Whelp, Dr. Compass and I are at it again with another Mass Effect fanfic! I had this idea in my head for a while and I wanted to write it out, so here we go.

I don't own Mass Effect. Bioware does.

Saren regretted accepting Nihlus's request right now.

The well-aged turian Spectre trudged through the streets and would occasionally check his datapad to ensure he was in the right direction. He couldn't help but shiver in the winter cold as snow drifted to the ground in the city. He didn't think he'd set foot on Earth, but he remembered that he had a package to deliver to an important official of the Systems Alliance. He took one brief moment to check the address in his omni-tool before he kept venturing forth. He wouldn't have minded if he was delivering a gift to any of his or Nihlus's relatives for some special occasion, but the thought of being reduced to delivering packages to strangers irritated him. This was not why he applied for the position of Spectre.

He didn't seem to pay attention to his surroundings until he felt a gloved hand tug him by his wrist, stopping him in his tracks. Irritated, he glanced over his shoulder and noticed a young woman with disheveled red hair covered by an oversized beret while she held out the package, the turian Spectre shuddering when he realized that he dropped it without knowing about it. Was that why she was trying to get his attention?

"S-Sir?" she stammered, "is this yours?"

The way the young woman gave a soft expression left Saren staring in disbelief. He didn't remember meeting a human that would be this generous. With no other way to respond, Saren lightly plucked the package out of the human's hands.

"T-Thank you," he muttered.

The young human woman didn't respond, yet she gave a gentle smile before she released her grip on the Spectre's wrist and turned away, trudged along the sidewalk and sat down before she leaned back against the brick wall. Saren started walking along the sidewalk again, but out of the corner of his eye, he noticed the sickly young woman hugging her legs to her chest and nestling her hands between her thighs and her calves to keep them warm. Saren stared at her with disbelief and confusion. Why was she kind to him? Weren't humans supposed to be arrogant and self-centered? Yet, she wasn't like that at all. How strange…

The young woman took a moment to adjust her beret so it wouldn't fall off before she hugged her legs again. If anything, it appeared that she was about to fall asleep in the snow. Wait, wouldn't that be fatal for her? Saren took a moment to scan his surroundings and examined other humans struggling to survive in the streets. He didn't see such a problem when he occasionally visited the slums on Palaven. Was there no program that would assist humans in need? Even if he wanted to hate humans that much, he had a sneaky suspicion that something wasn't right. He returned his gaze to the young woman he encountered. It wouldn't be fair to just give back nothing.

"Ma'am," Saren called over, "does this city have a shelter you can stay at?"

The human shook her head.

"It doesn't matter anyway. I'm just trying to survive another day," she answered.

Saren stiffened at her response. Now, while he was eager to get out of the cold weather, he still didn't have an excuse to leave her behind. He knelt down until his face was closer to hers, much to her confusion.

"What do you want?" she asked.

"Perhaps you deserve a second chance," Saren stated solemnly, "why don't you come with me?"

With that, Saren wrapped his talons around the young woman's wrist and hoisted her to her feet, her eyes widened in bewilderment.

"W-Wait, but how…?" she started to protest.

Saren started strolling down the street with the human in tow. She started glancing around their surroundings, her free hand trembling as anxiety sent chills down her spine.

"I-I'm terribly sorry for bothering you, sir," she continued.

"Don't apologize," Saren interrupted.

By then, Saren and the young woman stopped at a crosswalk. From there, the Spectre figured he would reach his destination in a couple more blocks. While waiting for the traffic to change in his favor, he tilted his head towards the human in his grasp.

"What do you call yourself?" Saren asked.

The human gave Saren a blank stare, not expecting the sincerity in his eyes let alone ask for her name. Not many people passing by would ask for her name for a benign reason. Yet, maybe it wouldn't do any good to just hesitate in her response.

"They…call me Jane, sir," she stuttered.

Saren raised a browplate.

"No last name?" Saren paused.

Jane shook her head.

"I see," he grumbled sadly.

His mind drifted for too long when he sharply shook the thoughts out of his head.

"I'll be taking you to my shuttle," Saren continued, "it won't be much farther."

Saren crossed the street and sauntered down the sidewalks with Jane in tow. Once he laid his eyes on an office building, he made his way inside.

"Just stay here, I've got a job to finish," Saren cautiously settled her down on the bench, "think you'll be safe here?"

Jane gazed into Saren's eyes before she nodded.

"I-I think so," Jane answered.

Jane went back to hugging her arms to herself in an attempt to stave off the cold. Patting her on the shoulder, Saren calmly walked over to the elevator doors and pressed the button to go up. Stepping inside, he listened to the dull hum of the machinery pulling the car up. While it was clearly primitive in design, it was embarrassingly faster than most elevators on the Citadel. Stepping out, he cautiously looked down both sides of the elevator, checking the corridors for lone striders in the night. Once the coast was clear, Saren ambled through the hallway and stopped at the door to his left. He wasted no time as he pressed on the doorbell. He continued to look nervously down the corridors, left and right for possible eye-witnesses. The door opened to reveal a human of Japanese descent. He was lightly graying, had a light beard, and was wearing his civies.

"I'm glad you arrived on such short notice, Spectre," Admiral Kahoku greeted.

"All in good time. Here's the package, everything still intact," Saren greeted, offering the package.

Admiral Kahoku plucked the package out of Saren's hands and examined it before giving Saren a deep bow.

"Thank you, Spectre. You have no idea what this means for the Alliance."

Saren chuckled lightly.

"No need to act overly gracious about it," Saren dismissed, "and the name is Arterius. Saren Arterius, Admiral. I know what this means for the both of us, now you have a safe evening."

Saren sighed with relief as he returned to the elevator to make his return to the lobby. Saren made a glance at Jane, who still remained on the bench even with no one else in the lobby. The Spectre nodded to her, prompting her to stand to her feet. Little did they know, police officers passed by the office building in search of criminals.

Picking her up in his arms, he stepped out of the building and began to make his way back to the nearby spaceport, content that his job was done. Quickly making his way through an alley, the two were greeted by two police officers at the other end of the path in full winter gear. Growling, Saren tightened his grip on Jane in the form of a protective embrace.

"S-Sir?" Jane whispered in confusion.

"Well, well, well, what do we have here?" the one on the left mockingly greeted, "if it isn't Jane and a turian! How are you doing tonight?"

Saren had multiple questions circling about his head concerning why local law enforcement would even be concerned with Jane. However, he wasn't content on letting the malnourished and helpless girl be apprehended.

"Evening officers, I'm Spectre Arterius of the Citadel Council," Saren made an excuse, "I'm currently pursuing a lead, and this woman in my arms is a loose end left behind by my target. I'm sure whatever trouble you two have with her, I can assure you I can take her off your hands. In fact, I have the authority to do so. Also, turians aren't accustomed to colder climates, so if you two would be so kind as to let me go on my way, the two of us won't be a concern to you anymore."

The officer to the right let out a scoff.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever skullface," the officer to the right spat, "listen, Jane already has a list of offenses she's going to do time for. Plus, she doesn't have documentation in the system to prove her citizenship, she can't get a job, register for proper housing, and city fines make sure that she stays off the street. If you're so hellbent on the law yourself, Spectre, then you'd be better off handing her to us."

That was stupid. How could a species make it practically illegal to be poor in this city while giving practically no leverage to those who are infinitely impoverished to make their way up in the system? Keeping his eye on the officers, he felt the snow underneath them with his foot. She may be fragile as is, but she could at least survive the fall with whatever cushioning there was.

"Aaaah, fuck it!" he growled.

Dropping her to the snow, he quickly drew his side arm and shot both officers square in the forehead while they themselves were still reaching for their own guns. He quickly pulled Jane out of the snow.

"You all right?" he asked.

Jane slowly nodded, even if she stared in disbelief.

"I don't understand," Jane stammered, "I was hoping you'd just keep moving, but you didn't."

Softness in his eyes, Saren held Jane close.

"I thought the two officers made it apparent that wasn't going to happen unless I handed you off to them. Or was my translator glitching?"

Jane didn't respond, so Saren seized this chance to sprint along the sidewalk, keeping a firm grip on the human in his arms. It didn't take long before they reached the entrance to the spaceport.

"Didn't think so," Saren mused to himself.

Little else passed between them as Saren smuggled her through customs. Walking aboard his personal shuttle, he stepped into his quarters to lay her down in the covers. Buying some levo-based meals at a stand before leaving, he dropped the plastic bag of food in her room before returning to the pilot seat. He turned on the ignition and took control before the shuttle took off. He looked behind him towards where his quarters were. The lights inside were still off, and there was no noise going on inside. He'd checked her numerous times, finding little more than a few stolen credit chits and a shiv.

"What am I going to do with you?" he muttered.

Jane didn't respond, but she nestled herself under the blanket, an empty packet of levo-based food stashed into the trash bin with the other packets still in the bag on the nightstand. Figuring he shouldn't disturb her, Saren returned to his pilot's seat and maneuvered the shuttle across space. During the flight, he had to travel through the Mass Relays to warp his shuttle out of the Alliance System, starting with the Arcturus Relay. By the time he reached the Serpent Nebula, he traveled to the Widow system and reached the Citadel Station, where he landed his shuttle in the docking bay.

Saren made no hesitation quickly running Jane into Huerta Hospital, entrusting her to the medics he knew pretty well. While he waited to hear for the report of Jane's health, he quickly typed up his report to the Council on his omni-tool. The Spectre made sure to identify the details required before he sent the report. Now all he had to do was wait, even if it took a few hours.

"Spectre Arterius?" an asari nurse stepped out from behind the receptionist area to greet him, "we've done what we can for her for now. Based on her physiology and health, she was heavily malnourished by the time you'd found her. From what I can assume, you'd managed to give her enough nutritional value to stay alive when you left Earth."

"Right," Saren responded, "so, she bears no identification marks?"

The asari nurse shook her head.

"But," the asari nurse mentioned, "we did take a genetic sample, so we might be able to identify who her parents are."

Saren nodded in satisfaction before he stood to his feet. Upon cue, the asari nurse gestured the Spectre to follow her down the hallway, making a few turns at some corners until they reached the lab. From there, the asari nurse placed the chip into a slot, causing the table to emit a projector before she scrolled through the database in search of matching results. During that process, Saren wondered if anyone in the Alliance knew of the girl he found. He snapped out of his silence when a photographic image of a young child appeared on the projection.

"Is that her?" Saren asked.

"No," the asari nurse shook her head, "it might be the girl's mother."

Saren sighed before he stepped up to the holographic projector, reading the profile before he looked up her name in a query search. From what he could gather, this Hannah Shepard in question didn't have as much recognition apart from a birth certificate from Hannah's parents and a missing report.

"Strange," Saren muttered to himself.

Jane had been placed in an otherwise empty hospital room at the end of a row. She had an IV drip tapping into her wrist, she'd been switched out of her street clothes, and her various, infected injuries had been patched and tended to. Currently, she was asleep, looking much more peaceful than she had been when Saren initially met her.

"And what of her father?" he asked.

The asari nurse scrolled through the database again until she found a profile of a middle-aged human wearing a suit of armor from the Blue Suns. However, when she tried to access what documentation he might have, she came up short.

"Something tells me this man doesn't want to be found," the asari nurse sighed.

"No profile?"

The nurse simply nodded.

"Well, I'll be off," Saren sighed, "I've got some errands I want to do. I'll give you my omni-tool contact information, keep me up-to-date on her current condition. I have some plans for her."

Saren provided the contact information to the asari nurse, made one last glance at Jane and then stepped out of the room. He knew it was a cold, dead winter on Earth. Still feeling the bitter winds licking the back of his neck, he opted to go to a cafe and get something warm to drink. On his way out the hospital, he quickly typed a message and sent it:

{Nihlus, just got back from Earth, want to meet up?}

Saren could only lean his back against the wall to take a moment of rest. Minutes later, Nihlus sent a response:

{Sure! At the cafe we stop by, right?}

{Yeah. I'll be there at bottom of the hour.}

Saren quickly made his way to a small, open cafe out in the wards. It was in fact the cafe he initially met Nihlus at. The kid's unit was on shore leave, and he'd been heavily arguing with his superior officer about the mission. Nihlus had been sketchy about the details, but he was very headstrong, and wasn't the type to hold back. He even went out of his way to actively humiliate his superior, but nothing that would have him dishonorably discharged.

Sitting down, he quickly ordered tea before reclining in his seat. Taking a sip, all Saren could do for now was wait for his protege to arrive.

"Hey, Saren! Nice to see you didn't get lost and freeze like a popsicle!" Nihlus obnoxiously greeted as he strolled to his table.

Nihlus was clearly more excited about the introduction of humans than he was along with wearing a large human shirt printed with a group of musicians which were named something that roughly translated to 'the Spinning Rocks' and listening to music he could only assume was from Earth.

"I see you're having fun. I assume you completed your mission?" Saren returned.

Nihlus simply dismissed his question with a snorting laugh.

"Spirits, you're so salty!" Nihlus prattled on, "it was a bunch of human tourists being rounded up and shipped to the Terminus, come on! So what if they are indirectly the cause of Desolas' death?"

"I'd like to remind you I don't miss that bastard one bit," Saren groaned, pressing his forehead into his palm.

"Then what's the matter?" Nihlus continued to tease, ordering his own drink, "is it because the humans are, as they'd say it, the 'fresh children in the district?'"

"The term is 'new kids on the block', and yes it is. I know it's a process we all had to endure at some point, but the least they could do is not cause so much collateral damage while they're at it?" Saren replied.

Saren had been running around doing missions to help the Humans Systems Alliance find their place in the community for six months now, which had quickly become gratuitous. For the most part, he'd been able to put his grievances aside, but was more inclined to let the facade slide around non-critical individuals. Still, he snapped out of his thoughts and went back to his tea.

"There is…one human that has caught my interest most recently," Saren muttered.

Nihlus' smile only grew.

"Oh? Dr. Hardass got himself a friend? Who is it?" Nihlus grinned.

"A friend in need," Saren growled.

Nihlus shuddered before he deflated from his excitement.

"Oh, right," Nihlus blurted.

"She was some homeless woman on Earth who was penniless, injured, and on the verge of starving to death in a system where she could gain no vertical momentum. I'm not made of stone," Saren continued.

Nihlus' mandibles twitched as he raised a browplate.

"A woman?" he paused.

"Stick your dick elsewhere, Nihlus," Saren grumbled, "it'll be a much better investment."

"Right," Nihlus sighed, "I'm just amazed such a world like that could be this bad."

"I know. The climate was much worse a decade and a half ago until the salarians helped them clean up their planet. If it's one thing I can at least respect the humans for is that they left their system and fought against us with practically nothing to lose," Saren agreed, "they put tooth and claw into those three months."

"What do you know? Time does wear down all things. Even the hardest, most dense rocks," Nihlus chortled.

"Shut up," Saren grumbled.

Nihlus didn't respond, so he ordered his favorite beverage instead.

"So…this woman. What exactly do you plan on doing with her?"

Saren paused for a moment. He didn't think of what he would do with her since he took her out of Earth. He silently reminded himself that without any documents proving she existed, she currently wouldn't have a chance to thrive anywhere.

"Nothing much," Saren shrugged, "I'll…most likely ensure she has a new life here."

Nihlus calmly accepted his drink as his signature shit-eating grin grew back on his face.

"Quite the gentleman," Nihlus commented.

Saren ignored Nihlus's response and went back to his tea. All he could think about at the moment was how he would have to prepare his apartment for a human guest.