Fealty's Sake - Inauguration

Chapter 1 - Perfect Day to be Human


"Perfect day to be part of the Earth-clan" snorted the slightly tipsy volus beside her as they both glanced up at the vids rolling around on loop on the holo-screen in the bar. The volus were a strange race, little round mole people in their environment suits. The rumour was if you cut their suits open, the volus inside would pretty much explode.

"Yeah…" Tori replied, disappointment laden in her voice as she stared up at the red head physique of Jane Shepard – the first human Spectre.

"Shepard…" The growl-tinged statement that came from Tori alarmed herself as much as the volus beside her. It wasn't that she disliked the commander. Not at all. If anything, Tori admired the tenacious, charismatic redhead more than anyone. But after all this time she was forever two, or more like eight, steps behind her. With a sigh she downed her watered whisky, the ice long since melted, bought only as Dutch courage. Rising off her stool to leave, she scooped up the data pad she had been pawing over the entire time she had been in that seedy bar.

Running fingers through off-black long hair, she sighed as she ran over her application one more time. Today was supposed to be the day that she finally handed in her application to Citadel Security; she would have been one of the very few humans on the force, but how could she hand it in now after Shepard had beaten her to the punch? Yet again, she was fighting Tori's battles for her. She would look presumptuous, egotistical even a bit opportunistic. With a groan, Tori slumped onto a bench overlooking the Presidium lakes. Data pad on her lap, body bent over, grasping her head with her hands as she shook it furiously at the outcome.

"Damn you, Shepard," she cursed bitterly in a nearly inaudible whisper, before hearing a familiar voice call out her name.

"Victoria!"

Wincing at her whole given name, she looked up through her wavy obsidian locks and saw the culprit. Her mother waved and walked calmly towards her, ever the vision of elegance and dignity. The elder Shaw woman glided over and considered her child carefully with silver eyes, then tilted her head to the side. Carefully tucking the short tresses behind her ear, she took a breath. Any second now she would say what was exactly on her daughter's mind. Trust a mother to know her child so well. It was both a blessing and a curse, that in a way there were no secrets between the two Shaw women, but then again, being a teenager with a mother who was theoretically a psychic made it impossible to get up to any mischief.

Like the time Tori and the ship's resident blonde, heart throb – what was his name again? That's right, Jamie Williams. They were going to steal the shuttle for a joy ride in space before some star lit making-out. They never made it off the ship. Her mother was sat in the pilot's seat, turning to drink in their shocked faces, with her best 'Major' scowl. It had been all Tori's fault and all Tori's idea, of course, Jamie had done very little to protest otherwise.

"Are you going to waste all day here, sitting and pouting?" she said, her face serene, but her eyes twinkling with playful mockery. With a whine, Tori leant back, her hands sliding against her legs as she rested her palms on her knees, tipping back and looking at the artificial sky. She closed her eyes in a 'not now mother' expression.

"Today of all days, just when I had made up my mind to do it..." A self-defeating comment if there ever was one.

Her mother tutted and sighed, but continued to stand in front of her daughter, arms folded behind her back while standing straight and tall. The old habits of a military woman did not die easily, despite a nice, tidy desk job as an ambassador's assistant. Despite her mother's face being cloaked in shadow, Tori could feel that familiar scorn of her 'Major' face. Military habits definitely did die hard. She found herself squirming beneath its invisible power. Tori's mother understood her daughter's strange obsession, the one-sided rivalry she held with Jane Shepard. All created because of what happened on those N7 tests - the military training that marked the best marines within humanity.

Peeking open a hazel eye, Tori caught that look briefly before it melted and Mother Shaw softly remarked, "Want a hug?"

It was teasingly spoken, knowing full well her grown daughter would shun the display. To her surprise, Tori meekly nodded and slid across the bench, making space for two. Safely tucked in her mother's arms, she rested her head on her chest and sighed again, this time with a smile planted firmly on her oval face. Tori was content.

"It will be okay, Angel" her mother cooed softly as she caressed a single lock of black between forefinger and thumb. Tori tried her best to smother the creeping protest rising in her throat at that embarrassing little pet name her mother had been using on her for as long as she could remember. Her mother's calm tones pushed on, soothing her even more.

"Just remember, no matter what happens, me and your father, we will always be proud of you. And I will always support any choice you make." The elder Shaw woman's voice broke at the mention of her lost husband. Tori broke from her mother's embrace to see her wipe away tears that hadn't fallen. She now gave her mother a true hug.

For so many years it had just been the two of them against the universe. Her father was killed in action during the brief but traumatic First Contact War, leaving a grieving woman with her little girl. Tori was barely one. Her mother, a major in the Alliance, had settled for softer duties to raise her child on a ship but the turians kept coming. Her mother resigned shortly after peace was established, claiming space was 'not the place to raise a child.'

She admitted to Tori much later that she was rife with grief. She could not risk losing her daughter as well as her husband and despite missing the Alliance, she had never regretted the decision. Tori often wondered if the man that she only came to know through her mother's stories and the photo that sat in their house would approve of her life choices.

Joining the marines, then going to for N7 Training, now longing to sign up with C-Sec. Tori knew her mother was apprehensive of her only child to fling herself in harm's way, but the woman was so dutiful she would make any member of the turian race feel ashamed. So with unwilling eyes, she always agreed to every adventure Tori managed to get herself-signed up for. Her thoughts were disturbed when her mother broke away from the hug and forced on a happier demeanour.

"Well, we can't have you attempting to join C-Sec without this now, can we?" She grinned and passed her daughter a datapad, which had earlier gone unnoticed.

Reading it over, Tori's eyes suddenly went wide. "Mum! How did you ever manage to get this?"

Shock and awe were both on her face as well as in her voice as she noticed the two much esteemed names on her recommendations. Her mother looked pleased with herself and playfully patted her shortly cropped hair as if preening herself.

"This old girl still has her charms!" she replied with a laugh, before patting her child on her back, encouraging her to go.

Tori couldn't believe her luck. Her mother worked for Ambassador Udina; a shrill man but a brilliant politician, he manoeuvred the politics and bureaucracy of the Citadel with such ease and grace that it would make any Asari dancer, look like a lumbering elcor. And Admiral Kahoku, a respected man, honoured in battle and reputation. If their names came across your desk it meant ignoring their recommendations would spell trouble, lots of trouble.

"Now, hurry up before Shepard does something else to derail you, like abolishing the need for C-Sec altogether!"

More playful tones from her mother, but appreciated all the same, if Tori's grin could establish anything about it. With both data pads in hand, she grabbed the hair tie off her wrist and put her tresses in a bun. Then she set off with a steady jog to the Lower Wards to finally carve her own place in the universe, as far away from Commander Shepard as she could muster.