One week after the arrival of the Imperator

Udina wasn't quite sure what to think of the events of the last week, or, more importantly, how they could be leveraged to benefit humanity. The appointing of the first human Spectre had sadly been overshadowed by the arrival of the massive ship, although that in turn could be leveraged into a good thing. Despite how smug the other races constantly acted about how long they had been part of galactic society, the Imperator only brought humans. Sure, humans with unshackled AIs, and wildly divergent from the humanity they knew, but undeniably human.

In fact, things might be going even better than he had hoped for. Shepard had been made a Spectre, and given the task of hunting down Saren and making him pay for his crimes. While that sounded good on paper, Shephard had been surprisingly slow to actually set off from the Citadel, claiming that he was expecting additional crew any day now.

Udina was brought out of his musings by the chime of his office doorbell, though he did not look up from his paperwork. "Yes, come in." Blasted bureaucracy, there always seemed to be more of it than he expected.

Three people walked in, something which usually meant important business. It was unusual for people to just walk into his office, as most issues could be handled by someone lower down the political ladder. He put down his pen, sighed, and looked up. "Yes, how may I help you?"

"We're looking for Commander Shepard, would you happen to know where we could find him?"

This from the man on the left Although Udina could see the trio in front of him, he couldn't actually make anything about them out. This, of course, was perfectly normal and nothing to complain about. "Unfortunately, no. If you head to the Alliance Tower though, you should find his ship stationed there. If he is not there, just hang around and wait for him. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

The one in the middle coughed, and glared angrily at the one to the left. "No thanks, we'll be going now."

With that, they turned and left.

Udina blinked. Had someone just been there? It probably wasn't important.

"That wasn't funny, Joe."

The man to Phillip's left, Joe Smith, looked completely innocent. "Why, what wasn't funny?"

"We were given strict rules, and you didn't even follow them for an hour." That was Emma Vine, the woman who finished the trio leaving the Human Embassy. "Come on, what were they?"

Joe remained innocent, his brown eyes still twinkling with hidden mirth under his shaggy fringe of red hair. "Well, we were told not to cause chaos, find and support Commander Shepard, and to keep a record of anything we deemed interesting."

Phillip stopped where he stood, and turned to face him. "We were also told to remain inconspicuous for as long as possible, and not to use our powers on people without good reason. So, with that in mind, would you care to explain to me just why Udina was so vacant and compliant?"

Joe's face fell, becoming more serious, and he rose from his customary slouch to his full height of five feet and eleven inches. "Unlike you two, I tend to plan ahead. Before leaving the ship, I looked into the file we have on Udina, and I determined that we were unlikely to get the information we needed. So, when we walked in, I…meddled."

Emma frowned at him pale face framed by her dark hair. "Exact changes, now."

"Upped compliance, downed inquisitiveness and perception."

Phillip shook his head. "I swear to Scion, one day you'll try that, and it won't work. Anyway, we should probably find the Normandy."

Emma nodded. "You two wait here, I'll go check it out."

She blinked away in a series of dark flashes, trailing their way across the Citadel

The three of them were an unofficial delegation from the Imperator, in the sense that the Imperator would not be held accountable for what they did. It was the best agreement that the Captain and the Council could come up with: Three people, sent out on a trial basis, to gather information for the Imperator while official negotiations continued. Phillip Secnik, a Tinker with a specialisation in communications, was chosen to lead them.

"Why are we going with this Shepard guy, anyway?" Joe refused to keep quiet.

"Do you listen to anything we tell you? Like, ever?"

"No, not really, messing with people is so much more fun."

Phillip sighed. "We're going with Shepard because it affords us an opportunity to see the galaxy, without having to worry about customs laws or travel documents. I've also been communicating with him, and he's willing to offer us employment, of sorts."

The dark flashes started approaching them again, culminating in the shape of their companion. She seemed out of breath, as she always did after going long distances. "He's there, though they seem to be loading up for a long trip, if the many crates are any indication."

Phillip nodded. "Alright then. Can you get us all there, or are you too tired?" With a minor twinge of guilt, he activated one of the various gadgets in his helmet, meant to convince any listeners that he was right.

She straightened. "I can carry one of you at a time, but not both. Who's going first?"

Without hesitation, Joe said "Phillip, of course. He's the leader, and also the one who seems to know about this Shepard guy."

Phillip shook his head. "Take Joe, he doesn't have any way of moving faster than normal. I'll try and meet you both at the Normandy, but if it looks like they're about to leave, or you see the commander, stall for time. I should only be a couple of minutes."

Emma nodded, grabbed Joe's reluctant hand, and vanished again in a series of dark flashes.

"Dammit, where is he? It's been like ten minutes already!"

Emma nodded. When Phillip said that he had a way to get there on foot faster than Joe would, she kind of assumed he had some sort of plan, or at the very least a Tinkertech device of some sort. "Perhaps he saw a shiny gadget and got distracted. You know how Tinkers can get sometimes, and it'll only be worse when everything's a shiny new gadget"

"I didn't expect it to take ten minutes to use two lifts!"

Suddenly, Joe's communicator pinged. "Who is this?" he asked, putting it on Public mode.

"It's Phillip. Look, long story short, I got arrested, and I need you to get me out of here. They don't know I'm from the Imperator though, so try and keep that quiet."

Emma sighed. "What did you do?"

"So, turns out they have these biological repair drones, and they have this truly fascinating hive mind. I mean, I was wondering what that frequency was, but damn."

"Phillip Secnik, what in Scion's name did you do?"

"… I may have vivisected one. In public. Which is illegal. Anyway, that is so not the point, so if you could come get me, that'd be great. Thanks!"

The line clicked dead, and Joe sighed. "So, he calls me irresponsible for smoothing our path a bit, and he just goes ahead and performs a public vivisection on an unknown alien race?"

"Yeah, we're never letting him live this down. Got a camera?"

"You bet your Mover ass I do."


Phillip stood up when he saw Joe and Emma approaching. "Thanks for getting me guys. Emma, I owe you one. Joe, you still owe me several for what I've gotten you out of in the past. Anyway, am I free to go?"

The Turian on duty nodded. "Yes, your friends payed the fine. Just don't do it again, or your actions will have consequences."

Joe nodded. "Don't worry sir, I'm sure it won't happen again."

After making their way back up the Alliance Tower to the Normandy, they were in time to see a small group, a human flanked by a Krogan and a Quarian, about to board. Phillip waved at them and yelled "Commander Shepard! It's good to see you in person at last."

All three of them turned around, the Krogan and Quarian drawing guns. The human, who Joe presumed to be Shepard, merely nodded. "Mr. Secnik, I assume? You would be the crew I've been waiting for?"

Phillip nodded, ignoring the weapons still pointed at him. "Three Parahumans, at your service. I myself am a Tinker, and my good friends are a Mover and a Master. I believe you recall the terms of our agreement?"

Shepard nodded. "Indeed. You have some space to work, some materials, and we have supplies and accommodations for all three of you. So, will you be joining us?"

Joe looked at Phillip, who had turned around to look at the two of them. "Last chance to back out, no-one will think less of you." He said, glancing inquisitively at both Joe and Emma.

Emma was the one who answered that question. "Phillip, we have known each other for many years now. If you honestly expect me to stay behind while you run off into the wider galaxy, I will castrate you in your sleep."

Joe nodded. "Not much point in stopping now. 'Sides, I may have caused some trouble before we left, and I'd really not want to be there when it climaxes."

Phillip nodded. "Then its settled. Commander!" he turned back around to face the other trio. "Permission to come aboard?"

Shepard nodded, and waved them closer. "Permission granted. Welcome to the Normandy."