Chapter 19: The Council
Jacob entered the armoury to see Miranda waiting for him.
"Miranda," he said.
"What happened during the last mission? The Commander is badly beaten and he avoided me when I tried to talk to him."
"There were some complications."
"One of the vorcha we fought in the plague zone became a Yellow Lantern."
"What?" Miranda yelled.
"The Collectors gave it a yellow ring. It gave Shepard a good run for its money, but he was able to defeat him. Even took its ring."
"He brought the ring here?"
"Where did he put it?"
"Don't know. He's currently in his cabin speaking with the Guardians."
"I'll need to contact the Illusive Man right away," Miranda said as she rushed out of the armoury.
Jacob shook his head. 'I've seen that look before. She's about to do something reckless.'
Shepard placed the yellow ring on his desk and went to the center of the room. He held up his ring.
"Ring, connect me to the Guardians."
Light emerged from his ring and gave form to the Guardians.
"Commander Shepard," Ranakar said. "What do you have to report?"
"Did Sinestro escape his cell?" Shepard asked bluntly.
"Are you sure? Has he been checked on recently?"
"He's under constant supervision. What has happened to make you doubt this?"
"In a mission to recruit someone for my team, I encountered a vorcha who received a yellow ring from the Collectors. Luckily he wasn't trained in its use. He quickly used up its power."
"A yellow ring? Are you sure?"
"This is grave news. Do you have any idea how the Collectors could possess a yellow ring?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. I took care of the last of the Yellow Lanterns during the War of Light. Only Sinestro is left."
"Then the reapers somehow have access to power rings. It's possible that when you eliminated Sinestro's Corps, some of their rings went off to seek new users. The reapers may have intercepted them."
"That makes sense, but that just makes things worse. My galaxy has never encountered anything like the power rings. They're defenceless."
"We understand your concern, Commander. If things are escalating so much, maybe you should select a partner for your sector."
"I do have someone in mind but..."
"Wielding a power ring has you manipulating a colour of the emotional spectrum. It leaves you vulnerable to the other colours if you're not careful. The person has a strong sense of justice and he has been through a lot. That proves to me that he has the willpower to wield a ring. But he suffered a betrayal that has filled him with anger. Until he has dealt with that anger, he's not going to be able to wield a Green Lantern ring."
"Wisely put, Commander. What will you do from here?"
"I still have a few more dossiers to go through and some personal business to deal with for one of my crew member. From there we'll see if Cerberus has any new Intel on the Collectors. Though the Illusive Man is hiding something, I just know it."
"Anyone who takes upon the alias of the deceiving man is never to be trusted. He is a resource. Not an ally. Remember that."
"Believe me, that is at the forefront of my mind."
"We wish you luck in your mission."
The video link ended. Shepard dropped on his couch and groaned loudly. He lay down and stared at the ceiling.
"Can't be simple can it?" Shepard thought out loud. "Can't just take on some random mercs who get knocked down within seconds. Noooooo... Now the reapers are handing out damn power rings like party favours. Always changing the damn rules."
"Commander," EDI said over the ship's comm system.
"Eh?!" Shepard fell off of the couch.
"I apologize if I had startled you."
"No, no, it's fine," he said as he got to his feet. "Something up, EDI?"
"I'm relaying an urgent message from Miss Chambers. You have received a message from Councillor Anderson."
"Thank you, EDI."
"Logging you out."
Shepard walked towards his desk and sat down in front of his terminal. He opened his inbox and found the message from Anderson. Shepard opened it and read the content of the message. He smiled.
"Looks like I have an appointment."
Dex-Starr hid in an alleyway and brought up his tail. Atrocitus' image appeared before him.
"I have reviewed your observations and reports," Atrocitus said. "You saw the Commander fighting a Sinestro Corpsman at Omega?"
Dex-Starr shook his head. "Not Sinestro."
"The Collectors? Yes... It was in the data you provided me. Now tell me, why did you briefly abandon your mission?"
"Bad men hurting people. Killed them. Commander in ship. Had time."
"Yes... Considering the circumstances, you are forgiven. I have reviewed your assessment of Omega. It is a place that must be purged of its filth once the time comes. But this does not mean you may deviate from your mission."
Dex-Starr bowed his head shamefully.
"Keep your head up. Despite this... You are still the most competent Lantern at my disposal."
Dex-Starr lifted his head.
"Our ranks have been increasing at a rapid rate since the end of the War of Light."
"Dex-Starr will be good kitty. Will continue mission."
"Be patient. Our righteous rage will soon come upon this galaxy and purge it of its filth."
The shuttle touchdown at the dock and its doors opened. Shepard and Garrus stepped out.
"So tell me again why you just picked me to come along?" Garrus asked.
"Well Mordin was busy in his lab," Shepard replied.
"What about Jacob and Miranda?"
"Well, I didn't think it would be a good idea to bring a couple Cerberus operatives along with us, especially since the message Anderson sent me implies they know about my association. Anyways, you've rested long enough. Thought it would do you some good to stretch your legs."
"Good point. Let's just hope that this visit doesn't become a waste of our time. Or worse."
"Only one way to find out."
Before the two could go through customs, a voice called out to them, "Commander Shepard, please enter your password and receive a free gift."
Shepard noticed the advertisement stand that displayed the face of a hooded woman. The dossier mentioned that Kasumi would disguise her introduction in a manner similar to this.
"Silence is golden," Shepard told the ad.
"Good to finally meet you, Commander Shepard. Kasumi Goto. I'm a fan."
"Has Cerberus filled you in on the mission?"
"Honestly, I'm shocked they didn't come to see me sooner. My fault for being hard to find, I guess."
"Welcome aboard, Kasumi."
"Just one thing. Did Cerberus tell you about my personal business?"
"It seems like they make a habit out of leaving out information."
"Well, the greybox of my formal partner, Keiji Okuda, is currently in possession of a man named Donovan Hack. I want it back."
"It you need to get it out of the way, we'll deal with it."
"Good. It'll be fun. And if we're lucky, you won't even have to draw your gun."
The ad stand suddenly deactivated and collapsed into its compact form. Shepard turned around and saw Kasumi in the catwalk above.
"We should probably wrap this up," Kasumi suggested. "You look pretty silly standing there talking to an advertisement. See you on the ship, Shepard." Kasumi turned around and vanished.
With the help of Shepard's ring, he could still see her with a highlighted green glow around her. The cloaking tech used in his galaxy is still extremely primitive compared to the tech in other galaxies where cloaks are able to adapt to the emotional spectrum.
"Well, that was weird," Garrus muttered.
"Doesn't even come close to top ten of weird for me, sadly," Shepard sighed. "Let's just get this meeting with the Council out of the way."
They passed by a turian arguing with the woman at the customs desk and entered into the security checkpoint. Inside the hall was a C-Sec turian behind a terminal. As they approached him he raised his hand, "Just a moment so the scans can do their thing."
The scanning light went over them before an alarm went off.
"What the-" the turian uttered as he tried to fix an error that occurred on his console.
Shepard's ring glowed as a reaction to the scans.
"WARNING: SCANNING A GREEN LANTERN IS PROHIBITED BY UNIVERSAL LAW," the system announced.
The C-Sec agent glared at Shepard. "Green Lantern? Is this some kind of joke? Hacking the C-Sec networks is an extremely serious offense."
A muffled voice began speaking over the C-Sec agent's radio.
"What? You can't be serious-"
The voice said some things to quiet the agent.
"Alright, alright. Captain Bailey has given you clearance to move forward. He wants to speak with you. He can reinstate you in our system so you're... 'alive' again."
"We'll get on that," Shepard told him.
Shepard and Garrus walked out of the security hallway and found Bailey directly to their right.
"Ah, Commander Shepard. Good to finally meet you. Even without the scans I can tell it's you."
"The agent said you can reinstate me in your system."
"Usually you would have the go through the Station Security Administration to reactivate your IDs. Then to Customs and Immigration to regain access to the Citadel itself. And probably a stop by the treasury. Spending a year dead' is a popular tax dodge."
Shepard nodded but continued to stare at Bailey.
"But I can see you're a busy man. So how about I just press this button right here, and we call it done?"
"That'd be great."
Bailey typed in a few commands and a beep was sounded.
"There you go," he said. "I just saved you three days running around the Citadel. Now you should make your way to the presidium. The Council will want to see ya, especially since you saved their damn asses two years ago."
"That's why I'm here."
"Anything else you need?"
"No, I'm good."
"Good luck with your meeting then."
Shepard and Garrus walked away from the desk.
"Hey, Shepard can't you just fly us to the Presidium?"
"I thought it would bring too much attention."
"As oppose to now where the once 'dead' Commander Shepard is walking around the Citadel wearing what appears to be a leathery unitard with a giant green emblem on the chest. Yeah... Completely incognito."
"Alright, alright," Shepard relented. "You made your point." He raised his ring hand, but before he could activate it someone ran into to him.
The man who ran into him fell to the ground. Shepard spun towards the direction of the man who fell.
"Are you okay?" Shepard asked the man.
"Sorry about that," the man apologized. The man was broadly built and wore clothes that were a size or two too large for him. He also wore a pair of glasses with Shepard found really unusual.
Shepard reached out to him. The man grabbed his hand and Shepard pulled him up. "It's alright. You know I don't think I have ever seen anyone outside of history books who wear glasses."
The man pushes the glass up the bridge of his nose and smiled. "Oh, these aren't prescription. They stream information in front of my eyes. They're just design to look like glasses. I felt they really suited me."
"You know, they do," Shepard admitted. "Though why do you have that information stream in front of your eyes?"
"I'm a reporter for the ANN. I need to keep myself in touch with information at all times."
"You know, I forgot to introduce myself." Shepard held out his hand. "Commander Hal Jordan-Shepard."
The man grabbed his hand and shook. "It's an honour to actually meet you, Commander. I'm Clark Kent."
Shepard felt some pain in his hand from the grip. "One hell of a hand shake you have there."
"You don't seem surprised to see me."
"Oh! Uh, I have actually heard rumours that you were still alive. Seeing you here confirms that."
"Word gets around fast," Garrus interjected.
"Where have you been for the last two years?"
"Is this an interview?" Shepard asked.
"Just personal curiosity."
"It's a long story. The short of it is that I have been on an important mission for the last two years. Making allies and saving lives."
"That's somewhat ambiguous."
"I would say more but I have an appointment with the Council that I shouldn't be late for."
Shepard raised his ring and surrounded Garrus and him in an energy bubble. The energy bubble lifted off and flew away while everyone in the area stared at the bizarre phenomenon. Kent brought his hand up to his ear and said, "Batman, it's me."
"Were you able to locate him?" Batman asked him.
"Yes. We had a quick chat before he rushed off to meet with the Council."
"Did you manage to learn anything from him?"
"We didn't get much farther than introductions and hearing that he's been off on a mission for the last two years. I was able to confirm the Commander's unusual powers."
"What did you see?"
"He formed a green energy bubble around himself and Garrus Vakarian and flew away. No propulsive jets of any form. Do you think Cerberus manage to create this technology?"
"Cerberus uses advance technology, but I have never come across anything like this. This is something else entirely."
"So you believe this technology is from outside the Milky Way."
"I'm still waiting for more information before I come to that conclusion. Reapers are one thing. I have enough information to know they exist, but this emotional spectrum is still outside the realm of believability."
"More unbelievable than sentient starships that wipe out life every fifty thousand years?"
"Point taken. I'm going to continue my observations of the Commander. You should know ahead of time, Udina is starting to push towards the idea of getting the team after him."
"That's a bit extreme. We have no concrete facts that he's outright turned against the galactic community."
"This isn't about the facts. For Udina it's about perception. If the public finds out that the Commander is working with Cerberus, it could very well cause a scandal to the Alliance. With Anderson as Councillor that order will not go through."
"We can be thankful for that. Should I notify the others about this situation?"
"Not at this time. Those two are busy enough as is. I'll take care of this for now."
"Just don't take on more than you can handle. You have a habit of doing so."
"I'll ask for help when I need it."
The line went dead and Kent sighed. "You always say that."
The doors of Shepard's cabin opened and Miranda walked in. By using EDI's override code, she was able to temporarily blind the shackled AI. She entered inside and activated her omni-tool. While the energy that Shepard or the Yellow Lanterns use is unknown, Miranda calibrated her omni-tool to detect any energy disturbances. She slowly waved her omni-tool as she walked through Shepard's room.
Miranda watched as the energy readings go up as she moved closer to Shepard's bed. The readings reach the top of the chart when she reached the side of the mattress.
'Under your bed, Commander? Really?'
Miranda lifted Shepard's mattress and found nothing. She grabbed the base top and lifted it up with the mattress. There was nothing but carpet.
"Still nothing, but the scanner says it's right here-"
Just then Miranda noticed that the carpet under the bed looks different from the carpet around the bed. She reached down to touch it, but her hand went through.
Miranda moved her hand around until she felt the ring. She grabbed it and pulled it out from the false floor. Miranda looked at the small object in her hand. She marvelled at the small object knowing just powerful it is. Miranda pulled out a replica Yellow Ring based on the images EDI provided her. She placed it down.
'Sorry, Commander, but this is for the good of humanity.'
"This meeting would be more productive if Udina was here to join us," Tevos said.
Anderson stood facing away from the three holograms of the Council members.
"My advisor is unavailable," Anderson replied. "As Councillor, I represent the voice of humanity and the Alliance. Shepard will be here any- What the-?" Anderson saw Shepard appear over his balcony inside an energy bubble and land inside his office. The energy bubble dissipated.
"What just happened?" Valern asked.
"Shepard just came in," Anderson answered. "Flew in."
"Was that a joke?" Tevos asked.
"It's good to see you again, Anderson," Shepard greeted. "I hope the last couple of years have treated you right."
"There've been some rough spots," he replied. "It's good to have you back. And I see Garrus is with you."
"Good to see you again, Anderson," Garrus said.
"We've heard many rumours about your unexpected return," Valern said, interrupting the reunion. "Some of them... unsettling."
"We called this meeting so you could explain your actions, Shepard," Tevos continued. "We owe you that much. After all, you saved our lives in the battle against Saren and his geth."
"The Collectors are harvesting human colonists across the Terminus Systems," Shepard stated. "Worse, they're working for the reapers."
"The Terminus Systems are beyond our jurisdiction," Sparatus argued. "Your colonists knew this when they left Council Space."
"You're missing the important part, Councillor," Anderson interjected. "The Reapers are involved."
"Ah, yes, 'Reapers,'" Sparatus scoffed as he used air quotes. "The immortal race of sentient starships allegedly waiting in dark space. We have dismissed that claim."
"Shepard, no one else encountered the hologram on Ilos that told you the truth about the Reapers," Anderson told Shepard. "Only you and your crew ever spoke with Sovereign. I believe you, but without evidence from another source, the others think Saren was behind the geth attack."
"Go back to Ilos and talk to Vigil," Shepard told the Council. "Or just look at what's left of Sovereign. It's obvious the technology is more advanced than ours!"
"The hologram on Ilos is no longer functional, and we have found nothing to suggest that Sovereign was not a geth creation," Velarn explained.
"The geth are capable of remarkable technological achievements," Tevos said. "This is probably why Saren recruited them."
"This Reaper theory along with your report just proves just how fragile your mental state is." Sparatus scolded.
"You have my report?" Shepard asked. "Then you know just how serious the situation has become. The Reapers are-"
"Evolved forms of machines known as Manhunters," Sparatus finished for him. "Machines we have less evidence for than the Reapers. Machines created by an ancient alien race outside our galaxy. This report only gives us more evidence of your insanity and instability. Cerberus is taking advantage of your mental state to further their goals."
"I kept Saren from conquering the Citadel," Shepard reminded them while taking a step forward. "I sacrificed human lives to save this Council. I spent the last two years fighting wars that would have meant the end of the universe if my side lost."
"We are in a difficult position, Commander," Tevos said. "You are working for Cerberus."
"I don't work for Cerberus!" Shepard yelled. His voice caught them all off guard. "I... Am... A Green Lantern. My duty is the safety of this entire universe. You want proof? Here. Talk to my higher ups." Shepard raised his ring slinging hand and his ring glowed. The green images of the Guardians appeared in front of him.
The Guardians faced Shepard. "Commander, you have called upon us?" Ranakar said.
"I have. You all wanted to meet with my galaxy's government. This is them. Councillor Tevos, Velarn, Sparatus and Anderson."
The Guardians turned towards the three Councillors. "So this is them? Council, we are the Guardians of the universe. The Commander is the person the ring selected to be the Green Lantern of sector 2814. Your sector. He is given the authority to deal out justice as per commanded by the Book of Oa. Any actions taken against the Commander will be seen as an act against the Green Lantern Corps as a whole and you three will be seen as enemies of the universe."
"This is supposed to be proof?" Velarn asked. "What I see are dwarf humans. And your jewelry, as your report outlined, is nothing more than a simple small scale omni-tool."
"We are the Guardians," Ranakar stated. "Shepard's meeting with you three is a courtesy. We have given Shepard full reign to do what must be done to stop the Reaper threat."
"We still do not believe in this... Green Lantern business," Sparatus stated. "You people are obviously Cerberus agents trying to manipulate Shepard to your own ends."
Ranakar looked bad to Shepard. "We thought you were exaggerating their stubbornness."
Shepard shook his head.
"How dare you!" Sparatus growled. "We should impound Shepard's ship and take him and his crew into custody for this!"
"That's enough!" Anderson roared. "I'm on this Council and I'm not letting this whitewash continue."
"Maybe there's a compromise," Tevos suggested. "Given the Commander's ties, we can't give a public acknowledgement, but we can give peripheral support. If you keep your activities to the Terminus System, we can reinstate your Spectre status."
"Fine," Sparatus relented. He then glared at Shepard. "But know that you will be under a great amount of scrutiny. Do anything to make us regret this decision and you will be stripped of your status as Spectre and be tried for treason."
"I'll take what I can get," Shepard muttered.
"Good luck with your mission, Commander," Tevos said before their images vanished.
"Well that went better than expected," Anderson sighed. "You realize the Council's offer is just symbolic. They won't actually do anything."
"At this point I don't need the Spectre status," Shepard said. "I'm only here to show the Council that I'm on their side."
"Very well. I'll keep them off your back, so long as you stick to the Terminus System."
"The Commander cannot have his mission interfered with," Ranakar said.
Anderson faced the Guardians. "You're really those immortal beings the Commander told us about."
"We are the Guardians. I assume the Commander's report has explained everything."
"It has but it's still over my head. I believe the Commander, but anyone else who reads this report thinks it's proof of the Commander's insanity."
"It's understandable. Your galaxy has been hidden from our sight for a billion years, and in that time the Reapers has been committing mass genocide."
"Then the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps believe the Commander about the Reapers."
"As the report stated, the Reapers were born from the Manhunters."
"That you created."
"We understand your anger. We did not intend for the Manhunters to become these abominations. This is why we are giving the Commander as much support as we can muster. Until we rebuild our forces, the Commander with his status as Honour Guard will serve as our arm of justice in your galaxy." And with those words, the image of the Guardians vanished.
"Can we trust them?" Anderson asked Shepard.
"For the most part, yes. I made allies beside the Guardians. Many I consider trustworthy. Some... not so much."
"Not so much?"
"I... trust in their motivations."
Anderson walked over to balcony railing and leaned on it. "That's not very comforting."
"Just like this whole reaper business."
The doors to Anderson's office opened and Udina walked inside.
"Anderson we need to talk about-" Udina spotted Shepard and stopped in his tracks with wide eyes. "Shepard..."
"Something wrong, Udina?" Shepard jest. "It looks like you've seen a ghost."
"No, uh, I read the reports. I just didn't expect to see you so soon."
"I invited the Commander here," Anderson said. "We just finished talking with the Council."
"What?" Udina yelled. "Councillor, do the words 'political shit storm' mean anything to you?"
"The meeting was heated but it ended fine enough," Shepard interjected. "They reinstated my Spectre status. They just want me to stick to the Terminus System."
"I can see how that benefits us all." Udina then addressed to Anderson, "But you really should have spoken to me before taking a step like this, Councillor."
"I don't take orders from you Udina," Anderson reminded him. "Maybe you should sit in your office and think about that?"
"Ah, yes, Councillor," Udina relented. "Excuse me." He quickly turned and exited the room.
"Sorry about that," Anderson apologized to Shepard.
"He's just doing his job," Shepard shrugged.
"True enough. He has his uses. If you want something done on the Citadel, he knows who can take care of it. He'll also attend diplomatic functions that I can't be bothered with."
"I should probably take my leave."
"Where are you going from here?"
"I have some more people to recruit to my team. After that I'm waiting for any Intel from Cerberus. Speaking of which, do you where I can find Williams?"
"Operations Chief Williams is currently on special assignment for the Alliance. It's top secret and I can't say anymore. Not while you're with Cerberus."
"That's pretty harsh, Anderson," Garrus finally broke his silence.
"I'm sorry, Garrus, but that's the way things have to be for now. And Commander, just... be careful. You can't trust Cerberus."
Illusive Man sat in his chair and watched as the hologram of an Asian man clad in light-weight armour appeared in front of him. Illusive Man took a sip of his whiskey.
"The mission was a success," he declared.
"As usual. Good job."
"What is the status of my next assignment? The Collectors."
"I'm afraid someone else has taken over the mission."
"What?" Kai yelled. "That was my mission!"
"I understand that you're upset-"
"I'm the only one with the skills to pull this mission off. Who replaced me for that mission? Lawson?"
"Operative Lawson was placed as second-in-command for the Collector mission."
"Then who leads the mission?" Kai demanded.
Kai stumbled forward by a step. "He's alive?"
"Indeed. I will be sending you a data package explaining the situation. It is... interesting. For the time being I'm assigning you to continue our search for Grayson. Once that mission is over, I have plans for you."
"Very well, sir." Kai's hologram disappeared as the conversation ended.
The Illusive Man brought his clenched left fist up and opened it. Inside was a yellow ring.
Kai slammed his fist against the wall as he exited the comm room. Around him Cerberus personnel worked and moved about. He didn't want to stay on Zeus Station longer than necessary. His day was horrible enough having to lose his Collector mission to the alien-loving Commander Shepard. Kai wanted to avoid the wet work operative on Zeus Station.
The operative was an anomaly in Cerberus' record. He was mentally unstable. No. Insane. His past a mystery. Not even the Illusive Man knows where the man came from. One day he appeared. He was known for causing havoc wherever he goes.
Many organizations have sent assassins after the mysterious man only for them to turn up dead. With a smile on their face. That was his signature. He used a toxic gas that causes muscles to contract. It had the side effect of contract the facial muscles to form a smile.
The Illusive Man saw potential in the man and hired him. The man didn't even want monetary compensation. Being given the opportunity to cause chaos. And so this was his position in Cerberus. Wherever political unrest was needed, or a war between gangs needs to be started, this wet work operative was sent forth on the Illusive Man's behalf.
"Kai?" a voice called out. "Is that you?"
Kai groaned and tried to move faster.
"It is you, Kai, my boy!" The man ran towards Kai. He wore make-up on his face and had green hair. His face was a pale white and he had a large amount of red drawn around his lips to form a large smile.
Kai stopped in his place. The operative pat him on the shoulder and walked in front of him.
"It has been too long, Kai."
"Not long enough," Kai muttered.
"Oh, now I'm starting to think you don't like me," the man pouted.
"What was your first clue?" Kai growled.
"Maybe I just caught you at a bad time." The man shrugged. "There's something I wanted to ask you."
"See I heard that there's some pilot who shares the same name as me."
"I said I don't-!"
"And I can't have that. My name is unique. Something special to me. If anyone can use my name then that takes away what makes me, me."
"I don't care!"
"My, my. It seems someone is grumpy today. Though I can understand why. I mean having your mission taken away and... given to a dead man. It must really hurt your pride that you're no longer the Illusive Man's favourite."
Kai grabbed the man by the neck, lifted him up, and slammed him against the wall. He glared into the man's toxic green eyes. Kai pulled out his pistol with his free hand and planted the end of the barrel against the side of his head.
"I should end your damn life, clown."
"Heh, heh, heh, heh, ha, ha, ha!"
"You don't think I won't?"
The man wagged his finger and shook his head. He then pointed down. Kai looked in the direction of the man's finger and saw that he was holding a detonator.
"Go ahead," the man dared with a wide grin. "Set up the joke and I'll tell you the punch line."
Kai let go of the man's throat. "Freak."
The man broke out into laughter again. "That is hilarious coming from you. We're both freaks here, my boy." He moved close to Kai's face. "The only difference is that my face doesn't hide it."
Kai shoved him back and quickly walked away.
"Have fun with your wild goose chase! Don't be a stranger."