MASS EFFECT II: REAPING
Chapter IV: Warnings on Two Fronts
(Want some mood-setting music? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdRJTr23gQo)
Captain Anderson: "You can't just apply to join. There's no training program. There is no 'command structure'--each one reports directly to the Council. Spectres aren't made; they're born."
Captain John W. Shepard, formerly of the SSV Normandy
and now of the newly-finished dreadnought Aconcagua,
knew deep within the marrow of his bones that he was born to be a Spectre. The thing was, his status was in danger of being revoked by the very people--or, in this case, alien species--that he was trying to protect. The Citadel Council had heard all about the hostage crisis on the Presidium, from traumatized eyewitnesses as well as the C-Sec officers who had arrested the two perpetrators responsible, and his position as a Spectre was now in jeopardy. Shepard had shot to kill one of the 'biotic terrorists', as he called them, and for this a turian, an asari, and a salarian were about to judge him guilty? Shepard had always known the Council had a bias against humanity, but he had never suspected it would blind them to the truth...
"This meeting of the Citadel Council will now commence," began the turian Councillor, "to determine whether the Spectre status of one John W. Shepard should henceforth be revoked. Councillors?" The asari and salarian members nodded. "Let us begin with the facts of the case. A hostage crisis erupted twenty-four hours ago on the Presidium level of the Citadel, in which two armed and dangerous L2 biotic men held two medical personnel at gunpoint. The hostages were Dr. Chloe Michel, who is present on the balcony above us, and Medic Nina Ospidel, her recent intern, who is standing on the witnesses' platform along with the defendant, Captain Shepard, and his crew." The turian nodded to Commander Surgan Muress and his squad.
"Eyewitnesses can, and have, confirmed these circumstances," said the salarian dryly. "They also say the defendant, Captain Shepard, a Spectre agent, shot to kill one of the L2 biotic perpetrators even though one of Commander Muress' squad members, asari vanguard Yeru V'torym, was trying to subdue him." He turned his tall amphibian head toward V'torym. "Yes?"
"It is true that I was trying to help the biotic perpetrator," answered the asari in a clear, soft voice, "by trying to determine the source of his pain through melding my consciousness with his. Before I could do so, however," V'torym continued, "Captain Shepard shot him, resulting in his death. It alarmed me greatly," she said, "and I sincerely regret that I was unable to complete the process. It could have helped him recover, even in prison."
was not what that man needed," responded Captain Shepard. "I was afraid for Medic Ospidel's life, and so I shot to kill. There was no telling if the 'melding', as the asari describes it, would have subdued the perpetrator or not. I myself have undergone such a process in order to increase my knowledge of the Protheans and the Reapers, but not as a hostage taker!"
"Your point is noted, Captain Shepard," said the turian, "but is it also true that someone else tried to dissuade you from the course of action you took?"
Shepard shot the engineer, Peter McGann, a look that would have killed him on the spot if it would have been a mass-effect-imbued slug. However, it was not, and it took far more to intimidate Peter than a withering glance. "I did," he told the turian Councillor, stepping forward. "I asked him if he was going to shoot to kill, and he responded in the affirmative. However, my tone conveyed that he should not do so, especially with Vanguard V'torym being so near to his intended target. I should have said so clearly, but I did not, and I am sorry that 'tone of voice' is not admissible as evidence in court."
tone of voice," growled Shepard, "is 'indignant' now. Let that stand for the record. I am the Captain of the Aconcagua
and a Spectre. I know how to deal with rogue targets, either synthetic or organic. I took the biotic perpetrator down clean, and Engineer McGann should remember that."
"Clean?" asked V'torym. "I had to request that my bodysuit be incinerated."
Murmurs came from the crowd in the balcony, including Dr. Chloe Michel.
The asari councillor raised a hand to request silence. "What about the two medical personnel themselves, who were taken as hostages? Medic Ospidel? What say you about Captain Shepard's conduct in this situation?"
"In my field," she replied firmly, stepping forward as a witness, "the first thing you learn is that you do what you have to do in order to save a patient's life. Captain Shepard learned this lesson well in military training, and his actions reflect that. If he had not shot the L2 biotic, I would have died."
Yeru V'torym scowled, intending to charge forward, but Muress stayed her.
"Dr. Michel?" asked the asari councillor. "What would you have us do here?"
"Revoke him!" she cried, leaning forward on the balcony and glaring straight at Shepard. "He could have hit the asari, and as for the biotic--he needed treatment, not execution! He should have been arrested, sent to prison, and taken to the infirmary there so we could do corrective surgery."
More murmurs from the crowd. There seemed to be no consensus among them--some being for Shepard, others against him--but what about the three Councillors? There had to be a unanimous vote, as there had been to convict Saren Arterius of treason, in order to revoke Spectre status.
"You were taken on as a Spectre, Captain Shepard," explained the turian, "in order to replace Saren Arterius, who went rogue and allied himself with the Reapers--sentient machines that intend to exterminate all organic life in this galaxy. It is our unfortunate mistake, which we intend to correct right now, that we did not take on another Spectre to replace Agent Nihlus, whom Saren had killed at the beginning of your mission. Before we decide whether or not to revoke your status, that Spectre will be inducted. Yeru V'torym?"
The asari stepped forward. "Yes, Councillor?" she replied.
"It is my intention," announced the turian, "to induct you for the incredible act of bravery and self-sacrifice that you demonstrated on the Presidium, attempting to save the lives of both the hostages and those who held them. As Dr. Michel has stated, you could have been killed, and the fact that you were willing to stand in harm's way has proven you worthy of Spectre status. Will you accept this honor, and become one of our newest agents?"
Asari do not blush, but V'torym's face became noticeably more pale. "If you please, Councillor," she told the turian, "with all due respect, that honor rightfully belongs to my Commander, Surgan Muress of the Normandy.
If I become a Spectre, I will outrank him on this mission to locate and defeat the Reapers, and that is unacceptable to me. After all, I was not the one who assessed the situation first. If he had not found his courage and responded to the hostage crisis in the blink of an eye, the split second everyone needed to find their courage, I would not have found mine," she said. "Thus, I hereby request that Commander Muress be inducted."
The salarian raised a wet and dubious eyebrow. "Very well...Commander?"
Muress stepped forward, nodding to V'torym, and bowed his head.
"Surgan Muress, you are hereby inducted into the branch of Special Tactics and Reconnaissance," the salarian announced. "Spectres are a breed apart, who respond to situations of great danger with speed, skill, and alacrity."
"Spectres have shown themselves true," the turian continued, "in combat and in public service. You have done both, having risked your life for the common good. It is our hope that you will do the same again for the galaxy's sake."
"Spectres inspire and call others to greater service," said the asari, "as you have. You have proven that ordinary mortals can do extraordinary things, and become heroes who change the course of history. Congratulations."
"I thank you, Citadel Councillors," responded Muress, "in all humility."
"Humility," grumbled a certain Captain, "is for women, worms, and weaklings."
The turian wanted to slap his black and silver metal-plated forehead, but he dared not. "Captain Shepard?" he asked. "Do you have anything to say before we conclude here?" The asari and salarian looked to him, conferring briefly.
"You're just as biased against humanity as you've been before," he replied.
"Captain Shepard," announced the salarian, "we will not revoke your status as a Spectre, seeing as how you will need it in order to find and remove the threat of the Reapers. However, I shall give you warnings on two fronts: first, do not let your emotions, especially your anger, get in the way of your mission, and secondly, do not let your arrogance get in the way of protocol."
Shepard clenched his teeth. The idiots! What do they know?
"This meeting of the Council is adjourned," said the asari, dismissing everyone.
Medic Nina Ospidel had one question for the asari in question, V'torym:
"Why didn't you step up and become a Spectre?" V'torym fell silent and still.
"Will you step up and become my second?" asked Muress. "My lieutenant?"
She answered, "Yest',"
which meant not only yes
but So be it.
The Commander would be a Spectre, and she would be--vtorym!