A/N: A little deeper into Shepard and some plotting here. Hope you like this chapter. Enjoy.
Everything was blurry. He was standing on his room, watching his parents cuddle quietly in the lumbering darkness.
The little boy was not dumb. He knew something was up. The minute his mother came in and just sat on the couch, holding her forehead and taking pills from the nearest cabinet before his father enveloped in a hug got him a message.
His father, Arnold, stood up from something his wife had whispered to him and his face was blank… John Shepard then steeled himself as he saw his father's face turning from blank into one of rage.
The man, a carbon copy of his son, tried to keep an image in front of his family, but all he did was let a tear run down his face. Hannah just started sobbing, breaking down heavily. Her sobs were loud and heavy, surprising John.
John was astonished. His parents, military to the bone, were crying. Something must have happened. Maybe someone in the family had died? No, his parents would not pull a show like this. They would wear stony faces and then tell him what was up. But this time, they were not.
"Son." Arnold spoke, his voice hard. "Come here, Johnny."
The boy simply walked towards them, his face showing curiosity and… alarm. As soon as he reached the couch, his parents enveloped him in a hug as Hannah continued to cry and Arnold simply provided the comfort a man could, his strong arms around them.
"What is going on?" John asked. "What happened?"
His father bit back a sob, his voice hoarse. "We just want you to be here, champ."
John, shocked, turned towards the darkness of the room. There was nothing.
"Commander Shepard." The voice was cold, feminine but mechanical.
The human woke up with a gulp, sweat on his forehead. Sighing, he looked at the time. Eight am. He deduced something had him up from the nightmare.
As soon as he turned towards the door, EDI's voice chimed in. "Commander, Oriana would like to see you in the mess hall."
"Alright." He replied, making his way to the shower. "Tell her I will be there in twenty minutes."
Within seconds, she replied. "Acknowledged, logging you out."
Taking a quick shower to let the nightmare go away and get him to relax was good for the commander. After fifteen minutes, he dressed up and walked out of his cabin, his thoughts now on what to do with Oriana Lawson.
Oriana knew this was an advanced ship. The minute she stepped in, all she saw were humans and quarians, all working in a frenzy. Her escorts took her to a large room, where they provided some covers and a couch before leaving. Her omni tool was not working, so she could not contact her parents.
She had woken up the next day, and with a gasp, took in countless ships stationed close to the one she was on. Oriana assumed it was the Migrant Fleet, since they were countless and the studies from university hinted at quarian design. Was the man who saved her from that asari maniac working for them? A human?
What would they want from her? She wanted some answers, but in the deep confusion and fear she found herself in, Oriana did not voice her concerns until the next day. She had a chat with a woman wearing a black hood. She seemed alright, just a little… mysterious and weird. The lady did not provide any details, but delivered her food and some comforting words.
Finally, she saw a quarian in a red suit walking by her room, and asked him she wanted to see the human who saved her. The man nodded and told her to go to the mess hall and get a snack before seeing the captain.
Contrary to all the stories she heard, these quarians were not violent or thieves. They were working hard, going all over the place. She even saw one being escorted on a wheelchair to the front of the ship. A turian, who, from what she saw, had a lot of authority, looked at her and nodded. Respect like that from a mercenary was… shocking. Just what was going on? Was she kidnapped? No, too much respect for her around.
As she sat on the mess hall, taking in her surroundings, Oriana heard heavy footsteps coming from behind. Turning, she saw a tall human, wearing a simple black shirt, his steely blue eyes focused on her. She gulped silently.
"Oriana." He said, his voice somewhat soft. "I am Commander John Arthur Shepard, captain of this ship, it is a pleasure to meet you in much better circumstances now."
The young woman smiled nervously. "Ah… the great Shepard? Well, thank you for saving me from that crazy asari."
John smiled. "Not a problem, though I would like to ask, do you know why you were kidnapped?"
She tilted her head to the side. "No idea, think it was ransom. Why?"
"Hmm, forget I said anything." The commander replied smoothly. "We would have left you with your parents but… retaliation could have taken place from what is left of Nassana's crime gangsters."
"I understand." Her analytical mind had seen that as a possibility. "It was kind of obvious this was not a kidnapping, since the crew has been warm towards me."
Shepard nodded. "Yes, of course." He gestured with his hand around. "We are all different species working for the benefit of the galaxy as you can see, and none hold prejudices or racism in any way, shape or form."
Of course, he was not going to tell her she was Miranda's sister and her powerful, rich "biological" father was looking for her. It would be shocking and… it would not work to his advantage. Maybe this girl could provide leverage in the future should the Alliance take action against him… This Henry Lawson could help.
"I've seen quarians, a drell, a turian and even a krogan, sir." She smiled. "I've never seen so many species in such close quarters, much less a ship, mind you."
John smirked. This young woman was very, very intelligent. Her speech was eloquent, very sophisticated. It could even rival Miranda's. Indeed, this girl, who looked like her sister almost identically, was a Lawson through and through. She was taking everything so well, it was astounding.
"It is a testament of what civilizations can do when united towards a common goal." Shepard tilted his head to the side. "Did you go to college?"
"Yes." She replied immediately. "I am currently aiming for a degree in alien biology."
"Well, you can have an internship." Shepard chuckled amusingly. "Maybe you can help either Doctor Chakwas or Mordin Solus."
"Doctor Mordin Solus?" She almost yelled, her eyes wide from shock. "I have heard of him, from my salarian colleagues, he is a genius!"
The commander smiled. This was going to be easier than he thought.
Tali chuckled as her fellow engineers bickered back and forth about something idiotic. They had been lifting her spirits since that really uneventful time with her father's trial. Shepard had not talked to her at all, simply marched to his room and locked himself there. She did not dare to contact him, thinking he was angry at her or something related to that.
And, from what she could gather, Shepard had yelled at Daro for her attitude at the trial. While Tali was jealous of the admiral, she was glad her commander and the frosty admiral were not on good terms now. It was a turn of the tide in her favor.
From the rumors around the ship, Shepard and the Oriana girl had talked and the commander took her to Mordin Solus' laboratory, where now she was going to be an apprentice. Ancestors help her, that salarian was fast and incredibly smart. Hopefully, she would be able to keep up with him.
Startled, she turned around to see her commander, his face holding a ghost of a smirk. "Hey Shepard! What can I do for you?"
The human smiled. "Well, I was hoping to take you to lunch today, in my cabin."
She nodded, a faint blush on her cheeks. "Alright, at what time?"
"Whenever you are finished. I will finish my rounds in five minutes, then put Garrus to work."
Tali smiled amusingly. "You still think he is slacking off?"
"He is way better than the one before, but I also need an idiot to do my office work right?"
The quarian laughed loudly. "Only you Shepard."
"Yeah." Shepard laughed. "Well, he had a big break from work for two years, it is time to let his turian side take over and serve his duty on my ship."
A minute of comfortable silence came in. Shepard just stared at her eyes, smiling softly. She averted her gaze, clumsily turning back to her station. "I will catch up with you in a bit, let me finish these algorithms."
"Engineers…" He muttered playfully and left before the quarian could retaliate.
Tali turned and saw Ken and Gabby chuckling at her expense.
"Back to work you two!" She yelled, amusement on her voice as she did so.
"Aye aye ma'am!" The duo saluted and chuckled more before settling in.
Daro sneezed, her sinuses completely filled up. She excused herself from work, instead opting to stay on her room, to avoid the gazes of question regarding her sickness. Last time, she had done that. Ancestors, that primate… but it was worth it, in her opinion. Keep the man on a leash, but also grant him some gifts… especially because she ended up craving them too.
The trial of Rael sent shockwaves throughout the fleet. Talks of war and peace rose up in every single ship. The conclave was trying to keep everything under control while investigating more of Rael's work.
As expected, Shepard cleaned the data and instead, authorities only found bodies, geth parts and videos of scientists testing weapons on geth armor. Indeed, Shepard had saved the admiral's skin, all because of that idiotic girl. Suspicion would continue to be on Rael, though. He was now an "admiral" in paper and picture only.
No matter, things would keep going. She was voicing her fierce neutrality on the talks currently shaking the whole Migrant Fleet. It was quite obvious they were not prepared for a conflict with the machines, yet her works were paying off thanks to Cerberus. The Illusive Man had been impressed in the reports and had been sending even more funds. She was ecstatic.
However, with the fleet disorganized and in disarray, she could not exert her power, not yet at least. Most of the political circles knew of her wishes to control the geth and bring forth the largest and most powerful force in the galaxy. The turians would be trembling just by hearing the geth were back under quarian control.
John wanted to use the geth fleets and armies as cannon fodder against the incoming Reaper invasion in the near future. Daro did not disagree. Instead of sacrificing lives, they would just be throwing the might of synthetic life at the evil machines. Of course, the problem was deactivating them and then taking control of the home world, along with the other colonies.
Her human had theorized that quarians would be stretched too thin to control all the former colonies, so they would put the geth to guard them against marauders and pirates. Shepard also wanted to create a spearhead to launch an offensive deep into Alliance territory, where the Reapers would most likely strike the hardest, apart from the Turian Hierarchy, of course. If the Reapers took down the rising stars in the galaxy and the top dogs of war, then nothing would be able to stop them.
The other races were needed, too. Shepard was going to need the help of the Illusive Man to convince the asari to lend support, since he had close connections to their government. His lover, an asari matriarch, was testament of that. The krogan had to be visited, but Shepard said he was best friends with their current leader. Seriously, John… Daro shook her head and smirked. That was her human.
It was only a matter of time now before the galaxy watched from a distance the might of her civilization and how the purified fires will reign upon the galaxy. No rest for the wicked, it seemed.
Shepard groaned, rubbing his forehead, his eyes fixed on the screen.
I am currently on Illium on vacations. The chain of command was kind enough to leave me be after rejecting their offer. Stupid idiots. I expect you to pay a visit and explain just what the hell has been going on. I thought you were dead. I need some answers, and only you can provide them.
Your father is furious, by the way. If you pull another stunt like this, you will kill us both. You do not have any idea how many tears we shed for your ass. Your friend, Tali, was the worst wreck I've ever seen. I hope she kicked your ass a few times.
Come to Illium ASAP!
So… the dragon wanted to see her spawn? Well, John would humor her. He was going to Illium, after all. However, he was not expecting a warm welcome. The commander had to take Garrus and Tali, they knew his mother better than anyone in the ship besides Joker, who was busy pulling pranks alongside Urla, and he trusted them implicitly.
"Hey, John." Tali's voice distracted him from the thoughts about his mother.
He smiled. "Hey Tali, what did you bring for lunch?"
Shepard could see her making a stupid face behind her visor. "Nutrient paste." She answered in a sarcastic voice.
"Sounds really good."
"Your sarcasm was not required."
"But I had to provide it for the sake of this conversation."
"You only do so to make me feel bad."
"Everything and everyone makes you feel bad; it's your stupid selflessness."
Tali chuckled while sitting down right beside him. "It comes with being a quarian."
"Have I mentioned how much your race pisses me off?"
"But you still like us, don't you?"
"Only your females, that's about it."
The quarian mockingly gasped. "Shepard! You are saying you don't care about our culture and ideals?"
"And values, don't forget the values."
"Keelah, you are such a bosh'tet."
"Say, what the hell does that mean anyway?"
"You don't want to know."
He laughed while taking a sip of his water. "I told you the meaning of about forty bad words in our language and you have not said what one of your bad words means."
Shepard mockingly grabbed her hand, unaware of the blush rising on her cheeks. "Come on, tell me, what does that mean?"
She pretended to sigh. "Fine." Tali chuckled quietly. "The closest to English would be a cross between asshole and… bitch."
As soon as the words came out of her mouth, the commander found himself stunned. Blinking away his stupefaction, he slowly grinned. "My, my, that was sexy as hell."
Both laughed loudly, again Shepard unaware of the blush on her face and the giddy, fluttery happiness on her insides.
John was feeling so good, alongside his best friend. Unaware of his actions, he had placed his arm around her neck while chatting, with Tali leaning slowly to his chest.
Within two hours, they were both knocked out asleep.
Liara had seen Shepard being the same as always, but a little more on the… cynical side? She supposed humans saw it like that. Of course, she knew the commander was ruthless and merciless, some people calling him an outright bastard. He would laugh it off and say he was doing his job, unlike the spineless people in politics, just giving orders.
She got the message that he was coming to Illium, again. She wondered why…. Liara smirked. Hannah Shepard, the "Tasmanian Devil" was coming too. A family reunion of sorts then? The asari could not believe it, but Shepard and his mother had a lot more in common than he thought. Of course, Hannah was more than willing to chat rather than fight, while Shepard preferred to shoot first, ask questions later, unless the situation at hand favored him. She remembered a krogan battle master Shepard attacked, after fooling him of handing her over on Therum.
Her research on the Shadow Broker was bringing concrete results. One of his or her agents was captured and he was being beaten at the moment. Hopefully, he would provide the necessary data to track down the bastard. It was only a matter of time now. With the help of Shepard, she was going to take down one of the most powerful beings in the galaxy.
"Nyxeris, please have a cab ready for Captain Hannah Shepard." Liara ordered through the comm..
Maybe lunch with the Shepard matriarch would bring something interesting today.
"Shepard, I think we got them." The Illusive Man stated, quite ecstatic.
John raised an eyebrow. "What do you have?"
"A turian patrol sent a distress signal not too long ago, they engaged the Collector ship and managed to disable it, but not before being killed in the process."
"A mere patrol managed to disable a Collector cruiser?" The commander snorted. "Do I look that dumb?"
The leader of Cerberus smirked. "This is a grand opportunity to strike them. Without that cruiser, colonies will be safe for the time being, not to mention the fact that we will learn more of them."
"Fine." Shepard relented, though wary. "I will get my team ready to hit them, is there anything else?"
"Not yet, but after this, I will send coordinates of a thing I have in mind for you."
"Why not now?"
"Nothing concrete yet, but it is showing promise."
Shepard nodded. "Understood, keep in touch, your intel has been… satisfactory."
The Illusive Man chuckled. "Will do, now best of luck, though I know you don't need it."
John terminated the connection and muttered. "Kissing my ass won't make me any happier, scumbag."
He turned around and walked towards the mess hall, where Tali and Kasumi were talking quietly while Garrus chatted with Kal about some random sniper.
"Heads up people." Shepard boomed. "We are hitting the Collector cruiser that managed to swallow Horizon, it was disabled by a turian patrol not too long ago."
Garrus grinned. "Ah finally, this was getting boring, too many quarians for my taste."
Every quarian around, including Tali, glared at him. "Whoa, I was joking people."
"We will have two teams, everyone proceed to the planning room."
Tali approached him. "Are you sure about this John?"
"No, but it's the best we got."
A/N: Please review.