Author's notes: this is my first attempt at Mass Effect fanfiction, s i hope it's okay!! i wanted to do something about Saren, but i think i'll save any longer stories till later, seeing as i've got enough in the works!! so this is just a reflection thing, but don't read if you haven't seen either the Paragon or Renegade ending, unless you want it spoiled!!

Freedom

This was the first time that he had looked upon a human without resentment or bitterness. The first time he had allowed the grudge he had been nurturing to disintegrate. This was the first time since his brother died that Saren was seeing clearly, without his mind being clouded by hate.

His brother had always been driven by a desire to prove himself, and had looked up to Saren as a friend, a teacher, even an idol. Instead of flourishing, achieving greatness, he had been cut down by those ignorant humans. They had done this, they had shaped Saren's opinion of them, brought it on themselves!

This one act had been what had sown the seeds of his hatred, built up over the years. On occasion, he had allowed his prejudices to become overwhelming, such as on his mission with the short-tempered David Anderson; so typical of his species, blundering into situations and screwing it up for everyone else. Usually, Saren had tried to subdue his anger, for the sake of his career in the Spectres. He would not jeopardise that for his loathing of humans. Despite his desire to avenge his brother, he also wanted to succeed, for both their sakes.

These emotions had been his own, not the product of Sovreign's interference, but in his mission to do this, to seek power and glory for the turian race, he had only succeeded in enslaving himself/ Sovreign had poisoned his mind. The effects had been so subtle. How long had it been controlling him? He couldn't even remember. Was it the indoctrination that had caused him to destroy Eden Prime? To kill Nihlus, who had reminded him so much of his brother, one of the few people Saren had cared for since the First Contact war?

Even now, his mind was hazed., waging a psychological war against the indoctrination, but failing, he knew. As Commander Shepard voiced her horror at his decision to have Sovreign implant things in him, Saren wondered exactly what they were and if he had actually consented to it, or whether it had been the spell of indoctrination once more. His mind was confused, in turmoil. He couldn't identify which thoughts were his own. It was just easier not to fight, it was the only way to avoid the pain.

Saren felt amazed by the conviction in Shepard's voice. How could she stand there, offering her enemy an escape, asking him not to fight her, but the Reapers instead? Such compassion, he had forgotten how to express it himself. How had it come to this? He had weakly succumbed to the indoctrination, a willing slave, with his only on thing to cling to now: the pity of a human. Was this revelation strong enough to pull him from the brink of insanity?

Part of him disagreed, it despised Shepard, it thought her weak, foolish, and it still fed off the grudge he had harboured. But another part, which he hadn't even realised he possessed, saw the logic in her words. This human was to be credited. If not for her fragile appearance, she could have been a turian. He had thought being led by compassion and mercy was weak, but he had been equally weak by allowing his negative emotions to guide his actions. Perhaps this was worse.

Sovreign urged him to kill her as she stood exposed, almost pleading for him to surrender. He could perhaps see now why species of different race, even one from his own, followed this human under a united banner, why Nihlus had put her name forward for the Spectres.

Saren had wanted to save his people from the Reapers, but he had failed, and it was probably this human who would succeed.

Sovreign's hold grew stronger, the whispers seeping back into Saren's thoughts before they became too clear, too rational. He clutched his head, feeling as though the mental struggle would tear it apart.

He had failed

He could no longer continue.

He had to prevent himself from stopping the human. She had to be free to save them all. He owed her that much, for helping him to remember himself before the end. Saren could feel the machinery that Sovreign had implanted, burning him, trying to tear it's way through. He wouldn't let it. He was in control of his own thoughts, no one else!

"Thank you, Shepard," he managed to say through the pain.

Saren lifted his pistol, seeing not Shepard's face, but that of his brother, the way things had been, long before Sovreign had begun controlling him.

He was grateful.

He was remorseful.

He was resigned to his fate.

Saren pulled the trigger. He freed himself.