MASS EFFECT II: REAPING
Chapter III: Nu, Chtozh? ("So, What?")
(Want some mood-setting music? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bNDr...e=channel_page)
Avina: "The average citizen petitions to see the Citadel Council through his or her respective species' ambassador. In exceptional circumstances, the Council members themselves may convene and ask to have an audience with certain individuals. In this case, it is in the best interest of all parties involved to comply as soon as possible. Failure to do so may result in harsh penalties, including incarceration and rehabilitation. Good day to you."
Commander Surgan Muress, newly of the NORMANDY, sighed and flexed his jaw muscles wearily. In certain respects, he wanted to pretend he hadn't heard what he'd just been hearing from the Avina
VI console. Another part of him wanted to get this over with, this summons from the Citadel Council regarding the "exceptional circumstances" that had just occurred on the Embassy level of the Presidium. He would rather have let C-Sec, or Citadel Security alone, deal with the matter, but apparently this was serious enough that higher authorities were needed to assess the situation. What would they say? "It's your fault that brains and blood got spattered all over the walls of the elcor Embassy?" "A hostage situation is best dealth with by one of our own negotiating teams?" "You are hereby relieved of command?" Whatever the Council had to say, it most definitely wouldn't be good.
Even though Muress himself was trying to "keep cool under fire," as Captain John Shepard had once said good soldiers did, other "parties involved" in this situation were trying not to let their tempers boil over. They all sat in Ambassador Udina's spacious office, which had been made even more spacious since he became a member of the Council. This made the turian even more worried because Udina had the reputation around the Citadel of being a real hard-liner, especially when it came to protecting the interests of humanity. It was true that Captain Shepard had been the one to shoot and kill one of the hostage-takers on the Presidium, but knowing the views of both Udina and Shepard, Muress was afraid he'd be left "holding the bag".
"Well, that's just great," grumbled former Synthetic Insights engineer Peter McGann. "The Council wants to see us, and from the way that summons sounded, we could all wind up serving time in a Citadel holding facility!"
"Simmer down, McGann," grumbled Shepard, rubbing his right temple. "I'm starting to get a headache, and you don't want to be the one to give it."
Peter sighed and then scooted his ergonomic lumbar-chair closer to the Captain, illustrious former human Commander of the NORMANDY. "Excuse me," he said pointedly, "but from where I stood, I saw that Yeru V'torym, the asari, was only trying to help. She
was trying to get the perpetrators away from the hostages--especially you, Medic Ospidel. You,
Captain, were the one who shot to kill and startled V'torym so badly that her uniform still bears the marks of your mistake." It was true--her bodysuit bled crimson.
mistake?" countered Shepard, pointedly waving a finger in Peter's direction. "You're just a freaking engineer. You wouldn't know anything about hostage situations or what it takes to resolve them. When was the last time you were facing two people pointing pistols to two other people's heads? That's right, you never have," said the Captain before Peter could respond beyond a grunt of outrage and surprise. "Until you have, you have no real right to advise other people about them. Got that, NG?" Around the Citadel, "NG" was slang for "engineer", but in Peter's case, it might as well have stood for "negotiator". As for Peter, he wasn't about to let this go yet:
"With all due respect, Captain," he replied, "even though I am an engineer, I do know how to perform triage in a crisis. I've had AI's go rogue on me and threaten to kill organics, not to mention VI's that do the same thing when they get hacked. I try to keep everyone alive--not that synthetics are the exact same as organics, but I don't 'kill' the program, sir. I shut it down."
"That works with computers," snarled Shepard, "but not with people."
"What about the hostages themselves?" asked Peter. "Medic Ospidel? What do you and Dr. Michel think of what just happened? How did we handle it?"
"I'm with you," answered Nina, turning to Shepard. "You did what you had to do in order to make sure Dr. Michel and I didn't wind up dead. In our clinic, if a victim of a gunshot wound and
his or her alleged shooter come in for treatment, we have to minister to them both, but there was no time for that. You had to choose: was it going to be us or them? I'm glad you made the right choice." Nina ran a white-gloved hand through her silky ebony hair.
"What if," countered Yeru V'torym, "we had managed to save all four people--you two and the biotic perpetrators? They would have both been arrested and taken into custody, and we could have found out more about what they were after and their supposed 'botched retrofits'. Perhaps you and Dr. Michel could have even done corrective implant surgery upon them in prison."
"Are you asari always this reasonable?" Nina sounded annoyed and intrigued.
"Not always," replied V'torym coolly. "Right now, I want to start a fight."
"Aren't we already in the middle of one?" answered Peter, not unkindly.
Muress nodded. "The engineer's right. It's no use bickering amongst ourselves and trying to point fingers when the Council's summoned us. We have to be united in our motives, and our defense arguments if it comes to that. Captain Shepard did shoot to kill, and no one can change that, but what we can change is our attitude toward this situation. We can handle it. We must."
Shepard sighed. "Why don't you understand that some scum are fit to die?"
cried V'torym, standing up and starting to sashay out of Ambassador Udina's office. This haughty retort was slang for "So, what?"
Nina smirked. The sweet little asari had just sassed off to the Captain?
"Stand down, V'torym," said Muress firmly, his tone not that of an officer meting out discipline for insubordination, but an order that was to be followed for all time--especially in times of greatest risk and danger. "If I order you to again, listen and heed. I--I was concerned for you--when you went and--"
"Understood, sir." V'torym turned around and saluted Muress crisply. "Captain, I apologize. I was under duress, but so were all four parties involved, yes?"
Shepard made no response but, "Go get some sleep. We're in trouble..."