UNSC: Date 2553
Shepard stormed into the embassy lounge. Trailing behind him were Ashley and the Master Chief. They thought it was a rescue mission, but he was used to eliminate someone's past. He didn't like that at all. Shepard marched up to Nassana Dantius, who seemed to look like there was nothing wrong.
"You lied to me!" Shepard accused, "You used me to kill your sister!"
"I see you found out then" Nassana said with a slight sigh, "I am sorry I had to mislead you. I couldn't let anyone find out what happened. If the Council found out that my sister was a mercenary, I would be considered a security risk. Now that she is gone, I don't have to worry about that"
"Don't use me for your dirty work. Get someone else to help instead"
"I am sorry for not telling you everything. We have trust issues in my family"
"Obviously" Ashley commented
Shepard and his squad left the embassy lounge. The minute he left the door, Dr. Halsey called him through his helmet com.
"Commander Shepard, we have a situation. It appears that one of the SPARTAN trainees who got discharged has attempted to commit a crime. C Sec was about to apprehend him, but things took an unexpected turn. She
wants to kill herself"
"Do you know who that trainee is?"
"I believe she was Talitha 050. Please, intervene as soon as you can. I would hate it if she ended up dead because of the SPARTAN II program. She's in the med clinic. She seems mentally unstable as well"
Dr. Halsey hung up, and Shepard relayed the news to the Master Chief and Ashley.
"A SPARTAN wants to kill herself? I thought a SPARTAN's mentality would keep them from breaking" Ashley asked
"It keeps them from breaking in combat, but not so much with life outside of persistent combat and war. She was a trainee when she washed out, so she didn't have the same amount of training we had. She only received training until she got her augmentations when she was 14" Shepard explained, "It doesn't matter now. We need to intervene quickly"
Shepard, Ashley, and the Master Chief quickly made their way to the ward access elevator. People made sure to clear a path, since two SPARTANs trying to move quickly in a civilian area means something may happen. The three of them entered the elevator and waited for it to go down to the ward access tunnel.
"So, how high was the success rate of the SPARTAN program?" Ashley asked
"Not high enough. Half of us died from the augmentations. Some of us were crippled from them"
"It's a shame so many died. At least you all had each other. As tough as the training was, I think it helped bring you closer together"
"I guess it did"
The three of them got out of the elevator and briskly walked to the other side. They passed by a Sangheili officer and a human officer talking about Saren. Out of the corner of their eyes, they could see a turian C Sec officer glaring at the two officers. Shepard, Ashley, and the Master Chief entered the elevator on the other side of the ward access tunnel, and they waited for it to bring them to the wards. Overhead, the speaker squealed, signaling the start of a news broadcast.
"The colony of Terra Nova was saved the day before the Reach Memorial Ceremony. A team of SPARTANs led by Spectre agent Commander Shepard stopped the batarian terrorists who hijacked the rock, and the colony is free to mine it out. Balak is still at large, but UNSC and Alliance officials assure the public that they are looking for him. Admiral Hood reports he is pleased to see UNSC and Alliance relations improve over this"
The elevator arrived at the wards, and the three of them quickly made their way to the med clinic. In it was a terrified Dr. Michel, puzzled C Sec agents, and an emotionally disturbed woman who was holding a pistol to Dr. Michel's head.
"Please! Help me!" the woman, who Shepard figured was Talitha, cried out
"What are you talking about? I'm the one who has the gun held up to her head!" Dr. Michel pointed out
"Commander Shepard? I am glad you are here. We got a situation" a Sangheili C Sec officer informed him
"That much is obvious. What else can you tell me?"
"A few minutes ago this woman walked in the med clinic. Witnesses report that she pulled out a gun and held it to her head. We would take action, but she may be as much of a threat to herself as she is to the doctor" an asari C Sec officer replied
"I will try to talk to her. I trained with her" Shepard offered, "I think I can help"
The C Sec officers glanced at each other, and they heeded his word. After all, Shepard is a Spectre, and only a fool would refuse a Spectre's help.
Shepard walked over to Talitha, and she pointed the gun towards him.
"You! Stay away! Stay away!" Talitha threatened
Shepard slowly removed his helmet, and he placed it on the counter. A few officers were about to protest, but they kept their mouths shut. Spectres don't appreciate being accused of stupidity. The same goes for SPARTANs.
I think I remember you" Talitha stammered
"Yes. It's me. I was one of the children you met those years ago" Shepard said softly
I see. Wait, you must be lying!" Talitha snapped. She had been tricked before, and taken advantage of.
"I am not lying. Do you know that bar code on the back of your neck? I have it too"
Shepard turned around and pushed down the back end of the collar to show his bar code and number.
I see. But you don't know what I went through! The needles! The probing! The pain! The burning napalm!" Talitha sobbed in despair
"I know what you went through. It was tough. You were lucky you survived. I assure you, it wasn't in vain" Shepard said soothingly as he took a step forward
wasn't in vain? Sure! I washed out, and I ended up on the streets! The augmentations are nothing! I'm a freak!"
"No, you aren't a freak" Shepard said as he took another step forward, "I am one of you. I can take you to a much better place"
Talitha glanced at Shepard, then at Dr. Michel, then back at Shepard. She saw the Master Chief behind him, and gestured towards him.
"What about him? The savior of the galaxy? You are made the first human Spectre, but he's as great as you are. I don't see him cracking! I don't see him suffering!"
"We both suffered during the war. We lost more friends than we could count. Some of them were under our command when they died. You aren't alone" Shepard said with a calming voice. He took another step forward
we aren't that different then. But I still wake up screaming from the memories of being taken away. Mommy, daddy, don't let them take me! They are dead now, all of them dead. I fled with Daisy, to find our parents, and I found them dead. I found them and the clone dead" Talitha said in a rush
"We all had a similar experience. We were all taken from our parents. It wasn't fair. Our childhoods were taken from us. Our families were gone. But in the end, it was worth it. Because of people like you and me, the War ended. Because of what ONI did, the Covenant was defeated. It's a long line of causalities, but that's the truth. The Master Chief trained with us, and he saved us all in the end. You aren't alone. The UNSC will take care of you" Shepard said as he took another step forward
It seemed to have worked, because Talitha lowered her gun. She had a sad look on her face, and she leaned into Shepard. Shepard gently wrapped his arms around her and hugged her.
"I won't abandon you, not again. Just like back in training, I will have your back. Welcome back Talitha. We will take care of you"
"Thank you. All I want is the nightmares to go away" Talitha sniffled
"They will. I assure you"
Shepard turned away, and he handed talitha to a human C Sec officer and an asari C Sec officer.
"Take her to Rehab. She needs help, and this was a cry for attention" Shepard ordered
"Spirits, were you really taken away as children?" the turian C Sec officer asked once Talitha left
"No. She was, but I went voluntarily" Shepard half lied. He and Soren were the only ones who volunteered. In his case, Dr. Halsey wanted to test his ability to make life changing decisions at such an early age. He had no idea why Soren had the chance to decide whether he will join though.
"Well, at least she's better now. Thanks a lot" the turian C Sec officer finally said
Shepard, Ashley, and the Master Chief left the med clinic and went to the upper markets to get some supplies. While Ashley and the Master Chief were buying things, Conrad Verner pulled Shepard aside.
"Hey, Commander Shepard! I heard you were made the first human Spectre! That is a great honor for our species!" Conrad Verner said with a broad smile
"Thank you. I appreciate it"
"The news talks about how Commander Shepard, the first human Spectre, is fighting for all of us back home!" Conrad said as he saluted, "The fact you are a SPARTAN makes it even better!"
nice of you to say. Thank you" Shepard said uncomfortably
"Hey, can I take a picture before you go?"
"I don't have a problem with it
"I want to be able to tell everyone that I met the famous Commander Shepard, the first human Specte, one of the last SPARTANs. My wife will love it!"
Shepard turned to the side and pointed his gun. The people in front of him all ducked for cover, and Ashley gave him a puzzled look. The Master Chief gestured for her to get down, and Shepard barely heard him say "He's appeasing a fan"
Conrad Verner took the picture, and Shepard put the gun down.
"Thank you. My wife is going to be so impressed!" Conrad Verner squealed in joy before he left
Ashley and the Master Chief met up with Shepard while everyone else went back to what they were doing.
"Something tells me his wife won't love it" Ashley remarked
"I agree. He doesn't mean any harm though. Did you two get enough supplies to last us a while?"
"We did sir. I think we can head back to the Normandy"
The three of them made their way through the markets to the C Sec academy. They entered another elevator, and settled for a long wait.
"Master Chief, what do you think will happen to the SPARTANs once we catch Saren? I am sure at some point the UNSC will think that they aren't as important as they are before" Ashley asked
"I think we will still be in service, even after we find Saren. I have a feeling we will have a much bigger fight ahead of us"
"I think you are right. I just have this feeling that this Saren is just the beginning"
"Yeah. We are just getting started"
The elevator arrived at the C Sec academy a few minutes later, and a reporter ambushed them.
"Commander Shepard! Commander Shepard! Can I have a moment of your time?" Kalisah Al Jihlani asked
"Sure. What do you need?"
"You have been given a unique position to represent our race. People want to get a sense of how you do that. Would you answer some questions?"
"Yes. I won't be able to answer everything, but I will answer to the best of my ability"
Kalisah Al Jihlani typed in a few commands in her omni tool, and the camera got a little lower. It turned on a light, which shone in Shepard's face. The visor polarized slightly, and most of the light was reflected off of the visor.
"For the last 30 years we have been fighting for our people's survival, and the survival of the galactic community. After the Covenant were defeated, you became the first human Spectre. What are your thoughts on it?"
"The Spectres represent the best of every species. It is an honor, and I consider it to be an excellent thing for humanity after the Covenant War. I know many people need it" Shepard replied diplomatically
"Some say that you were handed over to the Alliance by the UNSC just to improve diplomatic relations, and that your appointment as a Spectre was the Council throwing humanity a bone. Do you feel that the Alliance puts their needs ahead of the UNSC, and the Council put their needs in front of Earth's?"
"The Council is concerned with the needs of the whole galactic community, especially after the end of the Covenant War. We are part of that community now, and have been for the last 30 years. Our needs are on their agenda, but we are one of many"
"You really do believe that, don't you?" Al Jihlani asked skeptically
Shepard briefly felt like punching her, but Cortana picked up on it, and she played as his conscious.
"Trust me Shepard, making her sound like an idiot is a much better plan. Save the violence for the enemies" Cortana advised
"Fine" Shepard growled into his private comm
"You have been given command of an advanced Alliance warship. It isn't as impressive as the Covenant vessels, but it is on par with the best of the UNSC vessels. Do you have anything to say about it?"
"Actually, the Normandy was co designed between Alliance and turian engineers. It's design incorporates many innovations; all of which are classified I'm afraid"
"So the turians, and by extension, their closest allies the Sangheili, have extensive knowledge of the Normandy that is being kept from the Alliance public?"
"I want to remind you that these Sangheili are the Council Sangheili. The Sangheili and the turians know very well that humanity is an ally, not an enemy"
"I understand, but they are aliens after all. Do you think it was appropriate to hand over one of Earth's advanced vessels to the Citadel?"
"Are you sure I can't punch her?" Shepard asked in a private comm
"I am very sure you can't hit her! Do you want to be the center of controversy?" Cortana asked sharply
Turning back to Al Jihlani, Shepard replied with "I am not aware that it has been handed over to anyone. Last I checked, I'm human, and so is my crew. Besides, the UNSC has been sharing their technology with the Council races since the start of the War. We aren't worried about the Council races being in contact with Alliance technology"
"Human, yes, but you do work for the Citadel now Commander" Al Jihlani reminded him
Shepard briefly entertained the idea of smashing her face in when she asks the next question. He knew very well that the fallout would be chaotic though. Especially since a SPARTAN smacking an unarmed civilian is certain to result in the civilian's death. Or permanent disability, if the civilian is extremely lucky.
"Given your experience, do you think humanity will ever get the respect we deserve from the galactic community? Do you think the UNSC will ever lose it's fearsome reputation?" Al Jihlani finally asked, "After all, there are still SPARTANs like yourself running around. You do know what people say about them"
Ashley scowled at Al Jihlani, and the Master Chief clenched his fists a few times. They couldn't believe the reporter would make such a statement. Shepard seemed equally stunned. Fortunately, he collected himself quickly.
"Humanity has received a lot of respect from the War. I will remind you that it was a human who saved the galaxy from the Covenant. That human was a SPARTAN. That SPARTAN is the Master Chief. Yes, SPARTANs are known for their invincibility, strength, endurance, and lethality, but we gave up more than you can comprehend to ensure the survival of the human race and the galaxy. Will the UNSC be seen in a friendlier light? I don't know, to be honest. All I do know is thanks to our actions, and our sacrifices, the entire galaxy is safe. The dead deserve medals. The survivors deserve promotions all around. The dead SPARTANs deserve to have a special holiday dedicated to them all. And they all deserve so much more than what you give them. Respect has to be earned. We fought hard, and we earned the respect we have. We need to work more to earn more respect" Shepard replied with iron in his voice
Ashley smiled victoriously, and the Master Chief finally stopped clenching his fists. Al Jihlani was taken aback for a moment, but she composed herself to ask one final question. If she saw Shepard's face behind his visor, she would have stopped right there.
"Rumor back home says you are tracking down a rogue Spectre named Saren. Do you have any comment on that?"
"No" Shepard growled, "I can't confirm or deny that story"
If looks could kill, and go past any barrier, Al Jihlani would be dead by now. Shepard was glaring intensely at the reporter. He really hoped that this interview will get her fired.
"Don't worry, we will find out. The eyes of Earth are on you. Don't let us down. Thank you for your time Commander Shepard"
Shepard growled into his private comm while Al Jilhani walked away. Shepard bought some more supplies from the C Sec requisitions officer. The officer seemed to be pleased to have two of the galaxy's most famous humans in his store. Once they were done, the three of them got into the elevator to go up to the Normandy. There was a slight beep that signaled the start of a news story.
"Reporter Kalish Al Jihlani recently landed an interview with Commander Shepard, humanitys' first Spectre and a SPARTAN II supersoldier. Her questions resulted in controversy from the UNSC and the Alliance for her disingenuous assertions. A UNSC officer was quoted saying 'The only way for that ungrateful reporter to fully appreciate the UNSC's and SPARTANs' sacrifice is to experience a Covenant glassing up close and personal. Dr. Halsey, the mastermind behind the SPARTAN II program, could not be reached for comment"
"Told you it would work" Cortana said as the elevator reached the docking bay
The three of them walked out of the elevator and went straight to the Normandy. Once they were inside, Shepard went to the galaxy map and Admiral Hackett's voice filled the CIC. He seemed to be pleased.
"Commander Shepard, Ms. Al Jihlani's story just aired, and I am impressed by what you said to her. I hope the rest of the Alliance brass sees the sacrifices you and the UNSC have done to ensure the survival of humanity. You did a spectacular job representing humanity. It was also good to see Al Jihlani come off as a rambling, ungrateful idiot. There is a reason why she was banned from UNSC space. She had no right to ambush you like that. Again, you did a great job. Keep up the good work. Admiral Hackett out"
"Joker, we are heading to Feros. We have a colony to save" Shepard ordered
Joker pulled the Normandy out of Dock 422, and he flew away from the Citadel. In a week, the Normandy arrived at Feros.
Feros looked more like the remains of a destroyed colony than a new colony. When they entered the atmosphere, the first thing they saw was the crumbling arcologies of the Prothean city. Clouds covered the debris that must have accumulated over the last 50,000 years.
"Exogeni seems more optimistic than the last time I checked. They are willing to start a colony on a world that is depleted of resources" Cortana commented, "And I don't see why the geth would be interested in this place"
Shepard was in the cockpit with Joker and Cortana while Joker brought the Normandy into a docking berth.
"How large is the geth presence on this world?" Shepard asked
Cortana quickly scanned the area around them. It took her a few miliseconds to do that, which was a blink of an eye for everyone else.
"There is a geth ship near the colony. Expect a large number of geth. I recommend bringing all of your squadmembers for this one"
"That's my plan then. Tell everyone to meet in the comm room in five minutes" Shepard ordered
In five minutes, everyone was assembled in the comm room. Blue Team and the Arbiter lined the left side, Kaidan, Ashley, Liara, Wrex, Garrus, and Tali lined the right side.
"I assembled you all here for this mission. I don't know the kind of defenses the geth have, and how many are in the colony itself. What we do know is there is a geth cruiser nearby. We are going to split into two teams. The first team will be led by me, the second will be led by the Master Chief. Master Chief, you and your team will trail behind mine to sweep for survivors and stragglers. Tali, Linda, and the Arbiter, you three are with me. Everyone else, you are with the Chief. Any questions?"
After a minute of silence, Shepard took that to mean they understood his orders. Shepard and his group was the first off of the Normandy. Master Chief's group was busy grabbing some more ammunition from the Normandy's armory.