Strictly Off The Record
"If the members of the Defence Council weren't already dead, I'd happily kill them myself." The recently re-instated Spectre spoke calmly, sounding almost bored with the proceedings. Something must have shown on the reporter's face, some momentary lapse in her finely crafted on-camera persona. Shepard smirked at her, "Oh come on, Allers," the woman across from her scoffed, rolling her eyes, "You doknow who you're interviewing, right?" Shepard gave the Battle Space reporter no time to answer, instead she leaned forward on the end of her bed. "Butcher of Torfan?"
Shepard had consented to the one on one interview with Diana Allers inside the captain's cabin aboard Normandy, "So no-one can interrupt your scoop," Shepard had said earlier. Despite her eagerness to interview the famous human woman, Allers now began to experience a gnawing sensation of doubt. Every journalist in the galaxy was aware of the time Shepard had, in her own words, Lost my shitand slugged Westerlund News reporter Khalisah Bint Sinan Al-Jilani...on no less than two separate occasions. On both occasions, the resultant footage had gone viral in a matter of minutes and in less than a day had been viewed by members of every species across Council space and the Terminus. Uploaded to YouFaceTwit*, the clip received a record number of hits, equalling the Elcor Hamlet Blooper Reel.
At the time, Allers believed the Al-Jilani woman had it coming; Westerlund News' top reporter had a reputation for asking 'the hard questions' and often went out of her way to provoke a reaction from her interviewees. Most of her interviewees broke down crying. Shepard had almost broken Al Jilani's jaw.
And now I'm inside Shepard's cabin with nobody to come running if Shepard loses her shit with me was but one of the many thoughts flitting through Diana's head, brought on by Shepard's frank admission that she'd be happy to murder the people in charge of Earth's overall defences. If the Reapers hadn't killed them all first, that was. With most people, Allers would have assumed Shepard's words were pure hyperbole. But Shepard...the Spectre was infamous for doing things others might think about doing but would never, ever do.
Presently, Allers recovered herself. "Commander, surely that's a little extreme? The Defence Council-"
Shepard cut her off, "Ignored me. I told them and told them the Reapers were coming." The Spectre blew out an exasperated breath, "But would they listen? Instead they grounded my ship and confined me to quarters for six months."Shepard's voice began to rise and she made a visible effort to calm herself, Allers was relieved to see.
Diana glanced at a datapad held in one hand, containing her notes and questions she wished to put to Shepard. "According to sources in the Alliance, your superiors grounded you after working for Cerberus."
Shepard gave another eye roll. "With," Shepard emphasised the word. "I was working withCerberus. To stop the abductions of our colonists in the Terminus." A dim amber glow was now visible around the irises of Shepard's eyes and Allers was discomfited to see amber traceries glowing just beneath the other woman's cheeks. The other crew aboard the Alliance frigate had warned Diana about the glowing. "When Shepard's face lights up, that would be a good time to wrap things up," the turian had advised her.
The Alliance Network News reporter feigned a sudden interest in her omni-tool's chrono. "Oh...I apologise, Commander, I just remembered I have an interview lined up with another of your crew."
Shepard eyed her silently for a few moments, as though weighing the truthfulness or otherwise of her words. Allers schooled her features into a pleasantly neutral expression and calmly met her gaze. Two can play at that game, Commander. Aside from the scars – handily indicative of Shepard's mood though they were – Commander Shepard was a devastatingly attractive woman and, if shipboard scuttlebutt was even half-accurate, changed sexual partners about as often as most people changed clothes. Men, women, asari, turians, even a hanar if the stories were accurate.
Diana herself believed the tales of Shepard's sexual escapades were one part pure fantasy, one part semi-accurate and eight parts somebody trying to make a credit out of selling their alleged encounters with Shepard to the tabloid media. My Night of Wild Passion with Commander Shepard, complete with too-grainy footage of somebody's naked body. The two years between Shepard's death and eventual return had witnessed a veritable cavalcade of former partners alleging to have indulged in all manner of things with the Saviour of the Citadel. Commander Shepard herself seemed content to maintain a dignified silence...except in her dealings with a certain Westerlund News reporter.
After a moment's more silence, Shepard nodded and waved a hand in dismissal. "Sure. I have things to take care of anyway."
She rose from the bed and walked Diana to the cabin door, past the fish tank.
"We'll talk more later," Shepard told her before the door slid shut.
*In the future, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter will merge to become an all-consuming social media juggernaut and none will be spared. You have been warned.
"Yo, Esteban!" Vega called from his station across the shuttle bay, "You got a visitor!"
Lieutenant Steve Cortez turned from his inspection of the Kodiak's port-side cannon mount as the reporter crossed the deck towards him, her camera drone hovering over her shoulder. The few other crewmen in the frigate's shuttle bay put aside their work and turned as one to observe the sway of Allers' hips. Though his tastes ran counter to theirs, Steve still appreciated a well put together body when he saw one and Allers' was almost as well put together as the Trident he'd flown earlier in his career. Vega, Steve could not help noticing, was making a show of lifting the massive dumbbells he kept in his corner of the shuttle bay, his muscles rippling beneath his shirt. Allers shot Vega a small smile as she arrived next to the shuttle.
"Ms Allers," Steve greeted her.
Diana smiled her most disarming smile, flashing perfect white teeth. "Call me Diana, please," she invited, and offered her hand.
After a moment's hesitation, Steve took her hand and nodded. "Lieutenant Cortez. Steve."
"A pleasure, Steve." Allers took a moment to look him over. Close up, his features had a slightly tired look to them as though he hadn't been getting enough sleep. Understandable, given the current situation. Despite that, Diana decided she liked what she saw – an honest man dealing with things the same as anybody else. Her viewers would relate to that she decided. For many of Battle Space's fans, Shepard would be the main draw card but even in the short time she'd been aboard the Normandy, Diana's fan mail indicated a desire to get to know the 'regular guys' of the ship.
"I was wondering if you wouldn't mind answering a few questions on camera, Steve. For the show?"
"Uh..." Steve hesitated. "I thought you were here for the Commander?"
"Among other things." Diana smiled her smile again. "But Battle Space isn't all about Commander Shepard, Steve. It's also about the men and women behind her. The ones who keep the shuttle flying, for instance."
Diana knew she'd hit the right button; Steve relaxed and smiled. "If you're sure. I can get carried away, talking about flying."
The reporter nodded encouragingly. "That's fine, Steve. Some of my viewers get right into the technical details." She paused before going on in a lower voice. "Turians...Turians are absolutely nut sabout that kind of thing."
"Yeah," Steve replied, nodding. "You should talk to Garrus about the Thanix cannon."
"I might do that. Well, if you're ready?" When Steve nodded assent, she added. "Just act like the camera's not even here."
Diana keyed her omni-tool and the camera hovered into position, lens whirring to keep her in focus. "This is Diana Allers, reporting for Battle Space. I'm in the shuttle bay of the SSV Normandy, the ship at the very heart of our fight against the Reapers. With me is the Normandy's shuttle pilot, Lieutenant Steve Cortez. Tell us a little about yourself."
"Well, as you said, I pilot the shuttle you can see behind me," as he spoke, Steve turned and pointed towards the brick-like Kodiak drop-shuttle. "That's the UT47-A Kodiak."
Before Diana could ask for more details, the pilot was off, "The A-variant of the Kodiak features a larger element zero core, meaning it's lighter and faster than a vessel of comparable size." He paused and Diana marvelled at how comfortable he seemed on camera, "She still handles like a brick, though." The reporter smiled and nodded encouragingly, not wanting to interrupt and break the flow. Steve slowly walked the length of the docked shuttle, Diana and the camera trailing along in his wake. "Aside from the larger drive core, the new Kodiak features a stealth system based on the Normandy's own design." He rubbed his stubbled jaw, producing a sand-papery sound. Apologetically, he added, "That's all classified, though."
Diana activated her omni-tool, and the camera focused in on the shuttle's cannon. "Tell our viewers about the firepower, Steve," she invited. When this goes to air, every gun nut in Council space will be leaning forward in their seats. Early on in her career as a war reporter, Diana learned most soldiers loved to talk about and show off their firearms.
The pilot laid a hand on the cannon. "This is the Ariake Technologies GX-19 'Vulcan.' Firing rate of a hundred rounds per second. The cannons give fire support to our ground forces as well as countering air-to-air threats mid-mission..."
Fifteen minutes later
"...and that's about it as far as the guns are concerned," Cortez finished with a smile.
Diana was impressed; Cortez had managed to rattle off the technical details her more extreme fanbase loved whilst maintaining an easy to grasp manner the rest of her viewers would appreciate. "Thanks a lot, Steve, that was fantastic."
"Can it wait a bit? I'm in the middle of some calibrations."
Author's Note: So I've tried writing ME 3-inspired fanfic before but it hasn't worked. Then I decided to take a supporting character from the game and use her as an excuse to write stuff at random. More to come later. Or not.