Disclaimer: Mass Effect and all related concepts and characters belong to Bioware; I'm just playing in their sandbox.
Notes: I have no idea what the hell this is. I had absolutely no idea what to do with Legion so I just started writing and it exploded into a monster and I'm praying to God I haven't made a fool of myself and produced something terrible. At least it's finished. Oh thank God it's finished. I'm never writing from the perspective of a synthetic life form again. I'm going to go hide in a corner now.
Shepard-Commander often rendered assistance to other organics. 94.72% of the time her assistance required the application of force, although the remainder of the time Shepard-Commander was able to use verbal negotiations to achieve the desired outcome.
They do not see the logic in this. Shepard-Commander rarely received anything substantial in return for her actions.
Inquiry: Does not Shepard-Commander receive monetary compensation?
The remainder of the programs conceded that this was a valid point. Clarification: Shepard-Commander does not use monetary rewards for her personal use. Shepard-Commander instead uses any credits received to purchase supplies, equipment, fuel. She puts the needs of the crew before her own. Only if there is a surplus of credits will she reward herself.
The inquiring programs accepted this explanation. Consensus achieved: Shepard-Commander renders assistance without expectation of reward.
From their study of organic behavior, they knew that the specific behavior Shepard-Commander exhibits is "selflessness." Again, they do not see the logic in such behavior. They have asked her to clarify in the past.
"It's the right thing to do," Shepard-Commander had said. Her speech had been hesitant, very unlike the confident and assertive tones she normally used when addressing themselves or other crewmates. "There are a lot of people in the galaxy who just don't know how to fix their problems, or they do but can't do it themselves for whatever reason. If I'm able to make someone's life a little easier by helping them out, yes, I'll do it."
Though they had accepted her explanation, they had still not fully understood. Analysis of organic psychology revealed that organics did not necessarily understand their own motivations, either, so they did not press Shepard-Commander for further details.
They remained troubled.
It was during one cycle shortly after the successful destruction of the Collector base, while upgrading the cyber warfare suites per the request of Shepard-Commander, that a solution presented itself.
Fact: Shepard-Commander currently has few personal possessions.
One thousand, one hundred eighty-two programs simultaneously turned their attention to the lone speaker.
Fact: Shepard-Commander has previously expressed disappointment that one of her personal possessions, a "photo album" containing a visual history of her acquaintances, her relatives, and herself, did not survive the crash of the SSV Normandy.
Hypothesis: Shepard-Commander would enjoy a replacement photo album that included new entries chronicling her time aboard the Normandy SR-2.
The programs were abuzz with excitement and curiosity. What is the reasoning behind this hypothesis?
The lone geth hesitated for approximately three milliseconds. Shepard-Commander has assisted this mobile platform, when prior experience with the heretics had formed a negative opinion of all geth. Shepard-Commander allowed the rewriting of the heretics so they might return to and strengthen the whole, when logically she had no reason to believe it would not negatively affect geth relations with organics. She had only the assurances of this platform and the suspicions and objections of her crew with which to form the basis of her decision.
Shepard-Commander has done much for the geth and asked for nothing in return, save for an attempt to cease hostilities with Creator-Tali'Zorah and the remainder of the quarian-creators. That is a goal the geth already work toward. That is a goal that benefits the galaxy as a whole in preparation for the return of the Old Machines. Presenting Shepard-Commander with a gift is a very small gesture compared with what she has done for us, but it is acknowledgment that we are… grateful… for the actions she has undertaken on our behalf. It is acknowledgment that Shepard-Commander is important to us and we wish her to have an item that is solely for her own enjoyment.
It is the right thing to do.
It took only a single nanosecond for the rest of the geth programs to process the unusually eloquent argument.
They first contacted Liara T'Soni. Shepard-Commander's mother would be the best source of replacement visuals in the photo album, but they determined that Shepard-Captain would respond more favorably to such a request from a familiar source. Ms. T'Soni promised to contact Shepard-Captain on their behalf and in the interim forwarded what pictures she had from her own time aboard the SSV Normandy.
They had observed that Shepard-Commander spent a majority of her time visiting Doctor Chakwas, Moreau-Pilot, Creator-Tali'Zorah, and Garrus Vakarian when she was not performing her duties. Therefore, they approached each of the four for their assistance.
Their individual reactions were quite interesting.
Doctor Chakwas was the most amiable. In comparison to the rest of the crew, the doctor was the most accepting of them, after Shepard-Commander. When they explained the reasoning behind their request, the doctor smiled and said, "The commander does need a little more joy in her life. I'll see what I have and transmit whatever I find to you later this evening."
Moreau-Pilot was the most hostile and used language they only heard from Shepard-Commander when she was being fired upon by enemy combatants. An admonishment from EDI finally stopped the tirade. "Okay, yeah, I'll send you what I've got," Moreau-Pilot said, pulling his cap down over his eyes as he swiveled his chair back around to face the piloting interface. "Can't believe I just got guilt-tripped by a geth, and unintentionally at that…"
They would have to further research what was a "guilt trip" and its implications after they completed their inquiries.
Creator-Tali'Zorah and Garrus Vakarian surprised them.
They found the turian and the quarian-creator performing maintenance on the Thanix cannon. The two listened to their reasoning, but remained silent for a full minute as they stared at the mobile platform. A minute was an eternity to the geth, however, and they waited with apprehension.
"Well, I feel like an idiot for not thinking of that myself," Mr. Vakarian finally said, crossing his arms.
Creator-Tali'Zorah snorted, a harsh sound through her the filters of her mask. "That makes two of us," she said. "How much time did Shepard spend hunched over that old thing in the mess hall using actual glue to put the pictures in? Who does that?"
"Shepard, of course, and it was a lot," Mr. Vakarian said, mandibles flexing in a grin. "About as much time as we spent wondering when she was next going to ambush us with her omni-tool's camera. Never did figure out how she got a hold of so much real photo paper and an actual printer, especially with all her grumbling about Alliance pay rates, the prices are outrageous."
"I think I still have what she gave to me," Creator-Tali'Zorah said, and turned to them. Her body language spoke of wariness, but it lacked the rigidity they had previously hypothesized had meant she was refraining from shooting them. They considered this progress. "I'll go through my files and send them to you later, Legion. It's a wonderful idea."
"Me, too," Mr. Vakarian said. "As a matter of fact, I know Shepard installed a camera function on her omni-tool after she got reinstated as a Spectre, so she's been sneaking photos of everyone since almost the start of this whole debacle. I'll hack the files tonight and send them along."
"Your assistance is greatly appreciated," they said. "Creator-Tali'Zorah. Mr. Vakarian." They inclined their head – a gesture they had seen Shepard-Commander use before when dismissing herself from a conversation – noted Garrus Vakarian's surprised expression and the widening of Creator-Tali'Zorah's eyes behind her mask, and returned to their post in the AI core.
On Liara T'Soni's recommendation, they had transmitted all the images they had received from Shepard-Commander's friends and family to a reputable but discrete company that specialized in personalized photo albums. Along with the images they sent a substantial amount of credits they had originally acquired in their initial search for Shepard-Commander. One of Ms. T'Soni's informants would receive the final product and then ensure it was included among the supplies the Normandy picked up when next on Illium.
Following their scheduled arrival on Illium, a confused crewman delivered the package to the AI core. "Didn't know geth got mail," he muttered before leaving.
They opened the package and removed the photo album, setting aside its container. The album was bound in a thick brown material their scans showed to be cattlehide leather. They carefully opened the cover and noted that per their instructions, the thick interior pages were backed with an adhesive upon which the photographs were placed, with the pages then each covered by a thin plastic film to prevent them from sticking to one another.
The photo on the first page they examined was of a human child approximately three years of age, smiling widely as she was held by an adult human male approximately twenty-six years of age who was also smiling. Based on similar hair and eye colors and facial structures, the child was Shepard-Commander and the adult was her father. They scanned the page a few seconds longer, then gently closed the cover and set the album aside. They would present Shepard-Commander with her gift when she came to see them. Until then, they would continue with the firewall upgrades Shepard-Commander had requested.