All that is Beautiful
Shepard regarded the woman while standing next to Miranda with her arms folded. Conversation had been difficult, even though Mordin had made a breakthrough with the alphabet, so at least now they are able to read some of the words. After Chakwas did a quick checkup to make sure their newest member was healthy enough for an interview, Mordin set to work trying to link the strange alphabet with the sounds they were supposed to produce so that the translator could match them to words. Not that this would really be much use without more vocabulary terms, but it was a start.
She had no idea where this woman was from. She spoke no language Shepard ever heard of, and they pretty much only got around to learning everyone's names. She had a feeling "Jedi Exile", whatever it meant, was more of an alias or title, but did not press. At the moment, real names were not her priority.
For someone who just woke up among strangers in an unknown setting, the Jedi Exile seemed very calm and collected. Shepard was not sure if she was confident that the crew of the Normandy would not harm her, or if she was certain that it would not matter. There was also a faint ethereal glow to her now that she was awake, brightened by the calm light in her eyes. She was not a biotic, and it was not the biotic blue lights that danced over her form. Rather, she looked more like an ethereal spirit. An angel of sorts.
They had washed her strange outfit while she had been sleeping, and when Mordin finally gave her a break, the Exile donned them on.
" What do you think?" Shepard asked Miranda.
" I can't quite read her." Miranda admitted. " But she has the bearings of a nun, or a priest. I don't know."
" Maybe she's confident that God will preserve her." Shepard said wryly. " Too bad this ship is on its way to fight Reapers all the time. Unless she drops off at the Citadel, but as much as I like that dump, I don't think she'd survive a city like that. City-folk are cruel."
" She might not be as naive as she looks." Miranda reminded her. " Looks can be deceiving."
It was the Exile, fully dressed. She regarded them both with eyes that seemed both deep and piercing.
" Exile." Shepard said in return, and then fell silent.
This language barrier is really inconvenient.
" Come to the mess hall." Said the commander. " I'm sure you're hungry by now. You've been unconscious for a while, and I'm not sure when you have eaten."
The Exile conducted a slight bow, which made Shepard suspicious. Did she understand what was being said? The commander then moved toward the doors, which opened as she neared. The Exile followed while Miranda rounded at the end.
Gardner looked up at the three women with a wide grin.
" Ha! Sleeping Beauty's awake! About time."
" Sleeping Beauty?" Shepard cocked an eyebrow. " How'd you come up with that?"
" Eh." Said the cook, waving a ladle. " One of the Lost Fairy-Tales. Thousands of years old, it is. Something about a really hot girl who falls asleep and then wakes up again."
" Hey, these things are primitive. and a lot got lost in the First Contact war. Anyways, you up for food?"
" Always." Grinning, the commander accepted the tray with two meals. Miranda stepped up to accept a third.
Lunch passed in silence, mostly because of the very prominent language barrier. Shepard had so many questions to ask, but she did not imagine she could articulate them properly with hand gestures.
By the time we figure out how to communicate, the Reapers would be here. She thought unhappily.
After a while, Samara came out of the observatory. She glanced at the Exile, who looked calmly back.
" Shepard." Said the asari. " I did not realize she was awake."
" She woke up about half an hour ago. Mordin is trying to decipher her language."
" Ah." The justicar hesitated. " I think there would not be need for that. I can transfer my knowledge of the the languages I know to her, and she will be able to communicate with us that way."
Shepard nearly struck herself in the face. How could she have forgotten that? It was how she obtained information about the Protheans when they were fighting Saren. " If you don't mind," She said to Samara, " Please do that."
" Ah." Said Samara, turning to the Exile. She hesitated, as if unsure how to proceed, especially since the Exile did not understand anything.
The Jedi, however, merely turned and folded her hands expectantly on her lap.
" I'll need you to stand." Samara began, reaching out to lift the Exile by the arm, but the woman stood without needing the prompt. Shepard wondered at that.
" Remain calm." Samara's voice became even more soothing than before. " Embrace Eternity."
" I don't think Shepard wants to go to Omega." Garrus murmured as he moved the galaxy map in the CIC. " Still too close to the relay for any of our comfort, not to mention she's mentioned that she hates dealing with Aria and is probably going to run into one of her minions."
" What about Illium?" Jacob suggested.
" Why Illium?"
" We can stock up on some things that the Citadel doesn't have."
" We don't need to stock up on anything." Tali protested.
" Seriously, why do we need to plan that far ahead?" Jack snapped. " Can't we have a few days to enjoy ourselves without worrying about where we're going next?"
" Getting ready for the Reapers is a long process involving making connections and training troops." Garrus replied, his tones dismissive.
" Yeah, but we all know that Shepard's the one that's going to have to do all the work because the rest of us suck at politics." Jack replied with some rude insertions. " If she's got her head stuck then what's the point of us making any plans?"
The elevator opened to reveal Kelly Chambers. She blinked at the group in surprise.
" I'm just going to, uh, come back later." She ducked back in the elevator, away from the group huddled near her terminal.
Everyone was quiet for a moment as the elevators shut themselves.
" I have connections on Omega." Said Garrus. " Shepard's got enough on her plate. We can't just sit back and let her do everything. She's stretched thin enough as it is. You don't realize how tired she's been."
Jack swore and started saying something, but she cut herself off with another oath.
" Liara's on Illium." Said Tali. " And if she's an information broker, she can help us get what we need to get us underway when it comes to networking."
" Illium it is then." Garrus decided. " After a stop at the Citadel."
Jack swore again.
" What's wrong?" Tali asked. " It's not like you have to do any work in the meantime. Garrus and I are the ones who have to manage all the supplies and talk to people."
The ex-convict merely swore again and headed toward the elevator, slamming the button that called for it with a viciousness that seemed entirely unwarranted. The group watched as she left.
Jacob swore. " Never quite figured out what her problem is. Whatever."
The others gave some grunts of agreement before dispersing.
Unlike Shepard's own experiences with information transfer, the Exile did not faint or suffer any side effects, other than requiring a few seconds to center herself. She turned to the two human women sitting at the table.
" Commander Shepard." She stated.
Shepard paused for a moment. " Can you understand me?"
The commander could not help but grin at this. She looked at Samara thankfully. The asari inclined her head slightly.
" I will be in the observatory if you need me."
" Thank you, Samara."
The Exile sat down. " I sense you have many questions for me." She began. " If it is alright with you, I would like to ask my questions first."
" Quid pro quo." Shepard replied. " To make it fair. A question for a question, an answer for an answer."
" Very well." She said. " What happened to me?"
" As far as we know," Shepard replied, " You were alone on a failing ship on the outreaches at the ends of the galaxy. You ran into some dark matter and an asteroid field and were nearly killed. We managed to extract you just in time, but we were not able to save your belongings."
" What about my lightsaber?"
" Light..." It was Shepard's turn to ask the question now, but she allowed a leeway this time. " If you mean that terminated laser beam, it was found on your person and is currently at the Research Laboratory, where Dr. Solus is keeping it. If you wish to have it returned to you, you may speak to him. It appears dangerous. Is it a weapon?"
" Yes." The Exile replied. " It is a weapon of an order to which I used to belong. The laser can burn through anything except another lightsaber, or something crafted from a special crystal."
" What were you doing out at the asteroid field all by yourself?"
The Exile hesitated. " I was...looking for someone. I was on a mission, one that I must fulfill alone. I...had to leave everyone I knew behind. It was dangerous, you see. I could not bring those I love with me."
" I see." Shepard began to ask another question, but she remembered that it was the Exile's turn to ask the question.
The Jedi waited for a moment before speaking. " I sense that you are the leader of this ship, Commander Shepard, and that all of you seem to share a goal."
" The galaxy is in danger of attack by the Reapers." Shepard replied.
" Reapers? They are dangerous?"
" If more than one arrives, the galaxy will fall." Said Shepard. " What was this mission you were on?"
" I was in exile. Thus, Jedi Exile." Now, speaking in a language that could be translated, Shepard realized that the woman did indeed use a title. " I exile myself from the galaxy to seek Revan, a fellow...Jedi. The galaxy is under threat from the True Sith. I intend to find Revan and help him defeat them."
At this point, if Shepard had not already guessed the woman was from a different galaxy, she was certain now.
" I have a feeling that you and I might need to get to know each other." She said to the Exile.
The Jedi smiled. It was a pleasant smile. Shepard did not know her very well, but she sensed that this person was kind and good at heart.
" Thank you for saving my life." The woman said. " You need to fight these Reapers, and I need to fight the True Sith. Perhaps there is a way for us to help each other."
There was nothing manipulative about the way she said it. She was offering her services and politing requesting Shepard's. The commander nodded, sliding her chair back and standing up. The Exile followed suit. Miranda piled their meals onto the same tray wordlessly, sensing a dismissal without hearing one.
" Come." Said the commander. " Let's take a walk."