Glowing eyes twitched. Rael moaned as he struggled to sit up. His head suddenly surged with pain as blood flow raced from flowing so slowly. He moaned in pain.
"Damn on-board stasis program..." he groaned.
It was fail-safe in case his experiment did fail. He theorized that Geth were able to detect life signs through heart beats. His on-board suit computer injected him with a drug that slowed his heart beat down to almost nothing. Not enough to kill him but enough so he was able to
"play dead". He struggled to his feet. The drug had a bigger kick than he expected.
Rael finally went into a slight panic as he remembered exactly what happened before the drugs were injected. He was leaving a message for his daughter in case she came for him. Then the
door blew open. Since he was unarmed, he activated the drugs to knock himself out so the Geth did not take him out; making them think the explosion killed him. Around him he saw the dead bodies of his colleagues. It pained him to realize that this was his fault.
Though he saw bodies of Geth lying all over the place. Their "blood" sprayed all over. Must have been teh marines, he thought. Many of them considering how many geth inhabited the ship. By now they know what he has done. He wanted to keep his promise to his daughter and in his
haste, he ruined that chance. Rael turned and went up the stairs expecting to find a squad of marines to escort him off the fleet.
Rael got to the doors and opened them to find no one. Just more dead geth. Up ahead was the terminal. He walked over to it and tried to activate it.
"What the hell?" he mumbled. Nothing came up. The entire terminal was wiped clean. Absolutely nothing came up.
Rael tried accessing everything he could, but the terminal was left blank. Finally he sighed. They must have taken it. At least his mistake will help his people. Rael activated communications, trying to reach the Admiralty Board. Instead of getting the board, a live video was shown to
him instead. The video was being broadcasted to every ship on the Fleet. It was of a trial. At the stand was his daughter and her human Captain, Shepard. His daughter was on trial for Treason!
Rael pounded his fist against the wall. He didn't want his daughter to take the blame for this. An epiphany dawned on him. It was her and Shepard that came in here. That means they wiped the drives. But why? Unless...
"No!" he screamed. That bosh'tet captain better not let her get exiled, or he'll hunt him down!
"Sorry we're late," his daughter said.
Shepard stepped forward. "Tali'Zorah saved the Alarei. I hope this proves her loyalty to the Quarian people."
So this is Shepard. He certainly knows how to talk, I'll give him that.
"Her loyalty was never in doubt, only her judgement," Koris replied.
Damn suit wetter. They don't honestly think she's responsible for this?
"Perhaps Tali'Zorah can offer something to encourage more trust in her judgement," Shala added.
"Did you find anything on the Alarei to clarify what happened there," Gerrel finished.
Shepard looked at Tali like he was conflicted. He walked forward.
"Shepard, please..." she begged.
It dawned on him. Tali and Shepard knows what he did and she's begging him not show the evidence! You damn well better show the evidence!
"Does Captain Shepard have any new evidence to submit to this hearing?"
Shepard reached the podium and said, "Tali helped me defeat Saren and the geth at the Citadel. That should be all the evidence you need."
What is he doing?
"I fail to see what relevance-" Koris said before being interupted.
"You not really interested in Tali, are you? This trial isn't about her. It's about the Geth!"
"This hearing has nothing to do with the Geth!"
"You want people to sympathize with them!" Shepard slammed his fist against the podium. This caused Koris to take a step back. "Han'Gerrel wants to go to war! None of you care about Tali! She knows more about the Geth than any other Quarian alive. You should be listening to her not putting her on trial. Tali'Zorah saved the Citadel. She saved the Alarei. She showed the Galaxy the value of the Quarian people. I can't think of stronger evidence than that."
"Are the Admirals prepared to render judgment?" Shala announced.
The three Admirals opened their omni-tools. Rael gasped at that speech. Why would this human put so much passion into his speech for one of their people? He saw Tali watching Shepard with her hands resting on each other. It finally dawned on him. The stories his daughter told of him,
they way she talked about him! They loved each other. Why would she love him? Again it dawned on him. He was there for her. In the good times and bad.
This was his fault. All of it. Now his daughter is going to be exiled because Shepard is following her wishes. Koris briefly hesitated before casting his vote.
"Tali'Zorah, in light of your history of service we do not find sufficient evidence to convict. You are cleared of all charges. Commander Shepard please accept these gifts in appreciation for taking your time to represent one of our people."
Rael's eyes widen. He did it... The human actually got his daughter exonerated! Rael chuckled to himself. Still one problem remains. Him. Rael had to find some way to explain what happened.
Shepard's omni-tool beeped. "If you appreciate me, then listen. The Reapers are coming. Please don't throw away your lives against the geth."
"Thank you, Commander Shepard, I hope the Board considers your recommendation."
"This hearing is concluded. Go in peace Tali'Zorah vas Normandy. Keelah sa'lei."
The video ended leaving Rael quiet. Within the next several hours he had to think of a good explanation of what happened on the ship.
* * * * *
Rael spent the next several hours sabotaging the power cords to simulate a power surge. One good power surge caused the random activation of one geth part. Completely random accident. He'll be cleared and still able to continue his work. With more safeties this time.
He heard several footsteps behind him. "Everyone thinks you're dead," a cold voice said.
Rael recognized the voice. It always gave him chills. He turned around to see Xen standing there.
"I assumed they found something they didn't like here. And here you are." She looked over his shoulder. Rael was too stunned to reply. Xen shook her head. "And destroying equipment. Shame, shame. Everything here was your fault. Despite how well, Tali and Commander Shepard wiped the drives here, I was still able to recover files. Sensitive files."
"What are you asking for, Xen?"
"It seems we're both in an interesting position. I could hand over the evidence, but... That wouldn't help anyone. Especially me. See I'm interested in your research. This isn't about destroying the Geth. It's about controlling them."
"Then we're both more alike than I thought. Now if you suddenly reappeared that would raise too many questions. Questions I don't want answered. Shepard did an admirable job in covering yours and Tali's tracks, so I would suggest this. You remain dead. But in secret we continue your research."
"I-I made my daughter a promise."
"The house on the homeworld, yes?" Xen leaned forward getting in Rael's face. He did not like her being so close to his face. Too intimate.
"Yes..." he sighed.
"Work with me and you'll be able to keep that promise."
Rael glanced around the ship. "Alright."
* * * * *
Hell. The place where beings of any race go when they commited wrongs during their lifetime. Where they are punished for those wrongs. That describes this place. Rael made a deal with the devil and now he's reaped what he's sowed. This was supposed to be a secret agreement turned into slavery. Slowly but surely, Rael started to lose more of his privileges. His suit has been neglected. It was barely recognizable to what it used to looked like.
Daro injected him with stimulants occasionally which made him lose nights of sleep here and there. He couldn't tell how long he was trapped. Weeks? Months? Doesn't matter. He's stuck here. This place where he deserves to be.
Daro'Xen. His devil. His punisher.
Rael was tortured every day either emotionally or physically to push himself further to complete these experiments. Rael was fed the bare minimum to stay functioning. He wondered which of his misdeeds he committed to deserve to be here. The lives those were lost due to his recklessness? The Fleet he risked due to his experiments. In any free time he was given, he would think. Rael sometimes wondered if he even lived through what happened on the Alarei. Maybe this was really hell. A place he was ironically forced to do his research with the devil Daro beating down on him.
Soon enough he realizes his crimes. It wasn't about the Fleet. It wasn't even about the people who died due to his recklessness. It was about Tali, his daughter. The thought of her brought tears to the tired warrior's eyes. It all came to him. He neglected her, her whole life. And even since the death of his wife Kila, he became even more engrossed into his work. That was a time he should have been supporting her through that difficult time. Rael wasn't even sure he ever told her that he loved her.
That was his crime. Neglecting his daughter. That was an unforgivable crime. It all made sense to him now. This research would benefit the Fleet, but in exchange, he would never be allowed to see his daughter ever again. A fitting fate. Time and time again he longed to hold his daughter in his arms. To make up for his crimes by just telling her he was proud of her. That he loved her. And that he was sorry for being a terrible father.
He was going to die here. That was what he accepted. Once he's no longer useful to Daro, she would just leave him in his cell and let him starve to death. That is his fate. That is his rightful punishment.
Rael looked to the door. It was being opened. He sighed painfully. Rael hasn't had a meal for a couple of days now. Either Xen was going to feed him, or she's going to put him out of his misery. The door opened revealing a human wearing a mask with blue eye lights.
"There's someone in here!" he called out to someone out of sight.
"I'm coming!" a female voice said. It was quarian.
Rael was lying on the ground, too tired to move. All he could do was groan.
"He's in pretty bad shape," the human said.
The Quarian came from behind him. Rael's eyes widened. It was his daughter. He wanted to call out to her, but he was too weak. His vision began to blur and then black out.
* * * * *
Rael grunted as he awakened. The room he was in was very bright. Next to him was an older human woman. She looked at him.
"I see you're finally up. You gave us a scare. You were suffering from malnutrition and sleep deprivation."
"How long was I out for?"
"About a couple of days. We're heading to the Fleet now."
"Who are you?"
"I'm Doctor Chakwas."
"A pleasure to meet you."
"I mean the ship I was on."
"Oh." Chakwas moved her chair right next to his bed. "Just how long were you on that ship?"
"Months at the very least."
"Then you don't know what's happened in the last while."
"Well, shortly after Shepard and his team took out the Collectors-"
"The Collectors? He was able to take them down?"
"Without a single casualty. Incredible isn't it? Turns out they were Protheans working for the Reapers."
"A race of sentient machines that have repeated a cycle of extinction every 50000 years. That so called Geth flagship, Sovereign, was a Reaper."
"And the Collectors were Protheans?"
"Yes. The Reapers have a form of mind control called indoctrination. The surviving Protheans were enslaved and turned into the monsters that we know as the Collectors."
"That's... That's a lot to take in." Rael rubbed the front part of his visor.
"Yes. Well after destroying the Collector base, he cut his ties to Cerberus. He finally had enough evidence to prove the Reaper's existence. So Shepard has been spending time building our forces for the Reapers' eventually arrival. He currently brokered a peace between your people and the Geth."
"What?" Rael nearly fell off his med-bay bed.
"Easy," she said to calm him down while holding him in place. "We found a geth platform that was sent to communicate with organics. Shepard specifically. This geth was from the main geth faction. All the geth your people and everyone else have been fighting were called heretic geth who followed the Reapers. The main geth faction saw the Reapers as much of a threat to them as anyone else. So Legion, as we dubbed him, joined Shepard's team and assisted us in taking down the Collector base. Due to the trust Shepard gave Legion, the main geth faction has agreed to give your homeworld. The Fleet has been transporting non-combatants onto Rannoch for a week now."
Rael couldn't speak. Shepard did in a few months what he couldn't do after years and years of research. He gave Tali a home. Shepard gave his people a home to call their own.
"I realize that this is a lot to take in. But there's a bit more. Daro'Xen, the Admiral, nearly ruined this peace process. She was trying to release a virus that would have reprogrammed the Geth, but Shepard, Tali and Legion were able to stop her in time. They killed her in the battle and then they found you."
The door to the med-bay opened. Shepard walked in. "How is he, Doctor?"
"He'll make a full recovery."
Shepard sat down next to him. "So who are you?"
The voice and name made Shepard jump. "B-But, you're dead! We found your body. No heart beat."
"An on-board medical stasis program that injected me with a drug that slowed my heart beat to nothing, so I was able to play dead."
"Chakwas, please leave," Shepard said in a firm tone.
Chakwas left quickly.
"You have any idea what your death did to Tali?" he growled.
"I can't even imagine. I woke up and saw the trial that went on. You... You defended my daughter against the other Admirals. You protected her." There was a sad tone to his voice. "Daro was the first person to come to the ship where she found me. I was blackmailed into continuing my research. Eventually it became enslavement. All these problems with Daro Xen happened because of me. I don't think I can ever make up for it, or the neglect I have shown my own daughter. In that hell I was stuck in, I only came to realize what I've lost. My own daughter. I don't think I can ever make up for it."
Shepard was moved by his words. He was furious at this man. The man who never told his daughter that he loved her. But before him was a broken man who realized his mistakes. "Sir. Admiral."
Rael looked up at him.
"It's not too late to change things. You can still tell her everything you never did."
Rael nodded. "You're right. But before you call her up, I need to ask you something."
"Do you love my daughter?"
Shepard sat up straight. There was a slight pause before he answered. "With all my heart, sir."
"I thought so. I just knew it when I saw you give that speech at the Trial. You were there for her, when I failed. You fought with fire to defend her. Even complying with her wishes to not show the evidence I left. I'll be honest, if I met you before the Trial and I learned this I would have killed you. But seeing the conviction you displayed at that Trial, there's no doubt about your intentions with her. Frankly, I don't think I could think of a better man for her."
"Thank you, sir. That... Means a lot."
The med-bay door opened. There stood Tali. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine," Shepard replied. "Uh, there's something you should know."
"Tali..." Rael said in a quiet tone.
"F-Father?" Tali choked.
"I'm so sorry."
"Father!" Tali ran up to him and wrapped her arms around him and cried.
"I'm sorry for everything, Tali!" he choked. "I'm sorry for being a terrible father. I'm sorry for leaving the Alarei mess for you."
Tali's cries only became more audible as he talked.
"I'm sorry for never telling you how proud I am of you. And I'm sorry for never telling you that I love you."
Shepard sat out of the way.
"I love you, Tali."
"I love you, too, father," Tali cried. "H-How are you here?"
"An on-board medical stasis program that slowed my heart beat. I was later found by Xen who blackmailed me into slavery. I'm so sorry for everything. I promise you I'm going to be a father."
"That's all I ever wanted from you."
"I-I also know of you and Shepard."
"Y-You do?" she said in a frightened tone.
"It's okay, Tali. He's a good man. And what matters is what makes you happy."
"Th-Thank you. But how are you going to explain what happened on the Alarei or why you're alive?"
"I don't know any way around it. I'm going to have to confess to my crimes."
"No!" Tali yelled. "I can't let you get exiled, especially from our homeworld!"
"I don't see any way around it."
"Xen, modified your safety protocols," Shepard added. "In secret he was trying to improve upon your research, but it went hay-wired. You were the only survivor of the catastrophe and Xen captured you so you couldn't tell anyone what happened."
"That didn't happen," Rael chided.
"No, but that's what we're telling the board," Shepard replied. "Xen is going to be posthumously exiled for her crimes, we might as well add yours to hers. Anyways, Tali needs her father and we need an admiral in the coming Reaper war."
"He's right," Tali said.
Rael nodded. "Alright. Though I won't let myself become absorbed by my work again Tali. The time I spent in that cell made me realize what is truly important in my life. You."
Tali hugged her father again. It was like life was finally going her way now. First the man she loved comes back to life and declares his love for her, and now the father who was never there for her, was now saying everything she always wanted to hear him say.
"Though tell me. What is our world like?"
Tali looked her father in the eyes and said, "Beautiful."