Disclaimer: The Mass Effect universe is the property of Bioware/Electronic Arts. No infringement of these copyrights is intended as this is a not for profit fan fiction work.

Story Summary: Rewrite of my work: Who Saves the Hero?

Humanity imagined many things when they took to the stars, yet they really didn't expect an alien attack, an almost invasion, and then to discover that they were very much newcomers to the Galactic scene. The Citadel Council has been in existence for 10,000 years, the Asari Republics space faring for 18000 years prior to its founding. In a galaxy where Humanity makes up less than one half of one percent of a population of three and a half trillion beings; one mere human, no matter who she is, feels like one impossibly small light striving against the vast darkness. How can one formerly dead human Spectre, working for a terrorist human supremacist organization she does not trust, prevail against the Collectors while attempting to discern Cerberus' true intentions? Where can she turn to for allies when the Council openly doubts her sanity and the Alliance does not trust her? When everything around her has changed during the two years she was dead, including her own body and mind, can she find something solid enough to rebuild her life upon?

Lazarus being brought back from the dead had been a miracle; to Spectre Amanda Athene Shepard that seemed to be the easy part.

Story Notes:
Inspired by Who Saves the Hero? (Original Work) by Kudara.
Inspired by Of Sheep and Battle Chickens Series (Including Supporting Works) by LogicalPremise.
Inspired by A Thessian's Whisper and The Shepardess and the Questing Beast by PMC65.
Inspired by Stones Thrown Before the Tide by MizDirected.
Inspired by Another Realm Series by Katkiller-V.
Inspired by LuckyFK Asari Collection on DeviantArt - Artistic Nudes Included - Not Safe For Work! by LuckyFK.
Inspired by Euderion Asari Ship Collectionon DeviantArt by Euderion.

Chapter Specific Summary: Prelude - also known as setting the stage for the story to actually begin. In this case, it begins with a movie and a mission.

Chapter Specific Re-write Notes: Completely Re-imaged ME1 battle of the Citadel, responding to Joker's "should we jump in and save the Ascension?" with my desired response, "How about we get rid of the Geth with their help before taking on Sovereign so they don't just attack us from behind?"

References: Mass Effect Foundation Comic Series Volume 8 of 13; and Mass Effect animated film Paragon Los

Revision History: 10/19/2017


Part 1: Chapter 1:: Prelude and Setting: A Movie Afternoon

"Look we know Saren's brother Desolas…"

"The Commander of the turian forces which invaded Shanxi," the younger, maiden-aged agent added, staring at the folder in his hands and entirely missing the irritated glance the older, maybe even matriarch aged, male directed toward him.

"Yes, that one," the dry tone must have gotten through because the younger, blond-haired one finally glanced up. "We know that he was a strong supporter of the Expansionist faction of the Hierarchy government. We know that a turian ship crash landed on Shanxi just before the actual invasion of the planet. And we know that as soon as General Arterius's forces suppressed the outpost garrison he ordered what were clearly search sweeps in areas we had no troops - had never even really explored them beyond the initial planetary survey. Then we learn later that he showed up on Palaven right after the armistice was signed, doing a big song and dance routine for the news cameras and a gathered crowd." He touched something on the table, bringing up a translucent display screen showing the scene in question.

"People of Palaven I have returned!" General Arterius roared from the top of his shuttle ramp, "They tell me I'm the first of our generals to address you since the Citadel brokered an end to the war with the Human intruders. This is no surprise - no true Turian wants to admit that any foe exists that he cannot defeat, and yet I admit no such thing. The turians whose lives were lost in the war did not die in vain. Behold!" Figures shrouded in purple appeared beside the General. "Valluvian Priests dressed as you remembered from legends! For centuries no one has been worthy enough to wear the cloak and cowl of their order. None have been allowed to enter Temple Palaven, but these turians have come from the battlefront with honor. And their faith, their very fighting spirit, has transformed them!"

The older agent tapped the display again, forwarding it, "At the end of the clip you can see a wheeled cargo transport with something very large sealed in a cargo container on top of being moved into the temple. Then only a few hours later Desolaus's younger brother, Saren, calls in an unsecured bio-weapon emergency from inside the Temple. They incinerated the place with an orbital strike, only thing left of the Palaven Temple now is a crater." Another motion replaces the video with a still image of the aforementioned crater. "This is of course, all old news," grunted the older agent. "Everyone and their brother, from our fellow intelligence agents to conspiracy theorists, and news casters to political comedians have rehashed the sequence of events from the First Contact War and the destruction of the Palaven Temple. Speculating what was in that cargo container that warranted such a response from the Turians, what if anything it had to do with his attack on Shanxi, and especially if there was the same bio-contaminant threat on Palaven was also on Shanxi and the Hierarchy never bothered to mention it to us."

Popping another piece of sweet and salty caramel popcorn - with extra buttery caramel - in her mouth, off-duty Veteran Spectre Tela Vasir made a nearly inaudible groan of mingled amusement and annoyance at the on-screen dialog between the two agents. Humans had an unhealthy love of conspiracy stories, nearly as much as the salarians in fact. Only the salarians knew when it was a wise idea to never speak of some theories in public. Humans however, shouted their conspiracy theories to anyone who would listen - this movie in fact served that function. It was as if they wanted to be sure everyone knew they weren't letting this one go, even though it only served to keep souring their relationship with the Hierarchy. General Arterius was seen as valiant defender of galactic law by most Turians, and they angrily resented the Humans ceaseless accusations of dishonesty and treason against their deceased patriot.

"Now though, with what happened at Eden Prime, I think we might be able to make a good guess at was in that container and why Saren might have called in an orbital strike on the very building in which his own brother was located." The older agent manipulated the table and a second image appeared suspended next to the frozen video. One image captured from a fortunate angle from one of the many turian news agency's cameras recording said event, which caught a clearer view of what exactly was concealed by the heavy purple cloaks and cowls. A view which caught the gleam of glowing blue eyes and cybernetics underneath the shadowing cowl. "Funny thing, those Valluvian Priests, if you look at them close up they look a lot like the husks on Eden Prime…only apparently more intelligent and of course turian."

The blond agent placed his hands on the table and leaned forward to get a better look at the image. He then tapped the surface to bring up yet a third image, a close up of a human husk. "They do look a lot alike," the younger agent agreed looking at the side by side images of the Valluvian Priest and human husk. "Shepard just ran into dragon's teeth and husks in a mine out in the middle of nowhere."

Tela watched as the younger Alliance intelligence agent leaned over the dramatically bluish lit table - it even had thin glowing blue lines running up it from the floor - and supposedly searched through the data files displayed on the table's surface. No one in their right mind would work in such a dimly lit room where they could barely see the walls, thought Tela, but the nais had to admit that it did add to the visual drama of the scene.

"Here it is," the pale-haired human commented pulling up yet a fourth image over the table, this time of some alien looking device. "Trebin, in the Antaeus system of the Hades Gamma cluster. Shepard said she thought originally that she had run into some type of test run of the dragons' teeth, but then that C-Sec turian, Valkarian, said he had heard of such things before, called them 'machine cultists.'"

The older agent nodded, "We checked what records we could find on the Extranet. Turian's right, accounts of machine cultist and such artifacts, some as big as this one, some much smaller, appear back thousands of years…for far longer than before the Quarian's ever even thought about creating the Geth. So, the theory now is that General Arterius was seeking something to give the Hierarchy an edge over everyone else and he found it in an artifact similar to the one Shepard ran into on Trebin. But then somehow he lost the artifact, or lost control of it, and the ship it was on winded up crash-landing on Shanxi. He didn't want the Council to find out that he had some type of artifact in his possession and hadn't informed them about it, so he created an excuse to attack Shanxi in order to search for it. Sometime before Admiral Drescher arrived, he located the artifact and then after the armistice was signed he took it back to Palaven with him along with some husked turian soldiers. Something happened though inside the Temple after the news video that convinced Saren that they had lost control of the artifact. Probably he realized they didn't really have control over those husked turians, or the rate at which the artifact was turning their people into them. Saren finally realizes they are facing a kind of von Neumann outbreak and calls in the orbital strike to stop it."

It was almost cute how humans apparently thought they were the only ones capable of putting all this together. The Spectre took a sip of her carbonated sugary drink, then absently swirled the dark icy contents…except really it wasn't that cute, and humans certainly hadn't been the only ones who had asked questions about the actions of General Arterius before and during the Relay 314 Incident and then his death inside the Palaven Temple. The Hierarchy hadn't been pleased at how quickly news of the destruction of the Palaven Temple had gotten out, but there had been no way to deny it. The Palaven Temple was located upon the outskirts of Cipritine, Palaven's capital. Millions of individuals, including asari and salarians, had seen the brilliant lance of light from one of Palaven's own orbital stations. The Hierarchy's testy assertions afterward that the bio-contaminate in question had been successfully contained, and that was all anyone needed to know about what was purely an internal matter of the Hierarchy's government had only raised every other government's curiosity about what had really happened inside the Temple.

"Now," Tela returned her attention to the movie at the sound of the older agent's voice, "decades later General Desolas Arterius younger brother, Spectre Saren Arterius, attacks Eden Prim with an army of Geth under his command. Geth using nano-technology devices, these dragon teeth, that can create husks from human bodies to use as shock troops."

"Saren knew about these machine cult devices, knew what they did, found another one and let the Geth have it to develop more of them," filled in the younger agent.

The older agent nodded, "That does seem to be the most likely scenario. Saren knows from what happened on Palaven that you can't really control these husks, but in the right circumstances, like on Eden Prime you don't need to - they're just meant to slow down reinforcements or create chaos. Now the billion-dollar question - Desolas Arterius was a known supporter of the Expansionist faction of the Hierarchy and his younger brother followed in his footsteps, being an outspoken proponent of increased Hierarchy influence as well as being outspoken against the Systems Alliance. Did anyone else in the Expansionist faction know about Saren's plans to attack Eden Prime? Do they know anything about what he plans now, how he got the Geth to follow him? Is the Hierarchy protecting Saren by covering up any knowledge of his activities just like they covered up for his brother?"

And…there it was, why this film had stirred up so much controversy. The Systems Alliance by proxy accusing the Hierarchy that they had known more about Saren and his actions and plans than they had shared, and the Hierarchy furious because once again the Humans were accusing them of duplicity and treason with only the flimsiest of evidence to back it up. Tela frowned, with all that had occurred in the weeks and months following the death of Humanities first Spectre agent the nais didn't really find it surprising that the Alliance had apparently made little to no effort to persuade the producers of this video to edit out its more politically inflammatory accusations.

Not once they got solid proof that Saren Arterius, younger brother of General Desolas Arterius, their villain of choice, was somehow in control of the Geth forces which had attacked Eden Prime; not once they realized that though they had won a Council seat they were still one voice out of four and could not prevent the Council ruling that the dreadnought that lead the attack on the Citadel had been a Geth creation and not the AI vanguard of the destroyers of the Protheans; and certainly not once Councilor Spartacus had publicly expounded on his government's dismissal of Shepard's claim - stating that everyone knew that those who interacted with beacons interpreted what little data they could understand as non-protheans though their own species unique beliefs, and that given Humanities superstitious preoccupation with doomsday mythos as well as their high rates of mental illness, the Hierarchy simply could not reasonably be expected to accept the former Spectre's interpretation of the beacon's data.

That had been an unpleasant time - Tevos rarely displayed any sign of anger, but that day the matriarch had clearly been furious with the Turian Councilor and by extension the Turian Hierarchy for so blatantly provoking the Council's newest member species.

Tela realized she had tuned out quite a bit of the last few minutes of on screen action when her attention was abruptly reclaimed by the next piece of on-screen dialog.

"Ok I get that we are worried about some Turian Spectre only looking for weakness in our defenses, but what about the Salarians and Asari Spectres?"

What? Wondered the nais, how had they even gotten on this subject?

"Because we're worried that the Salarians will only be looking for a better way of creating a bio-plague to kill us," the older agent grunted.

The blonde human blanched, "That's a terrible thing to say!"

The older agent scowled disapprovingly at the younger one, "Don't let all this holding hands and singing Kumbaya fool you. That's simply the way they are, Salarians are so paranoid that they only feel safe when they know they can kill everyone else off." A subtle look of amusement crinkled around his eyes, "Sorta like a teddy bear or blankie with I -he made the human heart symbol- genocide embroidered on it for them to hug so they can go to sleep instead of feeling terrorized by the universe."

"That's not really funny," the younger agent responded with a growl.

"No it isn't, it really isn't," the older one responded flatly, "when it's real, it's pretty damn scary. Just ask the Krogan."

I love genocide? Were the human's intent on offending everyone in this vid, wondered Tela. Though she now understood why her fellow asari Spectre, Anela M'Tara, had reacted with an irritated roll of her shoulders when Tela brought up that she was planning on going to see this film and then practically grunted that it would be better to discuss it after Tela saw it for herself.

"So how about the Asari," the blond-haired agent finally asked after a few moments of silence, his tone wary.

Oh yes, what about the Asari, Tela's brow rose as she wondered what gift of wisdom the older agent would have to share this time.

"The Asari," the dark haired one repeated giving the younger agent an indecipherable look, "they will screw your brains out, make sure it's just about the best sex you've ever had in your life, and take all the information they want from your mind while doing it."

The blond opened and closed his mouth a few times before he finally responded, "That's not so bad?" he asked uncertainly.

"Right up until Intelligence finds out and then puts you in prison for spilling classified material. Then Bubba can screw your brains out, but that definitely won't be the best sex you've ever had in your life."

The younger gave him a long flat stare, his disgust evident in the curl of his lip. "At least they aren't trying to enslave us or commit genocide."

Oh Goddess, Tela swallowed a laugh, humans could be so maiden like with how they phrased things. Trying to reduce complex situations down to pithy comments while still holding a core of undeniable truth and then acting like they had done something wonderfully insightful. The political and personal relationships between Humanity and the Asari, ones which spanned both Citadel and Terminus space, were complex and varied, and simply could not accurately be reduced down to a one-line sentence. Yet the statement just made was still accurate - even the most bigoted human would probably agree that the Asari were a much better option for an unofficial alliance than the Turians or Salarians.

Tela found it interesting that quite a bit of the movie seemed to be about these two Alliance agents working behind the scenes to provide intelligence updates to the Normandy. However, unless Shepard had for some reason omitted all mention of Alliance aid from her reports, these scenes were completely fictitious. The first human Spectre, from what Tela was aware, had received very little intelligence from the Alliance or the Council during her hunt for Saren. The fact that Shepard managed to track him at all, considering the human's lack of resources, was next to a miracle from the Goddess considering that the STG with all of their assets hadn't even been able to stay on Saren's trail.

Considering the extent to which Humanity apparently idolized Shepard, mused Tela, it was fortunate for the Council that Humans had next to no idea about how Specter's operated or the resources normally made available to them. If they did, then they would realize to what extent the Council had not treated their first human Specter, Amanda Shepard, as an actual Spectre Agent. Without Nilus's support, the human N7 Special Forces operative had received no in-depth training, no familiarization with how the Spectre's operated and the varied assets available to them - and most tellingly, not received access to the intelligence gathering network that supported all Specter level operations. From the rumors the nais had heard at the time, after Councilor Anderson had regained his temper after being informed of the complete extent of Spectre level assets, the Council had planned on pairing Shepard with another Spectre Agent for a few months to properly finish her training. Only that had never happened, for Shepard had never returned from her last assignment.

On-screen events moved forward to the events on Virmire. Mid-pickup of one ground team and all of the surviving remnants of Captain Kirrahe's Third Infiltration Regiment, after having dropped off a second ground team and the improvised bomb for setup, Shepard was confronted by none other than Saren himself. The discussion that followed related how Saren hoped that cooperation with Sovereign would earn those few who cooperated with the Reapers a chance at survival, even if as slaves, instead of total extinction. As counterpoint, Shepard argued passionately that Sovereign was deceiving him, that every so-called upgrade only served to further indoctrinate him, blinding him to the fact that the Reapers could still be defeated if only he would turn against Sovereign and uphold his oaths as a Spectre to protect the Galaxy.

Tela was actually surprised that they had included that part of the conversation, humans didn't seem to want to acknowledge that Saren had done any good in his career as a Spectre.

Then of course there had been the unwelcome revelation that Geth ships could make short in-system FTL jumps, catching both Shepard's team and the STG by complete surprise. Saren's willingness to talk was revealed as only been a diversionary tactic to delay them. A sustained attack by both Shepard's team and the remaining STG drove Saren off, but now precious minutes had been shaved from their mission timetable. Shepard was faced with the choice of going back for the team setting up the bomb and the certainty of coming under fire from the Geth fleet defending the planet, or leaving the other team behind and taking the only realistic chance of escaping the blast radius of the improvised explosive. Staff Lt. Kadian Alenko, in charge of the bomb's ground team, had taken the choice out of her hands, starting the timer on the device and urging her ensure the safety of their ship and crew. He and his teams valiant defense of the improvised explosive, even in the face of their certain death, had ensured both the successful escape of the Normandy and also the destruction of Saren's krogan cloning facility.

Tela's omni-tool bracelet unexpectedly vibrated. Frowning, the Spectre cupped her hand over the small display to read the dimmed text. She had set it to do not disturb and only a few of her contacts could override that - Urgent meeting 1500 hrs, Councilor Tevos. The nais sighed, so much for her day off, at least she had time enough to finish watching the movie. Still, what could have come up that would be critical enough for the Asari Councilor to call her in during her agreed upon vacation time? Slumping down in her seat, the nais brought up a translucent data screen, usually meant for infiltration and typed out a search. Moments later Tela frowned as she saw no alerts for Republics space, hmmm, time to widen her search. Minutes later she found something…but still why would a reported attack on a human colony out in the Terminus systems stir Councilor Tevos cancel her leave and call for an urgent meeting with her?

A shift in the music drew Vasir's attention back to the screen, the nais narrowed her gaze trying to identify the lush green planet strewn with ruins. Then she listened to the dialog between the various Normandy crew members, a 20-meter Mako drop when 100 meters was normally needed, this must be Ilos. Though Tela wasn't certain if the Alliance knew about it, the Republics Naval Training facility had already created a simulation to duplicate this vehicular drop from a frigate sized ship. The situation had been changed so it wasn't instantly recognizable, but the difficulty of the maneuver and skill level required by a frigate pilot to duplicate it had been carefully retained. Quite a few 'excellent' rated Asari Republics Naval frigate pilots had initially failed at it, but with their pride stung by the fact that a human pilot had managed it, the numbers of ARN frigate pilots who could duplicate the maneuver, at least in a simulator, was steadily rising. Still though, no matter what, the Normandy's pilot, Jeff 'Joker' Moreau, had won himself a place in history for being the first to manage a successful vehicular drop in such challenging circumstances.

The veteran asari Spectre was relieve to note that at least there was no mention of the defunct supposed Prothean VI that Shepard had spoken to motioned in the film. At least that had been kept a secret, otherwise the Citadel forces currently guarding the scientists on Ilos would have had more issues with treasure seekers than they had already. Instead, the film implied that Shepard had been able to retrieve information about the Conduit and the fact that it was an experimental relay connection to the Citadel from the data terminals the human Spectre had been able to access in the command center. The same place that she found the controls to open back up the bunker doors that Saren had sealed behind him, enabling her to follow along behind him. At this point, Shepard was clearly aware that she was fighting against time, focusing more on simply evading the fire of the geth which attempted to stop the pursuing mako until with a final burst of the mako's thrusters the human Spectre steered the drop vehicle directly into the experimental relay, letting its mass effect field envelop the vehicle and send it thousands of light years across the galaxy and into the center of the Presidium of the Citadel itself.

The human actress playing Amanda Shepard was certainly lovely, thought Tela, and graceful enough in the battle scenes that followed as she led her team through the Citadel to the Citadel tower chasing Saren. The nais smirked, but firefights were usually not quite this artistic and she knew that Saren tended to make liberal use of grenades instead of these well-choreographed exchanges of weapons fire. Still though, it did look very impressive on-screen, and that was what brought people in to see it. Finally Saren fell, and Shepard was able to find the hidden console to regain control of the station - at least for the moment, from the Geth dreadnought. During the time it had control of the station the AI dreadnought had shut down all the relays into the Serpent Nebula, cutting the Citadel and beleaguered Citadel Fleet off from reinforcements, as well as sealing the ward arms of the station with it safely inside.

Shepard opened a communications relay, "This is the Destiny Ascension, main drives off-line, kinetic barriers are down to 40%. The Council is on-board, repeat the Council is on-board." The human Spectre turned toward the windows, but as the station arms were closed all that could be seen was one of the ward arms. Bachjret Ward, Tela thought, familiar with the view from the Citadel Tower.

"Normandy to the Citadel, Normandy to the Citadel, please tell me that's you Commander," the voice of Normandy's pilot broke through the Ascension's distress call.

"I read you, Joker," Shepard responded.

"Caught that distress call Commander, I'm sitting here at Andura 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!"

Shepard shook her head in irritation, "The fate of the Ascension isn't the primary tactical concern here," she tersely interrupted her team who had started bickering about which would be better to do, open the Relay now or wait until the Geth were drawn further away from the Citadel. "I'm opening the Relay now," she started manipulating the console while continuing to speak very rapidly to both her pilot and her team members. "The Geth's primary mission isn't to destroy the Citadel Fleet," the human Spectre explained, "their primary mission is to ensure Sovereign gets control of the Citadel. The Citadel is actually a one-way relay linked to a location in dark space where a massive fleet of AI ships just like Sovereign is located. When the Fifth Fleet jumps in, the Geth are going to prioritize defending Sovereign over finishing off the Citadel Fleet because the sole purpose of this attack is to activate the Citadel relay and bring in that main Reaper fleet. The Geth will do what they did at Virmire, they will micro-jump back from wherever they are in the system and catch the Fifth Fleet in classic pincer unless Hackett destroys them before engaging Sovereign, and that will be easier with the assistance of what's left of the Citadel Fleet."

"Crap," the expletive came from the Normandy's pilot, "I already showed that data to Admiral Hackett, he was not pleased to learn they had the capability to make micro jumps like that, and we are beginning transit now." Finally, Tela thought, as events wound up toward the final battle scenes, the Spectre had heard that it was pretty good, accurate to what had happened, and had some exceptional special effects.

The Alliance Fifth Fleet arrived in almost perfect formation, turning immediately and fully engaging their drive cores to move as swiftly as possible toward the Geth ships still engaging the Citadel Fleet in an almost textbook flanking maneuver. Now caught in a cross fire, the Geth ships were forced from pressing their attack to attempting to defend themselves from two different directions. The fact that they were AI's might allow them to calculate the best possible defense in the situation they now found themselves in, but you simply could not effectively protect yourself from two directions at once and not even an AI could calculate a way around that fact. It did not take long for the allied fleets to swing the tide of battle against the Geth and within a very short time the Geth ships began a fighting retreat, but towards the clustered group of relays and not the Citadel. Shepard still had control of the station, and she had not yet opened the ward arms so the Geth would be getting no assistance from their dreadnought and they apparently knew that for the next thing that happened was that they micro-jumped to the relay and began exiting the system altogether.

"We've driven off the Geth," the Normandy pilot informed Shepard, "Hackett says to open the Citadel arms."

"Understood," the human acknowledged, "opening the ward arms now."

"Let Sovereign come out to us and away from the station," the gravelly voice of Admiral Hackett ordered his fleet. "We don't want stray shots to hit the ward arms. Also mind your tactical lanes, I'm assigning dreadnought firing arcs now for the Everest and the Destiny Ascension, which is maneuvering to support us."

That was the primary weakness of every dreadnought class ship, the entire ship had to maneuver to fire its long, spinal-mounted main railguns and they generally were not particularly nimble ships. The Ascension class super-dreadnought was actually fairly maneuverable for its size as the ship was, like all asari capital ships, designed to rotate around its central weapon and main drive. However, as the super-dreadnought's main drives had been down at this time Tela suspected it had been painfully slow for Matriarch Lidanya to get the Ascension into proper position.

The Citadel's arms were now open, but Sovereign did not move from where it clung like some type of monstrous insect to the top of the Citadel Tower.

"Sovereign is trying to break my lockout on the Citadel's control systems," Shepard broadcast on the open channel, "we can't let it regain control and this program is only a VI vs. an AI."

"All available frigates, start harassing that ship," Hackett ordered after a brief moment. "Be very careful with your shots, but let's give that thing something to think about besides trying to retake the Citadel's systems." A veritable swarm of ships, the distinct outline of the Normandy among them, darted off toward the Citadel, the whitish-blue burn of their thrusters bright against the purplish backdrop of the nebula. They began to circle around the two-kilometer-high dreadnought, peppering it with relentless fire, none of which did anything other than cause the monstrous ship's barriers to shimmer at the point of impact.

It was at that point that inside the Citadel Tower the air was suddenly lit up with a massive discharge of reddish energy. "What the hell was that," Shepard whirled around, then gaped in surprise at Saren's corpse. Tela really couldn't blame the human, outside of a horror vid you really didn't expect a corpse to suddenly light up with red energy arcs, which literally lifted the body into the air, and then have said corpse's flesh burn away to reveal a metal skeleton underneath. Then, as if to reinforce that horror vid feeling, what was left of the turian Spectre's body twitched and arched in an unnatural manner before completing its transformation into a husk-like creature.

Eyes glowing in the same eerie red that had so recently wreathed its body, the husk of the former turian Spectre declared, "I am Sovereign and this station is mine!" The thing leapt away and it took a moment for Shepard to locate where it had landed, clinging upside down from the ceiling on all fours as if it were some type of adhesion-toed lizard. For the next minute, battle raged both inside the tower and without it, and in neither case did those attempting to defend the Citadel seem to make any impression at all on their opponent. Outside the allied frigates could not break Sovereign's powerful kinetic barriers, while inside it was all Shepard and her team members could do to snap off a few shots as they scrambled to maintain cover against a foe who leapt from ceiling to wall to floor while maintaining an impossibly constant stream of biotic attacks.

"It's drawing power from the station itself," Shepard realized, glancing around at the paneled walls which surrounded them. "Sovereign is a AI and it's in these systems. We have to break its connection with the tower!" The human Spectre ducked behind a wall as the husked form oriented on her and began concentrating its attacks on her location. Shepard brought up her omni-tool, "Joker, if Sovereign won't move then you have to attack the tower itself. Destroy it and Sovereign's foothold in the Citadel's systems should be broken."

"But Commander..." The pilot protested.

"Withdraw! Withdraw!" Shepard motioned frantically to her team mates, urging them to retreat back down the way they had come up earlier. "Do it now Joker," Shepard yelled as she flung herself down one set of stairs. Moments later the tower shuddered and the floor to ceiling armored windows cracked as the frigates shifted their attack from the black dreadnought clinging to the tower to the tower itself. The husked figure on all fours chasing down Shepard's retreating team faltered, indicating that whatever force was controlling what was left of Saren's body was having difficulty staying connected to it. Shepard's theory, that Sovereign was controlling it through the AI ships physical connection to the tower, seemed to be proven correct. It was also all the opening the human Spectre needed, rising from where she had taken cover behind a raised flower bed Shepard threw what had to be her last few grenades at the metallic creature. This time a seemingly impenetrable barrier did not protect the turian husk from the explosive force of the small disk-shaped devices. Instead the creatures body was shredded by them, and seeing this Shepard's entire team focused their fire upon the husk until it finally slumped motionless to the floor.

Shepard held up her hand, indicating that they should cease fire. Once they did, the human raised her omni-tool and began scanning still form. The husks twitched once, and Shepard's team, who hadn't ever lowered their weapons, opened fire. Instead of attacking however, the metallic form of the husk began glowing red and a wave of heat erupted from it. So intense was the heat that the metal floor tiles underneath the husk actually began deforming before its body abruptly disintegrated into a pile of ash. Fortunately for Shepard, the cameras hidden around the area of the petitioner's stage had recorded the entire transformation process of Saren's corpse, otherwise her recounting of it later might been written off by the Council as combat related trauma because it sounded so unbelievable.

The tower shuddered again and then a shot came through the cracked windows shattering them in a cascade of glittering fragments that were promptly sucked out into space by the sudden loss of atmospheric pressure. Fortunately for Shepard's team kinetic barriers flickered briefly into place, giving them the precious seconds needed for everyone to grab something and magnetize their boots before the barriers failed completely with the next strike on the tower. Shepard's team was forced to shelter in place as they waited for the atmosphere to completely vent into space as the structure around them shook and debris began to fall down from above as the ships outside continued their bombardment. As soon as the rush of air had quieted somewhat Shepard was up and urging her team to move as quickly as possible toward the central shaft of the tower where they could begin making their way back toward the tower's entrance. They had come into the tower by walking along the outside, but for obvious reasons that was no longer the best way out, not with the bombardment.

The on-screen action shifted from Shepard's fleeing team to the battle raging outside, as Sovereign finally began to move, eliciting a ragged cheer from the frigate pilots that lasted only a second before turning to horror as the massive dreadnought displayed that it's claw-like appendages possessed some type of unknown weapon. The massive dreadnought hadn't even bothered to fire once during its approach to the Citadel, but it was certainly displaying now that it had commensurate firepower to go along with its massive barriers. Whatever the reddish beam like weapons were, they were capable of literally slicing the attacking frigates in half. Frigates were agile ships though, and it only took their pilots a moment to react appropriately to the fact that their formerly unresponsive target was now counterattacking and begin to dance around the reddish beams that lanced out from the relatively slow-moving appendages. Meanwhile the frigates crews were busy figuring out exactly what they were facing, "We're measuring tremendous heat from those beams." Then from the ARV Unanya, an asari frigate, "Its molten metal suspended in an electromagnetic field."

Tela smirked, the warfare systems officer who had made the discovery was a returning Huntress who had raised three children, returned to school to obtain a few degrees in systems engineering, and then decided to return to the military as she was entering her matriarchal years since she did not feel she was particular suited to devoting her remaining centuries to either politics or assisting in the management of one of her Lineage's many holdings.

"Finally, Sovereign is lifting off," Hackett announced as the massive insect-like ship detached from the damaged tower, "Prepare to engage upon my order." The black ships massive drive core enabled it to continuously accelerate at a rate far faster than any Citadel ship. Fortunately, though the AI dreadnought was starting from a complete standstill and several of the frigates, including the Normandy with its over-sized drive core were managing to keep pace with it. "Engage! Don't let it escape!" Hackett commanded, as soon as Sovereign cleared the ward arms and began a full burn toward the relay. Almost instantly the surrounding ships began firing upon the fleeing dreadnought, but still it's powerful barriers held as it continued to accelerate away from the Citadel. Then the SSV Everest and ARV Destiny Ascension acquired the target and began firing, adding their massive spinally mounted railguns to the barrage. That instantly had an effect as red arcs began immediately flaring around the massive AI dreadnought.

"Its shields are down!" the Normandy's pilot announced as he fired at the suddenly vulnerable enemy ship. Careful examination of the combat recordings afterward showed the Normandy's missiles impacting against the Reaper just fractions of a second before the slugs from the Destiny Ascension and Everest, giving the official honor for the kill to the Systems Alliance experimental frigate and its pilot. Shepard's team had to be dug out of the wreckage of the Citadel Tower, but everyone was alive and there were only minor injuries among them.

All across the galaxy figures of importance re-evaluated some of their opinions of Humanity. Contrary to expectations, Humanities first Spectre had successfully tracked down and killed the Citadel's prior top Spectre Agent. In addition, the Alliance's Fifth Fleet defeated a Geth fleet which had just devastated the Citadel Fleet. Humanity was offered a seat on the Citadel Council for its actions, and accepted.

Tela wondered if the Systems Alliance had yet recognized the magnitude of their mistake in doing so, though she would be very surprised if their leadership had not. Humans, as many intelligent species, were contradictory creatures. They were capable of incredible selfishness and short-sightedness, but also shrewd insight and were well known for their adaptability. However, all the adaptability in the universe couldn't overcome certain realities. While their economy was indeed robust for their population size, substantially helped along by Sirta Foundation's patent on the multi-species lifesaving medi-gel, the reality was that Humanity did not yet encompass even 1% of the total galactic population. They had much too small of a population, only outnumbering the Krogan, Quarians and Drell; claimed only one garden world other than Earth with a population that numbered over a 100 million when most other species claimed garden world populations in the billions; and their economic GDP, though approaching an impressive 750 trillion, when compared to that of the other Council members whose GDPs were measured in the 100s of quadrillions or even higher in the case of the Republics...

Ideally the Systems Alliance would have realized their inability to fulfill their obligations before accepting the Council seat and come up with a way of gracefully declining it, but by accepting they had been neatly trapped into a scenario where they would inevitably fail and have to voluntarily relinquish their Council seat. Thus Humanities failure would set a much-needed precedent. There would be no exceptions made to the requirement that a member of the Council must be able to provide a set number of ships and personnel to assist in the overall safeguarding of Citadel controlled space, no matter that species special circumstances. That was how Tevos and Valern had gotten Spartacus to actually agree to offer Humanity a Council seat. They had been easily able to prove that it was inevitable that the Systems Alliance would fail to meet their obligations, and that failure would not only silence future requests by the Humans, at least until they were actually able to meet them, but also silence the near constant entreaties by the Volus and Elcor to be added to the Council. The Volus thought that they could simply buy their way into a Council seat and have the military requirements waived for them. Humanities failure would serve to show them that would not happen. The Volus would be forced to pay for the necessary ships and personnel and that was something the mercenary race would never voluntarily chose to do.

Reports showed that the Systems Alliance was already feeling the effects of their military buildup on their fledgling economy as the increased taxes required to support their Council fleet obligations threatened to slow their former economic growth to a standstill. Humanity however, as stupidly stubborn a species as they were, appeared to be obstinately trying their best to actually meet their obligations despite the fact that they had to realize by now that it was simply impossible for them to do so without destroying their economy and sending themselves into ruinous debt to either the Volus or the Republics. In either case, they would quickly find themselves in the de-facto situation of effectively being a client state to either the Hierarchy or the Asari Republics.

This was why Tevos had been so furious with the Turian Councilor for publicly expounding on his government's dismissal of Shepard's claim in such a manner. His speech had been clearly calculated to humiliate and infuriate Humanity as a race, and ensure that the Alliance would attempt to retain their Council seat for far longer than initially estimated. Instead of letting reason (hopefully) lead them into seeing what needed to be done to maintain their independence, Humanities pride and stubbornness was now fully engaged in maintaining their Council position. It would have to become painfully apparent to the System Alliance's population that they simply could not meet their obligations before they would voluntarily give up their Council seat now, and by that time that happened they would likely be far more heavily in debt to the Republics than planned upon by the Matriarchs.

The Republics did not actually want the Systems Alliance as a client race, de facto or otherwise. Which was why, while Spartacus and the Hierarchy had their little moment of petty victory, steps were taken to ensure that the Hierarchy soon begun to pay for it. Nothing of course was actually said about any of this aloud, the Republics never made any comment at all on the Turian Councilor's announcement either way. Any astute observer of galactic politics however, soon became aware that the Republics was giving the Hierarchy a sharp and painful lesson in the consequences of displeasing them. The Matriarchs careful management of the Republics economy meant that it was still entirely independent of any other galactic government. The Republics did not need anyone else to maintain their level of steady economic growth, economic engagement with the other governments simply made the Republics economy even stronger.

That however was assuredly not the case for the Hierarchy whose economy was only afloat due to the careful management of the Volus. Contracts that were to have been made with Hierarchy manufactures, but had not yet been legally committed to, were instead given to Republic manufacturers. New contracts simply did not come the Hierarchy's way, and overnight the export-import balance with the Republics unsubtly shifted against the Hierarchy, sending them spiraling into debt despite the best efforts of the Volus. Without the willing assistance of the Republics, the Hierarchy simply could not maintain a healthy economy and every month that passed the Turians were forced to go further into debt with the Volus. Something that the Volus would not do indefinitely, client state or not. Soon the Hierarchy would be forced to do something to appease the Matriarchy, though with apparently how irritated the Matriarchs apparently were with the Hierarchy Tela suspected it would take quite a bit more than just a few token gestures. In fact, Tela smirked as she thought it over, the last time she recalled the Matriarchs being this annoyed with the Hierarchy the Turians had been forced to apologize to the Humans and pay them reparations.

As the end credits played, Tela rose to her feet and began making her way through the exiting crowd toward the entrance. Well the movie had certainly proven interesting, the nais thought to herself, and with what had happened just a few weeks ago with that that Cerberus agent attempting to access Shepard's records… Pity Jondum Bau's virus hadn't worked as well as they had hoped, but still the 'information' they had allowed the human female to escape with had been scrubbed of any highly classified details. The data techs had left nothing on that disk that the Spectre's weren't willing to dangle enticingly in front of Cerberus in exchange for a chance to infiltrate their network. In addition, they now had enough biometric data on the agent to ensure that the human would not be able to step foot on any other Citadel world without being arrested, and certainly not be able to enter any sensitive areas without setting off immediate alarms even if the agent underwent reconstructive facial surgery to alter her appearance.

Long time habit had Tela carefully scanning the crowd for any sign of possible attack, but the nais didn't really expect anyone who wasn't either very familiar with her or actively using facial scanning software to be able to recognize her at the moment. Artful makeup altered the ancient purple Vasir lineage markings on her face, ones that once upon a time would have indicated she was a member of not only the nobility, but also a direct descendant of one of the followers of Athame and therefore a member of the ruling peerage, to the reddish generic Serrice markings usable by anyone descended from that area of Thessia while contacts altered the brown of her eyes to dark blue. It wasn't a very complicated disguise, but it did serve to allow her to blend in with all the other asari, allowing her to slip among them rather than them giving way for her due to the purple of her Lineage markings. Nothing quite said 'notice me' like a crowd parting way for you and granting you more personal space than everyone else.

Glancing down at her omni-bracelet for the time, Vasir estimated that if didn't loiter she had just enough time to return to her Tayseri Ward apartment, take a shower, and prepare for this urgent meeting with the Councilor. That meant she needed to get her gear together for a potential mission and send a message down to the docks to make sure her personal ships was ready for departure. In the centuries the commando had been a Spectre, Tela could count on one hand the number of times Tevos had ever called her in for an urgent meeting and not immediately sent her out on a mission. The nais sighed as she exited the theater, she should probably just wear her armor to the Council Tower.

An hour later, wearing her heavy Spectre armor in silver and blue, and with a tactical duffel slung over one shoulder, Veteran Spectre Agent Tela Vasir paused for a moment to stare curiously at the gathering of asari and humans in front of the Turian embassy area. As far as the nais could tell, protesting in front of the Hierarchy embassy and annoying the Turians was a popular human pastime. Though they indulged in it far less now than in the years immediately following their introduction to the Citadel. Back then the humans seemed to hold daily demonstrations whether they had permits or not, demanding that the Council investigate the other Turian client races. They had been convinced that the Turians were treating their client races quite cruelly; exploiting them; keeping them in a state of semi-enslavement - as any sign of rebellion was met with deadly force; possibly selling them to the Batarians to finance their fascist government; and, of course, that the Hierarchy had attacked them with as little justification as they had the Systems Alliance.

The Council had, after a few weeks of unending protests which only grew larger and more diverse as the protesting humans gained support from the other Council races, actually put together the demanded delegation of observers and sent them to investigate the Hierarchy's client races. Most of the humans' accusations were proven to be completely unfounded. In all cases but one, the observers found that the Hierarch's client races were exactly as the Hierarchy had claimed: aggressive, extremely hostile toward all other races than their own, and especially in the case of the poisonous Isreof, extremely deadly. The one exception the observers had found had been the Verg. Tela had heard the interesting tale from Kelessus D'Vevo, the lead diplomat of the delegation. When the delegates had at first been introduced to the Verg delegation it had seemed as if the race were as hostile, aloof, and xenophobic as the Turians claimed. Until the one human delegate the Council had allowed to be included, primarily to quiet the humans quite vocal claims that the delegation was obviously just an empty gesture without their presence, stepped forward, ducked past the turian guards, and approached the Verg.

"Don't let them manipulate you into appearing to be what they've told us you are, aggressive, dangerous, hostile and most of all that the only safe place for us to be when it comes to you is with the turians in between us with their weapons pointed at you ready to kill you," the human female, Maria Rodriguez, declared to the Verg delegates. "Just like they tried to claim with my race."

One of the turian guards reached for her to pull her away from the Verg. "Get back here human," his tone revealed his clear distaste as he uttered the word human.

That was apparently all it took, the Verg pulled the human female into their group and then stood in front of her, shielding her from the turian guards. "Maybe once it looks like you aren't about to kill one of your own delegates, turian," the leader of the Verg, a tall, mature black-haired female sneered, her tone a mirror image of his.

Lead Diplomat D'Vevo had immediately stepped forward, invoking the authority the Council had given her - though apparently they hadn't actually expected her to have to use it - to force their turian guards to stand down instead of firing at the Verg and the human delegate. Later the asari diplomat had found out that the turian Commander had implied to the Verg that the delegates were there to make sure the turians had the Verg well under control and any sign of rebellion had been thoroughly quelled; not that they were there to evaluate how the Hierarchy was treating the Verg.

As a result of what had happened with the Verg, the delegates final report to the Council suggested setting up a permanent committee to monitor the Hierarchy's treatment of its client races, which would establish Council's right to oversee the management of these races. Especially since the Hierarchy apparently was giving its client species the impression that they were acting with the direct authority of the Council anyway. They also proposed that a legal pathway be created for client races who met certain milestones to either gain full independence from the Hierarchy or alter their legal status within the Hierarchy to be similar to the Volus.

D'Vevo had admitted that the human delegate had been very helpful in getting the turian delegates to agree to these measures. Wielding the Hierarchy's own processes and procedures requirements as justification for the new rules had been very persuasive. After all, the Hierarchy would hardly let some allied group claim their authority without their direct supervision, and there was a clearly defined process for every official action - including a citizen surrendering their citizenship. The turian delegates hadn't been pleased, but they had been neatly boxed in by their own methodologies. Plus, it was clear that the days of the Hierarchy acquiring newly spacefaring races and then keeping them in perpetual forced client race status with no apparent recourse to any higher authority and no oversight were over after the embarrassment of the Relay 314 Incident.

In the decades since those events, with a way to regain their freedom in place the Verg had ceased their attacks against the turian occupation forces on their home world, met their milestones, and were now in discussions about being granted self-governance. Their first official step toward being released from the Hierarchy as a client race and being recognized by the Council as an independent species within Council space. Though the Hierarchy had tried numerous ways to stop them, the Systems Alliance had been insistent about opening diplomatic relations with the Verg, and apparently the two species already had plans in place for trade, cultural exchanges, joint military training exercises and even possibly joint colonization efforts. Apparently besides from some initial misunderstandings, oddly something to do with a human companion animal Tela recalled, the two races got along rather well with one another.

As far as Tela was concerned the Hierarchy's public reaction to the Verg wanting their independence was symbolic of all that was problematic about the Turian government. Far from admitting that the Verg might have reason to want their freedom, the Hierarchy was instead quietly claiming that once the Verg understood the Humans could offer them nothing they would return as a willing client race. Privately though, from what the asari Spectre had heard, all but the most stubborn of the turian Expansionists knew the Verg would never willingly return to the Hierarchy. Unfortunately the blame for that seemed to be falling partially upon the Humans for encouraging the Verg's lingering resentments toward the Hierarchy. Apparently some turians thought that if only the Systems Alliance hadn't interfered in Hierarchy affairs that the turian occupational force would have eventually persuaded the Verg to become fully productive members of the Hierarchy. Vasir knew that would have never happened, if it had even appeared likely that such a physically powerful race as the Verg were about to become a willing client race of the Hierarchy instead of an ongoing drain on Hierarchy forces, the STG would have arranged for some incident or incidents to ensure that never came to fruition. Though the Union played at being allies with the Hierarchy against the Republics, at least on some issues, Tela was fully aware they had no interest in the Turians becoming any more powerful than they were currently. That had been the primary reason the STG had given the Republics all of the data they had intercepted on the Hierarchy's contact with the Systems Alliance, they hadn't wanted the Hierarchy to claim the Humans as client species.

The signs the humans were so fond of carrying at these protests ranged from accusing the Hierarchy of protecting Saren to a more generic, 'The Hierarchy is NOT actually the most amazing thing in the Universe.' So, some of the protesters were here because of the film she had just watched, Attack upon Eden Prime, and its assertions about Saren, and some of the protesters were here simply to protest against the Hierarchy and the rhetoric of its Expansionist faction. Otherwise the spectacle in front of the Hierarchy embassy presented its usual scene, with mostly humans and a few asari maidens protesting while a few more nais, usually older, were scattered about observing the event. On the other side the armored turians guarding the embassy could only stand like ornamental statues and glare with offended dignity at the protesters, not daring to even try and intimidate the humans into leaving or provoke them into doing something that would give the guards an excuse to call C-Sec and get their protest permit rescinded due to the number of watchful asari among them. Tela smirked in amusement, given their wandering gazes the 'protesting' nais were much less interested in the cause of the protest than in their fellow protesting humans. Doubtless, later on tonight several of them would wind up in bed together. Apparently that was quite common, and one of the reasons human protests continued to draw so many nais participants and observers.

Aware of the time, and the fact that she had loitered long enough, Tela proceeded up to the entrance of the Citadel Tower. Entering, she made her way through the security checks and scanners verifying her identity and then once past them to the elevators which would take her to the offices of the Asari Councilor. The outer offices were filled asari working at various data terminals and display screens. The majority of them were various types of analysts preparing reports for both the Councilor and the Republics Council of Matriarchs, while others were secretaries for the various officials working for the Councilor. Tela proceeded past the various desks, nodding politely in return to various greetings but not slowing enough to get caught up in any conversations to where four commandos waited at the entrance to the short hallway that led to the Councilor's office.

"Saala, Spectre Vasir," the lead matron commando greeted her politely as she scanned her credentials and then waved her through the final checkpoint.

"Saala," Tela returned the greeting, before making her way pass them into the hallway. Pausing at the one side door the Spectre halted long enough to exchange greetings with the Tevos' personal secretary, Arana Vare, before proceeding to the single door at the end of the hallway. Waving her hand across the entryway sensor the Spectre waited for the Councilor to acknowledge her presence. Moments later the doors parted, revealing a large, semi-circular room beyond them. Floor to ceiling windows along the length of the outer wall revealed a spectacular view of the Presidium. Though the window appeared to be a security weakness given all the security the Spectre had passed through to get to the office, Vasir was quite aware that the windows were high-grade armored and tempered glass with dual kinetic barriers both outside and inside.

Councilor Tevos was seated at her desk, two of her personal aides, both commandos, hovering about her as the Councilor went over something in the documents she was holding with them. A second later Tevos glanced toward the door, meeting Tela's brown eyed gaze for a moment before returning her attention to her aides. The Spectre passed through the doors, paused to let them close behind her, then waited for the Councilor to finish with her current business. Another flurry of instructions, then the Councilor handed the documents to one of them with a nod of her head. The two aides dipped shallow bows to her and then departed out another door to their own offices. Vasir waited until Tevos turned her full attention to her before bowing politely and approaching the Councilor's desk.

Tevos rose and stepped out from behind the desk, motioning toward the windows, "You are aware of the missing human colonies in the Terminus Systems."

Tela angled her steps to join her in looking out over the Presidium, "I am," she replied. So, this did have something to do with the missing human colonies, the Spectre mused.

"The attacks have been attributed to pirates," Tevos commented, "however in addition to there being no survivors, there were also no bodies, no sign of any resistance, and every surveillance device has been wiped of data."

Tela narrowed her eyes in thought, "Possible, but there should have been some sign of resistance."

"Indeed," the Councilor agreed with her. "Yesterday the Systems Alliance colony of Fehl Prime was attacked, however unlike previous times a few human marines were able to evade the initial attack." Tevos paused for a brief moment, "Fehl Prime was attacked by the Collectors."

Vasir stilled, the Collectors? That was…very different from pirates, and much more concerning. She had only ever heard of the enigmatic race collecting maybe a dozen or so individuals at a time, not entire colonies. "I've never heard of them collecting entire colonies before," she shared her thoughts, hoping to elicit more information.

"To my knowledge they have not," the asari Councilor responded, which, of course, meant that Republic Intelligence Service had no knowledge of them doing so either. "The human marines were able to collect intelligence on the Collectors, and even sabotaged their ship. Unfortunately, neither the colonists nor most of the marines survived the ship's reentry and decent to the planet after the ships sabotage, however one marine and a single asari were able to escape the ship before it crashed. They provided proof that the Collectors had attacked the colony."

The Councilor continued, "The asari was Doctor Treeya Nuwani, a Xeno-anthropologist there to study the remnants of the planets now extinct intelligent species and a colleague of Doctor Liara T'Soni. She may have interacted with a prothean device on the Collector Ship before it was destroyed. Also, Cerberus seems to have been involved somehow in the attack, Councilor Anderson believes they may have even been assisting the Collectors in their attack on the colony."

Tela glanced over startled, why had there been a prothean device on a Collector ship? And Cerberus involvement with the Collectors? Assisting them in the attack on Fehl Prime? The nais wasn't really surprised when it came to Cerberus, they seemed to be willing to do almost anything, even to their own people, if they felt it advanced their interests.

"Admiral Hackett of the Systems Alliance is debriefing her tomorrow upon Arcturus Station," Tevos said, "I want you to make your way there as quickly as possible to observe her debriefing. Afterward, you will escort Doctor Nuwani to Thessia where the Council of Matriarchs of the Republics also wish to debrief her."

Vasir narrowed her eyes, in other words make sure the Doctor did not disappear anywhere between Arcturus Station and Thessia. "Understood, I'll make sure Doctor Nuwani arrives to the Council Chambers safely. Afterward?"

"Remain, Tevos replied, "and see if they have any communications they want you to deliver to me, then return here."

Vasir nodded, that meant she was to deliver any intelligence documents too sensitive to transmit even over encrypted channels. "I'll get ready to depart then if you have nothing else for me."

"There is one other thing," the Councilor commented, and something in the older nais's tone caught Tela's full attention. "Anderson shared with me that the type of ship that attacked Fehl Prime was the same type of ship that attacked the Normandy."

Tela's brown eyes narrowed, "You know of Cerberus' recent attempt to gain access to Shepard's Spectre files?"

"I do," Tevos confirmed and then said nothing else.

"So, the Collectors went after the Normandy, killed Shepard. Then Cerberus comes looking for information on Shepard. Now we have evidence that Cerberus is assisting the Collectors. Did they also give information to the Collectors about the Normandy?" the Spectre mused aloud.

"Indeed," Tevos turned toward her, her expression grave, "Goddess watch over you Tela, be cautious."

"I will," the Vasir assured her, stepped back, bowed and then departed on her mission.