It was a little known fact that most of the Council had some sort of military experience.

The Turian Councilor (and Councilor Anderson never thought of him as anything else) had been an officer in the Turian Hierarchy during his term of conscription, and had fought smaller skirmishes against pirates on the edges of the Terminus. The Asari Councilor had been a Commando of some skill, though she had hung up the leathers centuries before Humans were even off Earth. And Anderson himself had been the highest decorated special forces officer of his day.

No one knew if the Salarian Councilor had been STG, but many wanted to believe so much that he may have well been so.

So when the Council was shuffled into its bunker after the attack, there had been no panicked milling. They had calmly picked up and moved, and when they had learned that the Destiny Ascension could not evacuate them they did not fret. Instead they followed their guards, sat down quietly, and then learned as much as they could.

It had been impossible to believe at first. The Quarian Attack had seemed impossible: what were the people of the Migrant Fleet thinking? Did they really think they could survive a war?

And then the Geth had arrived and fought beside them. Then Krogan, then Rachni, and a number of the largest, most notorious mercenary armies beside them. Any one of those alone had been a war that would shake the foundations of Council Space.

All of them together? No matter the outcome of this battle, this would be a war unlike any other. Every phantom, nightmare, and dirty secret of the Council's past had returned. The news that Shepard led them was almost reassuring, even as battle sounded around them in the Citadel.

They had turned to (on) the human councilor, of course. "We should have had Commander Alenko kill him out of hand, or sent another Spectre immediately after his betrayal," the Turian Councilor spat.

"We didn't know what he was doing," Anderson defended himself reasonably. "Convincing him to return was our best option. Especially when we had no proof he was lying."

"Anderson is correct," the Asari Councilor opined. "We had no sign that this was in the works." She did not send a spiteful glance towards the Salarian Councilor. The Turian Councilor did.

The Salarian ignored them both. "I am more interested in what Shepard's goals are," he said.

"Power. Greed. Revenge on us for not giving him whatever he wanted," the Turian supplied.

"Revenge for sending a Spectre to kill him," the Asari offered.

"I told you we should have sent Alenko first, but you didn't listen to me! Shepard has never desired power for its own sake," Anderson objected. "The man doesn't even track his finances past meeting his costs." He didn't suggest that he was angry at the Council's refusal to help the colonist abductions either. It was a mark of his political maturity. "Shepard is a fanatic. In his own way, he always does what he thinks is for the best. It is why he was made a Spectre in the first place."

"I agree," the Salarian admitted. "But it leaves the question of why this, and why now? What does he hope to gain?"

"Or, more relevantly, what does he hope to stop?" the Asari interjected. The Council looked amongst itself, and the Turian rolled his eyes.

"Ah, yes," he began, finger quoting in the air. "Reapers."

Anderson would not have been the man he was, have gotten as far as he had, if he had not protested. "The Reapers aren't a myth. You saw his data from the Collector Base, and the samples of the technology from within! Even the True Geth, Quarians, and Rachni believe in them!"

It was an old battle being waged once again.

"Councilor," the Asari began smoothly, "the Collectors have always been an advanced race. Their technology has always been just beyond ours: their infiltration network keeps them at the peak of our own knowledge. While we admit they were the cause of your colony abductions, their construct looked nothing like the Geth warship that Saren commanded."

She continued, the same arguments as so many years ago. "Saren created the legend of the Reapers, and Shepard used it to bring the Geth into line under him. The Quarians have fallen under the sway of his charisma. The Rachni play along with the tale, as it absolves them of their guilt in the Rachni Wars."

Anderson glared, but had learned there was no point in protesting anymore. Asari often argued like the sea: they would rise and fall with the tide, but they would eventually just wear away all your obstructions. Despite the STG reports from Virmire, they refused even to consider the risk of indoctrination.

Once, only once and during one of their last conversations, Shepard had shared a theory with Anderson, that the same subtle indoctrination that the Citadel used to keep the Keepers in line was being used to subtly indoctrinate the Council. Nothing major, nothing significant, but subtle assurances that would lead them to catastrophic neglect.

Anderson had dismissed it at the time, calling it a Cerberus ploy and asking Shepard to return. Now he wondered.

Sadly it was the last thing he would wonder as the door to the room exploded. The closest to the door, Anderson took fatal shrapnel wounds and collapsed. He heard, but never saw, Shepard approach, and died with a selfish relief that he would never see what his old friend had become.

Shepard walked into the room, saw Anderson's body, and stepped over it without a second glance. "Hello, Council," he greeted. "The battle is over: would you mind calling for the surrender before any more people have to die? I would hate to have to board the crippled Destiny Ascension after going through such effort to save it once again."