin, so she met my eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re having second thoughts? If you are, that’s fine. I can…”

“No, not that… It’s just… You’re him…”

“Who?”

“Commander Shepard. Elysium. Eden Prime. The first human Spectre.”

I leaned up to kiss her. “And I’m here right now with you, Emily, so that’s all that matters.” I paused before adding, “And during the next however long it lasts, my name is John. Or Shepard. So spin that fine body of yours around, as I want something in my face.”

That made her giggle, but she did what I asked, her legs to either side of my head as she lowered her pussy. No surprise she was already wet. A surprise she was completely shaved. Didn’t see that too often nowadays. Touching her with my tongue, she nearly jumped off my body as she was starting to pleasure me with her mouth.

“God, Shepard, you truly are blessed.”

“I’ve had compliments before.”

“Compliments? Once we’re done here, I’m definitely going to want this inside me”

I couldn’t help chuckle before wrapping hands around her thighs and dragging her pussy to my mouth. By all that is holy, she tasted divine. And I used all the expertise I’d learned to get her off. I ran my tongue along her lips, noticing they were engorged and no doubt sensitive, before running my tongue along her entrance, dipping my tongue and causing her to moan even louder despite the fact my cock filled her mouth.

I took a chance to even tickle her arsehole at the same time. That just made her giggle before I moved back down. I wasn’t going to suggest something like that the first time, simply enjoying her taste and I loved eating pussy anyway. While I did that, I couldn’t ignore what she did to me. Her tongue rang along my shaft for a few minutes before I felt her lips wrap around my cock, and she slowly but surely took my length. Whether she took my entire length, I’m not sure, but she sure did a fine job regardless.

I made her cum first, which is always a good feeling as a man. I ate her out for a while, ignoring her clit entirely, but once I touched that, her orgasm was assured, as turned on as she was. All I needed to do was touch her clit a few times over the next few minutes, and once she told me she was close, I focused on her clit entirely and when I felt her shudder, I knew she was close if not about to cum.  When she breathed my name and couldn’t focus on me anymore, I knew she was ready to cum, and going to cum hard. And that’s just what happened.

It was beautiful, feeling her writhe in my hands, continuing to pleasure her before she simply had to ask me to stop. Taking a few deep breaths, she lifted herself up and swung herself around, straddling my body and immediately kissing me, not desperately, more in appreciation for what I’d just done. “Gods, Shepard,” she moaned.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

“I haven’t had my pussy treated like that in ages.” The smile on my face simply broadened. “I should finish you…”

“Oh no, I’d rather something else.”

That made Emily smile. “Oh… And what would you like, Shepard?”

I faked looking at my watch. “Well, let’s just say, I wouldn’t mind doing certain things that would leave us hot, sweaty and sticky over the next few hours.”

That made her giggle. “Hours?”

“Well, we’ll need a break for a drink every so often.”

She leaned down to kiss me, lifting herself up, reaching back to grab the base of my cock before I felt the tip placed at her entrance. “Shepard, I’ve never been with a man on the first date,” she whispered.

“So I’m special then?”

She kissed me softly again. “You’re Commander Shepard,” she whispered, “I’m not the only one who wants this.”

Lowering herself slowly on my cock, I couldn’t help groan once I was buried inside her. By god, she was tight, feeling her shudder and shuffle as I didn’t even trust myself to move. If I did, I’d probably cum really hard. She took at least a minute to get comfortable, her knees to either side of my body, as she leaned forward. I ran my hands down her body, eventually resting one on her arse, the other running up and down her body. Otherwise, she simply met my eyes as she slowly rode me, moving my legs so I could thrust up into her at the right angle.

“Shepard,” she breathed.

“Won’t last long,” I muttered.

The smirk reappeared. “Oh, I’m sure you’ll recover quickly.”

I moved my other hand down to her arse and started to fuck her. She grabbed the headboard and simply settled in for the duration. I enjoyed all the noises she made, but I was more focused on my orgasm by now. Watching her face, she loved being fucked, urging me on to finally cum inside her. I can only last so long until I needed to finish, letting her know I was close. That’s when she leaned down to give me a soft kiss before resting her forehead against mine. “Don’t worry, Shepard. It’s fine,” she whispered.

So I came inside her, and I’ll admit, I came really hard. The sort of toe-curling orgasm that causes one, a male, to nearly if not pass out from the euphoria. Relaxing back on her bed, I heard Emily giggle as she rested on top of me, feeling her breasts press into my chest, with it enough to run a hand up and down her back. We lay together in silence, both of us now having enjoyed at least one orgasm.

“Well…”

“How long until you can go again, Shepard?” I couldn’t help chuckle. That made her look up. “Oh, trust me on this one, I want you to fuck me now.”

“On your back, legs in the air?”

“Something that like.” I felt her squeeze me with her pussy, always a good thing. “All I know is that I don’t plan on sleeping until later.”

So Emily ended up on her back around fifteen minutes later. Wrapping her hands under her knees, she spread herself wide, as all I did was slide my cock inside her, lean down to give her a gentle kiss… and then I fucked her. And I mean properly fucked her. However, while I was going hard, I could rest on one arm and still tease her, managing to play with her clit at the same time. That just drove her wild, and she eventually had to release her legs, wrapping them around me as her arms wrapped around me, dragging me down to kiss her.

“Oh my god!” she cried. Grabbing a pillow, I placed it under her arse, knowing it would change the angle. Once I started to fuck her again, she cried, “Holy shit, Shepard!”

“What?” I managed to ask casually.

I swear, I think she was close to getting emotional. “Holy shit, I’m about to cum again!”

Leaning down to her ear, I whispered, “Then cum for me, Emily. Cum for your Commander.”

Arms wrapped around me again, her legs wrapped around me tightly as I heard her start to groan into my ear. I was utterly pounding her by now, lifting her off the bed by now, but she was loving every second. When I felt her shake in my arms, I knew she was enjoying another orgasm, hearing her whisper for me not to stop until, around a minute later, she did ask me to stop. I stayed still, buried inside her, as she lay back and sucked in a few deep breaths.

She looked up and smiled once again. “Holy shit!” I’ll admit, I felt a little embarrassed. She was the first I’d been with since Annie who wasn’t a woman or asari I’d paid for, so hearing all her genuine comments felt good. “Hang on, you haven’t finished…”

“Don’t need…”

She smiled as she gently pushed on my chest so I sat up. She then gestured for what I should do, lying on my back as she kneeled between my legs, gently stroking my cock. “Now Shepard, I’m going to suck your cock until you finish. And all you need do is cum. Trust me, I will take whatever you give me.” I couldn’t help smile as she leaned up to kiss me. “Do you know how long it’s been since a man gave me a few orgasms?” I shook my head. “Never, so trust me, this is my treat.”

Damn, she was good before, but now that I wasn’t returning the favour and she could concentrate on my cock, she was brilliant. I was never going to last long, but the fact she could swallow my length? I was above average, I knew that, and previous lovers knew that. Annie loved the fact. But it was clear to me, then and there, that Emily had no gag reflex. And she seemed to love going down on me, her eyes looking up as my nearly my entire cock disappeared inside her mouth.

No man would last forever being shown the sort of appreciation Emily was showing me. I warned her I was about to cum, but all she did was look up again and seemed to smile. My arms were long enough to run a hand through her hair, which she definitely seemed to appreciate, before warning her again I was about to cum. I groaned loudly as the first shot would have taken her by surprise, but I never felt her lips remove. In fact, I’m sure they tightened around my cock as I felt my cock fire at least half a dozen good shots into her mouth before it quivered and finally seemed to be empty.

Emily kept pleasuring me until she was sure I was empty, one of her hands caressing my chest, the other gently caressing my cock. Finally removing her lips, I couldn’t help be slightly startled at the fact she had swallowed my cum as she kissed my chest before she straddled my groin once again, leaning down to kiss me. “Well, you don’t taste half bad, Shepard,” she whispered.

I dragged her down so I could kiss her again. “I’m eating your pussy again in the morning,” I growled. That just made her giggle. “But I’m thinking we should shower right now.”

She had a luxurious bathroom, the shower large enough that we could relax together under the water. After washing each other, we simply hugged under the water, both of us no doubt feeling incredibly relaxed. “Can this happen again”? she finally asked.

“I don’t see why not. I just… I don’t…”

“I understand, Shepard. Honestly, all I need is a little stress relief myself. And if someone like you were to knock on my door every so often…”

“I can agree to that arrangement.”

We dried each other off then headed to her bed. When she spooned herself against me, wrapping my arms around her, it felt nice. Better than nice. Unlike the numerous other partners I’d been with since Annie, Emily wanted to be with me at that moment because she genuinely wanted to. I gave her a gentle squeeze, feeling her run a hand up and down one my arms. “Don’t get attached,” she whispered.

“What? Me?”

“No… Me, Shepard. I’m a professional….”

That made me chuckle. “Well, most of the time.”

She flipped around to face me, wrapping me arms around her as she nestled her head under my chin. “I can separate my job and this. Can you?”

“Easily. Though I now have a reason to return to the Citadel every so often if this is going to happen.”

“Maybe not just straight to bed though? Perhaps you could treat me to dinner first?”

“I can do that.”

She smiled again before turning around, shuffling back into my body. I heard her sigh and I think she was rather content with life. She was the first woman I’d been with since Annie who wasn’t bought and paid for. I’d practically avoided any sort of personal life, and if I’d wanted to get off, I’d find a place of ill-repute, though somewhere classy, similar to the Consort though less expensive than her.

Waking in the morning, I kept my promise of eating her pussy, giving her a couple of orgasms that had her smiling all the way through the shower we shared again and definitely through breakfast. Nothing more than some toast and coffee, but she certainly had a spring in her step as we headed out of the building. We had to part at the taxi rank, she would be heading to work, while I would head to the Normandy. Hugging her tightly to me, I heard her whisper again, “Don’t get attached,” before I leaned down to kiss her.

“Thinking the same, but I had a great night, Ms. Wong.”

“You had better come back and see me, Commander Shepard.”

“Definitely.”

I already had her contact details, so she simply told me to call her whenever I was back before she slid inside a cab and disappeared. I took a taxi back towards the docks, getting out early so I could simply stroll along for a little while, whistling a tune to myself. I probably looked rather happy and relaxed, noticing the occasional grin from people passing by me.

It was while I was heading back to the ship that I found myself stopped by an incredibly well spoken woman. No idea who she was but she definitely seemed to recognise me, though considering my face was now all over the news, I guess that was little wonder. “Commander Shepard, I was hoping to meet you here.”

“Oh, and why is that, Miss…?”

“My name is Helena Blake. And, well, I will admit that I am in the need of some help. I cannot go to the regular authorities due to the nature of my business. Therefore, I have a business proposition for the lone human Spectre that can operate outside the rules.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “Listen, lady, all you need say is you run some sort of criminal enterprise. Everyone knows my record by now.”

She smiled. “Very well. I am part of a rather successful criminal syndicate. I won’t go into details, but I do have a matter which should concern you. Two of my business partners have decided to change the course of our organisation, doing things I can simply not agree with.”

“Such as?”

“Well, for one, they have started dealing in red sand. I cannot abide by drug taking. The second thing is that they have started dealing with batarians and the slave trade. I figured those two things alone would gain your interest and perhaps you would be willing to deal with them.”

“What do you get out of it?”

“Complete control of the organisation and I can guide it the way I see fit.”

“And what do I get out of it?”

“Would credits do?” I simply gave her a look she couldn’t misinterpret. She started to blush before stepping forward. “My, Commander, I’m old enough to know this could be a very bad idea,” she said softly.

“Possibly, but I can assure you we’ll also have a hell of a lot of fun.”

“And you’re serious? That’s all you’d want?”

“Fine woman such as yourself, all you need do is join me for dinner, a drink, and if you’re interested, we can do other things after that.” She was speechless for a moment; I think honestly not believing me. “So you don’t think I’m a complete arse, I’m not actually expecting the third thing. But dinner and drinks would be nice.”

“I could get your credits, weapons... Yet all you want is, what, my company?”

“Yep.”

“Despite who I am?”

“Oh, definitely because of who you are. Might learn a thing or two.” That made her laugh, the sort of sound that definitely made me feel funny. “So, is that your agreement?”

She stepped forward, resting a hand on my chest before leaning up to kiss my cheek. “Dinner and drinks does sound very nice, Commander. And if you were to sweep me off my feet, as they say, I think I could find the third thing rather enjoyable too.” She stepped back and keyed her omni-tool, sending me some information. “For protection, the two work on separate planets, in separate systems, in separate clusters. Once you’ve taken care of them, you’ll find me on the planet of Amaranthine, in the Horse Head Nebula. That’s my base of operations.”

“Okay. I have a few other things to do obviously, but if I’m in the area, I’ll certainly take care of these two fools.”

“You have my thanks, Commander,” she said, before catching me slightly by surprise when she kissed my cheek. “I look forward to seeing you again soon.”

She turned and walked away, and I definitely watched her go. I wouldn’t guess picking her age. Older than me, but younger than say Chakwas. I knew how old she was, and I already knew I’d have some fun with her if the opportunity presented itself. Considering humans now lived much longer, and thanks to genetic engineering, you only started to look old once you were past triple figures. Did leave me wondering why some people let their hair go grey or silver at a young age though.

Upon approaching the ship, there was a gaggle of people waiting to board, including all my new team, noticing them all turn towards me as I walked towards them. “Good night, Commander?” Alenko asked.

“It was, Lieutenant. And you?”

“Oh, we had a few drinks, some of us danced, but we noticed you enter and leave with someone.”

“Emily Wong,” Garrus stated, “I’ve read one or two of her articles. Good at her job.”

“I helped her with something,” I said with a shrug.

“Uh-huh,” Alenko stated.

“You fuck her?” Wrex asked.

“A gentleman never tells, Wrex. Then again, I’m not exactly a gentleman, but I’m not one to speak of private moments either.”

“Yeah, you fucked her alright.”

“Where are we heading next, Shepard?” Ashley asked.

Gesturing to the air lock, I suggested we board and get ready to depart and I’ll let them know. Wrex continued to make a joke or two at my expense, making note of the fact I seemed to be in a rather good mood. Joker was already in place; aware he didn’t move around all that much due to his disease. The rest of the crew was in position, Pressly standing in his usual place by the galaxy map.

“Have an idea of where to go next, Shepard?” the Navigator asked.

“I’m thinking Feros. I’ve done a little reading about it. Zhu’s Hope is a small colony there, apparently based within the remains of an enormous Prothean city. Why it wasn’t completely destroyed, I’m not sure. Might have to ask Liara about that. And part of me thinks a colony like that could be the perfect target for Saren and his geth.”

“Any other messages or requests of help?”

“I’ve just had someone ask for some help but, for now, I think we’ll focus on Feros. The other thing we can worry about afterwards.”

Inputting our destination into the galaxy map, Joker confirmed and I got to work as he back the Normandy out of dock and set us on our way. After reading through a series of small requests and other messages before I headed down to the mess, Alenko in his usual place, glancing to see Liara and Chakwas deep in conversation in the med-bay. I didn’t just want to stay in my room the entire time, isolated from the crew, so figured I would head down to the garage.

Wrex was standing around doing absolutely nothing as usual. Garrus was tinkering with the Mako, and he was in a world of his own, so I left him to it. Tali was in deep conversation with Chief Engineer Adams, who had already been in my ear, and had sent me numerous messages, about how he loved having a quarian with him. Ashley was busy dealing with weapons and armour, so I figured I’d bother her.

“Enjoy your time on the Citadel, Chief?”

“Yes, sir,” she replied, busy putting an Avenger back together.

“Few drinks and a dance?”

She gave me a look and smirked. “Don’t want to see me dance, sir.”

“You and me both. I can dance on the battlefield but on a dancefloor? New born giraffe shows more grace.”

She looked away before saying, “Seemed to be enjoying yourself with Ms. Wong though.”

“We had a nice night together.”

“How long have you been dating?”

That made me chuckle. “We’re not dating, Chief. That was our first date, though calling it that would be… Well…” I trailed off and cleared my throat.

Now she looked at me with a smirk. “So I’m assuming Wrex was correct then.” She held up a hand. “You don’t have to say anything, sir. I think it was rather obvious the way you came strolling towards us.”

I thought I’d make a joke of my own. “Sounds like someone is jealous, Chief.”

She snorted, which simply made me laugh, which made her laugh too. “Think highly of yourself, sir?”

“I’ve been told I have a certain charm.”

She gave me a sideways glance. “Well, even if I was interested, that would be fraternisation between two Alliance soldiers. And that would be wrong, sir.”

“Though technically I’m still Alliance, I think my Spectre status would supersede that.”

“While that might be true, you would still be a superior officer trying to get into the pants of a non-commissioned officer. Not sure how favourably people would look at that, sir.”

“Anyone would think you were suggesting something, Chief.”

“Me? Not at all, sir.” She glanced at me for a second. “Are you?”

“I’m not suggesting anything either. Merely having a conversation with my Chief.”

“That’s good. Anyway, are we off to Feros or Noveria?”

“Feros.”

“Good. Hopefully we’ll run into more of those geth bastards.”

“Have you taken my advice?”

She nodded. “Chakwas has a bit of history regarding psychology, so she’s offered to sit down with me once a week. That and the occasional day or two away from the ship to clear my head will help me going forward.” She now looked at me in the eyes. “Thanks for actually giving a shit, Shepard.”

I recognised the use of my name. “No problem, Ash. And you ever need to talk, my door is always open.”

The journey from the Citadel to Feros took a couple of days, though everyone had a job to keep themselves occupied. With each day that passed, the crew was more comfortable around each other. Anderson had recruited the best possible people for every position when he’d been given the command of the Normandy. I certainly wasn’t going to charge in and change everything, trusting his judgement and selections.

Joker let me know when the Normandy entered the system, and I could hear him trying to contact someone on the ground once we entered the atmosphere. Zhu’s Hope was the only colony on the planet, so if they were not responding, that wasn’t good. “Just take us in, Joker. All we can do is land and see what the deal is.”

“Aye, sir. Taking us in. Hopefully there’s some sort of dock I can slide us into.”

Looking through the windows, spires sprung up from the low cloud cover, left wondering just what lay underneath. Zhu’s Hope was a relatively new company. Trying to find out anything about Feros itself was difficult, almost as if it was a secret.

Joker continued his attempts at contacting someone on the ground before we broke through cloud cover to see the expanse of the ruins below us. Joker and I whistled together as he managed to get a lock on the colony at least, his fingers flying across the holographic screens in front of him, slowly but surely bringing the ship into dock.

By the time I turned around, my team was armed, armoured, and ready to move out. Putting on my helmet, I led the way to the airlock and into one hell of a shitstorm. The geth were there, and they were there in force.

Chapter Text

To call the situation on Feros, and in particular Zhu’s Hope, a clusterfuck would be a vast underestimation of the situation on the ground. To be honest, I wouldn’t even know where to start. Actually, I do. Right after we’d stepped off the Normandy

We might not have established communication with the ground but they knew we’d arrived, someone running towards us after we’d disembarked. Weapons were readied though I signalled to lower them as the human came to a stop. He introduced himself and told us their leader, Fai Dan, wanted to speak with us. Before we could even ask a single question, the geth shot him. I caught his body as my colleagues opened fire, moving him into cover before I joined in the fight. No idea how many geth there were, but we killed them all quite quickly.

By the time we were done, our greeter was dead, and that just put us all in a bad mood. But the geth now knew we were there and they sent numbers of them in our direction. The ancient ruins were falling apart, amazed anyone had managed to establish a colony, and the constant gunfire exchanged between our group and the geth probably didn’t help matters. The geth had stronger units on Feros than on Therum, with geth that had rocket launchers at their disposal, and there were also these geth that seemed to leap really fast, and could hang from walls and ceilings. My biotic colleagues helped with them.

Just getting to the colony was a pain in the arse. By the time we walked into the middle of it, I think all seven of us was left wondering what the point of it really was and why they hadn’t simply abandoned it. There was the wreckage of a freighter that acted as housing, plenty of tarpaulins and tents to provide shelter. There appeared to be little vegetation and I did wonder about a water source. A colony without water was doomed to fail.

By the time we reached Fai Dan, we’d barely exchanged greetings when the geth attacked in force again. I told the colonists to get to safety as the seven of us spread out and opened fire. Tali was raining tech attacks down on them, Alenko and even Garrus assisting her. Liara and Alenko were mixing up their biotic attacks, and I learned they could cause explosions at the same time. As for Ashley, Wrex and I, it was a shooting gallery. No idea how many of the bastards we left on the ground, but we took great joy in riddling them with many, many bullets.

We eventually moved into the tower, wiping out any geth resistance there, before moving our way through the ruins, the geth presence reminding me of cockroaches. They were absolutely everywhere and refused to die easily. I have no idea where we ended up, simply turning left and right until we were pretty much lost, but as long as we fought geth, we knew we were doing the job. As the geth fell and we cleared each section, we also sent any colonists we found back the way we’d come, assuring them the path was now clear.

Ending up in a dead end full of geth, I was left thinking this was their last stand, at least for now. There were all sorts of geth waiting for us, including an enormous fucker that Tali called a Juggernaut. Ashley and I sent grenades at it while Wrex thought charging it head on was a good idea. There were explosions around us as rocket drones flew overhead, Tali and Alenko taking care of them. Liara was in the thick of the action with her biotics, amazed at her skill, not as a biotic, but by the fact she was getting stuck in with the rest of us.

When the last geth fell, a dropship that had been resting above us immediately took off, making me wish I had some sort of missile launcher to take the ship down. However, that signalled the worst of it over, so I suggested we head back to the colony and ascertain the situation. I was thinking of an immediate evacuation, though assumed the colonists would want to stay and fight.

It was immediately clear that Fai Dan was a good man and cared for the colony and its people. But no-one could really explain why the geth were attacking. However, the geth had established a presence on Feros, using ExoGeni headquarters as their base.

“ExoGeni?” I asked. Never heard of them, glancing to see everyone else shrug their shoulders.

“It’s the company most of us worked for before the attacks. They fund this colony,” Arcelia replied, who seemed to be Fai Dan’s number two, “The Skyway leads directly to ExoGeni HQ. You can’t miss it.”

“Of course, there’s an army of geth between here and there,” Fai Dan added.

“No problem. Every geth we killed brings us one step closer to finding Saren.”

“Then maybe I can get this colony operational again.”

“Having problems?”

He looked across my team. “I wouldn’t know where to start. There are the mundane issues, like food, power and water. But then there are the geth in the tunnels. We believe they have a transmitter as their attacks always seem to be co-ordinated.”

Turning to my squad, I suggested we could help the colony out first before moving on. I had Tali and Alenko assist with the power and water issues, and Wrex was happy enough to help regarding the food once he learned he could kill some varren. That left Ashley, Liara, Garrus and I to deal with the geth in the tunnels. It was another shooting gallery, and the bastards were guarding a transmitter. Liara offered to switch it off. Ashley and I simply threw a few grenades and blew the thing up.

Returning to the colony, Tali and Alenko had got the power on at least, noticing lights were now on in the freighter, and there were a few lights dotted around otherwise. I could see nearly all the colonists were exhausted, so offered to have my team keep watch for the evening so everyone could get some rest. Over a fire, I spoke with Fai Dan about Zhu’s Hope and what life was once like before the attack. It seemed like many had been killed, and those left were the last hope it would survive. I offered to evacuate and, while thankful, he refused, stating the colony was his home and he would not go without a fight, willing to die for it if necessary. I couldn’t help but respect the man.

I did ask about ExoGeni as well, but apart from the fact they bankrolled the colony, and were interested in various artefacts, no-one was sure why they were on the planet when they hadn’t managed to find anything yet. I think there was more to it but I doubted Fai Dan or any of the other colonists would know, probably kept in the dark for a reason.

I took one of the later patrols with Alenko and Tali. The former kept to himself, which wasn’t unusual, so I found myself chatting with Tali. She was still as excitable as her first day on the Normandy, and I could only compliment her for her bravery every time we fought the geth.

“There’s a lot of hatred of the geth from my people, considering what they did to us.”

“What did they do?”

“You don’t know?”

“Quarian history isn’t something we’ve been taught a lot about.”

She nodded in understanding. “Fair enough. The easiest way to explain it is that the quarians made the geth, they were our servants but we also cared for them, then one day, they chose to turn on us, killed most of our people, and caused us to flee into exile. They now infest our homeworld while our people drift amongst the stars.”

Sounded simple. Probably wasn’t. But I wasn’t in the position to argue. “Could you ever take your homeworld back?”

That made her laugh. “Shepard, we have fifty-thousand or so ships but most of them are either transporters or habitation ships. We have a heavy fleet, but it’s not large enough to take on the geth. We would need the help of the Council to take our homeworld back, something they have never shown any interest in doing. They believe it is our fault, stripping us of our embassy and forcing on us a treaty forbidding us to attack them.”

“Doesn’t really seem fair.”

“It isn’t but it also prevents us from doing something completely suicidal. So now we just drift aimlessly. No quarian has set foot on our homeworld for three hundred years. No-one alive even knows what it really looks like. Everything was lost when we fled. Culture and history, gone in an instant. The only thing we’ve really kept alive is our language.”

“Language is what binds many people on Earth together.”

“You have more than one?”

“We use English as a global standard and is the language we use throughout the galaxy. But back on Earth, there are many local and regional languages.”

Tali sighed. “If we had something like that, the rest disappeared a long time ago now. All we have left is Khelish, which I think was a major language anyway but… As I said, we lost nearly everything during our exodus.”

“Guess I can’t sit here and complain about anything now.”

She gave me a look before starting to giggle. “It’s not all bad, Shepard. Our hardships have brought us closer together as people. Everyone works for the benefit of the Fleet. We make do with what we have.”

“Guess the Normandy is an upgrade then?”

“Shepard, it’s so advanced, I still can’t believe I’m on your ship most of the time.”

“Adams speaks highly of you so I made the right choice.”

“Can I ask a personal question?”

“Sure. About what?”

“Well, I’m sure you’re thinking something about your past, or Elysium but… When Wrex asked you about that lady reporter…” I couldn’t help but look at her in surprise. She seemed to notice and shrugged. “I’m a quarian, Shepard. Relations of that kind are practically impossible unless they take place in the right conditions.”

“Do you really want to know?”

“I’m intrigued as I have a feeling Ashley was jealous, while Liara I think was… disappointed.”

“And you?”

She just gave me a gentle push. “Behave, Shepard. So, did you have… you know, sex with her?”

“Why are you interested?”

“Because I’m not blind. You’re a good looking man in addition to being undoubtedly brave and an all-round good man. So I assume there will be more than one woman who will want your company.”

“Not to sound too arrogant but I think your last point might be right.”

“Would you want to be with Ashley or Liara?”

“I’ll be honest and admit that, apart from a little light flirting with Ash, I haven’t really thought about it. Being involved with someone on the same ship is usually a no-no due to fraternisation rules, and I can just see it being awkward otherwise. Not saying no, but I’d rather keep my work and private life separate.”

Thankfully she dropped the subject after that, and we were eventually relieved by Garrus and Wrex. Waking the next morning, the last thing to complete was getting the water running. Everyone pitched in to make sure all the pipes were connected with no leaks, and once we could turn on the taps and water was flowing freely, and more importantly was clean, we could focus on the next task at hand.

ExoGeni Headquarters was a fair distance away across the Skyway. Fai Dan nor anyone else could tell us if anyone had survived over there, and the only way to find out would be for us to head across and investigate. I gave the colonists our details so we could maintain contact as we headed up towards the Skyway. I was thinking it was going to a gruelling march across to the next tower, but I was pleased when we found an abandoned Mako. After carrying out a quick check to make sure it was still functional, the team clambered aboard and we headed off.

The geth knew we were coming, that same bloody dropship that had taken off earlier, returning to drop more troops and a couple of Armatures. Wrex suggested the same thing again, stopping as Garrus fired, Wrex, Ashley, Liara and Alenko popping out to provide ground support, using the Mako as cover.

I found the geth armed with rockets more of a concern, particularly those that had rockets that seemed to have some sort of guidance. I decided to show the geth, and my team, a trick or two with the thrusters. If a driver timed it right, it was possible to make the Mako ‘leap’ off the ground. I tried that a couple of times before one rocket impacted, causing our shields to drop significantly.

“Sorry,” I muttered, glancing at Tali.

“Lesson learned, Shepard.”

“Aye, stop showing off and just get the job done.”

We ran into a few more Armatures, Garrus dealing with those, as those on the ground handled the troopers. I figured Alenko would be using his tech attacks, while through the small windscreen, I could see Liara using her biotics, watching geth be lifted into the air and practically float away, while one or two were lifted up then slammed into the ground. Knowing Wrex had some biotic talents, I figured he’d be doing that for a giggle.

I’m not sure how far we were across, but the radio had been silent except for our communication until we seemed to reach a building ahead. If others were trying to get in contact with us, that could only mean survivors. I stopped to let the others back on before we entered what looked like some sort of garage, heading down a couple of levels before I brought the Mako to a stop. Piling out, I suggested we stay tight but unarmed, not wanting to alarm the survivors.

Finding ourselves in a large room, there was a large gaggle of humans around. I noticed a couple of security guards, watching us warily. The rest simply looked exhausted and fed-up. A lone man, well-dressed and with a pistol in hand, approached us. I gestured for one or two people behind me to take out their weapons but stay loose.

“Who are you?”

I simply folded my arms and glared. “I could ask you the same question, considering you approach unarmed people armed with a weapon of your own.”

“Could have been geth for all we knew.”

I laughed, glancing left and right. “Weird looking geth.”

One or two chuckled as an older woman approached us, practically barging the other man out of the way. “Don’t mind him, he only cares about the company.” Offering her hand, she added, “I’m Juliana Baynham. You are?”

Accepting her hand, I let her know who I was. “Commander Shepard. Alliance Navy, though also a Council Spectre. Don’t think the news would have made it here.” I followed up by introducing everyone else in my squad. “What’s the situation here? Those remaining in Zhu’s Hope had no idea if anyone survived.”

“There are some still alive?” She made an obvious gesture at the other gentleman. “Jeong told us they were all dead.”

I looked at him. “Didn’t you care to check if that was correct? They could have used your assistance.”

“What the hell could we have done? We’re barely surviving here ourselves.”

He made a good point so I let it go. “Okay, Juliana. Looks like you people need some help too. So what we’re going to do is head to ExoGeni Headquarters and…”

“That is private property. You have no right…”

He was already pissing me off, so I clocked him across the jaw, putting him on the ground. “Council Spectre, in case you didn’t hear me the first time. I go where I please.” Looking back at Juliana, I continued. “As I was saying, we’ll take a look around the tower and see what the geth are up to.”

“While you’re doing that, can you see if you can find my daughter, Lizbeth?”

“I told you she’s probably…” He shut up as I sensed a couple of weapons were aimed at him.

“Just give me a reason, arsehole,” Ashley stated, “Suits like you are the reason colonists in Zhu’s Hope are left to suffer.”

“There’s always hope, Juliana. We’ll keep an eye out for any more survivors. If we can find her, we’ll bring her back.”

“Thank you, Commander.”

“Once we return, we’ll escort you to Zhu’s Hope and see what we can do next.”

“Thank you again, Commander.”

I moved the team away from the survivors, thinking I should keep a couple of people back. “Ashley, Alenko, stay here with them. Speak with the survivors, provide medical aid where required, and basically just keep their spirits up. You’re in Alliance uniform so at least they won’t be feeling abandoned now.”

“Aye, sir,” Alenko replied, both of them saluting and making their way towards Juliana.

I gestured for the rest to follow me and, once out of sight and definitely hearing, I brought them to a halt, dropping my voice. “Don’t know what you’re thinking but I think ExoGeni has been up to some shit here. Anyone disagree?”

“I suggest we look around, Shepard,” Liara stated.

“I think I can hack into some workstations and terminals while we move,” Tali added.

“Good. Garrus, Wrex, we’ll just kill geth.”

They liked the sound of that, so after a check of weapons, we moved on. Entering the building itself, we ran into a few geth, surprised to see them chasing after a woman. She slid into cover as we opened fire immediately, the geth turning towards us, though they wilted and died under our firepower. The woman looked up out of cover, saw us, and fired her pistol. At times like that, I’m glad we now have shield. She cried out in surprise, stepping out, realising we were human, and immediately apologising.

I waved away her concerns. “It’s fine. I’m just wondering who you are.”

“I’m Lizbeth Baynham. Who are you?”

“Commander Shepard. And your mother is worried sick about you.”

“She’s alive?” I nodded. “Thank god. I thought everyone was dead once the geth attacked. It happened so fast, I thought I would have had time to back up the data before they trapped me.”

“Are there any other survivors inside?” She shook her head. “Okay, what are the geth after?”

She looked away, immediately uncomfortable with the question. “I don’t know.”

I heard Garrus scoff. Wrex muttered ‘Well, that’s bullshit’. “Out with it, Lizbeth. You’re not only speaking to a Commander of the Alliance Navy, but also a Spectre.” The eyes widened immediately and I think I even scared her. “I’m not going to do anything if you just tell me what ExoGeni are up to.”

She sighed. “They’re probably here for the Thorian, Commander.”

I shared a glance with my colleagues. “Thorian? What the hell is a Thorian?” I wondered.

“You don’t know?” I think we all shook our heads. “It’s an indigenous lifeform native to this planet. ExoGeni has been studying it.”

“Studying it? To what end?”

“To be honest, Commander, most of what you need is on the data I was backing up. I don’t have it with me now. You’ll have to clear out the geth and disable that barrier to get what you need.”

“Right, the best thing you can do is try and make your way to the garage where the other survivors are. We’ll clear out the tower, get what we need, and meet you there.”

“Okay, Commander.”

The geth had infested the tower. They were absolutely everywhere, and the five of us took great delight in wiping them out. We also came across a couple of krogan within, leaving those for Wrex to deal with. He seemed to take pleasure in gutting any krogan who dared face him in battle. Considering how ferocious he was, I already knew I would probably never be dumb enough to do that. He reminded me of a cat with a mouse, toying with it before making the killing blow.

As we made our way through the tower, we did stop at the occasional terminal, as the VI system within the tower was still working. Asking it questions, we discovered that ExoGeni had observation sensors monitoring Zhu’s Hope. I wasn’t the only one to question why ExoGeni would be monitoring a simple colony. That’s when the revelation was made and those ExoGeni employees we had found would definitely be answering questions upon our return.

“VI, what does the Thorian have to do with Zhu’s Hope?” I asked.

“Species 37, the Thorian, is located in the depths below the colony.”

I felt the ice flow through my veins, my colleagues shuffling uncomfortably behind me. I knew some organisations could push the boundaries of ethics, but this was something else entirely. “This might explain their somewhat unusual behaviour,” Liara stated quietly.

“VI, tell me everything you can about the Thorian,” I demanded.

“The Thorian appears to be a simple plant life-form that displays surprising sentient behaviour. Through dispersion and inhalation of its spores, the Thorian is able to infect and control any local organisms, including humans. Eighty-five percent of Zhu's Hope colonists have displayed signs of infection before sensors went offline.”

“Those fuckers are going to pay,” I growled.

“I don’t believe it,” Garrus muttered.

“VI, they are purposely infecting the colonists of Zhu’s Hope?” I asked for absolute clarification.

“It was deemed necessary to assess the potential of the Thorian,” the VI stated.

I didn’t need to hear any more, ordering the group to move out. There is no doubt we were completely pissed off, though as the lone human, I definitely, well, I let the rage flow as we mowed down room after room of geth. As there were plenty of them around, Tali made note that they definitely seemed smarter, the more networked together, the more intelligent they seemed to be. They certainly tried to entice us into more than one trap, thankfully recognising it before we stupidly walked into it.

To be honest, I was amazed we got through it all without any major injuries. Shields failed at times. Armour was marked. We did get some scratches, but no major wounds were taken. Even Tali, who I knew could be killed from any minor wound that could turn into an infection, did not hesitate for a second, though I think the fact we were fighting geth helped her overcome any fear she might have felt. As for Liara, I think after Therum, she certainly felt righteous in taking some revenge. Wrex just wanted to kill things, while Garrus was just happy to be off the Citadel.

Whenever we had a quiet moment, Tali would do some hacking, and that’s when she found something interesting. She found a log mentioning an organisation called Cerberus. I'd heard of them before, though only in passing. I did know they were classified by the Alliance as a terrorist organisation, but apart from that, I didn’t know much about them.

“What does it say, Tali?”

“It says that ExoGeni has sent samples to a research facility based on Nodacrux. It’s in the Maroon Sea Cluster.”

“Right, we are going straight there after we deal with all the shit going on here. Download whatever you can find on the server. These fuckers are going to burn.”

As we moved up the tower, killing ever more geth, we noticed things on the wall, Tali finally recognised them as clamps that a geth dropship was using to connect itself to the side of the building. Following cables, we finally arrived at a workstation, and were immediately confronted by a fuckload of geth. As Tali got to work, the four of us opened fire. That’s when we did take wounds. Nothing life-threatening, but it definitely took medi-gel to get Garrus and myself up and fighting again. My wound was bloody stupid, looking out of cover at just the wrong time, the bullet going straight into my shoulder. In and out, immediately using medi-gel to clear and clean it.

“You okay, Shepard?” Tali asked, hearing concern.

“Oh, hurts like fuck and I’ll need to see Chakwas later, but it’s fine. Medi-gel is wonderful.”

The geth kept coming until I heard a loud noise, glancing back to see something slam shut before there was an enormous groan and then… a series of loud crunches above and below us, Tali reporting that the dropship was now detaching itself. We never heard it crash to the ground below, but if geth felt fear, they would now. “Kill the fuckers!” I cried. Tali joined in as we slaughtered the bastards.

"Commander! Are you there? Commander!"

Taking cover, I put a finger to my ear. "Joker? What is it?"

"Commander? Finally! Sir, the colonists have gone crazy. We're all holed up in the Normandy right now. We don't know what's going on, but whatever you've done there, something has them riled up."

"Okay, Joker. Just stay put. And, whatever you do, leave the colonists be. There are things going on here that you need to be aware of, but as I say, just keep to the ship and you'll be fine."

"If you say so, Commander. Also, keep in mind, there are plenty of geth still around. They appear to be heading your way."

"Thanks, Joker. Keep in contact. We're heading back now."

"Aye, sir."

Once the last geth hit the ground, we moved quickly, finding a stairwell and practically running downstairs, though ensuring we still checked corners, but I was confident the building was now clear. Exiting out into garage where we’d originally entered the tower and found Lizbeth, I was surprised we found her still there. She was relieved to see us, but she almost cowered as I strode towards her.

“You lied,” I growled. I noticed her gulp, immediately nodding, her eyes moving from me to my colleagues, back to me. She was definitely afraid. I’ll admit, I felt a little guilty, but after everything we’d discovered, I was beyond pissed off. “You’d better level with me here, Lizbeth. There’s a lot more going on that you told me before and I think you do know.”

She looked across us again before sighing. “May I speak to you in private?” I gestured for my colleagues to move away. Once we had privacy, she continued in a soft voice. “You don't understand, Commander. I never wanted the tests. They were innocent people. I tried to get them to stop but… They threatened me. Threatened my mother. Threatened that we'd end up just like them if we continued to interfere.”

“I assume ExoGeni threatened you?”

She nodded. “Yes. That's why I had stayed behind. It was about the data, but I was trying to send it to Colonial Affairs. Someone must be made aware of what they are doing here! But, the geth arrived and cut the power before I could complete the message. I'm… I'm sorry.”

I took a moment before stating, “I believe you, Lizbeth. But I think we need to have words with one of your colleagues.”

She grimaced but nodded without a word, the six of us climbing into the Mako for the short drive back. The geth were putting up what I would call a last stand, figuring they were now isolated having destroyed one of their ships. Feeling rather incensed, I may have resorted to ramming Armatures over the side of the Skyway, Tali yelling at me occasionally when she needed to re-route power to the shields. I just floored it, Garrus firing the machine gun incessantly, barely able to keep up with how many he killed.

As I drove, we discussed what we had discovered. Liara put two and two together quickly. The Thorian had mind-control abilities. The geth wouldn’t be interested in that, but Saren sure would be. I felt nothing but sympathy for the colonists. Here they were, trying to make a life for themselves, and instead they were guinea pigs in the interests of a corporation, doing god only knows what to them.

Slamming on the brakes once we arrived, I slid out of the Mako with pistol in hand. Jeong saw me coming, Lizbeth brushing past me, though coming to a halt when Jeong grabbed Juliana. Thankfully, she managed to put an elbow into his gut, running to her daughter. He stupidly raised his pistol towards me. I heard a shot come from behind, the bullet going into his shoulder, watching the gun fall from his hand. I stepped forward and put a fist into his gut, before sweeping his legs, his back now on the ground, stepping onto the wound for good measure as he cried out.

“I know everything, Jeong. And I mean everything.”

“What do you mean, Commander?” Juliana asked.

“ExoGeni are using Zhu’s Hope as an experiment. The colonists are unwitting test subjects to the mind control abilities of the Thorian. And Jeong here knows all about it. His name is everywhere. Now, Mr. Jeong, give me one good reason why I don’t put a bullet in your head right now. Because, trust me on this, I’m not the only one itching to do it.”

“You kill me, the colony disappears. ExoGeni want this place purged, Commander,” he grunted through the pain.

I pressed into his wound, earning another cry out of pain. “And why would they want that?”

“Why do you think, Commander? We’ll just get a bunch of new test subjects.”

I could only sigh as, though he was an arse, considering he’d been left behind, he wasn’t that important. An arse, but not worth executing. Didn’t need his worthless arse on my conscience. So I removed my foot and let him sit up. “You should get that wound seen to,” I suggested as I turned to my team, “Right, Joker reported in earlier that shit was going down in Zhu’s Hope. Juliana, my team will head back there first, deal with any remaining geth, before investigating whatever’s going on there. Give us around an hour’s head start before following us.”

“Yes, Commander.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the rest of you are innocent in all this, or that’s what I think so far. Don’t do anything to change my mind, but I will expect your co-operation going forward.”

“Commander, I think I speak for everyone when I admit to disgust at what you discovered.” I looked around and noticed the nodding heads. “I think we were left here due to our disagreements.”

Before we left, Lizbeth pulled me to the side and gave me some canisters, claiming it was an anti-Thorian gas she and a few others had been working on. “Working on it in secret,” she whispered, “In case we had the chance to help them.”

“Thanks. We’ll put it to good use.”

“Good luck.”

No doubt the seven of us were pissed off in the Mako as it was unusually silent. There were only a few geth we had to deal with before arriving where we had left what felt like hours ago. It had already been a long day and, while I would have liked rest back at the colony, I had a feeling we would need to deal with the Thorian before any of us would rest easy.

Once I’d parked up the Mako and we’d gathered nearby, I gave only one order. Not a single colonist was to be harmed. I handed over a couple of canisters each, with an order to only use pistols on any non-colonist, and any colonist under the influence of the Thorian was to be taken down with non-lethal force.

Opening the garage door, we were immediately greeted by… things. I’m not sure what they were, but as we’d never seen them before, and as I was sure the Thorian knew we were coming, it was definitely something from it. Whatever these creatures were, they were tough, and our pistols barely seemed to damage them. I ordered a switch to shotguns, and that worked immediately, blasting the green things to smithereens.

“Fucking creepy fuckers,” Ashley muttered.

“Any colonists we meet who fire at us, use a canister. Do NOT fire your shotgun in their direction,” I ordered, hearing immediate affirmatives.

We moved carefully, letting the green creatures coming towards us before blasting them away. Any colonists we came across that did fire in our direction, we threw a canister and it knocked them out. We had to be methodical in our work, ensuring we were never swarmed by the green creatures. Exiting out into the colony itself, we threw a few canisters, green smoke filling the entire area, hearing plenty of coughing. Once the smoke cleared, we spread out, checking the colonists were still breathing while killing the few green creatures that were still alive, the smoke having killed plenty of them.

Then Fai Dan appeared, a pistol in hand. His face was creased in pain, his left hand holding his right wrist. His movements were otherwise jerky, as if he was being controlled… by the Thorian itself.

I didn’t approach him but immediately stored my shotgun, taking out my pistol. I felt the presence of others to either side of me, gesturing for them to holster weapons. “Dan?”

“I tried to fight it, but it gets in your head. You can't imagine the pain… I'm supposed to be their leader. These people trust me.”

“You’re a good man, Dan. Don’t let it beat you.”

“It wants me to stop you.”

“I know, Dan. But you can fight it now. Don’t do what I think…”

He lifted the weapon but not towards me. Before I could even lift my weapon, not seeming to comprehend what he was doing, he put the pistol to his head and… That’s when I lifted and fired. My bullet hit his hand, ensuring his pistol was aimed over his head by the time his finger pulled the trigger. Before he realised what was going on, I ran forward and tackled him as gently as possible, ensuring the pistol was knocked free before I apologised to him and knocked him out. Putting a finger to my ear, I requested medical support from Chakwas, hearing her reply that she would join us immediately.

Standing up, I turned to my team. “Fast work, Shepard,” Alenko stated, nodding his appreciation.

“Just what the hell is this Thorian?” Garrus wondered, “How powerful is it?”

“No idea, but these people have probably been exposed since it was found,” Liara replied, “They’re probably all indoctrinated. No wonder Saren was interested in it.”

I strode back and forth a couple of times before turning to my team. “Okay, I was going to suggest we break for the evening, but I’m not sleeping with that Thorian still alive. So we’re heading down now. Anyone not up to it?” No-one replied. “Good. If we run into those creepy green things, do not hesitate. Once we find the Thorian, hopefully we can question it, then we kill it. Anyone disagree with that?”

“Hell no, Shepard. I’m creeped out with it just being below my feet,” Ashley replied.

“While I can understand the scientific aspects, it is clearly a dangerous creature,” Liara added.

“Can we burn it?” Wrex asked.

I couldn’t help laugh, feeling a bit of the tension disappear. “We’ll see, Wrex. I just want the bloody thing dead in the end.”

The Thorian knew we were coming, and we quickly figured out that it was enormous. I mean beyond imagination. I don’t think any of comprehended how such a thing existed, and little wonder that, even if only a plant based creature, it contained such power. We did receive a surprise, though. Instead of running into more of those creepy green creatures, we noticed a series of pods, and from out of one of those was dropped a green skinned asari. She looked across us before her eyes fell on me. I guess the Thorian was reading all of us somehow.

“Invaders! You every step is a transgression. I speak for the Old Growth, as I did for Saren. You are within and before the Thorian. It commands you be in awe!”

“You were an ally of Saren? Peachy.”

“Saren sought knowledge of those who are gone. The Old Growth listened. Trades were made. Then cold ones began killing flesh. The Old Growth will no longer listen!”

“Geth. Fantastic,” Tali muttered.

“Trust geth to fuck it up for us,” I added.

“The Thorian is a piece of this world. You can kill it no more than cut the sky. Your blood will feed the ground and the new growth!”

She shimmered blue, and I was ready to fire, before a warp smashed into her chest and she disappeared over the side. “She talked too much,” Liara stated to the laughter of at least a couple of us.

The next few minutes were insane. We must have descended a half dozen levels, full of those creepy green creatures, and on each level was a green asari clone. We generally dealt with her first, though the times we didn’t, we certainly paid the price, as she was incredibly strong. The creepers were slow moving but strong, eventually all of us switching to shotguns to simply control the battlefield. They spat a toxin whenever they came too close, more than one of us having our shields fail and armour scarred.

As we descended, we recognised the best way to kill the Thorian. It was attached to the ruins by tentacles, so on each level, we blasted away at each node. Whenever we shot it, fluid leaked from the wound and the Thorian made noise, suggesting it was hurting.

It seemed to last forever. I could feel my forehead covered in sweat, dripping down my chest and back. Despite my own fitness, I was feeling the strain. Liara was struggling due to her biotic use. Alenko no doubt had a headache by now. Even Ashley looked worn out and she was nearly as fit as I was. I fired at what I think was the sixth tentacle attachment. When that detached, I heard what sounded like ropes snapping, stepping to the edge in time to see the Thorian simply plummet however many hundred metres below us.

Our attention was then grabbed by a squelching sound, turning with weapons raised as an asari dropped from a pod nearby. She wasn’t green, so while I kept my weapon raised, I gestured for everyone else to lower theirs. “I’m free!” she exclaimed, before her eyes fell on my weapon, then my six colleagues. Any excitement was replaced by concern.

I lowered my weapon slightly before asking, “Who are you?”

“My name is Shiala. I was an acolyte for Matriarch Benezia…”

Wrong answer, or so some of my colleagues figured, as I heard weapons being readied. Shiala took a step back and I knew fear when I saw it. “Weapons down,” I ordered, glancing to see everyone responded immediately.

“Who are you?”

“I’m Commander Shepard. Doubt you’ve heard of me. Alliance Navy and Council Spectre. Now, Matriarch Benezia… Why join Saren?”

“She joined with him to stop him from continuing along his destructive path. But… Saren, and his arguments, are compelling. Benezia could not withstand his influence. We underestimated the strength of Saren's control. We all became believers.”

“How did Benezia fall under his control, almost at will?" asked Liara, "How was it so easy? Benezia is a powerful matriarch. It doesn't make any sense.”

“It's Saren's warship. The one he calls Sovereign. It dominates the mind of his followers. Eventually, all are indoctrinated. It is subtle. Slowly, but surely, everyone must bend to its will.”

“How did you end up in there, Shiala?” I asked, pointing to the sack she'd fallen out of.

Shiala lowered her head. “Saren needed a willing slave to communicate with the Thorian. I was then a chosen sacrifice for the alliance between the Thorian and Saren.”

“What about the geth?”

Shiala tried to stifle a chuckle. “Once Saren had what he needed, he no longer needed the Thorian. He attacked because he knows you need the Cipher. He is aware of your pursuit.”

“I need to know what the Cipher is. Do you know what it is, Shiala?”

“I do. Your contact with the beacon on Eden Prime has given you your vision. No doubt the visions are unclear. To understand these visions, you must think like a Prothean. Understand their existence. The Thorian has been here far longer than before the Protheans even built this city.”

“So what exactly is the Cipher?”

“It's the very essence of being Prothean. You must understand a viewpoint of civilisation rising over generations. The Cipher is that knowledge. It is memory. I sensed this when I merged with the Thorian, our minds intertwining. It cannot be taught.”

I knew what she was going to suggest. Without any other option, after she suggested we meld, I let her do it immediately. Liara and a couple of others raised immediate objections, but while I understood, I needed to understand the vision in my head, assuring Liara we could go through it together back on the Normandy. She apologised afterwards if it was uncomfortable, and told me it might take a little time for my mind to sort everything out.

Then it came to what I should do with her. Though she was an acolyte of Matriarch Benezia, she was clearly an unwilling servant to Saren’s desires. “I feel awful about everything that happened here, Commander. And I’m also a little pissed off that I was used as a sacrifice. So I propose two things.”

“And those are?”

“One, I wish to assist you against Saren and his allies, including Matriarch Benezia. She left me here to… well, quite frankly die. Therefore, any bond we may have shared has been severed. I will now serve you until Saren is dead.”

“And Benezia?”

“While I would not wish her death, I do believe it is likely as she is indoctrinated and her surrender is unlikely.”

“And once we stop Saren?”

“I would like to return to this colony and assist them rebuild. I feel responsible for what has happened here, and if they will accept me, I will happily return and remain here to live.”

We headed back upstairs to the colony. It was now dark, not doubt late evening, even early morning. The seven of us were now exhausted, while Shiala seemed to be in a daze. I didn’t really blame here, to be honest. The colonists, plus those we had rescued near ExoGeni Headquarters, were waiting for us. Fai Dan was up and about, his hand now bandaged, thanking me profusely for saving his life, the rest of the colonists thanking my team at the same time.

Introducing Shiala, none of them knew who she actually was, and while we briefly explained the situation, they accepted what happened and would be happy for her to return once we had taken care of Saren. “I’ll be honest, Commander. We need all the help we can get,” Juliana stated, “I’m not sure if ExoGeni will continue funding this place or not with the Thorian now dead, though I’m glad it is.”

“What will you do about ExoGeni?” Lizbeth asked.

“I’m not sure yet. We’ve taken plenty of data. We’ll continue to go through it and figure out what else they are up to. As far as Feros is concerned, you should hopefully be safe going forward. I will leave you my details, and I will also pass information onto the Alliance. Hopefully, if ExoGeni pulls out, the Alliance might be able to provide some assistance.”

With more thanks ringing in our ears, I suggested we head back to the Normandy for a meal and some sleep before we headed off onto the next mission. I introduced Shiala to the crew before we headed down to the mess, where I think we all piled out trays high with food, and bottles of water and electrolyte drinks were consumed fast.

Once we’d stuff ourselves, we sat back together in silence before I said, “Fucking fantastic work, team.” They all looked at me and grinned. Well, I think Garrus did. I could only assume Tali did. “We all survived. Barely any wounds. Saved the colony. Killed the Thorian. Gained a new ally. More information than we really know what to do with. If that’s not a success, I don’t know what is.”

“What do we do next?” Garrus wondered.

“We continue our research into ExoGeni. I want to know what sort of samples they were sending out. And I want to know who or what this Cerberus is. But, for now, take some time for yourself, get some shut eye, and we’ll leave Feros in the afternoon tomorrow.” Glancing at my watch, I added, “Well, later this afternoon, considering it’s now 0200.”

The gang slowly but surely started to break up until I was left alone with Shiala. “Where should I sleep?” she wondered.

“Do you want a pod or a bunk?”

She gave me a look which, I’ll admit, surprised me. Mine probably expressed surprised. “You saved my life, Commander…”

“Shepard.”

“I’m just thinking…”

“Hold that thought, Shiala. If that were to happen, let it happen naturally. I don’t expect payment in that way. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest you were pretty much an innocent victim in all this.”

She looked away. “Thank you, Shepard. For believing me.”

“So… Pod or bunk?”

“I’d rather sleep on a bed. If I sleep in a pod…” She trailed off and shuddered. So I led her to the bunk room, where Ashley and Alenko were already fast asleep. No surprise and didn’t blame them. “Thank you again, Shepard,” Shiala said softly before she leaned up to kiss my cheek.

“No problem.” She returned a small smile before turning, walking into the room to find a free bunk. I grabbed another bottle of water before returning to my quarters, avoiding bed for now, continuing to read over the data we’d retrieved. I was left with a feeling that I wouldn’t only be going to war against Saren and the geth.

Chapter Text

Immediately upon leaving Feros, spending that morning enjoying breakfast with the colonists before departure, I inputted the destination of Nodacrux into the galaxy map. Joker did come on over comm, asking about Noveria, letting him know we had a couple of other assignments I wanted to deal with first before we headed there.

It would take a couple of days to get there, so on the way, I did my usual rounds. Pressly, who was now my XO, actually stopped me and apologised for his previous comments. He’d read my mission reports that I’d sent to the Alliance and the Council, and regretted what he’d said earlier about the non-humans that were now on board the Normandy. If I didn’t know any better, he’d taken a real shine to Tali, realising how hard her life must have been but she was still infectiously enthusiastic about everything. He also appreciated the help Liara was trying to provide, and had even spoken with our recent recruit, Shiala. “That is one asari with a broken heart,” he said.

“Imagine being chosen as an unwitting sacrifice by the women you have devoted yourself to. Little wonder she’s feeling a little lost. I think joining us will help clear her mind. She now has a mission and objective she can focus on. My only concern is for when we eventually find Benezia.”

“What will you do, sir?”

“I’d like to take her in for questioning. I think Shiala will want vengeance. Then there is Liara. I know their relationship wasn’t great but Benezia is still her mother. Could Liara handle the fact one of us might kill her?”

“A tough decision, Commander.”

“It is. Between you and I, it is one I’m not particularly looking forward to. And, thank you, Pressly.”

“For what, sir?”

“For changing your opinion and admitting it.”

“We never stop learning nor growing as people, sir. I can admit I was wrong.”

Dinner that night was interesting. Feros was the first major mission we’d shared together since Liara had joined up, and I think there was now a real air of comradery being shared by those who joined me on the ground. I noticed Liara spent a lot of time talking with Shiala, perhaps trying to milk her for information, though I didn’t think that would be a problem. Even Wrex and Garrus, a krogan and a turian who had spent a thousand years hating one another, seemed to be getting along, at least a little bit. I think they avoided politics, Wrex sharing stories of his life as a bounty hunter, Garrus of his life on the Citadel.

Alenko slowly opened up about his life, particularly regarding his time at BAaT, and I’ll admit to feeling nothing by sympathy for him. He didn’t want our pity, just understanding as to why he kept most of his history private, though admitted that it felt better getting much of it off his chest with his close companions. Dealing with her own grief, Ashley spoke of her time with the 212 and the friends she had made during her time with them. She met my eyes and smiled as she spoke. I simply hoped those good memories would help her going forward.

We eventually arrived in orbit around Nodacrux, Joker letting me know before we departed that there was a distress beacon, and that he’d drop us as close to it as possible. Piling into the Mako, I knew conditions would be cramped behind me with yet another person, though no-one complained, as I knew no-one would want to be left behind on the ship.

Upon landing on the planet, one would have seen similarities to Earth. Green pastures as far as the eye could see. Mountains that appeared to touch the sky. Fresh water coated as much of the planet as Earth. It looked and sounded idyllic. Of course, appearances can be deceiving and there was a major reason why no colony was established. Apparently the pollen that was spread across the planet could kill any human within seconds without a helmet. As isolated as the planet was, and the impossible conditions to build a colony, it was the perfect place for a secret lab.

Should have known we’d meet more of those creepy green creatures, no doubt the ‘samples’ sent by ExoGeni to Nodacrux being of the Thorian, and I dreaded to think what the former was up to. Any creepers we came across, I just ran over. No point any of us getting out just yet. The surprise was when we found isolated pre-fabricated units, and the creepers seemed to stick around them. I wasn’t the only one thinking some rather horrible thoughts.

“You reckon those were people?” Garrus asked the question we were all thinking.

“What the hell are ExoGeni up to?” Alenko wondered.

“These fuckers are going to pay,” Ashley growled.

I kept my thoughts to myself for now. The distress beacon was coming from the top of a nearby mountain, which required a search of a road leading up. I finally found one that meant a long drive but at least I wasn’t just climbing up a mountain like a madman. More of those creepers were waiting, Garrus lighting them up with the machine gun. Once they were all dead, we piled out.

“Orders, Shepard?” Alenko asked.

“Kill the green creepy things. If we find humans, we’ll find out what they know.”

Entering the facility, we left our helmets on, just in case, and quickly found that the place was crawling with those creepers. With plenty of narrow corridors, we could use those as chokepoints, all of us now armed with shotguns, having learned on Feros that those worked best against them. Biotics also worked against them, Shiala giving us a glimpse of her power, even Liara making comment that I’d made the right choice in accepting her help.

Once I figured that we’d mopped up all the creepers, we searched the facility for anyone left alive. We eventually found a group of scientists in a barricaded back room. They appeared relieved for a moment before they no doubt saw the looks on some of our faces, and the fact we were still armed and didn’t look like putting them away. One of the scientists stepped forward.

“Thank you for responding to the distress beacon. I am Doctor Ross, chief ExoGeni researcher at this facility. I will admit that we have been trapped in this room for days. We were starting to run short of supplies.”

I gave a signal for my colleagues to holster weapons, though no doubt she noticed my shotgun remained out. “I want answers, Doctor Ross.”

“About what?” she asked cautiously.

“I want to know why Thorian creepers have infested this planet. I want to know exactly what ExoGeni are up to on this planet.”

She couldn’t hide the surprise that crossed her face. “The Thorian? You know about it.”

“I know everything that ExoGeni was up to on Feros. What they were doing to the colonists in Zhu’s Hope. Yes, I know all about it, and that’s why it is now dead.” She sighed, and I could see some of the scientists behind her getting nervous. They knew they were either going to be arrested or shot. “Alenko, take the team, secure the other scientists. Doctor Ross and I will be having a conversation.” Gesturing to a nearby crate, she leaned against it as I told her to come clean about everything.

“The creepers here were created using altered samples from the specimens on Feros. We discovered a way to turn them into docile, obedient servants. Everything was going fine until a few days ago. Then all of the creepers suddenly went berserk. Only a handful of us made it back to the safety of this room.” She paused before adding, “I can only assume that you killing the Thorian severed the link they must have shared.”

Glancing at Alenko, I could see them cuffing the rest. One or two were guards, and they were smart enough not to resist. I could see Ashley stalking around, looking very pissed off. I think Shiala would have happily slaughtered them all. “What you’ve done here, Doctor… Were there any human subjects?”

“No. The creepers are not infected humans.”

“That’s something at least.”

“Look… I know what we did was wrong. I’ll admit that. But it’s over now. There’s no sense in reporting this to the authorities, right?” To my amusement, she stepped forward, running a hand down my arm. “Maybe there is some way we could work this out between us.”

I met her eyes and, I’ll admit, nearly laughed in her face. “You’re serious?”

“I know who you are,” she replied before adding quietly, “Commander Shepard. Your reputation precedes you.”

“Then you should know what sort of man I am. I’m certainly not going to be bribed.” I looked her up and down. “Despite the fact part of me would like to fuck your brains out.” I’ll admit, if she was just a regular scientist, I wouldn’t have said no. She was certainly attractive.

“But you won’t?”

I quickly grabbed her wrist and spun her round, leaning her against the crate, pressing against her. Leaning down to her ear, I whispered, “You should be glad I’m not a complete arsehole and thinking of doing something else entirely.” She would have felt the clasps around her wrists. “No, you are simply under arrest, Doctor Ross. Be glad I’m not like most other Spectres. They would have simply put a bullet in your head.” Looking across the room, I located Tali. “Download everything you can find. I want a full report for when I hand her in to the Alliance.”

“Right away, Shepard.”

Once Tali announced she had everything we needed, we escorted the survivors out of the facility and board the Normandy once it was in position. Leaving the scientists in the brig, I headed to the conference room and contacted the Alliance, sending them all the information we could find. Letting them know we had prisoners, they instructed me to head to Arcturus to hand them over.

“Did she hit on you, Shepard?” Wrex asked over dinner later.

“That she did.”

The krogan burst into laughter. “What is it with you and women?”

“No idea, to be honest.”

“Well, for a human, he is rather handsome,” Shiala stated. I just met her eyes and she met mine. She didn’t blush when I met her gaze. In fact, her eyes told me one thing, and one thing only. It was my turn to gulp as there were titters of amusement.

“Where are we heading after Arcturus?” Ashley wondered.

“A planet called Chasca. From the data Tali managed to get for us on Feros, ExoGeni were sending more samples to a facility there, though they were sending them to a group called Cerberus.”

“Heard of them,” Alenko stated, “Some sort of pro-human organisation.”

“They’re terrorists,” Garrus added, “C-Sec have investigated their activities more than once. Could never find concrete evidence they were working on the Citadel, but I always had a… gut feeling they were.”

I nodded my agreement. “That’s what the Alliance think too. They work in the shadows though. Highly secretive. No-one knows much about their organisation at all. Apparently led by someone called the Illusive Man.”

That made Ashley laugh. “Seriously? The Illusive Man?”

Shrugging, I replied. “I don’t think anyone knows who he really is. There are rumours they’ve bought members of the Alliance Parliament and military though. Some even believe the organisation developed from Alliance black operations.”

The group split up after dinner as it was time to finally relax after another hard mission. One or two headed to the med-bay for a quick check up but most headed to their personal quarters or simply straight to bed. Considering we were now on our way to Arcturus, it was a good time to catch up on sleep.

Sitting at my desk in my quarters, the knock on my door wasn’t a real surprise, calling for whoever it was to enter. Shiala wandered in, immediately locking the door once she was inside. Turning my chair to face her, she strode towards me before sitting on my lap, leaning down to kiss me without hesitation. I couldn’t help reply, hands immediately going to her back, running one down to her rather fine arse. Not breaking the kiss, I slowly stood up, feeling her legs wrap around me as I moved us to the bed, gently lying her down as we ended up in the middle.

Finally breaking the kiss, now she started to blush when I looked at her. “Been wanting to do that for a while,” she said quietly.

“Why?”

“You saved me, Shepard. And you believed me. I think anyone else would have just shot me.” She reached up to caress my cheek. “And I wasn’t lying. You are very handsome.”

“Have you ever been with a human?”

“No, though I know all about you.”

“Me human or me Shepard?”

I think she looked away in embarrassment. “Well, both,” she whispered, “I may have done some research.”

I sat up on my knees and looked her over. Her skin colour was different to Liara, more purple than blue. I as aware that asari came in a range of colours, just like humans. I leaned down and grabbed the zip of her leathers, undoing them to free her breasts, which were larger than expected, watching her quickly remove her arms before I undid the zip all the way down to her sex. We quickly removed them from her legs so she was lying naked beneath me.

She was utterly gorgeous. Very fit. I drank her body in and I could see she was now either a little nervous, or a little shy. I leaned down to give her a soft kiss. “For someone so confident when she strode in, Shiala,” I whispered.

“I’ve never been with a human,” she admitted.

“Do you know what we look like underneath our clothes?”

“Only what I’ve seen on the extranet.”

I grabbed her hand and stood her up. She wasn’t tall once out of her clothes, barely as tall as my chin. She took her time undressing me, taking off my coat first as I kicked off my boots and socked. When she helped unbutton my shirt, she ran her hands over my chest and back before resting her hand on my chest. “You feel so warm, Shepard,” she stated with a giggle.

“Well, I suppose that’s a good thing.”

Grasping my belt, she undid that before helping unbutton then unzip my trousers, those falling to the ground, before my underwear also disappeared, so we were now standing together naked. She took a step back to look me up and down. “Very different to asari,” she muttered.

“In a good way, I hope?”

She stepped forward, her hands immediately caressing my body, her eyes looking up to meet mine. “I will admit I’ve always wondered about humans. I know many asari were intrigued by turians when they arrived on the scene, then when the krogan were discovered. But their males are very different to… you. And I will say in a very good way.” I felt her hand grasp my cock. “My god, Shepard…”

“So you’ve never been with someone like me?” She shook her head. “Then I guess we should take our time.” The smile was so heart-warming, I could only return it, leaning down to give her a soft kiss. “Trust me, Shiala, this will be a night to remember for both of us.”

Resting her back on the bed, I leaned down to kiss her but there was no missing the fact she spread her legs wide, so I thought I’d take a chance and gently play with her sex. She was rather wet already, both of us smiling as we continued to kiss, my fingers gently playing with her as she reached down to grab my cock, learning rather quickly not to grab too tightly and jerk it gently to get the required reaction.

“God,” I moaned quietly, needing to break the kiss.

“Shepard,” she breathed.

“I want to taste you,” I whispered. That earned an immediate smile, again quite shy. “What?” I asked gently.

“I thought… I thought you’d just want…” She trailed off, looking away again.

Using a finger, I made her look back into my eyes. “Shiala, trust me on this one. I love doing it.”

After kissing her again, I kissed down her body, first her neck, earning a gasp when I may have given her a gentle bite before moving down her body. Her breasts were perfect, the same colour as her skin, her nipples a darker shade of purple. I definitely spent plenty of time appreciating those with my mouth as I continued to fondle her sex. Feeling her hand run around the back of my head, I knew she was enjoying what I was doing at least, her breathing and the moaning of my name confirming it.

Her body was fantastic, loving kissing down her stomach, flat but not overly toned, no doubting she was athletic and a fellow warrior. I avoided her sex, earning another groan, this time of frustration, kissing down her thighs, before I kissed back up towards her sex. “Please, Shepard,” she whispered.

“Please what?” I asked, placing my head between her legs, making her look down.

Her eyes, when they met mine, were wild with desire and lust. Just the way I liked it. “Please use your mouth on me. I’m going to cum really hard in about two minutes!”

I figured I should stop teasing, so I used my mouth on her, enjoying her taste immediately. I loved eating out any woman I was with, but due to my… tastes… no, that’s the wrong word. Anyway, it was something I didn’t get to do too often until recently. Spreading her legs wider, my mouth and tongue were working overdrive on her pussy, feeling her press down into my mouth, as she begged me to make her cum. The sort of begging that made me even harder as I knew she was completely turned on.

I could have used my fingers, but I didn’t want to. This time, I was going to make her cum with my tongue. I’d teased her enough by now so stated to flick her clit. That earned a loud moan that would have echoed through the ship. She begged me to do it again and again, and I was soon completely focused on that. She came hard a couple of minutes later, the sort of orgasm that caused her thighs to practically clamp my head in place, and if it wasn’t for the fact I could breathe through my nose, I would have suffocated. I didn’t stop either, continuing to please her. I think she wanted me to stop, but before she could ask, her second orgasm followed as quickly as her first finished. I couldn’t help chuckle as she lay back, her thighs continuing to hold me in place.

“Oh goddess, Shepard,” she cried. Her body continued to shake and shudder as I didn’t stop. “Oh goddess…” I think she nearly started to cry. “Please stop. I don’t want you to, but please stop…”

I stopped as soon as she asked, feeling her release my head so I could at least rest on my forearms. She placed her feet on the bed, watching her take in a series of deep breaths before she looked down towards me. Her face said only one thing, kissing up her body, feeling her shudder as I assumed she was still rather sensitive, before I kissed her lips. “How the fuck…” she started to ask.

“Well, you’re not too different to humans regarding that,” I stated. That made her chuckle. “And I think you needed that.”

She blinked rapidly before kissing me hard. “I’ve gone so long without being intimate… I couldn’t as an acolyte. We had to be dedicated to the cause.”

“Is it too much? We can…”

She kissed me again, feeling her arms and legs wrap around me. “No!” she shouted, before she started to giggle. “Oops. I mean…”

“You’ve never been with a man?” She shook her head, again blushing as she looked away. “But you know what happens next?”

Now she met my eyes, a small smile on her face. God, she looked utterly beautiful in that moment. “I know, Shepard,” she whispered, “From the moment you rescued me, it’s all I’ve thought about.” I’m sure my face no doubt showed surprise. “As I said, I’ve done my research. You’re a good man, Shepard. A great man. And that is why I wanted to be here with you right now.”

“Before we…” I sighed. There was no right way to ask the question. Thankfully she saved me, laughing away first.

“It’s just sex, Shepard. That’s all I want right now. We can make love tonight, and tomorrow we continue as before. If you want this to happen again, I certainly won’t complain. I’m not expecting commitment. You have Saren to deal with. I know, once this is over, I will return to Zhu’s Hope. Sex and love can be separated, as I’m sure you know. But there can also be sex and intimacy with affection, that doesn’t need to involve love. Do you know what I mean?”

I kissed her as I placed the head of my cock at her entrance, earning a small gasp. “I know what you mean,” I said softly.

“Once you’re inside me, Shepard, I know I probably won’t want anyone else.”

“But you just said…”

“I know what I said.” She caressed my cheek again. “You saved me,” she whispered before running her hand down to my arse, giving it a squeeze before I gently slid inside her. I took my time giving her my entire length, but once I was buried, she immediately wrapped her legs around me. Resting her head back, she started to giggle again, though I noticed… I leaned down to kiss her cheeks. “It’s okay, Shepard. Just a big moment.”

“Are you okay?” I just didn’t want to even think I’d hurt her.

“Goddess, yes. I’m already wishing we’d discovered you a few thousand years ago!”

That made us both laugh as I gently started to thrust into her. She learned rather quickly what she liked, adjusting her body and also her legs, feeling her hands run up and down my back, appreciating the muscles across my upper back and shoulders. Otherwise, we continued to make out, only breaking apart when we needed to breath, moan or whisper sweet nothings to each other. There was no doubt we already liked each other quite a bit. She was gorgeous, and she’d already told me I was handsome, so it was a good match.

“Shepard,” she breathed as I soon picked up the tempo. I’ll admit, I wasn’t going to last a lot longer. She was rather tight and felt fantastic.

“Shiala, not much longer.”

“I’ve never felt a man cum in me,” she whispered.

That was a suggestion as she wrapped her hands and legs tightly around me. “Hold on,” I stated into her ear, hearing another giggle as I stated to thrust into her harder and faster. Hearing her moan into my ear was a complete turn on, and when I felt her pussy start to squeeze my cock, that was a complete surprise. I never expected…

“Shepard!” she cried, feeling her shudder as she squeezed her arms tighter, “Goddess, how…. How is this…”

“Won’t last…” I started to say.

We both shut up as I was now pounding her as she recovered from her orgasm. I think she was now rather emotional, not crying, but there was no doubting the connection. I breathed her name as I thrust into a final time before unloading. She squeezed me even tighter if possible before I buried myself and rested, Shiala still wrapped tightly to my body though resting hers on the bed. My forearms on the bed, there’s no doubting we were coated in sweat and various other bodily fluids. Feeling her finally release me, I rested on my forearms as our eyes met.

“Is it always like that?” she asked.

I’ll admit to feeling a little embarrassed. I’d certainly made an effort with her. Not to say I didn’t with my lovers, but I wanted her first time to be somewhat memorable. “If you’re with the right lover, every time is great. Just remember, sometimes the sex is enough. It doesn’t need an orgasm to make that connection with someone.” I stopped before adding, “But I love making my partner cum regardless.”

Lying on the bed together, I lay on my side as she spooned into my body, snuggling into me, mentioning we should have a shower soon. I felt rather tired so suggested we should have a shower sooner rather than later. Finding myself dragged into my small bathroom, we cuddled under the hot water. “You make me feel safe already, Shepard,” she said softly, feeling her fingers dig into my back.

“How do you mean?”

“To Benezia, I was always a tool to be used. I could understand why at the time, but even after that, I was never left feeling that she ever cared about any of us. I was left no choice regarding the Thorian. It was simply something I was expected to do. Trust me, it wasn’t a choice. In the past couple of days with you, I already feel that my opinion is validated, that I can tell you what I think or feel, and that you will listen to me, take it into account, before making your decision.”

I lifted her chin so her eyes met mine. “I will never sacrifice you, Shiala,” I whispered earnestly.

That just made her lip quiver before she kissed me with as much passion as I’d ever received, eventually pressing her body against the side of the shower. “I will be by your side until the end,” she whispered upon breaking the kiss, “Until we beat that bastard Saren.”

After drying each other down, which seemed more intimate than anything we’d done before as we spent most of the time kissing and caressing each other, I took her by the hand and led her back to my bed. I’m not sure if she was expecting me to kick her out, but once she rested against my body, I heard her sigh deeply, shuffling back against my body again. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“For what?” I wondered.

“For caring.” I leaned forward to kiss her cheek. I’m sure I heard her sniffle, but I didn’t question. I think everything we’d just shared was a big deal to her. “Shepard?” she whispered a little later.

“Yeah?”

“Can we do this again?”

“Definitely, Shiala.”

I sensed she smiled before I felt her settle down and she fell asleep. I kissed her cheek again before I felt myself relax, continuing to hold her. She was a lovely young woman. I called asari women because, quite frankly, they were, biologically at least. Anyway, we’d made a connection and I’d fight hard to make sure it wasn’t broken.

Waking in the morning, she was still asleep as I kissed her softly on the shoulder before moving up to her cheek. That made her giggle as she swapped onto her other side to kiss me properly. “Well, I don’t mind waking up like that,” she said softly.

“And I don’t mind waking up next to you. But we’d better get up so we can have breakfast.”

“What about…” she started to ask before trailing off.

“Never mind what they think. And I know they will be careful about what they say.”

She got up first, and I watched her put on her leathers. By god, her body was fantastic, and she definitely appreciated me watching. As she put on her boots, I got up and quickly put on my uniform, only a shirt and trousers, plus my boots. Once we were ready, she wandered out first, following her out into the mess. Nearly everyone else was already sitting, eating breakfast, noticing the silence as Shiala walked out first, grabbing a tray, piling up some food, before we joined the others.

No-one said anything for at least a couple of minutes. I simply ate without a care in the world. I could see Shiala was nervous, barely able to eat a bite. I finally reached across to grab her free hand. “We did nothing wrong, Shiala,” I stated, loud enough for everyone to hear. She smiled, but the rapid blinking I think was also a sense of relief.

Wrex simply burst into laughter, slapping the table. “You do work fast, Shepard!”

“Spirits, I wish I had your luck,” Garrus muttered.

“Nothing to do with luck, Garrus. Have you spoken to that doctor since we rescued her?” He shook his head. “Well, I think you might need to.”

“I wouldn’t know what to say.”

“You don’t need to say anything. Just ask her out. If she says yes, fantastic. If she says no, then you move on.”

“So you two…” Liara trailed off, looking between Shiala and I.

“Yes, Liara?” I asked.

“She spent the night in your quarters, Shepard?” Alenko wondered.

“She did. Why are you asking?”

“No reason. Simply curiosity.”

I met everyone else in the eyes. Liara and Ashley simply met mine before looking away, while I think Tali was more amused than anything. “Have a good time?” she finally asked.

“Sure. Sex is always fantastic, Tali.”

“Keelah, can’t wait to find out one day, Shepard!”

Wrex burst into laughter, slapping the table again. “You are going to corrupt at least one woman on this trip, Shepard!”

“Look, I’m trapped in this suit, Wrex. All I can do is simply fantasise about… well, it.”

Wrex stopped laughing and nodded. “I see what you mean, little one.” He paused before asking, “But why stop at just fantasising?”

I thought the question would have made her uncomfortable. Instead, she replied, “While I want to feel the touch of another person, whether quarian, human, asari or otherwise, to just feel that would require… To be honest, I’m not really sure, Wrex. But just exposure to the air you all breathe could cause me to feel seriously ill.”

“Bet you two are jealous,” Garrus stated, no doubt meaning Ashley and Liara. I just groaned as Wrex burst into laughter again. “What? I mean, I’m usually oblivious to most things but even I can see it.”

“Leave it, Garrus,” Liara stated.

“Be glad I don’t have a knife,” Ashley muttered. The eyes of the turian widened and I’m sure he gulped, probably feeling a little fear. “Yeah, that’s right. Something you like would find itself detached.”

“Harsh, Ashley. Harsh, but fair. And fucking funny!” Wrex exclaimed. I couldn’t help chuckle.

“You’re just a bad influence, Wrex!” Tali added with a giggle of her own.

“Looks, I’m the oldest here by a good few hundred years. I’ve seen a lot of shit go down. Watching all this drama play out is simply humorous to someone as old as I am. It’s clear the Commander likes company. And, sorry ladies, but it’s also clear that you all like the Commander. Even you, lady doctor.” I glanced to see Chakwas blush, which was a little surprise. “So while I understand all your rules and regulations, or the fact you’re worried about this or that, let me give you some advice. I’m old enough to have lived through some bad shit. And when something good comes alone, grab onto it and enjoy it. If it happens once, remember that at least it happened. If it happens more than once, then by the gods, hope it happens again and again.” He then looked at me. “Shepard, I’m going to be blunt. There are at least four females at this table who want to fuck you. I could name them, but I’m not a complete arse, so I won’t name them.”

“I don’t think you need to as it’s rather obvious,” Alenko stated, and I heard the humour in his tone, “Got to say, Commander, anyone else would feel put out because of it.”

I shrugged helplessly before clearing my throat, “Um, I think we have a mission or two to worry about.”

“Nice deflection, Shepard, but I know I’m right. You won’t even have to play your cards right. If you wanted, you won’t go to bed alone,” Wrex stated, “Even my little friend wants your company.”

“Wrex!” Tali exclaimed to the amusement of everyone. I glanced her way and she at least met my eyes from behind her mask. She simply shrugged. “I do wonder, Shepard. I can admit it, at least.” She then paused before looking at Shiala. “What was it like?” she asked not so quietly.

“He made me cum really hard,” Shiala replied, Wrex slapping the table as he laughed again, “More than once!”

I finished up my breakfast quickly before standing up and leaving as Shiala thought then would be the best time to go into detail about what we had done. I didn’t blame her. Considering I was her first male, I could understand why. But I felt more than one pair of eyes on my back as I headed back to my quarters.

Thankfully we had a distraction as we found ourselves in the Matano system, looking for the planet of Chasca. It was another ExoGeni lead, and after what we’d found on Nodacrux, I could only imagine what we were going to find on another planet. Considering this Cerberus organisation was also involved, it would either be for better or worse.

Once we reached orbit, the immediate concern was that the colony below appeared to be silent. Normally we’d receive some sort of signal, either simply to communicate with us or we would receive a message or messages about the status of the colony. I felt a chill down my spine, as if the colony was already dead. I ordered everyone to the garage. We probably wouldn’t need a full team, but unless I already knew what was on the ground, I was going to take everyone.

We dropped in the Mako around half an hour later. From what I’d gathered about the world, only sections would ever be inhabitable, the planet being tidally locked to its moon, meaning one side was unbearably hot, the other freezing cold, with only a slither of habitable land. Why anyone would think it was worth actually living on beggared belief.

“I’ve got nothing on comms, Shepard,” Tali reported, “But I have three possibilities. One is to the south, about one click. One to the south, around two. Then a third to the west at around five.”

“Might as well just go with the closest and work our way out. Let’s just be prepared for…” I sighed. “I don’t even want to contemplate to be honest.”

Heading to the first structure to the south, we parked up the Mako and headed inside. It appeared to be some sort of science facility, heading inside to find it infested with husks. As we mowed them down, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have a bad feeling start to bubble up in their gut. We didn’t find any sort of research station nor terminal we could gather information. Wandering back outside, Ashley grabbed my attention as we noticed the dragons’ teeth, the same we’d seen on Eden Prime. I noticed her shudder. “This is wrong, Shepard,” she muttered.

“We’ll deal with it, Ash,” I assured her.

We headed to the northern structure. Much like the first, it was infested with husks. We already knew how to deal with them by now, but we all realised that by killing them, we were killing what were once humans. And if the nugget in my gut was correct, they used to be colonists. We’d passed more than one pre-fab to realise that some people had been trying to make a life for themselves. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to walk out of the structure a little pissed off.

In silence, we headed to the third and final destination. Approaching it, more husks seemed to swarm towards us. I brought the Mako to a halt, ordering Garrus to open fire as the rest of us piled out. Once the husks were dealt with, I gathered the team. “Tali, Alenko, anyone else with knowledge. Find out anything you can about ExoGeni, Cerberus or whoever else is involved with what’s going on here. I have a bad feeling about what we’re going to find out but… I hope I’m wrong.”

Much like the first two structures, the third was full of husks. But so many more than the first two, I think we almost hesitated killing them by the end. There was nothing that could be done for them, they were already dead, but the dragons’ teeth around told us everything we needed to know. Once the husks were dead, we searched for information, and even I would admit to being shocked when we found clothing. Not just adults, but… children… What were these people capable of?

Ashley found the same, and that’s what made her break, hearing her apologise as she dashed to the exit. Alenko met my eyes, nodded, and followed after her. Garrus walked to my side. “I really didn’t think…”

“Humans can be complete and utter cunts, Garrus. And, to be honest, we love killing each other more than killing others. Have a whole lot of experience in the former.”

“But children?”

“Means nothing to organisations like ExoGeni and Cerberus. All that matters is progress, no matter the cost.”

“So what are you going to do?”

“Report it to the Alliance. But I will be having words with someone we currently hold on the ship.”

That wasn’t the end of it though. I found an office where they had apparently been recording the experiments they’d been carrying out. The Cerberus name and logo was everywhere. No-one was dumb enough to say their name, but it was obvious who they were working for. What I saw was… horrific. In fact, even that doesn’t describe the horror I watched unfold. I waved away anyone else who was even intrigued as to what I watched. I could watch it alone and live with it, knowing I would get vengeance for all those that suffered.

After gathering all the information we could get, including the list of colonists that may have once inhabited the planet, we ended up back on the Normandy, instructing Joker to return us to the Citadel immediately, requesting Alliance representatives meet us there. I was quickly told the Alliance office on the Citadel would help us out regarding any issues going forward.

On our way back to the Citadel, the mess was quiet that evening. Even Wrex didn’t crack many jokes, most heading off by themselves once their trays were cleared. Once I was alone, I requested that Doctor Ross be brought to the interrogation room for questioning. I waited for her arrival, two guards bringing her in, placing her in the seat opposite, before I dismissed them. She appeared to be in good health though no doubt intrigued as to why she’d been summoned.

“Just visited a rather interesting world,” I stated.

“Which one?”

“Little planet by the name of Chasca. Ever heard of it?” She said nothing. I knew she’d probably heard of it. It might have been operated by Cerberus, but ExoGeni’s name was all over it too. “Deny it all you want but I doubt you didn’t know what was going on.”

“Cerberus?” she asked quietly.

I slapped the table with my palm. “What do you know?” I shouted.

“Nothing!” she cried.

I stood up, kicking my chair back as I rounded the table. The fear in my eyes… It excited me at that moment. Grabbing her by the collar, I hauled her out of the chair, leaning her back over the table. “Bullshit!” I roared, “People like you always have the fucking answers. All through history, all people like you did deny. ‘Oh, we were only following orders!’ Bullshit!”

“I swear I don’t know!” she whimpered, no doubt now fearing for her life. I held her collar with my left hand as I held her throat with my right. I met her eyes and I could see, almost taste the fear, as I gently squeezed. “Please, Shepard,” she pleaded softly, “I didn’t know… I’m a scientist trying to help humanity, not kill it!”

I squeezed for another couple of seconds before I relented. I placed her back in her seat before placing my left forearm around her neck, holding my right arm in front of her. “I’m going to play you some footage, Ross. Let’s see what you think of it.”

Pressing play, I showed her what we’d found on Chasca. The colonists that were… That were impaled on the spikes. Butchered like they were nothing. Turned into creatures most of us wouldn’t see in our worst nightmares. Men, women and children, all sacrificed in the so-called name of progress. I made her watch until she simply couldn’t take anymore, begging me to stop showing her. “I never did anything like that,” she cried softly between her tears. Part of me empathised and believed her. We hadn’t found anything like that on Nodacrux, but she was still ExoGeni, she was still one of them.

Switching off my omni-tool, she stood up and cried on my shoulder. I wrapped an arm around her waist and simply let her get it off her chest. I believed her now as it was such a genuine reaction. When she finally stopped and she was simply shaking from all the emotion, I gave her a gentle squeeze. I was still human.

“God, I can’t believe…”

“That is the sort of people you work for.”

“I thought we doing good. I thought we were helping our progress. I never believed we would…”

I could hear how heartbroken she was in her tone. I believed showing her that video had broken the trust she may have once had. I leaned back as she did, seeing her look at me with tear stained cheeks. I used a thumb to clear her right cheek. “Work for the Alliance,” I suggested.

“But they don’t… They don’t give the freedom…”

“But look at what happens when left unchecked. The Alliance has their faults, but they would never, and I mean never, sacrifice human lives like you’ve just seen. Can you look at yourself in the mirror again if you were to work for ExoGeni?” She shook her head. I leaned against the desk. “I’ll make you a deal, Ross. I’ve already figured out you’re quite intelligent. So if you give me your word that you’ll assist the Alliance, I’ll see what I can do about getting some of the charges dropped.”

“You’re serious?”

“All you need do is write a confession plus cutting all ties with ExoGeni.”

“They’ll send people after me.”

“So I’ll protect you.”

That earned a smile. “You can’t protect me all the time.”

“Perhaps not. But the reaction you just had told me everything I need to know about you. You’re not evil, perhaps misguided. The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I believe you intended good, you just underestimated the people you worked for.”

She took a few moments before taking a deep breath. “Okay, Shepard, you have a deal.”

“Good. Want a better night’s sleep?” She looked up quizzically. “You can take a bunk if you want.”

“What about the others?”

“Honestly, I don’t give a shit about them. Worthy sacrifices if you work with us.”

She didn’t think before saying, “I can live with that.” I was ready to just leave when she grabbed my hand. “I wasn’t lying about my offer, Shepard.”

“What offer?”

“Before, when we first met. When you thought I was bribing you. I wasn’t lying.”

I looked around before asking, “Are you serious?”

“I still am.” She leaned back in her chair and unzipped the front of her top, showing her rather full chest. Her skin was pale but unblemished. “I’m just wondering if you’re interested.”

I picked her up and swung her around so she sat on the table, immediately kissing her, feeling her hands fumble at my belt and trousers as I returned the favour. My trousers dropped rather quickly, as did my underwear, feeling her fingers wrap around my cock. “My god, Shepard, how big are you?”

“Big enough,” I muttered, before resuming the kiss.

Once I had her trousers and panties removed, I started to feel her up, only slightly surprised she was already wet, feeling and hearing her moan into my mouth as I wasted little time lining my cock up with her entrance. Breaking the kiss, she rested her forehead against mine. “Just fuck me, Shepard. That’s all I want.”

“Someone’s eager,” I retorted with a chuckle.

“Trust me, I didn’t get fucked working with them. It’s been a long time.”

“Someone as cute as you, should be a crime.”

“Doesn’t help that most of the scientists I work with are either dickless, figuratively speaking, or certainly lack compared to someone like you.”

I gently slid my cock inside her, feeling her legs wrap around me once I’d buried myself. Then I fucked her, the doctor holding on for dear life as I pounded her pussy for all I was worth. Our lips rarely parted, left feeling she was needing some sort of human connection as we coupled, whenever not kissing, our heads always touching, our eyes rarely looking away.

"They have camera’s in here?” she asked.

“Yep.”

She smiled. “So someone will be watching?”

“Probably, but I don’t give a shit. I’m the CO. What are they going to do?”

I licked my thumb and moved it down her body so I could gently play with her clit. That gained the desired reaction, her mouth now desperate for mine, simply to stifle her moans, feeling her pussy clinch my cock. We were both now rather turned on, racing towards our orgasm. I wanted to make her cum first. I’d walked in thinking, if this happened, I’d have just fucked her and been done with it, but after our conversation, I now wanted us both to enjoy it.

“Fuck, Shepard,” she moaned loudly upon breaking the kiss.

“Having fun?”

“God, I’m going to cum so hard in a second.”

“Loving my cock?”

“I haven’t had one this long and thick in… forever.” She looped both her arms around my neck. “Fuck me harder.”

So that’s what I did, really giving it to her in addition to fondling her clit. She lasted a couple of minutes at most before she came. And I mean she came hard, the sort of orgasm that leaves a woman a sweaty, quivering mess, unable to put together a sentence, nor stand up straight as their legs would probably give out. She begged me to keep fucking her though, holding onto my body until I finally finished inside her, so we rested against each other, breathing deeply, unable to do anything else as we’d probably collapse if we tried.

“Well, glad we did that,” she finally muttered.

“You and me both. Though you were rather attractive at the start, except for the whole… you know…”

I pulled out, surprised when she gently pushed me back and dropped to the floor, taking my cock in her mouth, looking up at me. She smiled as she said, “As I said, Commander, I’m very appreciative.”

“I won’t cum again anytime soon.”

“Oh, I’m just cleaning you up before you escort me out of here.” And that’s what she did, standing up a couple of minutes later as we made ourselves presentable. I escorted her to the door, knocking on it, the two guards opening it seconds later.

“Doctor Ross is no longer a prisoner. She is to be treated as part of the crew until our arrival on the Citadel. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

Before she left, I had to ask, “After all that, I don’t even know your first name.”

She offered her hand. “My name is Natasha, Commander.”

“Well, I think I should say that, after everything, it’s been nice to make your acquaintance, Natasha.”

“Yours too, Shepard. And I must ask that you don’t remain a stranger once you’ve handed me over.”

“Next time, I’ll get you completely naked.”

“Next time?”

I couldn’t help smirk. “Well, if you don’t want…”

She grabbed my collar and dragged me down to kiss her, feeling a hand wrap around the back of my head. Her tongue explored my mouth, pressing her against the door, hearing her whimper before we finally broke apart. “You’d better visit me, Shepard. And I want an entire night with you next time. If you’d like that…”

“If it starts off with a kiss like that.”

She smiled before I opened the door. “I’ll come grab you before we make the Citadel, keep you separate from the others.”

“Thank you for trusting in me, Shepard.”

“Just don’t disappoint me, Natasha.”

“I won’t. I give you my word on that.”

Arriving at the Citadel the next day, I’d already received plenty of questions as to why she was had been allowed out of her cell and uncuffed. I’d keep most if to myself until I was standing in front of a pair of Alliance representatives. “This is Doctor Natasha Ross. While she was arrested on the planet of Nodacrux, she is willing to work for the Alliance in trade for any information she can provide in regards to ExoGeni and Cerberus.”

“Is that correct, Doctor Ross?” one of the reps asked.

“What Commander Shepard says is correct. I am willing to work with the Alliance, in particular in regard to the avenues of research I may have been involved in.” She looked at me. “Though I will admit we may have travelled down avenues that even I can admit I was uncomfortable doing.”

“Very well. Commander Shepard, the other scientists?”

“They are to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

“Very well. Doctor Ross, you can come with us for now. We have plenty of our own questions we would like to ask before letting you loose in any of our facilities. Commander Shepard, can we expect your report soon?”

“Already on its way.”

“Thank you. Doctor Ross…”

She looked back at me with a smile before the two reps escorted her away. My team was gathered around watching. Only when she was out of earshot did Wrex ask, or stated, “Bloody hell, Shepard, you didn’t fuck her too, did you?”

I couldn’t help laugh away as we walked off towards the Wards.

Chapter Text

We’d been on the Citadel for a day, and I was ready to order us back to the Normandy to move onto the next assignment when my world took a bizarre turn. Chora’s Den didn’t take long to reopen, and as it had proven to be a rather popular place to gather for drinks, and definitely to gain information, our team had chosen to head there for a few drinks. I was surprised the likes of Ashley agreed, though she said that, having been out with her friends from the 212 often enough, the sight of breasts nearby didn’t faze her at all.

It was while we were walking towards the club that my world may have turned upside down, if I gave a shit, that is. Once he called out my name and our eyes met, I remembered him. One of my foot soldiers from when I ran with the Reds back on Earth. Well, not when I ran with. When I ran them. I simply wondered what he wanted, and more importantly, what he was doing on the Citadel.

“They told me it was you, but I didn’t believe it. Shepard grew up and turned into a soldier.”

I didn’t recognise him straight away simply because it had been over a decade at least since I’d seen anyone from that time. Add to that, anyone I did know would now be an adult, and people definitely change over the course of a decade. “Who are you and why are you in my way?”

Leaning against the wall as he was, no doubt my abrupt manner riled him. He probably thought he was important to me. No-one from that time was. They were… a means to an end. Standing straight, he looked me in the eyes at least. “Name’s Finch. Not surprised by the fact you don’t remember me. Doubt you remember anyone. But I do remember that you ran the Tenth Street Reds.” He smirked. “Yeah, doubt you’ll say anything about that now. None of the vids that come out about the ‘Heroic Commander Shepard’ make mention of the fact he ran with a gang back on Earth.”

I shrugged. “Most people, at least those important to me, know my past. I’m not ashamed of what I did. Call it a learning experience. You’re obviously here for a reason, Finch. Spill it.”

“Or I could just shoot him, Shepard,” Wrex stated.

I gestured. “No, we won’t do that just yet, Wrex. Call me intrigued.”

“One of the Reds, Curt Weisman, got picked up by the turians. We’d like you to talk to the turian guard in the bar and get Curt out.”

I’ll admit, I laughed in his face. “What the fuck makes you think I’ll agree to helping you out?”

“Laugh now, Shepard, but don’t forget that, at one time, you were one of us. A Tenth Street Red. You weren’t just one of us, you loved us. You led us. Some of those kids have now grown up and still wear the badge and colours. But now they look at the vids and wonder who you really were.”

“I led you until the day a better opportunity came along.”

“So we were what, a stepping stone?”

I shrugged. “If you want to see it that way.”

“Should have known you were never true. But still, I’m sure there’s an allegiance somewhere within. So what’ll it be, Shepard? You going to help out a brother?”

I glanced back at my team, smirked, before I turned back towards Finch. “Of course, Finch!” I exclaimed, before I clocked him across the jaw. I didn’t quite knock him out, but he certainly went down like a sack of spuds. Crouching down next to him as he spat out some blood, I could only add, “You are seriously fucking stupid for approaching me like this.”

“You’re going down, Shepard. Do your alien friends know what you’re like? Fucking alien lover.”

I hit him again, almost knocked him out before I stood up and dragged him up with me. “Maybe. Maybe not. But the Reds I remember running with didn’t talk like that. Sure, we committed crimes, but we were not hateful. We simply survived, doing the best we could each day. If you’re now involved in other things, then I’m glad I left.”

“You always were a soft cunt,” he exclaimed.

That earned him a headbutt into the face, which definitely knocked him out. As we were near Chora’s Den, I figured that might relate to why Finch was hanging around, so I headed inside, carrying his unconscious body. I was eventually approached by a turian guard, who asked who he was. “Well, I’m Commander Shepard…”

“I know who you are, Commander.”

“Oh, good. Well, in that case, this unconscious gentleman goes by the name of Finch. Before he ended up unconscious, he was trying to bribe me into having someone by the name of Curt Weisman released?”

“Weisman? Why the hell… Do you know what he’s in for, Commander?”

“No.”

“He’s a xenophobe of the worst kind. We caught him trying to poison medical supplies that, if we hadn’t caught him, would have ended up killing millions of turians.”

“Where did you catch him?”

“Turian space. One of our colony worlds.”

“Shit, I had no idea they had changed so much.” I flung Finch to the floor. “Though I would dearly love to kill this worthless sack of shit, I think a lifetime behind bars would be better. Put him in one next to Weisman, let them suffer together. Ensure they are never released. I may have run with a gang before but we never stooped to that sort of barbarity.”

“At your word, Commander. And thanks for handing over another, as you call it, sack of shit.”

The guard picked up the unconscious Finch, slapping him until he woke up, before dragging him away. He looked back, yelling all manner of abuse in my direction. I simply returned a sarcastic wave, as whatever he yelled was ignored by all the other patrons. Only when they had disappeared did I turn to my team. “So, anyone have questions?”

“We know your history but only the official parts. Would you mind going into details?” Alenko asked.

I shrugged. “Sure. Let me get a round in and I can give you the nitty-gritty.”

We grabbed a large booth at the back, though privacy wasn’t possible. Once one of the scantily clad waitresses had delivered our drinks, immediately putting in another order so we wouldn’t be thirsty, I opened the floor to questions. I assumed they knew the basics, so the first question Garrus asked was, “Were the Reds anti-alien?”

“When I ran them, no, not at all. We committed what I would call petty crimes. Not victimless, I can look back and say there was always a victim. But I generally ruled that, as long as no-one was physically hurt, we could live with ourselves. Before anyone asks, it was things like pickpocketing, robbery and shoplifting. Basically things that either gained us money or supplies. We generally tried to avoid hurting people.”

“Okay, we know you ended up with the Alliance, but how is that glossed over. What happened?” Ash asked.

I took a sip of beer before nodding. “A fair question. What happened is that someone was eventually killed. An elderly gentleman, think he was in his seventies. Robbery gone wrong. We lived by the rule of no-one got hurt but he fought back, he fell, smacked his head, and that was it. The two committing the crime ran and led the fuzz straight back to our hideout. I knew, then and there, we were done for.

Despite all the crime, we were not armed with weaponry, certainly not guns. When the cops arrived in force, all we had to fight them off were baseball bats and lead pipes. Some of the kids wanted to fight, but I knew a lot of us would just end up dead, so I ordered them to surrender. I was taken in immediately. The cops knew who I was.

To be honest, I was ready to simply take whatever they threw at me. I was guilty as sin. But, for some reason, Anderson walked into the interrogation room and offered me an opportunity. Apparently running my own gang was a good thing in their eyes. They could mould me into what they needed and wanted. Guess it worked because here I am now.

As for the anti-alien stuff, that must have happened later, after I’d been arrested and then joined the Alliance. I honestly thought that would have been the end of the Reds, but I guess enough of them got away to carry on. Guess Finch was one of them and the fact I’ve moved on pissed him off. The fact he thought I’d willingly help out after all this time reflects on him, not me.”

“So you don’t hate aliens?” Tali asked, and I heard the concern.

“I think the fact you guys are with me would suggest that I don’t, Tali. But to ease your concerns, no, I definitely don’t hate your kind, nor any other what we once called aliens. I think we can all learn from each other. Quite frankly, I think all our species are more alike than we’d care to admit.”

“What will you do about Finch?” Garrus wondered.

His tone intrigued me, so I asked, “How do you mean?”

“Well, do you think he was working here alone?"

I leaned back, stroked my chin. “Unlikely. But it makes me wonder how much they’ve changed since I left.”

“Think we should find out?”

I definitely heard his tone. Garrus wanted to find out. Considering this Weisman had been on the verge of possibly killing many of his people, I could understand why. “We’ll find out first thing tomorrow, Garrus. Just us two.”

The conversation thankfully moved on after that, all of us enjoying a few drinks, one or two girls getting up to dance, before we all headed back to the Normandy. I didn’t go to bed alone that night, though Shiala only wandered in after everyone else had disappeared for the evening. Lying back on my bed, as I was just ready to go to sleep, I found my boxer-briefs pulled down as she kneeled between my legs and she started to suck my cock without hesitation. I could only lean back and groan as, while I don’t think she’d done that before, she’d either read about it or she was naturally gifted.

“Shiala,” I whispered.

“I want you to cum for me, Shepard.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “Keep going and it’s a guarantee.”

Somehow, she managed to take my entire length, feeling her nose eventually bump into me, and that seemed to excite her quite a bit. Her head was soon bobbing up and down quickly, her eyes looking up into mine. I could barely do anything as she was really bloody good, sending tingles up and down my body, her mouth and tongue pleasing my cock, her hands and fingers caressing my body. Yes, she definitely knew what she was doing.

“Oh god,” I moaned, feeling the inevitable approach.

She didn’t relent. In fact, I’m sure she picked up the pace. I couldn’t help start to gently thrust up into her mouth, though she met my gentle thrusts, almost desperate for me to cum. I groaned a final time before I felt myself erupt, feeing the muscles in my legs tighten as I unloaded into her mouth. I’m sure I heard her audibly gulp down what I emptied into her mouth as she kept sucking me until I relaxed back onto the bed, my mind now completely blank, my body more relaxed than it had been in some time.

Shiala finally released my cock, feeling it flop against my stomach, as she kissed up my chest before resting next to me, wrapping an arm around her. “I’m glad you like us, Shepard,” she whispered.

“Huh?”

“Aliens. I’m glad you like us.”

I chuckled. “Do things like that, and I won’t want humans anymore.” I met her eyes. “But… what was that for?”

“Shepard, you made me cum so hard the other night, you made me cry. I just wanted to return the favour. I hope it was…”

I kissed her before she could continue. “Best blowjob I’ve had in years.” That made the smile on her face broaden, highlighting those gorgeous eyes she had. “Want the favour returned?”

“Nope. I just wanted to do that for you before going to sleep. Do you mind?”

“I don’t. I just… Never mind…”

Waking the next morning, she was still asleep. Able to extricate myself without waking her, I woke her up by pleasuring her with my mouth. She woke up with a gasp, looking to see me licking her beautiful pussy. She didn’t say anything, simply spreading her legs as she reached down to run a hand through my hair. “Shepard,” she breathed.

“I’m going to make you cum hard again, Shiala.” She simply nodded, blinking rapidly. “Can you handle that?”

“Goddess, yes. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

She lasted all of five minutes before I made her cry out my name, hand grabbing my hair to stop me from moving away, basically rubbing her pussy in my face as her body quivered. I simply doubled down what I was doing, flicking her clit fast with my tongue, sending shockwaves up her body. It was obviously too much for her but she didn’t or couldn’t ask me to stop, looking up to see her cheeks were wet. Looking down, she nodded. “Keep going. Please keep going,” she whispered.

So that’s what I did. I lifted her body up until I was resting on my knees, looking down into her eyes. It was a little awkward, but with her legs resting over my shoulders, she was making even more noise. I loved her taste, and knew I’d happily eat her out every morning and night until the day I put a bullet in Saren. I made her cum again a second time, wondering if she would ask me to stop. She eventually whispered that she’d had enough, so I gently lowered her down onto the bed and removed my mouth, though kissed my way up her body before I looked down into her eyes. “Is it always that good?”

I smiled. “Well, I hope it is.”

I laid down beside her, Shiala turned onto her side and hugging me. “And here I thought last night ‘I’m just going go in there, such his cock, and that would be it’. Should have known!”

“Oh, I love a blowjob as much as the next man. Next time, you blow me and I’ll eat you out at the same time. That’s always good fun.”

We lay together until our stomachs grumbled and we needed breakfast. After dressing, we headed out together, this time no-one making any comment as we took our seats with our trays of food. Conversations between everyone continued, Shiala immediately offering her opinion on something being discussed between Liara and Ashley, both listening without making any mention of the fact she’d walked out of my quarters. After breakfast, I told the team that Garrus and I would be speaking with Finch, so they would be free for the day, but that we would be departing the next morning.

The mess eventually ended so that only Garrus and I were left. We didn’t really need to say anything, simply rising to our feet and heading out into the Citadel. Wandering toward C-Sec, I asked Garrus if they’d play ball. “You’re a Spectre, Shepard.”

“Ah, yeah. I just don’t want to rub them up the wrong way.”

“Considering what they’ve done, as long as you don’t ask for their release, they probably wouldn’t mind you shooting them.”

“Don’t tempt me.”

Walking down to the cells, I asked for Weisman and Finch. They were in separate, isolated cells, both earmarked for transportation back to turian space. I could only assume the Alliance was aware and hadn’t made a fuss. Considering they were criminals, I certainly wouldn’t stop them facing justice. And I knew turian justice was harsh.

I asked for Weisman first, having never met the man. Once he was placed in an interrogation room, I suggested to Garrus we play good cop, bad cop. He was surprised when I said I’d like to play bad cop, as he didn’t know me. If he did from the old days, he didn’t know me now.

I’ll admit, I beat him black and blue during interrogation, particularly after he admitted to his crimes. He would have been responsible for mass murder. Thousands if not millions of turians could have died had he been successful. The Reds I knew would never had done that. Whoever ran them now, and that was one thing he’d never confess, deserved a bullet.

Calling the guards in, they carried his bloodied, battered body back to his cell. He’d get rudimentary medical care but I doubted they’d give a shit. As I said, they probably expected me to kill him.

When Finch was brought in, Garrus and I swapped roles. I took a seat opposite Finch and questioned him, Garrus gave him a slap whenever he refused to answer or gave us one we didn’t like. I’ll admit that, by the end, we might have got carried away and, to be honest, he was lucky to walk out of the room alive. Did I feel bad about it? No, not at all. We got the information I wanted, handing that straight to C-Sec while also sending it to the Alliance. The Reds would hopefully cease to exist once they figured out how to handle them.

That left us the rest of the day to fill in and I thought I’d help out who I already considered a friend. “So, have you spoken to Chloe lately?” I wondered.

“What?”

“Well, as I said, Garrus, it was obvious she thought highly of you.”

“That doesn’t mean…”

“There’s no harm in trying,” I stated, interrupting him, “All you need to be is a little bit brave.”

He sighed, I think already in defeat, and it didn’t take much effort me to lead us towards her office. Striding in with Garrus a step behind, Chloe was definitely surprised to see us. “Commander, what brings you here?”

“We just wanted to see how you were doing after everything that went down before?”

“Oh, I’m fine, Commander. I wasn’t harmed and, while it was scary, it was a minor incident in the grand scheme of things.”

I gave Garrus an elbow. Probably noticed, but it woke him up. “Oh,” he cleared his throat, “I’m glad to hear you’re okay, Chloe.”

She immediately blushed and I nearly burst out laughing. They were as bad as each other. So I needed to get crafty, basically stepping aside and faking a message arriving. Garrus was making awkward small talk, or perhaps it was the other way around, but I made my omni-tool ping a couple of minutes later. “Well, damn, I’ve got to go deal with something.”

“Do you need my help?” Garrus asked.

“No, Spectre level only, Garrus. Sorry about that. Why don’t you just stay here with Chloe and keep her company? I’m sure she’d love that.”

“Oh, I don’t…”

“I would like that,” Garrus stated straight away. Finally found that spine he had.

“You would?”

Garrus turned to her, took a step closer. “I would, if you’d like my company.”

The blush turned into a smile. The sort of smile that told me everything she felt about him. She was smitten. “I’d definitely like that.” He didn’t smile, but the gentle grab of her hand… well, I’m sure you can imagine.

I don’t think either of them even noticed me leave. I’d definitely have to ask Garrus the next morning how everything went. I wouldn’t ask for the details, but if he got laid, good for him. He needed the release of tension.

Heading back to the Normandy, I spent most of the day at work, liaising with Pressly regarding a number of assignments we had to complete in addition to dealing with Saren. Noveria was still top of the list but there were a few matters that were listed urgent. I’m not sure what was more urgent than the impending destruction of the galaxy, but I was assuming that Saren still hadn’t found what he needed, as the Reapers hadn’t arrived yet, so we still had time.

Nearly everyone returned to the Normandy that evening. Everyone except Garrus, that is. It was noticed as we ate dinner. Wrex asked me where he was, I simply shrugged and said I didn’t know. The krogan figured I was telling a white lie but didn’t push me. There were one or two subtle digs at me about what I’d been up to that afternoon, admitting that I’d been rather boring and just got on with work.

I slept alone that night, not that I minded. I thought Shiala might have wandered in again, but she disappeared to bed before most of us, figuring she was just tired. I actually ended up spending most of my time chatting with Ashley. Despite being human, she’d rarely been to Earth, having been born and grown up on a colony world and only visiting Earth when she was in training. She spent some time comparing her military career to mine and we definitively agreed that it was completely bullshit that she hadn’t been promoted. I gave her a solemn vow I’d help her progress after the mission.

Getting up to go to bed, she said, “Just a way for you to get into my pants, Shepard. Get on my good side.”

“I don’t do favours just to have sex with women, Ash. You deserve…”

“I’m yanking your chain, Shepard.”

I couldn’t help grin. “I figured, but…”

She took a step closer. “Would you like to though?” she asked, her tone softer, even… sultry.

“What, sleep with you?” She nodded. I smiled again before leaning closer to her ear. “I wouldn’t mind fucking your brains out, Ash. Get you on all fours then just make you beg for more.”

I heard her gasp but she didn’t move away. “What else?” she breathed into my ear.

“What else would you like?” I retorted quietly.

“I’d love you to eat my pussy, Shepard. All night, just your mouth between my legs. Would you like that?”

“I’d love it, Ash.” She met my eyes and I could read them easily. “But not tonight. We have a lot to do.”

She nodded, understanding immediately. “Of course, Shepard. But, maybe one day…”

“You’ve… changed…”

“I’ve been listening to Shiala, Shepard. I’m missing out. I don’t want to miss out. I’m not after commitment. I have my career to think about. But I miss the… intimacy that comes with being with someone. And I look at you and… I want…”

I stepped forward so our bodies were almost touching, leaning down so I nearly kissed her. “You want me, Ash? I want to hear you say it.”

“God yes, Shepard. I want you. Your hands on my body. Your lips on mine. Naked beneath you as you’re inside me.” She smirked. “Descriptive enough?”

I couldn’t help smile again. I tried not to make it look triumphant. “That feeling is mutual.” The smile that formed lit up her face, made her look ten times more beautiful in an instant. “And you’re beautiful when you smile.” That made her blush immediately. “Sorry, just…”

“No, I’ll take the compliment, Shepard.” She took a deep breath and stepped back. “I’d better go. Part of me doesn’t want to, but…”

“Good night, Chief.”

Another smile, recognising what I was doing. “Good night, Commander. I’ll see you at breakfast.”

“That you will. Couple of big days coming up.”

I decided we’d have breakfast before departing the next morning, also needing to wait for Garrus to show up. He came strolling into the mess just as we were about to finish, definitely looking pleased with himself. Taking a seat next to Wrex, the krogan just stated, “Someone got lucky last night. And, for once, it wasn’t Shepard.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Wrex.”

“Bullshit, turian. You just strolled in here, looking all sorts of smug, the look of a man who had his balls emptied last night.”

“Wrex!” Tali exclaimed, though giggling away.

“Get used to it, little one. It appears it’s not only the Commander that is getting some action now.” Wrex looked around the table before stopping at someone. “What about you, doc? Think you could handle a krogan?” I think Liara definitely turned a paler shade of blue, which only made him laugh harder. “Only kidding, doc. I know who you have the hots for.” He made an obvious glance in another direction. “Same with you, Ash. And you, Chakwas. I have all of you picked.”

I just burst into laughter. “Can’t get anything past you, can we?”

“I’m old enough to have seen this sort of shit happen before. Garrus now has a girlfriend.”

“Wait, what?”

“Oh, you definitely have a girlfriend now, turian. And as for you, Shepard, you just appear to be a magnet. Can understand why. Shiala has already let slip how… gifted you are.”

I glanced down the table. Shiala couldn’t meet my eyes, definitely blushing. “Gifted how?” Tali wondered.

“He has a big cock, little one. From what Shiala said, up to eight inches but also nice and thick.”

“Keelah,” Tali whispered, “They can get that big?”

“Krogan have bigger, but this isn’t a dick measuring contest. Let’s just say our Commander is well above average for his species.”

I met the eyes of Ashley. Hearing what I had definitely surprised her, and there was now a look in her eyes that suggested she didn’t want to wait much longer. Liara was simply blushing, the conversation probably too much for her. “Does it hurt?” Tali asked Shiala.

“Goddess, no. It’s perfect. I’m just amazed I managed to swallow his whole cock when I blew him.”

Wrex burst into laughter, slamming the table with his palm. Alenko couldn’t help burst into laughter too. “Well, this has turned into quite the breakfast conversation.”

“You want some action, LT?” Ashley joked.

“Ah, well, um…” He trailed off, looking embarrassed.

“Alenko, you can admit it. I’ve seen your file. No-one is going to judge. We don’t live in that world anymore,” I stated.

He shrugged, looking around the table. “Guess I hide it well, not that I do it in on purpose, but you can never be too sure of how people would react, even in todays world.” He cleared his throat before adding, “I prefer the company of men, Ash.”

“Oh, I had no idea.”

“I just don’t talk about my private life all that much. But I realised I preferred men after hooking up with this one girl I really liked. Realised I liked her as a friend rather than lover, then realised I was actually attracted to someone else in the same group, my feelings being all mixed up as I didn’t comprehend them at the time. He felt the same way and… well, that’s been my life since.” He sighed. “Being single does suck though.”

Wrex leaned forward. “Ever had krogan before?”

This made me laugh even harder, Tali even giggled. “Seriously?” Alenko asked.

Wrex shrugged. “Krogan don’t have what you were term sexual preferences. We’ll have sex with anyone. We do have sex with females for procreation but, other than that, it’s just for fun.”

Alenko looked around the table. “You’re being serious here?”

Wrex shrugged again. “I’m prepared to do a colleague a favour. I do warn you though, Alenko. I’m what you humans call well hung.”

“Um, maybe we should discuss this in private…”

“Well, looks like everyone is getting laid,” I joked, before a couple of people look at me, “Well, nearly everyone.”

Thankfully, we split up quickly as we did need to move. Once we’d departed the Citadel, I had the Normandy head to the Voyager Cluster, in particular a planet by the name of Binthu. One of the urgent assignments involved a message I’d received from Admiral Kahoku, who had continued his investigation into the activities of Cerberus. Having located one of their facilities, he was personally investigating the plan but asked for my immediate back up.

In orbit around the planet, I tried to contact him below, but received no response. As usual, I would have the entire team on the ground with me, not prepared to leave any of them behind for the time being. With all of us having particular skills, we would be using overwhelming force against any opposition.

Landing groundside in the Mako, we’d already pinged the three facilities that we’d located before landing. Driving us towards the first one, we found ourselves under fire from what I could only assume were human terrorists the closer I drove.

“Light them up, Garrus,” I ordered, immediately hearing the machine gun above our heads do just that.

One of them had a rocket launcher, managing to fire one straight at us before Garrus riddled him with bullets. The rest were armed with rifles, stupidly thinking they’d do anything to our shielded and armoured machine. Killing them all didn’t take too long, and after we climbed out, Alenko did ask for orders.

“Like with ExoGeni, we’ll see if we can take prisoners and find out more about this Cerberus.”

Everyone agreed, even Wrex, and after checking armours and weapons, we headed inside. It was another facility dug into the ground, and it they were filled with terrorists. Those armed with weapons, we returned fire, shot and killed where they stood. The researchers and scientists we tried to shoot in the leg or arm. If they were stupid enough to pull a weapon, they joined others on the floor. But that isn’t what grabbed our attention.

“Creepers,” I muttered as I approached the force field. “Tali, can you get it down?”

“Of course, Shepard.”

“Shotguns out, people. Soon as it disappears, we kill them all.”

It didn’t take Tali long to get the shields down. As soon as it blinked out, we opened fire. The noise was deafening. The creepers didn’t stand a chance, their bodies simply piling on the floor. Ashley had cuffed and collared the lone scientist, and after a final check to make sure we’d collected all the data possible, and left no-one behind, we left the facility.

“The hell are we going to find at the second one?” Garrus muttered.

“Just what are these people up to?” Alenko asked himself.

Both were good questions as we boarded the Mako, now even more cramped with our prisoner. The second facility was like the first, the outside patrolled by terrorists, the inside full of them as well. But what lurked behind the force field this time… If you looked up monster in the dictionary, something like that would appear.

“The fuck are those?” I wondered.

Wrex sniffed the air. “They smell wrong, Shepard. Very wrong.”

“Know what it is?”

“I might, but then it doesn’t make sense.” He sniffed again. “I could be wrong.”

What we did was release them and kill them immediately. Everyone from Cerberus was dead, even the scientists taking out weapons as soon as we entered the large room where they seemed to be waiting for us. We grabbed more data, though nothing told us what the monsters were, simply saying they were experiments on sample letters and numbers. Would have liked the name of whatever it was, but I guess we’d find out later.

Heading to the third facility, I was worried about the fact we hadn’t seen nor heard from Admiral Kahoku. If he was being held prisoner, so be it, we could rescue him. But surely Cerberus would try and negotiate terms. The fact they hadn’t… I didn’t share the bad feeling I had settling in my stomach, simply steeling myself for whatever came next.

Cerberus, now aware we were on the planet, fought like fanatics. One had even strapped explosives to their chest and ran towards out vehicle, only quick thinking from Garrus stopping them from really causing some damage. That just pissed me off, so I may have run a couple of the bastards over in return. Gathering at the entrance, I suggested we were beyond taking prisoners at this point, the one we had tied up in the Mako enough. No-one disagreed with the order.

We slaughtered the bastards, that’s all I can really say about what happened. Biotics, tech and bullets rained down on anyone from Cerberus in the lab. They fought for as long and hard as possible but they never stood a chance against the overwhelming force at my disposal. Once they were all dead within a few minutes, our group approached the force field, a similar looking monster behind it. This one was aggressive, slamming into the barrier to try and get at us.

“Tali, take the barrier down. The rest of you, in cover. Soon as it goes down, Shiala and Liara, biotics. The rest of you, open fire.”

We realised it was weak to biotics, and with as many bullets as we put into it, the fight lasted all of thirty seconds before the monster was dead on the ground. Standing out of cover, Wrex wandered over, kicking it with his foot, sniffing the air. I ignored that as I found something I had expected for a while, but it was still a kick in the guts.

Crouching by the body, I checked for a pulse, but it had been a long time since blood had flowed through his body. Alenko and Ashley knelt down next to me. “He’s dead?” Ash asked quietly.

“He is, but…” I checked his body. Considering he was inside the containment area with that monster, his appeared fine. No wounds anywhere. So I checked his neck and then his arms, and that’s when I found the track marks. Alenko and Ashley noticed too. “Bastards. They didn’t even give him the dignity…”

Tali reported she’d found more data, for which I thanked her for. We managed to make a rudimentary stretcher out of supplies we found, Alenko and I carrying the body of Admiral Kahoku out of the facility, before placing it in the Mako. I dragged the scientist out, putting him on his knees, putting the barrel of my pistol to his head. “Why?” I growled.

Shaking as much as he was, little wonder his voice quivered. “He was getting too close. We were ordered…”

“You know who I am?” He nodded. “You know I’m a Spectre?”

“But you can’t…”

“Already have the data we need. Taking you won’t add anything. Prepared to tell me what I want?”

“I can’t. They’ll kill me.”

I smirked. “Wrong answer.”

I pulled the trigger, sending the bullet through his head, watching his body slump to the ground. The shot appeared to echo around us as I holstered the weapon and turned around. While there were one or two surprised looks, no-one said anything to start with. “Bastard deserved it,” Ashley muttered.

“Guess that changes things regarding Cerberus,” Garrus stated.

“Tali will get us the data we need. Unless we get our hands on someone senior, and I don’t think that piece of shit was much of anything, then we’re going to simply wipe the bastards out. No negotiating with terrorists.”

Calling in Joker, we were soon back on the Normandy, where we placed the body of Admiral Kahoku in a coffin, and I reported in what we’d discovered. Admiral Hackett, who by now was my main means of communication with the Alliance, ordered me to return his body to the Citadel immediately, where it would then be taken to Arcturus for a funeral. Being a member of the Alliance Navy, he would not be buried on land. His coffin would be released into space, where it would float for eternity. I suggested that, instead of the Citadel, we just deliver it to Arcturus as I wished to attend.  Hackett agreed, so I had Joker take us to Arcturus.

I hadn’t been there in quite a while, always amazed at the sheer size of the place. Docking the Normandy, the coffin could basically levitate off the ground thanks to mass effect fields, Ashley, Alenko and I flanking it as we walked off the ship, his coffin draped in the flag of the Alliance. Alliance personnel were lined up to either side, saluting as we walked forward slowly, Admiral Hackett one of at least greeting us.

His coffin taken away, the admirals wanted to hear my report. Dismissing everyone for now, only Wrex getting unwanted attention considering few people had probably met krogan, I was whisked away to a large office, where I told them everything that had happened since my first meet with the admiral. They wanted to hear details about what happened on Binthu, and I held nothing back, including the summary execution of the scientist. I wanted them to know what I would do for both the Citadel and humanity.

“His funeral will be tomorrow, Shepard. Anyone from ship, Alliance or not, is invited to attend,” Hackett stated.

“Thank you, sir.”

The funeral was a solemn affair. Being a hero of the Skyllian Blitz, Admiral Kahoku was fondly thought of in Alliance circles. Word of his murder spread quickly, and the hall was packed to the rafters during the service. Hackett spoke warmly of his friend and colleague, and many were saddened when it was mentioned the admiral had left behind a wife and three children. That just pissed me off even further, knowing my personal war against Cerberus had only just begun.

The service over, I met my group outside, suggesting we would depart the Citadel within a couple of hours. After sharing a few words with Hackett again, I also introduced myself to Kahoku’s family. They knew me, coming as no real surprise. They simply thanked me for bringing his body home so they could say goodbye.

Once all of us were back on the Normandy, I put our next destination into the galaxy map. Joker did query it, wondering why we were not going to Noveria. I suggested we had one or two other matters to deal with first before that but not to worry. Noveria was next on the list.

Chapter Text

Being one of the first out of my room for breakfast wasn’t always a surprise. I generally woke early anyway, and after a piss and a shower, my stomach was usually grumbling after that, so after dressing, I’d wander out to usually find one or two people. I was slowly joined by others, Ashley, Chakwas, Garrus, Tali and the two asari, who seemed to be getting on rather well, I guess having a common bond.

Wrex was one of the last to appear, and he was looking rather smug. Alenko was the last to show up, which was unusual, but when he sat down, he noticeably winced, enough that most of us didn’t miss it at all. “Something up, LT?” Ash wondered.

Alenko didn’t say anything. Wrex replied, “Well, something was up him last night.”

I burst into laughter. Most of the girls had a giggle. “Wrex, please…”

“Yep, you moaned that last night too when I was balls deep in your arse. In fact, I’m fairly sure you were begging me to keep going.”

“So you were serious?” Liara wondered. “I thought you were… I thought you were joking.”

Wrex forked some food into his mouth before leaning forward. “Let me tell you something, young doctor. Our Lieutenant here now loves krogan cock. I fucked him hard, made him cum plenty of times, and I know he’ll want it again and again.” He glanced around the table. “He’ll just have to work on that gag reflex for when he’s blowing me.”

I looked at Alenko, who while blushing, glanced at Wrex and I noticed the small smile. “Alenko?” I wondered.

“Oh, I’m sore this morning, Shepard, but it was worth every second of it. I’m not expecting romance but I love to be fucked by something so long and thick. And I had no idea krogan had four balls! I’ve only got two hands!”

“Damn, sounds like LT will be seeing some action going forward,” Ash joked.

“How big?” Tali asked, to the groans of the table.

“You really want to see, little one?” Tali nodded. “I’ll show you in private later. I don’t want to just whip it out in the mess. Alenko will want to jump on it again.” That earned plenty of laughter, Alenko returning a rueful grin. “Hey, watching a human ride this thing was an interesting experience.”

“Anyway, where we headed, Commander?” Ashley asked, getting our minds away from what Wrex and Alenko had been up to.

“Three planets in total. First we’ll be visiting Mavignon in the Gemini Sigma cluster, then Klensal in the Hades Gamma cluster. Once we’ve dealt with the people based there, we head for Amaranthine in the Horse Head Nebula.”

“And this is for that woman who asked for your help on the Citadel?” Alenko asked, his mind now on the job.

“Aye, it is. I’m already thinking of how to deal with her.”

“Differently to Finch, I assume?” Shiala asked, a small grin, so obviously she was aware.

“No, I don’t plan on smacking her around, if that’s what you mean. But, as usual, everyone will be on the ground for the first two planets. When it comes to Amaranthine, I’m tempted to approach her alone and see if I can convince her to move on to other things. Use my own life as an example of how things could be better.”

“Not a bad idea, Commander,” Alenko stated.

“Thanks. Up here for thinking,” I pointed at my head, “Down there for dancing,” pointing at my feet, “And the thing in between is for fucking.” The whole table groaned before there were a few giggles at least. “Anyway, now that we know what we’re doing, let’s move on from Alenko and ask Garrus how his night with Chloe was?”

The turian just looked at me with daggers. “But we’ve already…” He trailed off with a sigh. “Damn it.”

Most of the team split up once breakfast was done, though that left Shiala, Liara and Ashley at the table. They were talking amongst themselves, and I was just getting ready to head up to the deck when they asked me to stay. Wondering what they wanted, I moved my chair closer. The three shared a look before Shiala cleared her throat. “So, Shepard, the fact you and I have slept together hasn’t gone unnoticed. I probably haven’t helped by being… well, I think the human term is ‘waxing lyrical’ about, well, everything about you.”

“She says you have a big cock, Shepard,” Ashley put rather bluntly, “But the best thing is, you actually know how to use it.”

“Anyway, we’ve already talked about our relationship, or the fact we don’t have one. We’re just having fun, blowing off steam between missions. The thing is…”

“I need you to fuck me, Shepard,” Ashley stated, “I know what I said before but I can’t deny the fact I need your company in bed.”

“Okay.”

That just made her smile as we all looked at Liara, who blushed quite brightly. “Come on, Liara, no point denying it now,” Shiala stated.

“It’s not that easy and you know why, Shiala.”

“What is it?” I wondered.

Liara didn’t reply, I think embarrassed, so Shiala replied for her. “She’s never been with anyone, Shepard. Our young doctor here is a virgin.”

“Oh… Really? But you’re one hundred and six!”

“That’s still quite young for an asari, Shepard,” Shiala explained, “Though most of us have been fucking by half that age, if not earlier. We do take longer to mature but reaching triple figures as a virgin is unusual. No offence, Liara.”

“None taken. I’ve just not had many opportunities to be with someone. I spend most of my time on dig sites alone.”

“You prepared to deflower a virgin, Shepard?” Shiala wondered.

“Definitely.” Liara looked at me with wide eyes at my tone, then blushed brightly again, looking away immediately. “Come on, I think it’s no secret I find the three of you attractive. But I’ll put it plainly. I’m not interested in anything else except sex. If you can handle that, great, we’ll have some fun. If not, it would be best if we leave things how they are.”

“We’re already fucking, Shepard, so you know my answer.”

I looked at Ashley. “I’ve got my career to think about, but since this is a vessel commanded by a Spectre, I think that gives me just enough leeway to be royally fucked by my Commanding Officer.” The tone she used caused me to shuffle in my seat. She was keen. Very keen.

We all looked at Liara again. “Oh, definitely. Absolutely. I already masturbate thinking about it.” She seemed to realise what she’d just said, but simply shrugged. “Well, of course I do, considering I haven’t had sex yet. How else am I going to get off?”

“What about you, Shepard?” Shiala wondered.

“I’ll put it simply. I’ll fuck any woman who shows an interest. Granted, I have to like them in return, and I do like some sort of connection, but I don’t need to be in love to have a good time. If we’re physically attracted to each other, then it’s just sex. Usually the good kind.”

“I think we can all agree to that,” Ashley stated, and the matter appeared settled.

“What about Tali?” Liara wondered.

“What about her?” Ashley asked.

“Well, I think it’s obvious she’s nursing a little crush on Shepard. Should we include her in this?”

“While I like Tali, I think the chances of sex happening are minimal considering all that’s she told me about their immune systems and trying to get out of their suits,” I replied.

“Anyone else you can think of?”

I did glance towards the med-bay. “Reckon Chakwas could handle me?” That caused the three of them to laugh. “Hey, I know how old she is from her file. Trust me, she’s not as old as you think, and she’s fit for her age.”

“If you want to, Shepard, no-one is stopping you,” Shiala said.

Having got what they needed off their chests, the three left me to get on with my work. I had no idea what was going to happen next.


Tali would admit she’d been nursing a crush on Shepard since the moment he’d rescued her on the Citadel. But while it was clear he liked her in return, she didn’t think or believe it would ever turn into romance. And considering it was obvious that he did like to enjoy sexual relations with numerous partners, she didn’t know if she could handle that.

However, she had surprised herself that morning during the conversation with Wrex. She had blurted out the question, unable to stop herself, simply due to curiosity. She had heard Shiala talk about Shepard with a couple of other women, but from Wrex said, he was even… bigger.

Finishing her shift for the day, knowing they would arrive at the first planet the next day, she approached Wrex after dinner. “Remember what we talked about earlier?” she asked, “At breakfast?”

“I remember.”

“Can I… Can I see it?”

“You were serious?” She nodded rather keenly. The big krogan just shrugged. “Okay. We should definitely do this in some privacy.”

They found an empty room, walking inside and locking it, leaning back against the door as Wrex simply stood, looking at her. “I’m not going to bite, Tali.”

“I’ve never seen one before, and from what you said…”

He walked towards her, taking her gently by the hand, and led her into the middle of the room. “Get on your knees,” he instructed gently. She did as he asked, noticing him start to undo the lower regions of his armour. Once all that was off, she watched him grasp his cock and slowly stroke himself as it just grew… and grew… and grew…

“Keelah,” she whispered.

He finally stopped and looked down. “That’s about as big as it gets, Tali.”

“Keelah,” she whispered again, reaching forward without thinking. Wrex was about to say something when she brushed her hand against his cock, swallowing down whatever he was going to say. Tali took her time looking it up and down before leaning forward, noticing that he had a set of four testicles. She knew enough that every other species only had two.

Without really thinking, she tried to wrap her hand around his cock but couldn’t quite do it. “Um, Tali…”

“I just want to play with it a little,” she breathed.

“You play with it for any length of time…”

“How did Alenko manage… I don’t really understand…”

“A lot of patience, and a hell of a lot of lube,” Wrex stated with a chuckle, “Tali, you’ve never been with someone. Sure you want to do this?” She looked up and met his eyes. She was surprised to see his were so caring, which matched his tone. “I thought you liked Shepard?”

“Oh, I do but… I’ll never have him like this so…” She paused. “Oh, that must sound horrible, Wrex. I’m sorry.”

He rumbled with laughter. “None taken, little one.” He reached down and lifted her up so she was standing. “But you don’t want it like this, not with someone like me. You want your first time doing anything special or intimate to be with someone you care about. I’m flattered that you want to do something with me, and a small part of me would like you too. The larger part doesn’t want to take advantage of your good nature. You’re a good kid, Tali. You should wait to be with someone who cares about you.”

“You care about me, Wrex?”

“I do, but in a different way. You’re my colleague, and you’re my little friend.” She wrapped her arms around him as much as she could, feeling his arms wrap around her. She started to giggle as his cock became trapped between the pair of them. “Damn, now I have an erection and no-one to use it on.”

“I could get Alenko?”

She leaned back to see an almost predatory grin. “Oh, that’ll do nicely.” He paused before asking, “Want to watch?”

“Really?”

He shrugged. “If you’re interested.”

“I never thought I would find it interesting, but I’ll admit part of me is. I’ll go get him.”

She practically ran out of the room and up towards where Alenko usually hung out in the mess. Alenko appeared amused by the fact she’d obviously run to find him. Before he could ask, she simply said, “Wrex wants you.”

There was no misinterpreting what that meant, Alenko shutting down his workstation and following Tali to where Wrex was waiting. He was leaning against a wall, his cock standing out proud. Alenko immediately went towards him, dropping to his knees, though turned when Tali stayed in the room, locking the door. “What’s going on?” he wondered.

“My little friend has now seen what I have. And now she wants to watch what I do to you.”

“Are you sure?” Alenko asked her.

“I think this is going to be a major turn on.”

Alenko ended up naked quite quickly and she couldn’t help appreciate how toned and athletic he was. She didn’t guess at the size of his cock, much smaller than Wrex, but it appeared adequate. She wouldn’t say what happened over the next couple of hours was loving. Not at all. Alenko was fucked, and fucked hard, but clearly enjoyed every second of it. Wrex seemed to enjoy himself too, contorting Alenko into various positions as he drove his massive cock into him. Tali switched on her Nerve-Stim Pro as she watched, and she definitely made noise of her own.

“I think she’s masturbating in her own particular way, Kaidan,” Wrex stated, watching the human ride him.

“Good for her. Shame it’s so difficult for her to enjoy something like this.”

“Oh, I can cum hard enough with this,” Tali breathed, turning the setting up to time the pulses going through her body with Alenko’s bouncing.

The three of them practically came together, which felt rather nice, despite the fact she was alone. Alenko collapsed onto Wrex, the krogan simply lay back and laughed to himself, while Tali nearly collapsed onto the floor herself, feeling her legs quiver as she’s used the highest setting possible. She lay there for a while until Wrex appeared in her eyeline, his cock now packed away, feeling one of his hands gently lift her up. “Well, big day, little one.”

“That was so hot, Wrex,” she whispered.

“Glad you enjoyed the show.” Both glanced at Alenko, still lying naked back on the floor, a pool of cum underneath him. “I think our Lieutenant here is worn out.”

“And very sore. Totally worth it though.”

It was only as she unlocked the door and looked around that she noticed the little camera in the corner. She looked at Wrex, then gestured with her head. He just roared with laughter again. “Looks like someone got a show then. You should head out first. I’ll help my friend here.”

Walking towards the sleeping pods, she was thankful the mess was empty, grabbing a tube of food paste to nibble on before heading to bed. She thought she would remain alone until Shepard wandered out of his quarters, heading to the fridge to grab a bottle of water, before he walked straight to her table, sitting opposite her.

“Didn’t expect that, Tali.” She could feel her cheeks heat up under her mask. “No need to be embarrassed about it either.”

“Did you see everything?”

“I noticed Wrex and yourself go in. I’ll admit I was curious to see what you would do. Once Alenko headed in, I tuned out and moved the camera away.”

“Oh…”

“I did watch you though. That was… Well, it was hot, Tali. Watching your body writhe. I take it’s some sort of in built thing in your suit?” She nodded, still feeling embarrassed. “Shame you can’t take off your suit, Tali.”

She felt her eyes widen in surprise, jaw drop open, wishing he could see the reaction. “What?”

“Tali, just watching how your body moved, it was incredibly… erotic.”

“Guess I was a little turned on,” she said softly.

She watched him lean forward. “Tali, can we be serious a moment?” She nodded. “Are you interested in me? You don’t have to ans…”

“Yes,” she interrupted him, “I’m very interested, Shepard. But I’m in this suit, so…”

“There are ways and means, Tali. You’re a quarian, rather resourceful and definitely intelligent. I’m sure you can find a way.”

“You would be interested in me?”

“Yes, but you must be aware of…”

“Oh, I already know and, to be honest, while part of me wants you to myself, I’m not going to try and change who you are, Shepard.”

“What I will do is leave it up to you, Tali. If you can find a way to get out of that suit, then we can have some fun together. If you don’t,” he leaned across, grabbing her hand, “I will always be a friend. A close one, I hope.”

She nearly started to cry at the sincerity in his voice. “Thank you,” she whispered, hearing the catch, feeling him squeeze her hand. “First Wrex. Now you. Why is everyone being so… nice… or caring, at least.”

“We like you, Tali. Your infectious enthusiasm definitely rubs off on the rest of us.”

“I’ll start researching right away, Shepard.”

“Well, nice to know that you’re eager.”

She finished her paste tube as he finished his bottle of water. Wishing her goodnight, he headed off towards his quarters as she found an empty pod to sleep in. Lying back once the lid was closed, she couldn’t sleep straight away, turning on her Nerve-Stim Pro again, this time using her imagination, thinking of being naked with Shepard, feeling his hands and mouth all over her body before he slid his cock inside her, making her his as much as the others. She definitely squealed his name as she came really hard, and it wasn’t surprising that sleep arrived quite easily after that.


Mavigon was a frozen, barren wasteland. Perfect place for a criminal to hide out. Or, at least, that’s what he had been doing. Approaching the base, we’d easily taken care of the guards on the outside, and once inside, we slaughtered them. Dealing with krogan mercenaries was a slight surprise, Wrex dealing with one of them alone, the rest of us ganging up to kill the other one as quickly as possible. We didn’t gain any real information; the data logs having been wiped. We took what we could, Tali suggesting she could find out what was deleted once we’d handled everything.

Heading straight for Klensal after that, I received a message from Helena, letting me know she’d received word that one of her colleagues was now dead. I didn’t question how she knew, simply letting her know I was on my way to the second planet.

Klensal was just as uninhabitable as the first planet, though not as bitterly cold this time around. We approached the base, and this time, they knew we were coming. The Mako came under sustained rocket fire, Garrus eventually having to resort to the cannon, watching as part of the base crumbled, most of my colleagues disembarking and providing a distraction as I drove in as close as possible. They fought hard and well, but could not stop our progress.

Heading inside, the crime boss introduced himself and tried to bribe his way out, figuring that it was Helena who had sent me. I neither confirmed nor denied, and flatly refused his offer. He threated to blow up the base with us in it, so I moved quickly and put a bullet in his head. I thought that would have made the other mercenaries at least surrender, considering their paymaster was dead, but I guess they thought we were going to kill them anyway. So that’s what we did…

Back on the Normandy as we headed to Amaranthine, I did sit back and think about what I should do regarding Helena Blake. Having a criminal past myself, it took one to know one, so to speak. But I also sensed some… good in her, much like Anderson had seen it in me. So I resolved to solve all of this peacefully but also see if I could convince her to move on. I could only hope she would listen to reason.

Arriving in orbit around Amaranthine, the team had already been told I would be heading planet side alone. Alenko and Ashley tried to argue but, in this instance, I put my foot down. They relented as soon as I did that, though told me to be careful.

Joker dropped me as close to the base as possible so I didn’t have to drive too far. The base she was in was similar to those I’d already encountered on Mavigon and Klensal. I did take out my pistol, just in case. Walking into the main room, Helena was already waiting for me.

“Hello again, Commander Shepard. I owe you a debt of gratitude. With my former partners now dead, this syndicate is now mine. I could not have done it without you.”

“While I was happy to help, Helena, you know I can’t just stop there.”

“You’re not going to arrest me, are you?” I heard the concern in her tone. “I promise you that, under my leadership, this organisation with restrict itself to gambling and smuggling illegal technologies. I know these crimes are hardly worth the time of a Council Spectre.”

I took a step towards her, sensing she tensed up. So I placed the pistol in its holster, before I closed the gap, taking both her hands in mine. “Helena,” I said softly, “The reputation of your organisation is already ruined. Once your associates started dealing in drugs and slavery, that is what you will be known for too.” She looked down and away, so I used a finger to lift her face towards mine. “You can be redeemed, though. You know my history?”

“A little.”

“I was once a criminal myself, Helena. Now look at me, Council Spectre, strutting across the galaxy. If you change your path, who knows where you might end up. You’re clearly intelligent, that much is clear. Put that intelligence to better use.” She met my eyes and I saw the conflict. So I leaned down and kissed her. She responded immediately, feeling her arms wrap around me. It was a hell of a kiss; I’ll admit that right now.

Breaking apart, her face close to mine, she whispered, “If I disband, I walk away free.”

“Come with me now. I’ll take you wherever you want to go. Just walk away.”

“And these men? What about them?”

“Do you really care?”

“I could blow up the base once we’re clear?”

“If you want to, that’s your choice.” I stood back and offered my hand. “Will you come with me?”

She didn’t hesitate for a second, grabbing my hand, and I walked with her back to the Mako. Settling inside, I was busy driving us away when she keyed her omni-tool. Bringing the Mako to a stop, I heard the enormous explosion behind us. “Well, that’s all wrapped up then,” she stated as I slammed the Mako back into gear and headed for the pick-up zone.

Once back on the ship, I introduced Helena to my team as we headed back to the Citadel, where she wanted to be dropped off. After we had dinner, we sat together in the mess and she looked a little lost. I reached across to grab her hand. “You’ll figure it out,” I assured her.

“I know. I was good at what I did though.”

“So was I, until I was caught. If it wasn’t for this, I’d be sitting in a cell right about now.”

“Maybe I just need a certain Commander to put a good word in for me.”

“Find what your passionate about and I’ll help however I can.”

We continued to chat until it was time to hit the hay. Standing up, she simply took my hand and gave me a look I could interpret easily, so I led her to my quarters. Once the door was locked, our mouths met as hands started to explore, clothing quickly being removed. Once we were both down to our underwear, which didn’t take too long in all honesty, she rested both hands on my chest. “You don’t even know how old I am, Shepard.”

“I don’t really care.” I took a step back and looked her up and down. “You’re fucking fit as.”

That made her smile as our bodies pressed together, feeling her smile as she would have felt my erection press into her. Removing her bra, I dropped that to the floor, kissing down her neck before I grasped one of her breasts, sucking and nibbling at one of her nipples. She definitely enjoyed that, and definitely enjoyed my second hand moving down to gently rub at her sex.

Sliding my hand underneath her panties, I felt the trimmed fur of her pussy before I brushed her clit, feeling her jump before I found what I wanted. “Shepard,” she breathed.

Her hands went to the band of my underwear, those falling to the ground, one of her hands grasping my cock. That’s when she had to break the kiss. “Holy shit, Shepard.”

I tried not to look too smug. “I know. I’ve received compliments.”

The speed at which she dropped to her knees nearly made my head spin. Her tongue was quickly running up and down my shaft, her eyes always looking at me, licking me like a lollipop. I could only run a hand through her hair as she slowly started to lick the tip before taking some of my length in her mouth. “Helena,” I breathed.

“Let’s just say I’m old enough to have had some experience doing this,” she said.

“Think you can take the entire length?”

“Can you return the favour as I do?”

I lifted her up and lay on the bed, Helena resting on my crotch for a moment as we kissed again, before she swung around, lowering her pussy to my mouth. She tasted divine, hearing her joke that my cock seemed to grow after that. I managed to concentrate on eating her out as she blew me, but she wasn’t lying. She certainly knew her way around a cock, but returned a compliment, suggesting I was quite good at what I was doing to her.

All I did was bury my face and enjoy her taste. She had a fantastic arse as well, obvious she looked after herself, giving it the occasional squeeze, which made her giggle. But her blowjob was incredibly distracting, and when I felt her take my entire length, she moaned in triumph, and I warned her I wasn’t going to last much longer.

“Oh, I’m definitely swallowing what you give me, Shepard.”

She took a mouthful a couple minutes later. Probably more than a mouthful, and it was another fantastic orgasm. She laughed as I groaned loudly, feeling incredibly relaxed as she rested her body against mine, her pussy still in my eyeline, looking very wet and inviting. I gave myself a couple of minutes before I picked her up, spun her around, and placed her on her back.

Then I returned the favour, and she was now rather turned on. Not a single inch of her sex remained untouched, learning quickly where she liked my tongue to touch her. Once she started to shudder, I knew she was getting close, focusing on her clit. That caused her to cry out my name again, and then her orgasm hit like a freight train. I kept eating her out until she simply had to cry enough, reaching down so I kissed up her body before she leaned up to kiss me hard. “Holy shit, Shepard,” she whispered, noticing her body still shudder occasionally, “That was one of those all over, from toes to fingers, kind of orgasms.”

“Well, glad I could help.”

Resting my cock against her, I gave her a few minutes to recover as we simply made out, her hands running up and down my arms and back. I rolled onto my back, taking her with me, so I could run my hands up and down her body. “As I said, fit as fuck, Helena.”

That definitely made her blush as she lifted herself up, placing the tip of my cock at her entrance. She met my eyes and smirked. “Are you ready, Shepard?”

“God yes. Thought about this since the first time we met.”

I felt my cock spread her as I slid inside, both of us moaning as she slowly took every inch. “Oh god, Shepard,” she exclaimed. I simply watched my entire cock disappear at the first time of asking, her crotch nestling against mine. She leaned forward and gave me a hell of a kiss again, wrapping her arms tightly around her as I shifted my legs, earning a gasp for my troubles.

“Easy, Shepard,” she whispered.

I ran my hands down her back until they rested on her arse, Helena lifting herself up on her hands. She slowly started to ride me as I gently thrust up into her. She looked perfect in the low light of my cabin, her face expressing everything she was feeling. Moving a hand up her body, I caressed her cheek, watching her eyes close as I cupped her face. “You are beautiful,” I whispered.

“Have a thing for older women, Shepard?”

“I was attracted right away, Helena.”

She opened her eyes and smiled. “Me too. I just never thought… I thought you were joking.”

I held her as I rolled her onto her back, her legs wrapping around me, feeling her feet rest above my butt. “Oh, I never joke about something like this,” I said, starting to thrust into her faster.

“Fuck yes,” she moaned, “Fuck me, Shepard.”

I leaned down to kiss her, feeling her hand hold my head in place. She was now whimpering as I picked up the pace of my thrusts, starting to go a little bit harder as well. I knew was I going to last quite a while, feeling her shuffle to change the angle. That caused her to break the kiss and cry out.

“Okay?”

“Oh fuck, Shepard…” I kept going as I watched her shudder. “Oh fuck, I’m going to…” She trailed off as a loud moan erupted from her mouth, dragging me down to kiss her quickly before she needed to break it again. “Oh fuck, how is this…” I picked up the pace further, and that finished the job for her. When she started to blink rapidly, I almost stopped. “Don’t you dare stop, you wonderful son of a bitch!” I couldn’t help chuckle at her tone as she definitely enjoyed one hell of an orgasm, holding on for dear life as I was now really fucking her.

Once she’d recovered, she placed a hand on my chest. “Switch.”

Wondering what she wanted, I pulled out and rested on my knees as she simply turned around onto her hands and knees. I leaned down to gently bite her arse cheek before I slid my cock inside her once again. She rested her head on a pillow, looking back at me with nothing but a smile. Grabbing her hips, I gave her a hard thrust. “Like that?”

“Fuck and cum in me, Shepard.”

So that’s what I did, wasting no time pounding her as hard as she wanted, the sound of skin slapping together echoing around my cabin. I eventually leaned forward to pick her up, resting her back against my chest. I loved that position for the intimacy, kissing her neck as I held onto her with one hand, running my right down her body towards her sex. “Another one?” she breathed.

“I want you to cum over and over again, Helena.”

I think she choked back a sob. “What have I done to deserve this treatment?”

“Listened to me as much as I believed in you. Plus, you’re a hot piece of arse as I said.”

That made her laugh as she turned back to kiss me. “Girl’s going to get feelings after a night like this.”

“Who said this was a one-time only deal?”

She didn’t say anything to that, simply leaning back against me. “Fuck me,” she breathed, “I need to feel you finish in me, Shepard.”

I let her go as I leaned forward, changing position so I could reach down to kiss her. Then I really fucked her, both of us moaning and groaning loudly. I could feel my orgasm approach but wanted to last as long as possible. She just begged for my cock and cum, not wanting me to stop while, at the same time, begging for me to finish.

I warned her I was close, feeling her squeeze my cock with her pussy, simply urging me on. I simply couldn’t hold it back any longer, really fucking her hard before I buried myself a final time and unloaded. The groan I released, they would have heard me all around the ship. Once I felt empty, and I mean really empty, I could only sit there on my knees, cock still buried inside her. She sat up and leaned back, giving me a gentle kiss on the cheek. “You ever want to do this again, Shepard, I won’t say no. Not at all.”

I pulled out and picked her up in my arms, earning a squeal as I carried her to my shower. Placing her on the floor, I turned it on and we washed each other down, continuing to make out as we did. Once we were clean, we dried each other down before heading to bed, as she was now exhausted, and I was feeling rather light headed myself.

Lying on my back, I wrapped an arm around her as she ran a hand up and down my chest. “Been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a night like this, Shepard. In my line… In my old line of work, you couldn’t afford to get close to anyone.” Giving her a squeeze, all she did was sigh with contentment. “Thank you, Shepard. I’ve really enjoyed tonight.”

“So have I. Fit. As. Fuck.”

“Maybe we could enjoy each other again in the morning?”

“Definitely.”

“Want to ride this thing to orgasm.”

So that’s what we did. Once we both woke up, Helena simply straddled my lap, slid down my cock, and rode me until she came at least twice before I finished inside her again. Then we made out for a little while before I suggested we get up. Wandering out of my cabin, the entire mess fell silent as we lined up for a tray of food each until I heard Wrex say, “Okay, Vakarian, pay up. I told you he was going to fuck her.”

“Spirits, I shouldn’t have taken the bet.”

Taking a seat, with Helena sitting opposite me, Helena asked, “You bet on whether he’d sleep with me?”

“Listen, lady. I already know Shepard here. He wants the company of most women here, but as soon as he returned to this ship yesterday, I knew he was going to fuck you.”

“I was more than willing. I definitely wanted him in return.”

“Oh, we heard that this morning,” Ashley said, “Something about how great his big cock felt and how hard he made you cum.”

“Well, it does feel great and he definitely made me cum more than once. I feel like a new woman this morning.”

I simply sat in silence, enjoying breakfast, anticipation our return to the Citadel within a couple of days. Of course, life doesn’t always work out that way.


We were in orbit over Agebinium, having been ordered here immediately by the Alliance. Any plans for a return to the Citadel were put on hold for the time being. Helena didn’t mind as it gave her time to sit back and contemplate her future.

Down in the garage, I had my entire team ready for insertion as I gave them final instructions. “This mission comes directly from the top brass. Non-Alliance members, you are about to hear highly classified details. I expect your discretion.” After receiving nods, I continued. “An espionage probe has been located on the planet above. What no-one knows is that these probes carry nuclear payloads. Garrus, if you are wondering, they were sent out as the First Contact War was occurring. Not knowing who else was out there, it was decided that sending nukes out would probably help defend ourselves.”

“We’d have done the same thing, Shepard,” Garrus stated.

“Anyway, the request is to disarm and retrieve the probe, returning it to the Alliance. We don’t have to take the probe as long as it is disarmed when we leave. Even if it falls into the wrong hands afterwards, they won’t be able to do anything with it.”

Piling into the Mako, we were on the ground within a couple of minutes, everyone now used to an airdrop. Sure, the landing wasn’t always soft but the suspension captured the worst of it. Following the beacon, we ended up driving into an abandoned mining complex. I wasn’t the only one to immediately question what the probe was doing in a mine.

“I thought it would have crashed?” Alenko stated.

“You and me both, LT,” Ashley added.

“This smells wrong, Shepard,” Wrex warned.

“I hear all of you but we have a job to do. But we don’t all need to head down. Alliance personnel with me, the rest of you take guard out here and watch our backs.”

Even I thought it was a bit nuts as the three of us headed underground. I knew it was going to be some sort of trap, I just didn’t know what, but that’s why I left everyone else behind to watch our back. The mine was deserted, though whether recently or otherwise, I couldn’t figure out. All the lights were on, though, but it was spooky being so far underground and we were the only three alive.

“According to my sensors, the probe is just ahead, Commander,” Alenko reported.

We ended up going down another shaft, left thinking that we could really end up trapped. Exiting into a small cave, I could see the probe ahead. The three of us lined up and approached it cautiously. I didn’t think it was going to explode, but I wasn’t going to take too many chances with nuclear weapons.

Then we heard an explosion somewhere behind us, the entire mine shaking. “Shit, that wasn’t good, sir,” Ashley muttered.

A hologram of a turian appeared from the probe. Never seen the man before, but he seemed to know and see me. “Ah, Commander Shepard, at least we meet.”

“Well, I wouldn’t call this meeting. Who the fuck are you though?”

“My name is Elanos Haliat. I doubt you know it.”

“Nope, never heard it mentioned. Since I haven’t heard of it, I doubt you’re important.”

I heard the other two stifle chuckles, knowing I was just trying to provoke a reaction. “Who do you think runs the Terminus Clans, Shepard? Thousands of pirates, slavers, criminals of every stripe?”

I chuckled. “And you think I give a shit about a piece of shit like yourself?”

He wouldn’t react, not yet. “The strongest leads, Shepard. The one who kills the most men. Seizes the most ships. Pillages the most colonies.”

I faked looking at a watch. “What’s your point?”

“Three years ago, I was the strongest. I used my influence to assemble a fleet. We would drive your kind out of the Verge.”

“You son of a bitch,” I growled, “You’re responsible for…”

He cut me off. “I was the motivator. The instigator. The one who promised glory and riches for sacking the largest human colony in the cluster.” He paused before putting a thumb into his chest. “The one blamed for when the attack failed.”

“You’re going to die, Haliat.”

He simply smirked. “I was ruined when our kind held against the Blitz. What better way to recover my reputation than by eliminating the first human Spectre?”

“You’re a fucking dead man, Haliat. I’m going to take great joy in slitting your throat.”

He chuckled. “Empty words from a dead man. Goodbye, Shepard.”

The hologram blinked out and the countdown started. Alenko leapt into action, opening the cover and he seemed to know what to do, which was good. I’d had some training at disarming bombs, but not nuclear weapons. I could step aside and let someone with more knowledge to deal with it.

He managed to disarm it rather quickly, plenty of time still on the clock. We wasted no time trying to find an escape, the tunnel we’d come down having caved in. Alenko managed to open another lock, finding a second passage that eventually led us all the way to the surface. There was no sign of our team but we heard fighting in the distance. We headed in that direction, eventually finding my colleagues battling what looked like a small army.

“Nice of you to join us, Shepard,” Wrex muttered.

“Sorry, got caught up down below. It was a trap.”

“Spirits, only you, Shepard,” Garrus joked.

“Who are we dealing with?” Liara wondered.

“The man responsible for Elysium.” They all fell silent. “Name is Elanos Haliat. He is mine.” Taking out the sniper rifle I rarely used, I managed to locate him. “You lot press forward. I’ll cover you from here. Once he’s isolated, I will deal with him myself.”

I observed as my team pushed forward, slowly but surely taking out all of Haliat’s men. He was taking cover and I was simply waiting for him to give me a big enough target. Checking the wind, the elevation, taking everything into account, he eventually gave me the target I was looking for, pulling the trigger, putting a bullet through his shoulder. He collapsed to the ground, now completely exposed. I put a second bullet in other shoulder, then one into his leg so he didn’t even think about moving.

Packing up my rifle, I took out my assault rifle and helped mop up the last mercenaries. They’d fought well but could not withstand the forces at my disposal. With Haliat groaning a few metres away, I called my team over. “Head towards the Mako and wait for me to return. I will deal with Haliat alone.”

No-one dared argue. They all knew what happened on Elysium, who I’d lost. “We’ll wait until you return, sir,” Ashley stated, she and Alenko coming to attention and saluting.

As they walked away in the opposite direction, I slowly walked towards Haliat, but now trying to crawl on his back away from me. “You can’t do this!” he cried.

Taking off my helmet, I made sure he could see my face, particularly my eyes, as I closed the distance between us. Stepping onto the wound in his left shoulder, I’ll admit the scream he released filled me with joy, making sure I pressed down nice and hard.

I eventually sat down on his chest, taking out my pistol and putting it into his mouth. “You know you killed her, Haliat. You killed Annie. I always said I would eventually find the person responsible for Elysium, and when I found that person, I was going to kill them. I’ve already put three bullets in you. One more, then I’ll cut your head off.”

He tried to mumble something, so I removed the pistol to hear it. “You can’t do this! It’s not right!”

That just made me laugh. “First of all, what you did to Elysium wasn’t right. What you did to me was always going to come back on you. Secondly, I’m a Spectre, pretty much answerable to no-one. At moments like this, I can’t help but appreciate the freedom that gives me when dealing with sacks of shit like you. Now, open wide…”

Putting the pistol into his mouth again, I simply met his eyes, smiled, thought of Annie… and pulled the trigger. His brains splattered out of the back of his head, standing up over his body, and putting another couple of bullets into his face for good measure. I was tempted to cut off his head and take it as a souvenir, but I think that would have been overkill. No, what I did do was find something to burn his body with, sitting back against the crate as I watch the flames consume him.

The Mako stopped nearby, everyone piling out as they approached me. I simply watched the flames before I remembered something, unclasping my chest armour and reaching into the pocket underneath. I took out the photo and felt the smile form before I brought it to my lips and kissed it.

“That was for you, Annie,” I whispered. I kissed it again before placing it back in my armour. I’d always carry her with me. Killing Haliat did make me feel better, I won’t lie about that. But it wouldn’t bring her or anyone else back. But vengeance was now served. The man responsible was cooking nearby and I’d been the one to put the bullet, or bullets, into his head.

“Ready to go, Commander?” Alenko asked.

I’d sensed they’d formed nearby but I was too busy thinking, glancing their way. All of them, even Wrex, came to attention and saluted. “With you all the way, Shepard,” Garrus stated.

“Until the end,” Tali added.

Ashley stepped forward, offering her hand to help me up. “How do you feel?” she wondered.

“Righteous,” I said, “The bastard responsible lies dead. Annie Stewart now rests easy.”

“You really loved her, didn’t you?”

I met her eyes so she could see mine. “She was the one, Ash. Ever felt that?” She shook her head. “I knew the moment we met, I wanted to be with her forever. Haliat took that from me. I carry on as before but I can now sleep at night, knowing Annie will look down on me, smiling at what I’ve just done for her.”

“Guess we should head back to the Normandy then?”

“Aye. We’re finished here, and we have bigger fish to fry now. Time to head to Noveria.”

Chapter Text

After dropping Helena off on the Citadel, writing her a letter supporting whatever she wanted to do, suggesting she approach the Alliance. She thanked me for believing in her, sharing a last kiss on the docks, before she disappeared into the crowd. She was one of those women that I knew I’d see again in the future. We were like moths to a flame.

We were now on our way to Noveria after all the delays we’d experienced. Still no idea what had become of Saren. The fact all had gone quiet should have been a concern, but I was left thinking if he’d managed to find the Conduit and achieve what he wanted, the galaxy would know about it. So I still lived in hope that, once we sorted out the issues on Noveria, we’d find evidence of where Saren was.

On route, I sat down with Liara to discuss her relationship with Benezia, and also just to reassure her that her place in my team wasn’t in dispute, and I would trust her to make the right choice if we did meet her mother, whether on Noveria or if we met her at a later date. I think my reassurance certainly helped make her feel a little better about things, though she did ask, “What will you do if we were to find her?”

“I haven’t made that choice yet. If she forces my hand, I have no orders to bring her in alive. If she proves to be co-operative, then I’ll admit I don’t particularly want to kill her if we don’t need to.” She sighed with relief. “I’m not a complete bastard, Liara.”

Her face fell. “Oh no, Shepard, I didn’t mean…” She noticed the smirk on my face, now recognising I was joking.

“Look, I know I’ve probably done one or two things that would concern a few people, but I’ll put it like this. If I think someone deserves to die, they’re going to die. Haliat definitely deserved to die. I don’t particularly believe in summary justice, playing the role of judge, jury and executioner, but I will admit that being a Spectre has given me a certain freedom. So Haliat was always going to die, and one or two others we’ve met so far, putting a bullet in them was the easiest way to deal with it.”

“You’ve also done many good things from what I’ve seen,” she stated with a small smile.

“Well, as I said, I’m not a complete bastard.”

That made her giggle. “Can I ask… a favour?” I knew what she was going to ask, but I nodded for her to continue. “When we finally confront my mother… If I can’t save her, I want to be the one to do it.” That definitely made my eyes widen in surprise. “She is my mother, Shepard. And if she must die, I want it to be at my hand.”

“If that’s the case, you cannot hesitate, Liara. If I give the order, it must be done immediately.”

“I understand, Shepard.”

“But we don’t know where she is, so for now, just keep it in the back of your mind. Let’s just focus on Noveria and whatever is going on there.”

“Of course, Shepard.”

Entering orbit around Noveria, everyone had the specs of the planet. Home to numerous research stations. Completely snowbound and practically frozen. Completely uninhabitable, a good reason to do some rather interesting research. Given the secretive nature of what occurred on the planet, visitors were rarely if ever allowed. However, being a Spectre granted certain privileges. I could go where I wanted, though only within reason.

On approach, Joker was hailed by Noveria traffic control, warning us our ship was being tracked by defence systems and to immediately state the reason of our business. Placing a hand on his shoulder, I replied. “This is Commander Shepard, Alliance Navy and Council Spectre. My presence has been authorised as per the agreement between the local authority and the Citadel Council. However, I will add, should you not permit my docking on your planet, I will return with an entire Alliance fleet, and that will only lead to further complications for yourself.”

There was silence for at least a minute as I ordered Joker to keep on our approach. If they dared fire…

“Your docking has been authorised, Commander Shepard. Standard docking procedures apply, proceed to bay five. Security will process you on arrival to check your credentials.”

“Understood.”

My team was already standing by the door to leave, so once Joker had the ship in position, the docking bay arm attaching itself, I didn’t have to give any orders now. My team know what was required and expected of them. I just figured the mission was going to be a complete pain in the arse, considering our arrival.

Stepping off the Normandy, even with our armour, you could feel the cold seep through. Taking the lead, no-one was armed just yet, not wanting to get into a fight straight away. I was expecting a welcoming committee, not surprised we found one waiting for us only a few metres away from the ship. There was at least half a dozen, two human females, couple of turians, even a couple of salarians. The one in charge, an Asian woman I assumed from appearance, asked us to stop. “This is an unscheduled arrival. I need your credentials.”

“You first.”

“We’re the law here. Show some respect,” the blonde next to her spat.

I smirked as I met her eyes. She was an angry young thing. “Respect is earned, not given.”

The one who asked for our credentials ignored her colleague, returning a brief nod. “Very well. I am Captain Maeko Matsuo, Elanus Risk Control Services.”

“What do you reckon, LT? I outrank her?” I asked.

“Well, it would depend on which rank you chose to use, Commander. Using your Alliance rank, I’m not sure. But considering you’re a Spectre, you pretty much outrank everyone on this planet.”

“Thanks, LT.” Looking back at the captain, I said, “That suffice?”

She smirked, realising the game I was playing. “I’m sorry, but I cannot allow your entry without confirming your identity. Sergeant Starling, secure their weapons.”

“You’re not seriously that stupid, are you?” I asked, obviously rhetorical, as the six of them soon had more weapons aimed at them before they’d managed to do anything. “Look, I don’t care who you are or what rules you have. I’m not giving you my gun. Or guns.”

“They’ll only be prying them from my cold, dead hands,” Wrex muttered.

“Looks like we have a stand-off,” Matsuo stated, “As I cannot let you proceed.”

Before it descended into a firefight… In fact, it would have been murder, since only the two turians had managed to draw their weapons, a frantic voice soon echoed over the comm. “Captain Matsuo, stand down! We have confirmed their identity. Spectres are authorised to carry their weapons here, Captain.”

I noticed the deep breath Matsuo took. “You may proceed, Spectre,” she said, a small bow of her head, “I hope the rest of your visit will be less confrontational. Parasini-san will meet you upstairs.”

“Best behave yourself,” her blonde colleague warned. I just gave her another smile, laced with no end of sarcasm, which caused her face to fall further.

“Okay, the blonde is a mega bitch,” Ashley muttered, to the amusement of the others.

We wandered inside and could see the wealth and technology on display. I would have called some of the design and features on display brash, even ostentatious, and this was just the reception area. God knows what the rest of the place would look like.

Walking through the security area, alarms starting to ring and I wasn’t the only one to groan. Thankfully they stopped blaring within a couple of seconds, as a very attractive brunette appeared from a back room on the opposite side of the desk. “Apologies for the introduction, Commander. Welcome to Port Hanshan. I am Gianna Parasini, assistant to Administrator Anoleis. I hope you won’t judge us in regards to your… introduction at the docking bay.”

Italian, definitely Italian blood was flowing through her veins. Her skin colour alone spoke volumes. She had dark hair, dark eyes and… She was definitely of Italian heritage; her accent didn’t particularly give any indication of where she was from, so heritage, not actually from the Mediterranean. And I knew I was staring, as she started to… not look uncomfortable, I’d never made a woman feel that, but I was probably staring. “Um, no problem, Miss Parasini,” I finally managed to get out of my mouth.

“One of my roles is to generally meet any arrivals, Commander. What brings you to Noveria?”

“What’s with the friendly welcome?” I wondered, “I mean, I’m used to being shot at, but this was something else.”

“The Executive Board does everything in its power to protect the privacy of our client corporations.”

Stepping forward to lean across the desk, leaning forward as she did the same. “Gianna, though I appreciate that, considering what I’m here to investigate, I may ruffle some feathers.”

“Just… Be careful, Shepard…” I noticed the immediate use of my name. I managed to hide the smile. “Our lawyers are… Well, you’ll need a team of asari lawyers just to deal with the paperwork.”

“Only one other question, then I’ll move on.” She nodded, so I asked, “Anyone unusual pass through recently?”

“Hmmm. Depends on what you mean by unusual. We were visited by an asari matriarch a few days ago. Introduced herself as Lady Benezia.”

“Benezia?” Liara asked, immediately stepping next to me, “She’s here?”

“We need to speak with her, Miss…”

“Please, call me Gianna, Shepard.”

I heard Wrex start to laugh behind me at the tone. I ignored him and her tone for now. “Gianna, has Lady Benezia departed Noveria?”

“As far as I’m aware, no. Lady Benezia left for Peak 15 research complex quite a while ago now and, to the best of my knowledge, she is still there.”

“How do I get to Peak 15?”

She looked around before leaning forward again, gesturing for me to lean closer. “You will need the administrator’s approval to gain clearance, Shepard. And, trust me on this one, he’s an arsehole. He won’t co-operate. That’s all I can tell you for now. If you need anything else, I’ll be outside his office. Take my warning. Be careful. It’s the wild west out here.” Then she leaned back, gave me a smile, before turning and walked away. I definitely watched her. That arse was on fire, the dress highlighting all those Italian curves.

“Shepard?” Alenko asked.

“Huh?” Even he chuckled to himself as I turned around. “Oh, right… Ummm….” I glanced at Liara, who looked like her entire world had fallen apart. “Liara?”

“I can’t believe she’s here, Shepard.” Meeting my eyes, she was pleading with me to do… something. I’m not sure what, but…

For once, I couldn’t find the words, but I knew what to do. Stepping forward, I gave her a hug, feeling her hug me back straight away. “I trust you,” I whispered, feeling her squeeze me tight upon those words.

“I just want to speak with her, Shepard,” she said quietly, “See if I can reach her. I know in her heart she still loves me.”

“I certainly won’t leave you behind, Liara. Your place is alongside the rest of us.”

She leaned back to smile at me, before leaning up to give me a soft kiss on the lips. She’d never kissed me before. “Thank you for believing.” We looked at each other in silence before Garrus cleared his throat.

“This is nice and all, but we have places to investigate, people to kill…”

“Oh, look at Captain Awkward get all smart now,” I retorted.

“Hey, that’s not…” The turian trailed off. “Damn it, Shepard. Captain Awkward now?”

“I love you really, Garrus. As for the rest of you, we’ll do what we normally do, but I have a feeling we will be watched like hawks.”

“What’s a hawk?” Tali asked, to the amusement of the humans.

“Are they tasty?” Wrex wondered. That caused further chuckles as we moved ahead.

As we moved on, the team talked amongst themselves as usual, and I heard plenty of teasing about me and Gianna. No surprise as it was obvious I found her attractive. Very attractive. Wrex was blunt as usual, while even the women who’d made it clear they wanted to be intimate with me joked about me wanting to be with another woman. That’s when I turned around and said, “Well, I’ve run up a few numbers already.”

“Good things STDs are mostly a thing of the past, Shepard,” Ashley said.

Wandering around the port, it was obvious there was plenty of money. Crowds of businessmen were hanging around making deals, the three Council races along with plenty of humans in groups, apparently making deals or organising whatever they did on this planet. That’s when I stopped and had the team split up into groups, simply to get the lie of the land and figure out if there was a geth presence, and how we got out of Port Hanshan.

I asked my two asari colleagues to remain with me as the rest disappeared, making a beeline straight for Anoleis, agreeing to meet up in the waiting room outside his office. Gianna was sitting at her desk outside his office, and I noticed the small smile that appeared as I walked towards her. I seemed to have that effect at times. I would use that my advantage if I could.

“Any chance I could speak with Anoleis?” She immediately asked the question, the administrator proving to be somewhat co-operative, allowing me through without question.

The first thing I noticed upon entering was the pair of gun turrets, one to the left, one to the right. I should have expected a salarian, walking slowly ahead, keeping my hands away from my weapons. Didn’t want to give him an excuse. I stood in front of him, Shiala one step behind to the left, Liara to the right.

“Your reputation precedes you, Commander, but I don’t care who you are or where you are from.” I simply smirked as he added, “Only a fool enters negotiation without knowledge of the other party’s tendencies.”

“Negotiation? What are we negotiating?”

He ignored my question. “My greeting is a courtesy only, Commander. I would only co-operate as required by the Executive Board.”

“Friendly bunch, aren’t you?”

He snorted. “We’re not here to make friends, Commander. Businesses come here to avoid the second-guessing of galactic law.”

Now I took a seat opposite him, making sure he looked me in the eyes. I didn’t want to ask about Benezia straight away. I wasn’t sure he would know I knew she was planet side. So I thought I’d throw a curveball. “Do you do business with the disgraced Spectre Saren Arterius?”

“What? Disgraced?”

“Yes, exactly that.”

“He is a major investor in Binary Helix corporation, which is one of Noveria’s backers.”

“Remember that name, Liara.”

“I’m taking down any relevant information as you converse, Shepard.”

“Good. So, Administrator, I believe Lady Benezia is currently planet side. She is a person of interest regarding a current Spectre investigation. Do you know where she is?”

“She arrived a few days ago, accompanied by a personal escort and some cargo. She is up at Peak 15.”

I’m sure the three of us realised that Peak 15 was central to any plans she was involved in, and we definitely had to get there sooner rather than later. But I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be easy as I hoped it would be. The salarian was being co-operative for now but I knew that wasn’t going to last long. As soon as I asked the wrong question, he was going to shut up before telling me to piss off.

I asked a few questions about Benezia and her entourage, but the more questions I asked, the shorter his responses, and I knew his patience was running thin. So was mine, but I needed their co-operation, otherwise I’d just have to start shooting up the place, and I didn’t particularly want to do that just yet. Any request to visit Peak 15 was denied immediately, claiming not only was there a blizzard that would stop us getting there, but that it was private and therefore off-limits. I felt like invoking Spectre authorisation, but I figured if I did that, he’d definitely tell me to piss off.

The one thing he did admit to, which I think he immediately regretted, was that she was here as Saren’s executor and in regards to Binary Helix business. Apparently there were issues at Peak 15 which needed their guidance. No idea what that meant, but it was something to investigate. I wasn’t getting anywhere, so after begrudgingly thanking the administrator, I headed out.

Walking past Gianna, I heard her chuckle to herself. “You’ve never worked in the corporate world, have you, Commander?” Stopping and turning towards her, she was sat at her workstation, though looked up as I approached. “Shepard, you cannot bludgeon your way through bureaucracy.”

“Can’t I just shoot him and be done with it?”

“While you could, it won’t end well for you, Spectre or not.” She leaned forward, gesturing for me to do the same. “Shepard, I have a name. Lorik Qui’in. You’ll find him in the hotel bar.”

“Why?” I asked, a simple question.

“Anoleis isn’t the only one with a pass out of Port Hanshan.”

So I needed a pass to leave? Excellent, and I could have kissed her for the good news. Instead, I thanked her and we headed out, meeting everyone else in the main foyer. Letting me know what they’d discovered, apparently there had been an accident at Peak 15 that was being covered up, and no-one had missed the fact Lady Benezia had arrived, flanked by a near army of asari commandos.

We found Lorik Qui’in in the hotel bar, hearing plenty of comments when we’d entered the reception about spending a night or two in the hotel once we were done on Noveria. I could understand why as just the reception area was gorgeous, another sign of the money on the planet. The bar itself seemed to stock every spirit that could be found across the galaxy, though the beer was standard. Couple of human, turian and asari brands, though some of the most expensive possible.

Lorik was sitting by himself in a corner table, keeping an eye on the patrons but obviously bored and quite clearly on his way to being drunk. He looked up as we approached, and he stared to chuckle. “Well, well, well, the human Spectre decides to come talk to me. What have I done to deserve this?”

Not wanting to waste time, I replied, “I need a garage pass to get out of here towards Peak 15. I’ve been told you could help.”

Lorik gestured for me to take a seat and explained his predicament. He worked for Synthetic Insights but had been accused of corruption by Anoleis. Funnily enough, the administrator had become rather rich himself since he took control of the rents. I wasn’t the only one to think that was one hell of a marvellous coincidence. The good news is that Lorik had evidence of his corruption. The bad news is that the evidence was in his old office, currently under lock and guarded by some of the guards we’d already run into. What he needed was for us to retrieve the evidence and he would then give us a garage pass so we could move on.

“You have a deal,” I stated.

“A word of warning, Commander. Anoleis is paying some of the ERCS guards under the table to help him. Captain Matsuo is not aware. If, or when, it becomes violent, you will need to explain for her to understand what has transpired. I, of course, will help where I can.”

I split the team up again. “Alenko, take Tali and Ashley, keep watch near the office of Anoleis. If he makes a move, let me know. The rest of you are with me. I know something is going to go tits up and would like numbers on my side for now.”

There was an immediate agreement, the rest of us heading upstairs towards Lorik’s office. Inside, we found ERCS guards basically ransacking the place. We were already armed, so when I cleared my throat and turned around, I made a subtle gesture for no-one to fire. Yet.

“Want to explain what you’re doing here?” The four of them shared a glance. “Look, I know you’re here under the orders of Anoleis, so I’ll make this easy for you. If you piss off now, dropping your weapons as you go, I’ll forget I ever saw you here. Don’t do that, and you’ll be leaving in body bags.”

It’s amazing how easily some people will co-operate with you, weapons quickly dropped on the ground, my group standing apart as the four guards walked through, keeping watch until they’d boarded and descended in the elevator.

Four of them chose to leave peacefully. The rest chose to fight. Might have been a dozen of them or so. Even with three colleagues’ downstairs, they were nowhere good enough to take on hardened warriors. We took a lick or two, I won’t deny that. Even guards are somewhat trained and shields can fail. Nothing too concerning, but it was a reminder that bullets can still kill.

After downloading the information required on an OSD, I was hoping we’d be able to just walk out without a hassle, considering the bodies that now lay on the ground around the building. But the blonde woman who had been part of the team that met us after docking was waiting by the elevator, noticing the smirk on her face as we slowly approach her.

“I don’t think you’re supposed to be in here, Shepard.”

“I don’t think you or any of these people were meant to be here either.”

“Are you always a smartarse?”

“When conversing with cunts like you? Definitely. I usually wipe shit like you off the underside of my boot.”

She looked around, no doubt noticing the bodies, betting that most were colleagues, perhaps friends. No wonder her eyes narrowed when she looked back at me. “Anoleis would throw you off world for what you did here. I won’t. You know what we did to cop killers on my world?”

Gesturing around, I retorted, “I hesitate calling any of these arseholes ‘cops’. Seen plenty of dead mercenaries before though. Now I’m getting plenty of reminders.”

“You’re breaking the law for bribe money. You know what we do to dirty cops on my world?” Wrex added, and I knew he was just itching to start blasting.

It wasn’t what I would call a standoff, simply a case of who would blink first. I withdrew my pistol and fired three times. The first two bullet impacted her shields, the first causing them to drop to half, the second causing them to fail. The third entered her forehead, flying out the back of her head, watching her body drop like a stone. “Cunt,” I stated as I slid into cover as my own shields took a couple of hits.

I’ll admit we slaughtered the few guards who were with her. No doubt they were all dirty, so I certainly wasn’t going to lose any sleep over it. They numbered the same as us, but they were out-gunned, out-armoured, and out-smarted. Liara, as desperate as she was to reach Benezia, wasn’t going to throw her life away, and I wasn’t the only one to notice Shiala try and protect her at the same time. I knew Shiala had questions of her own for Benezia, though had kept her own thoughts to herself for now. As for Wrex, finding himself in a small room with enemies, I could hear his laughter over the gunshots, eventually just leaving him to mop up the rest. Having a massive krogan as an ally is a help at times.

Soon as the last body dropped, we made haste and left the office, boarding the elevator and getting as far away as possible. I knew cameras probably saw the whole thing but what would they actually do to a Spectre? I actually welcomed their attempt at trying to make me leave. And if they impounded the Normandy, that would be an effective declaration of war.

Of course, as soon as we left the elevator, I’d expected a whole load of guards. Instead, only Parasini was waiting of us, walking straight towards me. The smirk told me everything. “Commander,” she stated formally, “There have been reports of noise from the Snythetic Insights offices. Would you know anything about it?”

She made a gesture which I understood immediately. “I’m not sure about noise but I think there are a few bodies that need retrieving, Miss Parasini. Seems Port Hanshan is just filled with thugs and criminals.”

She couldn’t help smile before stepping close to me. “Meet me at the hotel bar,” she said quietly, “Before you meet with Qui’in.” Before I could reply, she turned and strode away quickly.

“So, you fucking her next, Shepard?” Wrex asked from behind, to the chuckles of a few others.

“Thinking about it already.”

“Bet you are.”

Heading towards the hotel bar, I gestured for everyone else to make themselves scarce as I walked to the bar first, gambled on what she liked to drink, before approaching her table. She smiled, noticing the glass of wine I brought with me. Sliding the glass over, she grabbed it, though definitely ran her fingers along mine. “I took a guess and figured you would like red.”

“You guessed correctly, Shepard. You’re drinking…?”

“Bourbon on the rocks. Most people like a mixer. All I need is some ice.” We sipped our drinks in silence before I added, “Okay, Gianna. Level with me here. You’re no mere receptionist or assistant. I know someone close to Anoleis might know a bit but you are far too in the know to… you know…”

She couldn’t help the smile. “Gianna Parasini, Noveria Internal Affairs.”

“Internal Affairs? So he is dirty?”

“The Executive Board knows about Anoleis’ corruption. I’ve been undercover for six months.”

“Okay, fair enough. But I’m assuming you wanted to meet with me before I spoke to Lorik for a reason.”

“You assume correctly, Shepard. I want to convince him to testify before the Board. With his evidence, this planet will start turning profits again.”

“I suppose Anoleis keeps himself clean?” She nodded. “Guess someone like him wouldn’t be a complete moron.” She nodded again. “Okay, fair enough. But the reason I’m helping Lorik is…”

She leaned closer, running her fingers over the top of my hand. “Shepard, I know what you need. You help with my investigation, I’ll give you whatever you need. Favour for a favour.”

“But you know what I need so… Once all this is done, dinner and drinks.”

Her laughter caused me to smile. “Had you figured from the moment I laid eyes on you, Shepard.”

“What can I say? My weakness are pretty ladies such as yourself.”

She leaned across the table and kissed my cheek. “You have yourself a date, Commander. As long as you get Lorik to testify.”

“Easy. I’ll go sort it out now.”

Heading upstairs to speak to Qui’in, he was surprisingly easy to convince. Granted, he would have rather avoided a spectacle, but he was chafing at the bit to take down Anoleis, and once I appealed to that turian sense of honour they all had, it didn’t take much for him to agree to terms. I think he agreed with a heavy heart, in the sense he really would have rather done this all under the radar, but as long as he got his job back and Anoleis went down for his crimes, he was happy.

I gathered my team before heading back to Gianna, as I was a little worried Anoleis would go down swinging, or at least firing. He wasn’t a moron, but I figured someone like him wouldn’t like going to prison, nor would he last very long. She was happy to hear the news about Lorik, then slid a hand under her dress to retrieve a small pistol. She definitely did that as it gave me ample opportunity to check out her rather nice legs. She noticed me look at smile. “Want to back me up?”

“God yes,” I replied quietly, taking out my pistol.

Staying close behind her, we entered Anoleis’ office. I thought he would have done something stupid, but Gianna moved fast, rounding his desk and grabbing him by the back of the neck. Reading him his rights, the salarian wouldn’t shut up so I stepped forward and smacked him across the jaw, practically knocking him out. He could still walk but he was rather groggy as Gianna lifted him up.

Cuffing his wrists, we hauled him up and led him outside before Gianna said she’d handle him. “I’ll meet you in a couple of hours, Shepard. Hotel bar?”

“I’ll be waiting.”

“Good. Just need to get this piece of shit processed. It’ll take a while considering the list of crimes he’s committed.”

Once she departed, I turned to my team. Wrex was chuckling to himself, shaking his head. Alenko also had a slight grin on his face. “Okay, we’ve been here nearly all day so no point heading to Peak 15 until tomorrow. As there are no shuttles, we’ll have to secure transport and drive there. Until we leave, you’re free to do what you want.”

“Reckon the Alliance will front a night in the hotel?” Ashley wondered.

“Considering we’re here on a mission of galactic importance, if anyone wants a night in the hotel here, I’ll make sure it’s paid for.”

“And you, Shepard?” Garrus wondered.

“We’ll see how things go, Garrus. We’ll see how things go.”

Most of them headed back to the Normandy to dump their things and change. I did the same thing, though I didn’t have much in the way of casual clothes. Even when back on the Citadel, I generally wore the blues of the Alliance. We all headed back to the hotel bar, most joining me at the bar to start. I noticed Wrex and Alenko disappeared to the lift together, so it was easy to figure out what they were up to.

I took a seat away from the crowd, Gianna strolling in when I was on my second drink. She’d changed into a figure hugging dark dress, with a lot more of her olive skin on show, and she’d definitely fixed her hair. I stood up as she walked towards me, kissing her cheek when she leaned forward. “Love the perfume,” I said, “And you definitely look stunning.”

“And you certainly look rather smart out of your armour, Shepard.”

“Drink?” She nodded as I waved over the waiter, just ordering the bottle instead of a glass. Sitting down, I added, “I haven’t ordered any food yet. I figured you might have a better idea what’s available here.”

“I can recommend one or two things, Shepard, but I’ll be honest. I’ve already eaten. I’m here for another reason.”

“Oh, and that is?”

“Let’s just say I hope you haven’t booked a room tonight. You won’t need it.”

I couldn’t help smile. “So where will I be staying?”

“Well, I’m hoping you will be waking up in my bed tomorrow morning.”

“That quickly?”

It was her turn to chuckle. “Shepard, I knew what you were thinking about me around a minute after you walked into the office.”

“And you?”

“Let’s just say I’ve done some reading since you arrived. Add that to the fact you’re just… Well, I can’t wait to get that shirt off.” I downed my drink, causing her to laugh. “I still have my bottle.”

“I’m sure they’ll let us take it.”

They did, and grabbing her hand, we walked rather quickly towards the row of cabs that took us to the nearby residential complex. Her apartment was nothing special, as she admitted, but I didn’t care about her apartment. Soon as I kicked her apartment door closed, we were all over each other, the kiss we started only stopping so she could place the bottle on the table before we continued, quickly moving into her bedroom as clothing was removed.

Her hands running down my back then my chest, she broke the kiss to state, “Damn, you look after yourself, Shepard.”

“Have to considering the line of work I’m in.”

She quickly found one or two bullet wounds but was smart enough not to ask questions, at least not then in that moment. I ran my hands over her body at the same time, smooth, supple skin that could only be caressed softly and enjoyed. “I take it you approve, Shepard?”

We ended up on her bed, deftly removing her blue bra. Her skin was the same colour, her nipples only slightly darker. My mouth immediately went to one of her nipples, one of her hands running around the back of my head, hearing her gasp as I tugged at it with my teeth before playing with it, switching quickly to her other one, causing her to giggle.

Kissing down her body, I quickly removed her blue panties, always appreciating a woman who wore matching underwear. The fact she’d shaved her pussy was a slight surprise when she spread her legs, and I’ll admit I licked my lips when the light shone on her sex, and it was obvious she was wet. “You look hungry, Shepard,” she whispered, meeting her eyes, wild with lust and desire. I’m sure mine looked the same.

Lowering my mouth, I tasted her for the first time, hearing her gasp when my tongue teased her entrance, before she released a long moan. And that’s all I did. Teased her there, licked her folds, and generally avoided her clit for the time being, only touching that when I knew she was getting close. She seemed to realise what I was doing, simply enjoy eating her out, eventually shuffling back slightly so she was sitting up a little bit, feeling one of her hands caress my head.

“My god, Shepard,” she breathed.

I lifted my head a moment. “Good thing I love doing this, right?”

“All night?” I nodded. “Well, I will want something else later.”

I smiled before lowering my mouth, watching her head roll back as I continued to tease her. Wrapping a hand around on her thighs, I upped the tempo, no longer teasing her, now wanting to bring her to orgasm. Hearing her breathing change, and the number of moans increase, I knew she was slowly approaching an orgasm. When she breathed my name before gasping, I knew she was getting very close. I was now rock hard, and was ready to fuck her, knowing I’d probably last two minutes once I was inside her. But I wanted to make her cum first.

Switching to her clit, that drove her wild, her body bucking against me as she begged me to keep going. I loved it when a woman begged me to keep eating her out, as that told me I was doing something right at least. She started to squeeze my head with her thighs, so I knew she was getting every so close, my hands now wrapped around a thigh each as I was now relentless, mixing up using my tongue on her clit and everywhere else.

She finally cried out and yelled she was cumming, feeling her squeeze my head even tighter as I did not even think about stopping. She yelled, cursed and moaned before she finally relaxed, but if she thought I was done, she was about to find out I wasn’t. She was lying back, her body quivering, finally lifting her head off the pillow. “God, Shepard, are you…” She trailed off as her body shuddered again.

“I’m going to make you beg me to stop,” I said quietly before lowering my mouth again.

“No wonder they all like you,” she moaned as she prepared herself for another one.

She had five before she had to cry enough. You read that right, five. By then, my jaw was beyond aching but it was completely worth it, leaving her a sweaty, tired mess on the bed. Gently kissing up her body, our eyes finally met and she couldn’t help giggle. “I thought you’d just fuck me and go,” she admitted.

“And turn down what I’ve just done? I’d have been a colossal idiot.”

“I’m going to need a few minutes, Shepard. I’m a little worn out.”

“Take your time.”

“You can take your underwear off though.” Once I did that, she exclaimed, “Holy shit!”

“What?”

“I just wasn’t… Damn…” Lying on my side, she turned onto hers to face me. “Five minutes, Shepard. Then you’re fucking me with that thing.” I couldn’t help smirk. “Guess you get compliments?”

“One or two.”

She scoffed. “One or two? The only question I have is if you know how to use it?”

“I like to think I do.” I leaned closer to hear ear. “I love it when a woman rides me.”

“Later,” she whispered back, “I need you to fuck me first. Just… own my pussy, Shepard.”

“I won’t be gentle if you tell me that.”

She grabbed the back of my head, dragging me forward for a kiss. “Oh, I’m telling you to ruin my pussy, Shepard.” I couldn’t help chuckle as I pulled her close, feeling her relax as I held her. “You’re not making this easy, you know…”

“How do you mean?”

“I was just expecting you to fuck me and go, as I said. But you’re being all…” She leaned back. “The guys here are pathetic, Shepard. And I’m not just talking about what’s between your legs. Businessmen are too focused on other things to worry about women. The guards are dickless. Anyone else is just a loser, and I simply don’t do anything with women. Honestly, my vibrator has seen more action than anything since I got here.”

Rolling her onto her back, I gently slid my cock inside her, watching the smile form on her face as I buried myself in one smooth, slow motion. She shuffled underneath me, getting herself comfortable, before she met my eyes. “Okay, I loved what you did earlier but, fucking hell, Shepard…”

“Good?”

That made her laugh. “Good, he asks?!”

So I started out slowly and gently to start, leaning down to kiss her, feeling her hands run up my arms, over my shoulders before her fingers started to dig into my back. She felt wonderful, and part of me didn’t particularly want to pick up the tempo too fast, but I knew I wasn’t going to last long this first time. I did warn her about that, which simply made her giggle, assuring me that she would certainly understand, and we would definitely go again rather quickly. She wasn’t wrong about that.

Lifting herself up, she wrapped her legs around me, leaving them loose so I could still get a good thrust into her. She was quickly begging for it harder and faster. That I could do, amazed that she could so quickly accept what I was giving her, not that I was going to complain. As I said, she felt fantastic.

Within a few minutes, I was warning her I was close. She simply wrapped her arms and legs around me a little tighter. She didn’t need to say anything, her eyes watching mine as I felt my orgasm approach. “Fuck,” I groaned as I started to really pound into her, hearing her breathe my name at the same time. That just turned me on even more. “Oh fucking hell,” I cried out as I buried myself a final time and unloaded inside her.

“Yes, Shepard,” she breathed, feeling her entire body squeeze me all at the same time as I groaned, resting on my forearms in an attempt not to squash her beneath me.

All I could do was concentrate on my breathing and not passing out for a good minute before I met her eyes. The smile on her face spoke volumes, the soft kiss after that even more. Despite the load I’d just dropped, my cock still felt hard as a rock. It was something I’d noticed about myself over the years. I could cum two or three times before it finally softened completely.

“When are you coming back to Noveria?” she finally asked. I couldn’t help chuckle as she kissed me again. “Hey, can’t blame a girl for asking!”

“Not sure when, but if you’re ever in Council space...”

“Might have to make a trip now. Get a nice hotel room of the Presidium. Big bed. Perhaps a large tub. Room service. Sound like something you’d be interested in?”

“Long as you don’t bring a suitcase as you won’t be needing any clothes except when arriving and leaving.”

“Oh, I plan on barely being able to walk out of there if you’re with me, Shepard.”

That made me laugh loudly, finally sliding out of her and lying by her side, feeling her turn onto her side, her hand immediately resting on my chest. “Sounds like you’ll be wearing me out, Gianna.”

She didn’t waste any time sitting up and straddling me, lifting herself up to grab the base of my cock, watching as it disappeared inside her. She leaned forward to give me a soft kiss before very slowly starting to ride me, her eyes only looking into mine. “You should definitely visit me here again,” she whispered.

Running my hands down her back, eventually resting on her firm arse, I could only say, “I’ll see what I can do.”

Watching her ride my cock, eventually sitting back, resting her hands on my chest, she was a goddess, and she definitely loved it as she had another orgasm rather quickly. I’ll be honest, I barely did a thing except provide the dick. I think she was just rather turned on plus, well, I guess it hit the right bits inside her. She enjoyed a second orgasm while riding me quite quickly before she fell forward, now desperate to kiss me, seeing her forehead now shining with sweat, her eyes alive with feelings. “Fuck me,” she moaned.

Grabbing her tightly by the arse, I did exactly as she requested, kissing her hard as I drove my cock up into her. She tried to meet my thrusts to start before eventually giving up, needing to break the kiss as she cried out, “Fuck yes, don’t stop.”

“I’ll go for a while,” I warned.

All she did was reach up to grab the headboard, holding on tightly. “Fuck me, Shepard.”

We fucked like that for a little while, switching my eyes from her face to her body, before I wanted her another way, flipping her onto her back first, before I turned her onto her stomach. She knew what I wanted, immediately getting onto her hands and knees, as I slid my cock back into her. Changing my own position, she looked back and smiled as I started to really drive into her again.

“Oh, I’ll be waking up sore now,” she whispered.

I pounded her like that for a little while before wanting at least a little more intimacy, lifting her up so she rested against me. She loved that, feeling her relax against my chest, her arm curling around so it rested on the back of my head so she could turn to kiss me. “Next time, you can take my arse if you want,” she whispered.

“You like that?”

“If it’s the right man, yes.”

“And I’m the right man?”

“Shepard, I think it’s obvious we like each other.”

I held her tight, one arm around her stomach, the other grabbing her gently by a breast, my lips either on her neck or her mouth. “Definitely like you,” I whispered.

Eventually picking up the tempo, she wanted me to keep hold of her as I orgasmed, so I moved a hand down to fondle her. She couldn’t help giggle at the thought of having yet another orgasm, but when I whispered into her ear that I wanted her to cum again, I heard the catch in her voice when she said she wanted to as well. My touch of her sex was gentle, certainly gentler than how I was fucking her now, assuring her that if she didn’t cum before me, I’d make sure she did.

We didn’t quite cum together. I was first, but after I’d recovered, remaining somewhat hard inside her, I brought her off again. Once she had another orgasm, I sat back on my knees as she rested back against me, holding her in my arms. “Well, definitely made the right choice inviting you back here, Shepard.”

“Glad you did.”

“I think we need a shower.”

“Probably a good idea.”

There was a lot of making out as we showered, and I certainly took my time cleaning her, and she returned the favour. We were in there a long time and it was certainly late by the time we were back in her bed. Spooning against me under the covers, she had me hold her hands in mine, feeling her snuggle back against me. “I’ve been single a long time, Shepard,” she admitted.

“I could ask how or why but… I will admit surprise.”

“It’s the job. I can’t really get close to anyone. So… Guess I’m a bit lonely sometimes.” She paused before adding, “And that just sounds really bad, as if…”

I gave her a gentle squeeze. “I know what you meant, Gianna.”

“I’m just glad we had tonight,” she whispered.

“Me too.”

Woken by faint sunlight the next morning, she immediately turned over to kiss me, running a hand down my cheek, her dark eyes looking into mine, a slight smile in her face. “Can you visit me before you leave Noveria?”

“Absolutely.”

She shuffled forward so I could hold her, running a hand up and down her back. The tough cop act had certainly been left at the door. The only problem I had is she was now one of a number of women I’d been with recently, and I had affection for them all. Not love, not that depth of feeling. But I had really liked nearly all of them.

Having nothing in the house for breakfast, I eventually dressed in the same clothes, Gianna at least being able to put on something different, before we caught a cab back to the hotel. Most of my team was already downstairs enjoying breakfast, so I paid for Gianna and I to join them. None of them were stupid enough to ask questions, though when Wrex and Alenko appeared, I wasn’t the only one to notice the latter was walking funny, and was definitely cautious sitting down.

“Fun night?” Ashley asked.

“Hope you’ll be okay to head out later,” I added.

“I’ll be fine, Commander. Just lingering pain at the moment.”

After breakfast, we had to head back to the Normandy to get ready to leave. I invited Gianna on and showed her around, and she was rather impressed with what I had at my disposal. Once my team was ready, we headed out and back to the garage, which was as far as Gianna could go with us. My team at least gave us a little privacy so I could say goodbye. I took off a glove so I could feel her skin on my palm as I cupped her face. “I enjoyed last night,” I said.

“I want another one like that soon. Be safe, Shepard.”

“I will. Have a reason to return to Port Hanshan. Never thought I’d say that!”

I gave her a gentle kiss before she took a step back. “Just so you know, I now have nothing to do. God knows what my superiors will have me doing next.”

“Want to travel on a spaceship?”

Her jaw dropped. “You’re serious?”

“I am if you’re interested.”

She definitely gave it some thought before she shook her head. “No, I’m a cop, Shepard. The idea of having you around all the time? Definitely like that. But I don’t belong in a warzone. I have a different set of skills.”

“Then I definitely have a reason to return to Port Hanshan.” I gave her a small salute. “I’ll see you soon, Gianna.”

“I’ll hold you to that one, Shepard.”

Heading out into the garage, the team were gathered around a Mako, noticing two of them were parked up. I figured, since there were two there, we’d take both of them. At least it would make our lives a little more comfortable. “Alenko, you take the second Mako. Garrus and Tali with me. Ashley, you go with Alenko as the gunner. Shiala, how are you with…”

“I can do it, Shepard.”

“Liara, you can go with Alenko, Wrex, you come with me. Alenko, all you need do is get to Peak 15 in one piece. No heroics, not if the weather is as bad as they say.”

“Of course, Commander.”

“Okay, let’s head out. With any luck, we’ll arrive in time to catch Benezia and figure out just what the hell is going on.”

Chapter Text

The Mako I was driving took the lead, Garrus at the turret of the cannon, Tali looking after shields and engineering, Wrex simply a passenger for now. Alenko was following in our wheel tracks, Garrus turning the turret of the cannon every couple of minutes to check on him.

The weather was awful. Practically a blizzard, which mean seeing anything after a few feet was near impossible. The lights on the Mako were on the highest beam possible but we were still crawling along. Despite the heat of the engine, and the heating we could switch on inside the Mako, it was still freezing. I had a feeling the drive could take all day, and what made it worse was the fact geth were on Noveria.

“Commander, halt!” Garrus called. Bringing the Mako to a stop, I could hear Garrus swinging the turret. “Contacts, Commander!”

Cannon fire immediately erupted in addition to the machine gun. It only lasted a few seconds before he gave the all clear. “Can’t see shit in this weather,” I muttered.

“Doubt the geth can see us in return, Commander.”

“I’ll keep the pace low. Long as we get there alive.”

“Or maybe the blizzard will piss off,” Tali murmured to herself.

I could help chuckle. “That was almost a curse, Tali. By the time you head back to the Fleet, you’ll be calling geth pieces of shit, fucking cunts, and all manner of other curses.” That made her giggle at least.

We drove along in silence for a little while, Garrus calling out for me to stop occasionally, immediately opening for, before he called for me to start driving again. It was unbelievably tense as we simply had no idea what lay ahead, always waiting for the impact of a rocket or two. Even Wrex was quiet in the back, at least for a little while, before he started to tease me about my evening with Gianna. I just returned the favour, teasing him about Alenko.

“Yeah, might have to nip that in the bud, Shepard. He’s getting attached.”

“What, in love?”

That made him laugh. “No, not that. But this is obviously just a fling and I’m left thinking he’s going to want it to continue once we deal with Saren. I’ve already made it clear that I’m here until we do that, then I’ll find my own way.”

“You told him this?”

The krogan remained silent. “Well, not yet. I am enjoying the physical side, at least.”

The blizzard was relentless, the snowfall blinding, the temperature remained constant, in that it was freezing. I would have liked to put my foot down, but I knew the road we were following followed the side of a cliff. If I got it wrong even slightly, we’d go flying over the edge.

“You okay back there, Alenko?”

“Can’t see shit, Commander. Following your brake lights.”

“Any geth?”

“No. Think you’re dealing with them first.”

“Probably another few hours until we reach Peak 15 from the map I have.”

“No worries, Commander. Long as we get there alive.”

We made it to Peak 15 alive. It was impossible to know if was day or night unless we checked the time, not surprised to see the drive had taken us hours. It was more mental than physical exhaustion, the stress and tension as we simply couldn’t see the geth almost overwhelming, just waiting for that first rocket to hit. Garrus handled them quickly more often than not, and I’m sure we actually ran over more than one geth unit that had frozen in place due to the weather.

Wrex had to clamber out to open the garage door for us, Alenko and I parking the vehicles side by side before climbing out as the door shut, Wrex moaning about the weather. Apparently it was always far warmer on Tuchanka. After a quick stock of weapons and armour, we headed into Peak 15 and immediately into more geth. Whether they knew we were coming all night, I didn’t know, but one of the geth was a massive bastard.

“Heard about those things before!” Tali yelled over the gunfire, “We call them Juggernauts!”

It took plenty of tech attacks to whittle down its shields, managing to overload its weapon more often, before we could finally focus on simply filling it with bullets. The rest of the geth were simple to wipe out, but that Juggernaut too far too long. By the time we put it onto the ground, I may have walked across and given it a firm kick before calling it a few names.

The sudden silence was fill by what I assumed was the VI of the facility, and what it reported didn’t sound good. Biohazard materials were present throughout the facility, so that meant helmets would stay on for the time being. The reactors were offline. The VI itself was barely walking, the reports of damage seeming to be on a loop and only an emergency broadcast.

Exiting the garage into the facility, I wasn’t the only one to notice the gun turrets were facing towards anything leaving rather than entering the facility. It was now obvious that someone wanted to stop someone else, or something, from escaping. The fact no-one was in the guard room was a concern, and as we boarded the elevator, conversation started in regards to what we would fine.

We all assumed Benezia would still be alive. But as for any rescue mission, we had a feeling that had either gone wrong or… We’d passed their bodies on the way to the facility. The blizzard has been so blinding, we’d barely seen a thing except the geth, and that was only because they were firing at us. All we could do was investigate and find out.

Crowding onto an elevator, we headed up what seemed to be numerous levels exiting out to find windows blown out, the wind howling and snow already piling in. And the geth were waiting, Liara and Shiala firing their biotics to give us time to find cover and return fire. If there had been any doubt about Benezia bringing geth with her, they had long since disappeared. I shared the occasional glance with Liara whenever there was a moment of quiet. She didn’t meet my nor anyone else’s eyes. I didn’t really blame her, in all honesty.

The geth dead, we spread out and that’s when we heard a noise that we simply didn’t recognise. Looking up, we saw what I could only describe as a monster, yet it was eerily familiar at the same time. Wrex sniffed the air. “It’s wrong, Shepard!” he growled.

“Easy, Wrex. All we need to do is kill it.”

“Bad feeling, Shepard. Really bad feeling. And when a krogan has a bad feeling, that means things are seriously fucked up.”

God, they were ugly. And they moved fast as well. They soaked up bullets that made my jaw drop. But they were susceptible to biotics. I didn’t even have to order anyone with the ability to start using them, the two asari, Alenko and even Wrex starting to shimmer blue, the rest of us following up their attacks with bullets.

When all the monsters were dead, we gathered around a pile of them, Wrex leaning down to sniff the blood. He growled apparently without thinking, and I noticed the look in his eye. It verged on murderous. “What are you thinking, Wrex?”

“I don’t know, Shepard. And that’s what scares me. If a krogan is scared, something is seriously fucking wrong.”

“I’ll protect you, big guy,” Garrus joked.

“Long as you know where to point that rifle of yours, turian.”

“Aww, look at us, getting along,” Tali added.

Wrex gave her a look before returning a toothy grin. “Play your cards right, little one…”

Even my eyes widened at that one. Tali was immediately embarrassed as a few of us shared a look. “Oh, do tell, Wrex,” I suggested, knowing what he was referring to.

“No, it’s not my place to say, Shepard.”

“I got a good look at his cock,” Tali blurted out, to the amusement of nearly everyone else, “Keelah, it was enormous! And I watched him fuck Alenko!”

The whole room exploded into laughter, which defused some of the tension we were feeling. “Bloody hell, what a time to share that!” I stated, feeling my body shake with laughter.

Tali just shrugged her shoulders. “Look, I might come across as the innocent quarian but I’m cooped up in this suit and…”

I noticed Wrex lay a soft hand on her shoulder. “Easy, my little friend. I think they all understand why. Nothing to be embarrassed about.”

“I’m not embarrassed. I am a quarian and we are curious about everything.”

“Tali, there is nothing wrong with being curious regarding the opposite sex. Men and women often do show and tell when they are younger,” Ashley added.

I cleared my throat. “Okay, I think we should move on.”

Heading up even further, we exited into what looked like a room holding the mainframe, full of little creatures that exploded when shot, making sure each bullet I fired hit one, as when they exploded, there was no doubt they were full of acid, or at least their blood was acidic.

Heading to the central core, noticing it was called ‘MIRA’, I had tech knowledge but nothing compared to some of my colleagues. I gestured for Tali to join me as we descended into the bowels of the VI. I stood to the side and let her get to work as she attempted to manually override the system. I don’t what the hell she did, but within a couple of minutes, there was the sound of the system restarting, the floor we were standing on automatically ascending. I couldn’t help pull her in for a hug. “Well bloody done,” I stated.

I felt her arms wrap around me tightly. “Thank you,” she replied quietly. She looked up and I met her eyes behind the mask. I wasn’t dumb. I knew what she thought of me.

Once we had re-joined the others, a hologram of the system VI appeared in front of us. As soon as I mentioned I was a Spectre, the VI was rather helpful, going into great detail about the problems we faced and how we could solve them. After I asked for a damage report, the VI was full of bad news. Reactor failure. Tramway offline. Landline connections around Peak 15 itself had been cut off. The biohazard issue had yet to be contained. Basically, it was a fucking debacle and we still had a lot of work to do yet.

Asking what happened just before the VI shut down was even worse news. Stages one, two and three alerts and something called a Code Omega. That just sounded like bad news. Probably explained the monsters we’d fought earlier. Of course, when I asked about those, the VI stated that I could not access that data as only Binary Helix employees could. Figured…

With so many things to solve, I would have split the team up, but considering the reactor was offline, nothing else was working without getting that started up. So we headed down there first, as I knew something would be waiting for us down there.

Geth, of course.

After blasting them away, my tech experts managed to get the reactor back online, and we immediately headed up to fix the landline connection, so we could use the tram. More geth and monsters were waiting for us, now so used to dealing with them, they were more of a nuisance than a danger. Might sound arrogant, but when we managed to deal with the enemy with barely a shield failure, it’s bound to increase confidence.

Heading back down to the tram station, we could see more of those monsters waiting in what looked like a waiting chamber. Connecting to Mira, we asked how we could solve the issue. The VI suggested we released a five-thousand-degree Kelvin blast. That would wipe them out.

“Do it,” I ordered.

Once it was over, there was nothing left of them. Not even an atom. Opening the door, I thought there might have been a smell of cooked flesh, but they had been literally vaporised into nothing. Following a long corridor, we ended up in the tram station. It was empty and very quiet. Rather unnerving to be honest. But power had been restored, and upon boarding the tram, once we were all ready, it departed automatically.

“Think we’ll find anyone alive, Commander?” Alenko asked.

“No idea, LT. Possibly Benezia. No idea about anyone else.”

“Benezia isn’t dead,” Liara added confidently, “Though I’m left wondering just what she’s been up to here.”

“You and I both, Liara,” I stated.

There was little discussion otherwise during the journey, people simply checking weapons and armour, otherwise sitting back and enjoying a short rest before we leapt into the fire once again. Greeted by another empty, quiet station, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one wondering where everyone was. Following signs for the residential level, we ascended once again, left thinking Peak 15 was a maze, probably a deliberate design feature.

The door opened and the first thing I noticed were the trio of weapons being aimed at us, though once they recognised humans and asari, the weapons were quickly lowered. One of the humans stepped forward, introducing himself as Captain Ventralis, interested to know who I was, as well as my colleagues.

“Commander Shepard, Alliance Navy, Council Spectre. These are my colleagues.”

After introductions, he gave me a rundown of the situation. Just like at central station, this area was just as bad. Apparently those monsters had overrun the Hot Labs, whatever they were. From what the captain added, it sounded like a lot of people had already died.

Then he added a bit of information that I knew related to Benezia. An asari had recently arrived and headed into the Hot Labs and hadn’t been seen since. I don’t think that meant she was dead, but there was no doubt he meant Benezia. I didn’t ask of her name, nor did Liara. But the captain was rather co-operative, giving me a card that would take us to the Hot Labs.

As soon as I pocketed the card, more of those monsters appeared from the pipes below us. Our biotic friends dealt with them quickly, lifting or throwing them away, giving the rest of us time to take out weapons and start blasting. Ventralis and his men helped out, making sort work of the monsters, but it was clear he and his men were now at their wits end, appearing to jump at their own shadows, in definite need of a break. All the more reason to finish this as quickly as possible.

Heading back the way we’d entered, we found ourselves in another elevator, this time descending deep into the bowels of the mountain. We must have descended for a couple of minutes before the elevator dinged, all of us piling out, entering an empty room. There was a lone man sitting on a bench by himself, appearing to be in a daze, probably in shock. His eyes met mine and he didn’t appear surprised at our appearance. “Are you here to secure the situation?” he wondered.

“If by ‘secure’ you mean ‘shoot every monster I see’, sure, I’m here just for that.”

“I am certain you have strong feelings about what happened here, and it is our fault. You understand?”

“Has an asari been through here late?”

“No, I have not seen one. But that is not the important issue. You must listen so you can understand. Binary Helix found an egg. It was on a derelict ship, thousands of years drifting. This was a rachni ship. Inside they found many eggs in cryogenic suspension.”

“What?” Wrex roared, and I’m fairly sure most of my colleagues restrained him.

“Whoa, back up a second there. Rachni? His kind,” gesturing towards the rather angry krogan, “Wiped them out a thousand years ago.”

The man nodded. “That is so. Billions of lives lost in that war, on both sides.”

“So… A thousand-year-old egg managed to hatch?”

“Yes, very tough to be so long frozen. That it survived for a millennium is simply miraculous. But there is more. Binary Helix plan to clone rachni. Mass produce them. Create an army.”

“Over my dead body,” Wrex grumbled, and I think he was getting ready to start shooting.

“That is not all. There is still more to know, to understand. The egg that found? It is not any common rachni. It is a queen. After she lays eggs, they move her here to Rift Station. They are thinking that without her, they can raise the babies to be obedient.”

“Sounds like we have something else to take care of then.”

“Shepard, you can’t be…” Liara started to say.

“No! Listen, you still need to understand the rachni. They are an intelligent species. They achieved star travel. They are not animals.”

“No, they more dangerous than that,” Wrex warned.

The man nodded. “That is true. I am thinking that without a queen, rachni do not develop properly. Her mind is shaping theirs. These rachni are uncontrollable.”

“So… Do we bring the queen here?”

The man shook his head. “These rachni are beyond saving. They must be euthanized. I am thinking that the neutron purge must be set off.”

Before he could tell us anymore, rachni burst forth from below us. I’m not sure how many there were, but before I could even grab the man, the rachni were after him, one of them slamming one of their… tentacles, I guess you could call it, straight through his chest. I stumbled backwards, taking out my assault rifle and opening fire. I’m not sure how many we killed, but I think we all kept firing long after they were all dead.

Checking the man’s body, we found something that might help us, codes for the neutron purge he had mentioned. Heading to the opposite side to which we entered, we found the terminal with Mira again helping us out. “Once you activate the purge, you will have only seconds to exit before it is fired,” Mira warned.

“You guys, head back to the elevator and watch my back.”

“Vents will be opened. Contaniments will be released.”

“Definitely head back, guys. I’m going to enter the code then sprint for the elevator.”

“Are you sure, Commander?”

“I’m sure, LT. Go now.”

I waited until they’d all left before I gave Mira the authorisation code. Once I confirmed the order, I packed away my assault rifle, turned around and ran. Should have known the rachni would be waiting. I heard gunfire and the thump of biotics as I weaved my way through the monsters, Mira counting down the ten seconds. “Bloody stupid having only ten seconds!” I shouted, “Get on the fucking elevator!”

My shields failed as I ran. My armour was definitely scarred as well. By some miracle, though, I made it to the elevator, the door slamming shut and starting to ascend. We’d barely started when the elevator started to shake, hearing the explosion. “Hope we don’t crash and burn,” Wrex joked, earning groans of disapproval.

Exiting and eventually heading to where we’d first met Ventralis, there was no sign of him, so we simply moved on, though all of us remained arm. We might have killed the rachni below us but it was obvious they infested the entire place. Little wonder it had been completely cut off.

Finding Ventralis in another large room, with bedrooms and other facilities off to either side, he opened fire immediately, as did the few guards that remained alive. Even some of those dressed in civilian clothes were warmed and firing. Spreading out into cover, Ventralis figured he’d get everything off his chest, admitting he worked for Benezia and everyone had been working to clone the rachni. So I gave one order.

“Kill them all.”

Ventralis ended up sitting back against a container, blood dripping out of his mouth. Taking a knee beside him, I asked, “Where is Benezia?”

“Restricted area. Reckon she knows you’re coming too.”

“Anyone else around?”

“Few more guards. Plenty of commandos. You won’t win, Commander.”

“We’ll see,” I retorted, putting the barrel to the side of his head and blowing his brains out.

He wasn’t lying about guards, at least. They were dug in and it took quite a bit to flush them out, generally relying on those with biotics gifts to drag them out before we riddled them with bullets. A few assault drones might have been a problem, but Alenko and Tali took care of those, causing them to either overheat and explode, or simply fall to the ground, no longer functional.

If I wasn’t so pissed off about everything, I would have offered the guards a chance of simply walking away, despite the fact they were working for Benezia. They were not important, but I doubt they would have listened. They fought hard, I’ll give them that, but we stepped over their bodies, just like we had with all their colleagues.

“ERCS will need a recruiting drive after this,” Ashley muttered.

“I’m expecting an angry letter or two from some businesses at the end of this,” I added.

“Fuck ‘em,” Wrex stated.

Another elevator. I swear, I don’t think I’d travelled on so many elevators in my life, descending again to god only knows where. “Think we’ll find Benezia?” Liara asked quietly.

“Well, unless we run into more rachni, geth or whatever the fuck else is on this planet, yeah, I think Benezia is next,” I replied.

“I’m ready, Shepard.” I just met her eyes and she returned a grim nod. I knew the next few minutes were going to suck at a personal level for her, no matter what happened.

Everything was quiet as we walked off the elevator. Every corner was checked and rechecked. Every noise didn’t exactly have us flinching, but we were being extra vigilant. Couple of empty rooms, few empty corridors. Not a living soul, but I knew Benezia was close. I’d been through enough shit to know when the enemy is close. You can feel it in the air. Almost taste it.

A final door, an enormous lab, and an asari who was clearly waiting for us to arrive. I gave subtle gestures, sensing my team spread out behind me, weapons raised, as Liara walked forward to stand beside me. I noticed Benezia’s eyes move along our line before they fell on me, then Liara, before resting on me a final time.

“You do not know the privilege of being a mother. There is power in creation. To shape a life. Turn it towards happiness or despair.” She turned towards the tank, where we had our first look of the rachni queen. To call it monstrous would be an understatement. Fucking ugly, is what I’d add. “Her children were to be ours. Raised to hunt and slay Saren’s enemies.” She turned away from the tank, walking towards us, rather bravely, I might add. She appeared alone, but I knew her commandos would be lurking close by. “I won’t be moved by sympathy, no matter who you bring into this confrontation.”

“I’m here because I choose to be, mother.”

“Really? And what have you told him about me, daughter?”

“What can I say, mother? That’s you’ve gone insane? Turned evil? Should I explain how to kill you? What could I possibly say?”

“We can end this peacefully, Lady Benezia,” I added, “All you need do is surrender, tell me where Saren is, what his plans are, and no-one else needs to die. There has been enough death already.”

She was never going to accept the offer. The smirk told me what was coming. Someone should probably have shot her straight away, but I guess we had to wait and hear what she had to say, perhaps hoping she would accept. “Have you ever face an asari commando unit before? Few humans have.”

“And Liara in all of this?”

“I now realise I should have been stricter with her.”

Before I could raise my weapon to shoot, before any of us could fire a weapon, she released her biotics, holding all of us in stasis, a sign of her power. I could still move my eyes, noticing doors around us open as asari commandos flood. The stasis didn’t hold us long, not spread over all of us. Soon as we were released, we split apart and went to war.

There was little room to move and very little cover. Shields failed rather quickly. Armour was definitely left scarred. Alenko was the first one to go down, Ashley dragging him behind a container, activating his medi-gel dispenser to stem the blood flow. Garrus was the next one to go down, a bullet in the leg. I grabbed him by the collar and dragged him towards one of the doors, handing him his rifle.

I looked around for Shiala, and she was in the thick of the action, no doubt thinking of revenge. Liara was at her side, the two biotics mixing up their attacks, seeming to protect each other while attacking at the same time. Tali was behind cover, using her shotgun when she could, disabling shields when possible. I joined Ashley behind a container as we simply shot at anything in commando leathers.

“Benezia?” she wondered.

“Still thinking about it.”

“I want the bitch dead, but it’s your choice, sir.”

“She keeps this shit up and I’ll run out of patience.”

The doors opened around us, and now geth flooded in. Geth we could deal with, Tali leaping with glee as she caused one of them to practically explode, overloading the shields of another before blasting it with her shotgun, two others suffering overheating weapons, leaving them as easy pickings for the rest of us. There were a couple of commandos left, Shiala and Liara to one side, Ashley and I to the other. They were fighting hard but clearly losing.

More geth flooded in but a glance towards Benezia showed her weakening somehow. I’m not sure what she was doing, but I noticed her collapse against one of the workstations next to the rachni queen. I don’t think she’d dare release it so…

“Liara?” I called out, gesturing towards her mother.

“I could explain, Shepard, but I don’t think you’ll understand.”

Good enough excuse for me. She was weakening so hopefully won’t put up much of a fight. The commandos were now dead so now it was just focusing on the geth. How so many had ended up on Noveria boggled the mind but, having fought them so often by now, it wasn’t simple but the commandos certainly put up a longer, tougher fight.

Now it was time to deal with Benezia. I signalled for everyone to holster weapons except Liara as we walked towards the platform. Benezia met my eyes and managed to lift herself from the ground. She still had some fight in her, surprised when she confidently turned her back, looking at the rachni in the tank.

“This is not over. Saren is unstoppable. My mind is filled with his light. Everything is clear.”

“Tell me everything he’s planning, Benezia. What’s his next move?”

She glanced back with a smirk. “I will not betray him. You will… you….” She cried out and collapsed to the ground, holding the helmet on her head. Liara made to move forward but I grabbed her wrist, shaking my head. Benezia stayed on her knees for a good few seconds. It was either a good act or she truly was in agony. Her cries eventually dimmed before she turned back, and even I noticed the change in her eyes.

“Mother!” Liara cried.

“You must listen. Saren still whispers in my mind. I can fight his compulsions but only briefly. The indoctrination is strong.”

“Why now after everything that’s just happened?”

She looked at Liara before looking back to me. “I sealed a part of my mind away from the indoctrination, saving it for a moment when I could destroy him. It will not last long.”

“Indoctrination?” Liara wondered, “Is Saren brainwashing you, mother?”

“No, little wing. People are not themselves around Saren. You come to idolise him. Worship him. You would do anything for him. The key is Sovereign, his flagship. It is a dreadnought of incredible size and its power is extraordinary.”

“Hang on, the same ship that we saw on Eden Prime? How on earth did it manage to land?”

“It has a very powerful mass effect drive. But that is not Sovereign’s true power. The longer you stay aboard, the more Saren’s will seems correct. You sit at his feet and smile as his words pour into you. It is subtle at first. I thought I was strong enough to resist. Instead, I became a willing too, eager to serve.”

“So why are you here?” I asked, getting to the crux of the matter.

“He sent me here to find the location of the Mu Relay. Its position was lost thousands of years ago.”

“How do you lose a relay?”

“Four thousand years ago, a star nearby went supernova. The shockwave propelled the relay out of its system, but did not damage it. Its precise vector and speed are impossible to determine. As millennia passed, the nebula created by the nova enveloped the relay. It is difficult to find any cold object in interstellar space, particularly something swathed in hot dust and radiation.”

I looked past her at the rachni. “Let me guess…”

She glanced back a moment before nodding. “Two thousand years ago, the rachni inhabited that region of our galaxy. They discovered the relay. The rachni have a unique gift where they can share memories across generations. Queens inherit the knowledge of their mothers. I took the location of the relay from the queen’s mind. I was… not gentle.”

“Does Saren believe this Mu Relay will lead him to the Conduit?”

“He does, though he did not tell me more. I was merely a servant to his cause.”

“I need that information. Make this right.”

She walked towards me, handing over an OSD. “Everything is on here. You must find out where it is quickly as I have transmitted the details to him before your arrival.”

She took a step back before her eyes closed, her face clenched in pain, before she basically stumbled until she was against the workstation against the tank. When her eyes opened, they were the same ones that had greeted us. I wasn’t going to let her get the drop on us, and I wasn’t going to kill her.

Taking out my pistol, I put a bullet into her right leg, which caused her to drop to her knee, before putting a bullet into her left shoulder, which basically put her on her back. “Liara, look away,” I ordered as I stepped towards Benezia. No doubt she was expecting a bullet in the head. Instead, I leaned down, grabbed her by the collar, and put a fist into her jaw, knocking her out cold. “Alenko, cuff her wrists and ankles. Make sure she doesn’t move. Liara, this thing on her head, what do you think it is?”

“No idea. Could be something to do with Saren? Could even be to do with the rachni?”

As Alenko secured Benezia, that’s when the rachni queen decided she would speak to us, using one of the dead asari commandos. I’ll be honest, I didn’t really understand much of what the rachni spoke of, regarding singing and colours, but I guess it was to do with how they communicated, particularly when she mentioned ‘children’.

“Thoughts?” I asked, though in the end, it would be my decision. Only Wrex was vehement in his opposition to letting the queen live. I was surprised that nearly everyone else admitted that perhaps wiping out the rachni long ago wasn’t the right thing to do. Wrex scoffed at that, but said he would not cause a problem if I chose to let the queen live.

“I don’t know about you guys but I’ve killed enough rachni today. If you promise there will be peace, queen, if you give your word on behalf of your species, then you may live.”

“You have it.”

“Then I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I’m not prepared to be the one responsible for wiping out an entire species.” I glanced at Wrex. “You okay with that?”

“If it goes wrong, we’ll just be left to clean up the mess again.”

“We will go in peace,” the queen stated.

Walking towards the tank, the queen turned and I’m sure its eyes met mine. Opening the workstation, it didn’t take much investigation to find the control, lifting the tank up before a hatch opened, allowing the queen to escape. No idea how the hell she was going to get off Noveria, but to be honest, that wasn’t my problem. She was clearly intelligent, though. I figured she’d find a shuttle, figure out how it worked, then simply go home.

Turning to my team, I gestured towards Benezia. “Wrex, if you could the honours. The rest of you, let’s head back to Port Hanshan.”

It took a while to get back to the garage. I made sure Benezia was in my Mako, Wrex taking out a shotgun and keeping it across his knees. If she woke up, she would have the shotgun prodded into her stomach, with a warning to behave or else. It was dark by the time we exited, no idea if it was the middle of the night or the dark before the dawn.

It turned out to be the latter, thankful the blizzard had passed, so we were greeted with some amazing scenery by dawn’s early light. The drive took nowhere near as long, basically flooring it at times. Wrex picked up Benezia and we headed back to the Normandy, telling Alenko and the rest to go to the hotel as we wouldn’t be going anywhere just yet.

Securing Benezia in the Normandy, Liara had followed, wanting a chance to speak with her once she woke up. I said that was fine, but she was under strict instructions to do nothing but talk, while she would remain cuffed and shackled as Chakwas provided medical attention for her wounds. If she tried any jedi mind tricks, then she was to leave immediately. She didn’t quite get what I meant by that, but assured me that she would be safe.

After getting out of my armour and dumping my supplies, I had a quick shower, dressed and headed out, hailing a taxi, and headed for the address I remembered. It was still rather early, knocking on the door, wondering if she was awake yet. When she opened the door, she met my eyes, an enormous smile breaking out as she leapt on me, arms and legs wrapped around me as the kiss certainly told me that she was rather excited to see me.

Carrying her inside, I managed to kick the door shut with my foot as I carried her in towards her kitchen, plonking her down on one of the stools. “How long can you stay?”

“Tonight. I will have to leave tomorrow morning.”

“Are you hungry? Was just about to make breakfast.”

“You know, I could say something completely corny, but I can’t remember the last time I actually ate something.”

Breakfast wasn’t extravagant, some cereal, toast and coffee, but it was something to fill a stomach that had started to growl. Once we’d finished, she grabbed my hand and led me to her bedroom. She was only wearing a robe, so it took longer for myself to undress, but once we were both naked, she simply rested her head against my chest as I held her.

Laying her down on her bed a little later, it was the first time I’d been with a woman for a second time since… Annie. And I think it’s the first time since Annie that I can say that I made love to a woman. I believe there’s a difference. When you fuck, it’s wild, hot, passionate, a shared physical attraction that leads to physical intimacy. But I think, when you make love, in addition to that, there is a heightened emotional and mental intimacy in addition to the physical.

We made love all morning, her hands never not touching my body, our lips rarely apart, and if they were, our foreheads would be touching, looking into each other’s eyes. Her legs would either be wrapped around or resting against my sides, and just occasionally, bent back quite a bit as I thrust deep into her. Sure, we enjoyed an orgasm or two, but it was the simple act itself that meant more.

When she rode me, I noticed the look in her eyes. She wasn’t in love with me, not yet, but there were feelings already. Feelings I could possibly have returned, if I were to stay on Noveria, or at least open myself up to something like that. But I couldn’t, not after Annie. She was still the one. Always would be. I’d lost part of myself when I lost her, shutting off that part which I didn’t want to open again.

Gianna eventually rested against my chest, cock still buried inside her. “My heart is going crazy, Shepard,” she whispered.

“Yeah, mine too,” I admitted.

“Could be just the great sex,” she stated with a laugh, “But it might be something else too.”

I just ran my fingers up and down her spine, enjoying the feeling of her smooth skin, her breasts pressed into my chest, buried inside her, body curled into mine. “You’re thinking,” she whispered.

“There’s always a lot going on in my head, to be honest.” I kissed her forehead when she looked up. “What I do know is that I do really like you.”

“Well, those feelings are definitely returned, Shepard.”

Getting dressed a little later, wrapping up as it was obviously cold outside, we headed out for a walk. There wasn’t exactly lot around so we walked to the end of the residential area and a nearby cliff, overlooking an enormous gorge, frozen lake far below. I’m sure before the planet froze solid, there might have been vegetation, perhaps trees and grass far below. Nothing could survive in these temperatures though.

“Not sure I’ll end up staying here,” she said, cuddling into my side, “Too much politics. The Anoleis job got on my nerves in the end.”

“Where would you go?”

“No idea. Still a cop at heart though.” She gave me a squeeze. “I know you are an orphan, Shepard. Me? I grew up in a rough neighbourhood, parents’ poor as anything, barely able to make ends meet. One of millions forgotten as humanity spread across the stars. Still had a roof over the head and just about enough food, but I never thought I’d end up living on another planet. All through school, always wanted to be a cop. Guess I read too many comics, watched too many vids, thought I could end up saving the day. Was always good at investigating, it’s how I ended up in my current role. Can always sniff out a perp.”

“Maybe it’s time to find another planet, perhaps one not so cold?”

“Would a certain Spectre be interested in visiting me at said planet?”

“Yes, he certainly would.”

Ending up back at her place, we made out on the couch like we were a pair of teenagers, making her giggle as I cracked a series of bad jokes, before she had a nap in my arms. First time I’d spent an entire day with a woman since… Annie. It always came back to her.

Gianna cooked up a storm that night, showing off her heritage. She suggested that she lacked talent in the kitchen. Well, let me just say, if that was lacking talent, she would have owned one of the most expensive restaurants if she could cook better. All I know is that I cleared my plate each time as what she cooked was delicious, the wine she selected simply complimenting the meal. Once we’d washed and put away everything, we retired to her bedroom, where she put on a little music, performed a rather erotic striptease for me, then we made love again.

The way she breathed my name as I buried myself, the way she looked at me, the way her fingers and heels dug into my back, the little noises she constantly made… She begged me to keep going, she wanted me to cum, as much as I wanted her to cum. Her mouth constantly searched for mine, the passion and intensity increasing with each passing moment. I’m not sure if she was falling in love with me that day. I don’t know if you can fall in love that quickly. All I knew is that I liked her, and would definitely want to see her again.

When she rode me later, my hands never left her body, constantly trailing up her back and occasionally grabbing her arse, before I finally shuffled back so I was sitting up and we could make out, or I could kiss down to her neck, giving her a little bite, hearing her giggle, or I’d move further down and focus on her breasts. She eventually had to ride me hard and fast, holding tightly onto me as she came hard a final time, not letting me go as I felt her shudder a few times.

“Part of me doesn’t want you to go,” she whispered, “But the other part is scared what will happen if you were to stay. I can’t remember the last time… It’s been a long time, Shepard.”

I’d barely slept in two days, so I was now rather exhausted. After we shared a rather intimate shower, we finally settled back in bed, feeling myself drift off, her hands gently caressing my face, feeling her lips kiss my forehead before I fell asleep. Waking beside her the next morning, she didn’t turn around to look at me for a while, hearing her take in a couple of deep, shuddering breaths. “I’m being an idiot,” she said quietly.

“Do you want to come see me off or…”

“Oh, I’m spending every second possible with you, Shepard.”

We eventually got out of bed and dressed, enjoying breakfast together, some of the chatter from the previous day missing. Catching a taxi outside, we headed to the hotel first, collecting the crew, before we walked back to the Normandy. Everyone headed on first before Gianna and I shared a final hug and one hell of a kiss, the depth of feeling involved telling me everything we both felt. When we finally broke apart, she hugged me tightly, whispered ‘Goodbye’ before she tried to go, though I didn’t let her.

“Not like that,” I said quietly. She looked up, noticing the shimmer in her eyes. I stroked her cheek with my thumb and smiled, earning a rather crooked one in return. “We’ll see each other again, Gianna. That I can guarantee.”

“Going to hold you to that. Send you a message every day. ‘You’d better still be alive, Shepard!’” That made us both laugh.

“I’d like a message every day.”

“Couple of days together and I’m already crying because you’re leaving!”

“Trust me, part of me doesn’t want to leave. But…”

“Got to save the galaxy?”

“Something like that.”

She hugged me again. “Going to miss you like crazy. Ugh, life is going to be dull around here again.”

“While my life might seem crazy, there’s enough downtime where I can let you know what I’m up to.”

“I’d like to hear all about it.”

“Deal.”

She leaned back and we kissed a final time before she stepped back, giving me a faint salute. “Bye, Shepard.”

“Farewell, Gianna. Hope to see you again soon.”

Walking onto the Normandy, as soon as the airlock closed, I heard the docking arm detach as the ship backed out of port and began its ascent. Striding towards the galaxy map, I put in the Citadel as the destination, though I told Joker I might change my mind on route. It would depend on Benezia. And that was where I was headed next.

Chapter Text

I was left with the feeling that Benezia wished we had killed her instead of taking her prisoner. I was willing to simply drop her off on the Citadel, but Councillor Tevos insisted they wanted nothing to do with her. When suggesting I take her to Thessia, it was suggested in return that probably wouldn’t be a good idea. I wasn’t sure the asari still practiced capital punishment, but from the sounds of it, her alliance to Saren was well known and quite a few wanted to make her an example. Showing up with Benezia would also lead to accusations against myself and my team. After conversing with Liara, we decided that we’d keep her with us and see if time away from Saren and his ship would help. I didn’t think it would but Liara was more hopeful.

By now, we’d moved Benezia up to the med-bay to continue her recovery from the fact I’d shot her a couple of times. She was restrained at all times, and didn’t really make any complaints. If I was honest, it seemed the fight had gone out of her. I spoke to her alone once or twice, trying to gain an insight into Saren’s mind. It was obvious he was a raving lunatic by now, and Benezia was unbelievably arrogant in how she thought she could deal with him.

It wasn’t a surprise she knew nearly everything about me. I thought she would try and fuck with my mind, question myself, but she just let it be known that if she knew everything, then Saren certainly did too. One question did amuse me though. “Have you fucked my daughter, Commander?” she asked during one session. I heard Chakwas stifle a laugh behind me.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but no, I haven’t.”

“Why not? She’s clearly interested in you.”

“There has been some flirting but there hasn’t really been an opportunity.”

She laughed. “Goddess, all you need is ten minutes and a room with a modicum of privacy. Don’t even need a bed. Just bend her over a desk and have your way with her.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “Are you seriously suggesting I should just fuck your daughter like some… well, whore?”

“It’s obvious she’s rather uptight about things, particularly in regards to me. I think she needs it to release some of the stress she’s feeling.”

“It’s not my position to say, but you do know she’s…”

“A virgin? Yes, that comes as no real surprise. Always had her nose in books or hands buried in dirt. While most her age are out exploring the galaxy as mercenaries or commandos, and definitely fucking anything that moved, my daughter has always been… different. I guess it’s a good thing in some ways.”

“Look, I remember my first time. It wasn’t that memorable. If I was to be her first…”

That made her laugh. “Goddess, you want it to be romantic or something? Get your head out of the clouds, Commander. It’s just sex.”

I leaned back in my chair, and thought I’d attempt a retort. “Saren ever fuck you?”

That made her face fall, though she shook her head. “No. I may have been a slave to his desires, but he is past needing any sort of physical release. We may have followed his word, but it’s clear the ship influences him as much as he and the ship influence his followers.”

“You still hear his whispers?”

She nodded. “Still wish you killed me half the time. That part of my mind I blocked off does help, but it’s a constant struggle.”

“Anything we can do to help?”

“I’m not sure. I don’t know much about the indoctrination process. My only suggestion would be destroying that ship of his. Perhaps that will free my mind from his whispers.”

“I’m still not sure what to do with you otherwise. Effectively, you might have to remain our prisoner until that time, for your safety and ours.”

“Will you eventually release me from these cuffs?"

“Possibly. It will depend on how you behave.”

“That is fair, Commander.” Then she smirked. “Could always leave them on for a particular reason or two.”

I could help chuckle at her tone. “Now, now, Benezia, you were suggesting I fuck your daughter just a few minutes ago.”

“Well, I am cuffed here, rather helpless, and I’ve never been with a human before. Considering all the shit currently going on in my head, you might just be a welcome distraction.”

I rose to my feet. “I’ll see you later, Benezia.” I paused before adding, “Keep that attitude up and you’ll find yourself released sooner rather than later. If you want, you can bunk with your daughter. She’ll keep you in line.”

“She has certainly grown since I last saw her.”

“When did you last?”

I noticed her look away. “Too long ago,” she replied quietly, “It is a deep regret.”

“Now would be the perfect time to reconnect.”

“It is one of the very few reasons why I am glad you let me live, Commander.”

Heading back out into the mess, no-one was around so I headed back to my quarters, ready to simply lie back on my bed and catch up on some sleep. Noveria had been a wild ride, quite frankly amazed that we’d all survived. Though I was adamant at the time about releasing the rachni queen, I did wonder if that would eventually come back to bite me in the arse. Wrex and his warnings still echoed in my head, and the krogan knew a thing or two about fighting them. I guess it was a case of wait and see what happened.


Wrex had to admit that he was enjoying life on the Normandy. Sure, Shepard’s decision regarding the rachni was one he was still trying to wrap his head around, but in the end, like his own people, it was no longer his problem. He would simply serve alongside Shepard, kill geth, rachni or whatever else they happened to find, and in the end, they’d kill Saren, end the menace, then he’d piss off and continue to do his own thing.

Shepard was busy talking to Garrus by the Mako, and he was waiting for the Commander to head over and have his usual chat with him. They’d talked about numerous topics, and it pleased him that Shepard was interested to know more about his species, as barely anyone cared about the krogan or their plight. The only people who the other species cared less about was perhaps the quarians, but at least they didn’t have the genophage put upon them.

Alenko was chatting away with Ashley nearby, the human giving him the eye every so often. Wrex was left feeling he might have to nip the entire thing in the bud soon enough. He thoroughly enjoyed himself with Alenko, and the human had a very high sex drive, and a high pain threshold, but he could see the human was starting to… like him. Not love, it would never be that but… He was only looking at a physical release, and like a lot of males from any species, except those weird salarians, he loved to fuck.

His eyes fell on Shepard, watching his hand rest on the shoulder of Garrus, the pair exchanging a nod and quiet words, and it looked like Garrus had got something off his chest, as there was definitely a sigh of relief as the turian turned around to resume his work on the Mako. Shepard headed towards him, but simply to say hello before he approached Alenko, grabbing the Lieutenant and the pair headed towards the elevator.

A few minutes later, he noticed Tali poke her head out from engineering, appearing to check for something or someone, before she walked across the garage to Ashley. The two then seemed to talk quietly, and he felt eyes fall on him. If anything, the human female seemed to grin then even burst out laughing at whatever Tali had to say. Wondering what was up, the pair then approached him.

Tali ran a hand down his arm. “Hi, Wrex.”

“Hello, little one.”

“So, I was just wondering… Are you busy right now?”

That made him laugh, but her voice was dripping with innuendo. “Tali, I spend most of my day standing around doing nothing if I’m not off the ship killing things.”

Ashley moved to his other side. “So, Wrex, Tali has been sharing one or two things that, I’ll admit, intrigue me.”

He cast her with a curious eye. “Thought you hated us?”

“No. If you listened to what I said, I was simply concerned about security regarding the secrecy of this ship. Shepard can recruit whoever he wants.”

He looked between the pair of them. “So what do you want?”

Tali grabbed him by the hand and led him off, Ashley falling in alongside. Ending up in the same room as before, the door was closed and locked, and this time Tali keyed her omni-tool, reporting that any cameras inside the room would now be off. He stood before them, appreciating the fact they both had to look up at him.

“Okay, what’s going on?” he wondered.

“Can you get it out again?” Tali asked.

He couldn’t help chuckle. “For what reason?”

“I want to play with it. And Ashley wants to see it too.”

He looked at Ashley. “For real?”

The human nodded eagerly. “Two reasons, Wrex. One, Shepard and I have flirted but he hasn’t made a move, and I’m really fucking horny. Two, Tali tells me you have a massive cock.”

“He does,” Tali stated, getting down onto her knees, looking at him, “Please, Wrex.”

“You know if we do this, it crosses a line.” She nodded as he looked at Ashley. “And you? Want to be fucked by an alien?”

“If you’re packing what Tali says you are, I’m willing to give it a damned good go.”

Wrex had to admit he’d never had such good luck before. So he had to take off parts of his armour, the women cooing over his muscles. Krogan were built quite differently to any other species in the galaxy. Their world made them hard, and he’d spent hundreds of years fighting. He was nothing but scars and muscle.

Whipping out his cock, he heard Ashley gasp as Tali’s hands went into her pockets, retrieving a bottle of what looked like lube. She poured a little onto his cock, and it felt rather warm, before she started to use both hands to get him hard. Once he was, Ashley couldn’t help but gasp. “Holy shit!”

He looked down and shrugged. “Well, there are reasons why, mostly to do with our females. Mating can be a difficult process.” Tali was now using both hands to basically jerk him off, Ashley getting down onto her knees and sitting alongside the quarian. He couldn’t help chuckle. “So what do you plan, ladies?”

“I want to make you cum, Wrex,” Tali replied. That definitely surprised him. “Then I want to see you fuck Ashley.”

“Whoa, hold on a minute,” he started to say before he looked at Ashley, who looked up at him and nodded. “Seriously?”

“I need to be fucked, Wrex. Alenko is out. I’ve heard about turian dicks before. And though interested, Shepard is either hesitating or… I don’t know. And this thing you’re packing with definitely do the job.”

“I’m not sure you can…”

“I’ll use some of that lube.” When her mouth lowered to his cock, seeing her run her tongue alongside his shaft, his eyes definitely widened in surprise. “Trust me, I’ll be nice and wet by the time you’re ready.”

“I’m ready now.”

“Cum for Tali first, then you can fuck me.”

Shrugging his shoulders, he focused on the little quarian now on her knees, both hands jerking his shaft. She quickly got a good rhythm going and could only assume she’d done some reading, noticing her eyes behind the mask always looking up at him. “Didn’t think this would happen,” he stated.

“I’ve been thinking about it all the time since I first saw it,” Tali admitted.

“Keep going. It won’t take long. Where do you want it?”

“Well, you do cum a lot so… Well, on my mask and it can just drip down onto my suit. I can clean up later.”

Ashley had started to strip off by now, and Wrex couldn’t help appreciate the skin now on show. Rather pale but she had average breasts for a human female, an athletic tone to her body, and some hair above her sex. When she stood up, she definitely had a nice pair of legs, amazed when she kneeled back down and started to use her tongue on him. That sent his senses into overdrive.

“Don’t know what I’ve done to deserve this,” he muttered.

“You going to cum soon?” Tali asked.

“Uh-huh.”

He wasn’t used to this sort of attention. Before Alenko started to show any sort of interest, he usually paid for sex. Well, that was a lie. Not usually, he always paid for sex, but certainly spent credits on more than a couple of asari at a time. Now he had a quarian and a human on their knees before him, and if it wasn’t for the suit, he was left thinking Tali would want to be fucked by him too.

He groaned loudly as he finally felt the unstoppable surge, warning her he was about to cum before he unloaded all over her mask. He drenched it completely, leaving long streaks dripping down onto her suit. She squealed with delight as his cock throbbed in her hands, muttering about how much he came. Looking at Ashley, she was rather surprised by the volume too.

When he was finally empty, Tali kept stroking him until he had to ask her to stop, simply to give him a moment to recover. She turned to Ashley. “How do I look?”

“Well, part of me is kind of glad it isn’t your face, Tali, otherwise you’d be a real mess.”

“I really need to get out of this suit and be properly fucked.”

“By who though?”

“Right now, I’ll take anyone within reason. I think Wrex would probably tear me apart.”

“I’d be as gentle as possible, little one.”

“I know, but while I liked doing this… you know…”

“Well, I don’t know what Shepard wants, which is why I’m down here right now,” Ashley said, looking up at Wrex, “You’re still pretty hard too.”

“Oh, I can continue straight away if you’re ready.”

He watched Ashley stand up and move over to the table, sitting down on it and spreading her legs wide, sitting right by the edge of the table. He noticed she was wet, her pussy looking rather red having fondled herself as she’d watched Tali pleasure him. Tali stepped forward and appeared interested. “You can touch me if you want, Tali.”

“Are you sure?” Ashley nodded, and Tali ran a gloved hand down her body, over her breasts, down her stomach, before finally touching her sex. Ashley gasped at her touch. “Never been with a woman,” the human admitted.

“The female form has always fascinated me,” Tali whispered.

Tali continued to fondle her and it was obviously turning Ashley on. “Put a finger in me,” she finally whispered.

“Are you sure?” Ashley bit her lip and nodded as Tali gently slid a finger inside her. “Oh my,” Ashley muttered, “That’s just one finger?”

Tali giggled. “Well, we are different in many ways.”

Wrex moved to stand behind Tali, watching as Tali gently slid her finger in and out of Ashley. He had to admit the sight was rather erotic but also incredibly tender. Different to what was going to happen when he had his go. Ashley pulled Tali a little closer, resting her head against her mask, his cum having now dried a little. “Holy shit, that’s good,” Ashley whispered.

“Well, the way this is going, the only thing I need to do after this is actually get fucked,” Tali joked.

“If you want to be with a woman…”

“You’re serious?” Ash nodded. “I’d… I’d like that too.”

“If you want me to go,” Wrex stated.

“No, I’m ready now but… I like what Tali is doing…”

“We could always… you know, at another time…”

“Just me and you, Tali?” The quarian nodded. “You’d like to fool around with me?” Tali nodded again. “Well, this mission just got a lot more interesting. As I said, never been with a woman before.”

“Ever been interested?”

“Before I met you, no. But, I’ll admit, I like you, Tali.”

“I’d better stop, otherwise I won’t want to stop.” Tali removed her finger as Ashley leaned forward to give her a hug.

“Definitely soon, Tali,” Ashley said quietly, “But you must stay and watch.”

“Oh, my Nerve-Stim Pro will be going onto its highest setting in about thirty seconds!”

Tali moved out of the way as he stepped forward, Ashley now lying back slightly, resting on her elbows, her legs still spread wide. He lined up his cock and rested it on her groin. It looked enormous compared to her body. “If it hurts, Ashley…” She simply nodded, but her face spoke of determination. He used one of his fingers to gently fondle her. Probably not as gentle as Tali, but he could feel how wet she was. “Tali turn you on, Ashley?”

“I wouldn’t mind seeing her out of her suit.”

“Long as you eat my pussy.” There was silence as she then added, “Keelah, I did blurt that out, didn’t I?”

“I’ll do it as long as you return the favour.”

“Definitely doing some research. Looks like I might have two Alliance members who might fuck me now.”

Wrex was ready to fuck again. He met Ashley’s eyes and she nodded as he positioned his cock at her entrance. Pressing forward, he tried to be gentle as he slid his cock inside her, but even with lube and the fact she was wet, it was one hell of a tight fit. He probably slid half of it in before she leaned forward, resting a hand on his chest.

“You are fucking enormous, Wrex.”

He couldn’t help grin. “I know.”

“Take it easy but I want you to fuck me.”

“As you wish.”

Wrapping a hand around each thigh, she lay back on the table as he started to thrust into her. Tali had moved around the table by this stage, running a hand up and down her body, Ashley grabbing one of her hands, placing it on her breasts, suggesting she play with her nipples. Wrex wasted little time picking up the pace, and he felt more of his cock sliding inside her each time.

“Fucking hell!” Ashley cried.

“Okay?”

“Fuck yes. My god, Wrex.”

“Loving my alien cock?”

He noticed the smirk form. “If all aliens have cocks like you…”

He picked up the pace even more, and while he didn’t quite bury himself entirely, he was impressed at how much she could take, and there was no little doubt he was stretching her out. No wonder she was already delirious with pleasure. “Tali, find my clit,” Ashley moaned. He watched as Tali slid a hand down her body towards her sex, and after a bit of investigation, found what she was looking for. “Oh god, going to cum!”

Tali looked up at him. “We’re doing good, right?”

“I’m not sure if it’s me or you, Tali,” he muttered.

“Could kiss you right now, Tali,” Ashley moaned, her body now quivering under the dual assault, “No offence, Wrex.”

“Yeah, I don’t really do that anyway.”

Ashley lasted after thirty seconds before enjoying one almighty orgasm, feeling her squeeze his cock as he didn’t stop moving, Tali’s hand a blur as she continued to fondle her sex. He thought Ashley would ask him to stop, but although he did eventually slow down, she gave herself time to recover before looking at him. “Get on the ground,” she said.

He knew what for, so pulled out and lay down on the ground, Ashley sliding off the table and straddling his groin, lifting herself up and sliding down most of his cock. “Oh my god,” she moaned, looking around and reaching out for Tali. Taking hold of the young quarian, she positioned her so she sat on Wrex’s chest, looking away, “Get a look at that fine arse, Wrex.”

He did what any self-respecting man would do. He gave it a gentle pinch then a slap, earning a giggle. Then he felt Ashley start to ride him, while Ashley ran her hands up and down Tali’s back, eventually reaching her arse. “You need to get out of this suit, Tali.”

“You’re really attracted to me?” his little friend asked, “Or is it Wrex?”

“Oh, I’ve liked you since the start, Tali. You have a lovely personality. I’m hoping you’re as beautiful underneath the mask.”

He heard the catch of breath before Tali simply hugged her, though Ashley didn’t stop riding his cock for a second. “I’ll find a way we can do something,” Tali finally said.

“Is there anything I can do for you?” Ashley asked.

“Not right now but I’ll see if… I’m sure I can get part of my body out of this suit.”

“Your pussy?” Tali nodded. “If you do that, I’ll eat you out.”

He heard Tali gasp. “I’ll need to take off my mask to return the favour.”

“Okay, I’m loving this conversation,” Wrex stated with a chuckle.

“And I’m loving your cock, Wrex. Shame Tali can’t enjoy it too.”

“Would you be willing to fuck me, Wrex?”

He hesitated. “As I said, little one, your first time…” He trailed off and sighed. “Look, you guys know I love to fuck. I’m really liking you right now, Ashley. You have the tightest pussy I’ve had in years.” He noticed Ashley slow down and blush. That made him feel good, at least. “But Tali, you’ve seen how big I am. And despite the rough and tough exterior, I really don’t want to hurt you.”

Tali turned around and gave him a hug. “I know,” she whispered, before there was a loud slap, Tali crying out as Ashley couldn’t hep grin.

“That arse is on fire, Tali,” she exclaimed, before there was another loud slap, this time Tali expecting it and making a rather appreciative sound. “Okay, I am starting to feel sore. You need to cum, Wrex?”

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind.”

“Tali, if you don’t mind moving…” Once the quarian was out of the way, Ashley leaned forward, planting a hand to either side of him. “Okay, Wrex, here’s your big chance. I love this big cock inside me, and now I want to feel you cum inside me. So, have your way with me.”

“You sure?”

She nodded, a face of grim determination. Setting himself, he grabbed her by the hips and gave her a few short, hard thrusts. He noticed the grimace, but their eyes met, and she nodded, so he did it again. The reaction was better this time, so he fucked her faster and harder before she begged him to continue. He was never going to last long. Her pussy was too good, eventually needing to rest against his chest as he grabbed her by the arse and pounded her, his entire cock now disappearing inside her.

“Fucking hell!” she cried out.

“Okay?” he grunted.

“Fuck yes. Oh my god… You need to cum…”

“Soon,” he muttered. He wanted it to last as long as possible.

But no man can last forever and he felt the point of no return, warning her he was close. She simply held on tight as he pounded her until he felt the first release deep inside her, following that up with even more, thrusting away until he simply couldn’t keep going, collapsing back onto the ground as Ashley settled down against him. It was only when all was quiet that he heard the sniffle. “Okay?” he asked quietly.

“Think I overestimated my capacity to take massive krogan cock,” she joked, looking up to see her eyes shimmer, but there were no tears, “Felt fucking great though.”

“Well, at least I can cross human off the list now.”

“You’ve never had a human?” He shook his head. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “Well, consider me honoured, Wrex.”

She needed to stand up, no surprise that cum flowed out of her, trailing down her legs, much to the amusement of herself and Tali, making comment at the sheer volume of cum he released. He shrugged, as it was normal for him, standing up and giving his muscles a stretch. “This has been fun,” he stated, “Don’t get to do something like this very often.”

Ashley simply sat on the table, not bothering to get dressed yet. Tali sat beside her, and it was clear she appreciated Ashley’s body. He gathered up his armour and started to dress himself, as he didn’t particularly want to hang around. Whenever he did the deed with Alenko, it was just that. Fuck then go. He wasn’t interested in the intimacy some people shared.

“So, I guess I’ll see you later,” he said. It wasn’t awkward, but fun time was over, so he was just going to leave.

“Thanks, Wrex. I’m glad you agreed,” Tali stated.

“And you might have another human who’ll want some fun later too,” Ashley added.

Wrex shrugged. “I won’t say no. You have a nice body, Ashley.”

“Ash, Wrex.”

He nodded. “You have a nice body, Ash. Reminds me of asari, except, well, not blue. Nice tits though.”

Despite everything they’d done, she still blushed. “Well, thanks, Wrex. Glad you liked them.”

“I like them too,” Tali said.

“Tali, we are definitely getting you out of that suit,” Ashley stated.

“Can we play some more?”

Ashley looked at him. “Want to stay, Wrex?”

“No, you two have your fun. I think you need it. Tali, just keep in mind what I said, okay?” His little friend nodded, before Ashley lay back, Tali straddling her lap and he assumed things were going to happen. He simply unlocked the door, stepped through, and closed it behind him. Wandering back out into the garage, Garrus gave him a curious look but all he did was shrug. No point telling the turian what he was up to. Alenko turned up a few minutes later, wondering where Ashley was. He lied and said he didn’t know. Shepard turned up around an hour later, leaning against the nearby bench, folding his arms, a knowing grin on his face.

“Wrex, just so you’re aware, the camera was still on. But good for you. Guess Ashley is going to be disappointed if she ever wants to be with me now. God damn, my friend…”

And, with that, Shepard simply turned and walked back towards the elevator. Wrex could only stand there and laugh to himself at how this whole mission was turning out.


“I’ve been waiting for this day ever since the bastard escaped,” Garrus stated. His friend glanced in his direction but said nothing. “You’re not going to stop me, are you, Shepard?”

“I think you’ve seen the sort of justice I’m willing to deal out, Garrus. This is your show. I’m merely here as support.”

“Thanks.”

“What are friends for, right…”

Garrus didn’t have many friends left. Those from Palaven had moved on with their lives, either with their military careers, raising families or they’d simply lost contact over the years. Those with C-Sec, those he chose to let close, eventually distances themselves, thinking he was a loose cannon and would eventually find himself messing with the wrong people. He had an ingrained sense of right and wrong. But during his time with C-Sec, he had seen endless corruption, criminals buying their way to freedom, and far too much red tape for his liking. He didn’t quite like the judge, jury and executioner role that came with the Spectre system, but sometimes, he could understand why it existed.

He’d told Shepard all about Doctor Saleon recently and admitted that it was an itch that needed scratching. Shepard had listened and agreed to helping him track down the doctor. It had taken a lot of hard work but he’d finally tracked him down to a ship, the MSV Fedele, which was currently in the Herschel system.

The only reason they’d managed to track him down is that it was obvious something had gone wrong, the doctor now calling himself by a different name and he’d activated a distress signal. Garrus had picked it up and recognised it immediately, informing Shepard who, without any real lead to find Saren, agreed to go at once.

It would only be he and Shepard regarding this mission. The ship Doctor Saleon resided on was small, and while it was obvious something had gone wrong with his experiments, the two of them with an assault rifle each should be able to deal with any eventuality. The Normandy found the ship floating in space and eventually docked alongside it, the pair of them waiting as the airlock connected, and they stepped through, ensuring their helmets were secured, just in case.

The ship did appear to be deserted. Even through his armour, it was rather cold. After a quick search of the tiny living quarters, they entered the main hold, and that is where they discovered the horror of his experiments. Shepard mentioned it was like something out of a science fiction slash horror film. Whatever they were, it was horrifying, and the only thing they could do was shoot them, particularly as they were particularly aggressive, charging straight at them as soon as they came into view.

Not sure how many they killed but more than enough to believe Doctor Saleon had experimented on plenty of people, and Garrus could only wonder what he was trying do now. The experiments he’d discovered the first time had been sickening. It appeared his research had descended into the obscene.

They found the doctor later. He didn’t recognise Garrus at first. Didn’t seem to recognise Shepard either. “Thank you! Thank you for saving me from those things!” he cried.

“Doctor Saleon,” Garrus growled.

The eyes of the salarian met his. There was no recognition just yet. “What? No, no, no. My name is Heart. Doctor Heart. Please, just get me out of here.”

“Just want a positive ID, Garrus.”

“Oh, I’m sure it’s him, Shepard. One hundred percent positive.” He took the pistol from its holster. “There’s no escape this time, Doctor. I’d harvest your organs first, but we don’t have the time.”

Saleon took a couple of fearful steps back. “You’re crazy!” he cried, before looking at Shepard, “He’s crazy! Please, don’t let him do this to me.”

“Garrus,” Shepard stated.

Garrus levelled his pistol, aimed for the head, and fired. The bullet was perfectly aimed, straight through the forehead, exiting at the back. Saleon dropped to the ground dead. Garrus held the pistol level, amazed at how calm he was, before he simply placed it back in its holster. “Righteous,” he muttered.

“Good kill, Garrus.”

“Thanks, Shepard. Been wanting to do that for a long time.”

The pair wandered the medical lab and what Saleon had been up to beggared belief. There was no missing the blood stained gurneys and lab equipment. Garrus had enough know how to download the data, and Saleon had kept terrabytes of information regarding all the experiments he’d performed, and more than one video of what he’d been up to. Though he was intrigued, he knew he couldn’t sit and watch without throwing up everything he’d eaten for the past year.

With little more to discover, the pair headed back to the Normandy. He wondered if Shepard would ever regret letting him put a bullet in Saleon instead of arresting him, but he could only believe he’d made a convincing enough case that justice was done quickly rather than through the courts.

Assuming they were heading back to the Citadel, he headed back to the garage as usual, noticing Ashley was far friendlier with Wrex than usual, while Tali would pop out from engineering every so often, and would chat with Ashley while also giggling away with Wrex. He did wonder what was going on with the three of them. Everyone knew about Wrex and Alenko, as neither was shy about what was going on, but he did wonder about those three now.

He must have been staring as the two women sauntered over towards him. “How are things, Garrus?” Tali asked.

“Oh, you know, same shit, different day.”

“Shepard help resolve that issue of yours?” Ashley wondered.

“Yes, he did. Everything wrapped up nicely. Can sleep easier at night now.”

“I think we’re heading back to the Citadel for a couple of days. Any plans?” Tali asked.

“Why?” he retorted, immediately curious. And cautious.

“Well, we know you have a certain lady friend on the Citadel,” Tali replied.

“Fucked her yet, Garrus?” Ashley wondered. He couldn’t stop his jaw dropping wide. “Oh, come on, we’ve all been around when the good doctor has been in your company. She wants your dick, Garrus. We’re just wondering if you’ve given it to her yet. Never seen a naked turian myself but I’ve been told your dicks are weirder than human.”

“Or krogan,” Tali added.

“Hang on, wait, what?” he wondered, staring at Tali in disbelief. “How would you know what krogan look like?”

“I’ve seen Wrex’s,” Tali replied with a shrug.

“What? You’ve seen…” He trailed off, shaking his head. “Spirits, what is going on with this ship?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you’ve got Shepard with spirits only knows who off the ship. Liara clearly wants him. You do too, Ashley. And I’m assuming Tali does too, because all the women seem to want Shepard. I know Shiala has already shared his bed more than once. There was that cop on Noveria, that doctor we arrested, the old woman he made that deal with and that reporter who he helped a while back now.

Then you have Alenko and Wrex, which I simply can’t explain. Don’t care who you want to fuck, but I just don’t get it. And now you’re telling me that you’ve done something with him, Tali?”

Tali giggled. “I’m not the only one,” she retorted in a sing-song voice, making an obvious glance towards Ashley.

Garrus could only looked at her. “Fuck. Off,” he stated bluntly, “Look, not to be rude, Ashley, but… Well, it was pretty clear earlier on…”

“Look, you know about my history by now, all the shit I’ve gone through. Yes, I wasn’t exactly accepting to start off with. But having spent some time with you guys, I’ve come to see all of you as friends.”

“But you’ve seriously been with Wrex?”

Ashley leaned forward. “He has a massive cock,” she whispered, “And Shepard was taking too long, and I needed to be fucked.”

“Yeah, but…” He trailed off again, shaking his head. “I don’t get it.”

“Want to see Ashley and I do it?” Tali asked.

He couldn’t help burst out laughing. “You been drinking or something?”

“No. I just know men love to see two women at once. I don’t really understand why...”

“While flattered, I don’t think Chloe would appreciate that.”

“So you are in a relationship!” Ashley exclaimed.

“Yes. Sort of. I don’t know.” He sighed again. “All I know is that I like her, she likes me, and every time we’re on the Citadel, we meet up.”

“Fucked her yet?” Ashley asked.

“None of your business.”

“He’s fucked her,” Tali suggested.

“Want to fuck me, Garrus?” Ashley asked.

“What?” he asked, completely deadpan.

“Well, I’ve had krogan dick, so why not try turian?”

He couldn’t help laugh nervously. “Ummm, I really don’t think Chloe would approve.”

“She doesn’t have to know.”

“No. I couldn’t do that to her. Spirits, this ship must fuck with people’s minds or something…”

The two girls laughed away but they left him alone after that. Wandering up to the mess for dinner that night, Shepard mentioned they would arrive at the Citadel the next day. He noticed Benezia had now been released from her shackles, and she was definitely cosying up to Shepard. So was Liara. Shiala watched but didn’t seem bothered by any of it.

He was thankful the Normandy arrived the next day, and Shepard gave everyone a three-day pass. Nearly everyone split up, though he hung around Shepard, as did Wrex and Alenko. Ashley and Tali disappeared together, now thick as thieves, while the three asari on the ship were spending time together. He knew Shiala and Benezia had spent a long time talking, no doubt the wounds of Feros taking time to heal.

Garrus was amused when Shepard found himself stopped for an interview. He’d never heard of Khalisah al-Jalani but would certainly not forget her after the questions that landed in Shepard’s lap. To his credit, the Commander handled them with skill, batting back most of her accusations with the wit and charm everyone knew he possessed. What Garrus did find amusing is that it appeared this was one woman who would not fall under his spell.

Alenko and Wrex disappeared once they hit the Wards, so that left him alone with Shepard. “Any plans, Shepard?” he asked.

“None, to be fair. Everyone is busy doing their own thing. To be honest, I was just going to spend most of my time relaxing, and by that, I mean sleeping.”

“Well, I’m going to go see Chloe so…”

“Message heard loud and clear, Garrus. Definitely don’t want to be a third wheel. Might go see Sha’ira.”

That made him laugh, the pair shaking hands, before Shepard wandered off in the opposite direction. He could have closed his eyes and found his way to her office from any point on the Citadel. Strolling through her door, she was busy with a patient, noticing there were no others, so he stood back and waited until she was finished. As soon as the patient was released and had departed, he locked the door as she strode towards him, wrapping her arms around him. “I’ve missed you,” she whispered.

“Missed you too, Chloe. The only reason why I regret joining up with his mission.”

She leaned back, glancing at her watch. “I have another couple of hours to go. Can you wait?”

“I’ll just take a seat. No rush to do anything else.”

Plenty of people came and went over the next couple of hours. He amused himself by playing on his omni-tool, reading plenty of messages from his old C-Sec account, which he still had access to. The news was boring as always, though he always kept an eye and ear on news from Palaven, though nothing much ever changed there either.

Chloe eventually finished her shift, her replacement showing up. Standing tall, she grabbed his and they headed off together. “I’ll cook us some dinner, Garrus.”

“You’ve just spent hours on your feet. At least let me buy you dinner.”

“Are you sure?”

“Chloe, trust me, it’s fine.”

They ended up in the sort of establishment that catered to both their dietary needs. It was nothing extravagant but filled his growling stomach, watching as she ate something called pasta. She had to be careful otherwise it would have made a mess, meeting his eyes more than once and giggling as she made a few noises as she slurped long strings of pasta into her mouth.

Dinner complete, he thought they’d head out to the Presidium or perhaps a bar on the Wards, but she grabbed his hand and led him with some determination in the direction of her apartment. Once inside, she kicked off her shoes and practically pushed him back towards the couch, sitting him down as she straddled his lap. She had learned that kissing a turian, as a human, was difficult. What they’d discovered was touching their foreheads was a sign of intimacy. Looking into his eyes, he could see the love she had for him, as much as he had for her. She did eventually kiss down his cheek as his hands ran down her back, eventually finding the zip for the back of her suit. She wore a rather lacy black bra, helping her take of her trousers as well, pleased to see the underwear was matching.

“You told me you would be returning today so I wore it for you,” she whispered as his hands explored her body.

“And here I am in… whatever I’m wearing.”

“You always look good to me, Garrus.”

He still couldn’t understand what she saw in him. Not as a man or a person, as he liked to think he had decent qualities, but human turian relations were… difficult at times. Human females were soft and delicate, or at least a lot of them were. Turians were anything but that. However, she was attracted to him, and he was definitely attracted to her. He particularly loved her accent, turning off his translator whenever she spoke in her regional dialect. She was from a place called France, often speaking at length about her homeland, suggesting more than once that they really should visit a city called Paris.

With her half naked as she sat on him, he was always going to have a reaction, and when she got down between his legs and freed his cock, he couldn’t help but gasp when she swallowed his length. “Spirits,” he whispered as he looked down, her eyes showing nothing but devotion towards him. She pleasured him for quite a while before he wanted to return the favour. He couldn’t quite do what humans called cunnilingus. What he couldn’t quite do with his mouth, he could do with his fingers, albeit gently.

Standing up, he led her by the hand to her bedroom, where they both ended up quite naked. He always felt awkward naked, particularly in front of Chloe. It wasn’t that he felt unattractive, it’s just his body was so different to hers. But when she stepped forward and ran her soft hands all over him, he felt himself relax. “I love you,” he whispered.

She stood on tip toes to kiss him on the mouth. “And I love you, Garrus Vakarian,” she whispered back.

Leading him to the bed, she lay back, head on the pillows, as she spread her legs. He could only sit on his knees and appreciate her perfect body. Rather pale, though he was one to talk. Two perfect globes on her chest with pale pink nipples. Soft stomach than he loves to run his hands over. A small tuft of hair above her pussy, which glistened in the low light provided. Even her little feet were beautiful.

“I love it when you look at me like that, Garrus.”

“Still have to pinch myself that I’m here like this with you.”

She sat up and pulled him towards her, feeling his cock press against before slowly entering her. Once he was buried, he felt her legs wrap around him as they made love. He would admit that, after all the attention he’d received earlier, he didn’t last long the first time. Chloe certainly didn’t mind, her hands simply running all over his hard body before he flipped over onto his back, and he had the joy of watching her ride his cock to at least a couple of orgasms, switching off his translator as he listened to her speak in her own tongue.

Sex was very different with a human or so he thought. When she leaned forward and rested her head against his, she whispered, “Fuck me, Garrus. Make me yours again.”

Adjusting her legs, grabbing her arse with both hands, he gave her what she wanted. He loved watching her face as he thrust up into her. He sometimes wondered if he ever hurt her. He wouldn’t have lived with himself had he done that. But the smile every time told him what he needed to know. She loved it. She loved him. She loved being with him. Those feelings were returned and more.

He came inside her again, and that was the end of the night, as far as he was concerned. Sure, he’d get hard again, but they’d never get any sleep. So she grabbed his hand and led him to the bathroom, where he had the joy of washing her body, enjoying the touch of her soft skin. She giggled as he always marvelled at her body, and she always showed as much appreciation for his in return.

Ending up back in bed, snuggling under the covers, she spooned back into his body. He was always careful like that, make sure his hard body didn’t bother her too much. She’d always insisted he hold her tighter, that she just wanted his arms around her. He still didn’t understand, despite how much he loved her.

“We will make love in the morning before I go to work?”

“Of course.”

“And your plans while you’re here?”

“Apart from bother you all the time?”

“If I could take time off…”

“I wouldn’t expect you to, Chloe. What you do is incredibly important.”

“Maybe a blowjob before we make love. Definitely a blowjob.”

He couldn’t help chuckle. “Sounds like a fine way to be woken up in the morning.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

He felt her quickly drift off to sleep, body shuffling against his as she got comfortable. He stayed awake a little longer, wishing he could pinch some skin, still not believing how lucky he was.

Chapter Text

“It’s a piece of shit, Shepard, but thanks for doing it for me,” the big krogan rumbled. I just slapped him on the back.

“No worries, Wrex. Glad to help you out. What will you do with it?”

“The armour? Nothing but a memento of times past. But I’ve been thinking after all our chats, and though you’re centuries younger than me, I’ll ask for your advice. My people… They need help and as I’m out here, helping you, and apparently solving half of the galaxies problems, I’m wondering if it isn’t time to go home and finally do something.”

“You have a strength in your I’ve rarely seen, Wrex. Do you believe you could unite your people?”

“All I can do is try. But being around you lot, seeing how you are changing things, or resolving old issues, it’s got me thinking at least.”

“Well, not sure if it means anything, but you have my support.”

I noticed the smile, if krogan did smile, appear. “Thank, Shepard. Means a lot coming from anyone other than a non-krogan. Not used to people giving a shit about our problems.”

“Don’t know about other krogan, Wrex, but I do believe in honour. Not sure what you’ve done over the years, maybe you’ve done some shit to survive, but you’ve stuck by my side ever since you stepped foot on this ship. So, as far as I’m concerned, you’ve had my back, so I’ll have yours in the future.”

“Keep this up, Shepard, I’m going to cry.” He said it in such a tone, we both started to laugh, almost falling over when he smacked me on the upper arm.

Leaning back against the bench, I crossed my arms and relaxed, as I wanted to broach another subject on my mind. “Tell me to butt out if you wish, Wrex, but I do have another question or two, of a more personal nature.”

“You’re the CO, Shepard. Ask whatever you want.”

“Okay, fair enough. What’s the deal with Ashley and Tali? Merely curious, that’s all.”

The big krogan rumbled with laughter. “Figured you would ask eventually. Okay, I’ll put it simply regarding Ashley. She’s horny, Shepard. I mean, she’s down to fuck. And since you were giving her signals but didn’t follow through, she went looking elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, she really likes you but, given the mixed signals, she simply wanted to be fucked and I guess I was the next best thing.”

I couldn’t help sigh. “It’s not mixed signals, Wrex. I like her but… I don’t want to mix work and pleasure. Being intimate with Shiala hasn’t created too many issues but we haven’t been together since before Noveria. I know Liara is ever so keen and Benezia is now showing an interest too, though I’m sure she has rather different motives than others.”

“I’m not one to tell you what to do, Shepard, but trust me on this. Ashley wants to be fucked, and she definitely wants to be fucked by you. Yes, I’ve been with her but I was a… stopgap… simply a dick for her to enjoy.”

“Selling yourself short there, Wrex.”

“I’m a realist, Shepard. I’m krogan, she’s human. No human is going to look at a krogan as a potential romantic partner, never mind some sort of mate. Don’t think that’s possible anyway. No, she was with me as a way to let off some steam. Don’t get me wrong, enjoyed every second. Human females definitely have some qualities any species of male can enjoy.”

“What about Tali?”

Wrex remained surprisingly quiet for a while. “I like her a lot, Shepard. She’s fucking adorable. Part of me just wants to hide her away from all the evil and cruelties of the galaxy. She’s my little friend, and I’d do anything to protect her.” I couldn’t help meet his eyes, nodding at the sincerity in his voice. I had seen the bond they’d already built. Then he smirked. “I will admit that there is this carnal part of me, that every krogan has, that simply wants to rip off that suit of hers and ruin her. I’ve already warned her about that, the fact I would hurt her, and most of me would feel awful about it. There’s that small part, one or two percent, that wants to throw her down and just ruin that pussy. But I could never do it. You do realise she’s a virgin, right?” I nodded. “And she’s crazy about you, Shepard. And the reason she comes to me is that she is completely and utterly sexually repressed being in that suit. It’s why she’s come to me and it’s why she’s looking at Ashley as a potential partner.”

“Wait, what? Ashley? I didn’t even think…”

“No idea if they are or not, but Tali has definitely shown as interest in Ashley, and she’s certainly told Tali what she thinks of her. Honestly, once Tali is out of that suit of hers, and I think it’ll happen soon, I believe Ashley will be having first go at that pussy. Good for both of them, I say.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “I understand now what Garrus was talking about when going on about the relationships in this ship. So what about you and Alenko?”

“Look, you’ve obviously realised by now I like to fuck, Shepard, and I’ll fuck anyone. I’m too old to give a shit. But I also don’t do feelings. Once the other person gets those, I end it. I’m not sure he has feelings, but I think he has expectations I’m simply not willing to meet. I think he needs to find one of his own kind to have a proper relationship with.”

I ran a hand down my face at the revelations. “You understand why I keep my distance right? Shiala wasn’t a mistake, but I gave into temptation very easy regarding her. I think it was the connection from Feros. But Liara, Ashley, Tali, even Benezia… I keep my work and private life separate. You obviously know about the women I’ve been with otherwise as I haven’t kept it a secret…”

“You really liked that cop on Noveria, didn’t you?”

I couldn’t help sigh. “It was probably for the best we left when we did, Wrex, otherwise we would never have left. But even with her, I still though about…”

“You’ve got to let her go, Shepard.” I met his eyes again. He simply met mine before adding, “Trust me on this, Shepard. Lived a long time. You’ve carried it around for long enough. You need to let the anger, pain, hurt, everything, just let it go. Otherwise it’s just going to eat you up eventually, and you’re going to miss out on so many good things. You have a whole host of women that adore you, and they expect nothing else except your company. That cop on Noveria? I know for a fact she loves you already. Shiala? I reckon she feels the same as well. As for all the other woman, let’s just say I don’t stand a chance if you were to actually return their interest.”

“Wise words, Wrex.”

“I’m a krogan, Shepard. We’ve dealt with nothing but anger and pain for a thousand years. But because of that, we can’t afford what we would now call ‘weak’ emotions, things like love. We don’t make love or anything like that. We breed, simply because we have to do everything we can to keep our numbers at least level. That’s what the genophage has done to us.” Then he sighed. “Shepard, I’ve been a warrior all my life, like my father before me. Yet there was a time when we krogan did experience such things as joy, laughter, love… The genophage took all of that from us. They’ve ripped out everything that made us krogan. Those left are nothing but shells, now fighting over the shattered carcass of what we once were.” Damn, his words really got to me, not able to meet his eyes, his own voice heavy with emotion. I felt one of his hands grip my shoulder. “And I appreciate the fact my words impact you as they have, my friend. The fact you care means the world to someone like myself.”

“What can I do to help?”

“At the moment, absolutely nothing. No-one cares, Shepard. If we were to wither and die, there would be a news report about our demise, but it would appear memories are long and no-one is even close to considering an end to the genophage.” He sighed again. “Quite frankly, what was done to us was far crueller than simply just wiping us all out and ending it at the beginning.”

I didn’t say anything for a few minutes, going over in my head everything he’d just told me, before I finally straightened and turned to him. “I give you my word as an Alliance soldier, a Council Spectre, but most importantly as a human, I’ll do whatever I can to help Wrex, if you do what you think you should do.”

“You mean going home?” I nodded. “I haven’t been back to Tuchanka in a long time now. Barely remember what it looks like. Last time I was there, it was nothing but ruins. Probably looks the same even after all this time.”

“Let’s see what happens regarding Saren. Once we take the bastard down…”

“I’ll keep thinking about it, Shepard. See if I can make some contacts and if I still have some allies worth my time and day. If so, then maybe, just maybe, returning to Tuchanka is the right thing to do.”

I left him alone with his thoughts, heading over to Garrus for a quick chat. He’d been in a good mood after boarding the Normandy after our last stop on the Citadel. I knew all about his relationship with Chloe, but knowing how awkward he could be about anything too personal, I didn’t ask him bluntly about it, simply making sure he’d enjoyed himself on the Citadel.

After a chat with him, I thought I’d head into engineering, checking in with Chief Adams, who always appreciated the fact I’d take the time to walk around the ship and chat with the crew, reporting in that everything was absolutely fine as always, and if anything even went momentarily wrong, he had the crew to deal with it.

I could see Tali glancing my way every so often, so I thought I’d have a quick chat with her as always. She was busy typing away at her workstation as I leaned back nearby. She glanced up at me for a moment, figuring she smiled, before concentrating on her work again.

“So I understand you want to have some fun with Ashley?” The fingers immediately froze, which did amuse me a little bit. “I mean, I can understand why, Tali. Ash is an attractive woman. But where does Wrex fit in all of this?”

“Keelah, I thought…”

“Tali, I’m certainly not judging. Do what you want. You’re only young once.”

“It’s not just that, Shepard.” She looked up, her eyes behind the mask meeting mine. “And you know what I mean.”

“In more ways than one, Tali. So… Ashley, are you serious about it?” I had a feeling she was blushing, as the nod was rather shy. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

That made her head turn, definitely in surprise. “You’re serious?”

“If you wish to be intimate with her, knowing the difficulties you face, I want to help.”

She sighed. “Damn it, Shepard, this is why I’d love you to be my first too.”

“And while part of me would like that, as I’ve explained, I keep ship life and personal life separate. I’ve done a lot of flirting with Ashley, and trust me on this, part of me would love to pin her down and just fuck her…”

“Why don’t you then?”

It was a good question. “It would change our dynamic, particularly unconsciously. Look, I like Ashley a lot. She’s absolutely gorgeous, everything I could wish for in a fellow soldier, and she’s just lovely to be around. As for you, Tali, I don’t think anyone on this vessel has a bad word to say about you. I love having you on here, but much like Ashley, I don’t want to ruin the relationship we already have by including sex in it. Sex is great, can be wonderful, but once you involve that sort of intimacy, it can ruin things. I need to have distance, mostly for myself.”

She reached out and grabbed my hand. “I understand, Shepard. Thank you for explaining.” She paused before asking, “The only one I question is Liara. What about her?”

“Same as you and Ashley.”

“And her mother?”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “Noticed the change in attitude, have you? Yeah, not sure about that, but she’s stuck here for the duration, so I’ll see what happens.” I gave her hand a squeeze. “How can I help you with Ashley?” I asked quietly, “I want you to experience the intimacy that can be shared with someone else.”

“I need a clean room, Shepard. Something completely sterile. I can do things for myself beforehand, but to take off my suit, I need to be somewhere no germs can attack me.”

“What about the Citadel? Can anywhere cater to your needs there?”

“I’m sure there are plenty of places but most won’t deal with quarians.”

“So I’ll sort it out for you.”

She did a double take again. “You’re serious? You’ll do that for us?”

“I want you to enjoy yourself, Tali, and you’ve made it clear you fancy Ashley, and I think you’ve also made it clear that she fancies you in return.”

“I do, and she does,” Tali whispered.

“Well, then I’m only doing a good thing by helping out. So I’ll start looking and sending messages, and will let you know where you can go next time we’re on the Citadel.”

“Would you like to join us? You can just watch and, if you’re interest…”

“I’ll think about it, but I do that, I’ll end up with both of you.”

Tali giggled. “I don’t think either of us will complain about that, Shepard.”

Laughing to myself, I headed out and back up to the mess, noticing Alenko and Ashley chatting away as they enjoyed a coffee break. Chakwas was deep in conversation with Benezia, Liara likely in her office to the rear. As everyone was busy and I didn’t want to bother anyone, I headed back to my quarters, opening up my personal workstation. Flicking through the messages, I felt he smile form immediately as I noticed one arrive from someone on Noveria. Opening the message, it wasn’t long but it was enough to make me probably grin like a love-struck fool. I didn’t waste any time responding, writing quite a lengthy message before I replied back. All I did know is that I missed her terribly, and despite my hopes, it would be unlikely I’d return any time soon.

Gianna wasn’t the only one to send me a message. Natasha Ross sent me the occasional email, apparently happy working with the Alliance in one of their sub-divisions. Couldn’t tell me what she was up to, but she was forever thankful for the letter of recommendation I’d given her. Emily was always asking about when I’d next be on the Citadel, eager to meet up. And Helena had sent me one message, simply thanking me for believing in her. Not sure what she was doing now, but she was glad to have moved on with her life.

Lying back on my bed after joining everyone else for dinner earlier, I found my mind going over what Wrex has said earlier. I guess I could just give into desire and fuck every woman on the ship who wanted me, but I was sure that would affect how the ship would otherwise operate. And it wasn’t that I didn’t trust them. I honestly didn’t trust myself. I could be their friend, their confidant, but their lover? I just felt that was too big a leap. I’d slept with Shiala a couple of times but hadn’t done so at all recently, and she was already aware that I was putting distance between us. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked her but… It was best for both of us. So I thought…


We were in orbit around a planet by the name of Nepheron. The Alliance had put in hours upon hours of investigative work into the leads Admiral Kohaku had found, and they’d come up with this planet. Whether this was the central base of operations for Cerberus or not, I wasn’t sure. All I did know is that the Alliance was adamant Cerberus did have an operations base on the planet, and I had absolutely control over what to do with it. Far as I was concerned, I was going to slaughter everyone inside then blow it up.

Everyone was on the ground for this one, and they all had their orders. No prisoners. No surrender. Anyone wearing a Cerberus symbol was a target. Floating in orbit, we could see there was nothing redeeming about the planet below us. Little wonder Cerberus had built such a base on it. No chance of any colonists showing up, messing up whatever they planned.

“Any last orders, Commander?” Alenko asked before we boarded the Mako.

“To be honest, no. You all know your jobs and requirements. Do not hesitate putting anyone you see in that uniform down. I don’t care if they are armed or not. Anyone disagree with that?” I looked across them all. Everyone met my eyes and nodded. “Good. That’s what I like to see. Load up, Joker will give us the call soon.”

We landed on Nepheron a couple of minutes later, immediately putting the Mako into drive. We’d located the facility during one of our sweeps. We had no doubt that Cerberus knew we were coming, and we would have known, and seen, if they’d tried to escape. Cresting a large hill, the Cerberus facility appeared ahead. It was enormous, and clearly a major hub of their operations. Quite frankly, the only thing missing was a vessel at what looked like a starport.

“Garrus, start firing at anything that looks like it’ll blow up. Once we’re in position, the rest of us will exit and start shooting. Remember, no prisoners.”

“Aye, sir,” or “Yes, Shepard,” echoed in the Mako.

Garrus was having a great time, firing the cannon at things that exploded, the machine gun working overtime as he shot anything capable of running or retuning fire. Once I figured we were close enough, I brought the Mako to a halt and ordered everyone to get out. There were no particular orders except not to get dead. I simply raised my assault rifle and looked for my first kill. Within seconds, my assault rifle was firing, finding one, two, then three targets in quick succession. Cerberus was dug in and ready for our assault. But they didn’t expect a trio of asari, as even Benezia was on the ground with us, trusting her to join us for this at least, while no-one expected a big, angry krogan. I laughed away as I noticed him haul one Cerberus soldier out of cover and practically slam him into the ground over and over. No-one dared approach Wrex until Tali cautiously approached, suggested there were others to kill. Wrex simply laughed, dropped the body, and ran towards his next victim.

It took a while to wipe out the opposition above ground, and by the time we were done, fires had broken out everywhere, alarms continued to ring, and there was no doubt Cerberus knew we were there. We found the entrance into the facility below ground, Tali managed to hack and open the large gate. Soon as it opened, we came under fire from those inside. That’s when those with tech ability and biotics proved their worth, while Ashley and I simply hurled a few grenades forward. After plenty of detonations, the lights now flickering, I led the way, remaining cautious, putting bullets into anyone who somehow survived.

Making it to what I assume was the main door leading into the facility, I called Alenko forward. “Remember the plan, LT?”

“Aye, Commander.”

“Take your team, move right. Clear each room. Run into difficulty, call it in, we’ll come running, but from everyone we’ve learned, this place is huge and will need two teams to sweep it clean.”

“At your go, Commander.”

Opening the door, I led the way in, the lights having been dimmed, emergency lighting now having taken effect. That didn’t both any of us, gesturing for Alenko to move with his team, as I took my team to the left. We were methodical and cautious, clearing out each room we found. Some were empty, others had either people which we shot, or databases and workstations we could hack. I’m sure we shot some people who could be considered ‘innocents’, but as far as I was concerned, if you were within the base, you were an enemy combatant. I’d seen what Cerberus has already done.

Despite all the bodies we left above ground, Cerberus did put up a fight, eventually sending plenty of people forward, the corridors turning into a bloodbath. Explosions rocked the facility, the gunfire was incessant, near deafening at times. And the screams as troops fell to the ground, trying to stem the bleeding or keep their guts from spilling out. As we moved forward, I wasn’t the only one to execute those that were still alive before moving to the next room or corridor. More than once, I heard the shotgun of Tali behind me explode, while Benezia took joy in using her biotics in doing rather unspeakable things to those who wore that symbol. At any other time, I’d have said something, but when it came to Cerberus, after everything we’d learned and discovered, I found myself not caring one little bit.

I had been hoping to discover someone in charge, but while we killed a lot of their soldiers and scientist, either the person in charge had escaped or they’d been killed during our assault. Entering what I assumed was their main chamber, they made their last stand. That’s when we took a few hits, as they threw everything at us. All we did was launch grenades, tech and biotic attacks, while Wrex seemed to simply psyche himself up then simply charge forward. Watching an enormous krogan smash through their barrier and start flinging people around is amusing until you realise their fire turned form you to him. Basically, he was the perfect distraction at that moment, and we started to mow them down.

Only when I approached him and murder remained in his eyes was I concerned. He turned and grabbed me by the throat, the look in his eyes suggesting he had forgotten who I was. I didn’t do anything for a moment and didn’t say a thing as I knew it wouldn’t do anything. He’d told me all he was experiencing. I felt his hands squeeze my throat. All I did was reach forward and place a hand on his shoulder. It took a few seconds, but that seemed to calm him down. A second hand on his shoulder, this one from Tali, calmed him further.

“It’s okay, Wrex,” Tali said quietly.

“Huh?” Wrex asked, shaking his head.

“It’s us, Wrex. You’re…. um, holding… Shepard.”

Wrex looked at me and immediately removed his hand from my throat. “Oh…”

I merely clasped his shoulder tighter. “You okay, my friend?”

“Oh, I’m fine, but… Shepard…”

“Don’t worry. You told me it happens sometimes. I’m still alive, that’s what matters. And you did good, Wrex. Cleared out a lot of these bastards.”

“That blood rage is a bitch sometimes.” Then he turned to Tali and gave her a hug. “Thank you, little one.”

“Didn’t want you choking Shepard to death,” she retorted with humour, Wrex rumbling with laughter as the three of us walked towards the others.

Bodies lay everywhere. Plenty of those wearing armour, but quite a few that wore lab coats. We searched them for evidence as Tali and Alenko approached what appeared to be a massive computer. As I watched everything, I heard Tali shout out. “Shepard, they’re deleting everything!”

“Get whatever the fuck you can, Tali!”

“Alenko, help me!” Tali cried. The two of them took a workstation each, their fingers working overtime as they tried to capture whatever it was that Cerberus was up to. I hoped we could gain enough information to figure out what they were doing, who led them, what they were hoping to achieve. The concern I had was even the Alliance didn’t seem to know much about them. Labelled them a terrorist organisation, they’d been behind a few things that had made the news, but apart from that, they knew very little.

The pair of them saved what they could but when the countdown timer started, that’s when I suggested we get the hell out of there. We all ran for the entrance, hearing the time count down from sixty, fifty, forty, thirty, twenty. It was down to ten by the time we all ran out of the entrance, gathering near the Mako as the ground started to rumble, hearing explosions beneath our feet. We quickly boarded the Mako, some simply clambering onto the roof or side as I floored it. The ground didn’t exactly disappear beneath our feet but I wasn’t prepared to take that chance, eventually driving up a hill and coming to a stop, all of us gathering together as we looked down upon the now destroyed Cerberus facility.

“Reckon that’s the end of them?” Ashley wondered.

“Doubt it,” I muttered, “Anyone know their mythology? Know who or what Cerberus was?” No-one answered. “I’ll put it simply. Cerberus was known as the hound of Hades, a multi-headed dog that guarded the gates of the Underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. Got to love Ancient Greek mythology.”

“So then if this was one of their operations, there would be at least a few more?” Garrus asked.

“Bingo, Garrus. I reckon this was but one arm of what they were doing. We’ve put a dent into whatever they were trying to achieve here, but there are at least two more heads to kill. We just need to find them.”

Calling in the Normandy, we were picked up a few minutes later, and I ordered Joker to take us to the nearest relay, ready for the next mission. As we were making our way, I received a communication from someone I simply didn’t expect to hear from. Apparently Kohaku had made some contacts during his investigation into Cerberus, including the Shadow Broker. He was the one now trying communicate with me, asking Joker to patch it through. After he explained everything to me, he asked I was willing to forward everything we’d discovered on Nepheron to him.

“What do I get out of it?” I wondered.

The assistance of a valuable ally should run into trouble further down the line, Commander. You have little idea of my reach. Don’t hand the data over, I will find it eventually. But had it over now, and consider yourself to be in the favour of the Shadow Broker. Make of that what you wish.”

“Fuck it, you know what? Have the data. I don’t really give a shit. I’ll ask my colleagues to send it to you as soon as possible.”

“Thank you, Shepard. Expect to see some credits in your account within the next solar day. I will also ask all of my associates, most of who you won’t know, to assist you in regards to your mission regarding the rogue Spectre Saren. I wish you well in your attempt to take him down.

And, with those final words, the communication link was cut. I had a feeling that wouldn’t be the last time I had dealings with the Shadow Broker, but for now, I liked to think things were slightly in my favour.


“Oh fuck,” Kaidan moaned. Wrex was being his usual self, not gentle at all. They’d been fucking for a while by now so the end was near at least.

“Not long,” Wrex grunted.

Kaidan could only lean down against the table and wait for it to be over. It might sound like he wasn’t enjoying it. He was, but Wrex lasted a long time and there’s only so much the human body can take before it cries enough. The big krogan finally buried himself a final time, causing Kaidan to yelp, feeling him fill up before the krogan seemed to relax behind him. Then, as the krogan withdrew, he felt disappointed as he was suddenly empty.

“I’ll admit, I do still enjoy this,” Wrex mumbled as he took a few steps back to lean against the wall.

Kaidan didn’t move, not trusting his body for the moment. “Still having second thoughts?” The krogan remained silent. That gave Kaidan his answer, though he wasn’t going to make a big deal about it. “Wrex, I’m not going to cry or get upset about it. We’ve had fun but if you want to stop, then we’ll stop.”

“Despite what we just did?”

He couldn’t help chuckle. “Consider it a last hurrah.” He turned his head to see Wrex behind him. “Plus, I know you’ve been with others and can understand…”

Wrex shook his head. “No, that’s not important and not the reason why. You know why I’m… reconsidering…” Wrex walked forward, grabbing a pair of chairs to sit down, his massive cock dangling between his legs. “Look, Kaidan, you’re a sweet guy, even I can tell that. But while you’re getting your rocks off with me, you should be out there looking for someone to love. And I’ll put this as bluntly as possible. I’m not it. I love to fuck, and fucking you is a lot of fun, but it’s not going to go anywhere. Trust me, find someone to love, whether it’s your own species or, I don’t know, turian or… whoever you find yourself attracted to.”

Kaidan nodded in understanding. “Last hurrah then, Wrex. But it’s been fun.”

The big krogan stood up started to dress himself. “Well, I can honestly say human men and women are a lot of fun to be physical with, at least. Never thought that would happen when joining up.”

Kaidan just sat on the desk, wincing slightly. “And I never thought I’d end up being fucked by an enormous krogan.”

Wrex chuckled. “Hell, you, Ashley and Shepard have proven to be rather open-minded when it comes to the sex with aliens thing.” Kaidan watched him approach, laying a hand on his shoulder. “But this is for the best. Find someone that you can love and also be intimate with.”

“And if I can’t?”

“Then you can call me.”

It was said in such a tone, Kaidan couldn’t help but laugh. “Thanks, Wrex. I might just do that someday for old times’ sake.”

Wrex wandered out of the room, leaving Kaidan alone for a while. All he did was lie back and let the dull ache subside. Sex was always good but, well, Wrex being as large as he was, no matter what they did, it was going to hurt. A good sort of hurt, but there was always residual pain afterwards.

“Going to dress or what, LT?” Kaidan couldn’t help but cringe as he looked up, noticing Shepard at the door. He went to cover himself, still naked on the table. “Swear to god, I’m just going to rename this as the ‘sex room’. Everyone seems to like fucking in here.”

He was surprised Shepard didn’t seem bothered about his nudity, so stopped covering himself up. He noticed Shepard smirk. “Trust me, LT, you get used to seeing everything. Comfortable in my own sexuality so I’m not making a big deal out of it.”

Chuckling, he asked, “Did you actually need something, Shepard? Or just here to shoot the shit while I sit here naked and feeling rather awkward about it?”

“I’ve received an assignment that I need your help with. Just come through so it’s still fresh in my mind. Ever heard of Major Kyle?”

“Name rings a bell. Something about Torfan?”

“Bingo. He was the CO there. Saw a lot of shit go down. Apparently suffering PTSD, but apart from his discharge, he apparently had next to no help. Started a biotic commune, and all seemed well. Alliance sent two officers to chat with him a few days back. Haven’t been heard from since. Hackett wants me to go in and talk to him. Figured taking a couple of biotics along would help.”

“You referencing my time at BAaT, sir?”

“That’s exactly what I’m going on about. All I want to do is end it peacefully.”

“You think the two officers are dead?” Shepard nodded. “Shit, alright, let me get dressed and we can discuss this further.” He couldn’t help chuckle though. “I know you’ve done this just to make me feel awkward.”

“Yep, you’re right there,” Shepard retorted before he wandered out.

Kaidan dressed but he really needed a shower first as he was rather hot, sweaty and sticky after his exertions, so after he’d had a nice clean, he found Shepard in the mess, going over the details of what the former Major Kyle had apparently been up to. He didn’t know they were already on their way, Shepard suggesting they’d be in orbit outside the planet the next day.

Loading into the Mako for the usual drop, only Shiala and Liara were alongside him, Shepard only bringing biotics for the mission, the only reason he was going is that he was in charge. He’d already told him in confidence that, if he had his choice, he would have let Alenko deal with it himself. He couldn’t help smile at the trust that showed in him.

Shepard didn’t have anyone take the gun as the team landed, not expecting any sort of resistance when they arrived. Major Kyle wouldn’t have known they were coming but he certainly wouldn’t go picking a fight. Shepard had already talked about trying to reason with him, talk him into coming back for treatment, suggesting it was the clearest case of PTSD he’d ever seen. “God knows what the poor bastard saw on Torfan,” he’d stated, “The sort of shit that stays on your soul and conscience for your life. The Alliance did the right thing giving him an honourable discharge and early retirement, but let him down by not immediately giving him the treatment he obviously needs.

“What about these other biotics?” Alenko asked.

“I can’t claim to understand how they feel. Well, slightly, I guess. Grew up the streets, no-one gives a shit about you, more inclined to spit at rather than help you. But I can admit that biotics have probably had it a whole lot worse. You’ve told me enough about yourself, LT.”

“Some stuff I certainly don’t need remembering…”

We landed far enough away from the sanctuary that it took a few minutes to drive there. From what we could see, it may have once been a mining complex, since abandoned. Shepard doubted that Kyle had the money nor resources to get something this large off the ground. They looked self-sufficient enough from the outside. Before getting out of the Mako, Shepard ordered everyone to remain unarmed. Alenko certainly thought that was a good idea. Four people armed with weapons was bound to send the wrong signal.

It was no surprise that Shepard managed to talk his way into the building, using reason instead of threats. Alenko could see that even Shepard understood these people were no threat. They were scared, possibly abused, and saw Kyle as some sort of protector.

Once inside, the place was full of young people, most of them looking their way and he could see the fear on their faces. It made him feel guilty, at least for a moment. Shepard strode forward slowly, ensuring he didn’t give anyone a fright. One or two did approach, asking why they were there. Shepard said that they were simply there to speak with Major Kyle. From what Alenko heard, it was obvious that Kyle cared for them as much as they cared for him. This could be tricky if things went pear-shaped…

The four of them eventually found Kyle in a room with only a couple of biotics as guards. He didn’t seem all that surprised to see them. He recognised Shepard on appearance, immediately wondering why he was there, and was definitely wondering why he’d brought two asari along.

“We have no quarrel with you, Commander. Why can’t you and the Alliance just leave us alone?” Kyle finally asked after going on a long speech about what he was trying to achieve.

When Shepard asked about the previous two officers, that seemed to rile up Kyle even more, and the words he used suggested that he’d well and truly gone off the deep end, using religious terms such as ‘blasphemy’, though Alenko could see where he was coming from when he described those who followed him as ‘his family’ and that he did what he had to for the protection of ‘his children’.

“Do you understand who these people are, Commander?” Kyle finally asked.

“No. Who are they?”

“Ever heard of BAaT?”

“Are you saying these people are from Jump Zero?” Kaidan asked.

Kyle looked at him. “You are?”

“Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko, sir. I was once at BAaT.”

He heard one of the guards whisper his name. Kyle nodded in understanding. “Michael, grab the others. Grab them all. The Commander will soon understand.”

“Understand what?”

“You will see, Commander. Has Lieutenant Alenko told you all there is to know about what happened at Jump Zero?”

Shepard looked at Kaidan. He returned his look. “I know it was bad, but was it…”

“People died, Shepard. Kids died. It was only when we fought back that things changed and they shut the program down.”

“Holy shit. Really?”

“Ends justified the mean. No-one knew anything about biotics. Any human that showed potential was shipped out there and pushed to the absolute limit, to and beyond their breaking point.”

The two asari had taken seats on nearby crates, Shepard doing the same, as the room was soon filled with biotics. Alenko recognised more than one of them, and they recognised him, immediately approaching, hearing the whispers of his name, more than one calling him their saviour. He hadn’t been their saviour. He’d been a scared kid, who’d seen one of his best friends hurt, and he’d reacted. He certainly hadn’t meant to kill the turian, but when push came to shove…

“You recognise some of them, don’t you, Lieutenant Alenko?” He nodded. “They are not just survivors of BAaT, of course. The Alliance has sent biotics across the galaxy to learn what they are capable of. But back home, they are treated like vermin, people afraid of what they simply don’t understand. Here, under my guidance, they are safe, cared for, and will suffer no harm.”

“That’s all well and good, Major, but you still ordered your children to commit murder. The stain of the dead officers now rests on their conscience. Are you suggesting that you will make them live with that?”

“I cannot abandon them, Commander.”

“You won’t have to. I know of a colony that needs all the help they can get. They are isolated from the rest of the galaxy, and have just experienced their own difficulties. If your children wish for a peaceful life, then I can transport them there. But you must come in with us, Major. Someone must answer for what happened here. Your children are innocent. Let them continue to live their lives in that innocence.”

Kyle sighed. “What do you think, Lieutenant Alenko?”

He looked around, recognising some faces. Most of them were scared. Not of them. They were simply scared. He could feel the nerves flood in from around the room. “I look around this room, Major, and see the same frightened kids I was with not all that long ago. Most of us survived Jump Zero together.” He looked around, meeting their eyes. “I am sorry that your lives have not turned out like mine. I would have thought and hoped the Alliance would have stepped up to help. For that, I can only apologise. But if you come with the Commander and I right now, there is a colony where you will be at peace. Life will be difficult, but you will be isolated from the galaxy. This colony only needs your help. There will be no real questions of who you are, where you are from, what you have done. You will find friends there who will accept you for who you are.”

He looked back at Kyle, who nodded his agreement. “Very well, Lieutenant.” He clapped his hands. “My children, the time has come for us to part.” There were immediate calls for that not to happen. Kyle raised his hands for silence. “My children, please, listen to me!” Once he had silence, he continued. “What I asked you to do to those officers was wrong. But it is on my conscience those souls should rest, not yours. And I believe what Lieutenant Alenko has told us. Though we may part, you will now find a new home where you will thrive as people, away from the pain and the horrors of the galaxy. And if you stay together, you will live in peace and harmony for the rest of your days.”

“And you, Father? What will you do?” one of his children asked.

“I will face the consequences of my actions, child. But once I have paid the penalty, I will endeavour to re-join you. I give you my word on that.”

There were plenty of grumbles. More than one was unhappy. But no-one really wanted to fight. Shepard didn’t handcuff Kyle or do anything to upset or anger the group. He let Kyle say goodbye to them all before escorting him out. Once he had Kyle loaded into the Mako, the four gathered outside. “We’ll have to organise shuttles to pick them up and send them to Feros,” Shepard said.

“Will the Alliance do that?”

“I’m sure I’m owed a few favours. I’ll get in contact with Captain Anderson, explain everything we’ve found here, then simply leave them to it. Don’t particularly want to hang around and overstay our welcome.”

Shepard eventually found a couple of children who appeared to be the leaders outside of Kyle. He sat them down and explained what would happen. Kyle would go with us now, but we would organise transport for them. The people who collected them would not wear Alliance colours or symbols, and all that would happen is that they would be picked up and dropped off. Shepard left his contact details so, if anything else happened, they were to contact him immediately and we would come and sort it out.

Back on the Normandy, they let Kyle cool off in the brig, making sure he was comfortable. Shepard wandered in to speak with him every so often. The two hadn’t served together, but Shepard knew everything about Torfan. That is how he knew Kyle. Alenko didn’t know as much as Shepard, had plenty of questions of his own about the survivors from BAaT, but he was happy that they would now hopefully go on to lead peaceful lives.

He was sitting in the mess later that night by himself, nursing a can of beer. Shepard wandered out of his quarters, noticed him sitting alone, grabbing his own beer before sitting opposite him. “Want to talk about it?”

He looked up and met his eyes. “Lot to tell, Shepard.”

Shepard smirked. “Don’t call me that often, Kaidan.”

“Just a sign of respect, sir.” He sipped at his beer before sighing. “Shit, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

“Don’t curse often either.”

That made him chuckle. “What can I say? Just thinking about BAaT… It changes who you are, Shepard. You think it doesn’t. You think you can square it all away in your head, but it’s the sort of shit that stays with you for life. Particularly where it’s the place where you first killed a man. Or turian. Same thing.”

“How did it feel when you did it though?”

“Honestly? The word is righteous, Shepard. He was a bastard, and while I won’t say he deserved to die, he had it coming. He hurt those I cared about. I only wanted him to finally stop and see sense, but I guess when you’re backed into a corner, you learn what you are truly capable of.”

“Some of what you told me before, Kaidan. Horrifying doesn’t even begin…”

“I can almost forgive a lot of it simply because no-one had a clue what they were doing. But the Alliance should have at least asked the asari for help. They’re the most naturally gifted biotics in the galaxy. God, if we’d had a few of them to train us, BAaT would have been a massive success. Still operating now, I believe. Kids would come out fit, healthy and able to live with their condition.”

“Surprised you don’t have your own issues with the Alliance.”

“I still do from time to time, but as I said, I can forgive a lot simply because I can understand. We were diving into the unknown, much like those first pilots who went through the Mass Relays when we found them. We still don’t know everything about biotics, how it does effect the human body.”

“And Kyle, what do you think?”

“He’s clearly messed up from what happened on Torfan. He clearly needed those kids to save them. From the little I know about Torfan…”

“He lost nearly every soldier under his command.”

“Little wonder then he’s gathered all this ‘children’, desperate to save them this time.” He trailed off and shook his head. “God, I love serving but… Damn, the Alliance gets things wrong badly at times. I mean, no-one is perfect but they’ve really dropped the ball a few times.”

“All we can do is work to make it better, Kaidan.”

“It’s why I joined up, Shepard. I wanted to make a difference. I didn’t want another Jump Zero to happen.”

Shepard chugged his can, squashing it in his hand. “Good. Glad you’re doing okay.”

“Come out here to check on me, Shepard?”

“I figured you knew a few faces in the crowd.”

He nodded. “I did. Guess I ended up coming out of it a lot better than most of them.”

“Once I get word that they’re landed on Feros, I’ll see if Juliana or someone can get in contact, let you know how they’re getting on.”

“I’d like that, Shepard. Thanks.”

“No worries. Now, I’ve got shit to do. We’re heading to the Citadel as we’ve been on assignment for quite a while. While we’re there, we’ll hopefully find out our next move in regards to Saren.”

Shepard headed off and Alenko quietly sipped at his beer, a slight smirk on his face. The one thing Shepard probably didn’t know is that Alenko did recognise a few faces. And of those faces, let’s just say that he’d been intimate with more than one of them. But that was for him to know only. A man has to keep some secrets.

Chapter Text

We hadn’t been on the Citadel in quite some time. I’d been in contact with Anderson regarding our next move, and he suggested that I return to the Citadel so I could sit down with him to go through what we’d discovered. I had a feeling he knew more than he could share in his messages, and to be honest, I didn’t mind the idea of returning to the Citadel for a proper break. Sure, the crew had down time between planets, but they generally remained hard at work, and most rarely had the chance to leave the vessel. Whenever we were on the Citadel, the entire crew was given a chance to spend some time off the ship.

Once the ship had docked and we started to power down the main systems, the crew were eager to get off the ship. I didn’t blame them as anyone was bound to go a little crazy after so long on a ship. Even Joker, who I knew found difficulty moving at the best of times due to the brittle bones in his legs, was eager for some freedom.

I happily watched the entire crew depart as, once they all left, I’d simply lock the ship up until Alliance crew turned up to stock up our supplies and give the ship a good once over. We looked after it as best we could, but after weeks flying around space, the Normandy was in desperate need of some TLC. As the crew wandered towards the nearby stairs and elevators, I pulled Ash and Tali aside, waiting until we had privacy before talking to them.

Handing over a datapad, I explained. “I’ve booked you three nights at a hotel on the Presidium. Four star. Breakfast and dinner included, and this includes food that you can eat, Tali. Bedroom overlooking the lake. Enormous bathroom, probably the size of my cabin. And, most importantly, the hotel will include a portable decontamination unit so you girls can have some fun.”

Tali couldn’t say anything. All she did was hug me tightly. Glancing at Ashley, it was the first time I’d ever seen her close to tears, eventually needing to hug me too. “Shepard, you need to join us,” Tali murmured.

I couldn’t help the sigh. “Trust me, Tali. Part of me wants to but…”

“Shepard, neither of us will treat you any differently nor expect anything different,” Ashley added.

I shook my head. “It’s not how you will change, Ash. It’s me.”

She took a chance, and the soft kiss on my lips spoke volumes. After opening my eyes to meet hers, her eyes spoke even more. “Shepard, it’s time to stop denying what you want. We’re no longer on the ship. I can understand why you want to keep the barrier up while we’re flying around space. Tali does too.” She hadn’t let me go yet, though I wasn’t going to complain. “Shepard, I’m going to put this simply. You are more than welcome to join us the entire time…”

“Definitely,” Tali added quietly, looking up at me, noticing her eyes change behind the mask.

“Why don’t you two enjoy tonight alone first? I know you’ve wanted something like this for a while.”

Tali let me go and turned to Ashley, taking one of her hands. “I do want to be with you too, Ashley,” she said quietly, I think either nervous or perhaps even embarrassed admitting it in front of me.

“I’ve never been with a woman before,” Ashley confessed.

“Then it’s your first time together in more ways than one,” I stated, both of them looking at me. “Look, enjoy your time tonight together. If you still want to invite me along, send me a message tomorrow and I’ll join you then.”

That earned a hug from both of them. “I want you to fuck me so hard, Shepard,” Ashley whispered.

“I just want…” Ashley let me go to let Tali just hug me alone. “Ashley will be my first woman. You will definitely be my first man, Shepard.”

“Okay, it’s a date.” That made Ashley smile, and judging by her eyes, Tali smiled too. “I’ll make sure we do it properly. We’ll have dinner first, perhaps a few drinks, then we’ll have some fun together.”

I received one last hug and then they wandered off, hand in hand. I couldn’t help stand there and smile as it was clear they really liked each other. Once I was alone, I headed off in another direction, eventually ending up on one of the Wards, walking towards a building I remembered rather well. It was late enough where I figured she might be home, riding the lift to her floor and knocking on the door. When she opened it, she nearly dropped the glass she was holding, dragging me inside with her other hand, kicking the door shut with her foot before she hugged me.

“Holy shit!” she exclaimed quietly.

“Thought I’d pop by and see you, Emily.” She didn’t say anything, placing her glass on the nearby bar before wrapping both arms around me. I did the same, eventually lifting her up, feeling her legs wrap around me. “Missed me?” I asked. She leaned back to meet my eyes. I couldn’t help smile at the depth of feeling that greeted me. “I’ll take that as a yes then,” I stated before I kissed her.

“First we fuck. Had dinner?” I shook my head. “Okay, you’re definitely fucking me right now, Shepard. Then we can head out for dinner. Then… Head back here?”

“Why don’t we just order in?”

She laughed. “Even better. Barely have to leave the bedroom then.”

Carrying her into her bedroom wasn’t a problem. She definitely enjoyed taking her time undressing me. Her clothes may have disappeared slightly faster before we lay down on the bed. I spent plenty of time worshipping her body, not an inch of skin going untouched somehow. I think she almost enjoyed an orgasm just from the attention I showed to her breasts. Once I moved down to her pussy, she couldn’t hold it back any longer. If it had been later at night, the neighbours would have complained about the noise.

I ate her out until she simply had to ask me to stop, kissing back up her body until my eyes met hers, and I couldn’t help the smug smile that would have appeared. That just made her giggle. “Been a while, Shepard? You seemed to enjoy that.”

“I made a close friend on Noveria. Since then, I’ve been rather well behaved.”

“And your first thought when returning here was to see me?”

“Of course. We’ve kept in contact, we’re clearly attracted to each other, and I wanted to see you.”

“Okay, now we’re changing plans. Once you’ve fucked me, we’re definitely heading out. I want to be seen on a date with Commander Shepard… Do you mind?”

I couldn’t help chuckle again. “Not at all.” I leaned down to kiss her as I gently slid inside her, enjoying the gasp she made as I slowly buried my length. “But you did mention something about getting fucked, right?”

“Should I hold on tight, Shepard?” she asked, wrapping her arms around the back of my neck, feeling her move her legs so they were spread nice and wide.

“Can I admit I won’t last long? It’s been a few days.”

“Last time you remained hard after you came in me. I’m sure you’ll do it again.”

So that’s what happened. Emily Wong got seriously fucked over the next few minutes. She held on for dear life but seemed to love every second, even begging for more, harder, faster, deeper, with each passing minute. I was never going to last long doing that, especially when her eyes met mine. I loved it when women did that. Eye contact will always be sexy as fuck. And the way they breathe your name when you’re fucking. Add that to eye contact, and how it feels to be buried inside them, and an orgasm is guaranteed.

I came hard within a few minutes. There’s no shame in not lasting long. Sex doesn’t have to be a marathon. Plus, I was young enough where I could remain relatively hard, and what I’d learned over time is that women loved to ride my cock, or at least women that I’d been intimate with. Emily had no problem pushing me so I lay on my back, happily mounting me and quickly establishing a rhythm that made her rather happy.

“Jesus, Shepard, I don’t know what it is…” She trailed off and shuddered, “But it makes me want to cum.”

“Then cum a few times then we’ll head out for dinner.”

“I’ll be worn out by then!”

But she rode me hard and fast, definitely wanting to enjoy at least one orgasm. Her first one took a little time in arriving, but once she came once, the next two arrived rather quickly. After the third, I thought she might keep going until she simply collapsed, instead resting on my chest as she sucked in some deep breaths, simply running my fingers down her spine. Neither of us said anything, there wasn’t really any point. We’d definitely enjoyed what just occurred.

Getting up off me, she grabbed my hand and led me to her shower, where I particularly enjoyed washing every part of her body as we made out. She then surprised me by washing me down then getting down on her knees to blow me. “You didn’t cum again, Shepard,” she said. Those were the only words she said before swallowing my length and taking a load in the mouth a few minutes later. I could only lean back against the tiled wall as she stood up, a satisfied look on her face. “Should we get ready to head out?” she wondered, turning off the shower. I’m sure I stepped out with a goofy grin on my face.

Emily wanted nothing more than to hold my hand and perhaps lean into my body as we walked from her apartment. I had no idea what she planned, I’m not sure she had planned anything either. We eventually found a little corner restaurant, no more than half a dozen tables, that only had a few things on the menu. But it wasn’t the food or drink, or even the privacy as to why we ended up there. Sitting in the corner, the lighting low, she was utterly gorgeous, and I know I stared at her at times, enough that she was probably self-conscious from time to time. We made small talk the entire time, Emily understanding I couldn’t go into great detail about what I was up to, but I threw her a bone or two, simply as a favour.

After dinner, we continued to walk arm in arm, ending up at some sort of fancy bar, where the drinks were overpriced, the people behind the bar trained in the art of mixing drinks, and the clientele probably making more money in a month then I made in a year. We had one drink each before Emily was whispering in my ear about going home. I certainly wasn’t going to refuse that request.

Compared to the urgency of how we ended up in bed the first time, when we entered her apartment later, I think we wanted each other even more second time around but we definitely took our time. Once we ended up in her bedroom again, I can honestly say that we made love this time. It was so similar to my time with Gianna, it almost scared me at times. Emily certainly seemed to look at me differently this time, and when she was riding me, my hands caressing her body, and definitely her face or through her hair, I could see the depth of feeling in her eyes, or the way she kissed me. You can easily sense how one feels just through a kiss.

Though we could have made love all night, we eventually just lay together, Emily in my arms, simply enjoying the feeling of our bodies pressed together. She definitely seemed rather content with how things had developed. I’ll admit I liked being with her too. “Haven’t even asked you for a favour this time,” she joked.

“Well, when I’ve dealt with Saren, how about an exclusive interview?”

“You’re serious?”

“Sure.”

“God, networks will be falling over themselves to get an interview with you.”

“So? I don’t owe them anything. I’m willing to help you out for no other reason than you’ve always been fair, not only to me, but to all of us.”

“If we hadn’t done what we’d just done, I’d think you were just trying to get into my pants, Shepard.”

That made me laugh. “Well, if I can get into your pants after the interview…”

“I’ll be lucky to make it all the way through without wanting you to just pin me down and fuck me on camera.”

That was quite the thought, both of us chuckling away, before I felt her snuggle and relax against me, eventually falling asleep together. Though it would have been nice to spend the next couple of days together, she still had a job to do, but I promised we would spend each night I was on the Citadel together, so after we had breakfast, she headed out to her office, giving me the code to her front door so I could come and go as I pleased.

Remembering the invite I had from Ashley and Tali, I sent them a message, letting them know I would only be with Emily during my time on the Citadel. I was expecting them to be angry or upset with me, but surprisingly, Ashley replied quickly, stating she understood, but they would both be forever thankful to me for organising and making sure everything was paid for. I decided I should at least give them a call.

“Was the room okay?”

“Wonderful, Shepard. The views of the Presidium…”

“And did they treat you okay, Tali?”

“You must have given them warning, Shepard. I’ve never been treated so kindly.”

“And you girls had fun last night?”

“We recorded some of it for you, Shepard,” Ashley replied, “Let me tell you one thing. Tali is beautiful. I mean, like you wouldn’t believe.”

“And Ashley is already very good at eating my pussy, Shepard.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “I’m glad you girls enjoyed yourself.”

“We both still want you to fuck us, Shepard. But we understand if you’re busy at the moment,” Ashley said.

“Though I wouldn’t mind two more nights with you, Ash. Still have more exploration to do.”

“I just want those fingers inside me again, Tali. God, it felt good.”  

I heard a kiss before Tali whispered, “Well, I think we should hang up as my pussy needs your attention again, and I’ve definitely got to have another taste of you.”

“I’ll see you later, girls.”

Bye, Shepard,” their voices stated in unison before the line disconnected.

It was late by the time Emily returned. As exhausted as she appeared, I barely gave her a chance to sit down before I told her we should head out for dinner. It was better than either of trying to cook, as I was the type of guy who could burn cereal, so we headed out into one of the Wards, finding a restaurant that sold food that was supposed to be similar from her homeland. It was simple, fun and rather relaxing, sitting for a good few hours, eating and drinking, chatting about ourselves, our work, our past, our hopes and dreams. I think that surprised her, the fact I thought about the future, though I admitted that, most of the time, you just hope to see the next sunrise.

Returning to her apartment, we were both in a good mood, and although we probably desired more than ever, we certainly took our time undressing each other in her bedroom. She had me naked while she still had on her underwear, kissing down my chest before she sat on her knees, looking up as she grabbed my cock and proceeded to make love to it with her mouth.

“I have one question, Shepard.”

“Uh-huh…”

“Where?”

“I really don’t care, Emily. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”

I didn’t stop looking into her eyes, running a hand through her thick hair. Her eyes suggested she would be smiling if her mouth wasn’t full of my cock. I would have loved to return the favour at the same time, but to be honest, it was so good, I wouldn’t have been able to concentrate on her. So I simply enjoyed the attention, letting her know how good it felt, and how good it was. I think that would have made her smile even more… if her mouth wasn’t full of my cock.

“God, haven’t been blown like this in a while…”

She removed it for just a moment, resting it against her cheek. “I want your cum, Shepard.” I couldn’t help raise my eyebrows at the tone she used. “Once I’ve swallowed what you give me, I hope you’ll return the favour.”

“Definitely. Like I wouldn’t?”

Her mouth resumed pleasuring me and it wasn’t long before I had to warn her I was close. That just made her head bob up and down even faster, near enough gasping for air at the attention. My hold on her head tightened, feeling her free hand grab mine as I could feel the inevitable.

“Close, Emily…. So close…”

She squealed when the first blast filled her mouth, though she kept on bobbing away, feeling my balls empty themselves completely, my mind emptying of any and all thoughts as I felt nothing but a sense of relief. Even though I’d just cum hard, my cock remained rather erect, though Emily finally removed her mouth, quite happily remaining on her knees, looking up at me, now able to see her smile. She was beautiful…

“So you enjoyed it?” I couldn’t help chuckle as I helped her up and gave her a kiss. “I only do that for guys I really like, Shepard. Not the blowjob, I mean the swallowing. You must have a good diet.”

“Have to eat healthy,” I replied softly, caressing her cheek, “I think we should get you naked now.”

“And then what will you do?” she asked softly.

“What I really want to do, Ms. Wong, is eat your pussy all night.”

The smile those words earned made my heart flutter. “Nothing else? You don’t want…”

I leaned down close to her ear. “I love eating your pussy, Emily. All night, if you want.”

“God yes,” she breathed, “Though I think I’ll definitely have to suck your cock again for that.”

I chuckled as I agreed.

Laying her back on her bed, I took off her bra first and focused my attention on her upper body, complimenting her breasts by giving those plenty of attention. Kissing down her body, over her stomach and down to her panties, I inhaled her scent, and once I removed the thin piece of cloth, she immediately spread her legs to show how turned on she was. “That’s what you do to me,” she whispered.

I have no long how long I ate her out for. Didn’t count her orgasms, though I took my time to start off with, just enjoying the sounds she made, the movements of her body, the desire and lust in her eyes as she looked down at me. I teased her relentlessly, nearly bringing her to orgasm before frustrating her. She soon realised what I was doing, knowing I wanted to hear her beg for release. I didn’t make her wait too long, and once she had her first one…

She did end up sitting on my face later, simply grinding her pussy into my mouth, both her hands running through my hair. “How the hell are you single?” she wondered, before her face fell. “Shit, sorry…”

I lifted her up for a moment. “Nothing to apologise for. Being single means I can do this though.”

Once she had another orgasm riding my face, she flipped around and she blew me as I continued to eat her out. We didn’t quite cum together. I’ll admit I lasted all of five minutes before she swallowed another load, eating her out to another orgasm before she simply had to cry enough, flipping back around and lying down on my chest so I could hold her.

“Never had a night like this,” she said.

“How do you mean?”

“I mean being with a guy who wanted little in return. Most guys I’ve been with eat me out begrudgingly yet expect me to blow them then have them fuck me. Don’t get me started on guys who expect me to take it in the arse.”

“What about me?”

She lifted her head up and giggled. “You want to fuck me in the arse?”

“No, I’m merely asking if you would want it though. It would be your decision.”

“Oh… Then god yes, Shepard. Trust me on this, we can do whatever you want together.”

I gave her a squeeze. “I’ll be honest, it’s generally overrated.” Running a hand down her back, I did give one of her cheeks a gentle squeeze. “Though being deep in your arse, Emily… That’s an exciting thought.”

She leaned up to give me soft kiss. “Play your cards right, Mister, and you can have it tomorrow night. Long as you’re gentle with me.”

I shook my head. “Emily, trust me on this, I don’t need it. Want it? Yeah, sometimes, but tomorrow night is our last night together for a while. We’re only doing one thing.”“And what’s that?”

I caressed her cheek before leaning towards her ear. “Making love, that’s what.”

Leaning back against the pillow, the smile on her face… Again, there was a flutter of the heart. She slid off my body, grabbed my hand, and led me to her shower, where all we did was wash each other down with a lot of making out. She definitely loved running her hands all over my body, so different to her soft, lithe body. After drying off, we headed back to bed, lying on my back with Emily curled up into me, feeling her hand run up and down my chest, mine running down her side, trying not to tickle her.

“You getting feelings, Shepard?”

It was a question I was expecting. “You’re the second one, Emily.”

“Ah, the woman on Noveria. Gianna?”

I nodded. “Really liked her. Really like you.” I met her eyes. “But I can’t…” I trailed off and sighed, feeling slightly pathetic.

She just kissed my cheek. “I’m glad you told me about her.”

“About who?”

“Annie. I feel like I know her from how you talked about her. You must have really loved her.”

“Only told her those three words once. I’ve lived with that regret every day since.” I cleared my throat. “I don’t compare anyone I’m with now to her or anything. It’s not like that. It’s just… With everything going on, though I could perhaps pursue romance, it just isn’t feasible. I’m off around the galaxy most of the time. Dating within Alliance ranks is against the rules, and since I’m still technically Alliance even though I’m a Spectre, I think it’s best I keep that distance. Dating civilians is… can be tricky. Read and heard too many horror stories there. I’m not wanting a different girl in every port or anything like that, but we’re living in today’s society. People are more accepting of certain things. So, the question is Emily, can you put up with it?”

“If it means more nights like this with you, Shepard, sign me up.” She grabbed my chin so I met her eyes. “Long as I’m your only girl on the Citadel!”

“Well, haven’t been to see Sha’ira lately. But, okay, I can agree to that. When I’m on the Citadel, I’ll make sure I see you.”

That earned me a kiss before she suggested sleep, as she did have to work in the morning. Still, she seemed to put her alarm on earlier as she woke up the next morning with one single intent, and that was to straddle my crotch, slide my cock into her, and ride herself to orgasm before she popped into the shower. “You know, a man can feel used after something like that!” I called out as she walked into the bathroom.

Sticking her head around doorframe, she simply asked, “Coming to join me or what?” Emily Wong got fucked in the shower two minutes later, pressed up against the glass as I pounded her. “Just what I wanted,” she moaned as I leaned down, kissing her neck though she’d asked me not to leave a mark.

I was still in just a towel as she dressed for work, standing at the bar as she enjoyed some coffee and toast, before I walked her to the door. We kissed again, her hand sliding under my towel. “Damn work sometimes,” she whispered, resting her head against my chest.

“I’ll be here when you get home.”

“Meet me at a bar near my office. I’ll send you the details later. We’ll have dinner out again before coming back here.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

I kept myself amused during the day, receiving a call from Ashley and Tali. If I didn’t know them any better, I would have said they were completely loved up with each other. They didn’t go into any great detail of what they’d been up to, just thankful again for the fact I’d organised so much for them. Knowing I didn’t want to get involved with them physically, they did ask if I at least wanted to meet for lunch. That sounded fine to me, so we agreed a place and time.

I arrived first, and was amused when the pair walked into the restaurant hand in hand. Taking a seat opposite, I could see from their body language that they were now rather close, leaning into each other, whispering things to each other, and Tali’s left arm certainly spent a lot of time under the table, though I don’t think doing anything except resting on Ashley’s leg.

“Sure we can’t convince you to join us tonight, Shepard? You could bring Emily if you wanted,” Ashley asked once lunch was finished.

“Though part of me likes the idea, tonight is just about Emily and I.”

“Really like her, do you?” I couldn’t help smile and nod. “More than Gianna?”

“The same. Exactly the same. Sometimes you just connect with someone. Looks like I’m lucky to have experienced that twice.”

“Three times,” Tali interjected, “Because I have no doubt Shiala feels the same way about you too.”

“Hmmm. When you look at it like that…”

“We like you a lot too, Shepard,” Ashley said softly, “But we also understand the space you put between us and yourself. It took me a while to understand, and I helped explain it to Tali. I still think Liara doesn’t quite understand either. Might need to sit down with her back on the ship.”

“Offer is always open though,” Tali added, “You’ll like what’s under the suit.”

“Definitely,” Ashley said in such a tone, I couldn’t help smirk.

“Approve do you, Ashley?”

“Are you kidding? I would send you photo’s, but I think you should see Tali in the flesh, not in a photo.”

We enjoyed a final drink before I left the pair of them to it, watching them walk hand in hand back to the hotel. I had a feeling they were going to have a lot more fun that evening. Good for them. I headed in the direction of Emily’s office, eventually finding a pub nearby, ordering a pint and watching one of the screens. Little news about the potential crisis on the horizon. I had a feeling a lot of it was being kept secret.

Emily wandered in after I’d had a couple of drinks, joining me at the bar and we had one together before heading off to eat. It wasn’t fine dining in the slightest, more interested in each other than the food, heading out afterwards into the heart of the Wards, where she suggested we head to somewhere that played music. I think she wanted to dance, warning her that I wasn’t particularly good. “Shepard, all you need do is sway and hold me tight to your body,” she breathed into my ear, “And all I want to feel is your body react to mine.”

She got what she wanted within a few minutes of hitting the dance floor, as the way she moved against my body, there was only ever going to be one reaction. That’s when I thought I’d have fun, her back against mine as she basically grinded her arse against my crotch, so I slid my hand down her front and eventually started to fondle her. She turned her head back to kiss me. “Keep going,” she said.

“You sure?”

“Make me cum right here, right now.”

Honestly, it was probably one of the hottest things I’d ever done in my life. And I made Ms. Wong cum hard on the dance floor. Once she’d enjoyed her orgasm, and I had no doubt some around us knew what was going on, she grabbed my hand and dragged me out and towards the nearest taxi rank. Thankfully they were driverless, as she had my fly undone and cock out before I’d even closed the door, leaning over to swallow my length. I swear she was trying to make me cum before we arrived at her place.

Let’s just say she won…

Heading upstairs, we didn’t even make it to her bedroom, bending her over the arm of her couch and I just fucked her hard. It was hot, sweaty, passionate, incredible fucking, eventually flipping her onto her back so I could at least kiss her as I pounded her.

It wasn’t particularly comfortable though, so while still inside her, I managed to pick her up, undress at the same time, before we ended up on her bed, where things did settle down a little bit, though she still wanted it hard and fast until we both enjoyed what was almost a mutual orgasm, first time we’d managed that.

Lying together, breathing deeply, we shared a glance and started to laugh. “I can’t believe we did that in the club,” she whispered, giggling away, “I hope no-one recorded that.”

“Hey, you were getting fondled by Commander Shepard. I think that’s a worthy news item.”

Most of it was out of our system by then. We needed a shower, and after that, we simply lay together and talked. Despite sharing so much about myself, and learning plenty about her, we always found something to discuss, but even the silences were comfortable, just enjoying the feeling of her body against mine. Slept like a log that night.

Knowing I would be leaving that day, we made love for the final time that morning, her arms and legs wrapped around mine, our lips barely parting and I think the only reason she didn’t share any deeper feelings with me is that she probably thought it would scare me off. It was a great way to start the day, though once we’d showered and dressed, I could see she was growing upset, though not distant.

I stayed with her all the way to her office, now resplendent in my Alliance uniform, noticing one or two glances from her colleagues as they wandered into the building. No doubt they all recognised me and wondered what I was doing with Emily. I’m sure tongues were set wagging when we shared a last kiss, and Emily definitely did not want to let me go, holding her head to my chest as I think she was doing all she could to not start crying. “See you soon?” she asked hopefully.

“Next time I’m on the Citadel.”

“I’m going to hold you to that, Shepard. If I find out you’re on here and you’re not in my bed, I will come looking for you!”

That made us both laugh, so at least we could smile, sharing a last kiss, before she finally let me go and walked into the building, turning to smile one final time. I waved before turning and heading to where I needed to be.

Anderson was waiting by the Normandy, most of the crew already on board and simply waiting for me to arrive. “Word from Admiral Hackett, Shepard. Something you might want to look into considering your run ins with the geth.”

“What’s the word?”

“Geth presence in the Armstrong Nebula. Initial indications consider this a prelude to full scale invasion.”

“Seriously?”

“Whether it’s serious or not, it’s definitely a concern. Us with the Council could no doubt fight them off, but we’ll be hit first and on the front lines, and considering the Council consider the Traverse to not be their problem, we’ll be on our own until the geth hit Council space.”

“Any idea of their numbers? Or at least base of operations?”

“No idea about numbers, but sensors indicate they have established a primary outpost on one planet in four systems. I’ll be honest, Shepard. This assignment will be a real test of your abilities, and putting it honestly, an absolute pain in the arse. But we simply can’t send a fleet in to deal with the problem.”

“We’ve had enough dealings with geth. I’m sure we can handle it, sir.”

“I’m sure you will but be careful. While you’re doing that, we will hopefully send word regarding where Saren is located. We’re coming the galaxy for him. There are one or two leads, nothing concrete as yet, but as soon as we locate the bastard, you’ll be given that information.”

Swapping salutes, he seemed happier with life at least, which was a good thing. No doubt being stripped of the ship he’d most wanted to command still rankled, but he still sent me messages often, letting me know the inside gossip of both the Council and the Alliance. Once Saren was dealt with, I was tempted to relinquish command of the Normandy simply so he could have his ship back. I don’t know if I could return to being an XO though. Having now tasted command, I knew I’d want my very own vessel in my role as a Spectre.

I was the last to board the Normandy, heading straight to the galaxy map and inputting in the data required. Joker didn’t raise any questions, simply stating he had a flight path ready and the time it would take to get there. It would be a long journey and I would have to explain to the team what we were doing. Tali would definitely be interested in our operations, so I’d have a sit down with her and see what she could tell me about geth intentions. No doubt it was their alliance with Saren that was leading to this attempt at invasion.


Tali loved the idea of going on the front foot against the geth. Three hundred years since her people had been exiled, and unable to really go to battle against them, allying with Shepard had been the best decision she’d made in her short life. They’d already fought the geth a couple of times, and she’d let her shotgun sing each time.

In the back of her mind each time they fought geth was the fact she was still on her Pilgrimage. And the one thing her people needed above all was an advantage against them. Any sort of advantage that could possibly lead to a return to the homeworld would be such a great gift, well, she didn’t know how her people would reward her.

Did she want the geth wiped out? Part of her would admit she did. Every quarian detested the geth. No tears would be shed if the quarians had to wipe them out to take back the homeworld, considering what the geth had done to them before their exodus. Neither side was willing to negotiate. A state of war still existed between the two sides, only the Council prevented the quarians from approaching one of the other species in regards to a possible reliance to take battle to the geth and end it, once and for all.

The only other thing on her mind was her burgeoning relationship with, of all people, Ashley. She’d never given being with a woman any real thought, simply because she never believed being with either a man or woman in such a way would be possible. Even back on the Fleet, the only time a quarian removed their suit, other than to wash and decontaminate, was for procreation. Yes, quarians fell in love, married and had children, but it was a rather clinical process.

Those three days with Ashley had allowed her to explore her sexuality, Ashley doing the same, considering neither had been with a woman before. Once out her suit, Ashley immediately called her beautiful, and that first kiss was memorable. She thought she would be awkward but, as soon as their lips met, it had felt natural, and the next thing she learned was that her skin was incredibly sensitive.

Apart from heading out for breakfast or to meet with Shepard, they spent most of their time naked. Tali loved being out of the suit, and the longer time passed, the more Ashley definitely liked it. Even now, back on the Normandy, she found her mind wandering, remembering her mouth on her breasts, kissing down her body, then doing what she did to her pussy. Tali had experienced orgasms before but they were entirely different when a woman was using her tongue and or fingers. But it was when she made Ashley orgasm in return that made her feel exuberant.

Tali didn’t know if she was falling in love, but that last night before returning to the Normandy, the look in Ashley’s eyes as they made love a final time…

“You with us, Tali?” she heard Adams ask.

“Huh?”

“I’ve told you twice that Shepard’s been asking after you. I don’t think you’ve heard a word.”

She felt herself blush behind the mask. “Oh, sorry. I was… um…”

“Enjoy yourself on the Citadel?”

“W-w-what?"

Adams walked over and leaned in. “Nothing to be embarrassed about, Tali. But your body language is obvious. Good for you.”

“Huh?”

Adams chuckled away. “Please, Tali. Give me at least a little credit. I’ve seen the way you look at her. And I’ve seen the way she smiles at you. You love her?” Tali didn’t know how to respond, instead making do with a silent shrug. “Well, I think it’s obvious you really like each other at least. Hold onto that, Tali. Life is hard as it is, harder when serving in the Alliance. And I can only assume life is difficult for a quarian.”

“It can be.”

Adams nodded. “Anyway, as I said, Shepard was calling for you earlier. Better head out.”

“Thanks, Adams.”

“For the last time, Tali,” he replied with a smile, “Only Shepard is known by his last name. Call me Greg.”

“Of course, Adams. I’ll do that eventually.”

He met her eyes behind the mask and simply burst into laughter as she wandered out, giggling herself. He’d been nothing but friendly since the day she’d walked onto the Normandy and loved the rapport they’d established. She’d always felt respected, her opinion on any engineering matters listened to. More than once, he’d taken hers over anyone else’s and was certainly pleased to be proven correct more often than not.

Shepard had the team by the Mako, obviously waiting for her arrival. She apologised for being late, though he waved it away, before explaining. “So we’ve hit three of their outposts and we’ve done well so far. Caught them with their pants down, figuratively speaking, the first two times, but they were waiting for us on Antibaar. The fourth and last planet is Rayingri. There used to be a research outpost here, but that went silent a couple of months back. No doubt everyone is dead and the geth have turned it over into doing whatever the fuck it is they do. As usual, everyone is on the ground for this one. Hopefully by taking out this base, we stop the geth in their tracks, and with any luck, we’ll have word from the Alliance in regards to where Saren is, so we can deal with that prick, once and for all.”

The geth knew they were coming. Just the Normandy flying in low to drop the Mako gained enough attention that missiles were fired, the vessel dropping the Mako from a higher distance than normal, surprised it didn’t just turn into a flaming pile of metal upon crashing into the ground. Joker apologised over the radio, sounding rather stressed. Shepard told him not to worry.

Geth numbers were beyond what they’d seen before. Within a few minutes, Shepard was ordering everyone except Garrus and herself out of the Mako to provide ground support. Shepard did what he could to stop the Mako taking hits, but as the Mako was the largest thing on the battlefield, it was simply a magnet for the rockets and missiles being fired. She was soon reporting that shields were failing and there was little she could do to re-route power to them.

“Fuck it, we’ll just have to abandon it for now,” Shepard finally said, “I’ll find something I can at least hide it behind then we’ll join the others.” He paused as he opened the comm. “Alenko, it’s Shepard. Garrus, Tali and I will be joining you on foot. The Mako is fucked.”

“We hear you, Commander. We are spread across a line to your right. Trying to join fire but the geth are focused on your for now.”

“We’ll abandon in thirty seconds and join your line.”

Once let off the leash, she joined in with Alenko, tech attacks soon raining down on the geth lines. They’d spent a lot of time going over how they could more effectively cause chaos within the geth. Not only could they do things like overloading shields, overheating weapons, and just being general nuisances, but they’d even found ways where she could practically shut down geth. Not completely, they were at least smart enough to prevent that, but enough that one of their colleagues could kill them.

With Shepard now leading the line, he was a battering ram, forcing his way forward, the rest now standing out of cover with confidence. She was amazed how fearless he would move forward, drawing fire away from the rest of them, providing targets for them to attack. More than once Shepard wold slide into cover, banging his shield pack due to the fact they’d failed, swearing away to himself before his shield recharged, he checked his weapon, and moved onward. Tali just thought he was completely mad, but she also recognised that he looked at home on the battlefield.

The geth wilted in front of them, leaving plenty of dead units in their wake. Once they made it into the underground facility, the geth were rats in a trap and they stood no chance against Shepard and his team. In such close confines, Tali relied on her trusty shotgun, blasting away any geth that got within her sights. In cover as they battle the last geth that were dug in, she felt a presence beside her. “Watching you like this is a real turn on.” She glanced to see Ashley wink at her from behind her helmet.

“Shame we don’t have a clean room on the Normandy, Ash. A good fuck after battle would be quite nice.”

“God, Tali… We need a clean room on the Normandy!”

That made her giggle before she leapt out of cover, blasting away a geth that thought it could sneak up on them. Ashley joined in alongside, her assault rifle wiping out two more what she called ‘flashlight-headed fuckwits.’ It was the sort of language Shepard definitely approved of, considering his language was rather colourful in the heat of battle.

The research facility was clear but they were left confused as it was obvious this wasn’t their main base either. Shepard called her and Alenko forward, asking if there should be some sort of enormous data bank or at least something that could provide an idea of what the geth were up to. Alenko shrugged while Tali remained quiet, deep in thought. “We’ll have to search to see if there is still a signal back on the Normandy, Shepard,” she suggested.

“Damn it, I was hoping this was it,” he muttered, “Fine, we’ll have the Normandy pick us up then go from there.”

Back on the Normandy a couple of hours later, it didn’t take much searching to realise there was a stronger geth signal. It was in another system, Shepard stating they would keep tracking it, but they would only head groundside the next day at the earliest. After sharing a meal with her colleagues, she was ready to just head to bed when Ashley grabbed her by the hand and led her to the bathroom. Leading her into a stall, she found herself backed against the closed door, Ashley’s hand between her legs. “Ashley,” she breathed.

“I know I can’t kiss you right now but I need to touch you…”

Tali could only nod, needing her touch. During their time on the Citadel, they’d looked at ways of being able to be intimate without needing to be completely without a suit. It took some experimentation, but considering her suit was all compartmentalised, she could remove the lower portion of her suit for intimacy. If only she’d learned that long ago…

Feeling the cool air of the ship on her pussy caused her to shudder, and when Ashley’s fingers toucher her, she nearly yelped. Instead, her hands went to the belt and trousers of Ashley, and once she soon had her two fingers fondling her in return.

“God, I need to kiss you so bad,” Ashley murmured.

“I know the feeling, but if we can make each other cum…”

“Then I’ll want to kiss you even more, Tali.”

She gasped as she felt two of her fingers slide inside her, and she gave up pleasuring Ashley for now, particularly when she got down on her knees to start pleasing her. “Ashley,” she breathed, running a hand through her hair.

“I need you to cum, Tali,” Ashley breathed before returning her mouth to her pussy.

“Oh keelah…” Waves of pleasure rippled through her body as Ashely used her tongue expertly, getting her hot, bothered and completely turned on. “Ashley…”

When she felt her tongue move to her clit, and a couple of fingers slide inside to find her spot, she knew this was a hard, fast fuck. She grabbed the back of Ashley’s head, holding her in place, feeling her entire body shudder, her legs starting to feel weak, as waves of pleasure flowed from her toes to her fingers. “Oh keelah… Ashley…”

“Cum for me, Tali,” Ashley whispered, looking down into her eyes.

Tali tried to stifle her moans and cries as Ashley made her cum. The look of satisfaction in her human lover’s face would have been amusing if Tali hadn’t been so desperate in wanting to kiss her that she could only groan in frustration. Instead, all she could do was get down on her knees and hug her tightly. “I love you,” she whispered, only gasping when she realised what she’d said.

“And I love you,” Ashley whispered in return, hearing the catch in her throat. Tali couldn’t control her emotions any longer, feeling the tears start to flow, her body shake as she needed to have a little cry. All Ashley did was hug her tightly. “How could I not after everything we’ve shared?”

“I need to find a way to be out of this suit as often as possible. Not just for the sex, but just so we can be… So I can kiss you whenever I want. So I can feel your hands on my body.” She leaned back to look into her eyes. “All I know is that, when I’m here with you like this, no-one else matters.”

The smile Ashley returned was shy. “I know who you mean, and I feel the same way.” She rested a hand against her mask, Tali only wishing that she could feel it against her face. “All I know is that I’m in love with the most beautiful woman in the galaxy.”

Tali could only hug her tightly again. “Keep this up, Ashley…”

Shepard definitely knew what they’d been up to the next morning, though he said nothing to begin with. Only when the mess emptied did he sit with them at their table. “So it’s serious, is it?”

They could only share a glance before Ashley asked, “How the hell do you know?”

“I just know, okay. And, trust me, I’m happy for you both. Surprised, but happy for you. And, now that you know how you feel, you’ll definitely find a way to make it work.”

“Thanks, Shepard,” Tali stated, leaning over to give him a hug.

“We both still want to fuck you though, Shepard,” Ashley added, Tali nodding along once she let him go. “Just thought you should know.”

He leaned forward. “And those feelings are still returned, Ashley. I am finding it very difficult turning you down constantly.”

Tali grabbed his hand. “Then just be with us,” she said softly. She usually left it to Ashley to say what they both wanted. “I love Ashley, Shepard.” He noticed his eyes briefly move to Ashley before returning to her. “But I really like you too, and I’m speaking for us both when I say we both want to be with you. If I were to add desperately, I’m not sure if that sound good or bad.”

“Trust me on this, Shepard, you have a guaranteed threesome with Tali and I. Just think of this, lying down on the bed with one of us on your cock, the other on your face. Tali and I will just have to agree who gets your cock first…”

Shepard leaned back, running a hand down his face. “You’re making this very difficult, girls.” He remained silent before leaning forward again. “Let’s see how the next mission goes. After that… We’ll see…” He paused again. “Should have just joined you on the Citadel,” he muttered.

“You were with Emily, Shepard. We understood,” Tali said quietly, “But maybe it’s time to stop denying what you want, just like I did. I thought being intimate like I was would kill me. But with the right steps, it was the best experience of my life. When Ashley made me orgasm the first time, I cried like… Well, I cried more than I’d done before.” She grabbed his hand. “I know when I’m with you the first time, and you do things to make me feel just like her, I’m sure I’ll sob like anything again.”

She noticed the smile just appeared on his face, squeezing her hand. “Okay, Tali. As I said, we’ll see what happens. Let’s focus on the geth first, get rid of them, then we’ll focus on other things.”

The major geth base was found on a planet by the name of Solcrum. They knew that Shepard and his crew was coming as they’d dug in. So entrenched they were, Shepard ordered the Normandy to perform a bombing run, something he rarely did. Tali wasn’t sure of the situation on the ground when they boarded the Mako ready to drop, but she hoped the bastards had burned.

Approaching their base, there were flames and plenty of destruction but the geth were still up for a fight. Shepard immediately ordered the Mako abandoned, choosing to go in on foot, issuing instructions as they closed the gap. Biotics would do their thing. Tali and Alenko would do their thing. The rest would just fuck shit up. “And Wrex, this time, you are off the leash, my friend. Get that blood rage going. We’ll get you calmed down in time.”

Her shotgun was singing again soon enough, though she remained thankful her shields were as strong as ever, as she took some heavy fire supporting Shepard and his fellow soldiers. The fire coming in front geth positions boggled the mind, but she realised this was their last stand. No doubt the geth were aware their other bases had been wiped out. Take out this base and the geth would have no choice but to piss off back behind the Veil. At least she could claim as least some part of the victory.

Making it to the entrance, geth units littering the ground behind them, Shepard gathered them together. “Same rules as always. But there must be information somewhere below us that we could use. So Tali and Alenko, any workstation or database we find, hack the shit out of it and grab whatever you can.” She could only giggle at how he ordered them but she still replied that wouldn’t be a problem.

The geth had pulled back for what seemed like a last stand. To say they slaughtered them wouldn’t be an understatement. She released three hundred years of hate and rage. Shepard had hated geth since Eden Prime, taking joy in practically dismantling each geth unit he found. Even those without any real feelings one way or the other seemed to enjoy it, Wrex grabbing the occasional unit and smashing it into the ground, to the amusement of whoever saw it.

As they cleared each room, she got to work alongside Alenko, downloading anything they could find, sending it straight back to the Normandy for analysis later. She took the occasional peek at the streams of data, but even she was overwhelmed by the sheer volume. She was certain the geth had planned an enormous invasion, though it did seem that it was still in the planning stages. Good thing Shepard had been sent to stop them in their tracks.

A final room and there were few geth let, noticing they seemed to take cover by one particular databank. It was easy to figure out why. Ashley, Garrus and Shepard worked methodically with their sniper rifles, making sure there was no damage to the databank behind them. Once all the geth were dead, she got to work again, and it was only then that the room was filled with… singing. She came to a stop and listened. It wasn’t long until her body was being wracked by sobs.

Feeling an arm around her waist, Ashley asked, “Who is it?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered, “But she’s singing of Rannoch.”

“Rannoch?”

She nodded. “Our homeworld.”

The song was hauntingly beautiful, glancing to see everyone listening in silence. They wouldn’t have understood the words but the depth in meaning in the vocals was clear. She managed to get back to work, saving as much data as she could by the time the song finished. Once it did, the geth had made sure the data was immediately erased.

“That was beautiful,” Shepard stated.

“Keelah se’lai,” she whispered, “By the homeworld I hope to see one day.”

The team returned to the Normandy, everyone exhausted after the long battle against the geth. They gathered together for dinner as always, the conversation somewhat muted. It sometimes was after a long day in the field, everyone eating simply due to hunger before everyone would disappear to bed for the evening.

She popped down to engineering for a few minutes when Shepard asked her to come to his quarters over the comm. Heading upstairs, she walked in to see Shepard at his desk, Ashley sitting beside him, a large smile on her face. She sat day opposite them both, Shepard looking rather serious.

“Tali’Zorah nar Rayya, you are currently on your Pilgrimage, correct?”

“Yes, Shepard. You know that.”

“And the purpose of your Pilgrimage is in regards to the assistance of your people. You are to find something out in the galaxy that will help your people.”

“Yes, Shepard,” she replied carefully.

“Three hundred years ago, the geth drove your people from your homeworld. Since that day, you’ve been looking for any advantage that might just allow you to return. Would that be correct?” She could only nod. “I have already discussed this with Chief Williams alongside me, and it’s why she’s sitting here with me now. Your assistance during our battle against Saren and his geth has been invaluable. It was your evidence that saw me promoted to Spectre, and in our battles against the geth since, you’ve certainly shown your courage and intelligence. Chief Engineer Adams speaks in glowing terms of your service. Chief Williams has confessed her feelings for you are incredibly strong.” She could only look at Ashley, feeling tears run down her cheeks. Ashley usually kept her emotions in check while on the ship, but she needed to wipe her cheeks as Shepard spoke. He stood up before taking a knee in front of her chair, reaching into his coat pocket, showing her an OSD. “On this is all the information we took in regards to the geth, Tali. I’m not sure what a lot of it is, I simply don’t understand the geth like you do. But what I do know is that this will be a magnificent Pilgrimage gift. Please, take it with my blessing, and I hope it helps your people in the future.”

Her hand was shaking as she carefully took the OSD, placing it into a pocket on her suit. Then she burst into tears and hugged Shepard, feeling him hug her tightly back. “I can never thank you enough,” she managed to choke out.

“You’ve been by my side since the day we met, Tali. That is thanks enough.”

She rested her head on his shoulder until the sobs subsided, leaning back to meet his eyes. “Then all I can do is promise to remain by your side until the end, Shepard.”

That earned one of those smiles she liked to see on his face. “Good. Because Anderson has sent me a message. They’ve found where Saren is. Right now, I have Joker flying us to a planet by the name of Virmire. It is there that I hope we catch the bastard and finally put an end to the madness.”

“I’m with you all the way, Shepard. Let’s get the bastard!”

Chapter Text

“The target planet is Virmire. You may have heard of it, though perhaps not. The Alliance was, at one time, seriously considering this as a planet worthy of colonisation, equivalent to an Eden Prime or an Elysium. Unfortunately, it is located in just the wrong position, as it would take an incredible defensive network to be set up to ensure its safety, and it’s just something the Alliance are currently not willing to invest in. The Alliance has even approached the Council, willing to lead efforts, but instability along the frontier, quite frankly, scares them off.

Now to why we are actually here. There is a Salarian Task Group (STG) on the planet. They had been tracking anything to do with Saren and his ship and eventually located him on the planet. They have since started their investigation and confirm Saren has a base of operations on the planet and his ship has also been sighted. At the moment, we only have a vague location of where the STG team is, though it is understood they are still alive, or were when the transmission was made.

There are two objectives to this mission. The first is to link up with the STG and learn what they have discovered. The second, and arguably more important, is to find Saren and finally end whatever it is he has planned in that head of his. We will drop in by Mako as always. Anticipate serious resistance from the geth. If this is Saren’s central base, there will be fortifications and…”

Commander, we’ve got a problem.”

“What is it, Joker?”

“Saren’s base, Commander. It is surrounded by enormous defensive cannons. There is no way I could drop you anywhere close to the base or where the STG team could be dug in. I’m going to have to drop you some distance and you’ll have to make your way forward by Mako or on foot.”

“How close can you get us?”

“Without drawing the attention of their cannon? You’re looking at a few clicks, Commander.”

“Get us close as you can, Joker. We’ll do the rest.”

“Aye, Commander. I’ll have you on the ground in five minutes.”

Shepard turned to his team. “You heard the man. Suit up, pack your shit, and get on board.”

Wrex didn’t really need to suit up nor pack his shit. He was already wearing armour and never walked anywhere without at least one weapon, even when on the Normandy. He watched as others put armour on, checked weapons, or filled small packs with supplies in the event they were planet-side longer than expected. He could also see the relationships formed. Ashley and Tali were obvious in their affection. Liara and Shiala had found a common bond. Benezia, though not invited to join them on the ground, hovered close by. Others cut solitary figures. Shepard, as Commander, still kept his distance, though would lead from the front once on the ground. Garrus was a born soldier but awkward as fuck around anyone else. Alenko seemed rather lonely, and even Wrex would admit he missed some of the comradery the pair had shared when they’d fucked. He didn’t regret the decision to stop their physical relationship, knowing the price would be any friendship they had built beforehand. It always does once you involve sex.

Loading himself last into the back of the Mako as normal, he heard Shepard start the engine, rolling it to the edge, hearing Joker call over the radio the marks to get ready for descent. He was as used to these air drops as everyone else, but considering his size and breadth, he still hadn’t figured out how to position his body to stop his head smacking into the roof.

It happened again when they landed on Virmire. Before Shepard even started, he called out, “Who wants out?”

Everyone piled out except Tali and Ashley, no surprise the latter remained, taking over the gun from Garrus, who didn’t mind getting out into the fresh air for once. Alenko took control on the ground as always, though he generally let everyone do what they do best. Liara and Shiala biotics, Garrus was just like Ashley, deadly with assault or sniper rifle, Alenko would mix up his technical and biotic abilities, while Wrex would just run rampage through enemy lines. He’d be left bleeding and sore at the end of the day, but krogan could sustain much more damage than anyone else.

Shepard kept the Mako at a constant speed that only required them to lightly jog. Given they only carried weapons and wore armour, it wasn’t as gruelling as it could have been. The weather was mild, little humidity, even a light breeze at times. Even Wrex thought it was rather idyllic, at least until they ran into geth drones, that rained rockets down on them. Ashley had the Mako’s machine gun singing quickly enough. Those on the ground found cover where they could and did their best to assist.

The intelligence had been right about one thing. The geth were there in force. In fact, there were probably more geth just on Virmire than on all the planets they’d fought geth out in the Armstrong Nebula. If that didn’t prove this was Saren’s most important base, he wasn’t sure what else the turian had up his sleeve.

He quickly lost count of how many geth he put on the ground. He had an assault rifle for distance, shotgun for when they were up close, and his fists if they were within striking range. He could even use his biotics if tempted, but he left most of that stuff to the two asari and Alenko. The trio could mix up their attacks, causing at least some confusion in geth lines, leaving them as easy pickings for the rest of them.

The geth had set up what appeared to be a serious of gatehouses. Wrex had no idea why they’d do it, but that is where the geth well and truly dug in. The big krogan took it upon himself to clear the first one, charging up the ramp, using his shotgun to blast away anything that came within range. One or two geth found themselves hurled over the barricade to the ground below. Once it was all clear, he found the lever to open the gate, strolling back, grumbling about the sheer stupidity of it all.

With each metre they covered, the geth threw more in their faces. Rocket troopers were now a major part of their defences, and it was only quick thinking that kept them all in one piece. The machine gun of the Mako was incessant, Ashley only backing off when it was clearly overheating. Shepard was trying to do about three things at once. Beat the geth. Protect those outside the Mako. And ensure the vehicle wasn’t blown up at the same time. Hard work, and he imagined Shepard inside, covered in sweat, muscles all tense as he tried to make the lumbering machine do what he wanted.

So that’s what he told Alenko, wondering what sort of reaction it would get. Alenko just looked at him and grinned after he’d biotically thrown a geth a few metres. “Don’t tease, Wrex. It’s not funny.”

“Just wondering if you’ve ever looked at him in a certain way.”

“Of course I have; I won’t deny that. But Shepard certainly isn’t interested in men. That is plain and clear.”

“Not sure he’s interested in women on the Normandy though,” Liara muttered.

“Hey, he’s gone rather cold on me, Liara,” Shiala added.

“Least you got your chance with him. He likes chatting to me, there’s flirting, and I think I’m rather blunt at times about what I like and want, but he doesn’t seem to react in the way I’d really like him to.”

“It’s because you’re under his command,” Alenko said, as the group moved out of cover, following the Mako, “He gave into temptation with you, Shiala, because I believe he didn’t think you’d still be with us. As for anyone else, he’s the commander and I guess believes he needs to keep his distance from his subordinates, whether they are part of the Alliance or not.”

Wrex noticed Liara lean into Shiala. “Guess I’ll just have to keep using sex toys then,” she said with a giggle.

“Oh, do tell, Liara.” She met his eyes and immediately blushed. “Come on, you’re over one hundred years old and, if not sexually active with others, you’ll certainly know what to do by yourself. Okay, how about this. Ever had someone else use a sex toy, something like a dildo, on you?”

Liara tried desperately not to glance at Shiala, but the latter gave it away with the shy grin that appeared on her face. “Damn it, Wrex, I didn’t want anyone to know.”

“Embarrassed?”

“No, it’s just private. Shiala and I are… We’ve done a lot of talking, much of it about Benezia obviously, but as we’ve talked, we grew closer. Now there are reasons why I won’t be particularly intimate with one of my own kind, but… well… we experimented a little bit…”

“I have to say, I am enjoying this conversation,” Garrus joked from behind them.

“Don’t you start, Captain Awkward,” Liara warned.

“What? You too!” The turian sighed. “Damn Shepard and his teasing…”

“Garrus, it’s because you are one fucking awkward turian when it comes to the opposite sex,” Wrex bellowed, chuckling away.

“Though it can be endearing in the right circumstances. Chloe seems to like it,” Alenko added.

Can we get back to the two asari pleasuring each other please? Need more details in here.” Everyone froze at the sound of Shepard’s voice, his laughter soon echoing through. “Seriously, guys, how the fuck did you forget you were linked in here? Liara, Shiala, I hope you know Ashley and Tali were very interested in your shenanigans. I thought I was on the verge of getting a free show in here.”

“Shepard, if we can seal these doors, I’m getting my suit off,” Tali exclaimed, Ashley suggesting that sounded like a bloody good idea.

“You can have a free show if you want, Shepard,” Shiala said in such a sultry tone, it even made Wrex do a double take.

“Noted, Shiala. Now, being serious, while I would love to hear all about Liara and Shiala getting intimate with each other, and I know you’re now looking for a hole in the ground to swallow you, Liara, let’s get out heads back in the game.” There was a brief pause before he added, “Liara, if you want to send me a video of yourself and Shiala…”

Shiala leaned into Liara. “You know, it would one hell of a tease. Might just give into temptation.”

Wrex looked back and noticed that, during all the chatter, they’d mowed their way through the geth and at least one of those gatehouses the geth had set up. It was amazing how easily the killing now came to all of them, anticipating the moves of their squad mates without a second guess. Everyone fought with confidence that they’d made the right decision, and apart from the occasional failure of shields, and scuffing of armour, no-one had suffered what he would call a severe wound so far, certainly nothing life threatening. Even if someone was shot, medi-gel would usually do the trick until they could visit Chakwas back on the Normandy. Not always, though. Shepard had already spoken of the young soldier they’d lost on Eden Prime. Wrex knew that still rankled with the commander…The Mako came to a halt with the third gatehouse in the distance. “Garrus, pull out your sniper. You seeing what we’re seeing?

The turian moved to side of the Mako, pulling out his sniper rifle, getting into position. He heard the turian mutter to himself before replying. “I count six armatures, Shepard. I repeat, six armatures.”

Copy that, Garrus. That’s what I have too. Right, this isn’t going to be easy. Ashley will be focusing solely on those. Ground team, you are mopping up the rest. It’s clear this is their last stand. The STG team must be somewhere beyond.”

Wrex would admit that the next few minutes of his life were probably the closest he’d really come to death in quite a long time. The Mako simply couldn’t provide the cover, focusing on the armatures as it was, never stopping as Ashley rarely missed her shot, but everyone could see the Mako was taking a pounding. It was a good enough distraction that the rest could focus on the geth troopers, getting in and around the legs of the armatures.

The geth had some rocket troops, Alenko proving to be rather devious, and the geth surprisingly stupid, as they fired rockets at the ground troops taking cover near their armatures. Wrex wasn’t the only on to roar with joy when the back legs of one armature found themselves blown up by a couple of rockets, the team splitting up as the thing then exploded.

Do that again!” Shepard shouted over the comm, “We’re getting pounded here.”

“Shields at forty percent, Shepard,” Tali reported, “I’m re-routing what I can, but unless you want the Mako a sitting duck…”

The geth weren’t that stupid. What happened once didn’t exactly happen again, but being in and around the armatures was a good enough distraction. Unbeknownst to nearly all of them, Garrus had disappeared and found elevation, and was soon picking off geth troops with ease. Wrex wasn’t the only one to look around for the turian. “Where the hell is he?” Alenko asked, overloading the shields of a nearby geth.

Wrex was in cover behind him, one of the rare instances of using his biotics. “Fucked if I know but he’s doing a damned good job.”

“Got a tear in my eye hearing you say that, Wrex,” Garrus whispered over the comm before there was the sound of another shot. “Right in the optics! Take that, you geth bastard.”

“Anyone get the feeling none of us like the geth?” Alenko asked himself.

Wrex answered that with a blast of his shotgun, a couple of geth trying to sneak up to them. Noticing their numbers had wilted, and most of those armed with rocket launchers had disappeared, Wrex took a deep breath and simply charged for the nearby ramp, shotgun singing as more than a trio of geth tried and failed to stop him in his tracks. Arriving at the top, his shields failed within seconds as gunfire turned his way, roaring as he charged towards the gaggle of geth nearby. He felt himself shot at least a couple of times but that didn’t stop him blasting until his weapon overheated, swinging it in his hands so he could use it to club the last remaining geth units. The very last one, he grabbed it by the head and used all his strength to just squeeze it until there was the sound of crushed metal…

Feeling the rage building up, he walked to the nearby wall, put a hand against it and took a few deep breaths. He heard footsteps behind him. “Just give me a minute,” he warned.

“Okay. But… you okay?”

“Just cooling down, Alenko. But thanks, I’ll be fine.”

“You realise you left none for us?”

He chuckled. “That was the point. Get them out of the way so we move on.”

The Mako was still functional, Shepard leading the way. The machine had taken significant damage, left with the feeling it would soon be abandoned, as it would take a mechanic a few days to get it back into working order. The geth had disappeared, assuming that last gatehouse truly was their last stand. Apart from the rumble of the Mako’s engine, the only things we could hear were the crashing of the waves, the occasional bird whistling overhead, or the rustle of the wind through nearby trees. That word again. Idyllic. Enough to make some men or women want to retire.

“Commander, we’ve got a problem,” Joker called in over the radio.

“Copy, Joker. What’s up?”

“I’ve just landed the Normandy but we are grounded for the time being. The salarian in charge can explain everything when you arrive. Name is Captain Kirrahe.”

“No worries, Joker. We’ll find out what’s going on.”

Shepard managed to drive the Mako back onto the Normandy as the rest of the team spread out. Wrex counted out the salarian STG squad, numbering only a dozen or so. He simply scoffed at the pitiful number. To take on Saren and his geth, unless you were Shepard and his crew, you would need an army.

Shepard greeted the salarian commander, and he could already feel the wary glares of the other salarians around him. He just ignored them, keeping to himself as usual, though keeping an ear out for what was being discussed. The more he heard, the less he liked, figuring that someone should just order a fleet in and blow the damn base sky high, and if the Traverse wanted to get angry about it, then blow them up too.

But then the salarian captain mentioned something that grabbed his undivided attention. “We believe Saren is researching a cure for the genophage. That must be destroyed.”

And that just pissed Wrex off, immediately storming towards the salarian captain, sensing the other salarians grow nervous with each stride he took. Shepard seemed to sense he was closing in, stepping to the side as Wrex jabbed a finger into the chest of the salarian. “Over my dead body, salarian. That is a cure for my people you are talking about.”

“Your people don’t deserve a cure, krogan. You people are clearly a mistake.”

Wrex almost saw red straight away. Instead, he puffed himself up so he towered over the salarian, bumping his chest into the salarian. “My people are not a mistake,” he growled, “And you salarians had best remember that going forward.”

He turned and walked away, the urge to kill all the salarians damn near overwhelming, and he figured if he did that, it would piss Shepard off. In fact, he’d earn the ire of the man and would end up fighting him too. And he didn’t want that.

So he walked away, probably for only the second, maybe third time in his way he backed away from an inevitable fight. He made do with standing by the shore, closing his eyes and just relaxing, letting the rage disappear from his veins. He’d already done plenty of killing today, would likely do a lot more killing going forward.

“Yeah, I don’t think Kirrahe knows diplomacy very well,” Shepard stated.

“I don’t like salarians, Shepard. And I don’t like them when they are telling me that a cure for my people has to be destroyed.”

“I understand, Wrex.”

“My people are dying, Shepard. We need this cure so we can once again thrive.”

“While my heart does go out to your people, Wrex, I have just one question. Would you trust Saren to give you a cure more than myself saying you should destroy it?”

That gave Wrex pause for thought. He’d just heard the word ‘cure’ and thought that would be it. “It’s still a cure, Shepard.”

He turned to look at Shepard, who shook his head. “No, it won’t be, Wrex, and deep down, you already know that. Saren isn’t looking for a cure for the genophage, not when he believes Reapers are coming to destroy everything. Why would he waste time doing that?” Wrex saw that point immediately. “No, what Saren wants is the belief there is a cure, so he can get the krogan on his side, and with you and the geth as his personal servants? He may just end up getting what he wants.”

“Do you think he’s doing any sort of cure though?”

Shepard shrugged. “I don’t know, Wrex. It’s possible he’s doing something about the genophage, but the sort of cure you and your people desperately want? No, I wouldn’t trust in Saren like that. He certainly won’t give you the freedom you want. And you do know I’m right.”

“If I let this go, Shepard, I’m putting an awful lot of trust in you.”

Shepard stepped forward and lowered his voice. “Look, we’ve done a lot of talking, right? About your people in general, but the genophage in particular. I’m not sure what Kirrahe is planning, but he’s got a full blown assault on his mind. So while we’re doing that, we take a look at what Saren has been doing. If what we find is compelling enough, we at least take something that’s viable and give it to some eggheads to see what they make of it.”

Wrex turned away from Shepard, walking towards the water’s edge, giving himself time to think. A cure lay possibly so close, but he knew the human was right. Saren was insane, and there was no possible way he’d make a cure to the benefit of his people. They would end up puppets or worse, under the control of a madman.

More than that, Shepard had proven trustworthy. He listened to Wrex about the plight of his people. He’d helped regain his old family armour when he didn’t have to. Wrex simply mentioned it and Shepard had the Normandy heading there within the day. And while Shepard would probably help in getting his people a cure, he would only do so under the right circumstances. He could even see why Shepard agreed with Kirrahe, despite how much it pained to accept it.

He turned and walked back to Shepard, offering his hand, which the human accepted immediately. “I’m trusting you on this, Shepard. But I know that, one day, you will help my people.”

“You’re a good… man, Wrex. And thanks.”

“Yeah, yeah, let’s not get all teary. No doubt that salarian is cooking up something. Guess we’d better listen in and go from there.”

Kirrahe had a plan all right, and even Wrex had to admit the salarian had a massive set of balls with what he was tempted to try. Shepard listened in as the salarian explained, and apart from one or two technical questions, he wasn’t tempted to try and change the plan. “Sure no-one else is coming this way?” Kirrahe did ask.

“I’m sure, Captain. We are it so we’d best make do with what we’ve got.”

The salarian then made another request, asking if he could borrow a couple of his own people. Shepard didn’t seem that bothered, asking who he wanted. The salarian didn’t seem to mind who, so Shepard selected Ashley and Shiala, Ashley providing fire support, Shiala biotic support. Kirrahe approved of the choices, Shepard heading off to explain details to the rest of the squad.

Alenko would be left to deal with the nuclear bomb.


I was surprised Kirrahe asked for any help from my squad but I guess with the plan he had, he needed some firepower to knock down the front door. Ashley was the most obvious choice considering she would provide excellent fire support. I had thought about Liara, but I figured Shiala had proven her power as a biotic so she was another good choice.

That left everyone else with me. If anyone was nervous, they didn’t show it. In fact, everyone was revved up, ready to go. Most of them had marched from the moment we’d dropped to now, but if they were tired, no-one was complaining. Tali and I had at least had the Mako, not that it was comfortable, but now we’d all be moving on foot.

Walking towards Kirrahe, I let him know we were ready go whenever he was. We then got to witness him provide a rather stirring speech, one that certainly got most of my team ready for action at the same time.

“You all know the mission and what is at stake. I have come to trust each of you with my life, but I have also heard murmurs of discontent. I share your concerns.

We are trained for espionage. We would be legends, but the records are sealed. Glory in battle is not our way.” Wrex snorted at that but remained silent after I gave him the eye.

“Think of our heroes: the Silent Step, who defeated a nation with a single shot. Or the Ever Alert, who kept armies at bay with hidden facts.

These giants do not seem to give us solace here, but they are not all that we are. Before the network, there was the fleet. Before diplomacy, there were soldiers.

Our influence stopped the rachni, but before that, we held the line. Our influence stopped the krogan, but before that, we held the line!

Our influence will stop Saren! In the battle today, we will hold the line!”

The soldiers came to attention and saluted Kirrahe, who returned the gesture before looking at us. I stepped forward, shook his hand. “Good luck, Commander.”

“You too, Captain. Don’t do anything too rash.”

As Kirrahe disappeared with his own team, plus two of mine, I gave my own squad a pep talk. A lot shorter than Kirrahe and a lot blunter. Don’t get dead. If you get a shot at Saren, kill the bastard. Other than that, anyone found in the base that wasn’t part of our team was fair game. As for Alenko, he promised that the bomb would be ready to go when ordered.

“Think it will work?” Garrus asked as we began the long walk.

“No idea. Any sort of diversion is a good one. The more geth that head off to fight them, the better for us.”

Though we were taking the back way, geth drones still patrolled, making short work of them. Figuring we could probably help Kirrahe at the same time, we made sure to disable anything that would help their own progress, such as communications, satellite uplinks, considering what the geth were, and any alarm systems we happened to find. Liara and Tali were tasked with that. They didn’t have to tell me what they were doing, I trusted them to simply do it.

Handling the drones with relative ease, it was obvious that they knew we were coming once again, the team spreading out and taking cover as the geth moved forward. Not wanting to get pinned out, we fired and moved like always, anyone moving being covered by the rest. It was always completely bonkers, with bullets and rockets flying in from the geth, left wishing we carried our own heavy weapons. Well, we had one in Wrex, but he was a bit different…

Everyone was using their abilities, Garrus and Tali with all their technological know-how, aware that Garrus had been a surprising but keen study with the little quarian, and he was fast becoming a master at disabling geth. Liara shimmered constantly in blue. When we’d first recruited her, using her biotics constantly left her drained. Now she could fight all day and simply work up a sweat. No problems otherwise. As for Wrex, he seemed to just enjoy himself as usual.

“Approaching the base,” I reported into Kirrahe.

“Copy that, Shepard. We continue on. Heavy resistance. Chief Williams and Shiala proving most helpful.”

Running into krogan wasn’t a particular surprise knowing what Saren was up to. As soon as they saw us, they charged. Liara used her biotics on one of them, Wrex charged at the other. After taking down the first, we helped Wrex with the second. He complained but I said there wasn’t time to dilly-dally. He didn’t quite understand the expression, so I gestured we should move out quickly. Then he understood.

More geth lay in wait, and we destroyed some geth flyers on the way, recognising they could be used as air support to either stop us or Kirrahe. We were left rather surprised that the geth and krogan seemed to work together at times. I joked that maybe they’d been programmed that way. Liara suggested a form of indoctrination of both of them, considering what Benezia had told us.

“Why didn’t you bring her?” Liara did wonder over all the gunfire, taking cover next to me.

“Though I trust her enough back on the ship, I didn’t want to see her slipping under his influence again.”

“She’s a powerful biotic. She would prove useful.”

“I understand that, Liara. But it’s one hell of a leap to go from basically being Saren’s underling to partnering me on the field here. I’m not sure I’ll ever have that amount of trust. I still don’t really know what to do with her.”

We stood up out of cover as we had a moment of silence. “Tevos has basically told me your people have washed their hands of her. She is persona non grata. Part of me thinks just putting a bullet in her on Noveria would have been fairer on her.”

“I’m glad you didn’t, Shepard.”

“I know you are, but if she’d done the wrong thing, I would have done, and lived with the consequences.”

“I would have understood. It would have been upsetting, but what she did before… I believe she hopes in some sort of redemption.”

“That will have to come after we’ve taken down Saren.”

The base was a real maze, choc-full of geth to kill, a few krogan around too. We found a room full of indoctrinated salarians, figuring out quickly that they must have been part of Kirrahe’s original force. Most of them already had their minds broken, and those released went on the attack, either throwing themselves at geth, one or two even charging at us with whatever weapon they could find. A simple bullet to the head did the trick, but it was something that would rest on your conscience for a while.

We found even more salarians soon afterwards, these in cells. Most were as crazy as the others, but one still seemed to be of relative sound mind, explaining who he was and what happened to him. To call it unpleasant would be an understatement, Saren clearly experimenting on indoctrination. He begged and pleaded to be released, but if he’d had six solid days having that done to him, then he was obviously indoctrinated and beyond trust. When I told him he would have to stay where he was until the end, he didn’t like that, charging at the door a few times before knocking himself out.

“Idiot,” Wrex grumbled.

We seemed to be constantly going up, down, right and left, and even I was left feeling a little lost at times. We consulted the basic schematic of the base, and I think we managed to pinpoint where we were, but whether Saren had managed to build this himself, or he’d found it abandoned, it was perfect for a siege, as the enemy would get lost in the warren of corridors and dead ends.

Finding even more salarians wasn’t a particular surprise, simply amazed that we’d found most of them alive… to begin with. After introducing himself, this one seemed more with it, apparently still to be tortured and indoctrinated. He already knew about what had happened to all the others, so we didn’t have to give him that bad news at least. Offering to release him, as long as we could trust him, we found the console that opened his door. Asking what we planned to do, I told him the plan was to blow the facility. He understood, stating he’d get out of harm’s way as best he could.

If anyone was getting tired, no-one made a peep. My muscles were burning under the strain, feeling my body coated in sweat, but I’d certainly been through a lot worse. I met the eyes of everyone before we moved out, receiving a simple nod that all was okay for now.

Finding an elevator was a moment of respite at least, and I wasn’t the only one feeling confident that we were making headway. Kirrahe reported in, stating they were now really starting to run into the enemy, but for now, they were holding the line. I asked for status of wounded or killed. He told me that wounds had been taken but, so far, no KIAs. That was some good news, at least.

Making it to the top of the elevator, as soon as we stepped out, we noticed a krogan doctor, which made Wrex burst into laughter, his asari assistant, by the looks of it, and a fuck load of husks. Wrex went for the doctor, Liara the asari, the rest of us killed the husks before helping out. “Don’t let them get close!” I said, opting to use my shotgun alongside Tali for simple crowd control. With both of ours blasting, Liara helping out with some biotics, we dealt with them before taking down the asari. As for Wrex, he’d made surprisingly short work of the krogan. “Bloody useless egghead,” Wrex grumbled, kicking the dead body, “Never thought I’d find one of my own in a lab coat.”

“Think he was working on the genophage?” I wondered.

Garrus and Tali quickly checked workstations and consoles around. They downloaded what they could, but I doubted they would have been anywhere close to one. I’d read up about the genophage. Made by the salarians, dispersed by the turians. And I was left thinking krogan science was a long way behind the salarians.

I had a feeling we were getting closer to Saren, and finding another asari who worked for him wasn’t a real surprise. After introducing herself, I pretty much interrogated her for everything she knew. She was surprisingly forthcoming about indoctrination theory, Saren, and also his massive flagship, Sovereign. She even gave me the key for Saren’s lab. No doubt she did all this in the hope, or perhaps belief, I’d simply just let her go.

The bullet that went into her forehead suggested she was rather incorrect in her assumption.

No-one commented as we moved forward, now taking an elevator that headed back down, left even more confused about how high or low we were now in the base. Still, I had a feeling we were approaching the end game. Exiting the elevator, we headed down some steps where we found another Prothean beacon.

“Well, look at that. Didn’t think I’d see one of those again,” Liara exclaimed, “They really do pop up in the most convenient of places at times.”

“Right, stand back. Hopefully my contact with this one goes a lot better than Eden Prime.” Casting a glance back, I added, “And I’ll be fine. It’ll probably hurt like a bitch, but I’ll live… hopefully…”

Stepping towards the beacon, I felt myself lifted up just like the first time. Instead of fighting it this time, I simply relaxed my body and opened my mind to the visions. Unlike the first message, this time, the message wasn’t garbled. I still didn’t quite understand everything, but I now understood the basics. The beacons were a communication system, a warning about the Reapers from the Protheans. There was something else at the end, that I never saw the first time. Didn’t quite recognise that. I figured another meld with Liara would help.

Dropping to the ground, I took a knee and gave my head a shake. I felt exhausted after that, the beacons clearly not designed for someone like a human. I felt the onset of a major headache. For now, I’d just have to power through.

That’s when I looked up and noticed something else. A giant, red… cuttlefish was above us. Holographic, but it also looked vaguely familiar. Heading back up, I walked out onto a platform so I could see it properly, feeling my team gather around me.

You are not Saren.

The clearly synthetic voice boomed around the small room, echoing off the walls. None of us said a word. Everyone, even Wrex, seemed to stand in quiet awe. At least, for a moment… "What the hell is this? Some sort of VI or something?" Wrex asked. The rest of us remained quiet, still stunned at what was before them.

"It's a Reaper. Or, at least, the representation of one," I murmured, "I've just seen something similar in my visions."

Rudimentary creatures of blood and flesh. You touch my mind, fumbling in ignorance, incapable of understanding.

"This isn't just some VI…," Tali stated rather ominously. 

There is a realm of existence so far beyond your own you cannot even imagine it. I am beyond your comprehension. I am Sovereign!

"Fuck me!" exclaimed Shepard, "You're not just some ship Saren found. You're an actual Reaper!" 

Reaper? A label created by the Protheans to give voice to their destruction. In the end, what they chose to call us is irrelevant. We simply are.

"How is that even possible?" Liara asked, "The Protheans disappeared 50,000 years ago. How could you have possibly been there?" 

Organic life is nothing but a genetic mutation. An accident. Your lives are measured in years and decades. You wither and die. We are eternal. The pinnacle of evolution and existence. Before us, you are nothing. Your extinction is inevitable. We are the end of everything.

"Please tell me one of you is recording this," I whispered back to my team. All I got was a sea of shaking heads. "Shit. The Council will never believe this. Not in a million years." I turned my attention back to Sovereign. "You make it sound all so easy. But there is an entire galaxy of races that will stand up and stop you. We'll be ready when the day comes. Mark my words."

Confidence born of ignorance. The cycle cannot be broken.

"Shepard, we've heard of these cycles, from my research. From what I've been able to establish, the Protheans were just the last in a long line of civilisations which have simply disappeared," Liara whispered, before turning to Sovereign, "What are these cycles?"

The pattern has repeated itself more times than you can fathom. Organic civilisations rise, evolve, advance. And at the apex of their glory, they are extinguished. The Protheans were not the first. They did not create the Citadel. They did not forge the mass relays. They merely found them, the legacy of my kind.

"Liara, is it possible?" I asked, "From your research?"

Liara nodded. "I figured there were others before the Protheans. This just confirms it. The Citadel and mass relays must be far older than we realised."

I turned back to Sovereign. "So… You built the mass relays. Why? For what purpose?"

Your civilisations are based on the technology of the mass relays. Our technology. By using it, your society develops along the paths we desire. We impose order on the chaos of organic evolution.

You exist because we allow it.

And you will end because we demand it.

We all looked at each other with concern. Ominous did not even begin to describe the threats being levelled towards us, but also the galaxy as a whole. This was something far beyond our comprehension. Beyond belief, to be honest.

"They're harvesting us! We advance to a certain level they desire then wipe us out!" Liara finally exclaimed, figuring out at least a little of their cause though not reasoning for it, "Why? For what purpose do you do this?"

My kind transcends your understanding. We are each a nation, independent, free of all weakness. You cannot even grasp the nature of our existence.

"Who built you?" Tali asked, "Who were your creators?" Sensible question. Quarians built the geth, so the Reapers… 

We have no beginning. We have no end. We are infinite. Millions of years after your civilisation has been eradicated and forgotten, we will endure.

"Are there any more of you?" Garrus wondered, "Where are the rest of your kind?" 

We are legion. The time of our return is coming. Our numbers will darken the sky of every world. You cannot escape your doom.

I felt my fists clench at my side. The arrogance of this… machine. I couldn't think of much to say, at least to begin with, so I flipped Sovereign the bird, to the mirth of my team behind me, who understood this human reference. "I don't know who the hell you think you are, but humanity has endured far worse than you. Hell, our own history is littered with events of trying to wipe ourselves out. Came close a few times. The galaxy has endured far worse. You may have ended the Protheans. But all I know is this. We'll be ready. And we'll be waiting. You're nothing but threats and hot air."

Your words are as empty as your future. I am the vanguard of your destruction. This exchange is over.

Before I could think of a response, the representation of Sovereign disappeared and all the windows in the office blew out, causing all of us to duck as they were showered in glass.

"Spirits, what was that?" Garrus asked no-one in particular.

"I think you pissed it off, Shepard," Wrex stated with a chuckle.

"Commander? We've got trouble!" Joker reported over the radio.

"Hit me, Joker."

"That ship, Sovereign? It's moving. I don't know what you've done, but that thing has just done a turn that would tear any of our ships in half. It's coming your way. You need to wrap things up there, and fast!"

“Copy that, we’ll get a wriggle on.”

We moved out as a team and heard from the salarians for the first time in a while. In addition to that, Alenko also had good and bad news. The good news was that the bomb was nearly ready for deployment. The bad news was that the geth were closing on his position in heavier numbers. “Should have left him with support,” I muttered, “Joker, anything you can do from your position?”

“Unlikely, Commander. A blast from the Normandy’s guns could just end up killing the LT and setting off the bomb regardless.”

“Fuck! Fuck, fuckity, fuck!” I muttered.

“Commander, I have an idea,” Alenko said.

“I’m all ears, LT.”

Before he could reply, Kirrahe reported charges set, and an almighty explosion happened in the distance. “Well, fuck me, the salarians actually managed it!” Wrex bellowed.

“Commander. I’m going to set the bomb. Short count down in case I’m over-run. Go grab Ashley and the rest and get the hell off of Virmire.”

“Negative, LT,” Ashley retorted, “Commander, Kirrahe and the rest of us can fall back to a safe distance.”

No such thing as a safe distance when a nuke is going to blow in only a few minutes, Chief. Look, Commander, I know this is a bum deal, but this base must be destroyed and… I’m only one man. Save the many, sacrifice the few.”

It was a bum deal, but the man was right. “Everyone, head for the AA tower. We’ll link up with Kirrahe and depart. Go. Now. Ashley and Shiala, prepare for our departure. We need to make sure nothing can shoot down the Normandy.”

“Aye, sir,” Ashley replied.

I opened up a private channel to Alenko. “Kaidan, we still could…”

“Saren is still around here somewhere, sir. You go find him, put a bullet in the bastard, and my sacrifice will be worth it in the end.” I could hear gunfire behind him, the thump of his biotics as well. He wasn’t going down without a fight. “I’ll keep these geth back as long as I can. Once I see the blue of the Normandy disappear, I’ll make sure this baby blows.”

“It was an honour, marine.”

“The honour was all mine, sir. Had a hell of a time. I won’t go to my death with any complaints. Think they could name something after me?”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “I’ll make sure it’s some sort of school. Definitely biotics.”

Thank you, sir. Now, get Saren for me. I’ll do what’s required.”

I figured the Normandy could have got down there, but with all the geth around, there was a chance even my ship could end up toast. So I joined the rest, laying down fire at the incoming geth and krogan. We were all now pissed off, sliding in beside Ashley. She looked at me and her face conveyed a million emotions in one. “We’ll talk back on the ship, Chief.”

“Aye, sir. We’ll make the bastards pay.”

Then Saren arrived, and I saw red, standing out of cover and blasting away with my assault rifle. The bastard had strong shields, and returned fire, enough that my own shields failed and I slid into cover. “That all you got, you indoctrinated cunt!”

"An impressive diversion, Shepard. The geth were utterly convinced these salarians were the real threat. I just hope you know that this was all for nothing. The deaths of these salarians. The soon to be death of your colleague. Such a waste. You obviously don't know what's at stake here. And I cannot let you continue to interfere with my plans."

"What the hell are you doing here, Saren? What possible reason could you have for supporting a Reaper?"

"You've seen the visions, Shepard. You know what the Reapers are capable of. They cannot be stopped."

"Bullshit, you pathetic piece of shit!"

Saren took a step forward towards me, pointing a talon as he yelled. "Don't waste my time, and theirs, on pointless revolt and petty freedoms. Have you not seen what happens when you try to fight? Look at the Protheans. They were annihilated. We were lucky to even have the beacons to warn us."

"So we should just give up without a fight? Is that your grand plan?" I retorted rather sarcastically.

"Is submission not preferable to extinction, Shepard? Trillions dead for no reason other than they wanted to fight, to protect something simply not worth saving, compared to the power of the Reapers."

"You really believe that the Reapers would let us live? You’re fucking delusional! I mean off the fucking deep end. I've seen the visions, too. It was nothing but an annihilation. An extinction. I've spoken to Sovereign. There will be no peace. We will not be allowed to live. They only want our destruction."

Saren just shook his head. "We cannot win this fight, Shepard. The Council won't understand that. None of the galactic races will understand that. We are ruled by emotion instead of logic. But we can work with the Reapers and we may be spared."

I laughed. "Work with them? You’re insane! Indoctrinated! No-one without a screw or two loose could possibly think this is a good idea. Submitting without a fight and our inevitable death? What's the point? I choose to live. And I choose to fight!"

"Ah, you misunderstand. Yes, I have joined with Sovereign. I had hoped this facility would protect me. That is why I've been studying the effects of indoctrination. And I've learned that is my saving grace. I won't be fully indoctrinated as Sovereign knows how capable I am. He needs me to complete his task of finding the Conduit. And then I will be spared. Whatever the case, we must work with the Reapers to be spared on their inevitable arrival."

"Tell me about the Conduit. What is it? Maybe we can work together to stop the Reapers?"

Saren almost laughed at my suggestion. The only reason I was still talking was to give my team time to get into position. "Shepard, the Conduit is the key to your destruction and my salvation. Finding the location is the only reason why I have not been fully indoctrinated."

Now it was my turn to laugh. "You're a fool, Saren! You're already indoctrinated! Sovereign already has you under his power. You're nothing but a puppet with Sovereign pulling the strings. It's pathetic that you could even think you're still in control."

Saren took another step forward, the pair of us barely half a dozen steps apart. I had to give respect to Saren. He appeared fearless about the fact my, and no doubt at least a dozen other weapons, were currently aimed at him. I quickly peered around behind Saren and could see the geth still holding their own positions, weapons still aimed, but still not firing. As far as Id was concerned, Saren and I may as well have been alone. I only had eyes for the turian waiting for the perfect time to strike.

"You misunderstand again, Shepard," Saren replied calmly, as if talking to a child… or an idiot, "Sovereign does need me. Once I find the Conduit, I've been guaranteed a reprieve from what is to follow. That is my only hope."

I lowered my gun as I stood out of cover, trying a different tact, though sensing plenty of weapons aimed in my direction. Sometimes this worked. Others, well… "Join me, Saren. It's not too late. We can work together. We can find the Conduit. We can stop the Reapers together. We'll explain what's happened to the Council. It… may be difficult to explain. But surely that would be better than witnessing the end of civilisation as we know it? How can you possibly justify the annihilation of every organic in the galaxy? Join me and my team, Saren, and we can beat the Reapers together."

Saren just shook his head, almost sadly, as if sorry for me. "No, Shepard. I no longer believe any such victory would be possible. The Reapers are too smart, and too powerful. They have millions of years of experience to deal with the likes of us. You've seen the visions. My only hope of survival is to work with them."

I aimed my gun again, finger trembling on the trigger. I'd tried negotiating. Now I let the anger flow. "You cowardly piece of shit! You were a Spectre. The best of the best. And you swore a vow to protect the galaxy from any and all foes. And now you turn your back on the very people you vowed to protect. You know what, Saren. Fuck you. Fuck you and the Reapers."

I pulled the trigger again and again.

And again nothing happened.

Saren raised an arm and I found himself unable to move, trapped in stasis, groaning in frustration as Saren stepped forward quickly, grabbing me around the throat and lifting me off the ground. His strength was rather surprising as I tried to undo the grip of his talons.

"I'm not doing this for myself, Shepard! How can you not see that? This is our only hope that any of us would survive! But you continue to interfere with my plans. Noveria. Feros. Therum. I had everything organised. No-one would have been any the wiser if you hadn't received your own vision. You are dangerous. You are a problem. You must die."

And Saren continued to squeeze, raising both hands to my throat and the talons surrounding it, to stop my inevitable suffocation as my throat continued to be constricted. I was already starting to feel light-headed as he struggled wildly. I couldn't believe the strength in Saren's arm.

"Let him go, you bosh'tet!" Tali cried, charging out of cover, shotgun raised as she ran towards Saren, taking at least two shots. They impacted into his shields, but again caused no damage, Saren raising his other arm and flinging a warp at her, Tali diving out of the way into cover just in time.

That was just the distraction I needed, as Saren turned his attention back to the me just in time see a fist flying towards him. My fist connected square in the turians' jaw and I dropped to the ground, immediately shaking my hand as a turian’s jaw is rather hard. Saren turned and ran back to his board, chasing after him, pistol raised firing wildly, nothing hitting it's target, as numerous other weapons finally opened as well, the geth returning fire once again. Saren was quick, getting on his board and floating away as I continued to fire, none of my shots managing to pierce his shields.

"Fuck!" I shouted as Saren disappeared from view.

"Commander, there's no time. You need to go now!" shouted Alenko over the radio as the Normandy descended above them.

"Let's go, people! Move! Move! Move!" I shouted, gesturing towards all the survivors dotted around the AA tower. It took only seconds for everyone to run up the ramp of the Normandy. I was the last to board slowly, turning around to look around one last time.

Putting a finger to my ear, I asked, “How long, Alenko?

“Thirty seconds, sir.”

“I’ll keep the channel open, Kaidan. How you doing down there?” I asked as I the Normandy began its ascent.

I heard the chuckle. “I’ve had better days, sir. But… Thanks. For giving me a chance.”

“Want me to speak to anyone when we get back?”

“Yeah, just one person, Shepard. Tell my dad I…”

He didn’t get to finish his sentence as I watched the explosion. I could only bow my head in respect, whispering a quiet prayer. I was not a religious man at all, but at times like that, you could only pray that he would now be looked after by some sort of higher power. As I turned back into the garage, the only thing I could promise Kaidan Alenko was that I was going to make Saren pay.


The post-mission briefing was difficult for everyone. I praised Tali for coming to the rescue regarding Saren. She was rather embarrassed but still managed to take it in good grace. Wrex was pissed off that Saren got away so easily. Liara melded with me and at least could make more sense of my vision, so that was something at least. Ashley was beside herself with guilt and grief. I knew the two had built up quite the rapport during the mission, everyone had, but she was taking it harder than most.

Dismissing everyone but Ashley, I sat back and let her get everything off her chest. “You made the wrong damned choice, sir,” she stated rather harshly, though I noticed her wipe her cheeks.

“You know I would have saved everyone if I could. But the simple fact is I saved you, Shiala and the salarians. It is the burden of command do a reason, Chief. I had to make that call. It was a shit call to be left with having to make, one I hope I don’t have to do again. But if I was left with the same decision, I would choose the many, not the few. Alenko understood and he died knowing that.”

“Nuclear fire though… No-one deserves that.”

“You’re right, but at least it would have been instantaneous. He wouldn’t have felt a thing.”

I watched her take a couple of deep breaths. “This sucks, sir. I’ve already seen too many people die since the bloody geth…”

“We’re marines, Chief. We’ve all seen death too many times.”

“How do you cope, sir? With all that you’ve done already?”

“Fight on in their memory. Make the bastards who did it bleed then die in retribution.”

“Revenge?”

“In a way. Already got payback on Haliat for what he did to Elysium. Now I’m going to make Saren pay for all his insanity, and for making me have to leave Alenko behind.”

“Will we have a memorial service for him?” I nodded. “I’d like to do a reading, if possible.”

“Of course, Chief. We’ll do it tomorrow. Think it’s best we just… take it easy tonight.”

No-one was really in the mood for much conversation as we ate dinner, everyone heading off to be alone with their thoughts pretty much straight away. I headed back to my quarters, sat down at my desk, and started to write the letter required. I’d never had to write one before. Even the one for Jenkins had been written by Anderson. I still had to report in to the Alliance and let them know what happened.

“Commander, I’ve just received word from the Citadel. The Council are requesting the Normandy return immediately.”

“Any reason why, Joker? We have the location of where Saren likely headed next.”

“No, Commander. Just that your presence is expected straight away.”

“Well that’s just fucking stupid,” I mumbled, “Okay, Joker, take us to the Citadel and I’ll see what they want.”

It took me a couple of hours but I eventually finished the letter of condolence. I read it back at least half a dozen times. It just sounded so hollow. I really liked Alenko, he was a good man, and certainly didn’t deserve how he died. But there are regulations to these letters and they just come across as… well, a little fake, to be honest.

I was just about ready to hit the hay when there was a knock at the door. I opened it to find Ashley standing on the other side. Without a word she simply stepped forward to hug me. Ashley Williams didn’t cry. Or, at least, I’d never seen her cry. She may have done it in private, but for her to do it in front of me? That was something new. I shut and locked the door and simply closed the embrace.

I held her for as long as I felt her shudder from the tears until she finally seemed to calm down, feeling her relax in my arms. I raised a hand to gently stroke her hair, my other arm wrapped tightly around her body. I inhaled her scent, and even after everything, there was a trace of deodorant and perfume. I could feel her body moulded into mine.

She leaned back and her kiss wasn’t a surprise. I responded straight away, though it didn’t last long, resting our foreheads against each other. “I really want this, Shepard,” she whispered, “I want to end this shit day with something… good…”

“Ash…”

“I know you like me, Shepard. I know you want me, but I also understand why… you pull back.”

“I have to. I can’t get close to anyone under my command. It will cause… problems, for me.”

She met my eyes. “Can I stay the night? Maybe you can just… you know, hold me?”

“You know it won’t just be that.”

She leaned forward and kissed me again, this time deepening it immediately. My body reacted of its own accord, pushing her back until she was pressed against the wall, hearing her whimper as I broke the kiss and gently bit her neck. “Shepard,” she breathed. I kissed back up, our mouths meeting. My mind was in turmoil. I’d just lost a good friend. I really shouldn’t be doing this with her. I really wanted to see her naked.

It was a real battle of wills. I could have slid my hand down her trousers and they’d have come away wet. I definitely poked her, which caused her to smile even while kissing me.

I broke apart again, taking a step back this time. She looked part pleased, part shattered. No doubt her mind was in complete turmoil. I walked to the bathroom and grabbed a towel, handing it to her. “Have a shower first. Get rid of everything from today. And before you ask, yes, I’d like to join you, but no, I’d better not.”

“I’ll just walk out naked.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “If you want, by all means. But I’ll still be sitting here dressed.”

She disappeared and I soon heard water running, sitting back at my desk, signing off the letter and sending it off. I’m sure Anderson would be in contact soon enough to offer his thoughts and condolences too. I was sitting back, reading reports, when I looked at the time and realised she’d been in there quite a while.

Knocking at the door, there was no response. “Ash?” I asked softly. Still no response. “Ashley?” I asked again.

Taking a deep breath, I opened the door to find her sat under the water against the wall. It had turned cold by now. Taking off my jacket, I immediately covered her as I sat down next to her, holding her in my arm as I turned off the water. I heard her teeth chatter so stood up to grab a towel, kneeling in front of her and at least drying off her hair.

Sitting down next to her again, she slowly but surely sat up before straddling my lap, and I got a good look at her naked body for the first time. She was gorgeous. Slim and athletic. Breasts were probably a C if I guessed correctly. Little fur above her pussy. And the tell-tale signs of battle we all knew well. She leaned down to kiss me again, my hands going to her naked back. I felt a long scar on her lower left, a bullet wound on her upper right. As for her hands, they were busy unbuckling my belt.

“Fuck it,” I muttered, which made her, of all things, giggle.

Cock released, it didn’t take long for her to slide down it, gasping as I filled her. Once my length was inside her, she kissed me even harder. “I need this, Shepard,” she breathed, “Please.”

“Wrap your legs around me.”

She did that as I managed to lift myself up, Ashley hanging on as I carried her to my bed. Resting her back, I threw off the rest of my clothes and joined her, immediately sliding inside her once again. “Wow,” she whispered, “You’re fucking built, Shepard. I mean, totally hot.”

I couldn’t help chuckle at her tone. “You’re not bad yourself, Chief Williams.”

“Not bad?”

“Gorgeous,” I replied with a smile.

She draped one arm around the back of my neck, caressing my cheek with her other arm, as we slowly coupled. Her lip trembled from time to time as no doubt her emotions were all over the place. All I did was gaze into her eyes the entire time, leaning down to kiss her every so often, letting her know how beautiful she was, or how good she felt the rest of the time. Feeling her legs wrap around me, it changed the angle and made her cry out. “Fuck that’s good,” she moaned.

“We didn’t even have foreplay, Ash,” I mentioned.

“I just wanted this tonight, Shepard. I just wanted… you. I wanted us. After everyth…”

I kissed her before she could finish. “I understand. Grief works in weird ways.”

“Done this yourself?”

I stopped as I was buried inside her. “After Elysium… I went wild. A long line of… you know, they meant nothing, it was just…” I trailed off. “This is different, at least. I genuinely liked you for starters.”

She pushed me off her, showing her surprising strength, before she mounted me, resting hands on my chest. “Just so you know for next time, Shepard, I love to ride cock.” She gyrated as I was buried inside her, watching her face light up as she moaned. “And I think I’m going to love riding yours.”

Ashley Williams was right about one thing. She definitely loved riding my cock as she had her first orgasm within a few minutes. I thought she would have wanted to stop but she kept going, and enjoyed a second one a few minutes later. That’s when I grabbed her firm arse, got my legs into position, and really fucked her. That made her lean down, resting her forearms on the bed, lips pressed against mine, as I felt the oncoming orgasm.

“Give it to me,” she whispered.

“Fucking hell,” I grunted, “Going to be a good one.”

I buried myself fast and hard a few times before I finally felt eruption. The sense of relief was palpable, immediately relaxing once I felt empty, Ashley shuffling as she straddled me as she relaxed against my chest, resting one of my arms on her back. We lay back in silence, listening to each other breath.

“Well,” she finally said.

“Guess it was bound to happen eventually,” I admitted.

“I really needed that, Shepard. I needed to feel… alive. Is that wrong?”

“No. As I said, grief is a funny thing. People have different ways of reacting. I certainly feel… content now.”

“Can I stay?”

“Ashley, I’m not going to fuck you then kick you out. You’re definitely staying.”

She lifted herself up slightly. “Promise me this won’t change things. I know I’ve…”

I leaned up, kissing her softly. “It won’t, and it wasn’t just you. I could have kicked you out. Glad I didn’t now!”

That earned a smile before suggesting we should definitely shower again. There was enough hot water for a quick wash before we dried off and headed to bed. Ashley definitely enjoyed spooning against me, feeling her wriggle her butt as she got comfortable. As I felt her relax, I whispered into her ear, “You are beautiful, Ashley Williams.”

She didn’t reply to that, feeling her squeeze my hands that she was holding. I remained awake until I sensed she had drifted off to sleep. It was a good way to end a shit day and I guess what happened was always going to happen. Circumstances could have been better, but I think we both needed to blow off steam and we dealt with grief in similar ways.

I could now only wonder why I was being summoned back to the Council.

Chapter Text

Walking out with Ashley Williams the next morning certainly led to a rather silent mess hall, all eyes falling on her as I quickly followed her out. Standing next to her, a quick glance showed she was blushing quite brightly. “Get some breakfast,” I suggested quietly, before fixing the rest with a stare. “Yes?” I could see Tali looking between the pair of us, obviously surprised and I knew this was going to cause problems. “Want to talk about it?” I wondered.

“Not at all, Shepard. I knew it would happen eventually. I’ll have a chat with Ashley later. I know all about it so it’s not a problem.”

“Rather open minded of you, Tali,” Chakwas stated. I can only assume she would have spoken to the good doctor about being intimate with someone.

“Ashley likes Shepard. I like Shepard. Shepard likes both of us. Ashley being intimate with Shepard was an inevitability. But most importantly, I still love Ashley, and she still loves me.”

I couldn’t help smile at her words. For someone who I thought was rather… innocent, perhaps even a little naïve, her outlook had certainly developed the more she learned.

Ash had already grabbed a tray and sat next to the quarian. Tali whispered something into her ear, making Ash smile, nodding her head. Glancing around the rest, Shiala smouldered with absolute jealousy, while Liara looked… disappointed. I knew why as she’d made her feelings and intentions known. I guess it was going to be at least a little awkward now. But, quite frankly, they were adults and would just have to deal with it.

Waking up, I talked with Ashley, letting her know the score. Yes, we’d had sex. No, it wouldn’t change things. No, it probably wouldn’t happen again on the Normandy, at least during the current mission. No, I was not interested in a relationship. Yes, once the mission was over and we had some spare time, we could use each other for ‘stress relief’. Yes, I’d like Tali to join us. Yes, I’d be interested in other things as well.

Grabbing a breakfast tray, I sat down opposite Garrus, Wrex alongside the turian. “How you doing, big guy?” I asked of Wrex.

“Seen a lot of death, Shepard. Unfortunately, you do get a little used to it. But Alen… Kaidan, he was my friend. And I don’t mean the obvious thing. I mean he was a genuine friend, someone I could sit down and have a quiet word with.”

Garrus nodded. “His presence will definitely be missed. Good man. Definitely future CO material.”

“Glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that,” I stated before adding, “We’ll hold a memorial service later today, before we arrive back on the Citadel.”

“Still think that’s bloody stupid, sir,” Ashley said.

“Couldn’t agree more, Chief, but I cannot ignore a direct order from the Council. I might be a Spectre and have free reign, but they’re still my bosses and I do answer to someone, at least.”

The mood otherwise was still sombre, everyone falling silent as we finished breakfast before everyone filed out. I kept myself occupied with busy work, simply waiting until we docked back at the Citadel. When the time came, I put on my dress blues and joined everyone else in the garage. Even Benezia was there, which was a slight surprise, meeting her eyes and nodding silent thanks.

Words were difficult but also easy to find, if you know what I mean. It’s easy to talk about the life of someone who had impacted the lives of everyone he’d met. I didn’t dwell on his past too much, he’d dealt with all that himself. Instead, I discussed his role in the Alliance, the list of commendations from previous postings, the fact he was an important member of the Normandy, and that his presence would be missed by all. I then opened the floor to anyone who wished to speak. Ashley walked forward, carrying a small datapad.

“I may come across a rather hard-arsed soldier sometimes. Grew up in a military family. No time for bullshit, as my dad used to say. Don’t really know the right words most of the time either. Dad was the same. The one thing we both loved and bonded over was literature, particularly poetry. I’d like to read a passage for you.”

She then placed the datapad down and gazed around the garage. It wasn’t a real surprise that she knew the words by heart.

“This is my son, mine own Telemachus,

To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle

Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil

This labour, by slow prudence to make mild

A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees

Subdue them to the useful and the good.

Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere

Of common duties, decent not to fail

In offices of tenderness, and pay

Meet adoration to my household gods,

When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

 

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:

There gloom the dark broad seas. My mariners,

Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me

That ever with a frolic welcome took

The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed

Free hearts, free foreheads; you and I are old;

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;

Death closes all: but something ere the end,

Some work of noble note, may yet be done,

Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.”

She wiped her cheeks, picked up the datapad, and joined the rest of the crew. We didn’t have a marine who could play the bugle, so we had to do with one played through an omni-tool. Once the tune finished, everyone bowed their heads for a moment of silence and remembrance. Clearing my throat, everyone looking up, I simply said, “You have my thanks for being here today. Wherever he is, Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko would be proud to have been loved by so many.”

The Normandy remained quieter than normal until we were closet to docking on the Citadel. I think everyone was ready to just get off the ship and relax, let their minds decompress and perhaps deal with the final stages of grief. I told everyone they would have shore leave until I found out what the Council wanted, but that a skeleton staff would be required. Pressly assured me he’d keep the ship functioning. I hadn’t felt completely stressed during the entire mission, though that’s not to say I didn’t deal with a world of shit, but he’d taken on some of the responsibilities as I dealt with the possible idea of galactic annihilation. I definitely owed the man a beer.

“Do you want any of us to come with you?” Liara asked as my ground team gathered around.

“No. I’ll find out what the Council want then get in contact with you, let you know if we’re taking off straight away or if there’s, I don’t know, a mountain of paperwork to fill in. I’ve reported to them after each mission, so they aren’t being left in the dark. I think they’re just…” I trailed off, not wanting to really let them know what I think.

“Bunch of pyjacks, Shepard. We’re wasting time here,” Wrex grunted.

“I agree with the wasting time part. For now, just head off, clear your heads, enjoy at least a few hours off.”

They all headed off, some towards the Presidium, others towards the Wards. The last person to leave was Benezia, admitting surprise I was letting her roam freely. “If you want to run off, Benezia, I can’t stop you.”

The smirk made me smile. “Why would I want to do that, Shepard?”

Shrugging, I replied, “I’m sure you’re bored out of your brains on this ship. Not sure what C-Sec or the Council would say or do if I let them know I’d released you.”

Benezia turned and walked towards me, standing up to kiss my cheek. “I have no plans on doing any such thing, Shepard.” Then she definitely surprised me by giving me quite the kiss, and I’ll admit, I couldn’t help myself by responding. It lasted a good few seconds before she pulled back, the smirk still on her face. “Well, I think it’s about time I did that.”

I could have asked her a few questions, like ‘What game are you playing at?’ but I honestly think she just… liked me, for whatever reason. “No complaints from me,” I finally said.

She turned and walked out of the airlock, definitely putting an extra sway into those matronly hips of her. I watched until she disappeared from view, running a hand down my face, giving myself a few seconds to gather my thoughts, before heading straight for the Council Tower. It was as peaceful as ever, and as I was a Spectre, I didn’t have to wait long to be granted an audience.

Udina was already inside, which did worry me, as that worm was no doubt trying to get involved somehow, scheming away as always. As I headed to the platform in front of the Councillors, he stopped whatever he was saying, and he seemed rather pleased though as smug as always. His first words were a surprise though. “Good work, Shepard. Thanks to you, the Council’s finally taking real action against Saren!”

Tevos nodded as I switched attention to her. “The ambassador is correct, Commander. If Saren is foolish enough to attack the Citadel, as you believe, we will be ready for him.”

“Patrols are stationed at every mass relay linking Citadel space to the Terminus Systems,” Sparatus added.

“Okay, that’s all well and good, but what about Ilos? When will you be launching the attack?” I wondered.

Valern shook his head. “Ilos is only accessible through the Mu Relay, deep inside the Terminus Systems, Commander. If we send a fleet in there, the only possible outcome is full-scale war.”

Now Udina played his card. “Now is the time for discretion, Commander. Saren’s greatest weapon was secrecy. Exposed, he is no longer a threat. This is over.”

“Jesus fucking Christ, do you seriously think…” I pinched the bridge of my nose, feeling a headache oncoming from the sheer idiocy on display. “Okay, then let me ask you this. What about the Conduit?"

Valern shrugged. “Saren is a master manipulator. The Conduit is just a distraction from his real plan to attack the Citadel.”

“Then what about Sovereign? I spoke to the ship on Virmire. The thing is a Reaper. Saren is indoctrinated, a mere servant for the invasion that is about to happen.”

Tevos shook her head. “Only you have seen the Reapers. And then only in visions. We won’t invade the Terminus Systems because of a dream.”

I leaned forward against the railing. “I’ve worked my arse off getting to this point, tracking down every lead across the galaxy chasing that son of a bitch. I don’t know why the hell you’ve called me back here, but if you want discretion, I can do it.”

Sparatus snorted. “You detonated a nuclear device on Virmire. I wouldn’t call that discreet!”

Oh, that started it. “And I sacrificed a member of my crew to ensure Saren’s base was destroyed, so go fuck yourself, councillor.”

“Calm, Commander. Your style served you well in the Traverse, Commander. We recognise that and you have our thanks, and our sympathies. But Ilos requires a deft touch. We have the situation under control.”

I could only grip the railing harder as I felt anger, rage course through my veins. What a bunch of clueless, spineless… How the ever living fuck did these clowns end up running the galaxy? I finally looked up, gritting my teeth, trying to keep my temper in check. “If you don’t listen to me, if you don’t do anything more than sit and wait around for Saren, then we’re all fucked. The Conduit is the key. If Saren finds that, we’re all screwed. We need to go to Ilos. Now.”

“Ambassador Udina, I get the sense that Commander Shepard isn’t willing to let this go,” Sparatus warned. I guess telling him to go fuck himself was blowing up in my face.

I felt Udina’s eyes on my back. “There are serious political implications here, Shepard. Humanity’s made great gains thanks to you. But you’re becoming more trouble than you’re worth.” I stood up and met his eyes. He was a coward, immediately looking away from my glare, as he brushed by me. “It’s just politics, Commander. You’ve done your job, now let me do mine. We’ve locked out all of the Normandy’s primary systems. Until further notice, you’re grounded.”

I turned him around and grabbed his collar. “Nobody sells me out and stabs me in the back, Udina,” I growled.

“You’d better calm yourself, Commander.”

“Oh, I’ll calm myself alright.”

I put my forehead straight into his nose, hearing him cry out as it no doubt broke immediately. I followed that up with a fist in the gut, letting go of his collar as he dropped to the ground. I got down on a knee and lifted his chin. “Remember this moment, Udina. Remember it well. No-one fucks with me.” I stood up and looked over the Council. “And you worthless bunch of cunts are just as bad. You seriously underestimate what Saren is capable of. He was a fucking Spectre and you think you can handle him with what, negotiation? He won’t negotiate and won’t go down without a fight. How you sacks of shit ever managed to unite even part of the galaxy is absolutely fucking amazing. So, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to give you this,” I flipped them the bird, “And you three just have a fucking peachy day now.”

“You’ll pay for this, Shepard,” Udina groaned.

I got down on a knee again. “Udina, I could shoot you right now and there’s not a damn thing anyone can do about it. But you’re not worth the fucking bullet.” I stood up and put my boot into his stomach, sighing with relief. “God, that really felt good. Conniving little cunt.” With a mock salute in the direction of the Council, I turned and walked out of the chamber. If the Normandy was impounded, I guess I had to go check for myself.

The bastard wasn’t lying, of course. Soon as I approached, a dozen marines lined up, weapons aimed. “You know that’s my ship, right?” I asked.

They’d sent someone who outranked me, at least in the Alliance. Looked like a Major from the shoulder patches. “It was your ship, sir. At the moment, we have orders not to allow any crew member on board, and I have additional orders that any crew member who attempts to board this vessel shall be shot on sight.” He paused before adding, “Apologies, Commander. Most of these boys know what you’ve done, but orders are orders.”

“And you’d shoot even me?”

“Yes, Commander,” he replied immediately, “Even the first human Spectre.”

I met the eyes of each marine. They were trained to follow orders. Their faces blank. Their weapons still. All of them aimed at me, most at my centre mass, but one or two would go for the headshot. If I even thought about approaching, I’d be a dead man. For now, I was out of the game. “Very well, Major. I’ll go away.”

“Thank you, Commander. I’d rather not kill one of our own.”

Heading away from the docking bay, I sent a crew wide message about the situation. To say I was inundated with replies would be an understatement. My ground team were not happy and we agreed to meet for drinks, as I really needed something to cool off after that. I made it to the bar first, ordering a beer and polishing that off in seconds, ordering a second one as a couple of the others walked in. Soon I had most of the ground team hanging around, asking plenty of questions.

“You hit him?” Ashley asked.

“Headbutted him, then hit him, then kicked him for good measure.”

“Good,” she stated with a smile. “Slimy bastard.”

“Repercussions?” Garrus wondered.

“Honestly don’t give a fuck. Alliance want to throw the book at me, they can go spin. I’ve worked too damn hard to track down Saren to be put on the sidelines now.”

“So what do we do?” Tali asked.

“At the moment, I don’t really know. The Normandy is under heavy guard with orders of shoot to kill. Even Joker isn’t on the Normandy, and that’s a rare thing. At the moment, we’re out of the game, but we’re not finished yet. We just need a plan.”

As drinks were consumed, we discussed what we could do. Wrex suggested a full on assault of the docks to take back the ship, but I insisted I wasn’t going to kill any Alliance personnel. There wasn’t any real way we could sneak onto the ship. Honestly, we were stuck.

Eventually, it was just Ashley, Tali, Wrex and Garrus with me, Liara and Shiala heading off early to find somewhere to stay the night. Ashley and Tali were sitting either side of me, both being very friendly. I’d calmed down by now, at least, so could appreciate the attention.

“Since we’ve got some time now, Shepard, why don’t we do something… well, a little crazy.”

“What’s on your mind, Ash?”

“Well, I’ve slept with you, enjoyed Wrex, but I haven’t had turian yet. Why don’t the five of us go to that same room you rented for Tali and I and have some fun?”

I glanced at Wrex, who immediately started to laugh. Garrus looked awkward. “I can’t do that, Ashley. What about Chloe?”

“Fuck it, bring her along too. She’s French, isn’t she? I’ve heard they’re a rather open-minded people.”

“But we’ve only just…” He sighed. “Look, how about I just go and you four do what you want?”

“No turian cock for me?” Ashley pouted.

“I’m afraid not. I like you, Ashley, but not in that way. And, more importantly, I love Chloe. And I’m not interested in being intimate with anyone else except her.”

“Good man, Garrus,” I stated, “Perhaps you should go see her. I’ll let you know when the situation changes.”

“Thanks, Shepard.”

Once he left, Ashley leaned into me. “So just us four then? Do you want to see Tali out of her suit?”

I glanced at the quarian beside me. “God yes. If she’s anything like you described…”

“Her pussy is divine, Shepard. You must eat her out.”

I picked up my glass and finished it in one gulp. “Fuck it, considering I’m no longer in command, we’re having some fun. You joining us, Wrex?”

“You know what, think I’ll sit this one out, Shepard. I think you should have some fun with your friends.”

“Sure?” Ashley asked, “I can take both of you at once.”

“Really?” I asked.

Ashley shrugged. “I’m willing to give it a go. That just means you’ll get my arse, Shepard. I don’t think I could handle Wrex there.”

We all looked at Wrex. He got up and wandered to the bar, ordering a shot of something, which he downed, before walking back to us. I could help chuckle. “Alright, that didn’t take much convincing. Let’s go,” I suggested.

I called ahead to the same hotel, wondering if they could do the same thing as last time. They could do so immediately, booking the room next door as well. Tali went into the clean room first, where there was also a small decontamination room. The three of us washed thoroughly in the other room first before joining Tali, surprised she was still in her suit when I walked in, Ashley suggesting she’d wait with Wrex for a little while. “You going to have him fuck you?”

“I thought you might like some alone time with Tali first, Shepard. We’ll just wait in here.”

I gave her a soft kiss. “Thanks. And you’re definitely getting fucked later.”

“I plan on being rather sore later tonight, Shepard.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. Tali was clearly nervous as I walked in, waiting for decontamination cycle to finish before walking in. I’d thrown on just a shirt and trousers after my shower, Tali slowly rising to her feet as she walked towards me. “Just us two?” she asked quietly.

“For now. I think Ashley is about to get seriously pounded by Wrex again.” Tali giggled as I added, “And I guess you asked for me alone too?”

She nodded as I walked towards her, eventually wrapping my arms around her, holding her close. “Oh, I like this,” she whispered. I could feel her shake every so often.

“Nervous?” I felt her head nod. “Were you the same with Ashley?”

“I was nervous with her but it was… different. You’re…” She looked up, watching her eyes shine brightly behind the mask. I could just about see the faint outline of her face. “Shepard, I’ve crushed on you hard since you walked into that alley. I never thought…” She ran a hand down her mask and looked down. “I never thought you’d wonder or want to see what’s behind this?”

I placed a finger under her mask, lifting her head so her eyes met mine. “Well, no time like the present then…”

Raising my hand to the side, she helped guide my hand to the clasps that kept it in place. Once I’d undone those, there was a slight hiss before I gently started to pull it away. She was now shaking quite a bit, clearly nervous about what was about to happen. Pulling the mask away completely, I felt the grin form immediately. She’d closed her eyes, and I noticed the tears trickle down her cheeks. Placing the mask down on the bed next to us, then helped lower the hood before I then freed the rest of her head from the suit. The long, raven hair was a real surprise. Looking down, she had very faint eyebrows, her eyes were still closed, her nose was tiny, her lips were full. Her skin was what I would call ashen-purple, and she was very pale. I could see traces of what were… cybernetics? I wasn’t quite sure, but knew quarians had been modified to deal with life on the Fleet and in suits.

“Well, hello there, beautiful,” I whispered.

Her eyes opened and I felt the smile only broaden, particularly when her face lit up with her own. “You really mean that?” she whispered.

“Definitely.” I leaned down and gently pressed my lips to hers, feeling arms swung around my neck immediately as the kiss deepened. Since she’d had a bit of experience with Ashley already, our first kiss probably wasn’t as awkward as it could have been. In fact, I think she must have taken tips, as she was already rather good. Running my hands around her back, I couldn’t stop myself from getting a handful of that arse. She giggled when I gave it a gentle squeeze.

“Someone approves,” she said softly.

“Hips and arse, Tali. You should thank whatever god you believe in.”

“Want to help me get out of my suit?”

“Um… yes, please.”

I’ll admit, it took a bit of work getting her out of the suit. She took off her gloves first, noticing two fingers larger than my own, with a different sort of fingernail. We then focused on taking off her top half, exposing her rather slim arms before her chest and back piece practically came off together. That exposed her top half and I got my first look at her breasts. About a handful, the same pale colour though her nipples seemed to be dark purple more than anything. There was also the trace of cybernetics running up her sides and stomach. Running a finger over them, I did ask what they were.

“We’ve had to make many adaptions to our physiology due to living on a ship. We’re still organic but… We need help just to survive. It’s why we need to return to our homeworld, Shepard. We’re probably going to die out in space if we don’t.”

“Things are that bad?” She shrugged, I guess just voicing her own opinion. “Want to go back?”

“Oh, not yet. Not by a long shot.”

I held her close to me, feeling her shake and hearing her giggle as my fingers gently caressed her back. She was obviously very sensitive so a little ticklish as well. “Keelah, I’ve waited so long for this, Shepard,” she whispered.

Leaning down, I kissed her again, holding her close to me as we did. Despite how much shorter she was, as she was a good six inches at least, we made it work. Breaking apart, the desire in her eyes was something else, and I knew we had to move things on. Focusing on her lower parts, we removed her suit first before exposing her feet, again rather different to my own. The part covering her shins was next before her upper thigh and groin parts could then be removed. I sat on the bed as she then stood naked in front of me. And I was hard as a rock.

“Fucking hell,” I whispered.

“What?” she asked, turning very shy, very quickly.

I pulled her towards me, running a hand up and down her back, caressing her arse, as I kissed between her breasts and down her chest. “You are absolutely fucking gorgeous, Tali. Your body matches your personality one hundred and ten percent.”

Feeling her start to shake, I looked up to see she was crying. Standing up, I held her close as she let it all out. I think it was nerves and a whole lot of other feelings she was experiencing. Once I felt her settle down, it was no surprise she started to fumble at my belt. Figuring I may as well help, I took off my shirt as my trousers hit the floor, Tali wasting no time hooking a finger into my underwear and lowering that too.

“Oh my,” she whispered before her hand gently wrapped itself around my cock. “Oh my, Shepard…”

“I’m glad you approve, Tali.”

That made her giggle. “Oh, this is definitely going inside me very shortly, Shepard. Definitely, absolutely, I will not take no for an answer.”

“That’s why I’m here, Tali. I wasn’t walking out with us making love.”

She looked up at that, the smile forming quickly. “I love the sound of that, Shepard,” she said softly.

Pushing her gently back onto the bed, she seemed to realise quite quickly what I wanted to do, shuffling back so her head rested on a pillow, while I kissed up one her legs before I hovered over her. Leaning down to kiss her lips, she definitely knew what I was up to, opening up her body so I could kiss her neck. She was still very sensitive, gasping loudly when my lips touched her skin there, and she giggled as I slowly kissed down her body, showing her breasts plenty of appreciation.

Hearing her gasp, she whispered, “I had no idea they could be so… sensitive.”

“You like it?”

“I love it, Shepard,” she breathed.

So I spent some time there, completely ignoring her sex, and I’ll be honest, I could feel the heat from it just from resting my body close to her. Slowly kissing down her body, appreciating how fit and athletic she was, something no-one would realise because of the suit she wore, I ignored her sex again by kissing down one thigh before swapping to kiss up the other.

“Shepard!” she moaned.

“Yes, Tali?”

“Stop teasing me… Please!”

She was almost begging me, and I’m not a hard hearted bastard, and to be honest, I really wanted to make her cum. So I stopped, kissing up and over her sex, gently tickling her stomach, which earned a giggle, before kissing down and finally tasting her properly. She moaned loudly the first time my tongue ran up her slit, and once I got a taste, there was no chance I was going to stop.

“Keelah… Shepard…” she cried softly as I wrapped a hand around each thigh and practically went to town on her. She tasted… different to human or asari. Not sure why, and it wasn’t a bad taste, just different. But my tongue was soon probing her depths, feeling her fingers run through my hair, legs wrapped around my upper arms, as she was soon crying out my name or other words which seem rather unintelligible at the time.

“I’m going to cum,” she cried softly. That surprised me a little bit, though that simply made me double down on what I was doing. I felt one of her hands clasp my hair to keep my place, almost forcing her body down into my mouth, gyrating against my mouth. To be honest, it was a complete turn on, and I was glad she knew what she wanted.

“Make me cum!” she cried, though it was nearly an order as well. So I switched all attention to her swollen clit. Yep, she lasted about thirty seconds before I felt her shudder violently in my hands, crying out as her back arched. “Keelah!” she cried loudly, though she made no effort to stop me, so I just kept on doing what I was doing. I think she was soon sobbing through her orgasm, though her hand tightened on my hair, almost forcing me to keep going. “Don’t stop,” she sobbed.

I finally lifted my mouth for a second. “Sure?”

“Please, Shepard,” she sobbed, “I want to cum again from what you’re doing.”

So I kept going, now practically rubbing her groin in my face. Every few seconds, she’d start to shudder and shake, wondering if she wasn’t going to just pass out on me. But after another couple of minutes, she whispered she was about to have another one. That made her cry out again, similar to her first one, and that was when she finally cried enough for the time being, letting go of my hair and asking me to stop. I kissed up her body, watching her shudder every so often, before I rested above her. She didn’t hesitate kissing me.

“Give me a couple of minutes, Shepard. My heart is going crazy.” She leaned up to give me a soft kiss. “Then you can make love to me.”

“Gentle?”

“I’ve never had….” She trailed off and blushed. “Shepard, you know I’ve never…”

“Tali, I’m joking. I certainly don’t want to hurt you.”

We made out for a little while, letting her recover, before we positioned ourselves so my cock rested at her entrance. Even just grazing her pussy made her gasp and smile as we kissed. “I’ve waited so long,” she whispered.

“How long?” I wondered.

“The day you saved me, Shepard. You looked at me with such kind eyes… and the fact you saved me. Then everything since!” She paused before adding, “I love Ashley, I really do. We’ve made a real connection; one I’ll always treasure. But you, Shepard… I’ve fantasised about you since that first day.”

I leaned down to kiss her. “Time to stop fantasising then.”

Pressing against her, she simply leaned back and smile as the head of my cock slowly slipped inside her, earning a loud gasp once it was inside her. I slid a little more with every few seconds, feeling her shuffle underneath me as she got comfortable. I was surprised at how much she could take before suggesting we start to make love.

It was some of the best sex I’d ever had up to that day. Tali seemed to have an idea of what to do, or at least an idea of what she liked and definitely what I might like. But, to be honest, she seemed to just love the fact she was underneath me, her hands running up and down my arms and back, as I gently thrust into her, earning plenty of moans and gasps and she’d occasionally adjusted her body, definitely smiling whenever I seemed to hit somewhere different inside her.

But it was when I lay on my back and she straddled me that she really appreciated me. Watching her tiny body slide down my cock was almost awe inspiring, and once she settled and started to ride me, my orgasm was guaranteed. I was going to cum before. Now? I was going to last five minutes if I was lucky.

She came first, and she came hard. I mean the sort of orgasm where she lay flat against my stomach and couldn’t even handle me touching her for a few minutes. It was only after she recovered that she realised. “You haven’t cum, Shepard.”

“Just waiting for you, gorgeous.”

That just made her smile before she leaned down, resting her forearms to either side of me. “Well, I think you need to cum, Shepard. Now why don’t you just grab my arse and fuck me.” I couldn’t help raise eyebrows at her tone as she kissed me. “Shepard, I can handle a few minutes of you pounding me hard. And I want you to fuck me. So fuck me.”

So I fucked her. I grabbed onto that arse and I gave her everything I had. I wasn’t going to last long, no more than five minutes, but she seemed to love every second, her kisses, when capable, more passionate than those before. She eventually rested an arm next to me, her eyes meeting mine, and she’d whisper all sorts of rude things to me before I finally buried myself inside her and came hard. The sort of orgasm that necessitated me lying back for at least a couple of minutes and my mind going blank.

I felt her kissing me softly on the lips as my frazzled mind started to work again, holding her close to me, both of us unable to stop grinning at the other. “Keelah, I needed that,” she whispered.

“You guys finished yet?” Ashley called over my omni-tool. Tali and I shared a glance and laughed.

“Are you waiting or something, Ash?” Tali wondered.

“Wrex and I have behaved, but I really need to be fucked right now, and Wrex is getting bored.”

“Thought you two would have fucked by now?” I suggested.

“I made him wait, which probably wasn’t the best idea.”

I looked at Tali, and she seemed happy to continue, so I replied, “Okay, come on through, we can make this work.”

Tali didn’t move as Ash and Wrex burst through the door, took one look, and almost turned around immediately. Wrex shut the door as Ash came and joined us straight away, laying a gentle kiss on Tali’s cheek before she lay down next to me. “Enjoy yourself, Tali?”

“It was wonderful, Ash. Glad I waited though. Made it even better, I think.”

“Yeah, I felt the same thing after we made love.”

“Guess it’s your turn now?”

“What will you do?”

“I’ll just watch, perhaps just hug Shepard or something. Not sure how this will work.”

Tali slid off me as I sat up and wandered over to the small fridge, grabbing a bottle of water, offering Tali one. Ashe and Wrex said they didn’t need anything just yet. I knocked back most of the bottle before we all looked at each other, and for a few seconds, it was a little awkward. Finally, Wrex made a move without saying anything, simply laying back on the bed, and that was the first time I got a look at what he was packing. “Fucking hell,” I muttered.

He didn’t say anything as Ashley climbed onto the bed, immediately straddling the krogan, slightly surprised that she started to rub herself along his length. I’m man enough to admit he was much larger than me, and definitely wondered how Ashley was going to take both him and myself at the same time. Thankfully, Wrex had walked in with a bottle of lube, Tali handing it to Ash, noticing she did pour a rather liberal amount on Wrex. I stood back next to Tali. “So, watched this before?”

That made her giggle. “Only the once, Shepard.”

“And you’re ready for me next, Ash?”

She glanced at me and smiled. “That’s what I was doing next door, skipper. Even lubed myself up nice and slick for you to just slide it in. After you’ve got yourself ready, of course.”

“I’ll do it!” Tali exclaimed, and I couldn’t help chuckle as she happily got down on her knees, taking the bottle and pouring a very liberal amount in her hands. As Ash slowly slid down onto Wrex, Tali started to stroke me back to life, not that I’d gone particularly soft, but just making sure I was nice and hard once again.

Ash was riding Wrex slowly, obvious waiting for me to get into position. I guess she was expecting me to take charge of the situation. Climbing onto the bed, I got a great look at her firm arse, giving it a firm slap at the same time. That made her look back and smile. “You approve, Skipper?” I answered by lowering my mouth and flicking her arsehole with my tongue. That made her gasp before I ran my tongue up her back before I gently nibbled at her neck.

“Ready, Chief?” I breathed into her ear.

“Just be gentle. Only done this once,” she whispered, “Never had two cocks in me at once before.”

“So only anal once?” She nodded. “And now you’re taking two at a time?”

“Well, if Tali had a dick…”

I sat back for a moment, making sure I was well and truly lubed up, before I gently prodded Ashley with my fingers, eventually slipping a couple inside her. That made her moan, still barely moving on Wrex, wondering how he was doing. “Wrex?”

“Shepard.”

“Doing okay?”

“Just waiting for you to start. Not sure what I’m meant to do other than provide the second dick.”

“Trust me, Wrex, you won’t have to move much,” Ash moaned.

Removing my fingers, I positioned myself, eventually having to be in some sort of crouch, prodding Ashley’s arse with my cock. She moved forward at first, so I gently grabbed her left shoulder to hold her in place. “Relax,” I whispered.

“Done this before?”

I didn’t laugh though I couldn’t help smile. “Of course.”

“Be gentle, Shepard.”

Pressing at her back entrance, she accepted my cock easier than I expected, though I stopped once the head slipped inside. I let her get ready to just that being inside her before I gently slid a couple more inches in, Ashley whispering for Wrex to absolutely not move until she said so. The krogan obliged, Tali now sat beside me, watching with interest.

“Ash, I can’t believe…”

“Feels wonderful, Tali,” Ash moaned.

I didn’t pull back and thrust forward too much until I finally buried my length, again leaning forward to kiss Ash on the cheek. “Well, I’m now buried in your arse, Ash.” That made her turn her head to look at me with a smile. “I assume I’m taking it gentle?”

“You both are, considering the length of cocks I now have inside me.”

So Wrex and I did as she requested. He was already comfortable, so simply grabbed her and started to gently thrust up. I positioned myself as comfortably as possible and tried to alternate my thrusts into Ash. She lasted five minutes before she orgasmed, and she orgasmed hard. I thought she would have given up straight away, but she ordered us to keep going. When she told both of us to go a little harder, that was a red rag to a bull. Wrex wasted no time starting to pump up into her, and he surprised even me by admitting he was getting rather close. I guess having made love to Tali earlier, I was going to last longer.

“Shepard, stop,” Ashley breathed, so I did, making sure I was buried inside her. “Okay, Wrex. Fuck me.”

The krogan didn’t need asking twice, pounding Ashley for a good few minutes before he groaned, or perhaps I should say roared, before he blasted inside her. It must have been good, as even he admitted he was already done. I think he just wanted to get out from underneath her. It took a little manoeuvring for him to get out from underneath her, but Ash was soon comfortable on her knees on the bed with me still behind her. She laid her head down on the bed and glanced back. “Now it’s just me and you, Skipper.”

I cleared my throat and used my eyes to gesture towards someone else. “Oh, of course. Tali, would you like to be involved?”

“How?”

“Well, if Shepard’s going to keep fucking my arse, why don’t you eat me out and I’ll… No, that won’t work. I can feel myself dripping still. So I can just eat you out instead.”

Tali found that idea rather appealing, lying in front of Ashley, who wasted little time lowering her mouth to that quarian pussy. She probably tasted the residue of my cum, no doubt still leaking at least a little bit out of her, but I simply focused on that tight little arse of Ashley Williams. I was soon fucking her even harder, and she was definitely enjoying it, not quite able to concentrate on Tali as I picked up my tempo.

“Fuck, skipper,” she groaned.

“Okay?”

“God yes. So good…”

I glanced around to see Wrex sat on the couch, can of beer in hand, simply watching events. He met my eyes and smirked. “No complaints, Shepard. About time you three got busy. Only one missing is Liara. Bet she’s with Shiala though.”

I thought Ashley would have asked me to stop before I came, but once I changed position so I was crouching over her, resting my forearms beside her body, now able to breath into her ear, she figured I was close. “Love this, Shepard,” she moaned, now not concentrating on Tali at all, the young quarian simply watching her lover have her arse pounded by her other lover.

“Not too much longer,” I grunted.

“Doing this again,” she added.

“Fine by me. Your arse is fantastic.”

That made her chuckle before she turned to kiss my cheek. “Cum in me, Shepard,” she breathed.

She got what she wanted a couple of minutes later, burying my cock a final time and erupting deep inside her. It was quite the orgasm for myself, barely able to hold myself up, Ashley wisely lowering her body flat to the bed, taking me with her, making sure I remained inside her for the time before. I even felt her give my cock a few squeezed, giving her a gentle kiss on the cheek as I chuckled.

“That was hot,” Tali whispered.

“You should try it one day, Tali,” Ash suggested, “Once you get used to the feeling, it’s fantastic.”

Withdrawing my cock, I was relieved all was good, though I’d clearly had enough for the time being. Lying back on bed, I soon had Ashley to one side, Tali to the other. That’s when Wrex laughed, the big krogan getting up and starting to assemble himself in armour. I gave him a curious look. “Shepard, trust me, my presence isn’t required here any longer.”

“Wrex,” Ash started to say.

“I’m not offended, Ash. It was good fun. But I think what I’m seeing on the bed is the truth. Shepard, you’ve got a good thing going here. Just don’t fuck it up by, I don’t know, dying or something.”

“I’ll do my best, Wrex.”

“Good. Now, if you don’t mind me, I’m going to grab a drink or ten at a bar. Once you’re done here, you’re more than welcome to join me. Until then, you kids just have fun.” With that, he wandered out the door, hearing him laugh away to himself, muttering away.

I glanced at my two bed mates. “Shower?”

They loved that idea, the three of us ending up under hot water in a rather roomy cubicle. The night was still young, and I figured we could enjoy a lot more fun together. What threw a slight spanner in the works was a message I received just as I was about to get ready to eat out Ashley Williams for the first time that night. The ping suggested it was a priority message, and even she knew I could ignore it. Opening it up, I knew the raised eyebrows of mine would provoke questions.

Shepard,

Meet me at the Orion Coffee Shop on the Presidium at 1000 hrs Citadel Time tomorrow.  

I will explain in person.  

Anderson

I explained the brief message to both of them. They figured as much as I did. Anderson was going to get us off the Citadel. Trying to concentrate on sex after that was difficult as my mind immediately went to what was next, so it was little surprise the three of us just ended up lying back and chatting. I thought it might have been a little awkward considering what we’d just done together, but the two girls definitely liked each other, and the three of us liked each other, so it was fine.

I woke up in the morning to my cock being sucked by both of them. Though we didn’t have sex, we all enjoyed an orgasm by the time we had to get up and dress, and I’ll admit to simply sitting back and watching Ashley and Tali eat each other out. Probably the most erotic thing I’ve ever seen, their affection and enthusiasm to please each other certainly on display.

Anderson was already waiting for me when I walked into the coffee shop. Before arriving, I’d sent a ship wide message, ordering everyone to be ready for immediate departure, pending on the information from Anderson. We shook hands before I sat down. Ready to order a coffee, he said that wouldn’t be necessary.

“Are you ready to go, Shepard?” he wondered.

“Just give me the word, sir, and I’m out of here. But how’s this going to work?”

“I’ll do what is necessary, Shepard.”

It sounded ominous. “Sir, you could be…”

“Don’t worry about me, Shepard. I’ll be vindicated once you bring the bastard down. You need to get on the Normandy. It will take you ten minutes to get from here to the ship. In that time, I was disable the lockdown and order the troops away. Fake, obviously. I’ve notified Admiral Hackett and he’s given the okay for what I’m about to do.”

“Going over Udina’s head?” I wondered, unable to hide the smirk.

“I’ll make sure nothing comes of what happened. The man is a snake, Shepard. Fuck Udina. And fuck the Council, come to think of it.” I couldn’t help chuckle at his tone. “You ready to go?”

“Just give the order, sir.”

“Get to the Normandy, Shepard. You’ll only have a small window to get out before I’m arrested and the lockdown reinforced.”

I opened my omni-tool and broadcast a message. “This is Commander Shepard to all crew of the Normandy. Make your way to the docking bay for immediate departure. I repeat, make your way to the docking bay for immediate departure. You have ten minutes. That is all. Shepard out.”

Rising to my feet, Anderson offered his hand. “Good luck, Shepard.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Get going. Once you get there, the marines will be gone and you can go take care of Saren.”

There was no time to delay, catching a taxi from a nearby rank, arriving at the entrance to the docking bay, where crew members were already gathering. Heading upstairs, the marines had already disappeared and I waited outside, counting off the crew members as they arrived back. All of them looked pleased, even excited to return, knowing that what we were doing was effectively mutiny. I knew Anderson was going to pay the price, so all I could do for the moment was repay his faith in me. Garrus was actually the last one to appear, jogging along as he appeared surprised, stopping for a moment.

“Mutiny, Shepard?”

“Technically. But considering I’m a Spectre and this is my ship…”

The turian chuckled. “Well, I’ve never been a particularly good turian anyway. But the bastard needs stopping, and looks like we’re the one people who can.”

“Glad you’re on board, Garrus.”

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world, Shepard.”

With everyone on board, I stepped through the airlock and into chaos. Little surprise as there was a mixture of nerves, excitement, perhaps even a little fear. I put two fingers in my mouth and whistled, everyone falling silent and looking at me. “You know your jobs, people. I assure you we’ll be fine. Do you jobs like I know you can. Once this is over, you will face no repercussions. I will make sure of it.”

“Yes, sir,” came the chorus, the crew relaxing immediately. I stepped towards the cockpit, Joker already in position. I figured he’d probably been waiting nearby, just itching to get back on the ship.

“Orders, Commander?”

“Take us out, Joker. We’re going hunting.”

Chapter Text

Nervous excitement infected the crew. They were still doing their jobs, the chatter was slightly louder than normal, but I let it go for now. All I wanted was for the Normandy to get to Ilos safely and to finally track down Saren and kill the bastard. I did wonder what happened to Anderson once we’d made our escape. I had sent him a message but heard nothing back, so figured he’d already been arrested. I didn’t believe the Alliance would sent anyone to hunt us down. Anderson believed, and I had a feeling Hackett did as well.

The journey to Ilos would take at least a couple of days, heading deep into the Attican Traverse. We would pass through systems that had either only been recently discovered, or we would pass through completely uncharted systems, wondering if we shouldn’t be sending out a tonne of probes at the same time. I knew some of the crew would be worried about our presence, but we were a lone ship, and had the fact we could run silent and practically invisible. As long as we were careful, we’d make it to Ilos without a problem.

Of my team, it was easy to see Tali and Ashley were both in very good moods. Ashley remained a model professional in front of everyone. Tali… was a little more affectionate, though I didn’t mind in front of her engineers. They were all aware that she liked me, though wouldn’t have known that our relationship had turned physical. She didn’t say anything to give away what we’d been up to.

I had a chat with Garrus, and he told me he’d spent some time with Chloe, the relationship apparently already turning rather serious. Wrex admitted he’d had a lot of fun back on the Citadel but suggested his time with me would draw to a close once we’d caught Saren, not wanting to get involved with everything else going on.

Then there was Liara and Shiala. The pair seemed to be rather closer, enough that Benezia had picked up on it, pulling me back into the mess as before I had walked through the med-bay. “I do believe my daughter is involved with another asari,” she told me quietly, “I find this surprising considering both of them seem to be infatuated with you.”

“Maybe they need the physical release?”

“While that is true, there is something about Liara that makes it…” She paused before gesturing to the nearby table. Seating herself, looking as elegant as ever, she asked, “What do you know about the asari and our mating rituals?”

“Not a lot, to be honest.”

“Liara is what we term a ‘pureblood’ asari.” I didn’t understand, obviously, so Benezia added, “That means her mother and father, to put it in terms you would understand, were both asari. Though there are millions of pureblood asari still born to this day, there are negative connotations to being one.”

“Liara knows she is one?”

“She has always speculated. I have never confessed to it being the case. Asari falling in love with each is not unusual, and if there were significant dangers, we would never have progressed as a species. But once we realised we could mate with other species, it was soon popular for asari to mate with other species, as though the child is born asari, the child will take some of their ‘fathers’ DNA, and it is regarded as the further evolution of our species.”

“Why did you choose an asari as a mate?”

That made her smile. “Because I was in love, Shepard. You probably sit there now and see a Matriarch who has performed acts recently which would make you wonder how I’d ever fallen in love…”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you did though. But I did love her father. We spent a century together very happily married.”

“I assume you are no longer together?”

“No. Once I fell pregnant with Liara, I chose to end our relationship so our daughter could be raised without the stigma of being pureblood. Very few if anyone knows the truth about her, though I’m sure the secret has been discovered over the years. The fact Liara has been suspicious would suggest she’s put two and two together over the decades. I very rarely mention her father.” Benezia trailed off, not meeting my eyes.

“You still love her?”

“Always,” she whispered, “But it was for the best.”

I figured moving the conversation on might help. “What will you do once we’re finished here?”

“I will fling myself in front of my fellow Matriarchs and beg forgiveness. If you succeed in taking down Saren, and I am part of your crew, though my current position suggests I’m… What am I, Shepard?”

“I’m not sure, to be honest. I can’t take you into the fight against Saren. You are far too susceptible to this indoctrination you spoke of. Is that still an issue?”

“I fight the voices every day, Shepard. It is… It is exhausting at times. But not being near that ship, near Saren, it is helping me. Anyway, if I am part of the Normandy when you eliminate Saren and his threat, then perhaps I will not be judged as harshly as I would be if you’d killed me on Noveria.” She paused before leaning forward, resting a hand on mine. “Thank you, Shepard.”

“For what?”

“For not killing me. It has given me a chance to reconnect with my daughter. It is still difficult but I am hopeful. I know she doesn’t exactly trust me. It will take time to re-establish our relationship. Shiala despises me now, and I do not blame her. Most of my acolytes are now dead. Those who remain alive are indoctrinated and are now at Saren’s side. I find myself… alone. It is an unusual feeling.”

“I’ve killed a lot of people, Benezia. There is a reason I saved you, though. I figured you could prove to be helpful, if not on the field, at least in helping establish what makes Saren tick.”

“Don’t believe all the anti-human propaganda you have been told, Shepard. There is one simple reason Saren is on this crusade. That ship he resides on. It has infected his mind as much as it did mine. Destroy his ship and you will likely destroy him.”

“Do you think he can be saved or redeemed?”

“I find that doubtful, Shepard. I believe he is what you would term a ‘lost cause’. It was hubris on my part that thought I could save him, turn him from the path he has since walked down. He or that ship was more powerful than I could have ever imagined.”

“And the Reapers?”

She met my eyes. “They must be stopped, Shepard. No matter the cost.”

“That’s the plan, Benezia.”

She smiled and seemed to relax back into her chair. “Were you planning on speaking to my daughter just before?” I shrugged, which made her smile broaden. “Do you find her interesting?”

“Of course.”

“Attractive?”

“Yes.”

“What about me?”

That caused a moment of surprise before I simply returned her smile. “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.”

“I’ve never been with a human before, Shepard.” She paused before adding, “Not sure why I just told you that either. There is something about you though. An inner strength that seems to draw people towards you like a beacon. I have found myself increasingly attracted the longer I’ve been on this ship.”

“Are you proposing something, Benezia?”

She rose to her feet and gracefully took the seat next to me, her arm resting on the back of my chair as she leaned closer. “I believe I would enjoy my first experience with a human if it was with you, Shepard,” she stated softly, lips close to my ear, feeling her breath on my neck, “But… But you cannot be with me before you have enjoyed my daughter.” I couldn’t help chuckle for a moment before glancing at her, meeting her eyes. “I am serious, Shepard. If I were to… claim you first, she would be incredibly jealous and it would destroy the very shaky foundations of our rebuilding relationship.”

“Again, I would suggest you were offering your daughter to me, Benezia.”

“In a way I am, Shepard. She is infatuated with you. In fact, I believe it is more than just infatuation or a simply crush. I don’t believe she is in love, though it is possible, even likely, those feelings will develop in time if you were to be intimate with her.” She paused before adding, “But I still want to experience you too. I don’t think my daughter would be interested in sharing you with me, for example.” She cleared her throat. “You should be with her before Ilos. Then once you have been with her, perhaps you would like to enjoy me?”

I glanced her way again. In the low light of the mess, without the indoctrination that had appeared in her eyes, she was certainly beautiful. Pretty much an older version of Liara. There was a depth of wisdom in her eyes I had rarely seen. Her face was almost carved from stone. I believed many asari would have found her beautiful. I would admit I’d checked her out on more than one occasion. I noted the word above. Graceful. The way she walked spoke of a poise and natural flow that belied centuries of what probably amounted to training in certain societal circles.

“I might take you up on both your offers, Benezia,” I finally replied. That simply earned a smile and a kiss on my cheek.

“It is about time, Shepard. I believe my daughter will enjoy herself with you.” And with those words, she stood up and left me alone. I happily watched her walk away as she took the long way around, definitely putting an extra shake into her hips, glancing back and winking, which simply caused me to chuckle to myself again. I’ll be honest, I had only saved her because I thought she would prove useful against Saren, and while she’d been able to explain certain motives, I certainly wasn’t going to make her part of my team, and I knew the indoctrination of Saren or his ship still lingered. I doubt it would ever truly go away, therefore she would be difficult to ever trust completely. But she’d done nothing so far to earn my ire while on the Normandy.

But despite what she said, in the end, I didn’t even have to make a move. We were still at least a number of days from the Mu Relay that would eventually take us to Ilos when she knocked on my door one evening. Calling her in, I was still sat at my desk, going over more reports, turning to her when she didn’t approach. Instead, she leaned back against the door and appeared unsure.

“Something wrong, Liara?” I wondered, turning my chair to face her.

She hesitated for only a moment before striding forward with purpose, leaning down and she kissed me hard, the sort of kiss that spoke of a million different feelings at once. I kissed her back immediately, rising to my feet, wrapping my arms around her. I’ll give her credit right now. She had either been practicing with Shiala, or she was a naturally good kisser, as I rose to occasion very quickly, and she definitely felt it as she pressed her body into mine, as she started to smile.

There was no need to say anything. Her white suit was easy to remove, delighted to see the black lingerie she was wearing underneath, and I reckoned she had worn it for my benefit only. I complimented her on it, which raised a shy smile, before she focused on me. Once I was out of my jacket and trousers, she spent some time simply running her hands up and down my arms, chest and back. “Humans are so different,” she murmured, “All this… hard muscle…”

“We’re not all like that,” I retorted gently, “Took a lot of hard work to get into this shape.”

She took my shirt off and her hands seemed to grip my body even tighter. Kiss her again, I undid her bra with one hand rather easily, letting into fall to the ground, feeling her breasts press into my body, nipples already hard. My arms were long enough to help remove her underwear, surprised at how curvy her body was, and she had a fantastic arse, giving that a good squeeze once she was naked before me.

Lowering her to the bed, there was only one thing I was going to do first. Tease the fuck out of her. Her skin was different to mine. It wasn’t exactly scaly, but it wasn’t as smooth as human or quarian skin, from what I found with Tali anyway. Not to say it wasn’t a pleasant experience, it was just a little difference. But I learned quickly that asari had the same, perhaps even more erogenous zones than a human, running my hands and tongue all over her body, completely ignoring her sex, enjoying the gasps and moans when I found something new that provoked a good reaction.

Sitting back on my knees for just a moment, I couldn’t help but just gaze down at her, our eyes locking for a moment. She seemed to grow shy for a moment until she realised I was simply showing my appreciation. “Damn, shouldn’t have waited so bloody long,” I muttered. Leaning down to kiss her, I started to gently fondle her pussy, earning a whimper as I kissed her before I broke the kiss. “And I’m definitely going to taste you now.”

That earned nothing but a smile at first. “Make me cum, Shepard,” she whispered.

I did, quite quickly to be honest, and far quicker than I expected. I think she entered my bedroom horny, and everything I’d done previously certainly helped, but I only ate her out for around five minutes before I had her writhing on the bed, her hand grabbing my head to keep it in place, almost demanding I lick her ‘Just there, don’t stop’ until she finally climaxed. If she thought I was going to stop after just one, she was definitely in for a surprise, particularly after I slid a couple of fingers inside her to find that spot that humans and quarians had, so I figured asari might have something similar.

She did, and her next orgasm was even better. Took a few more minutes as I teased her again, bringing her to the brink before relaxing, earning at least two groans of frustration but also some giggles as she knew what I was doing. I had a feeling she’d been intimate with Shiala. I didn’t know the truth yet, and I might ask later, but she didn’t seem surprised by at least a few things I was doing. Though I still had my underwear on though I did wonder if she’d seen a real cock before.

After I’d made her cum a second time, she asked me to stop for a moment, kissing her up her body before I just rested on my forearms, caressing her face. Her blue eyes shone brightly, her cheeks slightly flushed, lips parted as she breathed deeply. I thought she definitely had strong feelings for me, as Benezia told me.

Pushing me up, she had me sit on my knees to see the tent in my underwear. Gesturing, she had me stand up on the bed, grabbing the band and gently pulling them down, freeing my cock. She gasped at its appearance, helping me kick off my underwear, before I sat back down on my knees. “Oh, I thought…”

“Don’t worry about it,” I stated, interrupting her, “Though I like a blowjob as much as the next man, I prefer what we’re going to do next, if that’s what…”

“I want you to fuck me, Shepard.” I raised my eyebrows at the use of that term. She simply met my eyes. “It’s not my first time. I wanted… I’ve been with Shiala.”

“I figured,” I stated, with a grin.

She smiled shyly again. “Though I wanted my first time to be with you, I didn’t know if it would ever happen. Shiala and I have history. She’s always been a good friend, despite recent history, and so… well… You know things happen.” She gently grasped my cock. “You will be the first cock I’ve ever had inside me though. I’ve used sex toys before so let’s just say you’ll be the first real cock inside me.” I couldn’t help chuckle at her honesty. “Trust me, Shepard, I left behind a couple of good toys on Therum. Got me through some very lonely nights.” She kissed me before adding, “But I think having a real one inside me will be so much better. And you’ll cum inside me at the end too.”

She did make me cry out as she lay down and pulled me with her, kissing me as I slid inside her far easier than I imagined, though she was tight. Very tight, groaning into her mouth as I slowly buried my cock inside her. She shuffled as I did, getting comfortable, before she broke the kiss and smirked. “Fuck me, Commander!” she demanded.

So that’s what I did. Liara T’Soni was fucked by Commander Shepard for the next few minutes. I was never going to last long. I’d thought about fucking her within the first few days of meeting her. I’d always found her cute, and intelligence was always a turned on, but she came across as rather innocent, perhaps even a little naïve at times. I think I may have been a little wrong on those latter opinions.

“Goddess, your cock is magnificent, Shepard,” she moaned as I lifted her arse off the bed slightly, changing the angle of my thrusts, really driving into her. She wanted to be fucked, I was going to give it to her.

I would have said something, but I was enjoying it far too much and anything I said would have just sounded corny. So I focused on trying not to orgasm too quickly but the noises I made, with plenty of cursing, would have told her what I was thinking and feeling.

“Are you going to cum in my pussy, Shepard?” she asked so innocently, I nearly came there and then.

“Soon,” I grunted, kissing her hard for a moment before resting my forehead against hers, meeting her eyes.

“Never had someone cum in me before, Shepard. You’ll be the first human to ever do so.”

“I consider it an honour, doctor,” I managed to say.

Feeling her legs move, her heels now resting on my lower back, I pounded her even hard, her fingers digging into my back as she pretty much was now just holding on. “Cum in me!” she cried. That pretty much did it for me as I groaned loudly, swore a couple of times, then buried my cock as I felt myself erupt inside her. I kept thrusting until I was simply too empty and my mind too frazzled to continue, slowly coming to a stop and relaxing, Liara keeping her legs and arms around me, feeling her kiss me softly on the cheek.

Resting on my forearms, I sucked in a few deep breaths before I leaned up so I could look at her. The smile on her face was definitely one of triumph. “About time you fucked me, Shepard,” she said, her voice wavering slightly, lower lip definitely trembling.

“Better late than never,” I retorted, though somewhat sheepishly, laying a soft kiss on her lips.

She did learn sex was messy, at least between a man and a woman after he’d cum, but that didn’t stop her giving me around ten minutes to recover before she pushed me onto my back and hopped on. “Use to ride my sex toys like this,” she stated, grabbing my hands to balance herself as she slowly established a rhythm, “Much better when the cock is attached to a body.”

Moving my legs, she definitely liked the new angle, moaning loudly as she remained in that position for a little while before leaning forward, resting her hands to either side, giving me a kiss though she remained in control. I just watched her face, the pleasure easy to rest, running my hands down her back and sides, enjoying the feeling of her skin. “You are beautiful,” I whispered.

“Bet you say that to all your girls,” she retorted with a smirk.

“Well, I think I’ve definitely been blessed regarding some of my crew. Won’t lie.”

I eventually rested my hands on her arse, met her eyes, and received a nod. I think it was a race to see who would orgasm first. Whatever I was doing, it worked well, as she had to kiss me to stop the loud moan that escaped from deep within, feeling her pussy grip my cock almost like a vice as she started to climax. Breaking the kiss, resting her forehead against mine, she simply begged me to keep going. Like I was going to stop anyway, but that was only her first orgasm. She enjoyed a second one rather quickly, though that pretty much ended me, as while she was clenching me again, I drove into her harder and faster, Liara by this time practically resting against my body as I unloaded inside her again. Lying together in post-coital bliss, we could only lie there in silence as we both recovered. My cock was now practically useless, feeling it fall out of her, while she seemed incapable of any movement.

We eventually got up to clean, Liara joining me in the shower, where we showed more appreciation of each other’s bodies, before she ended up under the covers with me in bed. Wrapping an arm around her, she snuggled into me and it felt so normal already.

What she said next was a surprise though.

“You should be intimate with Shiala tomorrow night.”

“What?”

“Shepard, you do realise how she feels about you, right?” I nodded. “Well, you should be with her. I won’t be jealous. I already know you’ve been with many others. I understand you don’t do exclusivity.”

“You’re okay with that?”

“Of course, otherwise I wouldn’t be here right now. While I would like romance, a large part of me just wanted to be fucked by Commander Shepard. If it can happen again, I certainly wouldn’t say no.”

“Neither would I.”

“Good, but you should also be with Shiala. She definitely misses you in an intimate setting. It was part of the reason we ended up together. We both wanted you, couldn’t have you, so found something with each other to sate our appetites until we could.”

“What led you to my door tonight then?”

“Using the human term, I had to grab the bull by the horns. Once I walked in here, I had to take a moment as my courage failed me, but when you turned to look at me, you seemed to realise what I was here for. That gave me renewed confidence to see it through.”

“Well, I’m glad you did. Come to my bedroom, that is. There is one thing, though…”

“Oh… What is it?”

“Benezia wants to… you know… what we just did.”

That made her chuckle. “That comes as no surprise, Shepard. I’ve realised for a while now that she’s been attracted. If you wish to be with her too, I can certainly understand and certainly wouldn’t presume to tell you who you can and can’t be with.”

“You’ll be fine with me being with her?”

I felt her shrug. “Sure. We’re not in a relationship, Shepard. You’re free to fuck who you want.” I felt her look in my direction, glancing to meet her eyes. “Just don’t ask for any sort of mother daughter threesome or something. I love my mother but I won’t be doing anything like that.”

Walking out into the mess together the next morning, I was surprised at the lack of any reaction. Well, that’s a slight lie, watching Garrus hand Wrex a couple of credit chits, so I guess there was at least a bet or two. But Ashley nor Tali appeared jealous, while Benezia seemed to smile approvingly more than anything.

Figuring there was no point beating around the bush, I waited until the end of breakfast before speaking to Shiala, immediately inviting her to my room that evening. While surprised, there’s no doubt she was excited at the prospect, whispering a few rather rude things into my ear that had me thinking and perhaps even a little distracted most of the day.

Still, there was work to do, continuing our investigations into what we would find on Ilos, while the rest of my team focused on their day jobs. The crew was still as excited as ever about having escaped the Citadel, and while I thought about it and didn’t think we were being mutinous, I’m sure I would have a few questions to answer once we returned to the Citadel victorious.

Shiala wasted no time turning up in my quarters that night. From the time she closed the door to dragging me from my chair, she was already naked and it took all of thirty seconds for me to be naked, on my back, with her straddling my lap, cock already inside her. We fucked all night, that’s the easiest way to put it. I almost apologised for having ended our brief liaison but she just told me to shut up and enjoy the night together. So that’s what we did. No idea how long we fucked but the only reason we stopped is I’d enjoyed more orgasms than I could remember, and there does come a time that my cock just wouldn’t get hard again.

“Well, I think we got what we wanted out of our systems,” she murmured, spooned against me after we’d taken the required shower.

“Liara did suggest…”

“I understand why you stopped but… Well, I assume Liara told you about us.”

“She did.”

“We’re old friends and enjoying sex is just that, a physical release. We’re not in love or anything, but it’s still a lot of fun making each other cum.” She did turn back for a moment. “You can have us together, if you want.”

“Would she be okay with that?” Shiala just laughed, so that answer my question. “One thing you should know…”

“Benezia,” she stated somewhat bluntly, “Liara told me already. I don’t care who else you fuck, Shepard. Just don’t need to hear the details. As long as this happens again.”

I kissed her cheek and assured her it would.

Walking out into the mess the next morning, Liara met our eyes and simply smiled, while I think Benezia was slightly surprised I fucked her daughter one night then Shiala the very next. Garrus handed Wrex more credit chits, while Ashley asked bluntly, “When’s my turn, Shepard?” I could only chuckle as a few of the crew had a laugh amongst themselves at the same time.

“Depends on how much longer it takes to get to Ilos,” I replied once I was sat down.

“Oh, and why not tonight?” she asked, her tone all sweet and nice.

“I have plans.”

“With who?”

“Someone else.”

Liara and Shiala already knew. I figured it might not take her too long to figure out who. It couldn’t be Tali, not without preparation. While Chakwas was perhaps interested, we remained platonic friends only, and perhaps for the best. The regular crew women were almost far too in awe of my presence to even think about approaching me for anything. Sure, there were one or two rather attractive women around but I certainly wouldn’t want to do anything untoward, and believed they’d still consider it fraternisation anyway. At least Ashley had moved past that now, thinking I was a Spectre of the Council rather than a Commander of the Alliance Navy.

Chatting with Joker later than day while at the galaxy map, he checked the route and we guess that Ilos was perhaps only one night, maybe two more nights away. That was good news, at least, as all of us were eager to get off the ship and find Saren. Hopefully he was still on Ilos and we could finally catch the bastard. I knew we’d probably have to kill him as he wouldn’t allow himself to be caught. Wrex, Ashley and Garrus wanted to kill him with no thoughts of capture. Liara and Shiala preferred capture if possible, simply to interrogate him for information. I wasn’t sure what Benezia wanted, perhaps not trusting herself around him. Tali didn’t really have an opinion.

I let the crew know that night what Joker and I had discussed. There was relief that our objective was closer than anticipated, amazed we hadn’t attracted the attention of the numerous pirate bands that infected the Terminus Systems. Then again, we were probably flying through certain systems that had probably been uninhabited for centuries, if not since the last Reaper invasion. I wasn’t going to complain, though. Even the slightest delay on our journey to Ilos could mean the difference between victory and defeat.

After dinner, I headed to my office for some more busywork. I was hoping to hear from Anderson, but there was radio silence from the Citadel. I received a short message from Admiral Hackett, no doubt aware of what happened. He simply wished us good hunting, so it was nice to hear that at least part of the Alliance Navy was on board with what I was doing. After an hour or so, I messaged Benezia, inviting her to my room for a drink.

She appeared a few minutes later, dressed in a rather figure hugging black dress, that flowed to the floor. She seemed to be barefoot, at least, standing shorter than normal, making little noise as she approached the empty chair opposite me. Opening the small fridge, she smiled at the bottle of wine I offered her. “Well, you do have some taste it seems, Shepard.”

“I’m actually not much of a drinker. Shiala and Liara didn’t seem all that interested in sharing a glass or two before joining me in bed. I figured…”

Handing her the glass, she simply smiled as I poured her a glass before doing the same for myself. “What should we toast, Shepard?”

“I can think of a few things but what do you hope for, Benezia?”

She looked away for a moment before returning her eyes to mine. “Redemption, Shepard. And forgiveness.”

Benezia may never have been with a human before but she was probably the greatest lover I’d had in my life up until then. I guess when you have centuries of experience, it may make up for any inexperience you have otherwise regarding certain things. All I know is that she was eager, very eager, to enjoy my cock in more ways than one. She was practically insistent that she blow me, and the sight of her on her knees, my cock buried in her mouth, her eyes wide with lust and desire, was something I simply didn’t expected. She wasn’t sure about swallowing but was happy enough for me to blast on her face, then asked me to take a photo. Asking why, she told me not to worry for now.

After we’d cleaned her face, I made sure to return the favour, and it’s always nice to receive a compliment from an asari of advanced age at how talented you are with your tongue and fingers. She was certainly turned on and eager to cum, but we both enjoyed the fact I teased her relentlessly. Once I made her cum the first time, though, her next orgasms were like a crescendo, arriving again and again rather quickly. I thought I’d wear her out doing that, but she just begged me to keep going before she asked to stop, though only so I could slide my cock inside her.

I fucked Liara. I fucked Shiala. And I definitely fucked Benezia. I don’t think I’d ever received more compliments about the size of my cock, how good it felt inside her, how good I was at fucking her, than I did that night. Maybe she was just caught up in the moment, and I could only wax lyrical at how tight and wet she was. That actually made her blush the first time I told her. “Shame Liara isn’t interested in a mother daughter threesome,” I muttered after I came in her the first time.

“Oh, that would interest you?” she wondered, a sly grin on her face.

“Well, you certainly share some similarities. Plus, I think a lot of men share the fantasy. Though I guess it could get a little weird.”

“Not if the focus is on you, Shepard.”

“Well, let’s just file that away as something that might happen in the future.”

Having Benezia on her elbows and knees later was something else entirely, particularly as I was leaning over, whispering all sorts of dirty things into her ear as I fucked her. She was loving every second of it, asking herself why she hadn’t got herself a human as soon as we appeared. “Maybe I should fuck your arse tonight too,” I grunted into her ear.

“That’s virgin territory,” she moaned back.

“No-one has been there? Waste of a fantastic arse, Benezia.”

“Play your cards right, Shepard, and you can definitely have it too.”

She proved rather flexible, eager to please, and very open minded that evening. She didn’t quite wear me out as much as Shiala, who had proven insatiable from the moment she walked into my bedroom to the moment we fell asleep, but there was no doubt Benezia was definitely make up for any lost time, admitting she’d been attracted to me very early on but had obviously been unsure as to my reaction. Lying against me as she admitted that, I simply made her cum with my fingers as I whispered into her ear, assuring her I had found her beautiful from the same moment.

I thought the reaction would have been far more negative than it was when we walked out together the next morning, Benezia making me chuckle by wearing one of my shirts, long enough to cover her arse, walking out with bare legs and feet. She definitely seemed like a new woman, asari, whatever, enough that Liara had to make a comment. “I’ve never see you look so… carefree, mother.”

Taking a seat opposite her daughter, Benezia simply smiled. “I am now free, Liara. My life as I knew it before Saren is likely at an end. Perhaps I will spend more time in human space.” She looked around the room. “You certainly are very different to us in many ways.”

“How well did you fuck her last night, Shepard?” Ashley joked.

I just smiled and carried on eating breakfast. The immediate change in Benezia was profound though perhaps not surprising. Having spent a long time on the Normandy by now, most of the crew had warmed to her, at least a little bit. The fact her relationship with Liara was now better also helped. Shiala was a lost cause but I think Benezia understood why and didn’t pursue the matter.

Any idea that I’d enjoy another night with someone else, or perhaps that threesome Shiala suggested, ended when Joker informed me later that morning the Normandy was making better progress than expected, and that the Mu Relay would be reached within that day. Now was the time for the crew to prepare for what would be perhaps the hardest so far.

It was late afternoon as we made our approach to Ilos. Joker had got us through the relay itself when I was summoned to the bridge. The CIC was calm as I walked through, receiving more than one salute as I strode forward. Pressly handed me a datapad with what we knew about Ilos as I stood behind Joker. “We’ve got company, Commander.”

“Geth?” He nodded. “They noticed us yet?”

“Stealth systems are engaged. Unless we get close enough for a visual, they won’t have any idea we’re here.”

“Got something else, Commander,” Pressly reported, “Picking up some strange readings from the planet’s surface.”

“Very well. Joker, take us down. Lock in on the coordinates.”

Pressly shook his head. “Negative on that, Commander. The nearest landing zone is two clicks away.”

There were instant murmurs of dissatisfaction. “We’ll never make it on time by foot,” Ashley stated, “Get us something closer!”

“There is nowhere closer!” Pressly retorted, “I’ve looked!”

“Drop us in the Mako,” I suggested.

“You need at least a hundred metres of open terrain to pull off a drop like that. The most I can find near Saren is twenty!”

The CIC and cockpit descended into chaos and arguments as everyone discussed the pros and cons of such a move. I already knew the response but simply thought about the chances. I figured landing two clicks away, while the safer option, would lead us exposed if an army of geth now sat on Ilos. We needed to land as close as possible. I whistled for silence, everyone going quiet immediately. “Joker?”

He knew what I was asking. “I can do it, Commander.”

Turning back, I ordered everyone downstairs to prepare and board the Mako, ordering Joker to drop us right on the head of that turian bastard. That made him chuckle, assuring me he’d do his best to comply with that order.

I would be taking the entire team along this time, no-one being left behind as I was going to need everyone to assist to take down Saren and all his geth. I’d even considered Benezia, having a brief chat with her before boarding the Mako. She was honest enough to not trust herself near Saren but offered to help out on the Normandy. Pressly didn’t mind, though wasn’t sure what she could so. She simply wished me luck, giving me a rather nice kiss, before I joined the rest. It was enough for even Liara to joke about it as we waited for the signal to drop.

Joker earned himself a medal as he dropped us on a pinhead, leaving me just enough space to engage the brakes and stop of smashing into a stone wall. And we missed by Saren by only moments. The bastard managed to lock the massive stone door, so that meant getting out on foot.

The geth were waiting, no doubt hoping to ambush us. With all the talent I now had at my disposal, all the tricks we’d learned, we may not have had numbers, but we definitely had power. Liara and Shiala mixed up their biotics. Wrex was a battering ram, I think trying to outdo me. Tali caused havoc with her tech attacks. Ashley and I simply pulled the geth into chokepoints before laying waste. Garrus disappeared and was soon picking off geth at will.

The geth had regular troops, those armed with rocket launchers, the sneaky bastards that could snipe us from distance, the quick, leaping around bastards, and also a few Armatures. Tali was magnificent during all of this, particularly when she could hack them in such a way that the geth started fighting each other. The place where we had landed was a maze, and Liara talked to herself about this being such a treasure trove and wanting to return. I thought that was a bloody good idea.

We ended up running into all manner of geth ‘monsters’ as I liked to call them. Those big fuckers that took longer to take down. There were the Primes and Juggernauts we’d seen more than once, and a few Destroyers as well. They waited at particular points, knowing we’d be heading that way to chase down Saren. Tali managed to hack and turn some Armatures against them, though we couldn’t use them for long before they turned against us.

All of us took a lick or two during all of this. Wrex needed medi-gel more than once on a couple of particularly nasty wounds. That just pissed him off even more than he already was. Ashley almost had her head taken clean off by a rocket, saved only by quick thinking from Shiala. Tali suffered a suit breach, that required us to stop for a few minutes while she cleaned and sealed the wound before doing the same to her suit. She assured me that she’d be fine the rest of the battle but she’d need to see Chakwas in the end. Even I was left scratched by one or two explosions too close for comfort.

I found a hologram that sent a chill down my spine. A final warning from the Reapers. No-one else could understand it except Shiala, noticing she turned a paler shade of blue at the voice. It was garbled, no doubt damaged by the geth, but the warning was clear. Even I felt a shudder at the final words. ‘Cannot be stopped’. But the rest was simply too damaged to really understand.

Heading back to the Mako, the way ahead was now open, all of us boarding up and heading into the bunker. What we found was simply astounding. The bunker built was the likely last refuge of the Protheans, or that’s what Liara surmised. She also figured out that many of the things on the walls around us were stasis pods. All of them appeared inactive, or that’s what our sensors told us.

A few geth also waited inside the bunker, taking out those with rockets from a distance, running over any others who were stupid enough to get in the way. I drove on until we reached a barrier, and Liara figured out quickly that it probably wasn’t one left behind by Saren.

Clambering out of the Mako, we found a doorway that led us towards another elevator, descending until we ended up on a platform, surrounded by more inactive stasis pods but also vegetation that had grown during the intervening fifty thousand years. And it’s also where we found a working Prothean VI, introducing itself as Vigil.

To say Liara was excited was an understatement. But the information Vigil provided made for grim listening. Saren had been through recently and Vigil confirmed the indoctrination theory. Vigil also confirmed the Reaper hypothesis and many other theories Liara and others had been working on. The Citadel was the heart of galactic civilisation for a reason. It was a trap, an enormous mass relay that linked to dark space, and it was through there that the Reapers would arrive. The way it all worked was that the Keepers dotted around the Citadel were ‘agents’ of the Reapers, keeping it running, allowing us to use the Citadel without discovering its major secrets.

Liara did ask plenty of questions regarding Prothean civilisation and Reaper motivations, and while Vigil could provide the answers, one of his last replies spoke volumes. “In the end, what does any of this matter? Your survival depends on stopping them, not in understanding them.”

Good enough for me, far as I was concerned. “How do I stop them?” I asked.

“The Conduit is the key. Before the Reapers attacked, we Protheans were on the cusp of unlocking the mysteries behind mass relay technology. Ilos was a top secret facility. Here, researchers worked to create a small scale version of a mass relay. One that linked directly to the Citadel: the hub of the relay network.”

Through little more than blind luck, Ilos was spared destruction during the initial Repair invasion, and as records of the laboratory were lost, Ilos isolated itself, effectively ‘going dark’, severing any contact with the outside world. While the Prothean Empire was exterminated, Ilos remained intact. But the Reapers were methodical, and it took centuries before the Reapers retreated to dark space. By then, very few scientists remained to keep rebuild Prothean numbers. Those that remaining took one way journey to the Citadel to prevent the next invasion. The Keepers were the key to everything. Changing the signal sent by the Reapers, they had prevented them beginning our very own annihilation.

“There is a data file in my console. Take a copy when you go. When you reach the Citadel’s master control unit, upload it to the station. It will corrupt the Citadel’s security protocols and give you temporary control over the station. It might give you a chance against Sovereign.”

Thanking Vigil, I ordered everyone to leave immediately. Liara pleaded with me for us to remain and ask questions, so all I could do was promise that we would return one day so she could carry on her research. It was the best I could do. Saren had a head start, and the longer we dithered, the further ahead he would get. She understood, at least.

Hopping back into the Mako, the barrier had disappeared, and I floored it. We ended up descending, following the same bunker before we ended up in flowing water. The geth were waiting, no doubt ordered by Saren to stop us at almost any cost. It was only when we crested a rise that we finally understood what the Conduit was.

“The Protheans built a mass relay,” Liara whispered in awe.

“Guess that’s our way too. Ashley, radio the Normandy and tell them to get in contact with Admiral Hackett. Tell him that Saren and the geth have invaded the Citadel and that Sovereign is likely already on its way or already there too. They need to send a fleet immediately,” I ordered.

“Aye, sir.”

“Everyone else, buckle up. This is going to get tasty.”

I floored it straight away as the mass relay lay ahead. To either side were Geth Colossi. No idea how many. Four to six if I counted correctly. Tali reported hits to the machine but I didn’t care. All that mattered was getting to the relay before it closed. Garrus fired the main cannon and machine gun, though it was pointless. I wasn’t worried about taking them down. All that mattered was the relay.

With a hundred metres to go, our shields were nearly depleted. “Hold onto your hats, people!” I yelled as the Mako surged towards the relay and then, within a second, it felt like the entire machine was weightless and we felt ourselves pulled up.

Things then went a little black as there was an almighty crash and I definitely banged my head against something.

Chapter Text

The Mako was little more than a wreck. Two wheels were missing; another was barely hanging on. It was crumped front and rear. It was upside down. The engine didn’t fire. It was dead. After we’d all clambered out, Garrus took a moment to himself, resting a hand against what was now it’s roof, muttering to himself. Little wonder the turian took it hard considering he’d worked on it constantly.

Remarkably, despite some bumps and bruises, we’d all survived the journey. No-one except Garrus was sad to see the end of the Mako. I was a little disappointed as the machine proven a reliable workhorse, and to be honest, the thought of driving it around the Citadel had proven amusing.

After a check of weapons, armour, and ensuring my squad was okay, I ordered us to move. The destruction around us was already mind-boggling. We could hear plenty of gunfire and screaming in the distance. Finding an Avina VI nearby, I figured asking that a few questions might help. While it wasn’t full of information, it told us the Council had evacuated to the Destiny Ascension and that the Citadel was now in defensive mode, all systems engaged.

Soon as our conversation finished, we were set upon by geth units. And, to be honest, that was the story of our next couple of hours. In addition to geth, there were husks and also krogan, Wrex taking joy in taking on fellow battle-masters. Fires raged around us, sirens wailed and, if we looked up, we could see fleets moving into place, I assumed to stop Sovereign. We made it to the elevator leading up to the Council chambers after mowing down more geth, though our ascent was halted as the elevator ground to a halt.

So I ordered helmets on, mag boots switched on, and we’d do it the hard way. Stepping out onto the side of the elevator shaft wasn’t something I thought I’d be doing waking up earlier that morning. Then again, I hadn’t thought I’d cross space in a Mako through a Prothean built mass relay, so the day was full of surprises.

The geth were waiting again, and this is where my biotic colleagues came to the fore. Though we could still shoot them, Liara and Shiala took delight in simply lifting them and simply watching them float away into space. Quite a few geth went sailing over our heads harmlessly. Even the larger geth units, like the Primes and Juggernauts, were susceptible to simple biotic attacks such as those. The krogan were left for Wrex, our giant colleague effectively demanding they be left for him to deal with. Ashley and I assisted where required, but there was no doubt Wrex took great joy in pitting his wits against fellow warriors like himself.

Eventually I couldn’t be sure where we were exactly, simply moving ahead and battling whatever was in our way. The fact we kept meeting geth and krogan to kill suggested we were walking in the right direction, and the further we progressed, the heavier the enemy presence. None of us had a clue where Saren was, but I figured he was near the master control unit Vigil had told us about, and putting two and two together, it was no doubt somewhere in the Council chamber.

Shiala was the first one to go down. Not dead, but she was definitely injured and out of the fight. Looking across my team, I knew we couldn’t just leave her behind. I had no idea if the Normandy was close. We’d tried our radios but all we received was static, Garrus suggesting Saren would have blocked our communication.

“I can keep up,” Shiala stated through gritted teeth. Liara slapped some medi-gel on the wound, but even that didn’t seem to work. Her commando leathers were torn up completely.

“Are you sure?” I asked.

“I’m not being left behind, Shepard. And I’m not planning on dying just yet.”

“Okay… Keep in front of Garrus. If you fall behind him, you’ll have to fall back to a safer area. We can’t get spread out.”

She nodded, face grim. I knew she was in immense pain but now was not the time for empathy. The mission was the most important thing.

Turning and leading, the next few geth paid the price for wounding one of my colleagues. We were facing ever more enormous geth units, figuring Saren would have ordered these to remain behind to be one of the final lines of defence. A couple of geth dropships proved to be a real nuisance. Noticing inactive turrets nearby, I had Tali get those working, Ashley and I defending her as the little quarian got to work. She had two working in quick succession, the turrets firing enough to chase one of the dropships away. After getting all four working, the second dropship simply exploded under fire. The wreckage collapsed onto the side of the Citadel, wiping out many more geth units.

We ran into more turrets after moving only a couple of hundred metres, but these ones were not friendly, firing upon us immediately. A blast landed near Garrus, sending him end over end. I heard him cry out though added quickly he was fine, just slapping medi-gel onto a wound. He got to his feet but was clearly hobbling. I ordered him into cover before asking Tali to start hacking anything geth. As she got to work, the rest of us focused on the geth first before we’d worry about the turrets.

I’ll admit, this was probably the hardest part of any mission. Even Virmire hadn’t proven as death-defying. More than once, a shot from one of the turrets came too close for comfort, but once Tali somehow managed to hack one of them, we slowly whittled down geth numbers before she hacked a second turret, with our two hacked turrets firing at the others. Ours blew up first, but a few grenades finished off the others quickly.

We were now all exhausted, and in addition to Garrus and Shiala, all of us except Tali were now covering minor wounds, covered in dirt, blood and sweat. After taking down another pair of krogan, Wrex taking a major wound for his troubles, doing nothing more than fuelling his blood rage, which he thankfully managed to keep a lid on, a check of the schematics suggested a nearby hatch was our way into the Council chamber.

Slipping inside quietly, the level of destruction equalled that we’d seen on the Presidium below us. Fires raged as the sirens were almost deafening in the confined space. Making it to the courtyard, a few geth units seemed to be the last line of defence. We took those out as quickly and as quietly as possible before moving towards the podium I’d last stood on when the Council had tried and almost succeeded in grounding me.

Saren was busy doing something but seemed to sense our presence, immediately disappearing for a moment before dodging out of cover on that hover-board he’d been riding on Virmire, throwing a grenade in our direction. We split up as it exploded behind us.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t make it in time, Shepard.”

I wasn’t sure if he was being condescending, sarcastic or actually rather serious. I glanced around cover to see him standing rather still on his hover-board, pistol aimed in my direction. Remaining in cover, I looked around to see everyone was okay behind cover. Shiala met my eyes and I could see she was in agony. “You okay?” I mouthed. She grimaced but nodded. She was stronger than I could ever give her credit for. I found Garrus and knew him leaping into cover would have hurt. He met my eyes and simply nodded.

“Killing geth takes time, Saren. Shame you had such useless allies.”

“You’ve lost, you know that, don’t you? In a few minutes, Sovereign will have full control of all the Citadel’s systems. They relay will open. The Reapers will return.”

I chanced a peek. Surprisingly, he didn’t fire. He was now more metal than turian. He hadn’t looked completely turian the first time I’d seen him but the changes since Virmire were obvious. “I’m not done yet, Saren. Either get out of my way or be destroyed before I stop the Reapers.”

Glancing around, I noticed one or two get ready to move. Wrex stood but Saren fired quickly, forcing the krogan back down. He roared with disapproval. “Shepard,” he growled.

“Working on it,” I muttered. Chancing another peek, Saren was focused on me again.

“You survived our encounter on Virmire, Shepard. I’ll give you credit for that. But I’ve changed since them. Improved. Sovereign has upgraded me.” My laughter rang around the chamber. What an absolutely fucking idiot. I told him that as well. He didn’t approve, firing near my position, though all that made me do was crouch a little smaller, hearing mass effect rounds whistle past my ear. “In a way, I suppose I should thank you, Shepard. After Virmire, I could stop thinking about what you said. About Sovereign manipulating me. About indoctrination. And, I’ll admit, the doubts began to eat away at me. Yet Sovereign sensed my hesitation. I was implanted to strengthen my resolve. And now my doubts are gone. I believe in Sovereign completely. I understand that the Reapers need organics. Join us, and Sovereign will find a place for you, too.”

“Vigil spoke of this,” Liara hissed quietly, “Those who were indoctrinated were used during the slaughter, then left to die afterwards.” I met her eyes and nodded. I wasn’t going to listen to his devil for much longer anyway.

“Jesus fucking Christ, Saren, how can you not see that with the implants you’re simply a slave to Sovereign? You’re being controlled by the Reapers. You don’t have any choice.”

“No, no, no, Shepard. You’re once again failing to understand. The relationship is symbiotic. Organic and machine intertwined, a union of flesh and steel. The strength of both, the weaknesses of neither. I am a vision of the future, Shepard. The evolution of all organic life. This is our destiny. Join Sovereign and experience a true rebirth.”

I glanced at Liara. “Vigil?” I mouthed. She nodded immediately. Might as well let him know the full truth. “We spoke to Vigil on Ilos too, Saren. Learned a few home truths that perhaps Sovereign hasn’t told you about. The Reapers don’t just use organics; they indoctrinate them to further their cause. They devour everything that makes us… us, then discard us like tomorrows garbage. As soon as their conquest is complete, you’ll be case aside. A mindless husk, left to wither and die like all those you turned your back on.”

“I had no choice!” Saren cried, and I knew my words were getting to him, “You saw the visions, Shepard. Yet I saw them much earlier than you, and I’ve lived with it every day since. But you saw what happened to the Protheans, and think of how much stronger they were than us. It is either surrender or death, Shepard. There are no other options.”

“You forgot the third option, Saren. We fight. We fight until we do die, or until we win. Yet you took the cowards way out. You turned your back on the galaxy, your people, the Council, the Spectres. You surrendered before the fight had even begun. You quit before you’d even gained a sweat. You’ll go down in history as nothing but a traitor and a fucking coward, Saren. So fuck you. Fuck the Reapers. And fuck anyone who gets in my way.”

I stood up out of cover and stepped forward, rifle hanging to my side. I met his eyes and somehow, I don’t know how, but my words were working. I could see the conflict in him. Sovereign was powerful, but to his credit, Saren was fighting whatever was in his mind. He collapsed to his knees as he cried out in pain. He met my eyes again and, for the first time, they were clear. Like meeting the eyes of my turian friend, Garrus Vakarian. “Shepard… He’s too powerful…” he moaned, holding his head in his hands.

I stepped forward, realising I was on the verge of ending it. “You know what to do, Saren. Make your last act heroic. I’ve read your file. Sure, you’ve done some nasty shit in your life, but you’ve also done what was right numerous times. What will the cost be this time? One life? Or the trillions of innocents?”

He cried out again, pain no doubt surging through his body. It was obvious Sovereign was nearly in full control of the turian, just like Benezia had been under the control of him and Sovereign. But there was a small window into his mind, just enough that was alive enough to communicate with me. He looked up, his eyes still clear. Meeting mine, he nodded. I took the pistol from my holster and stepped forward, handing it to him. “You know what to do, Saren. I’ll ensure everyone knows what you did at this moment. But…”

“I know, Shepard. But thank you.”

“You’re still a bastard though.”

The bark of a laugh reminded me of Garrus. Completely turian. “You were a worthy opponent, Shepard.” He met my eyes. “And I am sincere. At this moment, I die free.” And with those words, he put the pistol to his chin and blew his brains out. I watched the blue blood spatter before his body collapsed to the bottom of the hover-board, which then tipped and dropped his body far below us.

Walking to the same master control unit he’d been working at, I uploaded the data file and took control of all systems. The first thing to do was unblock communication and open the arms of the Citadel. I knew Sovereign was close by, but after my last communication with the Normandy, I was confident Joker would now surely be close enough to have joined up with an Alliance fleet.

Opening the communications channel, we heard a mayday from the Destiny Ascension. They had the Council on board, but they were also in trouble. Their engines were dead. Shields were failing. They were easy prey for the geth that hovered nearby.

Normandy to Citadel. Normandy to the Citadel. Please tell me that’s you, Commander.”

“Who else would it be, Joker?”

“We caught that distress call, Commander. I’m sitting here in the Adura sector with the entire Arcturus fleet. We can save the Ascension. Just unlock the relays around the Citadel and we’ll send the cavalry in!”

Everyone gave an opinion. Wrex suggested sacrificing the Council. Surprisingly, Garrus agreed, though the pragmatic course would be to save the entire fleet for Sovereign. Liara and a now flagging Shiala agreed on saving the Council. Ashley actually agreed, seeing the bigger picture if we let them die. Tali admitted she didn’t care about the Council but suggested saving them would be politically expedient. I almost smirked.

I glanced over my team. “There are ten thousand souls on the Destiny Ascension, not just the lives of the three councillors. We can save the ship while keeping enough in reserve to take down Sovereign. And Tali is right. Politically, it will be a good move for humanity. But it’s also the right thing to do.”

“It’s your show, Shepard,” Wrex muttered. He probably didn’t really care, but I knew would have had no love for the Council. Garrus agreed, admitting it was probably the right but not most pragmatic course. He was thinking like a turian. Victory, whatever the cost. I could see his point, most of the time, but this time, doing the right thing was best.

“Joker, this is Commander Shepard. Send word out. Save the Destiny Ascension.”

“Aye-aye, Commander. We will be through the relay in two minutes.”

“Hope we get thanks for this, Commander,” Ashley muttered. I knew what she meant, meeting her eye and nodding.

We were now bystanders, comm lines opened as we could hear the arrival of the fleet. “Alliance ships move in. Save the Destiny Ascension!”

Hackett knew as well as I did that a lot of men and women were going to die saving it. But I knew, in my heart, it was the right thing. Part of me knew that letting the ship burn was the best option. But ten thousand people were on that ship. And the Destiny Ascension itself was a magnificent craft. Keeping the ship intact was a smart move.

“Commander, we’re picking up reinforcements!”

“It’s the Alliance! Thank the Goddess!”

Over the radios, we could hear the fight. There was no doubt the Alliance paid a heavy price to save the ship. But the geth took a battering in addition. It was a short, sharp fight, lasting no more than half an hour. We heard more than one mayday during that time, and I knew we’d lost ships. Ashley met my eyes more than once. At heart, she knew I’d made the right call, but hearing our fellow men and women in uniform dying… Even the hardest of hearts would not always understand.

“Destiny Ascension, you are all clear. Repeat, you are all clear. Withdraw to the rallying point, you will have cover.”

“Thank you, Alliance. Thank you, Commander Shepard. We will withdraw. May the Goddess be with you.” I recognised the voice immediately. Councillor Tevos. I now had an ally on the Council. In fact, I probably had three simply because I’d saved them.

The Citadel’s opening. All ships, this is a direct order from Admiral Hackett. Move in! Concentrate on Sovereign!”

Even in the tower where we were, with Sovereign sat above us, we could actually hear the fight outside. We heard more than one radio call, of people screaming, of people dying. I hung my head, wondering if I’d made the right choice. I felt a hand on both shoulders, glancing to see Ashley to one side, Liara to the other. I wondered if my choice had just cost us victory.

Looking down, that’s when I noticed Saren lying there. “Wrex, Garrus, Ashley. Make sure he’s dead.” I didn’t hear anything until a couple of gunshots echoed around the chamber.

“Yeah, he’s dead now,” Wrex grumbled. I had no doubt he took pleasure in putting a few bullets in the body of the turian.

Then something happened. The entire chamber seemed to shake. Looking down, the body of Saren seemed to transform, glowing red electrical currents sweeping through his body. Before I could move nor say anything, the platform I was standing on gave way, sending me arse over head onto the ground below. I managed to regain my footing quickly, and the thing that stood before me was no longer Saren. The turian was now well and truly dead. Whatever stood before me… was more machine than organic.

“I am Sovereign! And this station is mine!”

“Like hell it is!” I roared, opening up immediately as the body of Saren or whatever it was leapt out of the way faster than imagined. Everyone was quickly into cover, those above joining us where we were. “Kill this fucking thing!”

Biotics, tech attacks, bullets. Everything opened up. But Sovereign, as it was clearly now directing Saren, the turian no longer in control, was incredibly strong. Tali went down first, hearing Ashley cry out. I ignored everything, my eyes and my rifle aimed only for the enemy. Garrus went down again, this time taking a shot into his chest. He yelled out he was okay, but was out of the fight. Our numbers were dwindling, but we somehow, we were also gaining the upper hand. My two biotic colleagues worked wonders as Wrex got in close, almost hand to hand combat with the body of the turian.

“Fuck you, turian fucking cunt,” Wrex roared. I almost laughed in appreciation at the use of his curses. Learned from me, obviously.

“Sovereign’s too strong! We have to pull back!”

“Negative! This is our only chance!” I didn’t believe, but thank god for Admiral Hackett. “Take that monster down, no matter the cost!”

Then the body of Sovereign seemed to change again. “Liara!”

“Shepard?!”

“Is it possible Sovereign has somehow transferred itself into Saren?”

I glanced to see her look. More red electrical current. “Yes, Shepard. No doubt Sovereign believes defeating us here will mean victory. Beat us, it can open the relays, then the cycle will begin.”

“Well, I think killing it here and now would be best, right?”

We stepped out of cover, even those of us injured, and we simply laid waste to it. It was clearly no longer Saren. It was an indoctrinated monster. It might have had speed. It might have had power, as whatever it fired in our direction, I certainly didn’t want to be shot by it. But we had the numbers, and we were pretty pissed off. And we were definitely not going to let the cunt win.

It took a long time. We all took wounds. My left shoulder was left bleeding, almost useless. I took another shot in the leg. But Sovereign, or whatever it was, didn’t win. We did. I had the pleasure of taking the last shot as the body of Saren hit the ground, limping forward to put a bullet into its head again. This time, it didn’t get up. This time, the body seemed to just disappear into nothing. Saren or Sovereign, neither seemed to exist.

We could hear a loud screech above us, though we could see little of the outside, but surely if we’d eliminated Saren and Sovereign in here, we now…

“It’s shields are down! Now’s our chance!”

Trust Joker to be in the thick of the action! And that meant the Normandy was still alive.

“Hit it with everything we’ve got!” Hackett ordered.

Hard on my flank. We’re going in!” Joker reported.

We never heard all the firepower that was sent in the direction of Sovereign, nor the final shot that killed the Reaper, once and for all. All we knew is that it was destroyed when its parts were spread across the Citadel, including a giant piece of one of its arms that went fired in the direction of where we all were. I heard the breaking of glass, turning back and simply ordering everyone to go before I looked up. If I was going to die, then it would be a good death. The Council was saved. The Reapers had been stopped.

And I would be with Annie once again.


I wasn’t dead. Somehow, I’m still not sure how, we all survived. The remnants of Sovereign near enough killed the lot of us, only blind luck saving us in the end. I staggered out of the ruins, bloodied, battered, bruised. Shiala was in dire need of medical attention, C-Sec finally showing up, whisking her, Tali and Garrus off straight away for attention. The rest had figured I was dead, Liara unable to hide her emotion, while even Wrex could only bellow with laughter before I found myself hugged nearly to death.

We all ended up being taken to hospital. My left arm was hanging on by a thread, only medi-gel numbing the pain. Anderson had shown up in the immediate aftermath, clearing a path for us so we could be taken for treatment. We could only look around at the five arms and see the utter destruction. No matter what, the galaxy had changed forever.

It took a week for the madness to die down. I kept abreast of events by watching the news. The Council and Destiny Ascension made a triumphant return to the Citadel. I couldn’t help smile when they were quick in their praise of the Alliance. They admitted that perhaps it was time to recognise all the contributions we had made since our arrival. We didn’t just have strength on our side, we’d proven ready and willing to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. Adding that we’d stopped a threat that would have ended our existence certainly helped.

Two weeks after the Battle of the Citadel, as that is what it would be known, there was a ceremony. Not in the Council chambers, still to be reconstructed, but in front of the masses. It was there that humanity found itself accepted as the fourth member of the Citadel Council. And, for some reason, they wanted my input as to who the Council member of humanity would be.

I could have elected Captain Anderson as a middle finger to Ambassador Udina, but I knew Anderson needed to be back out in the fight, not stuck in an office on the Citadel. But like hell I was going to nominate Udina after his shenanigans prior to Ilos. So I suggested the Alliance parliament should nominate a Council member. That made the three of them agreeable, noticing I chose probably the best course of action.

“And what do you plan on doing, Commander?” Tevos asked.

“This isn’t over, councillors. Sovereign was simply the vanguard. Saren and Sovereign might be defeated, but the Reapers are still out there in dark space, ready to arrive. There is still work to do, and if the Reapers think I’ll forget about them, they’re going to learn quickly that I have a long memory. I suggest, to all of you, that we prepare for their arrival. This is just the beginning…”

Of course, I should have known better. But that is a story for another time.

Instead, I returned to the Normandy as a hero. Awards were handed out left, right and centre. Joker begrudgingly accepted one of the highest awards given by the Alliance. Chief Ashley Williams was finally given a promotion and a possible route towards becoming an officer. Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko was posthumously awarded numerous medals, not just by the Alliance, but by the salarians, turians and asari. And I found myself with at least a half a dozen new medals on my chest at the same time.

But with the battle over, I thought some would have moved on to different things. But even Wrex decided they’d hang around for the time being. Tali could have headed back, but aware of the relationship with Ashley, she would not return for the foreseeable future. As for Benezia, admitting that she was probably safer with me than anywhere else, she would remain by my side and with her daughter. Now that Saren and Sovereign were dead, she felt the lingering effects of indoctrination wearing off somewhat. She still struggled at times, but she felt her mind freeing itself every day.

And, of course, there was the celebration. The Citadel was still a mess. Thousands had died, not just on the station, but the Alliance had taken losses. But we’d still managed to defeat an incredible enemy. Once I was out of hospital, I found myself propositioned constantly. I was fairly sure even Councillor Tevos was flirting with me at one stage. Emily Wong grabbed me for an interview, and that night, we fucked like never before. How she didn’t end up pregnant after that night, despite all the precaution she took, I’ll never know. It must have lasted at least twelve hours, sending her to work the next morning exhausted and very sore, watching her hobble towards the elevator of her apartment building as I stood naked in the doorway.

Gianna took a shuttle to the Citadel so we could meet up. There is nothing like having your cock sucked by a woman you feel great affection for as you look out over the Presidium. After she took a load in her mouth, we made love or fucked for three days solid. She was the first woman since Annie to say she loved me. Her feelings were not a surprise. I tried to say them back. I really did like her. I mean, I liked her perhaps more than most of the women I’d been with. But something held me back. Somehow, she understood. I’d probably never understand her really. But she loved me, and we enjoyed every second we were together. When she finally had to return to Noveria, her tears were no surprise before she hugged me tightly. I promised her I would see her again soon.

Then there the women on the Normandy. Ashley wasted no time getting her hands on me. We fucked. We fucked in my bedroom. We fucked down in the loading bay. I had her naked on the bench as I fucked her. We fucked in the bathroom. We fucked around the Citadel. Tali was sometimes involved when possible, but she was understanding too, knowing Ashley wanted my cock, and sometimes, she wanted it badly. I was also intimate with Tali, but that did take time and preparation, but she also took some deep dicking, sometimes alone, sometimes with Ashley present. Occasionally, they’d put on a show for me, and I enjoyed watching them eat each other out. They were certainly very good at it.

Tali surprised me by stating she would remain with me until the Reaper threat was at an end. That didn’t only put a smile on my face. Ashley was delighted. The two were now very much in love, and I’ll admit, slightly surprised that Ashley was now smitten and deeply in love with a non-human. She hadn’t been anything but honest originally, understanding why she was hesitant about inviting non-humans on board originally, but I don’t think anyone would have expected the relationship that had blossomed between the pair. Neither had shown any sort of inclination towards same sex relationships but… well, there we have it. They couldn’t be physically intimate all the time, but they spent nearly every moment when not working together. It was incredibly cute to watch at times, particularly as Ashley was an Alliance soldier at her core, but watching her drop those barriers with Tali…

But if I enjoyed time with the above, Shiala and Liara was something else entirely. Once we were all out of hospital, I enjoyed more than one threesome with the pair. In fact, I think they had discussed and agreed that I would only ever enjoy them together. I licked, ate and fucked so much asari pussy, it would have made my head spin. They loved nothing more than sitting on their knees, side by side, sucking my cock. They’d happily put on shows for me, watching them eat each other out. Both of them went so far as to want me in their arse. Shiala was eager for it. Liara was more hesitant, but after Shiala got her ready, she was begging for my cock. Soon, I was fucking all three holes on both of them regularly.

Then there was Benezia. I thought she would have disappeared once all was settled, but she wanted to remain by my side, admitting she had feelings for me. Not love, but she respected me completely, and wanted to help. Now that Saren and Sovereign were dead, she was confident that she could now be an ally going forward. I wasn’t going to waste the opportunity of having an asari matriarch as part of my team. No-one seemed to mind otherwise so I agreed.

I fucked her as much as anyone. Then there was the night mother and daughter walked into my bedroom, admitting they were intrigued as to how it would all work. It didn’t get weird; I’ll say that straight away. But mother and daughter certainly enjoyed the night with Commander Shepard. We enjoyed plenty of orgasms together and both asari were fucked well that evening. After that first time together, it became a regular thing, enough that Shiala gave into temptation and joined us. Considering she wasn’t related to Benezia, it didn’t take long until one asari could pleasure another while I could simply fuck or have my cock sucked by another. Watching Shiala eat out Benezia, or vice versa, was incredibly erotic. Even Liara found it exciting. Neither Benezia nor Liara crossed that border, but their relationship had clearly healed, and when I was being intimate with any of them, the words of love and affection were beautiful. By the end, even Shiala had forgiven Benezia completely. The day they day kissed and made up, holding each other tightly, Liara simply wept, now believing her mother was completely free, while Shiala had dealt with her personal demons. She still spoke of returning to Feros, but likely everyone else, she would remain by my side until the Reaper threat was ended.

Despite all this, I still remembered Annie. Despite the humans, asari and quarians I was intimate with. Despite the fact I was now a galactic hero, feted across numerous systems and world. Despite all the medals I could now place on my chest. Despite everything, I still missed her every day. Our photo still sat next my bed. I’d never remove it. All the women I was intimate in my bedroom on the Normandy with understood and never questioned. I’d told all of them everything, the whole truth. I think that simply made them like me even more.

“Hold onto those memories,” Benezia whispered into my ear one night, her to my right side, Liara and Shiala to my left, “They will get you through whatever the galaxy will throw at us next.”

“You speak from experience?”

“Of course, Shepard. I have centuries of life behind me. I’ve felt every emotion possible. I know what it feels like to lose someone you love. But I remember every single one. Carry them in your heart. Fight in their name. When you are finally victorious, one that final battle is finally complete, then perhaps you can lay that memory to rest.”

“Even now, I’m not sure…”

I felt her place a hand on my chest. “I understand, Shepard. A love like that is nearly irreplaceable. And it doesn’t matter if you were only together a few days, weeks, months, years, decades or centuries. The heart just… knows. It’s what makes organics beautiful. The fact we can fall in love so easily. We can give ourselves to someone within moments. That is how you felt about her, yes?” I nodded, feeling tears prick at my eyes. Benezia had always somehow understood. “I would ask to meld, so I could understand, but…”

“Okay.”

“What?”

“Okay.”

“I shouldn’t do this without…”

Liara and Shiala woke up. Benezia explained what was going to happen. Once they understood, I told Liara and Shiala I would do the same with her next. I had melded with both of them before, but that had been only to learn what the beacons had to tell me. I’d kept myself shut off. Now they would know all about me.

Benezia slid down my cock, settling herself down, before she began the melding process. I opened my mind to her. As much as she learned about me, firstly she let me know about her. In addition to being utterly beautiful, with a self-confidence I’d rarely seen and an intelligence that made me felt stupid at times, there was a wisdom I could only hope to one day achieve. But there was also no end of heartache, pain and regret. I didn’t feel sorry for her, that’s not what she wanted as we melded. But I definitely gained new understanding. Once I learned about her, she searched my mind, and I let her discover many of my secrets. She knew everything by the end.

Once she broke the meld, her cheeks were wet with tears as she rode me. She’d already enjoyed a couple of orgasms, kissing me hard, resting her forehead against mine. She tried to say something but couldn’t get the words out. Shiala sat on her knees by her side, kissing her cheek. “We all feel the same, my lady.”

“I’m sorry,” Benezia choked out softly.

“Don’t be. Your actions brought us here. You now enjoy him like we do.” She put her lips close to her ear. “Enjoy him further, my lady.”

Benezia certainly did, eventually arching her back and crying out, her orgasm ripping through her entire body. As she did that, I blasted one of the best loads I’d ever felt deep inside her. The connection had broken mentally, but physically, we were still joined. Benezia collapsed onto my chest in flood of tears, enough that it almost got me going. She mumbled a few things which all of us, even Liara, simply shushed her about, assuring her it was all okay. Saren was gone and she was now safe.

Shiala was next once I’d recovered. Like with Benezia, I completely freed my mind. I’d liked Shiala from the moment we’d met, so our joining was far happier than with Benezia. We simply learned about each other, now knowing what made us tick at heart. She broke the mould quickly so we could simply focus on the physical aspect. She ended up on her back as I made love to her. Her words of ‘I love you’ were not a surprise at all. I couldn’t return them. I knew I liked her immensely, much like Ashley and Tali, definitely like Gianna and Emily, but part of me just… couldn’t…

All she did was kiss me gently on the cheek and assure me that she understood why. All that mattered was that she was with me, and like all the others, she would remain by my side until the end. Only then would she return to Feros. Until then, her place was by my side.

Then Liara… She wept once she knew the truth. She didn’t know much about Annie. I’d told her bits and pieces but had never opened my mouth so she understood. Once she’d completely searched my mind and gained complete understanding, she broke the connection, stopped bouncing on my cock as she collapsed onto my chest in floods of tears. “I didn’t know,” she cried quietly.

“Sorry. I thought…”

“No, no,” she sobbed, “I’m glad I understand now. I understand everything.”

I held her, understanding why the fact all three of them had been so upset. Benezia explained that connecting in such a way let them understand not only my thoughts, but the emotions that came with those thoughts. Now that they knew what I felt in addition to what I remembered, it made then understand everything, absolutely everything, about my relationship, my history, what made me… me…

Just like Shiala, as I made love to Liara, she expressed her feelings for me too. Absolutely no surprise. Benezia smiled, approving of her words. Shiala lay by her side, running a hand down Liara’s chest, stating she’d have a fight on her hands. Liara smiled, simply meeting my eyes, stating I’d be worth the fight.

Sleeping that night with Benezia to one side, Liara and Shiala to the other, I felt like a king.

It was never going to last.


I’d admit that we’d been lucky throughout most of our battle against Saren and Sovereign. And luck is always bound to run out eventually. The Council had originally taken the Reaper threat seriously, but when they gave me new orders, to go searching for geth out in the Traverse, I was left wondering why. The geth had been practically defeated during our taking of the Armstrong Nebula and during the final battle. They certainly didn’t have the strength for a new offensive into Council Space.

But, what the Council wanted, the Council got, and I soon had orders to search the Traverse for remnants of geth, and to either annihilate or push their forces back beyond the Veil. I could have ignored them, of course. A Spectre could do what he or she wanted. But the Alliance agreed, and Admiral Hackett echoed the orders of the Council. Considering the somewhat close relationship we’d now established, despite having barely met, I couldn’t ignore it.

It was two months after events around the Citadel that we found ourselves on patrol in the Omega Nebula, having heard rumours of a geth presence in the system. We were currently flying through the Amada System, searching for any sign of the geth. I was growing frustrated at the lack of any real progress, and that was starting to affect my crew members. That was my fault, but they would keep working as long as I kept leading them. All of them now were beyond loyal to myself as the lone the human Spectre and Hero of the Citadel.

Joker was at the helm as always. Pressly was still my XO, despite recommending him for promotion. He didn’t mind, always insisting he would happily serve the Normandy and myself. Couldn’t ask for a better XO in all honesty. He was a good man. The ship was otherwise peaceful, even happy. Despite the frustration, the ship functioned as it should. The events of the Citadel were now behind us, there was now the next mission. At least that gave everyone focus.

I guess people wondered why we were in the Omega Nebula? Hackett had given us the news. Three ships had gone missing in the last month. It wasn’t the Reapers. They couldn’t blame piracy. There was something else out there that even gave the Council concern. Whether it was the Reapers or not, no-one was sure. Guess it was why I was sent to find out, right?

I had no idea what was coming. Working in my office, I had left Pressly in charge on the deck. I am in no way blaming him for what happened. No-one could have predicted… The first thing I knew something was wrong, Joker called over the radio to grab my attention. “Brace for evasive manoeuvres!”

After Saren and the Reapers, I now kept everything I needed nearby in case I needed to leave the ship immediately. Feeling the Normandy rocked by a blast, it took little time to assemble myself in armour, grabbing a weapon at the same time. Whatever ship was attacking us, it either wanted us destroy or would board us and attempt to do gods only knew what. Until then, I’d fight.

Kinetic barriers down. Multiple hull breaches,” I heard Joker report. What he said would undoubtedly be true. We were only a frigate so we were already a sitting duck. The only thing we could do… “Weapons offline!” Yep, we were now fucked.

I felt our ship hit again and again as I made my way to the emergency beacon. If I couldn’t get that away, no-one would know what was happening. The ship was on fire around me, making sure extinguishers eliminated some of the flames around me. I was almost knocked from my feet more than once. I heard the screams of some colleagues, stepping over more than one body. Whether they were alive or dead, I couldn’t be sure. I had to let the Alliance know at least…

The Normandy was falling apart around me. I had to reattach pipes before I could get the distress beacon activated. Behind me I heard footsteps over the explosions, glancing to see both Liara and Ashley behind me. Liara would simply be worried about me. Ashley would want orders from her CO, though I knew she could have done the right thing without me.

They both seemed to realise what I was doing. “Will the Alliance get here in time?” Ashley asked. Smart girl, helmet already on, weapons at her back, ready to fight if necessary. Glancing at Liara, her faceplate was clear. The fear in her eyes…

Both lost their footing as another shot crashed into our ship. I caught them both at the same time. “The Alliance won’t abandon us. We just need to hold on. Get everyone to the escape shuttles.”

“Joker’s still in the cockpit,” Ashley reported.

“And I’m not leaving either,” Liara added.

I grabbed a fire extinguisher as flames seemed to surround us. I didn’t answer at first, focusing on putting those out before anything else. I knew the Normandy was already doomed. All we could do was save everyone then wonder who the fuck was firing at us.

“Chief Williams, I need you to get the crew onto the evac shuttles. I’ll take care of Joker.” She looked up, seeing her eyes behind the tinted glass. “That’s an order, Chief.”

The place was now falling apart. The beacon wouldn’t go without reconnecting the link. Ashley made to walk away but turned back as Liara wouldn’t leave. “Shepard…”

I looked at my asari lover. “Liara. Go. Now. Ashley, take her. Get off the ship.”

“Aye-aye, Shepard,” Ashley stated. The emotion in her voice at that moment… She knew… She knew…

Reconnecting the link, the screen reappeared that would allow me to fire the beacon. Slamming the console, the VI reported the beacon was away. The Alliance wouldn’t arrive in time to save us. Not a chance in hell. But they’d save most of the crew at least. The Normandy was dead though. I was realistic enough to know that. Hell of a way to end my first command.

The VI reported that escape pods had fired with crew on board. I could only hope they would now be safe from whatever was attacking us. I stepped over the bodies of the fallen, shaking my head, cursing our bad luck. We’d survived Saren and Sovereign, but now they were dead for… what? The engines were now failing. Explosions continued to rip through the Normandy. None of us had long left. I could hear Joker through my ear piece, the desperation in his voice clear.

When I stepped out into what was the CIC, I couldn’t help stop and look. The roof had disappeared, leaving a somewhat beautiful view of space and the nearby planet. Only the ship’s gravity and shields kept me from floating into space, making sure my magnetic boots were also working. Ahead, I could see Joker behind a kinetic barrier, only that preventing him from being suffocated by space. The ship was a sitting duck. We had to get off quickly.

Stepping into the somewhat safe zone, I immediately recognised the body of Pressly on the ground. I checked for a pulse and dropped my head for a moment. The gaping hole in his stomach suggested he had died instantly. Another body lay nearby. I recognised her as Ensign Caroline Grenado. Always very friendly and bloody good at her job. She had a significant head wound. Another check told me what I needed to know.

“Come on, Joker. We need to get out of here.”

He glanced back, a sigh of relief that he had his own helmet fixed. “No. I won’t abandon the Normandy. I can still save her!”

At that moment, I respected the hell out of my helmsman, willing to go down with his ship. A reminder of sailors from centuries past who would go down with their ship, no matter the cost. But we no longer lived in those days, and sacrificing his life was a futile gesture.

I grabbed his upper arm, making him look at me. “Joker, the Normandy is lost.” He stared at me. “Going down with the ship won’t change that.”

He gave it a moments thought before he sighed, nodding his head. “Okay… Can you help me up?” Before I could lift him up, he reported the unknown ship was coming around for another attack, looking back to see the sheer the cockpit practically away from the rest of the ship. Knowing we had little time, I lifted Joker out of his seat and practically dragged him to the nearest escape pod. Sitting him down and ensuring he was secure, the ship was rocked by another explosion, which slapped me back against the wall. I already knew the score.

I smacked the button that closed the hatch that allowed the pod to escape, watching it fire before I was hit by another shockwave, floating through the remains of the CIC. I already knew my fate but couldn’t help but marvel at the destruction. Whatever had done this had my respect, though I thought they could go fuck themselves at the same time. Bastards ruining my ship and all…

The ship exploded into pieces as I watched, hanging my head for a moment. Never would have believed my command would end in such a manner. I then calmed myself. I was in a hard suit. I had plenty of air. All I would need to do was contact…

Yeah, not going to happen. An alarm sounded, warning that pressure and air in my suit was running low. A hose had disconnected behind me. I grabbed to reconnect it, but doing it blind was nearly impossible. With each passing second, I was losing air and pressure. I felt my mind start to drift, breathing started to become difficult. Before I knew, I was passing out…

What a bitch of a way to die…

But… finally... finally, after all the false starts and facing near death too many times to count… I would be with Annie again.

Chapter Text

The Crew of the Normandy

The beacon has been replied to immediately. At least three ships were sent in response to the mayday. When they arrived, they found no sign of the Normandy nor of the ship that had apparently destroyed it. What they did find was a number of lifepods, frantic messages for help being communicated.

Six ships in total arrived in the orbit of Alchera, a cruiser in the lead with five frigates patrolling around it. The lifepods were taken straight back to the cruiser, the SSV London. The number of survivors was more than expected, but no-one believed that the SSV Normandy could have been destroyed, but worse was that Commander Shepard was confirmed as lost. His crew demanded they try and find his body, but the search was paltry at best. Not knowing the situation around them, whether the ship that had destroyed the Normandy was still present, the captain of the London ordered their retreat to safety.

Shepard was confirmed as Killed in Action.

Back on the Citadel, Ambassador Udina (as elected by the Alliance Parliament) and Admiral Hackett spoke with the survivors. Though they were thanked for their bravery and assistance, without Commander Shepard in the lead, it was time for everyone to make their own way. Alliance staff was reassigned. The non-Alliance personnel were told their services were no longer required. There was plenty of anger and resentment at how quickly everything was ended, but those at the heart of everything were not surprised.

“They never believed,” Liara muttered, “And we will all pay the price.”

Without Shepard, the glue that held them all together, though they were friends, and had forged bonds in fire, each of them now had to head their own way, take destiny into their own hands. All of them had changed though. Returning to their old lives was out of the question. What they had learned during their time with Shepard meant that was simply impossible. But without Shepard leading them, all of them would admit to feeling a little… lost.


Tali’Zorah nar Rayya

Feeling the skin of her human lover under her fingertips, she took a deep shuddering breath. No doubt Ashley knew what was coming, feeling her arm wrap around her a little tighter, closing her eyes, unable to meet hers.

“I have to go home,” she whispered.

“I know,” Ashley whispered in return. Tali took a deep breath to control her emotions. She wanted to cry, hold her human lover, never let her go. She’d never felt anything like this for anyone except the man who had disappeared. But she was a quarian at heart, and though she loved the connection she had made, she knew returning was the best thing for her.

“Should I leave quickly or…”

She felt Ashley pull her closer, kissing her forehead. “I’d love for you to stay forever, but I know leaving will be hard for both of us.”

“Quicker the better?” She heard Ashley take a deep breath, finally looking up to meet her eyes. When they looked at hers, seeing the shimmer in her eyes… It nearly broke her completely.

She sat up and leaned against the headboard, keying her omni-tool, immediately looking for transportation away from the Citadel. Once that was booked, which was surprisingly easy, though getting all the way back to the Fleet would take some organisation, she switched it off and leaned into Ashley. “Don’t want to go,” she murmured.

“Feeling is mutual, Tali. But I have my orders too. I’ll be off to the other end of the galaxy soon enough.”

“Is this it?” she asked, blinking rapidly at the thought of losing her.

She felt a finger under her chin, meeting the eyes of her again. The tears were a surprise. Ashley Williams never cried. But right now, the tears flowed easily. Leaning down, she kissed her softly, putting all the feeling they had for each other in quite a simple gesture. Feeling her hand run down her cheek, resting her forehead against hers, Ashley managed to say, “Maybe… I don’t know… You’re going home now and…”

“I love you,” Tali managed to choke out.

“Feeling is more than mutual, my little quarian lover,” Ashley managed to reply, a smirk forming before their lips met. Any idea of perhaps leaving the hotel room ended then and there. The love making that followed was something else entirely. They’d enjoyed a lot of sex since returning to the Citadel, almost as a way of getting over their grief. But she knew both of them felt this was something different. Perhaps the last time…

She ended up on her back, Ashley kissing her hard, feeling her fingers inside her, searching for that special spot. “Cum for me, Tali,” her human lover breathed. Tali would have laughed. Ashley always made her cum. She made her cum constantly, and she liked to believe she returned the favour. Ashley didn’t relent, their lips never parting until Tali came hard, wrapping her arms around Ashley as she squeezed her fingers, wrapping her legs around her thighs as she cried out. She didn’t just cry out, she cried, feeling hot tears streak down her cheeks, Ashley immediately kissing her face to clear them away.

Then they held each other in silence, fingertips gently stroking each other. They’d enjoy a shower later, dress, and then they would have to leave. But, for now, they would enjoy the presence, the scent, of the other.

They fell asleep for at least a couple of hours before waking up. Heading to the shower, they washed each other, enjoying plenty of cuddling and kissing, before heading back to the bedroom, where they needed to dress. She sat on the bed, watching Ashley get ready, before her human lover helped her get back into her suit. The last act was the mask, closing her eyes as Ashley cupped her face. “I won’t forget you, Tali’Zorah,” she whispered. Tali could only open her eyes and smile. It was probably the best way to say goodbye.

“I won’t forget you either, Ashley.”

They kissed a final time before Tali found herself sealed away. Heading out into the Citadel, they headed towards a restaurant that catered to both human and quarian needs, which were few and far between. But they managed to find a place that allowed them a few more hours together. Looking around the Ward, the signs of the battle were still obvious. Fires still raged in certain sections, left wondering when they would be put out and the damage restored. The Presidium was obviously the focus for now. Until that was fixed, the Wards would simply have to cope.

Tali told Ashley that her ship would be departing soon, so the pair walked hand in hand towards the dock she would be departing from. No doubt the fact a human walked hand in hand with a quarian caused some stares, but Ashley didn’t seem to care one bit, which only made her smile behind the mask. At the docks, they sat and waited for the departure call, unable to really find any words to share. Everything they needed had already been shared back in the room.

Before boarding, they shared a final hug. Tali wanted to say something like she’d call and message her constantly but the realist in her knew they may not see each other again. Their lives were so different. The Normandy had brought them together, and without it, they would now be on separate sides of the galaxy. Ashley caressed the side of her mask. “Goodbye, Tali.”

Tali knew what goodbye meant. Ashley had said it with good reason. She was a realist as well. She hugged her tightly a final time, feeling Ashley squeeze her in return. She wanted to tell her how much she loved her, but while she would always feel that way about her, she knew it was already time to move on. Hide away those feelings and simply… try and forget. Letting go of the taller human, she grabbed her small bag, turned and walked towards the docking bay. She looked back a final time to see Ashley wipe her cheeks with the back of her hand. Part of her wanted to run back and hug her. But she steeled herself, took a deep breath. Meeting her eyes one last time, she smiled behind the mask, hoping Ashley recognised it, before she turned and strode down the docking arm towards the shuttle that would eventually carry her home.

Her return was triumphant thanks to the information Shepard had given her. But she felt nothing but empty back on the fleet. Her lover now a galaxy away and her hero dead. The only thing she could do was focus on her new life, her new job, and simply try and forget…


Urdnot Wrex

The landscape out the window of the shuttle was a barren wasteland, a testament to the futility of nuclear war. The technological advances made by the krogan were, in the end, a monumental disaster. The technology gave them entirely new ways of killing each other. At one stage, the krogan had been the saviours of the galaxy, their century’s long war against the rachni proving their prowess in battle. But then there were the Rebellions, in response to those was the unleashing of the genophage, and the near destruction of the krogan race.

Tuchanka was nothing but piles of rubble, an absolute battered land, barely worth fighting over. The once garden world was something only talked about in whispers, barely remembered by those krogan who still lived, a past consigned to the history books. No-one thought the world would ever flourish once more. Tuchanka was now considered one of the deadliest planets in the galaxy. Apart from the krogan inhabitants, any flora and fauna that had survived the nuclear fallout was deadly to any potential visitors. Then there was the atmosphere, the ozone layer that once covered the planet completely destroyed, and the Shroud, the giant tower built by the salarians, the only thing keeping the planet liveable.

Wrex sat alone in the shuttle as it started its descent. It had been centuries since he last set foot on the homeworld. He had washed his hands of his people for years, simply focusing on his own life and gave an air of being uncaring about the plight of his people. But, deep in his heart, he had always cared greatly about his people. About their plight. Their standing in the pantheon of galactic races. It had been during his conversations with Shepard that he had realised that perhaps, just perhaps, he should return home. And help lead his people out of the plight they suffered. Wrex remembered the promise Shepard had made on Virmire, of helping the krogan find a cure for the genophage.

Krogan rarely felt great sadness, but the thought of Shepard gave Wrex pause. It had been a few months since Shepard had been lost, the unknown ship blasting the Normandy apart, Shepard blown clear of the wreckage. He had attended the funeral, out of respect for his fellow warrior, though his body had never been found. Once the funeral was finished, the rest of the crew had been split up by the Alliance. He was aware the Council was already ignoring his warnings. As for the Alliance, they had simply lost their poster boy, their first Spectre. Whether there were plans for a replacement, he certainly didn’t know.

During his time on the Normandy, and in the months since the funeral, Wrex had quietly established contacts on Tuchanka, trying to find like-minded individuals and clans, who would support his drive and ideas. Wrex had an ambitious plan. End the clan feuds. Unite Tuchanka as one, under the flag of Clan Urdnot. And finally bring an end to the genophage and the end of krogan isolation from the rest of the galactic races.

Establishing dominance of his clan would be difficult enough. His brood-brother, Wreav, had been left in charge since Wrex had left, and Clan Urdnot had become an embarrassing shell of what it once was. Wrex thought his brother was an idiot, always had, and it was the one regret he had about originally leaving Tuchanka, knowing that his brother could one day lay claim to leadership. Wrex was prepared to fight and kill his brother, if necessary, but from news he had already been told, Wrex would have the support of the clan on his return. It appeared becoming an infamous bounty hunter, and also a member of the crew that saved the Citadel, and quite possibly the galaxy, may help him re-establish control. It also helped that most were unhappy with the ineffectiveness of Wreav’s leadership.

The shuttle finally landed on his homeworld, Wrex opening the door and setting foot on Tuchankan soil for the first time in hundreds of years. He bent down to one knee and grabbed a handful of dirt, letting it run through his fingers, before he rubbed his hands together and stood up, looking around at the wasteland that greeted his eyes.

It’s a fucking hell-hole. But it’s home.

Our home.

My home.

Two krogan walked up the pile of rubble to where Wrex stood in front of the shuttle. Arms were crossed diagonally across their chests in salute, a slight bow as they spoke. “Urdnot Wrex, welcome home to Tuchanka.”

Wrex returned the gesture before he walked forward, arms spread wide. “I am pleased to return home, brothers.”

The two krogan fell in alongside Wrex as the trio walked down the rubble mound. In front of them on an open square were lines of krogan. There must have been hundreds of them. Proud warriors, one and all. Wrex’s proclamations had apparently reached all corners of Tuchanka. Perhaps even to those krogan who no longer called Tuchanka home. The krogan lined up in front of him were but a fraction of those in support of Wrex and his ideas.

“These are the leaders and members of the clans who wish to pursue peace? Who truly want an end to the genophage? To end the cycle of violence? That wish to see the krogan re-integrate themselves within the galaxy?” asked Wrex.

“Indeed they are, Urdnot Wrex. There are still many clans who would oppose your ideas, but the clans represented here are aware of your history and the fall-out with your father. Many of the krogan in front of you now have always supported your ideals, but have simply had to await your return. Most clans are not strong enough to go alone.”

Wrex grumbled slightly. He had always resented the way he had retreated from Tuchanka. But when most of his finest warriors were murdered by his father and those loyal to him, Wrex had been left with little choice but to leave in desperation. But not without getting revenge on his father first, leaving him dead on the ground, a knife buried deep in his heart.

Wrex came to a stop in front of the rows of krogan, stood on a small mound as he overlooked them. They all gave the same gesture, arm across the chest, a slight bow. “You honour us, Urdnot Wrex,” they said as one. Wrex gave a slight bow in return. He was surprised at the respect. Then again, news of Virmire, his role in defeating Saren, of his promise to end the genophage, had reached Tuchanka. It was one of many reasons why so many clans had been willing to join. There was one word at the back of all their minds. Of his mind. He was promising to give the krogan the one thing they had lacked for over a thousand years.

Hope.

"The krogan were once a proud people. A people that the galaxy once relied on, to fight on their behalf. We once lived by ideals of courage, strength and honour. But for the last thousand years, we have done nothing but kill ourselves, and waste our lives. Today, we begin our rebirth. Today, we start the rise of the krogan once again. But no longer will be a species to be feared. We will be a species to be respected. We will once again earn our place in the galaxy. We will lead the krogan into a new future. Today, starts a new dawn for the krogan!"

The assembled krogan roared their approval. Wrex allowed himself a slight grin. He figured Shepard would have been proud of that one. Wrex looked up into the sky, the sun beating down on the battered landscape of Tuchanka. He let another small grin cross his face.

Shepard would be proud.

And I will make you proud, my brother.

He returned his attention to the assembled ranks of krogan in front of him. His new band of brothers. Krogan who were willing to fight and die for Wrex and his ideals.

“Come, my brothers. Let us begin.”

The Fourth Tuchankan Civil War was about to begin. And, this time, Clan Urdnot would be the victor.


Garrus Vakarian

“I’m going,” he muttered.

“Where?” she asked.

“I don’t know. Just… anywhere not here. There are too many reminders. The Spectres…” He scoffed. “I would have tried to join them if he was still here. Now they besmirch his name like he’s some sort of… embarrassment.”

“What about me?”

He turned towards her, cupped her face with his talons. “I love you, Chloe. Always will. But it’s…” He sighed, trailing off. He wasn’t good at sharing feelings. Few turians were. He usually wore his heart on his sleeve, but when it came to matters like this, and with her, he could rarely find the words. He felt too many things that he simply couldn’t express them.

“You’ll come back?” He nodded immediately. He loved her more than anyone. Anything. He didn’t want to go. But he also had to go to find… himself again. “I’ll wait for you, Garrus.”

“Chloe…”

She leaned forward, the bedsheet dropping to reveal her soft body. Kissing him on his cheek, he pulled her right. “I understand, Garrus. Do what you need to do. No matter how long, I’ll be here when you return.”

“Chloe…”

He felt her squeeze him even tighter. “I understand,” she whispered.

“It’s not fair,” he muttered.

“You had a lot of love for him. I know that.”

“He was my brother in arms. I would have died for him.”

Just saying that… He felt his voice catch. He missed him terribly. The only thing that made him feel better since their return to the Citadel had been her. But it wasn’t enough. He was upset. Heartbroken. Stricken with grief… And angry. More than angry. Furious. He burned with vengeance. Geth. Krogan. Even human or turian. Whoever was responsible. He was going to hunt whoever was responsible to the edge of the galaxy and watch them burn. He would gain retribution for his death. He would fight and die in his name going forward.

“Does anyone else know?”

“I think it’s best I just disappear for a while, Chloe. I might let my father know I’m alive, at least.”

“Before you go…” He met her eyes, noticing her cheeks colour.

They made love a final time. She knew he’d leave soon after, so she seemed to make sure it would last for as long as possible. Watching her ride his cock, he couldn’t help marvel at her body, watching her slowly bounce up and down on his length. When he finally came inside her, she couldn’t move for a little while because of what happened when he ejaculated. She loved the extra connection that arrived when he climaxed, simply using it as an excuse to rest herself on his chest, running a hand up and down her back, enjoying the feeling of her smooth skin.

Once they could disconnect, she got up and dragged him into the shower, where she handed him soap and a washcloth so he could wash her down. Spirits, he loved her body. No, not just her body. He loved her. Always would. He’d already thought about a future together, though that had been before the destruction of the Normandy. Leading her back to the bedroom later, she sat down naked and watched him start to dress himself. She smiled whenever his eyes met hers. Escorting him to the door, they hugged for what felt like hours. He told her he loved her. He told her he would be back. He told her…

“When you’re ready, come back to me, Garrus,” she whispered. And, with a final kiss on the cheek, she closed the door, leaving him alone.

Taking a deep breath, he grabbed his bag and walked towards the dock, already thinking about which festering shithole to go to first.

He didn’t have to search long and hard for his first target. A planet that was ripe for the taking. It was called Omega. Run by Aria T’Loak. The perfect place to begin his path of vengeance. Fight in his name and cleanse the galaxy of the scum that infested it.

*****

The dozen men were gathered around the small table, on which sat only a map of the area. The leader of these men looked upon his followers, almost like a proud father. They were men of many race and creed – turian, human, salarian, even a batarian had joined the ranks. The dozen men were dressed in combat armour. But on each man was no official insignia. They shared only the same colour. Some would have considered them mercenaries, as they fought with no army, representing no race or people. However, these men fought for no pay or personal glory. They fought to protect the innocent, and served justice to the guilty. They considered themselves just in their cause.

They were the protectors of Omega.

Garrus cleared his throat, the eyes of the other eleven men on him, falling silent as he started to speak. Like usual, the instructions would be short, sharp and precise. He trusted his men implicitly.

“The mercenaries are located in a warehouse here,” stated Garrus, pointing at the map, “Butler and Krul, you will take up a sniping position, here. Weaver and Erash, you will take up a sniping position here. You’ll provide us with cover and can eliminate any resistance not located within the building. The other eight of us will infiltrate the warehouse. The main door is located here. There are side doors located here, here and here, where we can enter. We will split into two teams of four. I assume you have all learned the lay-out of the warehouse?”

Eleven heads nodded.

“Expected resistance?” asked Sensat, the lone batarian. Garrus was surprised when he offered his services. But he’d proven his worth. He was a skilled fighter and worthy of being part of his team.

“Up to twenty to thirty mercenaries will be within the warehouse. They have no heavy weaponry. Expect only light opposition. Our objective is but one: We will enter, kill and exit as quickly and as quietly as possible. However, we will leave fireworks once we’ve departed. Mierin, that’s where you come in. You have the package?”

The salarian nodded. An original recruit. One that Garrus trusted most. Ex-STG. And a tough son of a bitch.

“Good.”

“Are we taking prisoners for interrogation?” asked Monteague, a human mercenary who had joined their cause not many weeks before, having lost everything he owned and loved to a band of mercs. One of many looked for their own sort of revenge.

“No,” replied Garrus.

Eleven nodded their heads in agreement. It was the standard mission then.

“Any other questions?”

All remained silent.

“Good. Everyone clear regarding our objective?”

Eleven heads nodded.

“Grab your armour and gear. We leave in five minutes.”

Garrus and his team were as silent as the wind as they made their way to the warehouse, using the shadows to their advantage. It was the same tactical plan. No-one would see them come or go. There would be the sound of gunfire, but that was not usual on Omega. Barely a day went by when there were not bodies found in the streets and avenues, all over the station. Omega was completely and utterly lawless. The only person Garrus knew who could even begin to bring a semblance of law and order was Aria T’Loak, and Garrus had no time for her either, considering she was the designated ‘Pirate Queen’ and undisputed ruler of Omega. Therefore, groups, such as those Garrus continuously fought, thrived on the misery of others. There was slavery, drug dealing, and murder. Utter corruption and debasement of the population. Garrus took pleasure in cleaning up the place.

With the snipers in position, Garrus and his team waited at the side of the warehouse. The crack of rifles soon echoed in the air. There were no cries for help. The men he had chosen were expert shots. They never missed. Silence soon descended again.

“All clear,” came the call through his earpiece.

With only two hand movements, Garrus and his team split up as planned. They would flank the opposition, forcing them back into the main floor of the warehouse, where Garrus hoped to then mop up any resistance that remained.

He walked quickly, in a slightly crouching position, to the door, gesturing to the man behind him to the other side. Garrus grabbed the doorknob and looked at Sidonis. He looked back and nodded. Garrus flung the door open inwards and moved in, rifle raised, searching for targets. The hallway was dark and empty.

Garrus gestured to the doors to his side, two by two as the men searched for the enemy. He opened one door to see two men sat watching a vid-screen. They hadn’t heard them enter. He gestured to Lorethis for quiet, the two creeping up behind the men, taking out the knife that sat at their hips. Garrus grabbed one of the men by the mouth, preventing him screaming out, while plunging the knife into his neck. The struggle didn’t last long.

The quiet didn’t last, though, as soon gunfire echoed around the warehouse.

“Go loud,” ordered Garrus as they started walking quicker through the hallways. Doors were kicked in, rifles fired at anyone who moved. Anyone who ran towards them was mown down by rifle fire. He tried keeping count of the bodies but it was pointless. He knew they were approaching the planned killing field. He guessed that that the opposition would fall back for one last stand.

Garrus approached a closed door. He peered through the small glass pane. It was the main warehouse floor. Just as planned. He could see the remnants of the mercenary force trying to dig in. He could hear shouts of concern. He heard the one question that was always asked.

“Who the fuck is attacking us?” someone would ask.

“It must be Archangel,” would be the reply.

Garrus looked back at his men and nodded. He opened the door and ran onto the floor, taking cover behind a crate. He waited until he knew his three colleagues were near him, and then they opened fire.

“Team two in position,” came the call over the radio.

The mercenaries would now be pinned.

“Team three in position,” came another call.

Those were the snipers, now taking position outside the warehouse door, preventing any escape.

Garrus would consider cease-fire as an option, giving the mercenaries a chance. But he remembered what happened on Nepheron and the morons from Cerberus, the olive branch Shepard offered, thrown back in his face. Garrus would offer no olive branch. These mercenaries deserved what was coming to them.

“Maintain pressure,” he ordered.

The gunfire was incessant. Grenades exploded. He could hear the tell-tale noises of tech bursts. Of sniper fire. Of shotguns. The cries of the injured, soon to be dead, would drown out the sounds of everything else for a moment. The ground ran red and blue, orange and green with blood, the various colours mixing together, almost a kaleidoscope of blood on the floor.

Soon the fire started to peter out. Garrus called out to cease-fire. Carefully his team moved out of cover. Garrus checked for injuries. One or two of his men were wounded, but no-one had been killed. It was another successful operation, the bodies of the opposition littering the ground. The occasional shot rang out as a survivor was put down. There would be no prisoners.

“Mierin, prepare the package,” Garrus ordered.

With the package prepared in moments, Garrus ordered his squad to move out. Again in the shadows they departed, the sounds of a massive explosion ringing in their ears, as they made their way back to their base, where they would unwind and quietly celebrate another success. It was another battle of a war that would never end. But it was a fight that Garrus would continue until his dying breath.

That was his solemn promise to the people of Omega. And to his dead friend.


Ashley Williams

Ashley had said goodbye to Tali within a couple of weeks after the Normandy had been destroyed. It had… It had torn her heart out. She’d loved the little quarian, more than she’d ever imagined. She’d never thought she’d ever fall in love with another woman. Let alone another woman and an alien as well. But, somehow, they’d forged a bond, and Ashley knew she’d never forget her. But after Shepard was lost, they were forced apart, both knowing the forces of the galaxy were stronger than the love they may have shared.

It wasn’t just losing Tali, though. Losing Shepard was just as tough. She loved Tali. Still loved her even after the quarian had returned home. But, in her heart, she’d loved Shepard. Perhaps differently to her quarian lover, but she had believed. More than anything, she had believed in Commander Shepard. Her friend, lover, confidant… The man who had believed in her as much in return.

She’d been promoted to Operations Chief and had started the road towards becoming an officer. She knew that was due to the recommendations of Shepard, plus the fact Anderson had also been in the ear of Alliance brass, and there was no doubt Admiral Hackett was now an admirer. She had more than one meeting with both men, as though she had earned promotion, they admitted to being unsure where to place her.

To her disappointment, she didn’t find herself placed on another starship, though part of her didn’t want to be on any other ship than the Normandy. She worked on Earth for a few months, keeping an eye and ear on the news over time as she watched everything they’d learned about the Reapers swept under the carpet, the Council denying their existence. They didn’t call Shepard delusional but the insinuation was clear. As for the Alliance, Anderson was a believer, as was Hackett, but even the latter, even though he was Admiral of the Fleet, earning a promotion after the Citadel, only had so much power.

She kept in touch was Tali for a time but communication eventually dropped between them. Keeping a long distance relationship going, with little chance of seeing each other, was always going to be difficult. It was at least nine months after they parted when they simply agreed that they should both move on. She was upset to end it with her but, considering their circumstances, it was the best thing to do. Problem for Ashley was that moving on was just too difficult. Any man she looked at would be compared to Shepard, and no-one could possibly compare to him. And she didn’t find herself attracted to another woman, figuring perhaps it had just been Tali who had interested her…

As for the rest of the Normandy crew, she eventually fell out of touch with them too. She would email Doctor Chakwas every so often, surprised to hear the good doctor had been shunted onto some facility on Mars. Joker had basically been grounded, and from whispers she’d heard, he’d taken to drink and blamed himself for Shepard’s death. All other surviving Alliance personnel had been sent to other ships or postings, and the likes of Wrex and Garrus had simply moved on.

The one person she did keep in contact with was Liara. She would admit the two hadn’t exactly always been warm to each other, at least to start with, but over time, the two had become friendly enough, each aware they were both intimate with Shepard, not that they’d discuss it. But Liara seemed to make sure she stayed in contact with her, sending her an email at least once a month. She didn’t say much about what she was doing, but she definitely seemed to have plenty of information to share, particularly in regards to investigating the destruction of the Normandy. That just made Ashley scratch her head, wondering what an archaeologist was doing investigating it…

Still, at least someone was looking into it, as the Alliance had quickly written it off as a geth attack and closed the file. Ashley wasn’t stupid. She knew Sovereign wasn’t a geth ship, Saren was indoctrinated, and there was no way any geth ship could have ripped apart the Normandy as easily as it had happened. No, she knew there was another enemy out there. If it wasn’t the Reapers, then who was responsible for the destruction of the Normandy and the death of Commander Shepard? She couldn’t ask too many questions too loudly. She’d only just earned her stripes, finally rising to a station she believed she should have been at years before. If she rocked the boat now, they’d demote her just as quickly to prove a point.

She would simply have to keep her head down, grit her teeth, put up with the lies, and hope Liara or whoever else would find the truth.


Liara T’Soni

(A/N – To be honest, there is so much content regarding Liara between games 1 & 2 that I could have written an entire chapter just about her. So I’ve had to cut it to the bare facts before leaping into the next chapter. Still other characters to consider too…)

No-one else knew how busy Liara T’Soni had been since the destruction of the Normandy. She was desperate to tell those who knew her best the truth, but telling the truth about what she’d done would likely cause… problems…

Liara was a true believer in the Reaper threat. Having melded with Shepard numerous times, particularly once their physical relationship finally started, she knew everything he did. She knew what loomed on the horizon. They may have stopped Sovereign, but the Reapers would not be stopped forever. They’d find a way to arrive and begin the harvest. That’s what made losing Shepard such a bitter blow.

But unlike the Alliance, she didn’t give up on him so easily. She wanted to ask some of the others to help. She didn’t think they gave up on him. They were just… heartbroken. She did wonder about approaching perhaps Garrus or Ashley, but the former spoke of joining the Spectres, while Ashley was quickly shuffled off to her next posting. That left Liara alone to go search.

Two months after the loss of Shepard and the Normandy, Liara turned her back on the world of science and archaeology in attempt to find him to begin with the… she wasn’t sure what. Burial? Probably. Revival? Unlikely, but she could live in hope. All she wanted was Shepard back, as much as anyone else she’d been alongside. After searching Alchera, where most of the Normandy had ended up crashing upon, she found no sign of the Commander and put out feelers across the galaxy. That led her to Omega…

Arriving on Omega eventually led to a meeting with Aria T’Loak, the ‘Pirate Queen’, who proved of little help. That didn’t surprise her in the slightest, but she did end up meeting her contact, a drell by the name of Feron. After finding herself ambushed by Blue Suns mercenaries, she ended up meeting a woman by the name of Miranda Lawson, who represented an organisation called Cerberus. She knew of Cerberus quite well. Shepard had spent months dismantling many of their operations across the galaxy, and she was well aware of their pro-human, anti-alien agenda. She was eventually introduced to the ‘Illusive Man’, who claimed he had the technology to bring Shepard back to life, but that couldn’t be done without his body, and the Collectors, a race unknown to most of the galaxy, were willing to pay for it. He further insinuated, though couldn’t provide evidence for now, that the Collectors were agents for the Reapers. That definitely grabbed her attention.

Further investigation led her again to the Blue Suns, who she discovered had been the group to find Shepard’s body on Alchera, put it into stasis, and brought it to Omega to sell to the Shadow Broker, who would than move it for the Collectors. Feron and herself attempted an ambush of the handover of Shepard’s body to Shadow Broker agents, but the operation quickly went wrong, a salarian agent by the name of Tazzik escaping with Shepard’s body.

She gave chase alongside Feron, eventually ending up in the orbit of Alingon. There were no redeeming features about the planet, but they figured out it was a base for the Shadow Broker. Needing to infiltrate quickly, the pair established a simple plan to get planet-side and deal with whatever was necessary.

The whole thing nearly went wrong more than once. In fact, looking back, Liara couldn’t believe she got away with it. It was only after events played out, escaping on Tazzik’s ship with Shepard’s body on board, Feron having sacrificed himself to ensure her success, that she could sit back, take a breath, and take stock of events. She was no longer the innocent archaeologist Shepard had found on Therum. She had taken on the Shadow Broker and won. But handing over Shepard was only the start. She knew the Reapers were out there…

Given co-ordinates for the meet, she flew the shuttle towards Minuteman Station. Meeting Miranda Lawson in person again, she asked if the Illusive Man would make an appearance. Miranda simply smirked, suggesting he was probably watching but would not make a personal appearance.

“Do you want to check?” Miranda wondered.

“It’s him,” she whispered, “I don’t need…” She looked at the brunette woman. “Wouldn’t it best to let dead men rest?”

“You don’t believe we can bring him back?”

“It’s not that. Hasn’t he already done enough?”

“The Illusive Man believes in the threat, and also believes we have the technology and capabilities to bring him back. If he believes, why can’t you?”

Liara found she didn’t have an answer to that. With a last sigh, all she could do was hand over the body and ask Miranda to bring Shepard exactly as he was. Miranda said that Cerberus would, though Liara didn’t know if she should believe her entirely. Surely they would be aware of Shepard’s history with them?

That done, Liara was left with a dilemma. What to do next? She’d certainly made some enemies during her fight to retrieve Shepard, including the Shadow Broker. In fact, she was left rather pissed off regarding the enigmatic figure. No-one knew who the Shadow Broker was. A lone individual? A group of people? An A.I? She was left thinking and feeling that, whoever they were, they were dangerous. And she was left believing she was now in their cross-hairs.

For the first time in decades, she approached her mother for help. Not directly, but after her mother had been found guilty of treason, Liara had been left with the estate. One thing her mother had made sure to leave was credits. Lots and lots of credits. The one thing Liara needed was information. Information regarding the Reapers, the Collectors, Cerberus, the Shadow Broker, anything and everything that would help in regards to the upcoming war. She knew it was coming. When, she couldn’t be sure. Not yet…

She eventually ended up on Illium, an asari colony world near the very edge of Citadel space. Using all the credits at her disposal, she put together her own little firm of information brokers. Information was everything, and Liara found she was quite good at analysing data. Recruiting numerous asari, turians, humans, even quarians, her firm soon grew, attracting the attention of governments and organisations, who soon grew to appreciate all the information she could gather and send out.

Life wasn’t easy on Illium. Everyone had a price, and more than once, she was sure the Shadow Broker sent agents to find and eliminate her. She ended up with a solid protection detail, bodyguards who watched her twenty-four hours a day, or so it seemed. Her apartment in one of the finest suburbs of Nos Astra was the best money could buy, with all the protection needed for an aspiring information broker. Her name was soon opening doors across the galaxy. Even the Council seemed to take notice of who she was, though whether it was because of herself, or simply her name, she could never be sure.

Through it all, she stayed single. Sure, asari, humans and turians showed an interest, but in the back of her mind, she believed Shepard would return one day, and when he did, well… The thought of what they might do certainly made her blush when she thought about it. She missed him every day, and the only thing that got her through was the belief that perhaps, just perhaps, Cerberus could deliver on their promise and return him alive.

Until that day, she had work to do. The Shadow Broker was out there, and he had made an enemy out of Liara T’Soni.


Matriarch Benezia

Benezia would admit she was glad the Asari Republics no longer carried out capital punishment. But, still, being exiled from asari space was embarrassing. Well, it would have been had she not accepted the punishment without question. At least everything taken from her had been given to her daughter, Liara. Benezia may have been called a traitor, not only to her own kind but every Council species, but at least none of it would rub off on her daughter, or at least she hoped it would in the long run.

With only a few possessions and no acolytes, she had little idea of what to do with her life. For centuries, she’d cultivated a following on Thessia. She’d had hundreds of asari devoted to her cause. When she’d approached Saren, hoping to turn him away from his foolhardy plan, she hadn’t believed she’d so easily fall into his clutches. So many of her acolytes had fallen victim to him… It was all her own fault.

She had expected to be arrested by the Council or the Alliance after the Normandy had been destroyed. The Alliance wanted nothing to do with her, while the Council made it clear that, although she had somewhat assisted Shepard, she had still be an ally of Saren for a period of time. Returning to Thessia had always been her plan, and the reception she received was as she expected. Arrest. Incarceration. Interrogation. Trial. Judgement.

Exile.

She wasn’t going to join her daughter. She was doing whatever she wanted with her life. Benezia certainly wasn’t going to stand in her way. Shiala had also headed off to do her own thing. With Shepard now dead, the Council swung around, eventually denying the existence of the Reapers. She knew the horrible truth but knew she couldn’t speak openly about it. No-one would believe her. No-one would probably listen to her. Again, it was all her own fault.

But she needed to do something. She needed to help. She felt guilty about the lives ruined, the lives taken. Though exiled from asari space, she had not been banned from travelling the rest of Council space. She remembered Shepard being fond of a Captain Anderson, so she sent him a message, asking to meet on the Citadel. The man was clearly sceptical but agreed to a meeting.

She managed to arrive on a passenger ship incognito, though she was sure the C-Sec guards recognised her at once, but they let her pass without too many questions. Heading to the Wards, she found the human waiting for her in a coffee shop. She despised the drink the humans loved and had introduced to the galaxy, though had grown to enjoy tea, similar to beverages found on asari worlds.

Sitting across from the dark-skinned human, she briefly explained her predicament. To her surprise, he appeared at least a little understanding. “I didn’t think you’d care,” she admitted.

“To be honest, I don’t.” Her face no doubt spoke volumes as he smiled. “Just being honest. But Shepard had good things to say despite some of the things you were responsible for, and if Shepard had good things to say, then he must have thought you were worth helping. So I’ll help you because it’s what he would have wanted.”

“You miss him?” she asked, her voice soft. She missed him too.

“Every day, Lady Benezia. And what the Council…” He stopped abruptly, obviously not wanting to share his own thoughts with her. “Anyway, I’m aware that you’re an exile from your own space and the Council don’t particularly want your presence on the Citadel. So what do you want?”

“I want to help. Make right some of the wrongs.”

“Are you still indoctrinated?”

She nodded. “I still hear the voices from time to time. It’s a constant battle. But that part of my mind I kept free has fought against it, and with each passing day, the whispers grow quieter. I am regaining control of my thoughts and subsequently my actions.”

“None of us really know much about indoctrination. Do you know anything?”

She shook her head. “No, and nor did Saren. He insisted the entire time he was not indoctrinated though it was blatantly obvious he was.”

“I would suggest tests but…”

“I would be hesitant regarding meddling with anything to do with the Reapers, Captain.”

He nodded. “Okay. So, you want to help, right the wrongs, as you said. Where would you like to go?”

She gave it a few seconds thought. “Eden Prime.” She noticed the raised eyebrows. “That is where this all began, is it not? I have read the colony was nearly destroyed. I wish to help rebuild it.”

“You’re sure about this?”

“It’s perhaps best if I return incognito.”

“Give me a few hours and I can certainly provide a different identity.” He looked her up and down. “And you’ll probably need to change your clothes. You’ll stand out anyway because you’re asari, but if you at least dress like a colonist, you might fit in a little better.” He paused again, before smirking. “Long way from being an all-powerful matriarch, Lady Benezia.”

“My fate is deserved, Captain. I have lived with centuries of privilege. Guess it’s just time I got my hands dirty, at least for a little while. Do you mind if I at least let my daughter know?”

“I don’t see that being a problem. We’ll organise a place for you to stay until your departure.”

“If it’s comfortable, I’ll just remain there until then. My face is too well-known now.”

Three days later, under an assumed identity, wearing clothes she would never have considered beforehand, with only a duffel bag full of similar clothing, and one or two things for comfort, she boarded a shuttle heading to the human colony world of Eden Prime. The local Alliance garrison knew she was coming and were prepared for her arrival.

Being an asari did have some advantages. They were incredibly friendly though surprised she had headed there to help. After time to settle in, nothing more than a simple pre-fab, she was shown around the colony and couldn’t help but feel guilty at the destruction. Her guides explained the destruction that took place, the number of deaths, but they also regaled her with the story of Shepard. She felt the corners of her mouth twitch at how they spoke of the man.

Life was certainly different on Eden Prime compared to Thessia. But after all that had happened, Matriarch Benezia knew she had to do the right thing.


Shiala

After the destruction of the Normandy, Shiala was one of those who did have a plan for what would happen after the mission was completed. Sure, she’d never planned for her life to change so suddenly. Like nearly everyone else who’d fought along his side against Saren, she had remained on the ship even after the destruction of Sovereign, though Shepard knew of her promise to eventually return to Feros. With thanks for the assistance but it was no longer required, she said her goodbyes to her colleagues on the Citadel and, with a little money as a gift from Benezia and Liara, she bought a used ship and headed to Feros.

By the time she arrived back on the planet, news of Shepard’s loss had even made it there. Everyone remembered her, at least, or at they remembered her promise, glad for the additional help though most did admit surprise she had returned at all.

Her contacts with humans as an acolyte for Lady Benezia had been few. She had seen and dealt with more salarians and turians over the years. Now surrounded by humans as the only asari on the colony, she thought they’d be suspicious of her, particularly how she had ended up there in the first place. But they proved nothing but welcoming, making sure deliveries of food included some asari delicacies, and made sure she had enough reminders of home in her small room in one of the many pre-fabs.

After settling in, she sat down with the colony leaders. Their request wasn’t a surprise. “We’d like you to be in charge of security,” Fai Dan requested, “You are or were an asari commando, correct?” She nodded. “To be honest, those of us left here are not fighters. Even the security guards can admit they were out-matched by geth.”

“I’m only one asari.”

“We’ve read about asari commando’s,” Lisbeth retorted gently, “One of you is worth ten soldiers.”

“I can also help otherwise.”

“Of course,” Fai Dan stated with a smile, “But we need protection too.”

“We’ll need more than just boots on the ground. We’ll need air defences.”

The humans around her shared glances. “Not sure how we can afford that.”

That made her smile. “Oh, I’m sure I can call in at least a few favours.”   

Those favours led to another four asari commandos arriving within three months, and a mysterious benefactor ensuring the colony was well supplied with provisions, in addition to defensive weapons, including rocket and machine gun turrets, while the Alliance also helped place orbital defences. That left the rest asking if Shiala had friends in high places. She could only shrug, admitting she’d only asked Liara for help, not exactly aware of what Liara was trying to achieve as their communication was limited.

But that wasn’t the amazing discovery made. It took time for it to develop, but one day as she was on routine patrol, she swore that she started to… feel, if not even hear what others were thinking. A pair of humans near a power conduit were discussing the needs of the colony, and in addition to their voices, she could almost hear what they were thinking. She passed another couple of humans on patrol, both smiling at her, and while they didn’t talk, she could hear what they were thinking, or so she thought. Part of her thought that maybe she was cracking up.

That wasn’t all, though. She had noticed a slight discolouration of her pigment. She had one been a healthy bluish-purple. But after a few months back at the colony, she started to notice her skin start to turn… green. She knew why immediately. It had to be the contact with the Thorian. And that no doubt explained why she could hear other people’s thoughts.

She sat down with Fai Dan and he smiled as she explained. “You’re not the only one, Shiala. We just wondered if you were going to experience what we all have.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“We wanted it to happen naturally, if it happened at all. But don’t you feel… connected to all of us now?”

Shiala would admit she did. Her asari colleagues were not present during the raid to capture or at least meld with the Thorian. But the spores had clearly infected those who had remained in the colony, and she now felt connected to the rest. It was an unusual feeling. In some ways similar to melding, but that was through a conscious decision. She could hear any thoughts around her simply through the shared connection.

Life fell into some sort of routine surprisingly quickly but it wasn’t long before she noticed small problems start to arise. Not around the colony. She was told that was soon even better than what it was before the geth attacked. No, it was the fact the colonists started to suffer medical problems, no doubt to do with exposure to the Thorian. After a few months, they were left with no option but to seek help from outside the colony. The only place she could think of to help was Illium, as it was the closest major world.

That would prove to be a mistake that could cost them all.


Emily Wong

She liked to consider herself the consummate professional, but after Shepard left to go hunt down geth, more than once she would find herself smiling away without realising, remembering the last few days they had spent together. Well, not days. He was far too busy for that, but they managed to snatch an hour or two together, and even an evening at least once. Emily Wong wasn’t stupid. She knew there were others, but for him, she was willing to put up with it for now.

Hard at work as always, she didn’t even hear the breaking news announcement until her manager placed a datapad in front of her without a word. She picked it up and felt ice down her spine as she read the words. She was a professional though, and immediately rose to her feet. “Sources?” she asked.

“Straight from the Alliance, Emily. The attack happened three days ago. The survivors are being transported here.”

“When do they arrive?”

“Within the hour. I’ve used up plenty of favours to get the information for you. I know…”

“That’s personal, Chief. But this is…” She now met his eyes and her face must have reflected a million emotions. “Is this reliable?” He nodded with a sag of his shoulders. “Are they sure he wasn’t on one of the pods?”

“I have the list of names, Emily. His isn’t listed.”

She couldn’t help sigh. But she wasn’t going to burst into tears in front of her colleagues. “You should head down to the docks. D-29. That’s where the ship will arrive with the survivors. Guess you’ll want to head down…” She nodded. “I have one other favour, if you’re up to it?”

“Name it.”

“Would you feel comfortable… writing his obituary? You knew him better than nearly anyone, particularly on the Citadel.”

“I will but I won’t go into personal…”

He held up a hand. “Wouldn’t ask you to.”

“I’ll get started once I’m back from the docks.”

She grabbed her coat, handbag and portable terminal before heading out of the office, hailing a cab and directing it towards the docks. She stared out the window, sucking in a few deep breaths, almost wishing the news was wrong. He couldn’t really be dead. Not after having taken down a Reaper and survived the Geth War.

The docks were packed with reporters from nearly every species jostling for position. She noticed a few rivals hanging around, some with cameras ready to interview. She had a voice recorder but, being honest with herself, she was there for purely selfish reasons.

The ship docked three-quarters of an hour later. Alliance brass had arrived by then, quickly ushering most of the survivors off and past the assembled journalists, everyone yelling out plenty of questions about what happened. Emily remained silent, meeting the eyes of a few. One she knew at least better than most, remembering her name as Ashley. The brunette noticed her standing within the crowd, whispering something to the soldier escorting her. Before she knew it, the marine walked over and pulled her into a hug, Emily sensing camera’s now focusing on her.

“I’m sorry,” Ashley whispered.

Emily closed her eyes and nodded without saying a word, simply closing the embrace. It was true…

“Ma’am…”

“Give me a few minutes, will you?” Ashley replied, rather harshly. The soldier escorting her, no doubt taken aback, nodded his agreement as Ashley turned back to her. “I’ll talk to you later, Emily. Off the record. I don’t want…” She glanced around, jaw firming. “Vultures, the lot of them.”

“Including me?”

“Shepard liked you, Emily. No, he didn’t think that.”

Emily wiped her eyes. “I’d ask what happened but…”

“Later. Trust me, there are a lot of unhappy people. Not only about losing Shepard, but the entire mission was bullshit.” Ashley sighed. “But I’d better shut up before I get in trouble.” She hugged her again. “I’ll keep in touch, okay?” Emily nodded again before the marine let her go and headed off quickly with the others. She recognised a few of them, some looking her way and nodding, at least.

She received a few questions in her direction but waved people away, quickly escaping into a nearby cab. Not wanting to return to the office, she headed back to her apartment, leaning back against the door once it was closed and locked, sinking to the ground and that’s when the emotion hit her. She ignored the beep of her omni-tool and the constant ding of her portable workstation. The only thing she did was drag herself to bed, where she mixed sleeping with crying in the darkness.

Still feeling awful the next day, she contacted her boss and told him she’d have something written by the end of the day. It was the hardest piece she’d ever written in her life, trying hard to keep it entirely objective. One or two personal feelings no doubt crept in the longer she typed, but she certainly didn’t let anyone know the fact she… loved him. She stopped typing when that emotion rolled through her body, but she managed to blink away the tears, keeping her mind focused on the task at hand. As promised, she had the piece written and sent off by the close of play, receiving a warm response from the editor for an emotional yet thought provoking piece. It would be the lead story the next morning.

Over the next few weeks, she kept an eye on the news outlets, particularly in regards to either Shepard, the Alliance or the Council. What happened incensed her. His name was practically dragged through the mud. Everything he had discovered considered a delusion, the Reaper, Sovereign, claimed to be a geth ship. Emily knew bullshit when she heard it. The Alliance proved nothing to be a disappointment, almost disavowing the first human Spectre.

Emily knew it wasn’t the geth that killed Shepard, as much as it wasn’t the geth that led the attack on the Citadel. After a meeting with her editor, who simply warned her to be careful but giving her leeway to pursue what she wanted, she opened her list of contacts and got to work. She would ensure Shepard and his warnings would not be forgotten.


Gianna Parasini

“I quit.”

Her boss looked up in surprise. “What?”

“I quit. I want out of here. I want off Noveria. I’ve had enough. I quit.”

“But… You can’t! You’re my best case officer. What you did regarding Anoleis will lead to a promotion soon enough.”

She shook her head. “I don’t care. I don’t want to remain on this planet one minute longer.”

Her boss leaned back, stroking his bear for a moment. “This is about Shepard.” She opened her mouth to retort but words failed her. “Word spread, Gianna. Everyone is aware you were intimate.”

“It was more than that,” she whispered. She looked up and noticed the surprised look returned. She almost smiled. “I loved him.”

“Oh….”

“And now I’m just left with reminders wherever I go, whether at home, at the office, or just walking along the street. And I just can’t do this job anymore. It’s time for a fresh start somewhere.”

“Where will you go?”

She shrugged, almost helpless. She hadn’t thought that far ahead. “I don’t know. Maybe I’ll head back to Earth. See what opportunities are there. Look, I’m sorry if this leaves you in the lurch. I’ll see out the cooling off period then…”

“Sure you won’t change your mind?”

She shook her head again. “No. I’d leave tomorrow if I could, but I’ll make sure everything is tied off before I go.”

“Damn shame to lose you, Gianna.”

She returned a weak smile before she turned and headed back to her office, where she sat staring at her screen, no doubt a blank look in her eyes, before someone wandered in to give her a heads up on what was going on otherwise.

A month later, she finished her last day and headed back to her apartment, where nearly everything was packed up. She had no idea what she was going to do regarding work, but figured heading back to Earth to see her family would be nice, at least.

Time on Earth helped clear her mind. Her parents figured out quickly that she was grieving, and were surprised when she told them the truth. Sitting down with them made everything tumble out, and that’s when the tears really started to fall, admitting she was in love with him completely, and sure that he’d felt the same way about her. She could never thank her parents enough for the consoling they gave her over the next couple of weeks, helping mend her broken heart, at least a little bit.

Though she would have liked to stay on Earth, she was very much her own woman, and after allowing herself a little time to wallow in self-pity, she needed to get her mind and body back into something to get her mind off the thought of him. Her resumé was glowing, so finding a job shouldn’t prove too difficult, it was just a case of what and where. She was a cop, or at least an investigator, she knew that much. Find something that appealed to her strengths, something to keep her busy, her mind occupied, and perhaps not living alone would help as well.

She was in the process of casting her eyes over a few offers when she received a phone call.

Miss Parasini?”

“Yes, who is this?”

“Liara T’Soni. You may remember me from the Normandy. Not sure if we ever exchanged pleasantries, but I do remember you.”

“No, we did speak briefly, Miss T’Soni. I am surprised by your call though. What is it in regards to?”

“I’ve been informed you are no longer on Noveria and that you are currently pursuing new career opportunities.”

“How did… How do you know this?”

“I will be honest, Miss Para…”

“Gianna.”

Okay, Gianna. I’m Liara. And I will be honest. I am an information broker, but more importantly, I am keeping an eye on the activities of those closest to Shepard. I am more than aware of the… affection you held for the Commander, as much as he had for you. When I read that you had departed Noveria, I was curious as to why. I’ve since learned you are looking for a new job.”

“Shit, and here I thought…” She heard Liara giggle as she trailed off. “You offering me a job?”

“No, not with my company, but I have many associates who could do with the services of a keen investigator such as yourself. Have you heard of Illium?”

“I have, not all of it good, to be honest.”

“And you would have reason to be cautious, but if I put in a good word for you, I will ensure you are… Well, let’s just say I look after those Shepard cared for.”

“And what have I done to earn this… generosity?”

“Nothing, Gianna. But I lived, worked and fought alongside Shepard. I remember our time on Noveria. I know he remembered it fondly, as I’m sure you do too.”

 “Understatement of the century,” she whispered, before clearing her throat, “What are my options?”

“I can send through job specs once we close this call and we can correspond via messaging if you wish. More importantly, I figured you could perhaps do with… a friend.”

 “Part of me just wants to forget it all.”

And do you think you will?” She couldn’t help scoff. She heard a sigh through the connection. “Those of us who served alongside him felt the same way, Gianna.”

“Send me what you have, Liara. I’ll have an answer by tomorrow evening at the latest.”

Closing the call a few seconds later, she soon had a flood of offers from Illium. Liara prefaced them all by making sure she read the fine-print, asking Gianna to send it to her first to give it a once over before agreeing to sign. The jobs Liara sent were fantastic, far better than what she’d been doing on Noveria, and certainly far better paid. Two eventually took her fancy over the others, so she sent those to Liara. The asari replied quickly, stating both contracts were above board, and it was simply her decision as to which one she wanted. She chose the one with more responsibility and money, thinking that should keep her busy, her mind occupied, so she didn’t have time to think…

Arriving on Illium a week later, she was greeted by Liara herself. Gianna was just going to bunk in a hotel until she could sort things out, but Liara proved to be incredibly generous, leading her to what appeared to be an upmarket part of Nos Astra, where an apartment had already been purchased in her name. Only a rental, and not too large, but it came furnished, with some terrific sights provided.

Gianna could only gaze out the window before stating, “I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve all this.”

Liara stood beside her, gazing out as well. “Shepard looked after his friends, Gianna. I intend to carry that forward.”

“Thank you.”

The asari looked at her and smiled. “You’re welcome. Come on, we should head out and grab something to eat, if you’re hungry?”

“Ravenous. Food on ships hasn’t improved in centuries, it seems.”

That made the asari laugh as they headed out. Gianna may have lost Shepard, and she knew it would take a long time to get over that, but perhaps making a friend in Liara would help them both get over the loss.

Chapter Text

“Wake up, Commander.”

I opened my eyes at the sound of the rather urgent voice. I expected to see… well, dark space, perhaps a few twinkling stars in the distance, the remains of my ship as it burned up in the atmosphere of the nearby planets. I didn’t expect to look around and find myself in some sort of laboratory. It definitely wasn’t a hospital, at least.

"Shepard, do you hear me? Get off that table now. This facility is under attack!"

What facility? Where the hell am I? Still, I heard at least one explosion so figured I should get up. Heaving myself up, I sat on the edge of the table, looking down to see my groin was covered, but I was otherwise naked. I took a moment to look up and down my body. There was some scarring, but not scars I recognised. Running a finger over a couple, I swear there was something glowing under my skin. Raising a hand to my face, I trailed a fingertip along what felt like another scar.

"Shepard. Your scars aren't healed but I need to get you moving."

Looking around, there wasn’t anything I could dress myself in, nor arm myself to stop whatever was causing the explosions. “Need a little help here, lady!”

"Your armour is in a locker nearby. You should find a pistol in there as well."

"Pistol? Forget that. What about an assault rifle?"

"Not necessary, Shepard. Now hurry!"

Not necessary? Like fuck it isn’t if I’m under attack! But it wasn’t really the time to argue, walking towards and opening the locker. There was some underwear, a t-shirt I could throw on, before I assembled myself in the armour. It was fairly basic, jet black, without any markings. Grabbing the pistol, my eye immediately took in the design. Something wasn’t right. There was no heat sink.

“What’s up with this pistol?” I wondered.

“New design, Shepard. I can’t explain it, but you’ll have to find a thermal clip.”

“Clip? You mean ammo now runs out? That’s just…”

I heard the groan. “Now isn’t the time, Shepard. Just find a clip.”

“Could really do with an assault rifle,” I muttered, head down as I made my way out of what seemed to be a med bay.

It didn’t take long to run into the enemy, a bunch of mechs that walked like zombies, intent on filling me with plenty of holes. I knew they were more VI than AI so figured they’d been hacked. That just left me with more questions as I glanced to see at least three of them converging. “I’m stuck here without any ammo!”

Use your biotics.”

“I’m not a fucking biotic!”

“You are now. Try a control gesture and throw a warp. All you need to do is focus and your biotics will work.”

I had no real idea what she meant but I figured it couldn’t hurt. Waiting until they stopped firing for a second, I stood up and threw what I thought was a warp. Whatever I did throw was bloody powerful, as two of them went down, the third swinging around to fire at me. I waited until the perfect time and did the same thing. Once that was also on the ground, I quickly leapt out of cover and grabbed a thermal clip, slipping it into my pistol, grabbing a few spares at the same time. Well, this is just bloody stupid…

Moving forward, I kept to cover, taking down any mech dumb enough to get in the way. As I moved, the voice directed me where to go, letting me know when mechs were closing on my position, explaining that I needed to get to the shuttle bay. I definitely wasn’t in a hospital, so was left wondering exactly where I was.

I eventually found a grenade launcher, which didn’t have enough ammo to bother keeping it for long. As I moved on, I did quickly check terminals for any indication as to where I was. But there was nothing about that gave me a clue. All I knew is that mechs were trying to kill me and the lady guiding me seemed to have my best interests in mind, though she was rather short and abrupt most of the time.

Then I stumbled across the first survivor of whatever was happening and I recognised the symbol immediately, sitting on his chest. Before I could ask any questions, or just put a bullet through his head, we came under fire from more mechs, so it seemed the mechs didn’t care who they were shooting at. Once they were all dead, surprising I could send a warp across the clearing, I turned and grabbed him by the throat, lifting him up and surprising myself as I soon had his feet dangling off the ground.

“You’re Cerberus!” I growled, “Give me one good reason I don’t throw you over the edge right now.”

“Everyone else gave up on you, Commander,” he wheezed, “Cerberus didn’t.”

Shit… Even though I was amazed by my own strength, I met his eyes and they appeared honest. I’d never spoken to many Cerberus operatives. I’d usually killed them without much thought. But I still remembered everything they’d done. Lowering him down, I released his throat, though kept my pistol in hand. “Right, explain to me now what the fuck is going on.”

“Two years, Commander.”

“Two years what?”

“You were spaced, Commander. When you were brought back here, you were dead, or as dead as dead can be. Nothing but a meat bag. Cerberus has spent two years rebuilding you. Alliance declared you KIA within a few days of the attack. Council and Alliance gave up on you. We didn’t.”

“What about my team?”

The other man shrugged. “Spread to the four winds, far as I know. I don’t really know the details.”

I could have put a bullet in him and been done with it, but if even half of what he said was true, then I had few allies remaining. Though I wouldn’t give Cerberus the time of day. Until I was off wherever I was though, I would have to make do with what was available. “Right, I don’t know my way around here. I’m going to need your help.”

“That’s why I’m here, Commander.”

Before he could continue, his radio crackled into life, speaking to someone called Wilson. After a quick conversation, we moved on, and that’s when I asked him about the stupid new design. What he told me made at least a little sense.

“The turians designed a universal heat sink that could be used in any weapon. A heat sink that can be used in a pistol can be used in a sniper rifle and vice versa. Once a weapon has expended the energy of the heat sink, it will automatically pop and a new heat sink can be placed within seconds. It's certainly a more efficient design and overheating is no longer a problem.”

“Hmmm. Not so sure about that but I’ll take your word for it.”

“Might take getting used to but you’ll soon see it’s worth it.”

We moved on, taking down more mechs as explosions continued to echo around us. I was left thinking wherever we were was bound to blow up eventually. The other male finally introduced himself during a moment of silence, his name being Jacob Taylor, a Cerberus operative. He certainly had training, with biotic capabilities, and I was left thinking he must have had at least some form of military training. We certainly managed to link up more than once.

“I’m sure the biotics are a surprise,” he stated, “We’ll organise some training later on so you can adapt.”

“What sort of biotic am I?”

“A vanguard, Commander. You’ll definitely need some training to understand your new capabilities.”

“And why am I now a biotic?”

“It was a decision taken by the Illusive Man during your reconstruction. You’ve been given the best biotic implant possible. No headaches, unbelievable power. Once you begin to learn and master your abilities, you’ll give most asari a run for their money.”

“No shit?”

“I don’t know the whole story, Commander, but billions have been spent to bring you back.” That’s when he finally met my eyes. “And you’ll know why.”

Thankfully, I wasn’t completely stupid. “The Reapers.”

He nodded. “Aye, the Reapers. The Illusive Man believes, Commander.”

As we moved on, we ran into another survivor by the name of Wilson. He mentioned another possible survivor by the name of Miranda, left believing she was the voice that had guided me at the beginning, though I hadn’t heard her voice in quite a while. With three of us, we mowed down the mechs without any difficulty, though I didn’t lead the way. They might have spent billions on me, but I didn’t trust any of them enough not to take a bullet in the back, so I let Jacob lead the way forward, keeping my eye on both with me.

Finally making it to the shuttle bay, the door opened to reveal an attractive, raven-haired though rather pale woman, dressed in a white and black skin-tight suit, with what I immediately recognised as a fantastic set of tits. She turned towards us, raised her weapon, and fired. The bullet passed myself and Jacob, hitting Wilson in the head. I raised my weapon straight away. “The fuck?”

“He was a traitor,” she replied simply.

I kept my weapon raised as I glanced at Jacob. “You reckon?”

“Miranda is rarely wrong, Commander.”

I glanced back at her, a smirk forming. “Jacob, I’m never wrong. And I don’t like having a weapon aimed at me, Commander.”

“You’re Cerberus.”

She sighed, looking back at Jacob. The dark-skinned man shrugged. “He figured it out himself. Thought he was going to kill me, to be honest.”

“Still deciding on that,” I muttered, not lowering my weapon, “Who are you?” I asked.

“Miranda Lawson. The is Project Lazarus. I’ve spent two years putting you back together, Commander. Are you going to lower your weapon or not?”

“That depends on you. I have one simply question. Why?”

She shrugged. “Not for me to say. You’ll have to ask the Illusive Man.” She thumbed behind her. “There’s a shuttle that can take us so you can speak with him.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Well, you can stay here if you want.”

“I have the gun. I can easily leave you two here.”

She sighed, no doubt already exasperated. “Look, Commander. All I know is that I’ve just spent two years of my life putting you back together. We’ve made you stronger, faster, better. Given you new abilities. You are now capable of great feats. We need you in the fight against the Reapers.”

That made his weapon lower slightly. “And the biotics?”

“I understand it’s a surprise, but it was a decision taken in your interests only.” I scoffed which made her scowl. “Look, believe me or don’t, I honestly don’t care. But I think you owe it to the Illusive Man to at least hear him out considering he’s the only one who bothered bringing you back.”

I met her eyes for more than a few seconds. “Shit,” I muttered, finally lowered the weapon completely, “Guess you have a point.”

“I figured you’d see it that way.” She gestured with her head. “Pilot is already on board. Jacob, you coming too?”

I let her go first, still not wanting to expose myself. I figured if they were telling the truth, they wouldn’t put a bullet in my back, but I wasn’t willing to trust Cerberus, though I was left wondering what the Illusive Man actually wanted with me…


The massive red but dying star of Anadius provided the only light in the otherwise dark room. A bank of holographic screens provided an almost unlimited supply of information regarding activities around the galaxy. Maybe a coup in one system. An assassination in another. A successful scientific experiment completed. Perhaps the embezzlement of a few million credits in another front company. It was all there, yet he had no eye for these at the moment.

The middle-aged human male sat in his expensive yet rather simple looking chair with his back to the screens, only darkness in front of him. In his right hand was a cigarette. He brought it to his mouth and took a long drag, sucking the smoke deep down into his lungs, savouring the taste, before he blew out, expelling the smoke as it slowly faded away. He loved smoking. He loved it as it pissed off a lot of people, having been outlawed in many places throughout the galaxy. Because he loved smoking, he always smoked the most expensive brand. And the best.

To his left on a small side table was a glass tumbler. Within the tumbler were four large ice cubes. Surrounding the ice cubes was an amber liquid. Bourbon. On the rocks. The best, and as far as he was concerned, the only way to drink bourbon. But it had to be good bourbon. Expensive bourbon. Smooth down the throat, with only a slight burning sensation as it settled in your stomach.

He flicked ash from the cigarette into an ashtray as he took another drag of his cigarette and continued to wait. He was a patient man. He had already been notified of events that happened on Lazarus Station. He was aware that Commander Shepard had managed to escape with the help of two of his operatives. Miranda has done well. Far better than even I expected. She will go far with us. Jacob has proven to be a worthy addition to the cause. Shame the trust is not there but as long as he does the business, then it's a paycheque at the end of the day. But they did their jobs.

Shepard is alive.

Commander Shepard alive was step one. Investing Commander Shepard in his mission was step two. And far more difficult, in his opinion, than step one. He was more than aware of the Commander's one-man war against his organisation while he chased Saren two years before. Shepard still didn't know the whole truth about Cerberus. And that suited the Illusive Man just fine. Whether Shepard would ever become a believer in his cause was doubtful. But to have Shepard as an ally? The possibilities were endless if that came to pass.

"Boss, Commander Shepard is attempting communication," called one of his staff. He was simply known as 'Boss'. Being called 'The Illusive Man' would just sound silly. And absolutely no-one knew of his personal history before Cerberus. No-one knew his name, where he was born or even what he did prior to Cerberus. Anyone who did manage to find out would find themselves in a deep, dark hole in a far-away planet, lonely and forgotten. The past was not worth worrying about as far as the Illusive Man was concerned. It was only about the future.

Humanity's future.

He took another drag of his cigarette as assorted lights on the ceiling started to shine, illuminating his features slightly, as the holographic display of Commander Shepard, looking around slightly confused, appeared before him.

"Commander Shepard."

He watched the hologram of Shepard look ahead as his own display would now appear to him. He watched him fold his arms across his chest, a smirk appearing across his face. "Ah, so you're the Illusive Man. I thought we'd be meeting face-to-face. Though I'm sure you'd know how that would end. Very quickly." Shepard took out his pistol and looked at it almost reverently. "A bullet from this gun would enter your face and then I would have to resist pissing on your corpse."

The Illusive Man took another drag of his cigarette as he took in his words. I was expecting hostility but even this is a surprise. I wonder how Miranda and Jacob handled him.

The Illusive Man simply chuckled for a mere moment. "Well consider this a necessary precaution. Not unusual for people who know what you and I know."

"If you're expecting a 'thank you' for me being alive, then you're going to be extremely disappointed. I was quite content being dead. I'd done my job. My duty. All I ever wanted after I died was for my body to be burned up and then stuck in a hole in the ground and quietly forgotten. And if you think I'm ever going to trust you or any of the clowns you have working for you," Shepard chuckled, "You are seriously mistaken."

"You need to put your personal feelings aside, Shepard."

"Fuck you. And that's Commander to you, as well. While we're at it, why don't I list my personal feelings." He watched as the Commander held up a hand and subsequent fingers, counting them off. "Admiral Kahoku. Corporal Toombs. Edolus. Binthu. Nepheron. Chasca. Nodacrux. Should I continue?"

He didn't miss the fact Shepard left his middle finger up at the end. The Illusive Man took another drag of his cigarette. This is going to be more difficult than even I imagined. "Commander, humanity is up against the greatest threat of our brief existence."

The smirk disappeared from his face as Shepard raised an eyebrow and nodded. "The Reapers," he stated matter-of-factly. That got his attention. At least he remembers that.

"Good to see your memory's still intact. How are you feeling?"

"How about we just get down to business as I'm obviously here for a reason. I know you've invested money in me so you think you've earned the right to ask me personal questions. You haven't. Just tell me whatever it is you have to say."

"Cerberus isn't as evil as you believe, Commander. You and I are on the same side; we just have different methods."

"Could have fooled me. Although I did spend nearly a year killing many of your operatives. So I guess I was doing some good at least. Yeah, those are some fond memories. Really enjoyed wiping out some of your operations. You hired some right fucking assholes."

"Commander…"

Shepard sighed. "Fine. What are the Reapers up to that made you decide to bring me back?"

Finally, we can get to business. I wonder if he's going to be this hostile going forward. He'd better not be otherwise I'll have to reconsider. He stood up out of his chair, taking another drag from his cigarette as he approached the hologram. "We're at war, Commander. No-one wants to admit it, but humanity is under attack."

He could see that perked his interests as Shepard appeared thoughtful for a moment. "How do you mean?"

"While you've been sleeping, entire colonies have been disappearing. Human colonies. We believe it is someone working for the Reapers. Just as Saren and the geth aided Sovereign. You've seen it yourself. You bested all of them. That's just one reason why we chose you."

"I'm just one man. Why don't you work with the Alliance? They have plenty of forces that can be mobilised for protection."

"The Alliance suffered substantial losses fighting Sovereign. They're rebuilding and are stretched too thin to waste resources verifying the Reaper threat."

"That I remember," Shepard said quietly, and the Illusive Man took note of the bitterness in his tone.

"They're currently blaming these abductions on mercenaries and pirates. Far easier and more convenient."

"And a possible explanation and far easier to believe than a Reaper threat." Shepard was quiet for a moment, as if deep in thought, while the Illusive Man took another drag from his cigarette. He simply waited for his next question. "Okay, level with me here. Why me? For the amount of credits you spent bringing me back, you could have funded an entire army. And, let's be honest, I don't like you. Yeah, yeah, I don't actually know you. But seriously, I don't like you. And I definitely don't like your organisation. You should know I'm not going to cooperate with you."

"That we'll see, Commander. However, as to why. Let's just say that you're unique. Not just in ability or what you've experienced. It's what you represent. You stood for humanity at a key moment. You're more than a soldier. You're a symbol."

Shepard shook his head. "I'm not a hero. I'm not a symbol. I'm just a soldier. I'm just one man…"

"That's where you're wrong, Commander. You're much more than just a man to many people. Not just in the Alliance but also within my organisation. I don't know if the Reapers understand fear, but you killed one. They have to respect that."

"But a few missing colonists isn't exactly harvesting all organic life in the galaxy."

"Hundreds of thousands of colonists have vanished, Commander. I'd say that fits the definition of 'harvesting'."

"Seriously? Hundreds of thousands?"

The Illusive Man nodded. He's interested at least. If he wasn't, he wouldn't be asking questions otherwise. 

"And no-one has noticed a pattern?"

"No. The abductions are completely random and occur in remote locations."

"Why are they attacking humanity?"

"That's what we don't know and what we intend to find out. I can only assume that you got their attention when you killed one of them."

"Why are you involved?"

"Cerberus are committed to the advancement and preservation of humanity. If the Reapers are targeting us, trying to wipe us out, Cerberus will stop them."

Silence again descended as Shepard appeared to chew on his words. The Illusive Man simply took another drag of his cigarette. You're human, Shepard. It's a human problem. You may not buy into Cerberus but you'll want to help humanity. You'll want to fight. You'll want to protect the innocent. And you'll want to protect the colonists. I know you, Shepard. I've got your entire history on file. This is a fight you will want to be in. This is a fight you will want to win.

He heard Shepard sigh. "If what you say is true, if the Reapers are behind this then and if colonists are disappearing without a known cause, and if... and this is a big fucking if, but if the Alliance and the Council are unable or unwilling to help, then… fuck, I can't believe I'm going to say this, I may consider helping. I'm a human. This is a human problem. I'd feel like a complete ass if I sat on the sidelines and didn't help, though I'm also going to feel like a fucking hypocrite helping you."

The Illusive Man just took a drag on his cigarette, pondering his words. That was almost easier than I expected. I doubt he'll ever trust me but if he does the job, then so be it. The Illusive Man then took another drag of his cigarette as he turned and walked back to his chair, taking a seat as he grabbed hold of his glass tumbler.

"Don't take my word for it, Commander. I'd be disappointed if you accepted any of this without seeing for yourself. I have a shuttle ready to take you to Freedom's Progress, the latest colony to be abducted. Miranda and Jacob will brief you."

Shepard laughed. "You expect me to trust them? Miranda is a cold-hearted bitch. Learned that within a few minutes of talking to her. Jacob's nothing more than a mercenary. Figured he has some military training, but sold out whoever trained him. Quite frankly I'd rather work alone."

"Miranda saved your life in more ways than one. She deserves your thanks, at least. As for Jacob, he's a soldier. One of my best. He's never fully trusted me, and to his credit, he's always been honest about it. You don't have to trust me or them for the moment, Commander. But you'll be fine with them for now."

"Do I have a choice, or am I being 'volunteered'?"

"You always have a choice. If you don't find the evidence we're both looking for, we can part ways. All I can do is ask that you go to Freedom's Progress. Find any clues you can. Who's abducting the colonists? Do they have any connection to the Reapers? I brought you back for one reason, Commander. It's up to you to do the rest."

Shepard said nothing else but gave a slight nod of the head as if in agreement. Satisfied that he had nothing more to say, the Illusive Man keyed a code on a small holographic display on his chair and the hologram of Shepard disappeared. The Illusive Man took a sip of bourbon from his glass tumbler, feeling the liquid slightly burn on its way down his throat before settling in his stomach. He then followed that with another drag from his cigarette before he turned his chair around and looked at the massive red ball glowing only a few million kilometres away.


Miranda and Jacob gave me all the details about the Collectors they could during the shuttle ride to Freedom’s Progress. Apparently it was one of a number of colonies to go silent, though this was the first time Cerberus had opportunity to investigate before the Alliance turned up. Other than that, neither had too much to say, at least for now. Miranda was hopeful, even confident that we’d find something. Jacob tried to be positive but I had a feeling this wasn’t their first rodeo regarding the disappearance of an entire colony.

I led the way out of the shuttle after it had touched down. At least I’d managed to grab some other weapons after speaking with the Illusive Man. Having not had an opportunity to train, Jacob and Miranda had given me the basics, but suggested I just go ‘old school’ to start, Miranda offering to train me in the correct use of my biotics. That made me smirk, she said it was to simply ensure I was making use of all my abilities. Wise words, and I agreed to a heavy training regime after the mission.

The colony was eerily quiet, and I learned what they had before. No bodies. No real sign of what had caused their disappearance. There wasn’t any sign of violence. But there were small signs that something had happened, and quickly. But any thoughts were put to the back of my mind when mechs started to fire upon us.

“They shouldn’t be firing at us!” Miranda muttered as she unleashed her biotics.

We fought our way forward, my assault rifle adding to the cacophony of noise, Miranda mixing up biotics with bursts of machine gun fire, Jacob the same, though he preferred a shotgun. Moving our way towards the centre of the colony, we passed through abandoned homes, shops and what looks like warehouses. It was still deadly quiet except for when the mechs woke up. Even I would admit it was a little unsettling…

What I didn’t expect us to run into halfway through the colony was a bunch of quarians, leaving me to wonder What the fuck are they doing here? I thought we were going to end up in a firefight, as the quarians had itchy trigger fingers, while Miranda and Jacob both had weapons raised, ready to fire if necessary… or ordered.

Then from behind the line that had formed stepped someone I remembered. The colour of her suit was something very familiar. As was the voice. And she’d definitely gotten bossy in the intervening two years. He gestured to his colleagues. “Hold fire,” he ordered, immediately noticing the jerk of her head, definitely recognising his voice in return.

"What are quarians doing on Freedom's Progress, Commander?" Miranda asked, which was a reasonable question under the circumstances.

"I'm not sure. Why don't we ask them?" I asked, looking back at Tali as I removed by helmet. I think she almost fainted upon seeing my face. I’d look in a mirror, so could understand the shock. “Long time, no see, Tali.”

“Shepard? Is that you?”

“Yeah, I’m sure you have a whole bunch of questions right about now. But let me answer what I think you want to know. Yes, I’ve been gone two years. I’ve been dead, or as close to it as possible. Meat bag is what I was told. No, I’m not working with Cerberus, despite the fact the people beside me wear that symbol. Long story short, I’ve just woken up, I’ve been sent here to look for colonists, we were not expecting to find quarians instead.”

She lifted her pistol, every other quarian doing the same. “How do I know it’s really you?”

“You were involved in an intimate relationship with Ashley. You also loved looking at Wrex’s massive cock. And we’ve fucked more than once. Plus, I gave you the data as a pilgrimage gift. That sound like someone who wouldn’t know you rather intimately, Tali. I remember I know how to make you squeal, that’s for damn sure.”

The pistol dropped immediately. “Are we seriously going to trust him?” one of her squad asked.

“Trust me, it’s Shepard,” she said in a husky tone. Bet her mind just flooded with memories. Feels like only yesterday for me.

Before Tali could ask any more questions, I took control of situation, asking why they were also present on Freedom’s Progress. Figuring I would at least be helpful, she told me about a young quarian by the name of Veetor who lived within the colony. They were there to look and hopefully rescue him. They’d also run into mechs too, so we agreed to join forces. Neither side was happy about it, though I pulled rank on Jacob and Miranda, while Tali told anyone who didn’t agree could wait in the shuttle. Damn, she’s rather feisty when in charge. Makes her even sexier.

Splitting up, the quarians taking a circle route, while we went straight up the middle, the next few minutes were spent dealing with mechs and investigating the colony. We found no sign of any colonists nor of who had taken them. The fact we found half eaten meals, vidscreens left on, but no sign of any domicile being ransacked, simply left more questions than answers.

Of course, the quarians were never going to agree to working with Cerberus. Didn’t really blame them all that much, but Tali tuned into my radio, not sure how as I never gave her the frequency, and told me that her squad had marched on. I ordered my two to move faster, and we ran out into a large area, which appeared to be a loading dock, with factories and machinery everywhere, and also an enormous mech that was tearing her squad apart.

Without a heavy weapon to use, we had to get creative. Tali was in cover behind some steel crates, doing her best to hack into the mech. Jacob and Miranda were firing warps as its shields. I had biotics but doing the same as them was pointless.

“You can do a biotic charge, Shepard,” Miranda suggested.

“I can a biotic what now?”

“I didn’t want to have you do it in the middle of a battle field, but no time like the present. You’ve got a shotgun?” I nodded. “The charge will have you slam into the mech, taking down its shields, perhaps even knocking it back. That’ll give you time to fire off a few rounds in close. Might even force a few systems to shut down.”

I glanced at Tali. “Reckon you can take its shields?”

“Yes, Shepard. I take those down, you do your charge.”

“Right. Let’s do it then.”

Miranda gave me the basics of how to perform a biotic charge. I basically just had to think it, do some sort of gesture, and then it would happen. The biotic flare upon impact would keep me protected, though the mech could still return fire with me close in. I peeked over cover and checked for any weak spots. “What do you think, just its centre mass. Looks relatively unarmoured. Get the barrel in close and blam, job done. Then I’ll get into cover and leave it to you.”

So that’s what we did. Once Tali gave me the go, I did as Miranda instructed and practically flew across the docking bay, shotgun raised, ready for a sickening collision. There was a louder noise than I expected as we collided, but the mech actually staggered back slightly, giving me enough time to raise my shotgun, place it perfectly, then unload the entire clip. Before it could react, I turned and ran for cover as I felt it fire as I ran, leaping over cover. Switching to my assault rifle, I returned fire again, though my charge and shotgun had left it with all manner of problems, watching it spark time and again as tech attacks now rained down on it. I focused on its head, so to speak, with enough bullets eventually shooting the thing off, the mech finally collapsing and exploding into parts.

The others stepped out of cover as Tali immediately started to check on her people. Jacob met my eyes, grinned slightly and shook his head. Miranda returned a blank look as expected, and it didn’t take us too long to find Veeter, secluded in an airtight chamber nearby. He knew we were coming, and was obviously nervous of our presence. I was fairly sure he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown.

It was a question and answer session of what he had seen. I was amazed he was still on the colony, but he played video for us, having hacked the cameras around the colony to show exactly what had taken them all.

"My God. I think it's a Collector!" Miranda gasped.

"What's a Collector?" I asked. Knew what Reapers were, didn’t know what a Collector was.

"They're an alien species from beyond the Omega 4 relay, Commander. No-one has ever really seen one before," Jacob replied.

"They usually work through intermediaries, like slavers or hired mercenaries. If they're involved with the Reapers somehow, it could explain what happened with the colonists, Commander," Miranda added.

"The Collectors have advanced technology. They could have a weapon that disables an entire settlement at once,” Jacob continued.

Watching the video further, it was obvious what the Collectors had done and how the colonists had been taken without leaving a trace of evidence. "The seeker swarms. No-one can hide. The seekers find you. Freeze you. Then the monsters take you away," the quarian explained.

"How did you escape, Veetor?" I asked.

"Swarms couldn't find me. Monsters didn't know I was here."

"Hmmm. Interesting. Maybe it was the enviro-suit worn by the quarians that protected him," Jacob suggested.

"And technology used by the Collectors may be designed to only target humans. It makes sense," Miranda added.

"Okay, Veetor, what happened with the colonists?" I asked.

"The monsters took the people onto the ship, and then they left. The ship flew away. But they'll be back for me. No-one escapes!"

"You'll be okay, Veetor. They are not coming back," I said, hoping to reassure the clearly frightened quarian with a friendly pat on the shoulder, "And thanks. You've been very helpful."

"I studied them. The monsters. The swarms. I recorded them with my omni-tool. Lots of readings. Electro-magnetic. Dark energy," he said as he started keying his omni-tool.

"We need that information, Shepard. Grab the quarian, call the shuttle, and we'll get out of here," Miranda practically ordered. I gave her a look of And who is giving the orders around here?

"Like hell you will!" Tali shouted as she stormed into the room behind us, causing all of us to turn around in surprise. "Veetor needs medical attention. He needs treatment, not an interrogation!"

"We won't hurt him," Jacob stated, trying to placate a clearly furious quarian, which I found more amusing than anything, "We just need to see if he knows anything else. He'll be returned unharmed."

Miranda then spoke up. "Your people tried to betray us once already. If we give him to you, we'll never get the intel we need." Damn it, she’s got a point there.

"Prazza was an idiot, and he and his men paid for it. Take Veetor's omni-tool data, but leave Veetor with us. Shepard, please?" Tali pleaded, only looking at me.

"Of course, Tali." I replied, turning towards my ‘colleagues’. "Veetor goes back to the flotilla. The omni-tool data will have all the information we need. A clearly traumatized person will not be the greatest source of information." Miranda definitely wanted to retort but as I simply said, “Return to the shuttle for departure. I’ll be along shortly. Before you ask, what I’ll be talking about with Tali is none of your damned business.”

“Right away, Commander,” Jacob said, basically having to drag an infuriated Miranda away.

Tali was giving orders to her own people, a couple of quarians appearing to escort Veetor back to their shuttle. Once we were alone, I removed my helmet again and leaned back against the desk. I had no idea how long I’d been awake for now, but it had already been one hell of a long day.

“So, Cerberus, Shepard. Really?”

“I know how it looks, Tali. Trust me, I’ve only been awake a few hours.”

“Wouldn’t have guessed considering what you did out there.” She paused before adding, “You weren’t a biotic before either.”

“Yep, another idea of the Illusive Man.”

“Illusive… You mean the man who runs Cerberus?”

“Yep. Spoken to him already. Full of shit, of course, but when he told me about what’s going on here, I had to come and see for myself. About this, he wasn’t lying.” I stretched, feeling muscles that hadn’t been used in two years starting to tighten up already. “Don’t suppose you can come along?”

“No, Shepard, and not just because of Cerberus. I’ve got my own mission now. It’s important to my people. And you’ve been gone a long time now.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Sure you can trust them?” That question made me laugh, which answered it for her. “Good to see you, Shepard. All I can ask is that you stay safe while working with them, because I remember what we were doing before you died.”

“Oh, he knows all about that. He thinks he can put a leash on me. He’ll learn soon enough I do what I want.” I picked up my helmet and gestured to the door. “Will your people be okay getting out of here?”

“Yes, we’ll be fine. We’ll head straight back for the Fleet, report what we’ve found. If Veetor has anything else, I’ll send it to you.”

“Send it to my old Alliance email account, if it’s still working. I’ll find some way of gaining access to it. Don’t want these idiots getting the information before I see it.”

They’d picked up the bodies, the few survivors waiting on the shuttle for her. We hugged briefly before she stepped onto the shuttle, turning around. “Stay safe, Shepard. And good luck.”

“You too, Tali. I’ll see you soon.”

I waited until their shuttle was in the air, ready to disappear, before I dared walk to my shuttle. Taking off my helmet before boarding, Miranda and Jacob were in place, and soon we were taking off, heading back to where we had left earlier. Minuteman Station, I’d heard Jacob call it. Whatever the case, I just stared out the window and ignored the presence of the other two, racking my brain over what to do next.

Two years is a long time. Everyone I knew would have moved on, and I wasn’t just speaking of those who served with me on the Normandy, though I immediately thought of people like Liara, Shiala and Ashley. Then there was Emily and Gianna…

“Penny for your thoughts, Commander?” Jacob asked.

“I just want to report to the Illusive Man what we’ve found, then what the next step is.”

“You’re convinced.”

“About the abductions? Of course. But it was all too neat. I think he already knew who was behind it. I’m not an idiot, I know when I’m being used.”

“He would have no reason…”

I glared at her and she surprisingly shut up. “Look, I know your head is firmly up his arse but I’m not going to listen to you spin bullshit all the time. You’ve seen my file, you know I won’t put up with anyone’s shit, in particularly someone who thinks he can order me around. I don’t see a rank on his shoulders, and I don’t see one of mine. There is no structure of command I am following, nor am I expected to follow orders. I did this as a goodwill gesture. So unless I am made one hell of a firm fucking offer, I will say thank you for bringing me back, for whatever reasons you have, but I’ll be heading home now.”

“And where is home?” Miranda retorted.

“The Alliance.”

“They gave up on you, Shepard. Within days. To them, you’re dead. Body burned up in space, nothing but a plaque on the wall. The Council gave even less of a shit than you. First human Spectre, barely remembered.”

“Well, aren’t you just fucking peachy.”

“You wanted honesty, Shepard. There’s your honesty. Everyone else gave up on you. Cerberus didn’t. Maybe chew on that for the rest of the shuttle ride.”

Damn, she certainly was feisty and she simply glared back when I met her eyes. So I moved my eyes from there down her face, her neck, over her chest, which was rather ample, down her body, which certainly had curves in all the right places, then down her legs, which she kept crossed, all the way to the boots she wore, with the ridiculous heel, then all the way back up. When I met her eyes again, the look was even better, verging on fury, which simply forced me to return a grin.

“The Illusive Man will want to talk when we get back, Shepard,” Jacob told me.

“Good. Because I’ll be having a few words with him as well.”

Chapter Text

I was right, of course. I’m not always right, I’ve been wrong more times than I count, but I know a bullshit artist when I heard one, and the Illusive Man was already proving to be the greatest weaver of bullshit I’ve had the displeasure of listening to. Of course he knew about the Collectors being responsible for the abductions.

"I had my suspicions, but I needed the proof,” he explained, “The Collectors are enigmatic at best. They periodically travel to the Terminus Systems, looking to gather seemingly unimportant items or specimens. Usually in exchange for their technology. When their transactions are complete, they disappear as quickly as they arrived; back beyond the unmapped Omega Four relay. Until now, we've had no evidence of direct aggression by the Collectors."

I was ready to chew him out, but he’d already offered new information. “What’s the Omega Four?” I had to ask.

“We assume it leads to the Collector homeworld. However, no ship that's ever passed through the relay has returned to let us know what is on the other side.”

"Any idea why a ship has never returned?"

"Our best guess is that the relay reacts differently to Collector vessels, allowing them safe passage. If they can manipulate relays, that's just further evidence of their connection with the Reapers."

At least he was speaking sense regarding that. The Reapers would have pawns ready to do what they wanted if they were trapped in space.

"Okay, why the sudden interest in humanity? We've barely been on the scene for thirty years. The turians are probably the biggest military threat, the salarians regarding science, and the asari regarding Machiavellian politics. Surely those three are the bigger threats?"

"It could for any number of reasons. The most obvious, however, is that humanity played the largest role in Sovereign's destruction. I'm sure that drew their attention." I could only nod his head in agreement. The Alliance had sacrificed many ships and men to ensure the destruction of the Reaper. That would definitely have put the bullseye on us. "What really concerns me is why bother abducting the colonists. Once the humans are paralysed, why not just kill them?"

"I'm glad they're not. I'd just like to find them alive, if possible."

"On that we can agree, Commander. Despite what you may believe, I want to help and protect the colonists. They are humans, just like you and me."

I pinched the bridge of my nose. Again, it was just all too neat, like he already knew everything, but was simply drip-feeding it to me so I was kept interested and on his side. I knew I was being played, martialled into a position where I would need to co-operate with him. The idea made me sick as I had a bad feeling already nestling in my gut that it was exactly what I would end up doing. "Listen, it appears you already have it all figured out. What aren't you telling me?"

"The patterns are there, buried in the data. The Council and the Alliance want to believe the Reaper threat died with Sovereign. You and I know better."

“The Council?”

“Full deniability. The Alliance forwarded Donnel Udina as the candidate. I understand you didn’t have the best of relationships?”

“Understatement. So I guess he denied everything?”

“They haven’t quite written you off as insane, but the Reaper hypothesis has been completely rejected.”

I suddenly felt very alone. The Council had basically written me off as a crank, and even if I returned, I’m sure they’d have a million and one questions. As for the Alliance, what would they do with me? The Normandy was gone, and I doubt I’d be given my own command after two years in the wilderness. First I’d be interrogated, and I’m not sure they’d believe the whole ‘I was dead for two years but Cerberus rebuilt me’. Would probably sound as insane as the Reaper hypothesis to them. I had maybe a few allies in the Alliance, those who survived. Hackett, Anderson, Ash, Joker, Chakwas, a few of the sailors who might have survived. I could approach them directly, but I think even they’d be forced to hand me over until I was cleared, and that would simply take too long.

The longer I thought about it, the more I realised that the Illusive Man was the only option. The Council was a no-go. The Alliance would help me but it would take too long. Cerberus was ready to go now. I could only assume I would be getting resources, so perhaps a ship, weapons, credits, armour and hopefully people.

“Shit,” I muttered, running a hand over my short hair.

“Commander, we are at war, and we need humanity’s best soldier at the front, leading the way. But you can’t do it alone. You’re going to need the best.”

“I guess my old squad is counted out, right?”

“It’s been over two years, Commander. They’ve moved on with their lives. I've already compiled a list of soldiers, scientists and mercenaries. You'll get dossiers on the best of them. Finding them and convincing them to work with you could be challenging, but you're a natural leader. I'll continue to track the Collectors. When they make their next appearance, I'll notify you and your team. Be ready.”

“Spectre status?”

“You can approach the Council but I wouldn’t expect a warm welcome. I don’t think they’ll arrest you, but I’m sure they’ll have plenty of questions in regards to where you’ve been. And if you return to the Citadel, it will attract the attention of the Alliance.”

I pinched the bridge of my nose again and sighed. I hated being backed into a corner with only one way out, and I didn’t like the way being offered. But I was racking my brain, trying to think of anything else I could do. I still had hope that if I could contact Anderson… but he was ‘only’ a captain. Hackett? No, even as an admiral, he still reported to superiors. My return would lead to questions…

Shit, shit, shit, shit.

“Send me the dossiers and I’ll have a look at them,” I stated flatly. Fine, I’d work with them for now, and I’d just bury the hate. Work like a robot until the job was done, then I’d think of something else. First thing, a steaming hot shower so I didn’t feel anywhere near as dirty as I did.

"Commander. Two things before you go." Fuck me, what now? "First, head to Omega and find Mordin Solus. He's a brilliant salarian scientist. Our intelligence suggests he may know how to counteract the Collectors' paralysing seeker swarms."

"Giving orders already? In case you've forgotten, I don't work for you." Keep this up, Shepard, and you will be shot in the back of the head. Then buried in some unmarked grave. You know what these people are capable of.

I noticed the Illusive Man just grinned, waving a dismissive hand. "I'm merely giving you direction, Commander. A helpful suggestion. Nothing more. I'm just hoping you make the right choice."

I sighed, as it was nothing but an order, but I couldn’t be bothered arguing any longer. "Very well. Point taken. What's the second thing?"

"I've found a pilot I think you may like. I hear he's one of the best. And he's someone you can trust."

Turning around, I was greeted by the sight of my pilot, Joker. Dressed in a Cerberus uniform. He stopped and saluted, not looking ill at ease at all. The first thing I noted was the fact he appeared to be walking unaided. He hadn’t walked all that much on the old ship, and when he did, he needed crutches at least. I returned the salute, simply out of habit. “Joker, the fuck are you doing here?” I strode forward and offered my hand, which he accepted immediately. “Can’t believe it’s you.”

“"You're one to talk, Commander. I saw you get spaced."

“Good point. Again, I’ll ask, the fuck are you doing here, Joker? In that uniform?”

He heard my tone and gestured with his head. “"Come on, we'll walk and talk. Apparently they have something to show us." Falling in alongside, he led me down a series of hallways as he continued to explain. “It all fell apart without you, Commander. Everything you stirred up, the Council just wanted it gone.”

“So I’ve been told. With Udina on the Council, I was going to be fucked over regardless.”

“Yeah, don’t expect any help from them. Alliance? Doubt they know you’re back yet. Once they find out, I’m sure they’ll have a few questions. Anyway, after all that, the team was split up. All records from the mission were sealed, by both the Council and the Alliance. And I was grounded."

"What? Why? You're the best damned pilot in the Alliance."

"I was. Post-traumatic stress disorder, they called it. Apparently seeing your Commanding Officer spaced, and feeling guilty about it, was detrimental to my ability to pilot a ship."

“Had it rough?”

“Others have had it worse so I’m not complaining. Just facts, Commander. But in the end, the Alliance took away the only thing that mattered to me. So when Cerberus approached me with the offer to fly again, I accepted.”

“No hesitation?”

“Oh, plenty of hesitation, Commander. This is Cerberus we’re talking about. Trust me, I remember everything you found, but the Alliance forced me here. Payslip I get each month is a nice bonus. Don’t expect we’ll be here forever. Sure we’ll see a cell once the job is done and we go back.”

We stopped at window, overlooking a dark docking area. I assumed there was a ship there. “So any trust in regards to any of the clowns in charge? Cerberus as a whole?”

“"Do you trust them, Joker? Cerberus? The Illusive Man?"

"I certainly don't trust Cerberus. This is simply a means to an end. A job. Honestly, I don't really trust anyone. Except you, Commander. And considering they saved your life, and let me fly, I guess they can't be all bad."

"Maybe…."

Joker then gestured out the window. "Then there is this. They only told me about it last night."

The dark silhouette outside was slowly illuminated by a series of lights. An enormous ship. Sleek in design. Painted on the front splitters and on the hull were the words SR-2. Even sitting still in the docking bay, it looked fast. Painted white, black and gold. They were the colours of Cerberus, but at that moment, I didn't mind. Leaning forward, placing a hand on the glass, I simply took it all in. And I knew this was now my ship. I would be captain once again. “Wow,” I whispered, “She’s a real beaut.”

“It's good to be home, huh, Commander?"

“Sure is.” We both stared in silence for at least a few minutes before I added, “Guess we’ll have to give a name?”

“You sure, Commander? Some say renaming a ship the same as one lost can be bad luck.”

I grinned. "I'm sure, Joker. She's been reborn. Bigger. Stronger. Faster. I can't think of a better name."

Joker called across one of the technicians standing nearby waiting for the instruction. "We'd like a name painted on the side of the ship."

"What name would that be?"

Joker looked back at me, and I returned a single nod.

"Normandy."


Actually getting ready to depart took a few hours. The crew was nearly ready to go, but last minute changes needed to be made, more supplies were being loaded, and even Cerberus required everything to be signed off before we could actually leave. Joker immediately got himself comfortable at the helm, which was good enough. I simply marvelled at the space available within the CIC.

Miranda and Jacob were polite enough to give me the rundown of what the ship was capable of and also its design. First off, the armoury was completely in the wrong place. It should be in the docking bay, ready for soldiers to grab their gear and leave. So that was an obvious flaw right there. The drive core was supposed to be even more powerful than in the old ship, so that was good. There was a tech lab, which would come in handy. A conference room, for meetings and also the place the Illusive Man could bother me. I had my own cabin at the top of the ship, which was a bonus. All in all, the ship was enormous.

And it came with artificial intelligence. Known as EDI. I think Miranda and Jacob were expecting a different reaction than my casual indifference. “Planning on taking over the ship or slaying humanity?” When EDI said no, that it was shackled, I was fine with it. Miranda actually looked impressed at the fact I didn’t really give a shit.

"The Illusive Man must have been impressed so far, Commander,” she said, “I was concerned by your attitude when you first woke up. I'll admit I would have done things slightly differently during your reconstruction, but I guess my mind will change over time if you continue to be cooperative with us. However, seeing that you are now here with us and at least committed to taking down the Collectors, I'm now confident this mission will be a complete success with you in charge."

“What would you have done differently?”

“Control chip to make you more amenable to our goals,” she replied bluntly, and honestly, which was something I could appreciate, I guess, “The Illusive Man said no. I suggested that he may regret that decision. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.”

“And the biotic thing?”

“We agreed that, although you would have to adapt, considering your history, we assumed it would not take long and that, as a vanguard, it would suit you better.”

“Can we set up training as I’m still not exactly sure how it all works?”

“Of course, Commander. Jacob and I can both help you in any way you require. We need you at your best, and training is a vital component.”

I gestured at the nearby AI interface. “And this EDI? And before you even think about replying, don’t spin me bullshit. Is it here to monitor us?”

“Yes,” was the simple reply, before Miranda added, “But even I am not aware of all its functions.”

“Fair enough. Long as it doesn’t try and take control of the ship, then take us to the geth so it can lead an overthrown of the organic races, it can stay. Now, Joker knows we’re off to Omega. Anything else I need to know?”

"The first person you may wish to speak to is your yeoman, Miss Chambers," Jacob replied, before he saluted and followed Miranda to the elevator. I walked towards Miss Chambers, who was busy at her terminal, looking up as I came into view.

“Hello, Commander.”

“Miss Chambers.”

“Miss Chambers is so formal. Call me Kelly.”

“If you’re Kelly, I’m Shepard. Not sure I’m really a ‘commander’ anymore anyway.”

“Still a little overwhelming?”

“Haven’t even slept yet and I’m not sure how long I’ve been going so far. I’m sure I’ll crash and burn eventually. Could do with a bite to eat and a drink too.”

“Mess is down one level, Shepard. The medical bay is also down there. And there is also a fully stocked bar in one of the lounges.”

“This ship has lounges?”

“Two of them, either side of the ship.”

“Damn! Cerberus knows how to build a ship at least.”

“You haven’t seen your cabin yet, Shepard. I think you’ll be impressed.”

“So, although I’d love to stay and chat, Kelly, I’m going to head downstairs, grab a bite, then head upstairs. But I think, as we’ll be spending a lot of time together, I’m sure we can chat soon enough.”

“Of course, Shepard. I look forward to it.”

Walking back to the elevator, it arrived quickly and I stepped in, turning around and definitely checking out her backside. She was definitely gorgeous. I loved redheads. Green eyes are a bonus. And her voice was hypnotic. I was already thinking of my life on the old Normandy, and also what I’d got up to off the ship. Maybe being stuck with Cerberus wouldn’t be so bad, at least in regards to one aspect.

Arriving in the mess, I was introduced to Mess Sergeant Gardner, who explained he was a jack of all trades, master of none, but before I could grab a tray, I glanced at the medical bay and noticed someone I did not expect to see again, at least for a few months. I immediately strode across, the door opening, and Doctor Chakwas looked up, grinned, and immediately rose to her feet. “Commander,” she said softly, “It’s good to see you alive.”

The embrace wasn’t a surprise. “It’s good to see you too, Doc.”

She moved her hands to my shoulders as she leaned back, definitely looking at my face. I’d only looked in the mirror once, hadn’t liked what I’d seen, so avoided it since. "You look a little rough around the edges, Commander."

“I’m feeling it too!”

“Do they hurt?”

“Surprisingly, no. Or, at least, not constantly. Occasional shooting pain, nothing more. Miranda said my reconstruction hadn't finished when I was woken up. It's a long story. But I'm surprised to see you here, Doc. What are you doing on a Cerberus vessel?”

She let me go and gestured to her desk, resuming her seat as I sat opposite. She’d barely changed since the last time I’d saw her. Silver hair. Wise eyes. I didn’t know her exact age, but I put her in the late 50s, early 60s bracket, so probably double my own age. Still, constantly on her feet and at work had kept her slim. And I was aware of her attraction on the old ship.

"Hmm. It is surprising, even to me. But here I am, ready to help. And from what I've already heard, whether through gossip or otherwise, it sounds like you haven't changed a bit, particularly in your opinion of the organisation we are currently allied with, so to speak."

“Could be better, could be worse. At least there’s a job to do to keep my mind focused. We do the job, beat the Collectors, then… well, god knows, really, but I guess we won’t be sticking around here too long.”

"I’m thinking the same thing, Commander."

"Good. Now, is there anything you need?"

She shook her head. "No, Cerberus know what they're doing regarding medical facilities. I have everything I need here. I did lose something during the destruction of the old ship, though."

"What did you lose?"

"A bottle of Serrice Ice Brandy. I was saving it for a special occasion and have always regretted never opening the bottle."

"Say no more, Doc. First stop we make, somewhere decent at least, like the Citadel, I'll pick you up a bottle." She looked ready to argue but I immediately waved those away. “I remember an invitation for drinks before I carked it. So it’s a good excuse for a catch up at least.”

“Well, if you’ve really been asleep for two years, it’ll be a one-way conversation.”

“What have you been up to?”

There was a sigh, one of equal frustration and sadness. “After you were lost, I was reassigned. Eventually I found myself based on Mars. I had a respectable position but it wasn't a starship. I've spent nearly my entire adult life on starships, never knowing what the next mission might bring. Ship life suits me, Commander, and I missed it. Life planet-side is, if I'm completely honest, a little boring."

“Yeah, I remember you telling me. And the people we’re working with?”

“I honestly don’t know them at all. Miranda Lawson was the one who recruited me. She’ll take some getting used to. The only other one I know is Kelly Chambers. She was very sweet. May end up being the only honest person on the ship, asides from us. Don’t think she has a dishonest bone in her body.” She paused before adding, “You’ll definitely like her.”

I gave her a look as I knew exactly what she meant. “Anyway, Doc, I just popped in to say hello. I’m absolutely starving, then I need a little shuteye before we arrive in Omega.”

“Don’t be a stranger, Shepard.”

I headed back out into the mess to grab a tray and some food. Taking a seat, I realised the food was going to be rather awful within the first couple of mouthfuls, but I was starving, and used to eating crap, so I just hoovered it down. Miranda wandered out from her office to grab a bottle of water from the fridge, and I definitely checked her out again. I wasn’t sure if her best feature were her tits or her arse. Legs were nice, but the tits were on point, definitely fake, but also spectacular. I definitely had some thoughts as she didn’t look my way, simply heading back to her office, click of her heels on the floor echoing around the otherwise empty mess.

With no other option, I grabbed a bottle for myself before heading up to my cabin. To say I was taken aback would be an understatement. It wasn’t a cabin, it was a fucking apartment! Desk, with piles of datapads already in place, no doubt with information I needed, considering I had no real idea what had happened for two years. There was a giant fish tank, currently empty of fish. Plenty of storage face. Huge bed. Pair of lounges with glass coffee table. The lighting was terrible. The window looking out into space would be something I could look out of when lying back on the bed.

First thing was a shower, stripping off and heading straight inside, making sure the water was nice and hot. There was an enormous mirror that I couldn’t help look into. The scarring was jarring to see, and I figured I would have to talk to Chakwas about getting it fixed. I’d seen wounded soldiers with worse injuries, but if I could get some surgery, I’d be happy.

Wandering back out in just a towel, the one thing I wanted was company of a certain kind but, without Ashley or Liara on the ship, nor any of the other women I had been intimate with before, I didn’t really know what to do. I immediately thought about Kelly, but figured it might be a little early to pursue that in such a way. I then thought about simply jerking off, but I’d prefer to cum in something other than my hand.

“Wonder if Miranda would be interested?” I asked myself, laughing away at such a thought. No chance of that ever happening.

“Did you want me to contact Miss Lawson?”

“What the fuck?” The AI interface appeared nearby. “Fucking hell, EDI, you nearly gave me a heart attack. And no, I don’t want her right now”

“Very well, Shepard. Have a good night.”

What I needed was sleep, and the bed looked inviting, company or not. “Joker, how long to Omega?”

About four hours, Commander.”

“Okay, wake me when we’re about an hour out. I need some shuteye.”

“No worries, Commander.”

I hurled the towel on the floor, set my alarm for four hours, just in case, and collapsed onto the bed. I think I was asleep within thirty seconds, which was nice.


Waiting at the airlock, waiting for the ship to dock, I felt better after a little shuteye, another small meal, and plenty of water, as I had been feeling rather dehydrated. I was dressed in the same black armour I had picked up when I’d woken up. I’d always worn blue with the Alliance, as one would expect, but didn’t feel comfortable wearing it now. Jacob had offered me some Cerberus armour, albeit half-heartedly, so I wasn’t too harsh with him when declining.

I’d done some reading during my meal, as although I’d heard of Omega, I’d never been there, though its reputation was known across the galaxy. Flanking me were Jacob and Miranda, as I had no other choices to take with me. I’d seen them both in action, though they were mechs, but I figured they’d be good enough.

I was surprised our ship was even allowed near Omega, considering the colours we were flying, but perhaps word has already spread of my return. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear the Illusive Man had told everyone he figured needed to know would have been informed. The Council. The Alliance. And also whoever was in charge of Omega.

Once the ship docked, cabin pressure was equalised, and the light turned green, we walked out onto the docking bay, walking no more than a few metres towards a group walking towards us, including a couple of batarians. Just what I needed. Fucking hate batarians.

“Welcome to Omega, Shepard.”

I feigned surprise. “You know who I am?”

“Of course. We had you tagged the moment you entered the Terminus Systems. You're not as subtle as you think. Aria wants to know what brings a dead Spectre to Omega. I suggest you go to Afterlife now and present yourself."

“We weren’t being subtle considering the ship wasn’t cloaked, you pillock,” Miranda stated.

I glanced her way and nodded approving. “Nice use of the word pillock, Miss Lawson. I’d have just gone for the uncouth ‘cunt’ myself.” I turned back to the batarian. “Look, we’re not here to cause trouble, so cut the act. You and your arseclown companions can turn around and fuck off as we don’t need an escort.”

I was hoping he’d actually rise to the bait and start a fight. A few punches thrown, an adrenaline rush, may be a snapped bone or two, would make me feel even better. But, to my slight disappointment, he didn’t. "Things explode around you, Shepard. You can't blame Aria for wanting to keep an eye on you. Afterlife. Now."

I flipped him the bird as he simply turned around with his goons and walked away. As we headed into Omega itself, I asked EDI to give me the rundown of what was known about Omega. It was the sort of story I expected of such a settlement in the Terminus Systems. Ignored and forgotten as it wasn’t Council Space. Figuring we might as well just got to Afterlife to get it out of the way, we joined a line though I stayed there for all of thirty seconds before pushing to the front, where there was an elcor bouncer. I found that hilarious, though he recognised me, so I was allowed straight in with the others.

It was almost Sodom and Gomorrah, and I immediately felt right at home. Well, not quite, but there were enough things around to definitely perk my interests. Mercenary gangs were doing all sorts of trade. Drugs. Guns. Women too, probably. I might have to deal with that later. But it was the rather limber asari and human dances, working the poles, that definitely gained my full and complete attention, taking a seat at the bar and finding a beer in my hand quickly.

“We have work to do, Commander,” Miranda stated, already sounding exasperated.

“Yep, we do. But first, I’m going to watch this pretty little thing right in front of me.” The asari noticed I was being rather attentive and soon she was dancing on the bar right in front of me, and it was very provocative. I sipped at my beer, and watched her dance, rather enjoying it when her legs ended up over my shoulders as she cavorted on her back. “How do I give this lovely thing a tip?” I asked.

“Just transfer some credits over your omni-tool,” the barman said.

“Is it directly to her?”

“Her name is Tara, so yes, she gets the creds. Aria will take her cut later.”

I transferred what I considered a good sum of money, earning thanks and a kiss on the cheek as she walked across the bar and back to her pole. There’s no way she was much older than Liara, though Tara had the body of someone who had danced for even longer. Cracked nuts on her arse and a body that could definitely be bent in any number of ways. Finishing my beer, I noticed Jacob was just as distracted. Miranda wasn’t happy, which amused me even further.

Taking another beer, this time in a bottle, I led the way towards where Aria was apparently sitting. Her position was on a podium that sat above everyone else, and she had a perfect view of everything and everyone. I didn’t get a good look at her as I rounded the corner, stopped by four heavily armed bodyguards. I smiled and took a sip of my beer as one of them, another batarian, put a hand on my chest.

“Take it off now, or I snap your wrist,” I warned with nothing but a grin. The batarian returned a predatory grin as another bodyguard, this one a turian, approached with a scanner. The batarian stepped back, allowing the turian to scan my entire body. "What's the scan for? If you're looking for weapons, you're not looking very hard," I added, gesturing to the weapons across my body. Pistol. Shotgun. Assault rifle. Grenades.

"Can't be too careful with dead Spectres. That could be anyone wearing your face."

"Yeah, I’ve seen that movie before. I don’t think I’ve undergone that sort of operation as I still have all the same memories. But I was told you're the person to talk to if I have questions."

Aria turned around and I got a good look at her. I’m sure, in some way, she might be considered attractive. But… not me. The one word I could think of to describe her was fierce. I wondered when she last genuinely smiled. And if she did grin, she would have looked like nothing more than a predator stalking its prey.

"You run Omega?" I asked. It was a stupid question, but I just wanted to be certain. Aria laughed, before she turned around and spread her arms wide.

"I. Am. Omega." I almost laughed at the melodrama of it all. Her bodyguards stepped back, leaving me free to approach her. Aria sat down, gesturing for me to take a seat nearby, with Miranda and Jacob sitting further away. "But you need more. Everybody needs more something. And they all come to me. I'm the boss, C.E.O, queen if you're feeling dramatic. It doesn't matter. Omega has no titled ruler and only one rule." She came to a stop and stared at me, a slight smirk on her lips. "Don't. Fuck. With Aria."

“Simple but effective. I could think of maybe one retort, but that’ll lead to my balls being in a vice. I like them where they are now.”

Despite her warnings, I wouldn’t have called Aria friendly but she had the information we needed. Mordin Solus was currently working on the outbreak of plague in a quarantined zone, which immediately made me wonder what century we were living in. As for Archangel, first and surnames unknown as yet, he’d pissed off half of Omega and was apparently locked down and being attacked by mercenaries, or entire groups of them at least, including Eclipse, Blood Pack and Blue Suns. No idea who they were, but it was suggested we would have to fight our way there to get him, then fight our way out. Fantastic. Dead before we’ve started.

Figuring we should get Archangel first, we were told that the mercenary groups were recruiting within Afterlife itself, so after thanking Aria for the information, as politeness always counts when dealing with asari who could probably mind-fuck you with ease, we joined a rather short line to join up with what must have been the Blue Suns. It was easy to figure out as they wore blue armour.

Standing in front of another fucking batarian, he looked over the three of us. I thought the prominent Cerberus logo on Jacob and Miranda would have gained his attention, but he didn’t seem to recognise it. And he didn’t recognise me either, which was a good thing. "Yeah, you three look like you can do some damage. Looking for a good fight?"

"Always looking for a fight,” I replied, which actually wasn’t a lie for once, “And I hear this Archangel will provide one hell of a good one."

"You heard right." The merc starting inputting our information after I handed over a trio of false IDs. "Right, the standard fee is five hundred creds. You'll get paid when the job is done. If you die, your friends don't collect your share."

I turned to my companions. "Don't die,” I joked. Miranda just rolled her eyes but a slight grin briefly appeared, so maybe there was warmth under that ice cold exterior.

"You'll also need your own weapons and… Never mind, you appear well-equipped."

"Anything else?"

"Final proviso. This does not make you a member of the Blue Suns, Eclipse or the Blood Pack. You are a freelancer. Period."

"Would never have thought otherwise. Where do we head out?"

"There's a transport depot outside the club. One of our boys will take you from there."

We quickly realised the mercenary groups were, to put it simply, a bunch of fucking idiots. Apparently Archangel was holed up somewhere either alone or with very few allies, but still the mercenaries were wasting their times with piecemeal attacks, being picked off rather easily. There was no cohesion in their attacks, each group simply doing their own things, hoping to take the glory of their kill for themselves.

As I said, idiots.

After causing a little trouble, including disabling a few things and electrocuting the batarian that was fixing a gunship, we joined one of the waves heading towards Archangel, hoping whoever it was would recognise our different armour, that we were likely friendlies, and so not to kill us. I still took a shot into the chest, but it was concussive rather than armour piercing, so although I felt out of breath as we made it across, at least I didn’t have a massive hole instead.

Bounding up the stairs, we walked into an empty room save for one person. He held up a finger, or a talon, to suggest we remain silent and still as he lined up a target with his sniper rifle. There was a crack as he fired, before he simply turned to face us. “You Archangel?” I asked. I’d stored my weapon, so stepped forward carefully, removing my helmet so he could at least see who I was.

Archangel rose to his feet, placed his rifle against a pillar, before turning back and taking off his own helmet.  "Shepard," Garrus stated, "I thought you were dead."

"Garrus?! What the fuck are you doing here?" I exclaimed, rushing forward to grab his hand, followed up by a few slaps on the back.

"Just keeping my skills sharp. A little target practice."

I let him go and looked him up and down. “You sound knackered, old friend. Doing okay?”

"I've been better," he replied, honest as always, "But it sure is good to see a friendly face. Killing mercs is hard work. Especially on my own."

"What are you doing here on Omega? I thought you would have at least gone back to C-Sec."

“It’s a long story, Shepard, and one I’m sure we can go over later, preferably over a few beers. I could ask what you are doing here, but I guess that’s the same. Go over it later. What we need to do now is wipe these idiots out so we can at least get out of here.”

“No back door to this place?”

“Not one we can use. Bastards will likely be trying to come through there right now. I’ve got it wired up nice and good, but there has to be at least one or two people with brains that’ll figure it out eventually.”

“I’ve got companions who can help. We watch here, they watch there.”

“If you think that’s best, Shepard.” I glanced at Miranda and Jacob, who didn’t need any orders, understanding what was required and disappearing immediately. “Sooo… I recognise that symbol on their armour, Shepard,” he stated, picking up his rifle. I took the assault rifle from my back and took a knee as we readied for the onslaught, “Didn’t have you pegged as Cerberus.”

We opened fired as the next wave approached. Complete and utter idiocy. I’d ready my history and it was the tactics used during the Great War. Send thousands of men against machine gun posts in a vain attempt to take the trench. As we fired occasionally, I managed to explain. “Long story short. I died. They spent billions rebuilding me. I woke up a couple of days ago. Found out the Council denied the Reapers. Human colonies are disappearing. The Alliance are being useless and Cerberus said I should help them to stop the Collectors."

“The Collectors? Shit, I’ve heard of them. Nothing good.”

“Yeah, been told the same thing. Honestly, I don’t really know what I’m doing so far. I’m still waking up. Sure you’ve noticed the face is a mess.”

“Don’t worry, Shepard. I’m sure there’s still a line of women available.”

We’d been firing during the conversation, and for a moment, things went quiet. Garrus suggested they’d have to get smart eventually, tempting fate. Which, of course, was proven right, as the idiots proved they had at least some brains, as the trickle of soldiers turned into a flood. So that’s when I had the chance to show off my new abilities, heading downstairs and biotic charging into anyone that came into view. In addition to the thump of biotics, my shotgun rarely stayed silent, blasting away at close distance, covering myself and the apartment in blood.

I then heard a krogan roar about Archangel, turning to see an enormous one heading my one in red armour. So I charged at him too, knocking him back enough that I could raise my shotgun and blasted his head clean off. Anyone else probably would have retched at the sight. I simply stepped over his body and charged the next victim.

“Leave some for me!” I heard Garrus called, blasting away two more mercenaries before I pulled back to the stairs. Garrus still had his eye to the scope, firing again, before he added, “Well, seems you have some particular skills, Shepard. I guess they changed you at least a little bit.”

“Still getting used to it. Has its advantages and disadvantages.”

“Well, the good thing is you killed Garm, the Blood Pack commander. I’ve already blown away the Eclipse commander, so now it’s the Blue Suns and whatever remains of the other two groups.”

The last wave came and they threw everything at us. The three groups finally worked together and the bodies started to pile up on the bridge. But that wasn’t the only problem as the Blue Suns had got the airship working, and bullets were soon ripping the apartment to pieces. Miranda and Jacob returned, helping us lay down fire as we worked out how to take down the gunship. It was obviously shielded, so Miranda and Jacob would cause those to fail, then Garrus would have only a moment to shoot the pilot’s canopy. It was the only plan I could think of, as without heavy weapons, trying to shoot it down with rifle fire would be laborious.

So we got to work.

It almost worked to perfection. The shields of the gunship failed. I opened up and began to fire, causing the gunship to move away enough that Garrus could appear from behind a pillar, rifle aimed and ready to fire. He dithered for only a minute to line up the shot, but it was long enough. He fired just as the gunship did, the explosion knocking Miranda, Jacob and I back, but Garrus took the brunt. Miranda told me the gunship was going down as I rushed to the side of Garrus, who was not in a good way, bleeding from numerous wounds and his face had been badly burned.

I opened the communication channel. “Joker, we need a medivac right away. Sending you my co-ordinates.”

“Doctor Chakwas will be there shortly, Commander.”

She arrived within five minutes. I stood out of the way and let her get to work, noticing my hands were now covered in blue blood. She checked his vitals, said they were weak but stable, and we immediately got him back to the shuttle and the ship. I followed them into the med-bay, where Chakwas got to work. She said there was little point me hanging around, so suggested I head away, and that she would let me know as soon as he was awake.

Miranda and Jacob were sat in the mess, so I suggested they should get some rest as well. I headed straight to my cabin so I could have a shower before changing into some civilian clothing. Jeans, black shirt, light jacket, and comfortable boots. Heading down to the CIC, Kelly looked at me and asked if I was going anywhere “No, just wanted to be comfortable. Since this isn’t military, I don’t have to wear a uniform.”

“Thought you might have had a date lined up.”

“Ha! I should be so lucky. I’ve barely had a chance to catch my breath since waking. One thing or another.”

“Have you eaten yet?”

I definitely gave her a look. “Not yet.”

“Well, if you ever want to grab dinner together, all you need do is ask, Shepard. Maybe we can get to know each other?”

That was an invitation if ever I heard one, but at that moment, I wasn’t willing to sleep with someone who worked for Cerberus. Yet. What I did remember was a bar full of asari and human dancers, and I figured perhaps I could at least find some company there for a few hours. Wouldn’t be the first time I’d paid for it, wouldn’t be last. Closing my terminal, I told Kelly I would be gone a few hours, but if Garrus were to wake up, to let me know immediately.

Heading back into Afterlife, I was let straight in again, and resumed my seat at the bar, distracted once again by the attractive dancers. I asked the barman if Tara was still around. “She’s just on a break. Should be an hour.”

“Do the girls entertain clients privately?”

“Do you mean to dance or to fuck?”

“While the former is enjoyable, I’m here for the latter.”

“Got the creds?”

“How much?”

“You want the whole deal, it’ll cost you two hundred.” I raised my eyebrows in surprise. “Aria keeps the prices reasonable, keeps the punters coming back. Girls are looked after, protected. So if you want her, sure. She’ll be back soon enough.”

“I’ll have a beer while I wait.”

I sipped on a bottle as I spun around and watched some of the other girls on show, most of them proving to be incredibly flexible. Most simply danced though one or two cavorted erotically. Some wore leotards, some wore bikinis, others were topless. None of them went completely nude, so I guess it was meant to be somewhat tasteful.

I was on my second beer when an asari sat next to me, turning to see it was exactly who I wanted. “I’ve been told you’d like my company.”

“Yes. I assume you were told what sort?” She nodded. “Do you have somewhere close?”

“Two-minute walk. Come with me,” she said, offering her hand. I took it, her hand very soft compared to mine, and she led me out of Afterlife and down a couple of streets, arriving at an apartment block. There were guards at the door, who checked her ID, then checked mine. Walking inside, there were at least two cameras watching the hallway. “Don’t worry, no cameras in the room. There is an alarm system though, so any funny business, if I trigger it…”

“Warning heard, loud and clear.”

“What’s your name?” she asked, opening the door to her apartment. I doubt it was where she lived, although when I walked in, I changed my mind, as it looked like any regular apartment though a lot smaller. I heard the door click close as I turned to see her walk towards me.

“Shepard,” I finally replied.

That made her stare at me. “That name’s familiar.”

“It’s a common human surname. Don’t think about it too much.”

“And you know my name is Tara. So, Shepard, what did you want to do?”

“I thought that was obvious as to why I’m here.”

“I like to know what my client wants. Any particular fetishes you may have?”

“Nope. I like to have my dick sucked, I’ll eat pussy, and I love to fuck. I’m actually a rather simple man.”

“So the girlfriend experience? You know, kissing, cuddling, pillow talk for after. Not just a wham, bam, thank you ma’am experience.”

“Yeah, that actually sounds rather nice. After the day I’ve had…”

So the first thing we did was kiss. I thought it might be a little awkward, and although it was a job to her, she certainly made it feel as real as possible. I even made her giggle when I hugged her close, so that made me grin. She enjoyed taking off my clothes, everything gone including my boots, and on her knees, she proved to be very talented at sucking cock. It had been quite a while since I’d enjoyed a blowjob, and particularly from an asari as pretty as she was. Her eyes in particular were stunning.

Feeling on the verge, I didn’t want to cum just yet, so suggested we get on the bed, with her naked, and we pleasure each other. The fact I wanted to do that definitely surprised her. “Most men don’t offer that.”

“You clean?” She nodded. “Any other clients today?” She shook her head. “Then it isn’t a problem.”

So I took my time undressing her, and seeing her body in the light of her apartment was even more spectacular than seeing it in the club. “I remember you. You were at the bar, watched me dance, then you disappeared.”

“Yeah. Had a job to do.”

Once I had her naked, we ended up on the bed, and I buried my face in her pussy. And I’d lost none of my own talent as I soon had her moaning and whimpering. Whether it was all an act, I couldn’t be sure, but the fact she was far too distracted to blow me, and the fact she moaned my name rather loudly, suggested it wasn’t. She realised she’d stopped pleasing me, so managed to take my cock again as we almost raced to get each other off. I couldn’t stop myself and blew into her mouth within a couple of minutes, groaning loudly as she pressed her pussy into my mouth, using her body to suggest she was getting close. Despite feeling rather light-headed, I managed to concentrate enough to get her off in return. She rolled off me as we lay head to toe, breathing deeply as we recovered.

“Well, first time someone’s made me cum like that in quite a while. As I said, most guys cum in here, I blow them, they fuck me, cum, done. Out the door.” She turned around so she could at least lie next to me, eventually rolling onto her side to run a hand up and down my chest. “So, Shepard, what do you do?”

I’d already concocted a bullshit story in my mind as I doubted she’d want to meld when it got down to the fucking. “Mercenary. Been all over the galaxy.”

“And the scars on your face?”

“Yeah, hard to miss. Recent firefight went wrong. Still waiting to head into surgery.”

“First time on Omega?”

“It is. A surprise considering the line of work, but I’ve worked for various governments and don’t usually end up in this part of space. But pickings have been slim so the Terminus seemed like a good place to make some credits. Don’t want to do this forever.” I glanced at her, and she was listening intently at least, at least appearing interest. “What about you?”

“I’ve been here a while, doing what most young asari do. I don’t always entertain guests like this though.”

“Oh?”

“I remembered you from earlier. I didn’t get any bad vibes, so when I was told, I was confident I’d be safe. I normally only entertain like this once or twice a week. I actually make more money dancing. I’m happier doing this than what a lot of my friends have done, joining mercenary gangs. Good chance they’ll end up dead. With this, the worst thing is getting felt up by a creep, or ending up in a situation with a client that ends up with someone else being beaten to a pulp.”

“Sounds like a hard life regardless.”

“I’m sure yours is worse, Shepard.”

Conversation stopped as her lips found my body, moving down until she swallowed my length to get me nice and hard again before she lifted her leg onto the other side of my body, and carefully slid down my cock until my length was inside her. She closed her eyes and smiled, so I guess she enjoyed it. Watching her ride me was definitely a thrill. Always exciting when a fit, young woman, whether she’s human or asari, enjoys sex. She eventually leaned forward to kiss me again, and that one was definitely not faked, my hands on her arse by now as I started to thrust into her at the same time.

“Goddess,” she moaned.

“You’re telling me.”

I was going to last a while, but when she enjoyed another orgasm, I think even she was surprised by that, though after that first one, she didn’t stop riding me, kissing me hard again. “I want another one. I rarely have one like this.”

“Sex isn’t fun if we don’t both cum.”

She laughed at that, riding me hard again, definitely hoping to have another orgasm. I was now holding back, letting her do most of the work, kissing her lips, her neck, lifting her up so I could focus on her chest, in particular her perky breasts, nipples hard from excitement. When she finally orgasmed a second time, I made her cry out as I threw her on her back, pushing her legs back at her knees as I started to fuck her hard.

I didn’t say a word as I pounded her for the next couple of minutes, grunting and groaning the entire time until I finally unloaded inside her. Considering it was the first time I’d been laid in quite a while, I definitely felt rather light-headed as I carefully laid down on my forearms, feeling her legs wrap around me. “So, any chance you’ll be visiting Omega again? I like regular customers.”

I couldn’t help chuckle. “Well, I’m not sure to be honest, but I’d certainly like a return visit.”

She had a shower cubicle that we could clean up in, and I think she was definitely impressed by my physique. Cerberus had certainly rebuilt me well, at least. Her hands may have explored my body, running softly over my muscles, particularly on my arms and chest. As she did that, I found myself getting excited again, and we ended up fucking in the shower as well, pressing her against the wall as I fucked her from behind, polite enough to feel her up at the same time.

After dressing a little later again, I transferred the credits without needing to be asked as she escorted me to the door. “I had fun, Shepard. Not often I can say that to many clients.”

“So did I. I definitely needed tonight.”

At the door, she gave me a hug and kissed my cheek, wising me a good night, and hoped she’d see me in Afterlife again. I whistled a tune as I headed back out in Omega, eventually ending up back on the Normandy. The night shift was now on, and I didn’t know any of them yet. Joker had disappeared, as had Kelly, so I headed straight up to my cabin, undressed again, and headed to bed.

Chapter Text

Garrus wasn’t awake the next morning when I headed down to the mess. I guess it was no surprise. Chakwas explained that surgery had been successful, but she was going to keep him sedated for a little longer to help his wounds as he was going to be in some pain whenever he woke up. Letting me know that she’d call as soon as he either woke up, or she helped wake him up, I headed back into the mess, grabbed a quick bite to eat, before heading upstairs to the CIC.

There were far more messages waiting for me than I expected, from Miranda, from the Illusive Man, from Kelly... I was reading over everything when Kelly appeared next to me, holding a mug in her hands. “Coffee, Commander. Just how you like it.”

“Oh, and how do I like it, Kelly?”

“Two sugars, dash of milk. Nice and dark otherwise.”

“Cerberus knows a lot about me, it seems.”

“I’ve read your file back to front before my arrival on the Normandy, Shepard.”

I tapped my temple. “Getting to know me in here is more important.”

“Oh, I’d like that as well, but reading your file gave me an understanding of who I would be working alongside, at least.”

“Your thoughts so far?”

“The mission will be a success. And I think we’re going to have a lot of fun too.” If there was one thing I knew about Kelly already is that she wasn’t subtle. I glanced at her over the rim of the mug as I took a sip. “Just how you like it?”

“Definitely, Kelly. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Shepard.” And, with a smile, she turned and headed back to her terminal. I focused on my terminal, but glanced her way every so often. In profile, she was definitely shorter than me, slimmer, quite pale, which was usual for redheads, the word petite is what I would have used to describe her. And, of course, I imagined what she looked like without clothes on.

Miranda arrived mid-morning, wondering when we would head back onto Omega to collect Mordin Solus. “When Garrus is awake.”

“That could be a number of days.”

“Garrus is a tough cookie. He’ll be awake soon enough.”

“Very well. You’re in charge, Commander. Did you enjoy your time off the ship last night?”

Should have known she’d be aware. Probably knew exactly what I’d done as well. I returned a casual shrug. “Yes, I did, Miss Lawson. Got exactly what I needed. I was feeling rather relaxed afterwards and in a much better frame of mind.”

I met her eyes and there was definitely more than one retort forming, but she seemed to flick through various replies before she simply went with, “Glad to hear, Commander. Hopefully that will mean you won’t be distracted when we’re next on Omega.” There was a subtle jab at the fact I’d enjoyed myself in Afterlife, but I guess she wasn’t going to judge me completely.

“I know what I’m doing, Miss Lawson.”

Having not heard from Chakwas by midday, I did head into the armoury to change into armour and grab a weapon, letting Kelly know I was heading onto Omega to do some shopping. When asking what I wanted, I made her laugh when the first thing I said was fish. “What do you want fish for?”

“The fish tank.”

“Oh, I didn’t think you would bother…”

“Well, my desk is nearby, and I guess it would give the cabin some life. It’s rather dull and grey at the moment. Might give it some colour.”

“Do they even have fish on Omega?”

“If not, I’ll buy them somewhere else. Wouldn’t mind one or two others things as well. I think it’s obvious I won’t wear the uniform, Kelly. I’m here for the job only.”

“I understand, Shepard, though I hope you won’t judge us all.”

“Something we can talk about later, Kelly. Your reasons for joining and your opinions on the organisation.”

Another smile, I guess appreciating I wasn’t just going to make a sweeping judgement of them all. “Maybe over that dinner I suggested?”

“Definitely. Perhaps we can organise a night after we’ve left Omega?”

“I’ll put it in your diary. All you need do is confirm it.”

Heading back out in the chaos that was Omega, you didn’t have to look far to see the abject poverty, the desperation, the cruelty on display. Most were doing their best to scratch a living, put food in their stomachs for another day. There appeared to be a section for everything. One area sold food. Another sold clothes. Another sold weapon. And sex was also for sale too. I looked over the weapons and armour, but nothing was appealing, most of it second rate junk. I didn’t miss the fact a couple of quarians were trading, but most shops were run by batarians. And as I was human, I definitely gained their attention.

I did find a place selling fish, so I bought a few there. I also found a place selling ship models. For a laugh, I thought I’d buy a few of them, as I figured it might keep me amused during those nights on the ship I wasn’t getting laid. Which, to be honest, might end up being quite a few. I also purchased some more clothing, jeans, a few shirts, another jacket, and also a pair of comfortable shoes, particularly for when I was back on the Citadel and wanted to wander the Wards in comfort. No idea if or when that would happen, but I wanted to be prepared.

Back on the Normandy, Kelly was certainly amused as I returned with a few bags worth of things, heading straight upstairs to dump the fish in the tank, and I threw everything else onto the desk to sort out later. Having not had lunch, I headed back down to the mess to grab a feed. I’d taken all of three bites when I simply had to place my fork down. “Gardner, are you a chef?”

“If you mean have I been trained, no, Commander. But I can only make meals with what I’ve got. And I’ve barely got the basics here.”

“So Cerberus has enough money for this, that, and the other, but won’t put some tasty food in our mouths and stomachs?”

“That’s exactly right, Commander.”

“Well, that’s something I’ll see rectified immediately. Soldiers already have to put up with enough shit. The one thing they deserve is good food. Chow time is always something the serving man looks forward to.”

“If you can get me quality ingredients, I’m sure I can whip up something much better than the slop I’m currently serving.”

I pushed the tray forward, as I wasn’t going to eat another bite. I headed straight back out into Omega and headed towards the food court. There was a place run by a couple of humans, selling things like hamburgers. The meat looked real enough, probably frozen and shipped from a colony world. But it was meat, and I ordered some fries on the side. I devoured it all in probably five minutes, drinking down the accompanying beer quickly. I then asked if they had a spare box of meat patties and fries I could buy. They led me to a massive freezer room nearby and said I could take my pick. I soon had boxes of all sorts heading to the Normandy, letting Gardner know that it wasn’t quality but it would certainly keep everyone happy for now.

Checking in with Chakwas again, there was no change with Garrus, suggesting that she would slowly wake him up the next morning, so to check in with her then. Letting Miranda know the details, I told her we would go whenever Garrus was capable of heading out, unlikely the day he was woken up but if he had no ill effects, it would be the day after.

“Why not just go in without him, Commander?” she asked.

It was a fair question. “Because that man saved my arse more times than I count. And if we’re heading into a plague zone, I just know it’s going to be overrun with idiots looking to fight. So having a fourth member would be helpful.”

“Okay, another day or two won’t hurt, though just being this close to Omega makes my skin crawl.”

“I’m sure it’s the sort of place you need to warm to.”

She snorted in disbelief, which then made her look away, no doubt surprised at the sound. I laughed to myself as I headed back to my cabin, but after an hour there, I was bored so treated myself to shore leave again. Heading downstairs, I did ask Kelly if the crew was getting time off the ship. “Yes, Shepard. Small groups only, and they are going armed. Cerberus isn’t popular in these parts.”

I held back any sarcastic response, just letting her know I was heading out again. “Want some company this time?”

Looking at me those emerald green eyes of hers, there was only ever going to be one answer, so I said sure, why not. She asked me to wait as she disappeared downstairs, returning ten minutes later in jeans and a tight shirt that showed off her bust, at least. Heading out together, the only place I knew of was Afterlife. She didn’t mind, though we headed to a booth this time instead of sitting at the bar. Ordering our drinks from a scantily clad waitress, the music was pumping and I had a feeling the party never stopped. It was difficult to have a conversation in such an atmosphere but we managed to chat a little bit. Nothing too personal as it simply wasn’t the place.

After a couple of drinks, we were ready to leave as I wanted to be awake the next morning for when Garrus was woken up. Kelly certainly proved to be good company, a natural listener, though her personality was what I would call bubbly. She was gorgeous, of course, and her interest in me was immediate and obvious. I suggested a drink in the lounge, and we sat back together as we stared out the window. If we were not in dock, we would have been staring out into space, at least.

“Shepard, can I ask just one personal question.”

“Sure.”

“Your file did include a list of… partners. You had a few while on the old Normandy. Have you been in contact with any of them?”

“Apart from Tali on Freedom’s Progress, no. None of them probably even know I’m alive.”

“Are you wanting to meet up with them?”

“Sure, though I’m sure most have now moved on with their lives. It’s unlikely we’ll just pick up where we left off.”

“Would you like to?”

“With one or two of them, sure.” I paused before meeting her eyes. “Why are you asking?”

“Mere curiosity, Shepard. You were not exactly subtle when it came to your sexual escapades.”

Shrugging, I retorted, “I had nothing to hide. I like and enjoy sex and variety is the spice of life. And some women like to have sex with me. I’m a serving member of the Alliance. Permanent relationships are difficult at best. So I meet a woman I like, we enjoy a brief romance, I move on.”

“But you did sleep with Alliance personnel?”

“You mean Ashley? Well, yeah, but that was always going to happen. The attraction was immediate, and by the end, we cared little about the rules regarding fraternisation. Liara, Shiala and Benezia weren’t. Nor was Tali.”

“Emily Wong?”

“Oh, I really liked Emily. One of the few women I’ve ever gone back to visit again. We had a lot of fun together.”

“Gianna Parasini?”

I… didn’t have any easy answer for Gianna. Probably the first woman I’d even had close to really deep feelings for since Annie. “She was special,” I finally replied quietly, knowing I couldn’t say too much without it sounding like it had been love.

“Sounds like you really liked her.”

“Ever have someone you just clicked with immediately?” She didn’t nod or shake her head, so I just continued. “Our attraction was instant, but for once, I didn’t just want to know what she looked like naked underneath me. Actually wanted to get to know what made her tick. Met her on Noveria, as you likely know, but when she came to visit me on the Citadel… before I died… Well, we clicked on a whole other level. But she knew I wasn’t going to commit permanently. I think she resigned herself to that fact, at least she did then.”

“You’d like to see her again?”

“I’d like to see all of them again, just to let them know I’m alive.” I finished my glass as I asked, “What about you?”

“A few boyfriends and girlfriends here and there. Nothing that lasted. Work always took me away from where I was living.”

“Single?”

“I’m single, Shepard. Have been for a while now.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“Well, I don’t date where I work, and as I’m usually on a Cerberus space station, my options are limited to non-existent at best.”

“So it’s been a while then?”

That’s when she met my eyes. “Too long, Shepard.”

I was getting every signal I needed that I could have just picked her up, carried her to my cabin, and we could have fucked until the next morning. But she was a sweet girl, and part of me didn’t want to rush it. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to kiss her, which is exactly what I did. Soft at first, but she definitely liked it, and when I introduced my tongue, her glass ended up on the floor as her hands ended up running up and down my back and neck.

Breaking the kiss, her cheeks had definitely turned a colour of red I hadn’t seen before. “Well, that answers that question,” I said softly.

“But…”

“Not tonight, Kelly. No need to rush it, right?”

Exactly the right thing to say as the smile that lit up her face was just beautiful. “No, Shepard. No rush at all.”

Cleaning up the slight mess we made, we headed back out into the mess, where she would go bunk down. We didn’t make a scene by kissing again, simply wishing each other goodnight, before she disappeared to the crew quarters and I headed straight upstairs. I knew there would be cameras and monitors all over the ship, so what just happened would have been watched by someone. I definitely whistled to myself as I wandered back into my cabin, slightly wishing I’d brought her back for company, but I’d made the right choice. After a shower, to cool myself off for various reasons, I laid back on the bed with a pile of datapads, reading over more news, before finally drifting off to sleep.


Chakwas was busy waking up Garrus. Having kept him under, she needed to wake him up as, though he might do it naturally eventually, it was better just getting him up and about. His face still looked terrible as I leaned forward, assessing the damage. Whatever the case, Garrus was a tough bastard. Had proven so on the old Normandy and the fact he’d even survived what happened was a testament to his strength.

“He’ll be awake in a few seconds, Commander.”

It didn’t take long for his eyes to slowly open up, no doubt quickly assessing where he was, what had happened, glancing towards Chakwas, who he would have remembered at least, before he turned to look at me, and that’s when he groaned.

"Shepard, you're not going to lean over and try and kiss me now, are you?"

I couldn’t help chuckle at the comment. "This isn't a fairy tale. I'm not a prince. You certainly are not a princess. And you're just not the sort of dextro I find attractive. Not unless you want me to kiss you, Garrus. But I'm not sure we share that sort of friendship."

Garrus chuckled slightly before he coughed. "Don't make me laugh, Shepard."

"How are you feeling?"

"Like I took a rocket to the face."

"Garrus."

"Yes, Shepard?"

"You did take a rocket to the face."

“You see, that’s the sort of shit that happens to me when I’m around you. Rockets to the face. Shot at constantly. Sentient machines that wa