Disclaimer: I don't own the Mass Effect universe or Bioware.

«6.01: SSV Normandy: Engineering Level: Storage Section»

«or Major Kyle»

Deep. Steady. Breath. In. Then out.

Kaidan knelt quietly in a corner of the Engineering Bay. He sat on his feet with his toes pointing back behind him. His back was straight and his hands were placed on his legs. He took a deep breath, using his diaphragm and exhaled slowly through his mouth. A long time ago, he discovered that meditating regularly helped ease his migraines, especially when they got bad. It also allowed him to…well, control himself.

Like all tools, biotics have always been dangerous. It was a power that stemmed directly from an individual's nervous system. Thought could become reality or so the theory went. If you concentrated hard enough, you could rip a man apart. Kaidan had seen done before. But as Liara had said before, biotics could also be controlled by your emotions. He remembered all too well what happened the last time he let his anger get the better of him.

The last time he lost control of himself was the first time he ever killed someone. And she never looked at him the same again.

Kaidan took another deep and steady breath as the emotions of that memory began to well up from within. If he lost control of his emotions, he would effectively lose control of his powers and someone would get hurt. Like Shepard. He knew it wasn't really fair to compare his plight with his commanding officers but all the same, it was true. At this point, Shepard was like a child discovering fire for the first time. Well, maybe it was like a child discovering a hand grenade for the first time. Or a nuclear weapon.

Still, Shepard was doing his best to keep it under control. At the same time, however, you have to know what you're controlling in order to control it effectively. And no one on the ship had any idea what was lurking within Shepard. It was akin to biotics but it was on a whole other level, a level that Kaidan didn't even know had existed. It seemed like pure energy mixed with rage. He felt a shiver run down his spine as he thought about it and took another deep breath.

Shepard was doing his best and Kaidan knew it. But Shepard also had to deal with the responsibility of commanding one of the most advanced frigates in the galaxy, as well as chasing after Saren as the first human Spectre. There was only so much he could do when he had so many problems placed on his shoulders. So Kaidan had decided to try and make things a little easier on him by giving himself the unofficial duty of watching over the crew. Keeping his ear close the ground, as it were.

He opened his eyes and looked over at Ashley, who was cleaning her weapons thoroughly. She always cleaned her weapons whenever she had a lot on her mind. Still recovering from the cracked rib injury she sustained, Ashley had been suppressing the bitterness she felt at once again being a hindrance rather than an asset. Kaidan could sympathize with her. Many people, if not all, joined the Alliance military to prove something, either to themselves or to others. Ashley wanted to prove that she was strong and each defeat she suffered took her one step back from that goal. She desperately wanted to prove that she had strength. Or maybe it was because of her grandfather…

Kaidan looked over to Garrus, the turian who was limping on his crutch as he walked around the Mako, trying to see what repairs could be done. He couldn't do any repairs himself, however, not with the wound in his side. By all rights, he shouldn't even be up and walking about. But he was a stubborn turian. As long as he was still breathing, he wouldn't stop moving. So, instead, he helped with Engineer Adams and his team to repair some of the damages that the vehicle had sustained on Feros.

Unlike Ashley, Garrus didn't seem bothered by his defeat. He knew that there wasn't much he could do in that situation and though he sustained harsh injuries, he still did his duty. As Kaidan looked at him, however, he knew that Garrus was bothered by something. Garrus always believed in swift justice. And Saren wasn't receiving this. If anything, it seemed that they were making little progress in that respect. Kaidan understood where he was coming from. The turians were all raised with a strong sense of duty and discipline. Saren had committed a crime and had to be brought to justice. And they were no closer to finding him. Kaidan knew that this must be what was bothering him.

A door from the engine room opened and Kaidan saw Tali gracefully walk out to stand beside Adams by the Mako, reading over a data file. Tali was young and eager to impress. Kaidan didn't need to see her face in order to know that. He could read it in her body language. He did wonder, however, how she was doing after their run-in with that Geth Prime. It had acted strangely, strange enough to warrant note. And it appeared to have knowledge of Tali's mother. Or at least it had a holo, which was strange enough. He wondered how close Tali was to her mother. He didn't know much about the quarians but he could guess that by living aboard ships their entire lives, they must be close with each other. Regardless, if she was bothered by the geth, Tali was able to hide it well.

Kaidan closed his eyes again as he took another deep breath, letting it out slowly. His thoughts wandered to Liara, who hadn't left the Med Bay since they left the planet. Everyone was aware of what Tuvok had done to her so everyone gave the space she needed, but at the same time, everyone made sure she was still within arms reach. Everyday, people would come by to ask her a question about this and that, some would ask if she'd like to join them for lunch, dinner. It seemed like everyone had forgotten that she was the daughter of a Matriarch who was working alongside Saren. Some of the men even began hitting on her. Once Shepard found out about that, however…well, he put a stop to that. Still, they all were trying to help in their own way. Even Ashley worked up the nerve to ask if she needed anything. That one time.

As for Wrex…well, he was a krogan. Any discussion Kaidan had with him eventually turned to who would win in a fight between such and such. Kaidan knew that there was more to this hardened Battlemaster than met the eye but, like Shepard, he didn't exactly advertise it for the world to see. Though, Kaidan couldn't be sure, but it seemed that Wrex had begun to open up a little. Kaidan opened his eyes and saw Wrex sleeping in the corner with his large head down on his chest and he remembered the discussion he had about the time Wrex had killed a Thresher Maw on foot as part of a coming-of-age ritual on Tuchunka, the krogan homeworld. Kaidan didn't know whether or not to believe it.

Kaidan took another deep breath and released it slowly, stilling his heart as he thought over the crew. Everyone was carrying his or her own baggage. It was important for Kaidan to stay focused. Even if he was carrying his own, he couldn't let it affect the mission. He needed to help in any way he could.

"Commander, we're receiving an emergency transmission from the Alliance brass," Joker's voice came through the intercom. "It's Admiral Hackett."

After a moment, Shepard came through.

"I'll be there in a second," Shepard said before signing off.

Intrigued, Kaidan took a finishing breath and stood up. He walked to the elevator that took him up to the next level. When it reached the next floor, he turned the corner and walked up the stairs and entered the CIC. Shepard was already there, standing before the Galaxy Map. He had a data pad in one hand a cup of water in the other, which he was quietly sipping before placing it on the railing, balancing it carefully. Navigator Pressly was standing nearby, working on a datapad, looking up at the Galaxy Map every so often. The door slid shut behind Kaidan and Shepard turned to see him. Kaidan snapped a salute and Shepard returned it.

"Now," Shepard said. "Let's see what the ol' Admiral wants. Patch me through, Joker."

"Patching it through," Joker relayed. The Galaxy Map disappeared for a moment and instead turned into a holographic display of a box with Admiral Hackett's name in the corner. Within the box was a line that moved as the admiral spoke.

"Shepard, this is Admiral Hackett," the grizzled voice came through, calm but filled with age. "I've got a situation you might be interested in."

"Lay it on me, Admiral," Shepard said.

"It's about your former commanding officer, Major Kyle," Hackett said simply. Shepard blinked in surprise and took an unconscious step back.

"Major Kyle?" Shepard asked quietly.

"Yes, your commanding officer during the raid on Torfan?" Hackett said.

"I remember him," Shepard said. "I haven't heard from him since the raid, though. We didn't exactly leave on good terms."

"Yes I understand," Hackett said. "He mentioned you many times during his psyche evaluations, calling you the 'Butcher of Torfan.' I know he didn't like you but I also know that you respected him."

"He was a good man," Shepard said. "A good leader." Kaidan wondered if Shepard actually meant that.

"He was, which is why I'm handing this to you," Hackett said. "As you know, Kyle was in charge of one of the first strike teams to touch down on Torfan. You were chosen to lead the first wave. And you did it. You got the job done, but…"

"But I let over 75 percent of my squad die in the process," Shepard said, betraying no emotion.

"To put it bluntly, yes," Hackett said. "Many people died on Torfan. He blamed you but for the most part, he blamed himself for all of their deaths. After Torfan, he suffered from nightmares that progressed to hallucinations. The doctors agreed that he was suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. They did everything they could but his psych evaluation showed that he couldn't handle the stress of command anymore. He just couldn't cope with the guilt. He was given an honorable discharge and early retirement. I guess we hoped that he would get better in time, but it seemed that he only got worse. We underestimated how far gone he was. Now it looks like it's too late."

Kaidan watched Shepard carefully with his arms crossed across his chest. Shepard had taken a step back and was leaning away from the image of the speaker's voice, which suggested that Shepard wasn't exactly comfortable with the entire situation. Which suggested many things that could be true. Knowing Shepard, however, Kaidan believed that he didn't want to get involved with Major Kyle again. The Major must not have liked the Commander at all. Or vice versa.

"What's happened?" Shepard asked, almost hesitantly.

"He's set up a small compound in the Hawking Eta cluster," Hackett continued. "He's attracted a number of followers, mostly biotics and has now become an outspoken critic of the Alliance."

"Many people are," Shepard said. "You wouldn't bring this to me unless it became more than just heated words."

"It did," Hackett said. "Three days ago, we sent two Alliance representatives to meet with him in his compound. They disappeared. We believe Kyle and his followers killed them."

"The representatives didn't have an armed escort of any kind?" Shepard asked.

"We didn't feel the need to send them with any," Hackett said. "A mistake we're paying for dearly. We underestimated the Major. We didn't realize just how far gone he was. All they wanted to do was bring him back to an Alliance facility for treatment. Major Kyle had served us faithfully for many years; we weren't going to abandon him. Given his state of mind, however, he probably saw him as a threat."

"Most likely," Shepard said. He began to pace slowly back and forth, fingertips together, deep in thought. "You said that he had biotic followers? If I remember correctly, he didn't have any biotic abilities."

"I think he's just latched onto a group he identifies with," Hackett said. "Many biotics feel marginalized or ostracized by society. Kyle probably sees them as victims who need his protection. And they see him as someone who will fight for them. Maybe more than that."

"What do you mean?" Shepard asked.

"That compound is a cult, Shepard," Hackett said distastefully. "They call him 'Father Kyle,' now. Somehow, he's convinced them that the Alliance is somehow responsible for all their problems."

"Kyle probably shifted the blame from himself to the Alliance," Shepard said. "And now he's got an entire army of biotics that will listen to his every command."

"They're not an army, Shepard," Hackett warned. "They're just biotics with no one to turn to. Major Kyle provides some kind of relief for them, I suppose."

"And what?" Shepard asked. "You want me to kill them?" Hackett was silent for a moment.

"We don't want this to turn into a massacre, Shepard," Hackett said slowly. "Since you're a Spectre, I can't force you to do one thing over the other. I expect you to use your best judgment to handle this situation. Do the best you can, Commander. That's all. Hackett out."

The communication cut out and the CIC was silent. Shepard stood silent for a moment. Kaidan watched him carefully, ready to carry out any order given to him. Shepard finally looked up.

"Pressly," Shepard said. "Plot a course for the Hawking Eta Cluster."

"Aye aye, sir," Pressly said. "Estimated time puts us at little more than an hour."

"Kaidan," Shepard said. "I want you to come with me."

"Just me?" Kaidan asked, surprised.

"Ashley is in no condition to fight," Shepard explained. "And if I bring anyone else, it'll probably send the wrong message. This is an Alliance issue and it should stay amongst alliance personnel."

"Ashley won't like it, sir," Kaidan stated.

"I don't care if she does," Shepard said harshly. "It's an order."

"Aye aye," Kaidan said. He could say nothing else.

\::/::\::/::\::/

"This is bullshit!" Ashley shouted angrily.

"Told you," Kaidan murmured.

"Shut it," Shepard muttered. He sheathed his knife onto his arm and cracked his neck. Kaidan stood next to him adjusting his glove. They both stood beside the Mako, getting prepared for their drop. The rest of the team was gathered around them, waiting for their orders. Ashley wasn't taking hers that well.

"I can fight, commander! I'm ready!" Ashley protested.

"You have a cracked rib that makes it harder for your lungs to take in air, making it harder to breathe," Shepard said simply. "If this turns into a firefight, you wouldn't be able to last long. You would become too tired to do anything and you wouldn't be able to fight effectively. You're staying here."

"He's right, Ashley," Garrus said, leaning on his crutch. "You'd be hindering them more than helping them."

"Shut up, turian!" Ashley yelled.

"Hey, that's enough!" Shepard said, raising his voice. Ashley shut her mouth and stared long and hard at Shepard. "You're not coming and that's final. Am I making myself clear, Gunnery Chief?" Ashley breathed through her nose hard and finally sighed.

"Aye aye," she whispered. Shepard looked at her for a moment before nodding.

"Is it really a good idea to go down there alone?" Tali asked.

"I won't be alone," Shepard said. "I've got Captain Migraine to back me up."

"Oh, ha-ha, make fun of the handicapped. He's an easy target," Kaidan said rolling his eyes. He tightened the straps on his boots.

"Oh, cry me a river, bloody nose," Joker called over the intercom.

"Joker, if you're using the intercom for anything other than relaying orders or keeping me updated, I will come up there and break your legs myself," Shepard said threateningly.

"Just called to say that we've reached the Century System. We'll be in orbit of Presrop in ten minutes," Joker said and turned off the intercom.

"Tali's right, though, sir," Kaidan said. "Two people against an entire commune? We have no idea how many people they have and no idea what kind of defensive capabilities they have. All we know is that there is an entire commune of biotics who believe every this Major Kyle says."

"It'll have to do," Shepard said. "We have no idea how they will react to...a non-human presence. No offense."

"None taken," Garrus said. "Most humans don't see eye to eye with turians. Not after the Relay 314 Incident."

"You mean the First Contact War," Ashley grumbled.

"So not the time for that," Shepard said quickly. "Tali has had no experience dealing with biotics. And Wrex…well, you're a krogan. And I want this to be civil."

"Whatever," Wrex said, yawning. "I'm going back to sleep."

"You've been asleep for over 12 hours," Tali said.

"If you've got other ways to pass the time, let me know," Wrex stated, stretching his arms.

"Well, we could calibrate the main guns," Garrus suggested.

"Or you could help me with my forms," Tali said.

"Wasn't really asking," Wrex said as he walked away. They watched him, Shepard shaking his head.

"Anyways, I'm trying to make sure this doesn't get bloody," Shepard said. "I just want to talk to the man."

"No harm in preparing for the unexpected," Garrus said. "Why not bring Liara along?"

"What?" Shepard, Liara and Ashley asked at the same time.

"We do need the extra firepower, Commander," Kaidan said. "And if Liara keeps her helmet on, they'll just think she's human."

"Wait, she looks human to you?" Garrus asked, but no one answered.

"If you need me, I'm ready, Commander," Liara said. Ashley looked at her incredulously, but kept her mouth shut. She looked at Shepard. Shepard looked at Liara for a moment and sighed.

"Get suited," Shepard ordered. "We drop in eight."

Liara nodded and rushed off to her locker. Ashley stared after her, shaking her head and mumbling something under her breath. Kaidan looked at her and wondered if it was going to be a problem. After a few moments, he guessed that it wouldn't be. Ashley was also a soldier and would obey the orders given to her, even if it injured her pride.

Kaidan turned back towards the Mako but stopped halfway. Liara had thrown her shirt off onto the floor and was shuffling through her locker, pulling out the Light Onyx V Armor she had been issued. It occurred to him that Liara, who was normally shy and timid around people, seemed completely oblivious to the fact that she was stripping off her clothes in front of people. He couldn't tell if this was a sign that she had grown over the last month, or the fact that she would often get lost in what she was doing. Still, Kaidan couldn't say that he was complaining. Her blue skin was quite luscious and smooth. Kaidan couldn't help but stare.

"Your jaw drops anymore, I'll have to mop if off the floor, LT," Shepard said as he tapped him on the shoulder.

"Just art appreciation, Commander," Kaidan said.

"Appreciate it on your time, not while we're working," Shepard said. Kaidan shook his head and walked towards the ladder connected to the Mako. Shepard tightened his red and black gloves and checked his assault rifle one more time. As he did, his eyes drifted towards Liara. She had finished putting her armor on and was walking back to the Mako, holstering her pistol. She looked up and a small smile appeared on her face as her eyes met Shepard's. He turned away.

\::/::\::/::\::/

Presrop was the moon of Klendagon, the second planet of the Century System in the Hawking Eta Cluster. With an average surface temperature of -73° C, it is a very frigid and barren world. The surface of the planet, however, is rich with raw heavy metals that the Alliance had opened bidding for the moon's mineral rights. It is complicated, however, by the moon's close proximity to the "Five Kiloparsec Ring," an area of intense star formations that makes the planet dangerous to travel to safely. It wasn't much a problem for Joker, however, and he made it to the cold moon in no time at all. And through his expert piloting, the Mako landed on the cold surface uneventfully. And an hour later, Shepard, Kaidan and Liara had arrived at the compound.

There were two main buildings. One was a large, rectangular building that slightly resembled to Shepard a man praying on his knees. The other building was a disk-like structure that Shepard knew to be an underground storage and power facility. Shepard stared out the windows, examining his surroundings and thought of his next move. There were no other options though. He would have to go up and ring the doorbell.

"Helmets on," Shepard said. "Prepare for anything. Don't fire unless fired upon."

The doors to the Mako opened and the cold air slammed into the interior. They could barely feel the cold, the interior of their suits kept at a comfortable level. Their boots cracked across the surface as they landed on the surface. Shepard walked forward, eyes scanning the area carefully.

"Where is everybody?" Liara asked.

"Inside. Not much cause to be outside on this planet," Kaidan said.

"Still, you'd expect guards of some kind."

"I think we can assume that nothing here will be as expected."

Shepard looked around again before walking to the praying building. There was a small double door with a console in the front that glowed a bright red. Shepard approached the console and pressed a button.

"I'm here to speak with Major Kyle," Shepard said through the console.

Silence for a moment, then: "Are you with the Alliance?"

"I'm a representative. I'm here to ask about the two other representatives that were sent here before me."

Silence again, then: "This is a private sanctuary. Outsiders are not permitted. Please leave at once."

"I can't do that. Not until I speak with Major Kyle."

"Father Kyle is busy at the moment. He has no time to spare on the Alliance anymore."

"I suggest he make time. Two members of the Alliance walked into your compound, unarmed and without escort. They have yet to walk back out. I hope you realize how serious that sounds. Major Kyle has one chance clear this whole thing up but I need to speak with him. If you deny me entrance, I guarantee you this will become ugly."

"Are you threatening me?" The voice from the intercom took on an edge of indignation. Liara gulped silently.

"Just stating facts," Shepard said, his voice calm and clear, betraying no emotions. The voice from the intercom, however, became more frantic.

"If we let you in, all you will do is take Father Kyle away! We won't let you! He guides us! We need him! Who else will help us if not him?" Shepard paused for a second before pressing the call button again.

"Tell him this is Commander John Shepard. I served under him during the Torfan Raid. I swear to you, I just want to talk," Shepard said. He stepped back and folded his arms, waiting patiently. Kaidan clenched his fists unconsciously while Liara looked around cautiously. The voice returned.

"Father Kyle wishes to speak with you."

The double doors in front of them hissed as they opened slowly, vapor escaping through the widening cracks. Shepard stepped away, joining Kaidan and Liara. More light escaped through the opening door and Shepard spotted shadows of movement. Kaidan tightened his fist and unconsciously moved his hand towards his pistol. Liara swallowed a noiseless gulp and moved back a step.

Three men emerged wearing Light Onyx Armor and brandishing pistols that to Shepard appeared to be from the Edge line. Shepard looked at them carefully as they surrounded his squad. Shepard raised his hands and slowly walked up the ramp and into the building. The men kept their pistols aimed at Shepard as he walked through the double doors. When Kaidan moved to follow, one of the men whipped his gun around and aimed it straight at his head.

"Father Kyle wishes to speak only with Commander Shepard," the man said.

"Wherever the Commander goes, I go," Kaidan said, staring him dead in the eye.

"Then you'll be dead," the man said.

"Kaidan," Shepard said. "Stand down."

"Commander, no!" Liara said, her eyes widening.

"I'm not leaving you alone with-" Kaidan said.

"Stand. Down," Shepard said, his blue eyes looking straight into Kaidan's own. Kaidan pressed his lips together. Liara's mouth worked as she tried to say something. She felt she had to but nothing came out. Shepard looked over at her. The scar running down his left eye moved as he winked at her, smiling mischievously. "I'll be fine. Really."

Kaidan and Liara stood still as they watched their leader herded into the building. The duo stepped away from the doors as the closed on their face, sealing Shepard in with a building full of cultists.

"What do we do now?" Liara asked.

Kaidan cursed under his breath and ran back to the Mako. He had to tell the others. This was not going according to plan.

\::/::\::/::\::/

Shepard didn't need to be told how much a bad idea this was. He felt it in his gut. His instincts were telling him to run like hell for the nearest airlock. It was one man against dozens, maybe hundreds of biotics, not to mention that the biotics were possibly deranged. The situation was simply not in Shepard's favor. Normally, Shepard would have simply forced them to take Kaidan and Liara with him. For some reason, however, he had jumped on the chance to keep them outside. He didn't want them to know about Torfan. Not yet, at least.

As he walked through the airlock, he removed for his helmet with ease, showing control even when guns were pointed at him. After hooking his helmet onto his belt, he kept his hands in the air, palms open. The three men than removed the weapons attached to his body. When one moved to grab the knife on his shoulder, Shepard grabbed his hand with lightening speed.

"You can have my guns," Shepard said. "But if you touch my knife, your hand will shatter." The guns were inches away from his face and the other two were yelling at him, but Shepard was focused on the man who's hand he was crushing with his own. Fear was dripping from his eyes.

"Get back!" a voice yelled. "Father Kyle wants him to feel safe. Let him keep the knife."

Slowly, the men stepped away, giving him room. Shepard looked at the man in his grasp hard before releasing him. The man whimpered away, stretching his hand. Shepard looked over at the man who had yelled, recognizing his voice from the intercom outside.

"Father Kyle wishes to speak with you," the man said. He wore a formal white suit with a black tie and a pair of dark aviator sunglasses. Shepard found his glasses disconcerting. He couldn't see the man's eyes.

"So I've been told," Shepard said.

"Please understand that these precautions are only for our Father's protection," the man said, holding his hands out in defense. Shepard thought his voice was too smooth and immediately didn't like him. "As you can understand, Father Kyle has made many enemies as he's preached the truth."

"I'm not here about that," Shepard said.

"But of course," the man said, smiling. He motioned behind him. "Please, follow me."

"I didn't catch your name."

"Ah. Of course. How rude of me. I apologize. You may call me Jim."

The response didn't comfort Shepard.

\::/::\::/::\::/

"You just let them take him?" Ashley shouted, her voice shrill and incredulous. It hurt Joker's ears. Luckily, Pressly was nearby to remain calm.

"So Shepard is in the building alone," Pressly said.

"Yes," Kaidan's voice was rough and tired, his breath heavy. "It was the Commander's orders."

"And you didn't question him!" Ashley said, pacing across the bridge. "You didn't think, hey, this might be a bad idea!"

"Of course it's a bad idea," Kaidan said. "There was nothing we could do."

"You could have fought!"

"Then we would have had to massacre the entire compound. Is that what you want, Chief?"

Ashley growled and walked out of the bridge. Joker watched her leave, shaking her head.

"That girl's going to get herself killed," Joker said under his breath.

"Gunnery Chief Williams, where are you going?" Pressly said, his voice filled with command.

"I'm going down there," Ashley yelled over her shoulder.

"She knows that we only have one Mako, right?" Joker asked.

"You're staying on this ship until otherwise, Chief," Pressly said. "As the Executive Officer, I'm giving you an order. Stand down."

That stopped Ashley in her tracks and she slammed her fist into the wall, startling the nearby technician. Chakwas looked up from her datapad, raising her eyebrow at her. Ashley shook her head.

"We can't just leave him in there alone," Ashley said.

"That's all we can do," Pressly said. "We have no idea of their defensive or offensive capabilities. So, for now, we wait."

"They'll kill him," Ashley said.

"If they know what's good for them, they won't," Joker said.

"Have a little faith in the commander, Williams," Pressly said. "He's been in tougher situations than this. He can handle himself." Ashley shook her head as Chakwas moved to comfort her, placing her hand on Ashley's shoulder.

"We need to help him," Ashley growled at her.

"Begging your pardon, Chief," Chakwas said. "But you have no idea what he needs. He's survived countless battles and wars. He won't die to a bunch of cultists. If he's in there alone, than he wants to be in there alone. Have faith, Ashley. Shepard knows what he's doing. He can handle himself. Don't you know that already?"

\::/::\::/::\::/

The men and women in the building all stared at him as Shepard followed Jim. Their stares were filled with some mixture of hate, fear and anger. Shepard was used to them all and so was unaffected by their stares.

"Our members have been on edge since our last guests," Jim said smoothly. "All members have had some form of traumatic experience with outsiders, especially from the Alliance. We know all too well how the Alliance loves to abandon its followers. So they came here, seeking acceptance. Seeking a place to feel welcome. To feel at home. Father Kyle has provided that to us. He has provided us with not only a shield from the troubles of the universe, but a sword as well. A way to fight back against oppression. Against fear."

"Uh huh," Shepard mumbled. He was barely paying attention, instead focusing on what kind of capabilities his enemy could have. Besides being biotics, they also seemed to be armed with a pistol. "Is that why everyone is armed, even at home?"

"The pistols?" Jim said. "Yes, we give each of our members a weapon besides their biotics to use. Our biotics can be helpful, but it causes some of us pain beyond your understanding. The pistol serves two purposes. One, it lets them know that they need not rely on their biotics. And two, it reminds them."

"Reminds them of what?" Shepard asked.

"That the disease can come from within as well," Jim said. "It reminds them to be ever watchful for signs of the sickness. Until the Alliance began to poke its head into our affairs, we've had no signs of this."

"And by disease, what do you mean?" Shepard dared to ask.

"Why would you ask such a question?" Jim asked. "Being a soldier and now a Spectre, you've seen the disease every day. People killing each other over resources, stealing from each other, aliens infecting our minds with lies of peace and togetherness. You see it everywhere, the disease. Here, we are safe from it. Safe from fear and pain."

Shepard decided to not talk with this man anymore, lest he contract a disease as well. Despite how smooth his voice was, Shepard couldn't help but feel that Jim was attempting to brainwash him as he spoke. So he continued to look around, try to see how best to handle the situation.

They walked down a secluded hallway and up to a door. Jim turned around and stared at Shepard through his dark aviator glasses. He smiled.

"Father Kyle will see you now," Jim said sweetly. "Please do not try anything or we will kill you."

"Thanks for letting me know," Shepard said.

The doors opened and Shepard walked into the room followed by Jim and the guards. The guards fanned out to the corners of the room as Jim stood in front of Shepard.

"Father Kyle," Jim said. "As requested, we have shown Commander Shepard to you."

Father Kyle stood in the back of the room, watering a plant with a glass, his back to Shepard. He wore a full black coat that stretched to his knees. Shepard noticed that his hair was whiter than when he last saw him. As if a thought suddenly struck him, Father Kyle stopped watering the plant and slowly, too slowly, he turned around and faced Shepard.

"Well," Kyle said, his voice sweeter than Jim's. "If it isn't the Butcher of Torfan."


Good god, how long has it been? Good to be back.

I'll be honest with you: I didn't work on this because I just didn't feel like it. I've had so much stuff going on as a college kid. Wrote a bunch of my own original pieces. One in particular I'm quite proud of (a samurai western. Go figure). I'd apologize for the lateness but at this point, you've already heard it.

This story is far from over. I will finish it. It's just not one of my priorities right now. So, enjoy what you have so far. More to come in the future (near or far, I won't say which).

Sorry this chapter ended abruptly. Better than nothing, I suppose.