A/N: Sorry this took so long! For some reason the beginning part was really hard for me to get finished. Had a lot of fun with Hannah's section in this though! Anyway, enjoy, and a special thanks to my beta OinkythePiggy!
"…So that's how I ended up helping to clear rubble for a new landing area," Vega waved his hand in a dismissive gesture as he finished his story. "No big deal."
"Uh-huh," Shepard said flatly and raised an eyebrow at him. "Vega, next time you try to prove the superiority of the Mako, maybe try doing something that doesn't end with you trashing one."
A smothered laugh, that was quickly turned into a cough, came from the wall where Kaidan was leaning. Shepard turned her best, stern, "Commander Look" on him but he didn't even bother to try hiding the slight grin on his face.
"Sorry, Commander," he said, not sounding sorry at all, "but listening to you give that advice? Even you have to admit it's a bit… ironic, I guess."
"I," she replied loftily, "was not that bad. No matter what you and Tali have to say on the subject." Shepard couldn't bring any venom into the words though, not now, with Kaidan looking at her normally instead of with the strange expression he had come in with splashed across his face. It had been such a mixture of hope and longing, and happiness that she had been slightly uncomfortable. Even though they'd cleared the air between them ages ago, you couldn't erase history just like that. He'd been nothing but professional since he'd come back on board the Normandy, but that didn't mean he didn't care.
"If you say so, Shepard," her fellow biotic said innocently. She glared at him, but Kaidan just gave her a slight grin.
James glanced at Kaidan, then grinned and looked back at Shepard. "You're really that bad at it, Lola?"
She attempted to cross her arms, but that caused a pain across her side that almost made her yelp. So instead she just shifted back, trying to get comfortable. Which was more difficult than she wanted it to be. "I passed the test for handling the Mako, Vega. I can drive it just fine. You try staying in a straight line when you're trying to avoid enemy fire."
Neither of the men seemed to notice her words though, and both had zeroed in on her with a look of worry. "You alright, Shepard?" Kaidan asked quickly. "Do you need anything? I could call the nurse if you need.."
"No, Kaidan, I'm fine," she said evenly, trying not to snap. It wasn't his fault. Wasn't anyone's fault really…or maybe it was everyone's fault. She was already getting tired of people asking her if she was alright, or if she needed anything. It had only been a few days. She was going to end up murdering someone before she was out if they kept this up.
"You sure, Commander?" that was James. She couldn't blame him as much, not after seeing Liara's reaction, hearing how bad she had been when they'd first dragged her off the field and knowing he'd been there for that.
Even that couldn't keep all of the bite out of her voice. "Yes," she stressed. "I'm fine, for recovering from being chewed over by a Reaper. Just a bit tired, and bored when I'm not sleeping or being poked at, and getting very tired of doctors." She paused to consider that. "Doctors and hospital food actually. I could really do with a break from both."
Vega still had a slightly worried look on his face, but he tried to force a smile. "Least the hospital food is probably better than half the rations they're feeding us."
"What?" She would have jerked up right, but Lil knew better than to try that by now. It might gall her that she was still weak enough that she couldn't even sit up without help, but she was grudgingly willing to admit to her limits. Not that she was happy about it.
Or about what was apparently going on outside the walls. "Are they really rationing supplies already?" She had been worried that might happen since the Reapers had destroyed so much of the planet, and they had everyone here now. It couldn't be easy making sure that everyone was getting even their basic needs met.
"No," Kaidan said quickly, cutting her off . "It's not that bad, not yet anyway." He was looking at her in concern, eyebrows draw together.
"It's just…military rations you know?" Vega added quickly. "You get tired of the same thing all the time. It's not like it's been that long since you kicked the Reaper's asses. We're still doing alright. Even, you know, the turians."
"We got lucky. The quarians have their liveships here," Kaidan added, "without them things would have gotten a lot…messier."
Shepard didn't even want to think about what would have happened if the quarians hadn't brought the liveships to the front-lines. Getting the Relays up then wouldn't have just have been 'one of the most important things to do'. It would have been the most important thing to do. Otherwise they would have had another disaster on their hands. "Yeah, messier," she said, trying not to think about slow deaths and the person she loved in the same sentence, "that's one way of putting it." She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to clear that image from her head. By the time she opened them again, both men were staring at her in concern.
"Shepard," Kaidan started to say, but she waved her hand as much as she was able.
"I'm fine," she all but snapped. A week sitting here and she was feeling better each day. Maybe she couldn't outrun a toddler yet, but her mind wasn't suffering. When she wasn't resting, she was thinking which was fine when it was someone who wanted to talk to her. When she was alone though? Or when it was one of the doctors who kept insisting she had to 'concentrate on recovering'? She ended up coming up with questions no one seemed to want to answer. Which just made her worry that they were hiding something or that things were so bad they were trying to keep her from worrying. "Just getting tired of being out of the loop when it comes to what's going on. Just because I happen to be in the hospital doesn't mean I've forgotten that we're dealing with the end of the war. The whole thing with the doctors and the scientists and being poked at I could deal with if I knew what the fuck was going on with the rest of the galaxy. They don't tell me anything in here."
Kaidan looked startled but Vega just frowned. "Nothing? I thought Scars would be keeping you updated." He glanced around as if expecting the turian to spring out at any moment. "Where is he anyway? Thought he would be keeping you company."
She stared at him incredulously, about to ask if he really though that Garrus had nothing better to do than hang around her bedside, then she remembered that her lover had been there the last couple of times Vega had come to visit. The first time she barely remembered, still tired enough from her recovery that she had hardly said a few words to Vega about 'yes, I'm fine, and thanks for pulling me out'. Garrus had done most of the talking then, which had mostly been a rambling echo of her words that neither of them had the heart to cut off. It was amazing how long he could go on before his words ran out.
The second time, just a couple of days ago, was when Vega had showed up with Cortez in tow. Neither of them had said anything, but she thought from the stiff way he had been moving that the shuttle pilot had taken more injuries in the crash than he wanted to admit to. Seeing him actually alive and walking around had relieved her enough that she hadn't pressed him about it.
"Garrus comes by as much as he can," she said out loud, "but he's still one of the Primarch's most trusted advisors. I'm not going to ask him to abandon everything just to sit with me." As lonely as it got sometimes, as oppressive as it felt if she was awake and there was no one here to distract her, she was not going to make the person that she loved choose between her and his duty to his people. He wouldn't ever force her to make that choice, and she wasn't going to put pressure like that on him either. She could survive a few hours alone. It wasn't like he would be away that long anyway. She could wait.
"You know," Kaidan said, voice level, "If you asked him I bet he would be here."
Shepard sighed, "That's why I'm not going to ask," she said firmly, and then managed a smile. "Besides, having him here all the time would drive both of us crazy. He likes to think he can replace every nurse on duty when he's here." Well, maybe he wasn't that bad, at least not yet. He just bugged Miranda for updates whenever he could. "And, " she added, "if he wasn't helping the Primarch, then he wouldn't be able to tell me what's going on outside. Without that, I would be even more out of the loop," She shook her head as much as she could. "Miranda won't even let me have an omni-tool. Says it would be too much of a 'distraction'."
"She's probably trying to spare you having to listen to the newscasts repeating the same five or six stories about you over and over again," Kaidan cut in. He grinned, like it was some private joke when she groaned. "Come on, Shepard. You had to know that once the Alliance let it slip you'd managed to survive, everyone would be all over it. They're scrounging up every bit of footage they can, and yanking in anyone they think even talked with you at one point."
"They keep trying to get us to do interviews," Vega added, smiling himself, "said they want to talk to the people that were closest to you. Allers even jumped in, saying it would be better if she did it, since she knows you. She's hot too.."
"Don't you dare Vega," Shepard glared at the Lieutenant, but it was only halfhearted. She had known on some level that the news wouldn't be able to keep its hands off a 'Shepard is alive' story. It just hadn't occurred to her that they would bother bugging her crew. Which was stupid of her. Of course they would go after anyone who was on the Normandy. She trusted them to keep their mouths shut about anything important, but she didn't like the thought of them being harassed. "I know Lawson said they had paparazzi camped out around the hospital. Mom mentioned having to wade though them to get here during her last visit. They give you guys a hard time too?"
To her surprise, Kaidan shook his head. "Miranda managed to find us a back way in, and I'm honestly grateful for that. I didn't feel like fighting through a horde of reporters just for you Shepard."
"So…Reapers are fine, but reporters aren't? Good to know." She commented dryly, and raised an eyebrow at the Major.
Vega was the one that chuckled though. "'Course. Reporters are a lot more vicious. And you can't shoot them if they start mobbing you."
"You can still punch them," Shepard grinned a little. "It does a very good job of making them think twice. Even though to gets you yelled at in the end. Apparently Alliance soldiers decking reporters does not send a good message to the galaxy."
"Uh, I think that only works for you, Shepard," Kaidan sounded as if he wasn't sure whether to laugh or not. "And I doubt that would stop them now. They'd probably just consider it an honor to be punched by the savior of the galaxy. Or they would make it into the biggest news story of the night. I'm honestly not sure which would be worse."
"…Good job Kaidan, you actually gave me a good reason why I'm locked up here. I really don't want to deal with either of those right now. Even if the punching part would be fun," Shepard tried to turn it into a joke, but internally she was squirming. She had realized, on some level, that the entire galaxy would be grateful to her now that the Reapers were gone. It just hadn't sunk in until now, and she wasn't sure how to deal with it. All she had done was follow orders, and do what had to be done for the safety of everyone left in the galaxy. It wasn't like she had done it alone either. She couldn't have succeeded without help from every single race and person that had stood up against the Reapers. By now she knew that it was going to be useless to give those arguments to the public though. Just because she didn't want to be held up as some sort of savior, didn't mean they would actually listen. "Still wish I had an omnitool though. Then I could actually keep track of my adoring public without having to deal with them all."
"Not sure you really want that, Lola," Vega grinned, "got a good reason too. You really want to deal with all the fan-mail you've gotten? All by yourself?"
Suddenly the vision of her probably over-flowing inbox rose up in her minds-eye and she couldn't help but feel a sense of dread. "And this time I can't ask Traynor or EDI to go through it before-hand, can I?" She shook her head, "give me another husk to shoot at instead. At least I can get rid of them with bullets."
That got a laugh out of both of them. "Aww come on, you can probably still ask EDI for help," Vega shrugged, "she'd probably be happy too. Not like there's much to do until we can get her a body."
"Which means I still need an omni-tool in order to contact her," Shepard pointed out as she settled back. "I think that's more an argument for having one, rather than keeping me out of the loop, Vega."
"Umm…yeah, that backfired," Vega rubbed the back of his head, "but I'm pretty sure Lawson is only trying to help. I mean, it wouldn't be easy to relax if you knew everything that was going on outside."
"Why?" Shepard snapped, trying to sit up as much as she could as Kaidan groaned and Vega swore to himself. "What is going on out there?"
Hannah Shepard took a deep breath, and then struggled not cough as the thick scent of superheated metal, smoke, and ash coated her throat. You would think she would be used to this sort of stench after all the clean-up they'd been doing, but a fresh crash always brought out the worst of it.
"Maybe you should have your mask on, Admiral," the engineer standing next to her said nervously, his voice muffled by the filter he had over his own mouth. "We don't know what the ship was carrying."
"It's fine," she said automatically. "After everything else I've seen in this war, I doubt a little smoke is going to kill me." Not that she thought there was actually any danger here. They wouldn't even be this close if there was even the slightest chance that anything truly toxic had been on that ship. They would have quarantined the area until there were enough resources to deal with the problem long before she had arrived.
Which given the mess the planet was in, could have been a damned long time. Maybe she should be glad for that small mercy. Even if it felt very small in the face of everything else. She turned her attention to the massive scar the wreckage had carved into the ground as it came down. It had taken out part of a road when it had slammed into the earth, after striking several taller buildings when it had come shrieking out of the sky.
"Damage report?" she said, turning to the Major who was hovering anxiously over her shoulder. He was an older man, all grey hair and muscles, who looked as if he wasn't sure how to react to a Rear Admiral showing up in person without any warning. Maybe he thought there was something more to this crash that he hadn't been informed of. She hasn't the heart to tell him this was her alternative to attending yet another meeting of the Alliance leaders. After the media frenzy that had erupted after the short message stating that Commander Shepard was alive and recovering, she had reached her bullshit quota for the week. A large fiery object coming racing out of the heavens to land somewhere in the city? That had actually been a very welcome relief, something she wasn't exactly proud of. It still hadn't stopped her from very quickly volunteering to take care of it personally and splitting before Hackett could find a way to stop her. It was better this way. At least now she wouldn't have to dredge up enough care to be nice to assholes she would rather put through a wall.
"Still under assessment ma'am," the Major responded. She thought he'd introduced himself as Ricks. Not a name she was familiar with but apparently he was good enough to have landed this command. "I've got units tracking its flight path back as we speak. We should have a report soon."
"Good." She locker her hands behind her back and turned to examine the wreckage once again. "Casualties?"
"..Unsure, ma'am," Ricks admitted. "Given the condition we think the ship was in when it was coming down, we've assumed there were no survivors on-board when it entered the atmosphere. This part of the city was heavily damaged during the Reaper attack, and we aren't sure if there's anyone that would have chosen to come back. I have the men searching as they go back, but without any real data on who might be out there there's a limit to what we can do." He sounded guilty. She could understand that. It was easy enough to imagine someone, anyone out there trapped under the rubble brought down by the ship, unconscious with no help coming. Or worse, trapped, hurt, but conscious. Awake enough to realize no help was coming, or crying out for help, only to find no one there to answer them. After the horrors they had all seen, it made you want to throw everything you had at helping that one person.
They all knew that couldn't happen. Even if she gave the order to search, someone would override her. There were too many things that need to get done, too little manpower to let soldiers look for someone that might be there. Other places needed them more, places where there would be deaths if they didn't have support.
"Have your men do a sweep as they're coming back," Hannah said at last, "if it's a building, have them check it's condition first. I don't want them wandering in somewhere that's about to collapse and end up being trapped themselves." That was the best she could do at the moment, and both she and the officer knew that. He threw her a salute and a yes ma'am before turning to relay those orders.
The engineer gave a muffled triumphant noise, and she turned to look at him as he let out a sight of relief. "Air's clear," he said as he peeled off his mask. "And it looks like the drive core wasn't breached."
"I suppose we can thank god for that then," Hannah took a few steps closer towards the wreckage. She didn't want to think of the mess something like that would have caused. "Do we have a clue what brought it down?"
"According to all the scans so far? Nothing more menacing than gravity."
That really wasn't as comforting as the man obviously meant it to be. Good that no new enemies had suddenly decided to take up sabotage, but she was willing to bet that this wouldn't be the last they saw of this sort of crash. "Don't we have ships up there watching for things like this? An advanced warning would have been nice." At least she had assumed there was. She couldn't imagine everyone just sitting there waiting for things up there to come down.
"We do," the engineer said, "but there's only so many ships up there. And honestly, Admiral, there's a hell of a lot of debris left over after the battle. There's only so much we can predict with conditions like that."
Her throat was telling her that it was not happy about where she was. Her hip wasn't standing around on uneven ground either, if it came to that. She just hoped no one noticed how carefully she was standing. "So we're looking at more like this coming down?"
"If I was to take a guess, I would have to say yes," the engineer admitted. "I'm not in the loop about what sort of system they have in play up there, but given the amount of wreckage that was left over after everything was said and done? I'm guessing they're going to be focusing on keeping what's going to come down away from populated areas. And even that's not going to be perfect." He nodded towards the new bit of destruction as he finished his sentence. "Case in point."
"Well that's great news," Hannah sighed and rubbed her temples. "I don't suppose getting more ships assigned to clean up would help? I'm not really fond of the idea of something like this coming down on my head."
"I'm sorry, Admiral, I can't answer that," the engineer shook his head, "It's just not my area of expertise. You'd be better off asking someone else."
"All right," she said in reply, "I suppose I'm going to have to bring it up to someone. We need to take care of it before it starts to become a real problem." Thinking about unregistered space junk coming down on the head of civilians made her feel cold all over. Even if it meant she had to brave another meeting just to tell people that having all that debris orbiting right over their heads was a bad idea. Maybe it would even be better if she brought it up when it wasn't just Alliance listening to her. Getting all the other races to see, that as long as they were stuck on Earth they were in as much danger as the rest of them, might be enough to make them lend a few ships to get things cleaned up. Right now though, she had other things to worry about.
"In the meantime, let's just deal with what's in front of us," she said as she scanned the wreckage. "Do we have any idea what ship this was?"
"It's got a turian signature," the engineer answered, confirming her suspicions. The lines of the craft hadn't looked Alliance and she was willing to bet, if they had been allowed nearer the craft, the badly damaged writing on the hull would have resolved itself into alien script. "Haven't been able to find its name yet, Admiral. You're going to have to go to the turians for that."
She took a last look over the wreckage and shook her head. "We're going to have to let them know about their ship anyway. I'll send a message letting them know, and asking them if they need any help."
"Uh, not that I'm an expert on turians or anything, ma'am, but I'm not sure they're gonna need any help."
She turned and followed the engineer's line of sight. Off, nearly on the other side of the crater, was a small group of turians. Seeing them here was hardly a surprise. It wasn't like the crash was a secret after all. They might even have realized whose it was long before they had.
"Still polite to let them know what we found," she said out loud, "The Reapers might be gone, but that doesn't mean we should stop helping each other. We have to if we're going to have any hope of rebuilding."
"Yes ma'am," the engineer said quickly and went back to his scans.
Hannah studied him for a moment, then smiled. "Besides," she said, "helping an ally will make the politicians happy. Or at least as happy as they can possibly be." She would have added more but she happened to glance behind her then. There were more people gathered at a distance than there had been when she'd first touched down. Even from where she was, the distant glint of light off of camera lenses was visible. She was really, really beginning to loath that sight.
"And apparently it will help us look good in front of the media," she grit out.
The young engineer looked up from his omnitool, and Hannah was near enough to see his eyes go wide behind his visor when he saw the storm. "Where the hell they all come from?"
"From under a rock probably," Hannah growled under her breath, and ignored the look the engineer gave her when he realized a superior might have been making a joke. She glanced around and motioned over the first soldier she saw.
"Ma'am?" her target said nervously. She was beginning to get tired of that. At least she had orders this time.
"Make sure the civilians stay back. I want them as far away as you can get them, you got that?" She glanced over at the crash site ignorantly.
"Yes ma'am!" the young solider saluted. "Should I push them back further than they are now?" Most of the gawkers had halted a good bit away, clearly wary of coming closer to a crash that might be dangerous. It was the few, more adventurous, souls that were obviously not concerned at all about the bits of space debris, that she found the most worrying.
"See that wall right there?" she asked, pointing toward the remains of what might have been a small restaurant. "Get them level with that. All of them. I don't care what excuse the give, they aren't to get any nearer than that line. Get help if you have to but keep them there." As he saluted and ran off, Hannah wondered what he was thinking. Probably assumed that she had done it for the safety of the idiots who had come to see her. Which was true too. She just had ulterior motives behind it.
She didn't want to take even the slightest chance that one of the reporters would make it though the lines to come harass her. Not that they were supposed to be anywhere near a crash like this, but she didn't trust any of them farther than she could thrown them. Especially now, when she was sure half of them weren't even here for the crash. They were here just to annoy her.
If it had been any other time she would have laughed at her own ego for assuming that. Despite what she had accomplished, she was still only one person in a very large galaxy. Or at least she had been before the announcement that Commander Shepard was alive had hit the extranet. Suddenly, the fact that she was Commander Shepard's mother made her very important. She had thought that the reporters were annoying before they had known anything. That was nothing compared to the firestorm that had been unleashed once the news became widespread. Now instead of bothering people to know if her daughter was alive, suddenly everyone and their damned dog wanted to know everything about her. What was she like, how had she grown up, what sort of trouble she had gotten into as a child. Nothing was safe. Things like privacy and decency seemed to take a backseat to their lust for gossip.
Hannah tried not to make a face and disturb the soldiers around her when she thought of what her inbox must look like right now. When she had woken up the morning after the Alliance announcement, and seen the state it was in, she had quickly foisted the duty of figuring out what was important and what wasn't on her poor assistant. At least the girl seemed to take the whole thing in good humor. The latest source of amusement around their little quarter of headquarters was reading aloud the more…questionable interview requests in a dramatic voice. Hannah had a feeling that she wasn't really supposed to know about that, but she had let it slide.
The crunch of rock under a boot announced the Major's return. Hannah turned to meet him. "Do we have word back from any of the teams yet?"
The Major nodded. "Yes ma'am. They haven't found anything so far, and I hope to God that we end up with nothing. Hopefully this area is abandoned enough that searching just becomes another waste of time."
Hannah tried to ignore the painful twinge that came when she thought about an area this size in a megacity being abandoned. Not just ignored or run down, but outright abandoned. It said a lot about the state they were in and how much had been lost. "I think I'll agree with that, Major," she said quietly, and pointedly looked away from the increasingly loud gathering. "And not just because of the publicity either."
The Major had apparently been through the circus before, since his only reaction to the reporters was slight grunt. "They got here fast this time."
"That they did," Hannah agreed. "Not that I'm happy about that. Media relations aren't exactly my specialty."
"Not mine either," the Major admitted, "I'll put in a call, see if we can get someone down here that does know how to talk to them. Better that then having someone say something they shouldn't. They'll pounce all over anything they think is 'secret'."
"I know that all to well," Hannah raised a hand to shade her eyes from sun that was just trying to come though the clouds. Not all the way of course, there was still so much debris up there that clear skies were just a fool's dream at this point. This was just a lightening of the clouds that made you hope they might fade away. "I have someone keeping them from the crash site for now. Hopefully that will be enough."
"Hopefully," the major echoed, his tone clearly doubtful.
Hannah ducked her head slightly so he wouldn't see her half-grin. "Then I take it you have things in hand from here on, Major?"
"Of course, ma'am," he said without hesitation, but didn't bother to hide the curious look he was giving her.
"Then I'm going to go check on our allies over there," she said, nodding toward the turian group. "Maybe they'll know something that will make the clean up go faster, or at least free up a few more of our men."
"Very well, ma'am," he said looking dubious, "do you need an escort or transport? If you wait until the patrol gets back we can send…." Hannah cut him off with an upraised hand.
"It's fine, Major," she said, and dropped her hand to the sidearm she never went without. "I doubt there's anything between here and there that this can't take care of. It's not that much of walk, and I am not that badly wounded. You'll even be able to see me for most of the way." At the still unsure expression on his face, she continued, "and if anyone else tries to give you crap for letting me go over there on my own, then you can tell them that I ordered you to stay behind and continue operations here." She paused and gave him a pointed look. "Unless you want me to actually give that order."
"No need ma'am," he admitted with a sigh. "But, if you'll excuse me for saying this, I'm more afraid of what your daughter will do to me if I let anything happen to you on my watch than anything the rest of the Alliance can do to me."
That was the last thing that Hannah had been expecting to hear, and it startled a laugh out of her. A slightly strained laugh, but a laugh all the same. The Major look startled by it. "Believe me, if anything does happen I'm the one that she'll be yelling at. I thinks she would enjoy the chance to be the one berating me for being careless for once," she said.
"If you say so, ma'am," he didn't sound convinced. Maybe he'd heard far too many of the inflated rumors about Lil that were flying around. Hannah didn't feel like sticking around to convince him how outlandish most of them were. The sooner she could get farther away from the cameras the better.
"Just carry on, Major. I'll be fine," she said, with a slight smile, before she turned and headed off around the end of the crater. Within a few yards she was almost wishing she had either brought her cane or had stuck around long enough to get some sort of transport. The ground was highly uneven, rocky, and tended to shift whenever she put her foot down. The vague ache in her hip had exploded into something she knew she would be feeling for the next couple of days. She had been injured enough to know that she hadn't actually hurt herself again, but maybe she had overestimated how recovered she really was.
She would just have to take care that she didn't limp, fall, or otherwise show that she was perfectly ready to just sit down and rest. Aside from her little speech to the Major, she didn't want to deal with the media storm that would ensue if anyone caught her stumbling on camera. She might be able to blame some of it on the uneven terrain, but she was willing to bet her pay for the next year that some reporter, somewhere, would find out about her injury. That was not the sort of attention she wanted to put up with. Not when she actually had things to do.
So she focused on moving forward one step at a time. It wasn't like she had to rush. As long as she paid careful attention to where she set her feet, then eventually she would get around to the other side. Hopefully the turians wouldn't think she was that crazy for taking so long. You never could tell what they really thought of humans.
Turians. The thought suddenly struck her that here she was, Commander Shepard's mother, walking over alone to speak with the turian delegation. She wasn't stupid. After finding out about her daughter and Vakarian she had been paying attention to what the media was saying about the crew of the Normandy. Oh, they were spreading rumors about the two of them, but apparently they had been more discreet than she had thought. There were no confirmed reports about the two of them being together. No pictures that could be taken as anything more than normal, friendly, interaction between comrades. Which was good. Granted, her going over to speak with the delegation made perfect sense, but she wouldn't put it past someone to jump on it as 'proof'. Or maybe not. Maybe she was just over thinking things and no one had even started to make a connection yet. She hoped that was the case. Personal feelings on the matter aside, the two did seem serious about each other. She wasn't about to let the shit-storm of outrage drag their relationship out into the open until they were ready for it. Which, she felt, would be after her daughter could get out of bed. Maybe she could figure out a way to distract the paparazzi for a bit. Tell them about her own teenage transgression of taking the family car and running away for three days maybe. Let them scramble around trying to confirm that for a bit. Hopefully they would find it juicer bait than the idea that Commander Shepard was in fact dating her turian Gunnery Officer. At least for a couple of days.
A glint of light on something far too bright for the landscape snapped her attention to her surroundings. There, floating not twenty feet from her was something that she had been hoping to avoid for the foreseeable future. She felt her stomach knot in annoyance. This was the last thing she needed.
"You aren't supposed to be here," she snapped, knowing full well there had to be someone nearby to hear it. As the reporter controlling the camera popped up from behind the crumbled remains of a blockade she wondered how in the hell he had managed to sneak past the soldiers. Circled around maybe. He certainly looked like he was fit enough to go climbing over piles of rubble.
"According to the soldier out there, yeah," the reporter said, "but my sources say there's no danger at the moment. It makes me wonder why you'd bother to set up such a wide perimeter."
"So making sure a crash site is secure is now considered suspicious," Hannah tried to keep her voice even. She did not want to be doing this. If her hip wasn't so sore she would have just kept walking and let either the Major or the turians deal with this asshole. As it was, her hip was far to happy to have this moment of not moving for her to be comfortable just walking away. Besides, the bastard would probably just follow her anyway and he might notice something. "And I'm wondering about those sources you mentioned. We haven't even given any official announcements about the crash. How the hell did you get in contact with anyone who could tell you if it's safe for not?" That was something she was going to have to bring up with the Major and anyone else the Alliance saw fit to place in charge of this crash site. They had someone there right now that was willing to deal in information he had no right sharing. Security concerns might not be at the same level they were during the war, but that didn't mean they were absent entirely. They couldn't afford to have an obvious leak existing.
"Come on, I couldn't reveal a source like that!" The reporter grinned. He had the sort of young-ish blonde look that some people would probably find charming. Hannah just gave him a glare, and that grin wavered for a moment. "And besides, this isn't really about the crash anyway. I've been wanting to speak with you."
Hannah immediately shut out whatever other word she was going to say, and pulled up her omnitool. "Major, we have an intruder out here. One of the civilians managed to slip past the lines. He's not a threat, but you should get someone up here to escort him off the premises as soon as…"
"Wait!" Abruptly the man was almost in her face. Hannah fought her instincts to take a step back. She had never liked people getting into her personal space without permission. "You don't know what I'm asking yet. All I'm trying to do is.."
"You want an interview," Hannah said flatly. "You want me to talk about my daughter. I've already said that's one thing I'm not going to do. I'm not going to throw her life out on display for someone's entertainment. You want to know more about her? Go ask someone else." She brushed by him and set out again. Her hips hurt worse. She couldn't tell if it was because the ground was getting more unstable, or because she was so tense that it was affecting her most vulnerable areas.
"Look, I know that you have reasons to distrust reporters, Admiral Shepard," the guy pleaded as he jogged to keep up with her, camera whirring merrily along behind him. It galled her how easily he was able to keep up with her. She couldn't tell if he was really just that athletic, or if her hip was really slowing her down that much. "But," the reporter continued, "you have to know how big of an impact your daughter had on the galaxy. How much of a difference she made in the life of every single living being out there! There's no way she's going to be able to avoid the media spotlight forever, no matter what she wants. Someone will get to her eventually. Even if she doesn't say anything personally, then someone is going to talk."
"That a threat?" she said as she stopped, then turned to face him. The reporter took a step back at the glare she sent up, and raised his hands.
"No, no, it's just a fact, and you have to know that, Admiral Shepard." He dropped his hands slowly. "Eventually, there's going to be someone who doesn't care about her or what she's been though. They'll only care about their career, and they'll find the one person willing to spill about something that the Commander wants to stay buried. But since that's the only story the public has, they'll latch onto it and it will never go away."
"Right. And I suppose you don't care about your career and you're only here out of the kindness of your heart." Hannah crossed her arms. "Try again, kid. I've been fed more believable bullshit by recruits. If that's you're idea of 'persuasion' then I can't even pretend to be surprised that you're this desperate." She thought she saw a couple of marines picking their way over to where they were standing. Good. Just a few minutes more and he wouldn't be bothering her anymore. Maybe stopping here had been good, if only because it let them catch up faster.
"I'm not saying I'm here totally for magnanimous purposes," the reporter said hurriedly, "but at least I'm here because I respect what Commander Shepard has done. That's why I took the trouble to track you down Admiral. You're her mother! If anyone knows the real her then it has to be you!" he smiled, as if this was some huge, amazing thought. As if she hadn't heard or read the same reasoning countless times lately. "All I'm asking is for a few minutes of your time. Just a little bit so I can have a glimpse of what Commander Shepard was like before she joined the marines, before she became an N7 or a Spectre. Just a few stories before she was a legend, so people have something to connect to." He gave her that charming smile again. "So, how about it? It won't take long, I promise!" As if she had already agreed to whatever it was he had planned. Goddamn was she getting tired of his.
"No," she said and uncrossed her arms. "I don't care what you're trying to do here. I already said I wasn't going to give an interview, and I'm going to stick with that. Lil deserves better than me babbling to reporters behind her back, and as her mother I intend to respect her wishes by staying away from you. I think her past behavior makes her own opinion on the matter clear." She took a step back from him then, and let herself enjoy the absolutely dumbfounded look on his face.
"No?" he repeated, as if he wasn't sure he heard her correctly. "But you can't just turn away like that! I'm doing this for Commander Shepard, don't you see that.."
"You're doing this for yourself," Hannah said flatly, "because if you can go back with even a few words from me, you'll get a boost to your career and I imagine it would make your bosses very happy. Even with the planet lying in ruins around you, and countless dead, you're still looking out for yourself." Her hands clenched and she didn't even try to stop it. "I already told one of your friends this the other day, but apparently you didn't get the message. If you really care that much about my daughter then start putting your energy into finding ways to rebuild. Not stalking me, hoping I'll let some juicy bit of intel drop. Now, I suggest you get lost before the soldiers coming toward us arrive. I doubt they'll be as nice as I am right now."
The reporter had taken a step back as she spoke, and his eyes flickered towards the approaching marines. "I'm trying to help!" he protested. "Maybe I wasn't being completely honest before, but you know that I'm telling the truth when it comes to what's going to happen. You and your daughter aren't going to be able to escape the media attention. She's a public figure, and she has been one since the Skyllian Blitz. Now she's larger than life, and no one is going to listen to you when you tell them to back off."
"Then they'll just have to listen to her when she tells them the exact same thing," the Admiral gave him a look . One that had stopped much more hardened men in their tracks many times before. "Like you said, I'm one of the people that knows my Lil the best. You aren't going to get any more for her if she can help it. And even if the Alliance does decide to push her to do an interview, then that's her prerogative not mine." She started walking again after that. The marines were close enough now. Let them drag this asshole off.
"Please, Admiral Shepard you have to do this!" He said, all charm gone and sounding much more desperate, "If you care about your daughter at all then you have to.."
She came to a dead stop, heat simmering though her veins, and turned around slowly to glare at him. "I don't think you want to finish that sentence. You do not get to tell me what caring about my daughter means."
"I'm just trying to point out that you're not really protecting her by ignoring all this," the reporter said, talking fast, one eye on the approaching marines, "that, someone might just make it a priority to go looking if you aren't careful. Given the Commander's reputation it will probably be easy to find some source that would be willing to speak to me about the things even the Council doesn't want us to kno.."
The gunshot cut off his words, making him swear throw himself to the ground. After a few seconds of silence he raised his head, and looked around wildly. Hannah waited until he noticed the smoking remains of his hovercam near his head, and then pointedly met his eye before putting her gun away. She knew that someone was going to come at her for loss of control. Someone of her rank was supposed to serve as an example. That would just have to be something that she dealt with when the time came. At the moment she couldn't bring herself to regret it at all.
The reporter looked at her with a stunned expression, mouth opening and closing a few times before he got a word out. "You didn't…"
"I suggest," she said, "that you remember one thing. You can bother me all you like but do not threaten my daughter like that in front of me. Ever."
The reporter started to scramble to his feet, only to abruptly freeze at the sound of bootsteps near them.
"Ma'am? What's going on here?"
Hannah turned around, not remotely surprised to see that the two marines that had been sent over had their weapons draw. She hoped her vidcam murder hadn't startled anyone else. The last thing she wanted was to cause a panic "You can stand down, soldier," she said calmly. "It was just a minor disagreement with this gentleman here," she nodded toward the reporter who was staring at her in disbelief. "You can take him away now, and make sure he doesn't come back. I do not want to see his face anywhere near the crash site or other Alliance operations. Is that clear?"
"Uh, yes, ma'am," one of the soldiers said, as his partner went to haul the protesting reporter to his feet. "What should we do with him?"
"Ask your commanding officer," she said, happy this was one thing she could pass along, "I'm sure he'll have some suggestions. I'll leave the rest up to you."
As she started to walk away she heard one of the soldiers clear his throat awkwardly. "Where are you going, ma'am?"
"Back to what I was doing. Which is something that's actually important," she said as she glanced back at him. She tried to keep her voice even, even though her hip was throbbing again, and this time she was pretty damn sure that stress had something to do with it. She wasn't about to lose face by just going back either. Behind her she could hear the reporter yelling something, but she very pointedly tuned his words out in favor of making sure her footing stayed even and she didn't wobble.
It was only when she was almost to the turian delegation that she realized a sudden lost of control like she had exhibited might not be looked upon favorable. Damn it. She was going to have to pull out some sort of fancy speech to excuse that, wasn't she? Ah well, even doing that out here was far, far preferable to having to sit through several other people doing the same thing at the meeting going on right now.
And she wouldn't have to listen to Hackett complaining at her about it until that meeting got out either.
Solana Vakarian knew her people. 'Military efficiency' was more than a phrase for turians, it was a way of life. She had seen that first-hand growing up in the house of a C-sec officer who had worshiped that ideal.
Of course, even that wasn't enough to make her completely immune to the awe of actually witnessing that way of life in action. Her current position, leaning against the wall near the main door into the building, wasn't even the best place to see the improvements her people had made but it was still damn impressive. Once this had been the abandoned shell of a human company. Exactly which one she couldn't even guess, since any signs of the previous occupants had been carefully scrubbed and replaced with Hierarchy symbols. It was becoming a true turian embassy now. You could hardly tell it had been in the center of war at some point.
Of course, Solana had to admit, that even though it was impressive that wasn't what she was here for. Normally she would have been with what was left of her unit, helping with clean-up. At least that was what a few friends of hers, that had managed to get through, had said was going on and at least that would have been something to do. Instead her 'light duties' were driving her crazy. When she had been ship-side sorting through casualty lists, at least she had felt like she was getting something done, as grim a duty as it had been. Here, she was just hanging around until she was ready to be in active service again…and trying to track down a brother that really didn't want to deal with her.
She shifted her position a little to keep the weight off her still-healing leg, and glanced over the news reports that were scrolling across her omni-tool without any real interest. Maybe 'didn't want to deal with her' was a little harsh when it came to Garrus. He was busy being a big-shot in the Hierarchy now, something that made their father incredibly proud, and it wasn't like he had been ignoring her entirely. He had made time to talk with her, but that had mostly been about how she had gotten off Palaven and how she had been holding up. Any questions about himself and what he was doing tended to be deflected with some sort of comment.
Not that it was anything new. When he first came back home, after two years, he'd been doing it too but here it was even worse than it had been back on Palaven. At least then he'd eventually come clean about the Reapers, and everything that had entailed. This time he didn't seem to want to talk about it. Even messages sent to his omnitool weren't getting any concrete answers. Which was why she was here, looking to see if she could figure out exactly what was going on with him.
"Just what are you hiding, Garrus," she muttered to herself under her breath as she went back to looking through news reports. Fortunately, after the Alliance came clean about Commander Shepard being alive and kicking, there was no shortage of stories about her, and Solana was pretty damn sure that the legendary Commander was behind her brother's strange behavior. Granted she didn't have any proof, but since even Admiral Hannah Shepard had refused to clarify the relationship between her daughter and Garrus? Solana felt there had to be something more there than the usual subordinate and Commander relationship going on there.
She just didn't want to start accusing without something more solid than feelings. Which was why she was here, hanging around, waiting for Garrus. This time she wasn't just going to let herself be brushed off. Besides, she had a piece of information that she wanted to deliver herself. She wanted to see his reaction personally when he got it, and not just the carefully worded message she would get if she shot him the info over omnitool.
Getting to him though, that had proven to be more of a challenge than she had thought possible. She eyed one of the guards who was keeping watch near a stairway. When he caught her gaze for a moment, he gave her a stern look and grumbled something with subharmonics that she could barely understand from here. It was less than complimentary.
Her mandible flicked into something of a grin, and she pushed away from the wall. The casual way she intended to saunter over to him was more than a little ruined by how carefully she had to handle her injured leg, but she supposed it was the thought that counted.
"No," the solider greeted her when she got within range, "I already told you that you can't go beyond this point." Which was about what she had expected. "I don't care who you're related too. Unless you have clearance I'm not letting you up!"
She'd been planning on him refusing. Not that she really expected him to break protocol and let her pass, but you tended to learn more from people when they were at least slightly annoyed with you. Well, learn more from a certain type of person anyway, and she was pretty damn sure the soldier fell very firmly into that category. "At least tell me when my brother will be out of his meeting?" She said, although she knew that a guard like this probably wouldn't even know the answer. "He's not answering his omnitool pings, and I have something that I need to tell him."
"I," the guard growled, annoyance clear in his subvocals, "don't care. Whatever it is you have to tell him can't possibly be as important as a meeting with the Primarch. Leave him a message on his omnitool like any normal person would, and stop bothering me with it."
Solana let her mandibles flicker out in a pleased way. "So he's with the Primarch?" she asked, and had the satisfaction of seeing the guard look stricken for a moment before muttering what sounded like a curse under his breath. "Care to tell me what's so important they have to be locked up for hours?" She could think of several things, but she wasn't sure how near the mark any of them were going to be. Better to see if she could narrow it down.
"I have no idea," the guard finally snapped, "and it doesn't matter to you anyway. Whatever they're discussing is beyond us, so I suggest you shut up and wait quietly. Or, just go find something else to do. Like actually helping out for once."
Solana came close to snapping something back. The pittance of work she did do here was useful...when she was allowed to do it. Unfortunately being on the list of those that were recovering wounded meant she was kicked off to rest far sooner than she liked. She was also pretty sure that the newly minted respect that the name 'Vakarian' now carried had something to do with how carefully they were handling her. They weren't supposed to be doing that but she wouldn't put it past the officer in charge. Which probably made her look a little bit lazy to soldiers like this. Not that it gave him a license to make snap judgments about her, but she wasn't going to say anything about it out loud. You didn't lose your tempter when trying for an interrogation.
"Fine," she did say, stepping away and giving a vague sort of wave. "Just tell my brother I was looking for him." She had some thinking to do about this. Let the guard think he had 'won' this battle.
"Not in my job description, ma'am," he said icily as she walked away. She could still hear him snarling something in subvocals to his companion, but she shut it out. Instead she focused on what the next step was going to be. She didn't begrudge Garrus having to spend so much of his time on duties related to his new responsibility. If he had been a little more honest with her, she wouldn't even be here. He should remember that when he tried to avoid something, it only made her more determined to find out what he was hiding.
Solana called up the omnitool display she had been looking at earlier. Rumors, theory, and no proof. She was going to have to get a little more creative if she wanted to find out what Garrus was really doing, and she was going to have to do it fast. If she was right, then she could see why her brother hadn't bothered to tell anyone in the family yet. Or at least she understood why he hadn't wanted to talk with Father about it yet. She was just insulted that he hadn't trusted her enough to tell her the truth.
As she flicked open another news report about the crew of the Normandy and settled in the corner to reread it for any clues that she was right there was a sudden stir in the room. She looked up so see several heavily armed guards come in, scanning the area with practiced ease before one of them went up to start a low voiced conversation with a guard that had been standing duty when she came in. Normally she would have tried to get closer but any curiosity about what they had been talking about was wiped away by the two other people that entered the room right after them.
She stiffened and threw a salute as the Primarch entered the room, but fell out of the stance a half-beat before everyone else when she saw Garrus with him. Quietly she started making her way over to them. They had stopped near the doorway, and we're softly talking with each other. Now that could prove interesting.
It wasn't like she was trying to eavesdrop either. She just didn't want to interrupt Garrus' conversation, especially when it was with the Primarch.
"….just because it's one of ours doesn't mean you have to go personally. We have plenty of officers in the area that could take care of it." The Primarch sounded semi-annoyed but this subvocals held more than a hint of exasperation. She knew that tone very well. Everyone who had ever had to deal with her brother in one of his more stubborn moods sounded like that after a while.
"I'm not getting anything done here," Garrus said, "you and I both know that. There are a dozen people here that can talk the talk better than me, and that's what we need right now. And it was Admiral Shepard who was at the site. I know her. It's better for me to get out there and meet her personally than to trust that it might be some hotshot rookie who thinks he doesn't need to listen to a human."
That was…interesting. If there was something a human Admiral was involved in, it had to be big. Especially when they had sent someone like Admiral Shepard to deal with it. Unless they were just trying to deflect attention away from what the name 'Shepard' meant now days, although she couldn't think why the would want to do that.
"Ah," the Primarch said. His expression didn't change at all, but in anyone else she would have called the sub vocal tone teasing. This was the Primarch though, and she hadn't thought her brother was close enough to him that he would indulge in friendly mocking. "I was wondering if that had something to do with it. Do you really think that running out into a crash site will impress her?"
The term crash site caught her interest. Solana was almost more interested in that than she was in the fact that her brother was interested in impressing Admiral Shepard. That fell right in line with her theory. Time to see if she could get any more interesting tidbits personally. She approached, and gave a slight subvocal hum.
Garrus, of course, recognized it. She'd been using it to get his attention since they were kids. The Primarch might have looked over at her curiously, but Garrus had already turned to face her.
"Sol?" he said, mandibles dropping in surprise for a few seconds. "What are you doing here? I didn't think you were fit enough for duty to be reassigned!"
"I'm not," she said, amused at the confusion in his subvocals. She didn't even try to hide it. "I came all the way here, because a certain brother of mine hasn't been bothering to check his omnitool messages."
"What?" Garrus glanced down at his arm in reflex before he looked back up at her, mandibles flexing into a frown. "Uh, sorry if I've missed anything important. I've been running around like crazy. There's just so much to do and.." he trailed off and gave her a more piercing looking. "and you wouldn't be here just because you were annoyed that I wasn't picking up. You wouldn't go through all this trouble if you didn't have some ulterior motive behind it."
"So, I'm not allowed to just be concerned about my big brother?" Solana said as innocently as she could.
Garrus gave a disbelieving click at that. "Not this time, Sol. You already tracked me down at the hospital once. You know I'm doing fine. Now, spill. What brings you all the way out here?"
"Would you believe boredom?" she said after a moment. That wasn't quite a lie in a way. If she wasn't in a cast then she would probably be so busy herself that she wouldn't have a moment to give a crap about her brother's relationships.
"Not," Garrus said, "coming from you. At least not right now." He shook his head. "What are you snooping around for, Sol?"
There was a chuckle from the Primarch before Solana could answer that. "Family troubles, Vakarian?" he said, sounding amused again. It was a bit surprising to her, but the tone in his subvoals was unmistakable. Sol wondered just how close her brother and the Primarch were.
Garrus still had the grace to look at least a little uncomfortable. "Ah, sorry. Victus, this is my sister Solana."
"Sir," she threw salute automatically as he gave her a nod. "I'm sorry for the interruption, but there was something that I felt my brother should hear from me."
"From you?" Garrus was frowning now, "what's going on? Did something happen?" He sounded worried now, and at any other time she would have felt a tiny twinge of guilt over that. Just not now, not when he should have already known what she was talking about.
"Nothing serious," she replied, locking her hands behind her back, "but I figured you wouldn't have checked your messages from dad yet. He's going to be planet-side in a little less than a week, Garrus. I know how much you were looking forward to that." Sol knew that her father and brother had always had somewhat of a rocky relationship, but the last time she'd mentioned the obvious, that their father would want to see Garrus face-to-face, had brought out a reaction that she hadn't anticipated. From the look on his face this time, her brother's reaction hadn't been an anomaly.
His mandibles flared out, his eyes went wide for just a moment, and he swallowed before answering. "He's going to be here? That soon? I thought that.."
"I told you that he was gong to come as soon as he could," Solana shot back, "I'm actually surprised it took him this long to get down here. You know his background makes him more useful ground-side than up in a ship right now! If people hadn't been using…personal connections to get him to stay, he would have already been here. And if you had actually said more than two words to him in your messages, you would probably already be aware of that."
"Ah," Garrus shifted his weight slightly, looking more like an abashed recruit than one of the foremost advisors in the Hierarchy for a moment. "I've been…busy," he repeated, as if saying it again would somehow make her believe it more.
It was the Primarch that spoke up then, "If I had know your father was that efficient, I would have asked for his assistance sooner. Why didn't you tell me about him, Vakarian? Afraid?" There was nothing but gentle teasing in his subvocals, and Solana again wondered sort of relationship the two of them had.
"Not now, Victus," Garrus hissed back, his subvocals sounding in something that was something a hair less than 'shut up'. Anyone else would have been looking at a severe reprimand for the informality, but the Primarch just chuckled.
That alone was interesting. It was one thing for an advisor to be friendly with the Primarch. It was an entirely other thing for them to be friends. That left a differing complexion on things. She would have to think more about that later. For now though, "He does have a point , Garrus," she flared a grin at her brother. "I thought you and Father were finally starting to get along before the shit hit the fan. Now you're a huge war hero, one of the highest placed advisors in the Hierarchy…and you don't even want to talk to him. I have no idea why you're being so weird about it, unless this is some strange way of being embarrassed that he's proud of you for once."
"It isn't that," Garrus sighed, and reached to rub his forehead.
"Then what's going on?" She crossed her arms. "You've been acting weird. I'm waiting."
Garrus just gave her that annoyed sort of look he always used to get when she was teasing and starting to push it too far. Those had usually ended in their parents pulling them apart when they were younger, although they'd grown out of it after Garrus had entered the military academy. Instead, their sparring had turned more verbal, although she was pretty damn sure that even her brother would wait until they were alone to actually call her out on it.
"Vakarian," the Primarch cut in again. "I'm not trying to intrude in a family squabble, but it does seem like it would be easier to just to tell her. I doubt it will end up being as bad as you seem to think it will be."
"Squabble, we aren't even.." Garrus choked out. Clearly he hadn't expected that sort of attack.
Solana was more than a little surprised herself, although if the Primarch was getting involved something clearly was up. "So, there is something going on. You're way too easy to read sometimes." She said, and watched as Garrus looked as if he was going to argue for a moment, then his shoulders slumped slightly.
"Look, you're probably right about this. Both of you are. I just..need a moment. I'll tell you everything Sol," Garrus looked directly at her, even though he was still fidgeting nervously with his talons. "Promise. Before Dad gets here at least. I'll need you on this. I just have to…get somewhere right now. Go see Shep…Admiral Shepard," he finished quickly and started to edge past her.
"Running away, Vakarian?"
Garrus stopped long enough to glare back at the Primarch. "Not running," he said, "just getting breathing space. It's not like this is going to be easy."
"Sounds like running to me," Solana couldn't help commenting.
Her brother gave her an offended look. "I don't run," he insisted, then he was gone.
After watching his retreating back for a moment, she turned back to the Primarch. She opened her mouth to say something but he just shook his head.
"I'm not going to say anything," he said. "Stepping into that battlefield would be more trouble than it's worth."
"So, you do know something," Solana said, and grinned as the Primarch smirked in reply. Well, at least that was confirmation. Before she could ask him if it had anything to do with Commander Shepard, an agitated aide came running up. She let herself be pushed aside. Annoying her brother was one thing. Getting in the way of the Primarch doing his duties? That was another thing entirely.
His group moved outside and boarded a transport very quickly after that, making sure she couldn't follow up on even vague suspicions. She stepped outside the building pondering her next move for a moment before calling up the messages on her omnitool.
Normally she wouldn't count rumors as solid evidence, but they might just give her another line of questioning to use with him. Besides, Jaenex was still complaining he had nothing to do. Let him help her on this.
Jae – it's Sol. I need you to do something for me. You're the family gossip – and don't pretend to be outraged about it. You know it's true. I also know you've been keeping track of anything to do with my brother since the Saren case. Care to tell me what the extranet sites are saying about him and Commander Shepard?
And no, I'm not going to tell you what's going on, although you've probably got your own theories about that. Just keep them to yourself for now, all right? I'll update you later, promise.