Two C-Sec officers leaned against a wall in the Zakera Wards, near the ramen stand. One of them was Human and the other was a Turian. It was their break. "So, Josh," said Yardoch, "you hear the rumors that apparently Commander Shepard is dating a Quarian."
Josh laughed. "Oh, I heard. Bunch of bull."
"Seriously, Josh, I don't understand human phrases like that."
"Lies. There's no way Commander Shepard would stoop so low as to date a Quarian."
"From what I've heard it's not just 'any Quarian'. From what I've heard, it's his chief engineer Tali'Zorah."
"Seriously Yardoch. Nothing but lies. He's THE Commander Shepard. First human spectre, Savior of the citadel-"
"Something all races really appreciate..."
"-Lion of Elsyium and the Omega of Collectors. He could go to any colony or world, human or Asari, and just say his name and have every woman within a 5 kilometer radius jump into his arms. Why would he want a Quarian? You can't even see their faces. For all we know, they look like geth."
Yardoch chuckled. "Not to mention they're thieves. The whole lot of them."
"Yeah! So don't believe everything you read on the extranet. Quarians... Ridiculous." Josh then decided to do impersonations. "I'm not a vagrant! I'm on pilgrimage, where I leave my fleet to annoy everyone I run into and then steal, all for the good of the migrant fleet."
Yardoch nearly fell to the ground laughing. "So true. They should stay in the fleet and don't bother the rest of us."
In front of the warehouse, they saw a lone Quarian woman. She was scanning the area and was fiddling around with her hands.
"Looks like a pick-pocket. Just waiting for some person to walk by."
"Our break is up," said Josh who pointed to the time on his omni-tool.
Yardoch smiled, or at least the Turian equivalent of smiling. "I love this job."
They both walked up to the Quarian woman. "Excuse me, m'am," said Josh in his feigned professional tone. "Might I ask what you're doing here?"
"I'm waiting for someone," she replied non-chalantly. She still continued scanning the area almost ignoring the C-Sec officers.
"Like a pocket to pick?"
"Sure m'am," added Yardoch. "We know your kind. nothing but thieves."
"I'm not a thief!"
"A vagrant then?" Yardoch pushed her to the wall without escape.
"I'm not a vagrant!"
"Look at this, Yardoch!" said Josh. He took her shotgun. "A scimitar shotgun. It's illegal to have weapons on the Citadel."
"I have permission," she countered.
"Don't lie! We're taking you in."
"No!" She struggled against the two officers. She tried reaching for her omni-tool to activate something, but Josh held it away from here.
"Nice try, now we'll charge you with vagrancy, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer."
"Let her go!" a voice roared.
"Sir, this is a C-Sec matter, please stay out of it," said Josh without looking back.
"I said let her go." The voice was more demanding.
"Sir-" Before he could finish dark energy surrounded him and Yardoch and pulled them back across the ground. They got to their feet and saw a man dressed in a black and white t-shirt with black pants that had large white pockets on both sides. "That was a big mistake. Now we'll have you charged with attacking an officer and obstructing justice."
"You think you're going to take in a spectre?" he said defiantly.
Josh and Yardoch looked at each other, and then laughed. "You a spectre?" chuckled Yardoch. "Who do you think you are?"
"I'm Commander Shepard."
Josh stared for a minute and then realized this is indeed the man from the extranet reports. He jumped and waved a salute. "Sir! Apologies for not recognizing you!" Yardoch quickly stood at attention. "We were just doing our job."
"If I recall your job is not to harass people based on their race, or attack my girlfriend."
"You're alright Tali?" asked Shepard, looking past the officers.
"Yes, Shepard. I can take care of myself you know," she said in a joking manner. She crossed her arms and tilted her head.
"I know." Shepard looked back at the officers. "You two are lucky she didn't fight back. If she did, she would have summoned a drone that would shock you with enough electricity to kill a krogan."
"Sir, we just suspected she was a pick-pocket," explained Yardoch.
"And what reason did you have to believe that?"
Shepard's face darkened. "I'll give you two a warning. If I hear about you two harassing anymore Quarians, it won't be me you'll be hearing from. It'll be Tali and her drone."
"Chikktika vas Paus takes no prisoners," she laughed.
"Come on, Tali, I promised to take you shopping."
"And you always keep your word," she said in a sexy tone.
The two walked away in each other's arms leaving two very confused C-Sec officers. "What the-"
* * * * *
Migrant Fleet – The Rayya
"So what's the status on the candidates for the replacement admiral?" asked Han'Gerrel in a tired tone.
"Currently Captain Taro'Vael vas Ulnay is the likely candidate," said Xen. "Of course a lot of people are suggesting Tali'Zorah. Foolish. She gets a human to make one
good speech and all of a sudden people are suggesting she's leadership material." She sighed in irritation.
"I think the people think that Rael's daughter would be the best replacement," countered Raan. "She has done a lot for the fleet."
"Speaking of Tali'Zorah…" Koris interrupted. "I've been hearing certain rumors about her."
"What do you mean?" asked Han.
"There's a rumor going around that she's involved in a relationship with Commander Shepard."
"You can't be serious," said Xen. "A human? Disgusting."
"You can't honestly believe that?" added Han. He looked to Raan. "Rumors, right, Raan?"
Raan was silent for a minute. "Well, actually…"
"The rumors true?" choked Xen.
"She sent me a message after the mission to the Collector base. She told me about their relationship."
"And you didn't think this was something to mention to the Admiralty Board?"
"I didn't think who she was with should be the Board's business."
"Really? You mean the daughter-of-an-Admiral's relationship should not be of our concern. Especially with a human. Not just a human, but a human Spectre."
"Commander Shepard is a good man-"
"And why hasn't he come out and say anything? Is he ashamed of her?"
"According to Tali, he would love to, but keeps it quiet for her sake. She even told me about a couple of C-Sec officers, who were harassing her. They were launched across the room by Shepard. Said to them that he doesn't like it 'when people attack the woman he loves.'"
"I could see this as beneficial to us," said Koris.
"What do you mean?" Han questioned.
"Shepard is a hero in the galaxy. Just look at the titles he has. Lion of Elysium, First
Human Spectre, Savior of the Citadel, and Omega of Collectors. He's an icon not
just to humans, but every race out there. Just think of what this could do for
the reputation of Quarians if everyone knows about his relationship with Tali'Zorah."
"You have a point there. Not to mention this gives us indirect access to a spectre. You remember how fast he was willing to help us when it came to the Alarei, and for Tali's sake nonetheless."
"Are you two seriously thinking of taking advantage of Tali's relationship?" accused Raan.
"Can't really argue with their logic, Raan," Xen added. "Though I should remind Koris and Han of the last time they tried to use Tali'Zorah for political gain. You
two were humiliated at the trial by the human. If we are to use his talents, you should tread lightly."
"There was more to the message that Tali sent," said Raan. "Shepard has a Geth on his team."
The three admirals looked to Raan. "W-What?" muttered Han. "Like a reprogrammed Geth?"
"No. A Geth joined his crew of its own free will. It turns out there was more to the Geth than we thought we knew. The geth that have been attacking organics were called by the main geth faction as Heretics. They followed the Reapers. The main geth faction harbors no hostilities towards organics."
"You don't honestly believe that?"
"Tali expressed the same skepticism. Though according to her, Legion, as Shepard called it, saved her life and many of the crews' lives many times before and during the mission to the Collector's base. The Reapers pose as much of a threat to the main geth faction as they do to every race. She told me of the
mission where she and Shepard went to a Heretic station. The Heretics were trying to send a virus across the geth networks to make the main faction become heretics themselves. Shepard ended up taking their virus and rewrote them."
"So he made the main faction stronger?" yelled Han.
"It was his choice."
"Which may have just made a war with them that much harder!"
"Hold it right there, Warmonger!" Koris interjected. "The fact that the geth are so willing to work with organics only proves my point that they can be reasoned with."
"There was more to the message that Tali'Zorah sent," Raan interrupted. "Originally I was going to keep quiet about their relationship, but the second part of the message was something I had to present to this Board. According to Tali,Shepard managed to convince the Geth to give back our homeworld."
The three Admirals were quiet. "W-What…?" Han finally got out.
"While you two were discussing ways to take advantage of Shepard, he's already helping the Quarian people. According to Tali, they already visited Rannoch. The Geth are returning it to us in a month."
Xen's hands rolled into fists.
"Ha!" Koris finally mustered. "What did I tell you Han? After years of calling me a suit-wetter and I'm proven right in the end!"
"I'll believe it when I set foot on Rannoch without being shot," Han shot back. He sighed and continued, "Though it would be nice to get our homeworld back without a war. I still don't trust the Geth."
"Then maybe a compromise," Koris suggested. "We should hold off any decisions concerning the Geth for at least a month. We've already been in these ships for three hundred years, another month won't kill us."
"I agree," added Raan. "If not the Geth then Tali'Zorah and Commander Shepard."
"How do we know this isn't a trap," said Xen. "Why do they still need a month?"
"They've been repairing our planet since the Morning War."
"The same reason many races have graveyards. To remember the dead. Our dead…"
* * * * *
"Councilor, we need to talk about Shepard."
"Can it wait, Udina?" Anderson grumbled.
"No it cannot. There have been rumors going around about Shepard."
"And what rumor is it this time?"
"News has been going around that he's romantically involved with a Quarian."
"Tali'Zorah, I know."
"You mean it's true?"
"Shepard told me in person."
"You have any idea what this could do to Humanity's image?"
"Shepard has every right to be with whomever he wants, Advisor."
"As an Advisor, I'm telling you this is a public relations disaster waiting to happen. Listen to my advice, we need to convince Shepard to end this before the whole galaxy finds out."
"Let's look back at the 'advice' you have given me when it came to Shepard, shall we?" Anderson slammed his hands on his desk. "You advised me to comply with the Council on the Reaper threat and not encourage our own forces to build itself up, for fears of 'increasing aggression from other races.' You advised me to completely isolate Shepard and not give him any support whatsoever. I abandoned Shepard, Alenko abandoned Shepard, the Alliance abandoned Shepard. We gave Shepard every reason to abandon us and join Cerberus making them even more powerful and influential than the Alliance. Like the hero he is, he refused to hand that base over to Cerberus and gave us enough intel on Cerberus' sponsors to severely cripple their operations. Your advice was, at best, useless. At worse, disastrous."
"What are you saying?"
"You're fired!" Anderson screamed. "I'll find someone else."
"I don't answer to you. Now get the hell out of my office."
* * * * *
Did it really take death for you to have the courage to tell her how you felt about
her, Shepard? I remember in the last Normandy. You always went down to
engineering to talk to her. You treated her as an equal when everyone else treated
her as a second-class citizen, I including. She always made you smile. I
remember when Williams died and how that sacrifice nearly sent you over the
edge, yet Tali was there to help you back up again.
And don't think I didn't see that the feeling was mutual. I saw the way she looked at you when you weren't paying attention. At your funeral, she was devastated. From what I've heard, she wasn't much better when she returned to the Floatila. Even after receiving a hero's welcome she was crippled with depression. What did I do? I disappeared. Became a vigilante. Against everything you taught me, but at
least I still retained the morals. Tali was left alone.
When you came back from the dead… It was the happiest day of her life. She didn't have to say it. I could tell when she came back into our team, our family. It seems she became more enamored over you than before. You came to her defense at the trial. Her own people abandon her, just like the Alliance abandoned you. She lost her father. You were there for her to keep strong.
The hearing that followed the revelation was brutal for me to watch. I knew you weren't going to show the data, I knew you would follow her wishes. She would still have a home. A family. What I didn't expect was your fierce defense of her. You lashed at those dishonorable admirals who used Tali for political gained. You could not stand that. You rightly called them out in front of the entire fleet.
In return you managed to preserve Rael's and Tali's reputation. An impossible task without evidence, but you excel at the impossible.
I don't think she could have loved you anymore than there. I almost chuckled when I heard her say, "I got better, I got you." I knew she wanted to say how she felt right there, but was afraid of being rejected.
With the suicide mission looming, I'm guessing that you weren't going to die with the same regret that you died with the first time. After what you been through Shepard, in life or death, and after all you've done for this galaxy, you deserve happiness, my brother. And now to do some calibrations.
* * * * *
Shepard Memorial Plaza
Shepard rested his face into his palm as Tali led him through the district. "I can't
believe I let you talk me into going here," he mumbled.
"I can't believe you never visited the plaza that was named after you!" she accused.
"I just always thought it would be narcissistic if I did."
Tali punched him in the arm. "It's not narcissistic. Only if you went on parade just to get to the hotel center of the plaza. We have a few days of leave, what better place to go than here. Elysium is one of the biggest human colonies and shopping center."
The reaction of people they passed was mixed. Some giggled at Tali's dominance over Shepard, others looked in disgust.
"And from what I've heard from the hotel reviews, the rooms are self-cleaning and sterilized," she whispered.
"Wait a minute. Sounds like you're suggesting something, Tali," he joked.
"What could I possibly be suggesting? I mean a dashing Commander who a young woman loved since she first met, who also loves her, who has saved the galaxy many times, and even her own people, are alone in a room in one of the most romantic hotels in the galaxy." "What could I possibly be suggesting?" she said lustfully.
They reached the entrance of the hotel. At the request of Shepard, the hotel room was under her name, "Zorah" instead of his, to make sure that they wouldn't be swamped with reporters, civilians and politicians.
"You get us signed in. I just need to get a drink."
Tali playfully punched him in the arm.
"Of water," he corrected.
Tali walked up to the counter. The employee was tapping away at her computer. "Excuse me?"
She looked up briefly but then went back to her computer.
"Excuse me, Miss."
"We're not hiring."
"I'm not here for a job." Tali was a little irritated by the employee's tone. "I have
The clerk looked up at her and then at her computer. "I don't see it in here."
"I didn't even give you a name." Tali's voice was now more distressed.
"Not in here."
"We confirmed before we got planet side."
"Something wrong, Tali?" asked Shepard who was wiping his face.
"She's saying we don't have a reservation here."
"M'am, we checked our reservation right before we got here."
The clerk looked at Shepard with disgust. "You don't have reservations here."
"It's because I'm a Quarian, isn't it?" accused Tali.
"Yes. We don't allow your kind in this hotel. Especially considering the soldier this hotel honors, we wouldn't want filth like you to set foot here."
Tali was in shock upon hearing that. She lowered her head. Shepard could tell her eyes were tearing up. His teeth grate together. "I want to see your supervisor, now."
"Sir, just go." She rolled her eyes.
"We're not going anywhere," he grumbled. "Your supervisor."
"He's not in."
"Then your manager," he corrected.
"It's okay…" whispered Tali.
"It's not okay, Tali." Shepard turned back to the clerk. "Your manager, now."
She sighed, "Fine…"
A couple of minutes later a man in a white and black suit walked over to the counter. "Something wrong?"
"These two won't accept that they don't have a reservation here," said the clerk.
"We do have a reservation here," Shepard corrected. "She's either deleted it or refusing to acknowledge it because of Tali."
"She plainly stated that was the reason," added Tali.
"Is this true?" the manager asked the clerk. He displayed a level of anger in his voice.
"W-Well… It just… She's a Quarian. Filth like her shouldn't be able to stay in a hotel that named after a war hero like Shepard."
"You're fired, Tina."
"You know nothing of Shepard if you act like this. His crew was filled with aliens. He worked with aliens like any other human. You are an embarrassment to this hotel. Also thought you should know, that's Commander Shepard right there!"
"He's with a Quarian?"
"He is," Tali said proudly.
"Get out, Tina!"
The clerk left immediately. The manager wiped his forehead. "I'm so, so sorry about that Commander. We weren't told that you would be here."
"I didn't want anyone to make a big deal out of it."
The manager laughed. "Right, of course. We'll keep quiet. And this is the famous Tali'Zorah vas Normandy? It is an honor to meet you." He held out his hand to shake hers.
"A pleasure to meet you," she said while shaking his hand. "I'm guessing discrimination is not part of this hotel's policy."
"No. Tina was new here. We had no idea of her… prejudices. So… You two are together."
Tali and Shepard held hands. "We are," Shepard replied.
"So the rumors are true. Well I wish you both the best."
"Thank you," muttered Tali.
Several hours later…
The sky was dark and filled with stars. Inside the room, Shepard and Tali laid under the covers of their bed holding each other in embrace. "Keelah, Shepard. How did I get so lucky?"
"I was wondering how I got so lucky."
Tali laughed. "Bosh'tet. I mean how did I get the love of my life? You helped me with my pilgrimage, saved me on Haestrom, defended me at my trial, and now my people are getting their homeworld back. I couldn't ask for anyone better. You could have any woman in the galaxy, but you chose me."
Shepard smiled. "And that smile!" She pulled his head towards her to kiss his lips.
"Tali, I love you and would do anything for you."
"I don't think there's anything left you could possibly do for me or my people," she joked. They kissed again. "I love you, Shepard. I will always love you."