MASS EFFECT II: REAPING
Chapter V: Sha'ira's Prophecies
Private Fredericks: "The Consort is an asari who works here and helps people with...things."
Lieutenant Kaidan Alenko (deceased): "You never did see her, did you?"
Captain John Shepard expected to be quite rattled over his status as a Spectre being revoked, seeing as how the Citadel Council was composed of three aliens who'd had a grudge against humanity since the First Contact War of 2157. However, the Council had surprised him and decided to keep him on as one of their Special Tactics and Reconnaissance agents, though he suspected it was only because he'd need to be a Spectre in order to track down and destroy the Reapers. Shepard knew that once his mission was complete, all bets could be off--all because of a couple of biotic terrorists!
"Why wasn't Captain Anderson at that meeting?" Shepard grumbled. "He's a member of the Council, you know, ever since he was appointed two months ago." Anderson was decorated, well-respected, and a consummate veteran of the Alliance. If anyone could have whipped the Council into shape and made them come to a definitive decision, it would have been he. However, the newly-constructed fourth Council chair had been curiously empty.
"I heard he was ill," mentioned Peter McGann, who always kept himself abreast of any rumors around the Citadel relating to politics or political officials. After all, any one of them could suddenly order an investigation into the activities of his former employer, Synthetic Insights. "The 291 superflu."
"Bull," Shepard said. "He just didn't want to sit through another boring Council meeting." Though his wisecrack made Peter and V'torym snicker, the Captain was using humor to hide his fear. He was worried that Anderson might be sicker than anyone thought, because the 291 superflu was so far proving resistant to known antibiotics and antiviral drugs. What was to be done?
"Excuse me, Captain Shepard," interjected Commander Surgan Muress of the NORMANDY. "Do you have any leads on where to start looking for the Reapers, or any of their respective agents? Have there been reports of geth on any of the worlds in Citadel space?" The turian was more than keen to begin this critical mission. He wanted to gauge how much Shepard knew, and more importantly, how much the Captain would tell him of what
he knew. As a veteran soldier, he knew how cagey some superiors could be.
"We'll have to ask Ambassador Udina," Shepard replied, "but first, there's only one woman in this entire galaxy who can make me forget all the stupid crap that happened at the Council meeting. She's an asari--Sha'ira, the Consort."
"Pardon me, Captain," said Muress darkly, "but I believe you are married."
"I'm not going to do whatever you're insinuating I'm going to do with her," grumbled the Captain, "and I consider you insubordinate for implying that."
"My apologies, Captain," said Muress, "but what are your exact intentions?"
"She knows things other people don't. I'm going to see if she has any sense of where the Reapers are headed or if someone's going to try and bring them through the back-door mass relay of the Citadel again. People here consider her some kind of oracle. I know it sounds silly, but Sha'ira's usually right."
"Oracle, my arse," snapped Nina Ospidel. "Isn't she some kind of whore?"
It occurred to Peter McGann that those whom he deemed 'anus-holes' were not always of the male gender. He was starting to strongly dislike the medic.
"Some people view Sha'ira that way," Shepard said, "and come to her for pleasure. Others don't, and I'll thank you to mind your protocol while we're in her chambers. I won't have the good name of the Systems Alliance military sullied, either by humans or by aliens." Especially the latter,
"Shouldn't we be going on facts instead of guesses?" Peter McGann weaved his way from up behind Nina and V'torym to talk to Captain Shepard and Muress. "I mean, seeing Sha'ira is fine, but I don't think it's wise to base our mission upon her prophecies. I'm an engineer, and I was trained to believe in the scientific method. We should go with Ambassador Udina's leads, not hers."
"Agreed," Shepard said, "but only in part. What she says could prove useful."
Peter folded his arms skeptically as the five of them approached the Consort Chambers. A helpful (and scantily-clad) asari named Nelyna greeted them.
"Good morning, and welcome to the Consort Chambers! May I help you?"
"We're here to see the Consort," announced Shepard. "Is she available?"
"She always has time for you,
Captain Shepard," giggled the asari, and Muress squared his shoulders. "Right this way," she said, quickly ushering the makeshift squad into the inner sanctum of Sha'ira, the Citadel's resident prophet (and, some would say, prostitute). The Consort seemed pleased to see all of them, especially the Captain, though she did duly notice the ring on the third finger of his left hand. Sha'ira gently signaled for Nelyna to depart.
"Time is short," announced the Consort. "I have much to say to all of you."
with all of us?" countered Nina, but Peter glared starkly at her.
"Captain Shepard: I sense in you a great weight on your shoulders, but do remember that is not entirely yours to bear. You are like the palm of a hand. Give direction to the fingers, but let the fingers act of their own accord."
"What?" asked Commander Muress. He'd heard nothing so obscure before.
Shepard explained. "She's saying that I should give you direction on this mission, but I should let you do your own thing as to how
you complete the various aspects of destroying the Reapers. Sound advice, Sha'ira, but I'd like more control." He raised an eyebrow. "Any word on the Reapers or geth?"
"Look not only for Reapers," said the asari, "but for sound sleepers as well."
"Sound sleepers?" V'torym was perplexed. "I sleep very soundly, but..."
"She might be talking about sleeper agents," said Shepard. "People, or in this case organics in general, who might be working with the Reapers advertently or inadvertently. I've heard of this 'indoctrination' that the Reapers use to control their slaves. We need to be careful of everything, because not only sentient machines could stand in our way." The Captain looked at Sha'ira. "Do you have anything to say to Commander Muress, or the rest of my crew?"
"Please step forward, engineer," the Consort requested shyly. Muress did so.
"You are wounded by...ghosts of your past, and they haunt you still. The guilt of a survivor is like a worm, an infant thresher maw, that is buried in your heart. Do not be troubled, Commander, because within you lies a strength that even the dead cannot touch. If you let the worm gnaw at you, it will grow. In your mission to destroy these 'Reapers', let yourself become one. A great harvest awaits you, but make sure that you get to it first."
"A harvest?" asked the turian. "I don't understand, Sha'ira. Please explain."
"You will understand," said the Consort, "in time. Come forward, healer."
The only 'healer' in the group was Nina, and so she shuffled forward angrily.
"You hold the lives and futures of organics in your hands," she said. "You must treat them, not only medically but in their souls. You have a choice: either to aid or to harm. Which one will you make? You shall meet someone who is much like you. Keep her close. She will teach you all you need to know, and reveal a secret hidden to your eyes. Keep watch, and pay heed."
Nina was incensed. Who did this courtesan think she was?
"Engineer," announced the asari. "Your fate is near, and your destiny dear."
Peter stepped forward, unbelieving and yet eager to hear more about it.
"You live and breathe facts," Sha'ira said, "and yet these same facts are what might destroy you. The Reapers wish to extinguish all organic life from the face of the galaxy, and your knowledge of synthetics makes you priceless. That is why in the chess game of synthetics and slaves, you are most likely to be used as a pawn. Keep yourself hidden from the Reapers, silent and unnoticed until the time is right. It is you who are the key to this entire mission. Do not let those who are not of flesh and blood unlock you."
"I won't!" cried Peter. "I'll die before I'm enslaved!" Then he had another question: "Wait a minute, Sha'ira. How do you know all these things? Have you studied us before? Have you even met us? You know the Captain, but--"
"I know in my soul," the Consort said, "and my knowledge is of the universe."
That didn't satisfy Peter McGann very much, but he let Sha'ira continue on.
"I see one of my kind here!" she cried with genuine delight. "Step forward."
V'torym did so, and sadness filled the older asari's eyes. She said somberly:
"The odds will betray you, and when they do, surrender yourself to the one who helps you betray them in turn." She lowered her soft velvet voice to a whisper. "That means a full surrender, body and soul, if you hear me truly."
"I do," said V'torym, taking a hold of Sha'ira's hand. The Consort kissed it.
"I think we're done here," said Shepard, fighting back feelings he thought he'd conquered when he'd met and married Ashley. He wanted to leave right away.