How had she gotten herself into this? She had just wanted to bring something valuable back to the Fleet, but was now hunted by the agents of this 'Saren'. Who was this Saren anyway? A very influential man for sure, since he seemed to know every move she made. The power and resources this man had in his disposal screamed 'Spectre' to her. Saren was also a celebrity; he had attacked a large human colony in an attempt to destroy it, or so the rumors on the extranet had said. She hadn't believed them at first, but now she knew for sure. And if that wasn't bad enough, he was also trying to bring some geth machine gods back to life. A Spectre would attack a human colony to destroy the galaxy? It was crazy! He was crazy! And now he was chasing her! How could this happen? A few months ago Tali had just been patching fuel lines in the Rayya, but now was thrown in the middle of some big galactic conspiracy.
She was not a heroine, but a regular girl, whose life was quite uneventful and safe. Sometimes she would even describe her life as boring and had even wished to see the world, to see at least some action. Maybe she should have been more careful what she'd wished for, since her wish had now come true. And now that it had, she wished nothing more than to return to that 'boring' and 'uneventful' life she had lived before this.
She lowered her head.
Perhaps you never appreciate the things that you have and perhaps that is what the Pilgrimage is all about; making you appreciate who you are and where you come from. Making you appreciate the good things of the Fleet, like the safety, or the fact that you're never alone. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. She didn't know.
But she knew something: she missed the Fleet terribly. She missed her friends, her father and the safety. She even missed that stupid little fuel line that kept breaking down continuously.
Here she had nothing. No friends, no family and definitely no safety. She was all alone in the big, scary world. It was like in the fairy tales; a helpless, lost girl all alone.
But in the fairy tales, the helpless girl was always saved by a handsome man, who then brings her to his large castle to live with him.
This was not a fairy tale though and nobody was going to come to her rescue, especially some handsome man.
She touched her shoulder and flinched from the pain. It had been a pretty close call the last time. Saren's men had ambushed her and demanded that she'd give them the file. As much as she had wanted to, she couldn't. So many people had died because of this Saren and she couldn't let him get away with it. Not to mention, that they probably would have killed her anyway.
So, she had refused, and they had decided to open fire. She didn't know how she had gotten away, but she had.
Her getaway did have a price though; a bullet to the shoulder. It had hurt so much…
Luckily, she had managed to get to a clinic fast, where her injuries were treated. When shot, time was always essential for quarians; not because of the wound itself, but because of the suit rupture. The bullet may have not been fatal, but the open-air exposure could've still killed her. She had been lucky, and hadn't gotten sick. And her luck hadn't even ended there…
The clinic had been just a small place, only capable of holding a couple of patients at once. It was owned by a human woman called Chloe Michel, a nice person, who had treated Tali with a weird amount of respect. It was weird, because most people treated quarians like second-class citizens, like they carried some plague. True, she had never seen quite that many humans before and the ones she had, hadn't cared about she being a quarian.
Maybe she was prejudiced too?
Anyway, Tali had liked her and hadn't wanted to involve her into the mess, but Michel kept insisting that she could help. Finally, Tali had given up and had told Michel that she needed to find the Shadow Broker, to exchange the information for protection.
Michel had then told Tali that she knew an agent for the Broker. It truly seemed like that Tali's luck was turning. Giving the information to the Shadow Broker was probably the only way to survive, since it was not like that she could just walk into the Alliance embassy and show them the data. Well, actually she could, but it wouldn't help anything. Who'd believe a quarian without any backers to her claim?
And this way, the information would eventually end up in the Alliance's hands.
So, she had met the 'agent' for the Shadow Broker, a man called Fist. Tali had not been impressed; actually, she had been repulsed by the man. Was he the sort of people the Shadow Broker did business with? Even so, she had brushed her feelings aside, since she had no other choice. Fist had then arranged a meeting between her, himself, and the Shadow Broker.
Something still didn't seem quite right with all of this, but she decided to go through with it anyway.
And now she was here, waiting for the Broker. She was starting to get nervous, and her demeanor reflected that. Her hands fidgeted against each other, and she was swaying slightly from side to side. She didn't even know what the Broker looked like, but he, or she, knew what she looked like. The fact made her feel like she was being followed, like she was merely a target for someone to aim at. It was a feeling she'd rather not have experienced, and that feeling made her glance around nervously.
The corridor was dark and empty, since nobody ever came through here. It had a reputation for muggings, so it was no wonder. It was a good place for the Shadow Broker to show himself, since apparently he wanted to keep his identity as secret as possible.
But it would have been pleasant to see someone anyway, to make her feel a little less alone. The only other being in the corridor with her was a keeper, which was working in the corner, doing something incomprehensible to her. Still, even its presence helped somewhat.
At least she wasn't completely alone.
Suddenly, she could see a door closest to her opening. A turian stepped through the door, followed by two salarians. The turian had the most curious face painting she had ever seen, like a human skull. Was this the mighty Shadow Broker? A turian?
"Are you the Shadow Broker?"
"No," the turian answered strictly, still approaching her "Did you bring it?"
What was this turian doing here then? She had requested a meeting with the Shadow Broker, not with one of his agents. And as if that wasn't suspicious enough, someone else was missing too: Fist.
Something was very, very wrong here.
"Where's the Shadow Broker? Where is Fist?"
The turian stopped right in front of her "They'll be here," he put his hand on her cheek, sliding it towards her shoulder. "Where's the evidence?"
She felt disgusted by his touch and immediately slapped his hand away, making the turian take a step back. The turian signaled something to the salarians, who began approaching her, their weapons drawn. She began to glance around, trying to find a quick exit, but could find none. There were only three ways out of the corridor, and one of them was blocked by the two salarians. She'd need to get to one of the doors at the far-ends.
And get there quickly.
It was the same situation like the last time; again she was ambushed and had to flee. She hoped that the same tactic would work again, and it better work, for she didn't know if she could beat them in a fight.
Tali quickly armed a tech mine and threw it towards the salarians, simultaneously cartwheeling towards a cargo crate. The salarians lost their balance and fell down to the ground, giving Tali some time to take cover behind the crate.
"Kill her!" the turian shouted and Tali pulled out her shotgun. The assassins began firing towards her, forcing her to stay down.
That bosh'tet Fist had betrayed her. But why? Wasn't the Shadow Broker a very powerful individual, knowing everything worth knowing? What kind of an offer could Saren have made? Give him even more money than the Shadow Broker? Even if he had, Fist had still created a very powerful enemy for himself. Not a very smart move.
Tali glanced at the door at the far-end of the corridor. There was no way she was getting out this time. She would have to fight.
Her omni-tool opened and she tapped it a couple of times, transferring all the available power to her shields. She then quickly rose up from behind the crate and aimed her shotgun at the assassins.
But the assassins lay on the floor, riddled with bullet holes. She felt her mouth opening in shock. Who had killed them? How she hadn't noticed that?
She took a few steps backwards and bumped into something. She immediately turned towards that something, her shotgun raised.
Tali realized that she was pointing her shotgun at a large krogan. The krogan's eyes narrowed and its lips twisted into a smile. "Don't try it, kid," the krogan growled, pointing his assault rifle at Tali casually.
Now she noticed several others too; three humans and a turian, all of them with their weapons drawn. She kept pointing her shotgun between all of them. She didn't seem to notice anything today. She had made another deadly mistake in just a few seconds.
"Who are you? What do you want?" she asked, trying to sound as menacing as she could. The problem was, that she probably sounded as threatening as, well, a scared little quarian girl…
"Tali'Zorah?" one of the humans asked.
She pointed her shotgun at the human. He was wearing a dark grey armor, with an abbreviation of 'N7' on the chest. Was that some mercenary group? She knew that abbreviation from somewhere, but didn't remember where. "Who are you?"
The human sighed "I'm Commander John Shepard, Systems Alliance military. I'm here for the data." He signaled for his companions to lower their weapons, which they did.
But Tali didn't lower her weapon. She'd been betrayed enough for one lifetime. "I'm sorry if I don't take your word for it," she answered strictly. Was N7 some Alliance Special Forces group? If it was, she still didn't remember.
"If we wanted to kill you, you wouldn't have even noticed," the turian chimed in. He was wearing a bright blue armor, C-Sec's uniform. Was he a police officer? What was a C-Sec officer doing with a krogan and an Alliance soldier? What was going on?
"I-I…" Tali tried to speak, but the words didn't come out. She kept pointing her shotgun between all of them, not knowing if she should trust them. She really didn't feel like trusting anyone, since she had almost been killed a minute ago because of that.
However, these people were not murderous drug dealers…
At least she hoped they weren't.
She sighed in defeat, and lowered her shotgun. "I guess you're right," she muttered, lowering her head as well.
The human named Shepard took a few steps forward, looking towards Tali, eyes slightly narrowed "You all right? You weren't hurt in the fight?"
Tali lifted her head "No. I'm fine, thank you." Now she actually noticed the man's face for the first time; he had a strong jaw, wide cheekbones, and a heavy brow. She'd seen countless faces during her travels, including humans', but somehow this human's face seemed to be special, fascinating.
He even looked handsome to her, which felt extremely weird, for they weren't even the same species. However, humans were quite similar to quarians physically; the both species had a nose, lips and eyes, and all those three were located approximately at the same places as well. So maybe it was not that weird to find humans attractive, but it still felt like it.
"Hey? You still with us?" the human asked, his eyes narrowing more.
Had she been staring? If she had, had he noticed? She felt like she had been observing him like some animal for study. Her cheeks blushed slightly "Sorry."
Now the human's piercing light blue eyes looked straight at hers and it felt like that he could see right through her. His eyes were also very fascinating, maybe the most fascinating part of his face; light blue irises, filled with both hardness and softness at the same time. She felt like she could drown herself into them.
But his stare still felt embarrassing, so she broke eye-contact.
As she had been staring at him, she had completely forgotten about the ambush. She had almost been killed again, yet felt no shock like after the first ambush. Perhaps it was because she hadn't had to kill anyone? Or maybe she was starting to get used to it? She didn't want to get used to it.
Anyway, how had he found her? The only way to found her would have been through Fist, and he couldn't have given her location very easily…
"How did you find me? Did you talk to Fist?" Tali asked Shepard.
A cold expression appeared on Shepard's face "Among other things, yes."
That bosh'tet Fist had first betrayed her, and now he had betrayed Saren too. He really did not seem to understand the meaning of loyalty, but considering recent events, it was probably a good thing, at least for her. Even so, Tali still hoped that something bad had happened to him and judging Shepard's words, and demeanor, something had. "Is he dead? What happened?"
"I killed him," the krogan answered, causing Tali to turn towards him.
"A-are you sure? He's surely dead? He's not coming back?"
The krogan started to chuckle "If he does, he comes back without a head."
"Oh…" The image of Fist's headless body surged into her mind, and she was disgusted by it. Yes, she had hoped that something would happen to him, but maybe this was a little too much. Still, it was probably for the best, as this way he couldn't hurt anyone anymore. She lowered her head back down again "Well, I guess there are two things then that I need to thank you for."
Shepard brushed her off "Don't worry about it."
"Maybe we should take her to the embassy, Commander?" one other human, a male one, suggested. His hair, eye and skin color were somewhat darker than Commander Shepard's, whose hair was light brown, skin white and eyes light blue. They looked largely different, but there were similarities as well, like his jaw, which was wide, like Shepard's. However, the differences between the two were much more noticeable; in addition to having different colored eyes, the human's eyes also were slightly narrower than Shepard's, as were his cheekbones.
Humans were so diverse, when compared to any other species…
Again she was staring! She turned her head away, blushing again, and began to think about what the man had just said. Was she going to see the Presidium? It was probably the first time in 300 years that a quarian visited that beautiful place. She felt quite privileged. Quarians were usually allowed as little freedoms as possible while on the Citadel, which basically meant denying their access to the more 'higher-class places', like the Presidium.
"You're right. We should go there. Udina probably wants to see this anyway," Shepard agreed, nodding.
As the rest of their group started moving towards a door at the far-end, something struck her.
A young, lost girl, saved by a handsome man.
Just like in the fairy tales.
It was such a beautiful thought, that it made her smile.
Shepard stopped and turned towards her "Are you coming?"
Maybe her Pilgrimage would take a turn for the better now. At least it seemed to.
"Yes," she answered, jogging to catch up.