AN: Hello good readers! If you're reading this, then part two of this story, "Star Trek: The Mass Effect 2" (yup, I'm great with names) has started being posted, and I hope you'll go read and review that with the same love and attention to detail as you did this story. However, I didn't want to just plug a story without giving you some content in this chapter, so here is a special little bonus scene that I've had in my head for a while. Enjoy :-)
Bonus Chapter: ISS Normandy.
Captain John Shepard of the Conquerer class ISS Normandy NCC 90000 sat back in his command chair, lazily observing the turian ship that was visible on his viewscreen: another enemy of the Terran Empire, about to be brought to it's knees by his hand. He smiled slightly, a cruel twist on his lips broken up by a vicious scar that ran from the tip of his right eyebrow, past his nose, across his mouth and down to his chin. His uniform was the modified waistcoat-over-turtleneck design favoured by some Captains, worn open. By the side of his chair stood Charles Pressly, his XO. Shepard had chosen the man because he was intelligent and, more importantly, unambitious, being oddly content with his station in life.
"Tactical," he said to Ashley Williams, his weapons officer. "I want that ship crippled."
Williams was a dark skinned, dark haired woman, unscarred but with a cruel gleam in her dark eyes. She was dressed in the typical midriff-baring uniform of the Terran Starfleet uniform for women. The trim of her truncated undershirt was yellow, demonstrating her position as a soldier.
"Yes sir," she replied with a vicious grin.
"Helm," Shepard continued, and Jeff Moreau - his cybernetic limbs whirring as he moved - turned to face the Captain. "Curse four four two mark six. If he fires, execute manoeuvre Shepard 16."
"Four four two mark six and Shepard 16, aye," Moreau replied clinically. The man had no sense of humour but was as diligent a helm officer as one could possibly imagine.
"Minimal threat ship, all things considered," Pressly said quietly. "Designed for hit and run, not a direct confrontation - and certainly not with us."
"That makes it all the better," Shepard replied, smiling.
The execution of his orders was done quickly and effectively - the Conquerer class starship easily overmatched it's pitiful prey, and a few moments after the engagement had begun, it was already over. The enemy ship was crippled, multiple hull breaches torn along it's hull by his ship's phaser array.
"Tactical," he said to Williams slowly, "life signs on enemy vessel?"
"Out of a crew of over six hundred," she replied, clipped and efficient, "there are eighty six survivors."
"Not bad," Shepard nodded, half turning his head to look at her. "Not perfect. I was kind of hoping there'd be eighty five. I like round numbers like that."
"Easily done, sir," Ashley said with a darkly flirtatious smile. She inputted three commands into her tactical console, and a moment later, a turian appeared on the bridge. The alien had time to look around his new location in fear and shock, before Ashley vaporised him with her hand phaser. Smiling, she looked at her console. "Now reading eighty five survivors, sir."
"Perfect," Shepard said, grinning at her. "Mr Alenko."
Kaidan Alenko, the Captain's dark haired Ops officer and personal assassin, turned in his chair to face Shepard. He didn't verbally respond - he no longer could, his throat having been torn out by a varren, destroying his vocal cords. He had refused vocaliser implants, instead becoming a mute - and if anything, it made him an even more deadly assassin, as well as the best Ops officer Shepard could have asked for since he never told Shepard bad things.
"Hail the enemy ship," Shepard ordered.
Without any sign that he had heard, Kaidan turned back to his console, inputting commands. A moment later, the face of the captain of the hostile ship appeared on the Normandy's viewscreen. It was another turian: this one had slate grey skin, cybernetics implanted in his eyes, and a bionic replacement arm and eyes.
"I am Captain Saren Arterius of the Freedom Coalition vessel Spectre," the turian said grimly. "Explain the reason for this attack."
"The Spectre," Shepard grinned at his enemy. "I think you know what I want, turian."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Arterius replied, snarling slightly. "All I know is you attacked my ship."
"Come now, you aren't a fool," Shepard said, leaning back in his chair. "You've committed terrorist actions against my Empire. Does a little nowhere colony called Eden Prime mean anything to you?"
The face of Saren Arterius turned thoughtful for a moment, and then he nodded.
"The colony I hit with my last strike on your Empire's space," he said sharply, apparently seeing no reason to deny his actions - probably thinking (rightly) that he was dead either way. "There were human civilian casualties: barely any reparation for the millions of turian dead during the war. Do you expect me to apologise?"
"Of course not," Shepard laughed heartily. The very idea was ridiculous, and besides: Shepard never wasted his time with lost causes. "Soldiers don't apologise for their actions, certainly not soldiers like you." His expression sobered. He actually had respect for the ruthlessness of his enemy, even if he was a turian ass. "No, Captain Arterius, I expect you to die. I just wanted you to see my face before you did. Soldiers deserve to look their death in the eye."
Arterius didn't reply for a moment, but there was a slight nod of something almost like respect.
"Thank you, Captain," he said. "It is better to know the face of one's killer."
Shepard made a gesture and closed off the transmission. He made a second gesture, and Williams inputted a command into the tactical station. A moment later, the turian ship was destroyed by a series of tricobalt devices launched from Normandy's torpedo launchers. The explosion lit up the bridge, and for a moment, the shadows around Shepard's eyes seemed to lift.
And then the light was done, and Shepard sighed. He stood up.
"I'm going to settle some other business," he said. "Pressly, you have the bridge."
"Aye sir," the man said. Shepard ignored him as he left the bridge.
Down in the engineering section, Shepard met up with the person who was effectively his chief engineer, albeit with none of the respect of an actual officer. She was bloody, bruised, scars all over her body, wearing a battered jumpsuit. Her dark hair was cropped short and there was an ugly metal implant inserted into her neck that was designed to regulate her immune system. She looked up at him with silver eyes that were somehow filled with malice. Other crewmen milled around the engine room, but Shepard had no time for them.
"Clear the room," he said. Immediately, the grey and yellow uniformed officers left the room, unwilling to risk their Captain's ire. The girl kept staring at him.
"Captain," she said, her tone somehow making the term an insult.
"Miss Zorah," Shepard replied evenly. "And how is your implant suiting you?"
Tali'Zorah nar Haestrom didn't answer - before he had met her, she had, like most of her species, been confined to an environmental suit as a metaphorical crutch, since their immune systems were pathetically weak when they left their home system. He had saved her from an unpleasant death - on the proviso that she become one of his engineers and work for her keep. It was a better deal than many alien species got from the Terran Empire. It had helped that she had "picked up" data on Saren's movements.
"I came down here," Shepard said after a moment, "to tell you that Saren is dead. Your data was invaluable leading us to him. Thank you."
The girl looked uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going.
"You're... welcome...?" she said.
"However," Shepard added, walking around to stand behind her, "this leaves you in the position of having no further use on this ship beyond your prodigious, but ultimately replaceable engineering talent."
She said nothing as he spoke, but her posture stiffened - Shepard was within his right to execute any crew member aboard.
"So," Shepard continued, "I find myself contemplating new uses you may have."
"Such as?" she asked coldly. It was clear what she was thinking, and Shepard laughed.
"You have a fairly pleasing form, considering your alien nature," he said, still chuckling, "but that isn't what I meant." He walked around to face her again. "You see, I know a few things about the quarian race. An incredibly isolationist semi theocratic empire with a loose combination of ancestor and technology worship as it's main religion. Almost no contact outside your system, save for the Pilgrimage of your youth. Centred around a few small systems." He leaned in and whispered softly. "And you have the geth, of course."
Zorah said nothing, but her silver eyes were wide with terror.
"You needn't look so scared," Shepard said. "I've been thinking this one over for a while." He walked around to stand behind her again. "Since taking over the Citadel, the leaders of the Terran Empire have become soft. They ignore warnings given of threats, assuming they are safe in their cradle of power." Shepard snorted. "And while I'd happily let the scum burn, the rest of us will burn with them."
"You're talking about the Reapers," Zorah said after a moment, "that delusion of yours."
His hand moved faster than his mind and he backhanded her across the face, sending her sprawling to the deck.
"It is no delusion!" he yelled. He took a breath to calm himself. "The Prothean beacon was quite specific, and melding with the late lamented Dr T'Soni clarified the vision enough for me to recognise it's warnings." He walked away from her slightly, standing with his back to her, hands firmly clasped behind his back. "They are coming, and the glorious Terran Empire will be as dust in the wind before them."
"So what do you want from me?" Zorah asked. "If they're so powerful, what can I do?"
"Your geth are the most powerful military in history," Shepard replied. "Even more formidable than the Terran fleet. If I had them, I could sweep away the impotent Senate and the failure of a military bureaucracy, and replace it with strong, formidable warriors, ready to face the Reaper threat."
"With yourself as Emperor," Zorah finished, sneering slightly.
"Exactly," Shepard said, smiling. "All I need is the geth."
"And how do you propose getting the geth?" the quarian girl asked, turning to face him, her eyes burning into his. "It would take the High Machinist to approve their use by any outsider."
Shepard smiled, a devilish grin that seemed to light his eyes with a burning, passionate fire.
"I know that," he said softly. "Miss High Machinist."
She stepped back, her eyes widening.
"Me?" she asked.
"I've done some research. I know you are third in succession," Shepard said, turning away from her. "The childless Han'Gerrel has made your father, his closest ally, his successor. Your father has you. And you hate your father."
"What makes you say that?" Zorah asked.
"Like I said, I've done my research," Shepard replied, turning to look back at her. "You ran as far as you could on your Pilgrimage. That is clue enough." He paused. "I can have him assassinated - no one need ever know of your involvement or mine. As for Han'Gerrel, his military obsessions often lead him into conflict on the turian border. It would be such a shame for him to die in battle, but he would be well remembered."
Zorah turned away from him, apparently contemplating his proposal.
He kept speaking. "Once you were the High Machinist, it would be a simple question of opening an alliance with me. I have Hackett's fleet, Anderson's fleet, and the Krogan Imperium on my side: the Empire would be mine with the geth's aid, and then we could prepare for the Reapers. Even on the off chance that I am wrong, you lose nothing."
The quarian turned to face him.
"What's the catch?" she asked, a deep frown on her face. "Terrans always have a catch."
"True," Shepard admitted its a shrug. "My Terran allies won't accept any alien help and won't fight for me unless that alien help is at least nominally a vassal of the Terran Empire. So you'd be officially an 'Intendant', and you'd ostensibly answer to me." He smirked. "I have no interest in quarian sovereignty, however. Help me and you can - provided you don't threaten the Empire or abandon the fight against the Reapers - govern yourselves completely free of Imperial interference."
"Sounds too good to be true," Zorah said, folding her arms. Shepard sighed, and leaned against a wall.
"If I am right," he said after a moment, "then the Reapers are the greatest threat the galaxy has ever known. Incredibly numerous, incredibly powerful. They all but wiped out the Protheans, and the Protheans were the ones who created most of the technology the Citadel Coalition and your own people use." He gave a tired smile, free of his usual malice. "I will do what I must. Taking the Empire benefits this goal. Making you the quarian leader benefits this goal. Making you the quarian leader with actual freedoms benefits this goal. Therefore it happens."
Zorah nodded slowly.
"Ok," she said. "What do I do?"
"You go home, complete your pilgrimage, in about three weeks," Shepard replied. "Gerrel will be dead before you go back. I have agents ready to assassinate your father three weeks later. I then have a failed assassination attempt on you. Nothing seems suspicious."
Zorah nodded again, clearly thinking it over.
"No," she said after a moment, folding her arms and smirking slightly, "I think I have a better idea."
"Oh?" Shepard asked, confused and not a little annoyed.
"Yes. You do all that - and then once I am High Machinist, I marry you, cementing a more permanent alliance between our two empires that is not so easy to break as one of simple paper," the quarian said, her lips forming a devilish smile of their own. "Plus you did say you found my form 'fairly pleasing'. I could say the same of you."
Shepard laughed loudly. "Oh, you're canny. Yes, a marriage of convenience might not be such a bad idea - and the perks would be interesting enough I can imagine."
"I'll wager you'd find them more than 'interesting', Captain," Zorah replied, her voice resembling flirty, but with a dangerous edge that sent an oddly exciting shiver down Shepard's spine.
"Very well, Miss Zorah," he said softly, "I'm going to go see to ship's business. I think you should come to my cabin this evening to further discuss our arrangement."
He turned to go, and Zorah grabbed his arm, leaning in close to him.
"I think you'd best start calling me Tali," she said quietly. "In light of our... arrangement."
"Alright Tali," he said, stepping away and walking towards the exit. "I'll see you later."
He walked out. A few moments later, the rest of the engineering crew came back in, returning to their work. Tali turned to her console and opened a private chat. There she wrote a slightly cryptic message - she had to be careful, but
Deal accepted. He place this evening. All will be as discussed. TZ.
She sent it to her ally. A few moments later, a response came through.
Understood. Will make preparations to move up the ladder, and then preparations to break the top. All will be as discussed. KA.
She smiled, thinking of the time that was coming soon when she would be both high machinist and the ruler of the Terran Empire - and all because some officer had a grudge. She smirked to herself. Sometimes it was good to be on the lower decks.
No one ever saw you coming.